Getting Started as an Affiliate Marketer (for Bloggers)
To get started as an affiliate, you need to sign up for an affiliate program or network. I’ve listed the major ones below. Some businesses (called merchants in the affiliate marketing world) have private affiliate programs. They have their own software, they pay you, and they track the links. You sign up on their website.
Many businesses or even bloggers have affiliate programs you can join. Some are private (invite only) and some are public. Or, you can go to an affiliate network, which is basically a place where you can find a lot of affiliate programs. They pay to be part of the network and it gives you some peace of mind that you’ll get paid (and on time).
Why Join an Affiliate Network?
Affiliate networks have hundreds of merchants to choose from. You need to apply to the network and get approved. They get your tax information and contact. They’ll look over your site to make sure it’s not spammy or that it’s a good fit. They’ll look at the type of promotions you use to drive traffic. You apply to the network first, then to individual programs. Once approved, you log onto the network and start looking at the brands they have.
How do you find programs to join or see what network they are on? Use the search inside the network and put the brand name (like Target), or just Google the name of the business + affiliate program.
Just remember that in most cases a blogger is referred to as a publisher, the business is the merchant. Sign up as a publisher.
Once you find a business you want to work with, apply and tell them how you plan to promote them. Most of the time you’re called a content affiliate (blogger). So you’re going to use your blog, possibly newsletter, and social media. You can give them some of your stats and let them know your audience. It doesn’t have to be large, they just want to know you’re legit.
Get Tracking Links for Each Program
Some merchants take time to approve new affiliates and others approve you automatically. Once you’re accepted, you can get links and banners with code to add to your blog. It will track any sales that come from your blog and you get a percent of each sale you refer. Or, they might offer a flat fee.
Businesses usually provide graphics and other tools you can use in your posts or ads for your blog. You can link directly to specific products (direct link) or to their website. All the money you earn (commissions) from all the merchants are paid through the network, usually after 30 days or more. Almost every network has tutorials on their blog with the specifics of how to grab links and insert them into a blog post.
You can earn a commission off free things too (like when someone prints a coupon from Coupon.com), or even when someone fills out a form (leads). The best part is, you can earn a commission for things you didn’t even link to. You make money from anything that’s sold within a certain time frame (the length of the cookie).
Here are Some of the Top Affiliate Networks For Bloggers:
Here are my top picks for affiliate networks every blogger should sign up for and work with. Each network works with hundreds to thousands of programs/stores/websites. So no matter your blogging niche, there will be programs you will want to work with in each of these networks. I made some suggestions below.
I link to the signup pages directly because many are tough to find!
|Affiliate Window is an international affiliate network. They have this thing called “The Opportunity Marketplace” where bloggers can pitch brands to get sponsored links and other opportunities. They have a linking tool that let’s you link to any page of a website you’re an affiliate of.
Affiliate Window has Etsy, Lonely Planet and many other top programs.
|Impact Radius has Target and Oriental Trading Company. Bloggers are referred to as “media partners”|
|ShareaSale – Craftsy, Our World Boutique, Zulily, Gymboree, Crazy 8, Modcloth, and ChecksUnlimited (many check programs actually). Their blog is very helpful and they have great new tools for bloggers.|
|Amazon has just about everything and since you’ll make a commission on all sales, this is a favorite with many bloggers. Amazon calls affiliates, associates. It’s pretty much self-serve but they have a ton of tools and people love the free shipping. You can even earn for promoting Prime.|
|CJ.com CJ has programs like JoAnn Fabric and Craft which is ideal for craft bloggers, Fabric.com, Old Navy/Gap, Zappos, Home Depot, Sears, and the Disney Store.
They also have a program just for bloggers that’s called CJ Content Certified. You need at least 10k pageviews and when approved you’ll get pre-approved for programs, get to be in the Facebook group that’s just for bloggers and sometimes has sponsored posts (and training). Plus you sometimes get a higher commission just by being in the program. To sign up go here: http://www.cj.com/content-certified-program-qualification and put 4403305 in the Referral Code space.
|eBay Enerprise Affiliate Network (formerly Pepperjam) has ABC Mouse which a lot of moms love! Melissa & Doug is there (love their toys and you’ll earn more than linking to Amazon unless your readers add a lot to their cart on Amazon), Sheet Music.com, JibJab, Forever 21, and eShakati (custom dresses).|
|Linkshare has Nordstrom, J.Crew, Forever21, Sephora, Clinique, 1800Flowers, Starbucks, Sam’s Club, Hanna Andersson, Shutterfly, Petsmart, etc.|
|AvantLink has Blendtec, Baby Steals, Backcountry.com, Cabela’s, Patagonia, REI and Sierra Trading Post. They have many other outdoor niche sites. All the programs I mentioned are top performers. AvantLink has incredible tools to help you such as linking products in an image using your affiliate link. I also like them because they are local (Park City, Utah) and I know the founder and marketing manager. If you are into datafeeds, they are amazing.|
Here are Specific Brands That are a Great Fit for Most Bloggers:
I may have linked to them above, but for individual programs, here are some good ones:
One King’s Lane – I LOVE their deals and their higher end products are wonderful. I’ve purchased jewelry and am really happy with their shipping. Would make excellent gifts.
Craftsy – they have online tutorials and you can even get paid on some free tutorials. The payout is good and their affiliate manager actively communicates with sales and post ideas through a private Facebook group and in emails.
Grokker – online exercise classes and you get paid for each new free trial. They have yoga, barre, kettlebell and more. Plus, cooking classes from chefs (those are my favorite).
VidAngel – this online movie streaming companies has filters to make any film they have family friendly. It’s a great alternative to Redbox for $1/night. However, to legally filter out language and other material you have to “own” the movie first. So it requires a $20 deposit, after which your account is deducted $1 per movie (you have 24 hours to watch it) or $2 for HD. Payment of $15 per sale. Try out VidAngel here.
ModCloth – this online clothing store has a touch of vintage appeal. They also have work outfits and a huge range of sizes from really small to very large. They carry everything from dresses to swimsuits.
Get Away Today – affordable Disney trips. While payouts are low and the program is managed privately, you can earn a free trip when you sell a certain number. Contact Kimf@getawaytoday.com
If you’re more advanced affiliate marketing techniques, check out what Leslie Samuel teaches about creating a resource center. Even though his is B2B marketing, the concept applies to any blogger and what I love about it is that it’s based on content marketing – which bloggers do naturally well at.
If you have any affiliate programs that you recommend, please leave them in the comments!