This is the second post in our series about affiliate marketing, and we’re looking at a vital key element that will help you make money: choosing the right products and programs. This week we’re building on last week’s post which was a general introduction to affiliate marketing. We’re going to look at what many experts would agree is the key to making money with affiliate marketing: choosing quality products and high converting programs.
Which products do I choose to promote as an affiliate?
The best way to get started with affiliate marketing is to promote products and services that you use and know well. This has a few big advantages:
- You know for sure they really are high quality and 100% fit for purpose
- Your recommendations will be genuine and authentic (your readers are smart – they can tell)
- Your posts will be well-informed and in-depth (and therefore more likely to make sales)
It also means you can write a few of the types of affiliate posts that work really well (such as product reviews, product comparisons and tutorials). It’s clearly not possible to write a review, comparison or tutorial if you haven’t personally used the product or service. Check back next week (or subscribe so you won’t miss the post) when we’ll go over the best types of posts to sell affiliate products.
Promoting something you know well also means you’ll see opportunities to mention it regularly. It’s fine to mention an affiliate product when writing a post about something completely different, as long as it’s relevant. When you know the features and benefits of a product, you’ll see opportunities to mention them more often.
Not every product you use will have an affiliate program, of course. And it’s not always easy to find the relevant program. Start my looking around the site of any product you use. You’ll often come across an ‘affiliates’ tab, perhaps hidden under another one such as ‘about’ or ‘work with us’. You can also search for the name of the product or company with the phrase ‘affiliates’ or ‘affiliate program’. If you’ve looked but found nothing, you can always reach out politely by email and ask if they have an affiliate program and how to apply for it. This has worked for me more than once.
Once you’ve signed up for an affiliate network, you’ll be able to search within the network for products and services to promote, but you’ll also sometimes have to go through the application process for each product.
Networks like Clickbank are particularly easy for new affiliate marketers because once you’re signed up you can promote any product in the network. The drawback with Clickbank is that there are a lot of low quality products and it’s hard to find the good stuff to promote. It is there, however. Two of my favorite, high-value, top-selling affiliate partners, Bloggers Bootcamp and Writer Help Wanted, are both run through Clickbank. I found both these programs independently, through the recommendations of others, though. I don’t advise trawling through networks like Clickbank looking for stuff to promote. Find the excellent products first. Then sign up to promote them.This one key element is vital to making a sustainable income with affiliate marketing. Click To Tweet
If there is a direct program run by the company there will usually be a members’ area on their website where you can log in and get your affiliate links and promotional tools.
Don’t be scared by the idea of having to ‘apply’ to affiliate networks. The process is simple (usually just consisting of filling out a short form) and many networks accept every application very quickly. I’ve actually never been turned down by an affiliate network, and I’ve applied to dozens.
Next we need to look at what to consider when looking for affiliate programs to work with. Some affiliate programs are better for the promoter than others. Here are some things to consider when looking for potential affiliate partners.
This is just common sense. It’s ridiculously hard to sell crappy products. Fantastic products (almost) sell themselves. I cannot stress this enough. Always promote high-quality products.
High conversion rate
High quality, high converting sales pages are vital. You don’t want to be recommending a product, doing a great job of pre-selling it (we’ll talk more about pre-selling later in the series) and then sending people to a spammy or difficult-to-navigate sales page that doesn’t convert well.
You can’t always tell what the conversion rate on a product is, but sometimes you can (Clickbank actually makes the conversion rate for it’s marketplace products available in the product profile). Other people may state their conversion rate, and mostly they’ll be telling the truth (if only because getting caught in a lie is sometimes monumentally bad for business). At the very least, do a self-assessment by checking out their sales pages to see if they’re well-written, persuasive and professional.
You want to be promoting products that pay reasonably high commissions and pay out regularly and on time. You may also want to consider the way they pay. Most companies will pay by Paypal or make a direct payment into your bank account. A few US companies still pay by check which is a pain if you live somewhere other than the US.
As we mentioned in the last post in this series, tracking cookies can be short (Amazon’s is 24 hours) or very long (companies like CoachGlue pay lifetime commissions).
Generally speaking, longer windows are better for affiliate marketers, but there are other things to consider. As mentioned earlier in the series, Amazon have a short tracking window (and pay low commissions) but Amazon links convert like crazy, perhaps because so many people already use Amazon. Someone clicks onto Amazon and they’re in a familiar place. They probably already have an account there, which means Amazon already has their address and credit card number stored in its system. It’s the most natural thing in the world to start shopping.
The amount of support your affiliate partners offer you is very significant. Some companies will give their affiliates images, banners and even blog posts, social media posts and email sequences they can use or adapt for their own audience. Sometimes the creator of a product will offer you an interview, profile or guest post.
Some companies will even let you offer their freebie, with an affiliate link. So if you sign up for these great free offers from companies like CoachGlue, SoloSmarts or AllPrivateLabelContent.com, and later buy something from them, I get a commission. Seriously, click those links. If you like what they’re offering for free, sign up. If you never buy anything from them, that’s fine. If you do (even a year from now) I should get a commission. Cool idea, isn’t it?
Contests and bonuses
Some affiliate programs run contests where you can win a great prize (CoachGlue have offered a $1000 prize before now) for making the most sales in a month (or even coming in the top ten). Some companies offer bonuses for making a certain number of sales in a certain time frame. It’s worth looking at what each program offers.
How do I sign up?
Once you’ve found a program, signing up is usually straightforward. You generally have to fill out a form with your contact details and website URL. Sometimes they’ll ask about your social media following, or ask an open-ended question like ‘How do you intend to promote our products?”
Simply answer honestly. You can mention your site, your email list and your social media following. Most companies aren’t looking for an essay, just a few lines. If they ask for actual numbers (such as your monthly page views) answer honestly, even if your page views aren’t very high. That won’t always rule you out (although occasionally companies are looking for serious influencers to partner with and may reject an application if your numbers are too low). There’s a great section in the excellent Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing course about how to get accepted by every affiliate program you apply for.
My last tip for new affiliate marketers today, is to stay organized. Keep your log-in details for each program safe, and keep a list of all the programs you’ve signed up for (along with your main affiliate link) somewhere easy to access so you can quickly copy the link into blog posts and social media posts.
I also keep a printed list of all my affiliate partners to hand so I can easily see where their products might fit in to the content I’m creating. The more experienced you become, the more this will come naturally, but when you have a lot of partners (I have dozens, now) it’s important to keep track of them.
Next week we’ll look at how to make affiliate sales, including the single best place to put an affiliate link, and all the other places you can put them too. Subscribe now if you don’t want to miss that post.
A recommendation (with a bonus)
Want to really rock your affiliate marketing strategy? I highly recommend the Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing course. It’s the single thing that’s had the biggest impact on my affiliate marketing success and revenue. If you sign up through my affiliate link (this one here) and let me know, I’ll also send you a free copy of my Busy Blogger’s Success Kit (a $29 value). Just forward the confirmation email you get when you sign up to the course to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t worry, there won’t be any sensitive information like payment details in that email.
You can check out the Busy Blogger’s Success Kit here. If you’re getting serious about monetizing your blog, it’s a useful addition to your blogger’s tool box.
Next week, we’ll talk about how to actually make affiliate sales, including the single best (high-converting) place you should put the vast majority of your links. Subscribe below if you don’t want to miss that post (and you’ll get some free goodies too).