An important part of any successful blogger’s business plan is affiliate marketing income. Although many of the tips out there are aimed at beginners. If you’re at a more advanced level of the blogging game, here are some of my favorite affiliate marketing strategies to take things to the next level.
Identify your pillar products
Just as your blog should have long-form go-to resource posts – pillar posts – you should have a handful of pillar products to promote as an affiliate. When identifying these products, you’re looking for resources related to your core content category.
For example; If you’re a homeschool blogger, your pillar affiliate products might include your favorite places to buy curriculum, places to buy printables, your favorite homeschool planner, and maybe a membership site, support group, or conference. Think about frequently asked questions you receive when looking for products. And if a category has multiple products you like, consider narrowing it down to a cheaper or newer product and a more expensive or advanced product. Offering readers too many options can sometimes send them elsewhere for additional reviews or advice.
Set up redirects
If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you know that affiliate products come and go. Sometimes they change the platform. Instead of looking for every instance of a link in your blog posts, ebooks, and elsewhere, I recommend setting up redirects to link to affiliate products.
The benefits of redirecting are many. In addition to switching out a link and updating every link everywhere, you’ll also have “clean” links to share on social media. Instead of having a link that looks like it, you might be able to remember the next one without having to grab a link every time you need to make a recommendation.
You can set up redirects by creating an htaccess file and uploading it to your site’s directory, or you can use a plugin like PrettyLink.
Track outgoing links in Google Analytics
If you’re not using a plugin that offers stats like Pretty Links Pro, you should add event tracking to Google Analytics so you can identify which posts are making you the most money. You can then update and promote these frequently to increase your bottom line.
Another benefit of event tracking is that you can see which traffic is clicking – and possibly buying. Then you can focus your marketing efforts where you’re getting the best results, whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, search traffic, etc. PrettyLink Pro also integrates with Google Analytics.
Use URL Builder when sharing links on social media and email
While Google Analytics can provide you with some insight into where incoming traffic is coming from, it leaves a lot to be desired for the advanced affiliate marketer. You can see the email as a referrer, but which email? Was it your welcome email that drove you traffic or was it your weekly newsletter? The same goes for social media. Is that Facebook traffic coming from your page or someone else’s? Or was it a Facebook ad or boosted post?
When you’re ready to start narrowing down your traffic sources, it only takes a second. Google URL Builder allows you to place tracking tags before sharing your link on social media, email or advertising. There’s even a Chrome extension that will capture the URL you’re on and save frequent campaigns. I use this extension a lot for my weekly newsletter. Then you will start to see the traffic decrease over time to your affiliate links.
Note that URL Builder will only track links to your site. It will not help you track affiliate links. Any tracking tags you add will appear in your affiliate partner’s Google Analytics, not yours.
Optimize old posts
When many bloggers start affiliate marketing, their first thought is to create new content that revolves around the product they want to promote. Their next thought is often that affiliate marketing doesn’t work when their glowing product reviews don’t generate immediate income. Straight-up product reviews are often a hard sell to an existing audience. Especially if it’s not something they’re specifically asking for.
Rethink your approach. Work backwards. Go into your Google Analytics and pull up a list of your most popular posts for this month, this quarter, this year. You can find your most popular posts in Google Analytics by going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. Export your top 25. You can change the number displayed at the bottom of the list under Show rows.
Start updating this frequently visited post. Make sure the information is up to date. Make sure any existing links still work. Now, start plugging in some of those pillar affiliate products that are a good fit. Don’t push them all in there. Instead, choose strategically. Thinking about that homeschool example, if the post is about curriculum, add a recommendation for where to buy those products. Add your affiliate banner within the post. Don’t go overboard. Recommendations should be a side note and add to the post, not take away from it.
This is a much easier way to approach affiliate marketing than trying to write reviews. Every few months, update your old posts. As you write new content, sprinkle in your recommendations where appropriate.
A unique way to promote pillar products is the brainstorm way
One thing I’ve come to embrace in the affiliate marketing space, the past year has been bringing unique ways to promote my favorite products. Many bloggers are happy to stick with the static – one review and one banner There are many more opportunities to promote the things you love in an authentic and engaging way while providing great value for your readers. Some of these opportunities may even help increase your authority and reach.
- Host a webinar with your favorite product maker sharing industry tips
- Host a social media contest on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest
- Ask for a custom coupon to share with your newsletter subscribers
- Create an email autoresponder series
- Post a tutorial or tips video on YouTube
- Share photos of yourself using your favorite products on social media
Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to experiment. All of the above, with the possible exception of coupons, are more “soft sell” tactics. You’re sharing your love for the product in a genuine and value-driven way. Even if the person doesn’t buy the product they’re linking to, they’re still walking away with something – even if it’s just a feel-good moment. Consumers today want to be sold to without feeling like they’re being sold to.
Pro Affiliate Plugin
Earning a full-time income from my efforts as an affiliate marketer, I have several plugins that have helped me save time and increase my sales.
Pretty Link Pro – We’ve talked about this before. I can easily add affiliate links to my blog posts from within the post editor. I can see the statistics down the page level. And let’s not forget that when a program or link changes, I only have one place to update as opposed to finding dozens of links.
EasyAzon – This allows me to search and add Amazon products to my posts from within the post editor. It is such a time saver! And, I can localize my Amazon links. This means that I can still earn a commission if a visitor outside of the US clicks and orders.
ConvertKit – I recently migrated my newsletter list to ConvertKit and am loving it so far. I can easily add as much content as I want to upgrade my blog without creating a new list of subscribers each time. Every new subscriber gets some freebie whether it’s my 7-day work-at-home series, a list of my recommended blog tools, or some other goodie. They can get as many of these as they want and I only pay for them once and they only get one weekly newsletter.
VigLink – I don’t rely heavily on VigLink for merchant website links, but it earns me $50 to $100 per month by grabbing links to things I may not be an affiliate for yet, or maybe not enough to sign up for. to promote