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Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog without Being a Slimey Salesman


When’s the last time you saw a blogger selling affiliate products…the right way?

If you can’t remember, you aren’t alone. Nearly every day, I see bloggers promoting affiliate products in a way that makes me feel I’m on a used car lot. It’s a turn off, and it makes me trust everything they write a little less.

In this video from past BlogWorld/NMX speaker Darren Rowse, he talks a little about how to promote products the right way. This is how you make sales, not lose readers!


To follow up Darren’s video, let me just end this post by talking about a few of the biggest mistakes people are making with affiliate marketing on their blogs:

  • Avoiding the “sell.” You’re writing about a product because you want to sell it. That’s okay! Your fans aren’t going to get mad and stop reading because you sell something, as long as it is something relevant and you aren’t putting affiliate marketing above actual helpful or interesting content.
  • Not following FTC rules. Make sure you are disclosing it whenever you use an affiliate link on your blog. If you don’t, readers may feel like you’re being misleading (and you’re probably breaking FTC rules, which you can read more about here).
  • Promoting products just because you can. Instead of promoting an affiliate product because your readers might want to purchase sometime, promote products that you love and really want readers to buy. Just because a product is related to your niche doesn’t mean you should promote it on your blog.

Affiliate promotions are just one way to make money on your blog. Want to learn more? Check out our monetization track at New Media Expo in Vegas!


Why I Don’t Mind Pinterest Hijacking My Links


Recently, Joel Garcia at GTO Management bought it to everyone’s attention that everyone’s new favorite social sharing site, Pinterest, is basically hijacking links to make money as an affiliate. I highly recommend checking out Joel’s complete post, but here’s the main idea:

  • When you “pin” something, unless you you the upload option to post your own picture, users can click on your pin to go to the original source. It’s a good system – it allows as much traffic as possible back to the site of interest, no matter who pins or repins.
  • There’s this tool called SkimLinks that website owners can use that will basically look at an entire site and whenever a link could be an affiliate link, but isn’t, SkimLinks automatically makes it one.
  • What Pinterest has done is installed SkimLinks so that anything pinned by any user that could be an affiliate link (but the user didn’t make one) will be made into one – using Pinterest’s ID.

It’s an upsetting thought for a lot of people, but I’ve never been one to go with the crowd. I’m more than happy to allow Pinterest to make money from my pins using SkimLinks. But I feel like a disappointed parent…because I wish they would have just told me.

Beyond FTC rules they are potentially breaking by not disclosing the presence of affiliate links, I don’t think it’s fair that Pinterest doesn’t make this process clear to new users. Even worse, the process for adding your own affiliate ID is difficult. In most cases, you have to add the pin, then go back in and edit the link, and while you’re making adjustments, your pin is live with their link…and people repin stuff pretty quickly sometimes.

The other problem is that sometimes bloggers and other content creators what to post their own products. You obviously aren’t an affiliate for yourself…but Pinterest could just take it upon themselves to add their own ID to your links, so you’re doing all the pinning work but you still have to pay out a commission to the company. Bogus.

Overall, though, I’m not inherently mad about Pinterest hijacking my links and making some money with affiliate sales. In fact, I hope they keep doing it.

The company has to make money somehow, right? Take a look at the site. Right now, how is it making money for the company? The answer is…it isn’t. To be sustainable long-term, the company would probably have to start having sponsored pins (yuck), blatant sidebar ads (yuck), or membership fees (yuck). I’d rather them make use of potential affiliate links that aren’t being used anyway. It makes sense because it doesn’t change my Pinterest experience in any way, yet the company still makes money.

It’s kind of like the chubby kid in the cafeteria coming up to you and asking, “Are you going to eat that?” If you’re not, give him the other half of your sandwich. Someone might as well enjoy it rather than it getting thrown away.

But they need to disclose this. Here are the changes I’d like to see:

  1. Full disclosure about SkimLinks when you sign up for the site. Not buried somewhere in the TOS…clearly stated for everyone to see.
  2. An option to add your own affiliate link when you pin a product (if you want to) as you’re pinning – not having to go back after the fact and re-link the pin.
  3. A dedication to warn and potentially ban users who are using affiliates without disclosure on their profile or boards.

Pinterest, I’m happy for you to make some money from me. You have an awesome platform that I love to use, and I feel good that you’re able to make a little money in exchange for me being able to continue using your cool site. Just be honest about it and give me some options to make the experience less shady. Let’s keep Pinterest awesome. That way, we can all make a little cash and enjoy the pinning experience.

Erica Douglass’ Seven Steps to Passionate Pitches


I’ve been a bit of an Erica Douglass fangirl since I first read her Failure Manifesto back in August 2010. So, when I heard that she would be speaking at BlogWorld New York 2011, I made sure to put her session on my “absolutely cannot miss” schedule. I even wrote it in pen. Pen!

I wasn’t disappointed. If you missed Erica speak (or missed BlogWorld New York 2011 completely), I highly recommend keeping your eyes peeled for the forthcoming virtual tickets that will be available at the BlogWorld Expo site so you can listen to a recording of her session and see her slides.

