How to monetise your blog and make your first £1,000 through affiliate marketing.
Read on if you are looking for ways to turn your hobby into your dream job.
Ever since I started blogging, in late 2014, I have taken part in many blogger chats, more often than not, on Twitter.
They were rarely useful. You don't really make any friends on them; they're there to help you vent frustration when you don't have enough blog visitors. You 'like' a few tweets and others like yours back. If you're lucky, you might even get retweeted by the host.
The usual thing happens. A lot of bloggers join, all seemingly with a common raison d' etre on the blogosphere: they write - they say - to inspire people with their stories. To let their creativity loose. To make friends.
Weirdly enough, after the chat, there's no more engagement from any of the participants. Those who liked your tweets simply move on.
Don't be quick to judge me but when I read that someone is blogging (vlogging or Instagraming or undertaking any other social media activity oyt there) only for the love of offering inspiration, I am rolling my eyes so hard they could pop out. Why? Because all this activity takes time and requires resources. To go places to take photos; a computer to write your story; products to shoot... you get the point.
These statements feel a little hypocritical. Why? Because the most asked question in blogger chats/networking events and what EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW is:
"How can I monetise my blog?" and "can I monetise my blog and not be accused of loosing my authenticity?"
Well, I will let you in on a secret - and please share this with your blogger friends. Freely.
You can go bonkers with your creativity, make friends and be totally authentic and inspirational to your new followers, all while making your blog work for you and your bank account.
In fact, it is exactly when you start monetising your blog and working with brands that your creativity will be unleashed. Why? Because you will have
access to more product to blog about;
money to buy better blogging equipment and attend more events; and
will feel a certain responsibility towards delivering results for the brand that was crazy enough (joke!) to trust you.
So to everyone who is quick to criticise those bloggers/influencers as "having lost their authenticity" just because they monetise their hard work collaborate more with brands than them, I have one thing to say.
Stop looking at what others are doing (obviously well) and let me help you do bigger and better. Turn your focus on YOUR blog.
You should follow the steps below even while reading this post. And bookmark this page for later.
There are affiliate links in this post meaning that if you follow them and buy from vendors I link to, I will be getting a small commission. Read on to find out how you could do exactly the same, and why signing up to an affiliate program is just the first step to a long and successful blogging career.
And yes, I did mean to say career. You can totally do this.
Register as an affiliate publisher
Presumptions: You already have a blog or a social media channel (instagram, Twitter, You tube, Pinterest) and regularly create content.
The first step to financial freedom is registering with an affiliate channel. That's like a marketplace, connecting publishers (the bloggers/ influencers/ copywriters) with brands that want to be advertised (the advertisers).
Affiliate marketing is a form of revenue sharing. Brands are willing to pay you a small commission for referring business to them.
For example, most brands offer an 8% commission. You add an affiliate link to ASOS on your post. Someone follows the link and buys £100 worth of ASOS products. You get £8 as commission. Simple? But you need to convert the visitor into purchaser. It is not enough to send them to the brand site.
The good thing is that affiliate links work with 30, 60 or 90 day cookies. So if your reader follows the link but not buys immediately, you can still earn your commission if he/she buys later.
By the way, while you have been reading this, I have already made another £20 in commissions from the various affiliate links that my readers have used.
It gets better. Read on.
There's a reason they have 'WIN' in Awin. This affiliate channel brings together some of the biggest names in both fashion/beauty and interiors, making it the perfect destination for fashion, beauty and interiors bloggers.
They have ASOS, Boohoo, John Lewis & Partners, Made.com, Habitat, La Redoute, Maisons du Monde, OFFICE, Marks & Spencer, TK Maxx and Topshop to name a few.
Everyone loves these brands! Everyone BUYS these brands!
But most importantly, Awin are forward thinking dudes and understand that bloggers carry a certain influencing value. Therefore they are also promoting influence payments. Want to find out what influencers and influence payments are? Coming up!
Almost 2 billion was spent on the affiliate and lead generations industries in 2015. And if you want to monetise your blog, you should learn more about it. So first things first.
Who is the Advertiser?
That's the brand whose products are being advertised on a blog. For example, John Lewis & Partners.
Who is the Publisher?
That's me. Or you. The blogger/influencer who publishes something that promotes the advertiser.
Who is the Affiliate?
Again, that's me and you, the blogger/publisher. The person or website who drives sales to the Advertiser.
