Build a Badass Business Podcast #16: How to make money with a blog, Part 1 – Affiliate Sales

Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

BABAB-PODCAST-Square_Episode-16There are a lot of ways to monetize a blog. In this series of episodes, I'm going to touch on the various approaches you can take. Today, I'm talking all about affiliate products and programs, different options, and how to earn money from them. Tune in to the next part where I discuss ads and sponsorships.


Don't miss an episode!

Subscribe to Build a Badass Business on iTunes.

And don't forget to leave a review once you've been listening!

Get your questions answered:

Fill out this quick form to submit a question to the show.

Build a Badass Business: Episode #16: How to make money with a blog, Part 1 – Affiliate Sales 

Coming to you straight from her basement home office in suburban New Jersey, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Hey, hey, hey all my badass business peeps. Welcome back to another episode. Before I get into my topic today, which is how to make money from a blog, I’m going to call this part 1 because I’m sure I will have more parts to it later.

But before I get into the episode I need to take a quick second to remind you all to hop over to iTunes and leave a review for the show. It’s super important that you do that. This show is totally free; I’m happy to keep contributing content and advice and giving information, but I just need you to do me that one favor. Take one minute, five minutes, what have you.

You can do it from your phone if you go into the podcast app; this is from iTunes from the iPhone. You go into the podcast app and then you search for Build a Badass Business. You have to find it organically from their search, not through where you’ve already subscribed. So you find it through search, and then you can click to see the ratings and reviews, and then you scroll down or tap to slide down a little bit, and it says write a review. Or, if you go into iTunes on your computer, it’s really easy to do it there when you look at the listing for the show, go ahead and leave a review and a star rating. I’m reading all of your reviews, so I really want to hear what you have to say, what you’re learning, what you’re enjoying, and go ahead and share it with your friends who might benefit as well.

Alright, today’s episode how to make money from a blog, part 1. I’m going to talk about affiliate sales today. This topic is relevant if you have started blogging or you have a website, but you don’t necessarily have something to sell of your own quite yet. You don’t have your services all together; maybe you’re finishing a certification, maybe your product isn’t ready. It can be ready, as well, but this is something that I really thing everyone should set up before they even have their own product or service, because it’s valuable for everyone. All you need to do in order to get affiliate sales going on your site is have some content that people will come to your site for. So if you’re writing an article, and you’re like, who cares if anyone reads it? Well, you’ll care if somebody reads it if you start getting traffic if they might click on something else that you’re linking to.

Ok, so the 3 ways to make money as an affiliate; the first one is Amazon.com. It’s probably the number one most important way. I don’t know all of the states that are excluded from it; I’m pretty sure Colorado is excluded at this point. There may be others, you just need to go into Amazon and look up their Amazon associates program, is what it’s called, and find out if it’s allowed in your state. If it is allowed in your state, you need to sign up for an Amazon associates account as soon as possible. You may need to have a business, either a federal ID number or use your social security number as a tax ID. Which, if you’re a sole proprietor you’ll just use your social security number, but one reason why I always have people sign up for a federal ID number is because it seems a little bit sketchy sometimes to enter your social security number all over the place on the internet, even though these sites are secure, I just feel a little bit better about using a federal ID number; a federal tax ID number.

So you sign up for Amazon associates, and the really cool thing about that is that you will start out at a lower percentage; I don’t remember exactly the percentage that they start out now because I signed up for it so many years ago. It could be 3, it could be 4%, but it will go all the way up to, I don’t know, it could go up to as high as maybe 10 over the years, depending on how quickly you sell things, your rate will increase time and time again.

So it’s pretty amazing; you can write a blog post about pretty much anything and link to something that a person could find useful. Maybe it’s a recipe and there is a piece of kitchen equipment or a tool they could use, or even an ingredient; say it’s a pantry item. You can link to that item on Amazon through your Amazon associates link. Now, there are definitely rules and regulations about ways you need to be explicit about the fact that you do have Amazon associate links on your website, and you can check out their resources for all that information and make sure that you’re kind of following up on all of the details of that.

It’s super important, and I’ve had folks who get tons of website traffic, they’re blogging all the time, and they haven’t signed up for these accounts. They’re essentially leaving money on the table, so it’s something that more time you have it will be better. So the sooner you sign up for it, the sooner you start using it; you never know when you might share something. I know for example if I share a link to the spiralizer that makes the zucchini noodles, people go crazy for it, they love it. So if you want to share something like that, you don’t know when sharing jut one link might actually be able to return a good amount of income for you, and that’s a fantastic way to make money from your blog before you have your own product or service to sell.

Now, a second way to earn affiliate income from your blog is through products and services that you already know, like, and trust. You know the product very well, or you know the author of an eBook, for example, very well, or you know the program very well. The 21-Day Sugar Detox is a perfect example of that. It’s an affiliate product, so anybody could go onto the affiliate network that I have my product on, it’s called Clickbank. You can find many other affiliate products there; I know Jen Sinkler’s product is available through that, Lift Weights Faster, and you can add a link on your website to these products or services, and make sure again that it’s your correct affiliate link.

