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It’s no secret that affiliate marketing is one of the first steps many bloggers take to making money, but not everyone sees success right away. I see so many bloggers get excited over .30 cents when I know that with the right strategies and content creation they can do better. In my first month implementing affiliate sales in my blog, I made over 200 Euro from one affiliate platform, alone. How did I do it? By creating smart content that works seamlessly with affiliates and I don’t waste my time on affiliate platforms that waste my time for not a lot of pay.  The great thing about affiliate marketing is it provides passive income to keep you floating between jobs or while you’re waiting for a larger contract to pay. Just because it is passive income doesn’t mean it is easy money, as making money on affiliate sales involves much more than just lazily adding a few links into posts with no rhyme or reason and expecting a return on investment.  So, here are some of the best tips for making your first dollar, or several hundred, to get you started in the world of affiliate sales. 

Think About Your Strategy Before Starting

get started making money with affiliate marketing

Just because one blogger says that they make thousands of dollars from Amazon does not mean that you will too, even if you implement the same type of affiliate strategy as them. Affiliate sales can depend on location of content, location of your readers (and various combinations of those two things), age and demographics of your readers, the niche of your blog, and the interests of your readers. If you’re disconnected from this information you’re going to have a really difficult time selling products on your website.

So, the first thing you need to do before you make money is to spend some time digging through the audience section of your Google Analytics. Take note of the location, language, age, gender, and interest of your readers as this will all come in handy. Then, take a look at which of your posts are popular, the flow of traffic, and what types of links people click on in your post. Next, take a dive in your Pinterest analytics. Find out what locations are popular for pins, what has a high click conversion rate and what types of posts or products people are searching for. Exhaust any other analytic options you have at your disposal to get as much data as you can on the flow of traffic on your website and who your audience is. 

Read more about affiliate marketing strategies from affiliate whizz, Jessie on a Journey.

Use that Data to Create a Plan

The next step is to think about who your target audience is and what type of products or services they are looking to buy. Your defined niche will help with this. If you an adventure outdoor travel blogger you are going to want to look at affiliate networks and products related to outdoor products and adventure tours. If you have luxury travelers as your audience you are going to want to sign up for networks with luxury hotels, fashion options, and more relaxing tours like spa packages.  Then based on location, type of product, or tour your audience wants to consume you can begin looking at affiliate networks to sign up for. 

A lot of people suggest starting with Amazon, but I actually avoid Amazon. Why? Well for starters a large part of my audience is in Europe and Amazon isn’t as popular over here. In addition, my readers are outdoor and adventure lovers who enjoy supporting ethical brands and might not support Amazon for various ethical reasons. For me and my audience, signing up for Patagonia’s affiliate network might make more sense so I can sell specific products that my readers and audience will appreciate.  In addition, I think Amazon doesn’t pay their affiliates much money compared to how much work is involved in setting up the affiliates in a post. So, for me, the payout isn’t worth it. However, I know bloggers who make thousands from Amazon, so the key is to know your audience and how and why they consume in order to come up with a strategy that works for you.

Cj Affiliate Network

Some affiliate networks to get you started are:

  • Get Your Guide: A network that sells tours, great if you have European based content
  • Viator: A network that sells tours, great for U.S. based content
  • Klook: A network that sells tours. Great for Asian based content
  • Shopify: Great for fashion travel bloggers
  • Amazon: Great for U.S. based bloggers who optimize convenience shopping
  • Awin: Great for U.K. based bloggers with a large quantity of U.K. brands
  • Hostel World: Perfect for budget travel bloggers
  • Booking: Great for more mid-range travelers up to luxury stays. Great for international audiences.
  • CJ Affiliate: One of the largest networks for affiliates, ideal for U.S. based content and readers
  • WebGains: A growing affiliate network for European bloggers including German, French, Spanish and U.K. 
  • Avant: Great for outdoor bloggers with products like REI and Patagonia
  • Share a Sale: Great for people who blog about blogging with options for Tailwind, ebook software, plugins, Grammarly and more
  • 12Go Asia: An affiliate aggregator network. Great for Asian based content and audiences. 
  • Commission factory: Might be a good option if you have Australian content.
  • Wotif: An affiliate company ideal for those in Australia.
  • Travel Start: An online company selling hotels, airfare and other travel essentials. Great for those based in Africa
  • Omio: An online company selling transportation. Great for those based in Europe. 

As you can see not all affiliate networks or aggregators are created equal. It really depends on your audience and niche. Choose one that fits your niche and focuses on optimizing sales before you sign up for too many. 

Regardless of where you are located, the principles and strategies in this post are pretty universal and can be applied to most affiliate networks and posts with affiliate content. So, chose a network based on your audience and location and then follow the rest of the tips in this post. 

If you are struggling with finding an affiliate network in your region, try googling “affiliate networks for X country or X region.” You can also search for your favorite regional product such as “Affiliate Network for BRAND NAME HERE.”