What is an Affiliate Link?
It is a url that converts a normal product page into a trackable link associated to the Publisher's affiliate account; So if someone clicks on the affiliate link and buys the product, the Affiliate (the blogger) will get paid a small commission.
After you join Awin, the Dashboard is your default home page. Now let's choose some Advertisers.
Click on Advertisers and then Join Programs. Use the REFINE SEARCH to focus on your preferred category and country or type in a name (e.g. John Lewis). On the right hand side, under ACTION click on the (+) button to join the program.
My tip on choosing programs to join:
Conversion rate: the higher the better here. This means how many (%) of links end up in a successful purchase. These are strong advertisers that you want to join ( but only if relevant to what you blog about!! ).
Approval rate: the % of prospective publishers that are approved to join upon application. Some advertisers are really picky! When applying for those programs, make sure you write why they should accept you (throw in some stats , for good measure).
What happens next?
When you click to join, a pop-up window comes up that shows the advertiser's Terms and Guidelines.
If you are a blogger, under Promotion choose "Content" and leave a message for the Advertiser's Team. You can introduce yourself here and explain how you can help promote the Advertiser.
Make it short and sweet. If you are a well known blog, mention any awards you have and explain if your content is relevant to the advertiser's products! Most advertisers want to manually review applications so it may be 1+ days before you are approved.
When you get approved, you will receive an email telling you so. Hurray, you are now officially an affiliate of the relevant brand.
Stop here, get up and throw a little celebratory dance, Carry Bradshaw style. You deserve it!
Click on Links & Tools then Link Builder. Here's how to create a link between the product and your affiliate account:
1. Go to a product page and get the URL. You can do this on mobile too!
2. In Awin's Link Builder page, click on "Joined" under 'Advertiser' and find the brand in the drop down.
3. Paste the product page URL into "Destination URL" and the affiliate link will appear in the Deep Link box below. I always shorten my links too (click "Shorten Link" for that). Now use that link in your blog post.
Job done, that's one way to make money out of your blog.
You could just start filling your posts with affiliate links and hope that you will get noticed by brands or people who click on them will go on to buy.
This is not that kind of post though. You want to super boost the return on your time. Here's my strategy. Other bloggers didn't share these tips. But they worked for me and can work for you.
Create affiliate PINS. Yes, PINS!
If you are a blogger and are not using Pinterest you are missing out on some serious blog traffic.
I always thought of Pinterest as a nice program to get inspiration from. I made MANY beautiful boards, with often no info, no description and nothing to drive pinners to them. I didn't think of my boards at all. I did however have a few pins that linked to my website.
Then one day I decided to check my blog traffic sources. You cannot imagine my shock (and horror) when I realised that the social medium that I spent THE LEAST time on was driving THE MOST traffic to my website. It was Pinterest alright.
I am planning to share my insights on Pinterest at a later stage but I have to say I could not have turned things around without help from Jen Stanbrook and her PINSIGHT course. If you are serious about making it big in blogging and having a steady traffic flow, you need to take her courses. Follow her on Twitter here (do it now).
To use affiliate links in your PINs, simply pin something new yourself and add an affiliate URL.
Do not shorten the link, Pinterest does not seem to like that. Other than that, Pinterest loves affiliate links!
My tips on affiliate links on Pinterest
Pins take weeks, if not months, to take off. You need to have a seasonal planner available, to know what to pin and when. For example, do not PIN Christmas stuff a week before Christmas, that's way TOO late.
You need to add these PINs at least 2 months in advance for major holidays and events.
Also, you cannot edit the links of PINs other people pinned (so don't waste your time trying).
Try getting yourself onto Pinterest Tribes (the BIG THING right now) to help your pins take off quicker.
Use TAILWIND to schedule pins so that you constantly have content being pinned. Pinterest likes consistency in pinning more than anything else. You should have content pinned daily. 5-10 pins added every day on your boards.
Formula: 5-10 pins a day, of which 20% should be your own pins (photos you upload for example) and 80% re-pins from others. This formula is explained in detail here together with a guide as to how I grew my Pinterest account.
Create pinnable PINS.
Don't just add links everywhere. Everything in proportion. Your pins also need to point to helpful stuff (like your blog posts!)