Erica’s session was called “How to Passionately Pitch without PO’ing Your People” – and like many others at BlogWorld, she spoke about how we need to remember that email marketing can work. Erica gave us seven great steps to creating the best pitch emails possible:

  1. Have a clear, concise call to action. What do you want your readers to do? Don’t make them try to figure it out. Tell them exactly what they should do!
  2. Include at least three links to buy – and one within the first 200 words. Don’t make them read a huge email if you hooked them in the first paragraph.
  3. Never apologize for pitching a product. Whether its yours or an affiliate product, you’re recommending something of value. Don’t apologize for the price because it makes it sound overpriced. If it’s worth the cost, stand behind it.
  4. Set a price anchor. When you start talking about a product, your reader will automatically start comparing it to things they already know. You want to do that first so that when you tell them the price it is much lower than the thing already in their head.
  5. Make readers feel like they are getting a special deal. Why should they buy from you, especially if others are selling the same products? Many people are happy to give you a special discount code for their readers, or you can throw in some of your own giveaways for people who buy from you.
  6. Give readers a sense of urgency. If not, they’ll put it off until “someday” and someday will never come. Make your offer only available for a limited time before the product is no longer available or the price goes up.
  7. Follow up with at least one additional email – preferably two. Erica’s formula is a post and email on the first day, a second email about two days later, and a third email (plus additional post) three to four days after that. You don’t have to be annoying, but if people are responding well, sending follow-ups allows you to earn even more.

Of course, this is just the bare bones information from Erica’s awesome presentation. Again, if you want to listen to the whole thing, stay tuned so you can pick up a virtual ticket, which will give you access to recordings from BlogWorld New York 2011.

Thanks, Erica, for a great session – easily one of my favorites of the show! Readers, check out her story and more great advice at Erica.biz and follow her on Twitter @ericabiz.

12 Days of Blogging 2010: 8 Affiliates Selling


And we’re back with another day of the 12 Days of Blogging 2010! I know it’s a ton of information to digest, but I hope that you’ve found some new bloggers and learned a few new things along the way. Today, the topic is affiliate sales. You can be an affiliate for national companies (like Amazon), work with individuals who offer products to sale, or even launch your own products and offer an affiliate program for others. We’ll talk about that last one later when we get to 6 Launchers Launching; for today, let’s look at some awesome advice about making money being an affiliate for other people or companies.

Affiliate advice falls into two main categories: 1) advice for people who want to start or who run blogs specifically with the purpose of making money by promoting affiliate products and 2) advice for people who run a blogs and want to add affiliate links occasionally to add another stream of income.

The links I’ve chosen to highlight in this post cover both topics – hopefully you’ll find some useful blogs no matter what your affiliate goals.

1. A Rare Guide to Affiliate Marketing in 2877 Words – Part 1 by Jase at ZealingMoney.com

As the title says, this is just part one. If you’re brand new to affiliate marketing, I highly recommend the entire series, which starts with this post on what it is and goes on to talk about getting started, promoting your affiliate program, and tracking your efforts. In other words, it’s everything you need to get started. From the post:

The beauty of affiliate marketing is the fact that you don’t need even a penny to start making money. But, if you can invest some money, definitely your return will be multiplied several times.

Ok, just relax and take a deep breath. I promise you that I will give you the most important facts you need to know to be a successful affiliate. Even if you are already an affiliate marketer, this guide will be helpful to you also. Do you have the desire to see heavy checks coming to your bank account? Are you willing to make an effort to make it a reality? Then it is just a matter of time making it a reality.

You can read the rest of the post at ZealingMoney.com and follow the site on Twitter @zealingmoney.

2. Bras and Affiliate Marketing by Brent Coppieters at DotComSecrets.com

Brent Coppieters is the affiliate manager for DotComSecrets.com – so it makes sense that he would write some awesome posts on topic. This is another great post for beginners – and you should also check out the other posts on this site if you’re interested in knowing more about affiliate marketing. From Brent’s post:

More businesses now than ever rely on affiliate programs to help generate more sales/leads.  What’s great for them is that they can have hundreds or thousands of “online salespeople” referring others to their site or product.  They only pay a commission when some type of action is taken.  This action that triggers a commission might be a click of the link, a sale, or a lead. Business owners agree to pay a commission when someone takes action.

Check out DotComSecrets.com for more about affiliate marketing and make sure to follow the sites’s founder, Russell Brunson on Twitter @RussellBrunson.

3. The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Espionage by Mark Thompson on JonathanVolk.com

Ok, I’ve listed some beginner’s guides to affiliate marketing…this one is a little more advanced. Ok, a lot more advanced. But, if you’re not new to affiliate marketing, this is for you. It talks about how to promote your products, how to identify the most valuable keywords, how to rank organically when you want to sell a product, and more. From the post:

Being able to spy on your competitors and capitalize on opportunities that are backed up with research and data, can really help you to make lots of money online. There are a number of tactics and tools you can use to help you better understand opportunities, your competitors and how they are going about marketing products.

You can read more on JonathanVolk.com and follow Johnathan on Twitter @jonathanvolk. This post’s author is on Twitter @m_thompson, and runs a SEO blog called StayOnSearch.

