Want to know how to up your affiliate sales right now? This is the episode for you. But before I begin…
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Today, I’m interviewing Jeannine Crooks. Jeannine has been in the affiliate marketing world for over 20 years and she shares her expertise with us on how to be successful in this area of online business.
In my conversation with Jeannine, we talk about why affiliate marketing is so powerful right now, how to optimize your site for it, how to think about which products to sell, and how to plan content around affiliate sales.
We also discuss what’s going on with Amazon’s affiliate program right now, and how that isn’t great news for publishers.
Jeannine shares some terrific info on how to pivot away from Amazon and what that looks like.
I think this episode couldn’t be more timely.
Join me, as I chat with Jeannine on specific and creative ways to rethink your affiliate marketing strategy.
The Two Ways to Do Affiliate Marketing
One of the first things to note is that there are two ways to do affiliate marketing—go wide or go deep.
As you all know, I always encourage bloggers to niche down. You’ve heard me say a thousand times, “The riches are in the niches.”
And Jeannine agrees. But when it comes to affiliate marketing, you may want to take your deeply niched blog and spread a little bit wider.
For example, if you’re a food blogger and you have niched down to being a pasta food blogger, there are ways to widen your particular niche in order to do affiliate marketing more effectively.
Not only can you market the dozens of different types of pasta, but you can broaden your affiliates to include the best pasta sauce to go with the specific types of pasta. You can widen it even further to share the best pans to use to make lasagne.
You’re widening your offerings while remaining true to your niche and to true to your followers.
How Do I Know What to See as an Affiliate Marketer?
I know that many of you have been blogging for quite some time and you’re ready to dive into affiliate marketing, but you aren’t sure how to get started.
Or perhaps your blog is pretty tightly niched and you’ve dipped your toe into affiliate marketing but you’re ready to take it up a notch.
What should you sell? How do you know what your audience wants? How do you broaden your scope from selling a few products to branching out to more?
Jeannine says the answers are as easy as looking at your blog. Here’s her basic piece of advice:
Any noun, especially a proper noun, can be an affiliate link.
Now obviously, you shouldn’t turn every noun on your blog into a product for sale, but the point is, whatever you talk about has the opportunity to turn into something you can sell.
The thing to remember about affiliates is that you have the chance to provide something to your audience that they need, and you earn income without it costing them a single penny. It’s truly a win/win situation.
How to Create Content for Affiliate Marketing
When you begin to get deeper into affiliate marketing, you realize that you can actually create content specifically for the purpose of using affiliate links.
One thing Jeannine recommends is going to Awin and looking through their advertiser directory to get a sense of the companies they work with.
You can get an idea of the different categories of merchants that are available to partner with.
It’s quick and easy to become a partner with ShareASale so that you can see their directory of advertisers and their products.
You don’t need any certain number of visitors to your blog to become a partner with these companies.
Jeannine recently helped a client search for products on ShareASale for her vegan blog. After combing through all the possibilities, the client was left with nearly 400 products she could sell as an affiliate on her blog.
Once you have the products or merchants you want to partner with, you can then create content to go along with those products.
Should You Be An Amazon Affiliate?
For years now, I have recommended to all bloggers, both new and seasoned, that they become an Amazon Affiliate Partner. Amazon is well known in the industry for its partnerships with online publishers, who drive millions of sales for the platform.
Amazon has always been a great way to earn your first few dollars from your blog, and then as you grow, to increase those earnings.
But recently, Amazon changed its terms of service with its affiliates and cut the commissions by more than 50%.
Bloggers who have hundreds of Amazon links in their content will now see their commissions drop dramatically.
The beauty of partnering with companies such as Awin and ShareASale is that their merchants develop relationships with their affiliate partners and they take care of the affiliates as well as the customers those affiliates send to them.
How to Start Putting Affiliate Links in Your Content
If you’ve been blogging for a bit and you’ve used zero affiliate links, it’s time to start inserting some into your posts. But where do you start?
Let’s say you have 200 blog posts on your site. You don’t want to just stick some affiliate links in the last 5 posts you did and then work your way backward including affiliate links in each post you’ve written.
Instead, go to your analytics and find your top-performing posts.
Choose the top 10 that bring you the most traffic and begin to include affiliate links in those posts.
Get your most popular posts fully optimized for affiliates and then move to the next 10 most popular.
Once you have some affiliate links in your posts, continue to update the post and create fresh pins for it. Check periodically to make sure your affiliate links still work and that the post is updated to be current.
The Best Way to Get Your Affiliate Links Seen
Affiliate marketing is not an overnight sensation. It is going to take time to begin to see a return on these posts unless you are swapping Amazon links for another affiliate partner. Those may keep bringing in steady income for you if they were already doing great.
So, the first way to get your affiliate links seen is by placing them in your blog posts. But are there other ways of getting your links in front of your audience?
There certainly are! Jeannine suggests thinking of all the places your audience can consume your content and be exposed to links.
The majority of merchants in Awin and ShareASale allow you to use their links on your social media accounts. *Remember to use #ad near the top of your social media posts as a disclosure.
You can also use your affiliate links on Pinterest, but be sure not to shorten the link with a link shortner. Pinterest requires you to use the full link. And disclose through #ad.
What is a Cookie in Affiliate Marketing?
If you aren’t familiar with cookies on websites, they are one of the ways that your activity online is tracked.
So, for example, if you click through an Amazon link on someone’s blog, and you end up spending several hundred dollars over the next 24 hours on various items, that blogger makes a commission on everything you purchased.
All because of the power of the cookie.
Awin and ShareASale have 30-45 day cookies. Some have up to one year.
This means that your blog visitor has time to think about their purchasing decisions before buying and you still have plenty of opportunities to earn a commission on that sale.
Jeannine shared an amazing piece of information concerning something called “cross-device tracking.”
Simply put, if your blog reader clicks through a link on your blog from their phone but doesn’t make the purchase, and then later that same reader goes back to the website on any other device and makes the purchase, you get the affiliate sale if you’re partnering with Awin or ShareASale.
Make It Easy for Your Blog Readers to Click and Buy
As bloggers, you are there to serve an audience. You write to a specific person with every post you create and you have ideas to help that person.
As you serve your audience, they begin to know, like, and trust you. And as a general rule, we take advice from people we know, like, and trust.
If you share solutions to problems with your audience but you don’t give them a chance to purchase the solution with a direct link, you are hurting that person and yourself. They want what you’re telling them will work, so provide the affiliate link.
When you tell your reader how great something is but you don’t offer a link, you are literally leaving money on the table.
You can have 3-5 links in a normal blog post without it seeming spammy or too full of links.
We are all trained to click on links. Anybody who spends any time online clicks on links every single day. You do it. I do it.
Do your research on Awin and ShareASale and give your audience the tools and products that will make their lives better.
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