Create Content for Affiliate Sales

affiliate sales with packing posts

One of the most common mistakes I see bloggers making is they sign up for networks and then go in and sneak links into posts they have already created. One of the best and most efficient ways to convert clicks into sales is by creating a post with affiliate marketing in mind. So, for your first attempt at making money from affiliates, I want you to create a brand new post with affiliate material in mind, rather than going back to old posts and adding links at random. 

How do you create a new post for optimizing? Well, think about your audience again. What type of products or tours are they most likely going to buy from you? If you’re unsure, ask your audience in Instagram stories on facebook what they want you to write about and make a post surrounding that. For example, I’ll walk you through a scenario that works very well for me selling tours on my website. My readers like outdoor adventures, so I chose GetYour Guide as a starter affiliate program as they offer lots of great outdoor options. I have one post where I walk my readers through a day trip. I tell independent travelers how to do it. I then recognize that the independent day isn’t for everyone and I offer 2 high-cost all-inclusive tours as an alternative. Rather than suggesting 6 location-based tours at random in my post, I  created a post in order to sell tours with a narrow focus. Using this method my CTR has been as high as 4% some month, which means $$$ as they are high-cost tours. 

Key Takeaway: Create posts in order to sell a specific high-cost tour, rather than including a bunch of random links in existing posts.

Create Content Optimized for SEO

To expand on creating content for affiliate sales, as noted above, it is equally important to create posts that are optimized for SEO in order to make money from affiliate sales. In order to do this, you need to have a good understanding of keyword research ranking and strategies. Once you are able to create posts with keyword ranking in mind you can create a post that will likely appear on page one for certain keywords. The affiliate options you choose should be related to those keywords. That way when someone searches a topic like “Best Places to Stay in X Location” or “packing list for winter in X” you can appear on page one and include booking or hostel affiliate links for specific locations and hotels.

Capitalize on Trends

Sustainable travel is all the rage right now. While I do not recommend going and writing a zero waste post unless you yourself are a zero-waster, it is important to be mindful writing a packing list with a ton of plastic items might not convert well due to the nature of sustainable travel. Pay attention to travel and lifestyle trends to ensure your affiliate suggestions are in line with what people want to consume. It is also important to create annual content optimized for seasonal trends. For example, I have 4 solid posts based on seasons that bring me affiliate money throughout the year.

Key Takeaway: Create a well optimized post you can rank on page one and ensure it is also a post created with affiliates in mind. Combining these 2 things will ensure you convert affiliate sales to make money blogging.  

Make up People’s Minds for Them

make your first dollar with affiliate income

This could be you with all that affiliate money you make!

A lot of bloggers lose sales because someone has to leave their site to do independent research. If you are going to invest in a new backpack, are you going to listen to a blogger who only wrote 3 sentences, saying “ I love this backpack. I carry it everywhere and it fits all my stuff. You will love it too.” No, you’re probably not going to drop $150 based on that vague description. You will leave the website to go read in-depth reviews of the product and compare.  So, how can you make up people’s minds for them?

  1. Write a lot more than 3 sentences. You are literally selling this product to someone, so give them as much information as possible to encourage them to buy it. Talk about what you love, someone maybe you would change, why it fits your style of travel, etc. The more information you give the less likely they are to leave and find it elsewhere. Make a chart talking about the pros and cons, share a story about a time this product made your trip, talk about your hesitations to spend the money – but you were so glad you did because, etc, etc, etc. No information is too much information.
  2. Compare it with a top competitor. Use affiliate linking to compare two of the most popular products and list all the pros and cons of each. People will feel like they have a choice and are less likely to leave to research their alternative options.
  3. Sell products you use. If you have personal experience with a product people are more likely to trust your opinion. 
  4. Create an entire post reviewing and comparing some higher priced items. The higher the price the more people need to think about it. If you include a very expensive backpack or headphones in a packing guide, link to a full post detailing the pros and cons of the higher priced item, doing a full review, and comparing it with competitors. This allows people to get all the info they need in a detailed post without leaving your website and you’re more likely to convert sales. 

Sell Products You Use and Love

get started with affiliates

I mentioned this above, but I think it is important enough to talk about more in depth. Next time you pack, make a list of the items and products you can’t leave home without and sell those products. Sell hotels and hostels you have already stayed at. If you are recommending a Viator or GYG tour on your website go take that tour so you can talk about why you loved it. People love personal experiences and feedback, so if you incorporate real stories and honest feedback into your packing, hotel, or tour posts you are more likely to convert clicks into sales. Including a photo of you using the product always helps as well. Trust me nothing turns me off then going to a packing post and seeing someone list their FAVORITE sustainable products which they have no insight into whether or not they use the product and a quick look on Amazon reflects they just picked the first thing that comes up when they search for a reusable water bottle.