4. Top 10 Tips For Affiliate Promotions by Michael Dunlop at Income Diary

If you’re interested in using your email list to sell affiliate products (which can be highly effective is you’ve built a strong list), this is a post you should read. Michael Dunlop is on smart cookie, and he’s broken down the process in easy-to-do steps. From the post:

Now I appreciate some of you will be thinking — I don’t have much of a list or much of a following – so how can I go about promoting a product launch.

Well of course in theory the bigger the list you have the more sales you will have – but let me make another point. Some of the most successful affiliates for the Pre-Launch of PopUp Domination actually had relatively small lists but what they had that more than made up for it was a very responsive list.

He goes on to talk about how to build that responsive list – and then, more importantly, what to do once ya got it. Read more at Income Diary and follow Michael on Twitter @michaeldunlop.

5. How I Made Over $2000 From One Blog Post by Chris Guthrie at Make Money on the Internet

Chris Guthrie first came onto my radar at BlogWorld when I momentarily met him while doing a BlogWorld interview, and I was reminded to check him out when he did a BlogcastFM interview about how he makes money online using Amazon’s affiliate program. This is just one of the extremely useful posts on his website if you’re a blogger who wants to use this type of program to make money with your website. Chris writes:

During late 2009 I published a story showing that a highly anticipated camera was finally available for purchase on Amazon.com. I knew from my own blog that it would be a hit with the readers and that I would get an uptick in orders and increased commissions. What I didn’t expect is that several large blogs would end up linking to my story and in some cases – using my Amazon affiliate link to show their readers where they could find the product!

I love a success story – especially one complete with tips on how I can replicate that success myself! Check out Make Money on the Internet for more and follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisGuthrie.

6. Lessons Learning in Using Video for Affiliates by Shawn Collins at Affiliate Tip

This post is actually a video presentation from Affiliate Summit East 2008, when Jonathan Stefansky, EVP Sales and Marketing, Qoof, talked about using video for higher conversion rates. No excerpt, since it’s a video, but I highly recommend watching it! Affiliate Summit East and Affiliate Summit West are two conferences I highly recommend if you’re considering getting involved more with affiliate marketing. You can check out more at Affiliate Tip and follow blogger Shawn Collins on Twitter @AffiliateTip.

7. Are You Practicing “Spray and Pray” Affiliate Marketing? by David Risley

David Risley is one of the smartest bloggers out there when it comes to making money online, and this post is a good analysis of why some affiliate marketing programs aren’t as successful as others. Writes David,

Typically, a blogger will simply post something about an affiliate product and maybe email it to their list. If they have a good relationship with their audience and the product is truly relevant, then this can work (and often does).However, this could be called the “spray and pray” approach. In other words, you just spray the message out there and see who bites. It isn’t really targeted beyond the fact that it is relevant. It doesn’t take into account that a pretty huge portion of your audience isn’t really in the mood to buy anything. Plus, it depends on you HAVING a decent-size audience already.

If you’ve been frustrated with your lack of affiliate sales, this article could give you some insight as to what you’re doing wrong. Check out DavidRisley.com for more make money online tips and check him out on Twitter @DavidRisley.

8. Should You Feel Guilty Pushing Slightly Shady Affiliate Offers? by Zac Johnson

The final post I wanted to feature today is from Zac Johnson, and it’s a discussion of shady affiliate programs. Should you promote something even if its a questionable product or service? What if you don’t use it yourself? What if it might trick your reader (such as a trial offer that auto-renews at a much higher price every month)? What if…

Well, there are a lot of “what if” that you’re going to have to consider if you want to be an affiliate. I think Zac does a good job at sparking the debate here, and whether or not you agree with him (I certainly don’t agree with everything in this post), it’ll give you some things to consider. From the post:

One of the many decisions you will have to make as an affiliate is what type of offers you will run to make money. The good thing is you literally have a limitless supply of offers to choose from. Offers range from anything as simple as entering a sweepstakes, completing a free trial offer or even earning a commission on a purchase. On the flip side, you also have offers which bring little value to the user, but are still good money makers.

The comments on this post are pretty good, since people are weighing in with lots of different opinions, so make sure to check them out. Read more at ZacJohnson.com and follow him on Twitter @moneyreign.

BONUS: Because it’s an important topic, I wanted to include a bonus post for you all to check out. This one is from Rosalind Gardner at Net Profits Today and is called WordPress.com Free Hosting is NOT for Affiliate Marketers” – something that I think is true for anyone attempting to make money online. Rosalind is on Twitter @rosalindgardner.

If you’ve written a post about affiliate marketing, please share it with a comment below. The more people who share, the more valuable this 12 Days of Blogging series for everyone! Don’t forget to hit the retweet and like buttons!

Check out the rest of the 12 Days of Blogging:

12 Writers Writing
11 Tweeters Tweeting
10 Guests a-Posting
9 SEOers Optimizing
8 Affiliates Selling
7 Facebook Users Updating
6 Launchers Launching
5 Golden Rules
4 Podcasting Hosts
3 Ebook Tips
2 Ethics Debates
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree (ebook coming soon!)

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