If you’re new to blogging, you’re probably hearing a lot about affiliate links. But what are they? How do they make you money? These are all good questions that new bloggers (and even some seasoned bloggers) ask all the time. Here are some frequently asked questions about affiliate links!
What are affiliate links?
Basically, if you refer someone to a company’s website and they make a purchase, the company will give you a small commission. Your affiliate link is special because it has a code in it that tells the company you sent someone to their website. There’s no additional cost to the customer. They just cut a little out of their profit to thank you for helping them make a sale.
Affiliate sales are one of the main ways bloggers can make money.
Companies like Amazon, Target, and even Pizza Hut pay for advertising in pretty much every typical form: commercial, online ads, print ads… but they’re also willing to pay you to advertise for them. Of course, a big plus for the company is that they only have to pay you when it results in a sale. (Unless they offer a lead commission which not many do.)
How does it know I referred someone?
Your link includes your tracking code. Most companies have a tracking cookie that is active for a certain period of time. There are a couple that must incur a sale without closing out of the window, but the majority give you at least a 24-hour cookie.
For my non-tech savvy friends, cookies are temporary files that are added to your browser that hold useful info about the website you’re on.
When you apply to an affiliate program, they explain the terms of the cookie length. They’re normally 24 hours (like Amazon), 7 days, 30 days, 1 year, or they can even be permanent. They should also tell you if they’re first or last click based. Most are last-click based which means that the last affiliate link clicked gets the sale.
Is there any reason why I might not get credit?
There are several reasons that you might not get credit for a sale:
- The customer clicked someone else’s affiliate link and the new cookie overrides yours.
- They didn’t make a purchase in the time frame of the cookie.
- They used a different browser or computer to place their order. This sometimes happens if they switch from mobile to desktop or vice versa.
What kind of commission can I make?
It really depends on the program, but you can generally expect about 4% from major retailers. Some programs will have volume bonuses that increase your commission percentage when you sell more products.
Amazon, for example, starts at 4% for most of their products. When you sell more than 7 items, your commission for all of your sales jumps to 6%. Then there are more tiers after that.
Some bloggers that sell their own products have affiliate programs which pay 30-50% of the sale price! They rely on other bloggers to help get the word out on their courses, ebooks, and products so they pay generously.
Almost all of the bloggers require you to purchase the product or course first before you can become an affiliate. Elite Blog Academy requires you to watch a series of videos and take a quiz before they will approve you as an affiliate. It’s because they really want to make sure you’re promoting their brand and products the right way.
Are there rules I have to follow?
DISCLOSE! FTC guidelines require anyone that makes money from linking to a product or service to conspicuously tell the reader they are making money off of sales.
Disclosing is actually pretty easy to do. You need a disclosure page on your website. And you in every blog post that contains affiliate links you must tell the reader at the beginning. No, you can’t hide it at the end or in the footer. Ideally, the disclosure should be as close to the links as possible.
I keep my disclosure at the top of the post after the introductory paragraph and title image. I recently started linking to my disclosure page.
Where should I promote my affiliate links?
In your blog posts! Gift guides are excellent for linking to affiliate sales. Anytime you mention a product or a website, grab your affiliate link.
On your social media accounts! Deep linking (linking to specific products, not just the homepage) works really well on social media. I like to include affiliate links to products we use and love with a photo of us using it.
For example, I’ll share a photo of Toot with her cookie set and include the link to it on Amazon for anyone who may be interested in getting one too.
— Niki | Toot’s Mom (@tootsmomistired) February 9, 2017
What affiliate programs should I join?
That depends on your niche and what you feel comfortable promoting. Only promote products and services you believe in and use yourself.
A good place to start is Amazon since they sell pretty much everything. You can easily deep link to anything with the Site Stripe. It pops up when you browse Amazon’s website if you’re an affiliate. It will allow you to grab a link, image, or just tweet it out really quick.
Amazon is one that stands on its own but most are in networks. ShareASale is my favorite network so far. You have to apply to each individual brand or company but they all add up into one payment. That works out well if you sell a little from many different companies.
How do you promote your affiliate links?
Let me know in the comments below!
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