There are lots of products out there, whether you’re in the paleo community or not, lots of new paleo products are on affiliate networks, because who are selling them don’t sell in grocery stores all over the place, some of them don’t sell on Amazon yet; they probably will. Some of you may be able to get through different markets and things like that, but in order for these folks to have a base of customers that spreads a little bit faster than they’d be able to do on their own, they open up an affiliate network. And all that does is kick back a small percentage of the sale to the person who was helping to promote it. The cool thing is, it doesn’t cost the customer anything more, all it does is actually take money off the bottom line for the company, and you can take a small percentage of that transaction. So, there are lots of different products that you can promote as an affiliate.

My number one piece of advice, and this is something that I hold to 100% of the time, is to only, only, only ever promote a product that you believe in 100%. You absolutely can take over your entire website with ads for all different kinds of products, and you can probably make good money doing it, whether or not you know, like, and trust that other product. But, you’re integrity is on the line, so I firmly believe that everything you do on your website is a direct reflection of you if you’re going to run any kind of ad on your site for an affiliate product, you really want to know that it’s something that can be trusted and that it’s high quality.

For me, the products that I recommend, I would say at least 9 times out of 10 they are products that I use often, maybe every day, or have used in the past. If there are any that I don’t use, and I believe in it, it’s pretty rare. It’s pretty rare that there’s a product that I talk about and recommend that people buy and use that I don’t use myself often.

I will caution you that it’s important to keep good track of the affiliate links that you’re using. You’ll want to keep some kind of Google document or a spreadsheet. Make sure that your affiliate links are up to date. Every now and then, somebody starts an affiliate program and then a year or two later they find a platform that works better for them to sell their product on. You need to make sure that your affiliate links are constantly up to date. This is something that, when you hire your first assistant, that tends to be something that’s really great to give them as something to maintain so you have a list of every eBook or every product that you might promote and say what’s a valid, accurate link for us, so any time we talk about it, maybe it’s in a blog post or maybe you're sharing it on social media. You want to make sure you’re using that affiliate link.

One thing I would also caution you, sort of against but to also let you know that it’s a possibility, is shortening links with something called Bitly, or a short link converter. A lot of products are absolutely fine to take that URL and convert it through Bitly and the link will work just fine. I know that on Clickbank there are risks to doing that, so one of the things that we have with Clickbank is it holds us back from letting them convert them into short links where basically you would have something where it’s bit.ly/ and then some kind of URL that you enter in there. A lot of people get kind of turned off because you can’t very easily make those short links and know that they’ll work ok if you’re using a program like Clickbank.

However, the way things work today with people actually taking that action when you say hey click here and order this, most people aren’t retyping what you're giving them as a URL. So even if you’re using Instagram, for example, even if you wanted to put a really pretty link on the graphic that you’re sharing, I would bet you 99 if not more, a higher percentage of the time, 99% of people are going to just go to your profile, when you say link in profile, they’re going to click there. They don’t want to try and type in, even if it looks pretty simple, they don’t want to type it in. You guys know this, you probably do it all the time; I do it myself. If someone says, here’s the link, and it’s in my profile, I’m not going to type it. I’m going to click on it with my finger. So that’s an important thing to remember; you can shorten these links, but I honestly don’t believe it’s the most critical thing. I think it’s more important to just get the links and make sure that they’re accurate.

So in order to make sure the links are accurate, the best thing you can do is actually test them. You can ask the person if there’s a way you can test it, or you can test it with your own credit card and just ask them to refund it, or just make sure, I know one way through Clickbank is that I can click through on something and put the item into the cart, I scroll all the way to the bottom of the purchase page and I can see that my affiliate ID is right there on the bottom. So that’s a really good way to test your affiliate links.

Now there is a third way to make money through affiliate products on your website, and that could be through a system, like Clickbank as I mentioned, where you can actually search their marketplace for different eBooks, products, services, etc., that align with something that you believe in. So for example, if you wanted to search paleo or fitness or Crossfit or something like that in the Clickbank marketplace, you could probably find lots of eBooks that are written by tons of people who you’ve never heard of. So I would caution you against ever promoting something that you're not very well versed in, because you don’t want to put something on your website that somebody will come back and say, this thing sucked. {laughs} Quite frankly, again, it’s your name on the line; your name is really all you have, so you may find an eBook that you didn’t know would be in there. For example, my friend’s Bill and Hayley from Primal Palate, they have a 30-Day Guide to Paleo, it’s a fantastic resource, and that you can find in Clickbank as well. Maybe you didn’t know that it even existed; maybe you didn’t know it was on an affiliate network, so searching can be a great way to find it.