And you need to create pinnable pins - The best pins out there are usually the ones that have some CALL TO ACTION (CTA) attached to them. If you got to this post from Pinterest, did you notice how the PIN was
a) portrait in format; and
b) had a call to action?
You can make similar pins yourself with free tools like CANVA.COM in fact I have published several of my templates there and you can use them freely. Here's an example of a pin with a Call to Action. I made this with CANVA.
Tweet your links
You can share your affiliate links on Twitter too. Remember to shorten your links. Use hashtags like #payday #shop or #sale #discount when promoting items that are currently on sale. Remember to always use the hashtag #aff (= affiliate) to let people know they are about to follow an affiliate link.
TIP: I use HOOTESUITE to schedule all my posts (free) so make sure you share at least 3-4 links per day.
Create product galleries
Instead of just filling up text in your blog with affiliate links, you can also add links on your photos.
I usually create product mood-boards and then add a little text below, with links to the products.
Add them in Product Reviews
One of the easiest types of content and the most relevant for you. Pick a product you really like and introduce it to your audience. Write in depth about it, for example why you chose it and how it helped you.
Share them in your newsletters
I would not advise you add any more than one really good link (to a brand most of your readers love) and it has to be for something really cool they recently launched. After all, the newsletter is their to attract readers to YOUR website, not send them to the brand.
Answer questions with them
If someone asks "where did you get ABC from", answer and provide the link to the product but make it affiliate first! Always add #affiliate when you do so, in line with ASA rules.
You have the email address of the person handling the PR of the brand. It's there on Awin.
Are you REALLY going to let this opportunity pass? Doh!
Big brands have their own teams working on Awin separate to the teams on other channels. You can find contact details through the platform, so write to them to get your blog on their radar. They control brand budgets and collaborate with blogs very often.
So let them know that you're their affiliate, that you are working on something specific and that you are curious to find out if they would like to collaborate maybe on the next collection launch?
Most collaborations with brands on Awin start at £150. That's the absolute minimum I have come across on Awin. So what are you waiting for? Send a hello across to them!
Let brands know that you can take on sponsored content.
I have read a lot about Awin, but one of the best kept secrets is about to be unveiled.
What, you haven't tried the Opportunity Marketplace on Awin?!
Go to Links and tools and then on Opportunity Marketplace. Create a new Opportunity and describe what you can offer on your blog (banner placement, reviews, styling content) and your fixed price (I much prefer that to commission, as a fixed price means you get paid irrespective of whether you convert someone into a customer! Hurray!).
What should your fixed price be to attract interest?
If you are a new blog (under 6 months and writing only once per week), your fixed price should be around £100 per post.
A blog that is 6+ months old, writing regularly and with 5k+ followers in at least one social media platform: £150
If you are a well established blog, ask for £300+.
You know your blog best. Set the price that feels right for you and never under-sell your time.
Always charge more if you are to be sent products to style. Photography takes time, and the brand gets away with one person being the copyrighter, stylist and photographer. You offer value for money. Don't sell yourself too cheap. You're doing a disservice to yourself and to fellow bloggers.
Also - and this is very important - avoid being paid in store vouchers. They're nice but seriously, you want warm cash in hand to pay bills, right?
You won't convince ANYONE if you followed a brand in the last 5 seconds before sending them an email that you'd like to collaborate with them.
Have your eyes set on a brand? Built momentum! Start liking every new post, comment on their own blog, comment on their social media, tweet and post about them before you finally approach them directly (although by this point they may have approached you first!
Build brand awareness when talking to their PR teams too. I have attended many meetings with PR people where I knew MORE about the brands that they were looking after.
MIX IT UP. ALWAYS
A final word of caution. You know how I said that other bloggers are quick to critisize those who support WAY too many brands? Well, when you become a professional blogger my view is that it is only natural that you will have more sponsored content than not.
But just as actors take part in small indie productions between their blockbuster movies, you too should mix up your sponsored and unsponsored content.
A good ratio is 20% sponsored to 80% yours when you start out and then you can go as much as 50-50 sponsored/non-sponsored. That way your blog will not feel like one long ad (have you bought VOGUE lately? I mean, they OVERDO it with ads).
Always retain creative direction and final edit.
And always, ALWAYS, engage brands that truly reflect your style.
Obviously the above needs some time at first but not too much, to take off. If you have tips you wish to share, please do below.
I hope you found this post useful, please share with your friends and on your channels and let me know your thoughts in a comment below.