Use Social Media to Sell Products with Affiliate Links

If you are struggling with converting sales on your web-based blog because you can’t rank for the right keywords or get people to even see your content then capitalize on social media. Pinterest: After using your Pinterest analytics to determine what content people engage with create some posts optimized for Pinterest and affiliates. Packing posts tend to do well, so try to create a few packing posts using Amazon or Avant to make money. Instagram: A lot of people don’t think about Instagram for making money with affiliates, but it is a great place to share a video of you talking about why you love your favorite product and uploading it to your Instagram stories. Film a short clip of you packing your favorite compression socks and talk about why they are a must. Make a swipe up or include a link in bio to encourage people to buy the same product. Facebook: Facebook lives are great ways to make money with affiliate sales. In this post about why Facebook lives are great ways to grow your blog, we suggest things like talking about your favorite product, share what you are packing with a link back to your packing post, and lots of other great ideas to make your first dollar with affiliate marketing.

Create a Strong Call To Action

Over here on Female Travel Bloggers, we love to use buttons to create a call to action. You can see a strong example of this in our recent post about why you should be using Perlu. We also use this technique in our newsletters and it works quite well. We use our Divi theme to custom CSS code a call to action button that really pops. You can also try using your quote text in order to make something stand out. 

You should also be using a call to action phrases like, “don’t miss you, buy this now!” Bolding text and emphasizing elements also will help you convert more sales.  

Use Anchor Text AND Images

The one nice thing I do love about Amazon is the fact they allow you to create text and image options. When trying to sell a product you should also create anchor text with a call to action that you link back to the product and also include an image. Amazon associates makes this easy for you, but if you don’t use Amazon make sure to get lots of photos of you using your favorite products when you travel! I use my own photos in my personal posts and they work very well. 

Check The Cookies and T&C

Before you sign up to an affiliate network, check their cookie policy or terms and conditions. If you sign up for a platform that has a 1 day cookie period you will have a harder time making money because after 1 day if someone returns to buy a product you won’t get the commission. If a platform has a 30-day window someone can return up to 30 days later and you will still get money. You might still lose cooking tracking to another blogger with affiliates, but the longer the cookie period the higher your changes are.

Use Affiliate Widgets

get your guide affiliate widget

A lot of affiliate platforms like Booking or Get Your Guide have fantastic widget creation tools to help you include interactive ways to boost affiliate sales. Booking has an interactive map to help your audience search based on location within the city and Get Your Guide has a city-based widget to help your readers who are unsure of what they want to do. While targeting specific tours and products gives you a higher conversion rate using these types of widgets in every post are a great way to capture people who haven’t made up their mind and want to search alternatives.

Sign up For Platforms You Use

When in doubt, sign up for booking and use the heck out of booking. Book all your accommodation through booking using your affiliate link and have your friends and family book accommodation with your booking affiliate. I made several hundred in the first few months of using Booking by using the platform myself, asking friends and family to tell me before they booked a hotel so I can create a code for them. I even got some of my husband’s coworkers asking me for an affiliate link before they book a work trip. Can I say CHA-CHING! This gets you to your $100 threshold much more quickly and allows for you to make an income while you work on optimizing posts for accommodation and where to stay guides.

Be careful: Not all affiliate programs allow you to book or purchase personal trips or items on their platform – for example Amazon does not. read the T&C of your affiliate platform before doing so. 

Don’t Be Scared to…

Shake things up:

I see a lot of bloggers make the same mistakes over and over which causes them to become frustrated at the lack of money they are making. Just because Amazon packing posts work well for your favorite blogger, does not mean they will automatically work well for you. Try a different affiliate platform, try a different strategy, and don’t be scared to do something different. Every blogger and the readers that follow their blog are unique. Take the time to find the right platform and products for your location. Experiment with different types of posts and ways to implement affiliates until you find what works for you.

Sell:

Don’t be shy or scared to sell! A lot of people are worried that affiliates or sales might ruin their blog or they are being too pushy. Honestly, people are always looking for great new products to use and love personal recommendations. So get out there and start selling!

Go Back and Optimize Old Posts

After you’ve created your brand new post that was made for affiliates, using the above tips to make your first dollar you are ready to move on. Go back and optimize old posts, but be prepared to edit the content to convince your readers to buy from you and do more than just add an affiliate link to a random product in a random post.  You can do this! How did you make your first dollar or buck with affiliate marketing, let us know in the comments, so we can share your tips with our readers. If you haven’t made any money yet, that’s ok, ask away!

Susanna Kelly

Susanna Kelly

FTB Member

Susanna Kelly is an adrenaline junkie from Alaska, on a quest to explore the great outdoors.

However, she openly admits to being a total geek at heart. Her blog, the Wandering Chocobo, focuses on adventure travel and eco-tourism, while hitting pause for what she’s defining as hipster city travel. Her hipster city guides explore craft cocktail bars, boutique hotels, markets, local businesses, and geek hideouts.

When she’s not creating content for her travel blog or freelance ventures, she likes to work on her fiction novel, LARPing and gaming, volunteering and getting to level 99 in life. She currently lives in Munich, Germany.

Connect with Susanna at her site Wandering Chocobo.

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