But, that third way is really finding something that you didn’t know existed and promoting it, and I would just caution you to make sure that it’s something that you can really trust and that you would either buy yourself or you would use on your own, as well, because anything that you’re going to recommend to people you have to make sure that you believe in it 100% and can support and get behind the value they’re getting from that product or service.

Ok, so beyond having simply a little graphic or a sidebar ad for something that you have an affiliate link to; what are some ways that you can earn money from these affiliate programs and services and products that you have links for?

The first one are reviews. It’s pretty common that folks will write a review, maybe of a book or a product, and they’ll use an affiliate link to tell you about that product. They’re not necessarily doing that just to “sell you”, but it is a way for them to tell you about that product or book and give you kind of their take and their behind the scenes. So it’s a really great way, if you have something that you love, write a review of it. One service that I did that with is Stitch Fix. I’m sure a lot of you have heard me talking about Stitch Fix. I made a page on my website; I actually don’t have it linked anywhere from the site currently. If you go into the website, you could search and find it, but it’s not linked from the navigation right now because I was just keeping it kind of a little bit more hidden, but that’s because I wanted to be really specific and strategic about when I talk about it.

But that’s a service that I really do love. I’m enjoying using it, and I made this whole page where I talk about not only my experience with the service, but I give a little bit more around my tips for having a successful experience with it, and that’s because I do see people who feel like they’re not having a great experience, and I want to give people my best possible advice for having a good experience, because it is something that I love so much. So, writing a review about something, that’s kind of the first way to promote an affiliate product or service that you have a link for.

Another way is just talking about your use in everyday life. That may be a post on Facebook, a post on Instagram, what have you. This is something, again, I do all the time. I don’t even necessarily always have an affiliate link for something, I just, because of the situation I’m in now, often times I have way too many products coming at me where people want me to try something or they just want to introduce me to it. It’s kind of fun because you get to try all kinds of things, and sometimes I do have an affiliate and sometimes I don’t, but I’ll just post a picture on Instagram if I’m actually using or eating the product, and let people know about it. So if you take a picture of something that you’re using, you can go ahead and post your affiliate link in your profile or right there on Facebook and say, hey I love this!

One I use a lot is Kasandrino’s extra virgin olive oil. I don’t always link to my affiliate link there, because frankly I just talk about it way too much, and it would be a little bit overkill for me to constantly remember to type that in, and Tony Kasandrino, who owns the company, is a really good friend of mine and I’m just really happy to talk about it either way. But just using it all the time, so that’s not really a review, it’s just a little bit of social proof about how much I love and use these products. It’s just very natural and organic, just my everyday life.

So a third way to use your links would be to talk about other relevant topics. So here’s a really good example, going back to the olive oil topic. I did a blog post of #DianesSaladMadness, so if you guys follow me on Instagram, I’m always posting these crazy salads that I put together because I just think they’re beautiful. I think vegetables and protein and all that stuff just looks really pretty when I combine different colors, so I go a little crazy with my #DianesSaladMadness.

But, I put up a blog post on my website talk about how I build the salads, and at the bottom of it, I put a link to Kasandrino’s extra virgin olive oil, because that’s the oil that we use every day in my house, and that’s a way you can use a relevant topic. You’re not necessarily just talking about the olive oil, but you’re talking about something related and you’re giving people who might be coming to read about your salads a way to find out what’s an ingredient that you love that you’re using all the time.

Truthfully, we all want to hear that social proof, we all want to hear that testimonial of, somebody I like or know or trust likes this product. So we feel like we can trust somebody else when we’ve been reading their stuff for a while, or maybe it’s just a friend or somebody that we know. So that’s, again, where it comes back to only promoting things that you absolutely 100% can get behind.

So, a last way you can use your links, and this is sort of related to the relevant topics thing, but it’s a little more specific. If it’s a food item or kitchen gadget, etc., obviously you can write a recipe and link to those items within the recipe. But another way you could do this is to create a video where you're talking; for example my fiancé, Scott, has what he calls a 2-minute fix series, and sometimes a 2-minute fix are typically some sort of movement issues. Maybe you're having a shoulder issue or a knee issue, ankle, etc., and sometimes there’s a tool or a gadget that’s useful in helping you to loosen up the soft tissue or break some things up or work on this pain that you have. So if there’s a gadget that he wants to recommend, of course he’s going to link it with his Amazon associates link. It just makes sense.

If you’re promoting something else, that’s how you can get a little bit of a kickback for the fact that you’ve created content that now somebody finds that product with, and they can get what it is you’re recommending through that link. So it makes everything a lot easier for the person who’s watching the video or consuming the content. They don’t want to have to go making a separate search for this item that you recommend, it’s so much easier if you make it just a link they can click on; no big deal.

Alright guys, that’s what I have for you today on making money from your blog with affiliate sales. I’m sure there will be more parts to this series on how to make money from a blog, but this is a fantastic topic for any of you who are just starting out. Again, if you don’t have your own product or service to sell yet, this is a great way to encourage you to create content even before you have your own product or service.

Don't miss an episode – subscribe here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *