I recently saw a post that argued affiliates just aren’t a good fit for mom bloggers. My head exploded (I have made a significant amount over the years on various sites), and I realized that truly many mom bloggers don’t know how to effectively use affiliate programs. What the first inclination for people to do is to join a bunch of affiliate programs, slap oodles of affiliate banners for all kinds of companies in the sidebar, and then wonder why the money doesn’t roll in. That is the least effective way for mom bloggers to make money with affiliates.
So, if you have been scratching your head reading the above, thinking I have tried using affiliates and I haven’t made any money, here are some tips specific to mom bloggers to earn real revenue.
Also, before you jump right in, be sure that you are always mindful of your readers first and foremost. If you start thinking about nothing but making money from affiliates, your blog and social media presence will reek of it. So be sure you think of what interests your audience first and foremost. Also be sure to always disclose when you use an affiliate link. I truly don’t think people mind a disclosed affiliate link, but they sure do mind if they think you are hiding it.
If Someone Has to Buy It, Use an Affiliate Link
This may sound simplistic, but it surprises me how often I see people talk about a product or a service (and the company has an affiliate program) and I do not see an affiliate link used. If you do a review, use an affiliate link. If you are talking about your Sunday outting and how it reminded you of a book you loved as a child, use an affiliate link. You would be surprised how often even a blogger who does not do product reviews actually mentions something that can be bought or signed up for.
This strategy won’t earn you a fortune overnight, but it is a case of bits of sand becoming a beachfront. If you are mindful to always use affiliate links in the content you are already writing that is already mentioning something that costs money, each one of those is an opportunity to earn revenue. Each time you do it is another opportunity to earn revenue.
Go Seasonal with Affiliate Links
I make a huge percentage of my affiliate income based on certain seasonal content. Even if the only season you get extra money is for the Christmas shopping season, who wouldn’t like an infusion of extra money about that time of year? If you are doing a gift guide for your readers, use affiliate links for the products you recommend. There are so many possibilities and seasons, from recommending gifts or flowers to Mother’s Day to backpacks for back to school season.
If there is a season or special occasion or holiday, there is probably someone buying something, and there is probably a product category that is a good fit for your audience (again, being sure the reader will actually read, which has to come before they click and buy).
The bonus to this is you will also build seasonal boosts in your blog traffic.
Find the Right Affiliates
I am not sure I can emphasize enough the need to use the right affiliates. If you have a food blog, you probably need not bother signing up with a toy affiliate program (OK, unless maybe they have children’s cooking kits or something on topic). Instead, look for things you have written about (you can always update old posts with affiliate links pretty quickly) or will read about. Perhaps you could join a book affiliate like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you will include recipes inspired by cookbooks, you can explain which cookbook and have a link to buy it. Obviously, affiliates related to food products, cooking gear, kitchen decor and so on would fit.
You really want to consider your audience and what interests them most. In fact, if you aren’t sure, ask them with a survey or in a blog post or a fun embedded poll.
Also, be prepared by belonging to at least a couple of the major affiliate programs. Commission Junction, Linkshare (look! an affiliate link right there…) and Shareasale (that’s another one!) are three of the major players, although there are many affiliate programs. Joining just one or two major ones, however, means you will have thousands of companies whose affiliate programs you can apply for quickly and easily (just note some do manually approve them, so you might request to join several on topic initially).
Negotiate with the Affiliate Programs
Hey, you may not have a million readers each month, but one thing many mom bloggers have is influence. That can be mighty, especially when it comes to recommending products. That blog with a million readers may not have a very personal connection with the audience. You can contact affiliate programs and discuss/negotiate things. See if they would consider a higher commission if you do a dedicated post about your experience with the product, or perhaps they will provide you a product to test so you can see if you would recommend it to your readers.
Get Creative and Experimental to Make Money with Affiliates
Think outside the sidebar. Those banner ads really don’t perform well without a ton of traffic. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them, but don’t rely on that alone or even primarily. Beyond that, think outside the permalink. There are so many ways you reach your audience, your friends, your readers and your followers. Getting creative can be a great way to embed affiliate links in new and effective (translation: money-making) ways. For example (and this is just a sampling):
- Did you find a product that other moms would love? Share it via email to your friends, or maybe via an email to a local group such as your PTA members.
- Do you have an email newsletter for your readers? If so, include a blurb in each one highlighting a cool product or perhaps a hot deal (most affiliate programs have special coupon codes for affiliates). Set up an autoresponder for new subscribers with your top picks in whatever topic you blog about. And if you don’t have an email list, consider starting a newsletter. I highly recommend Mailchimp, which is what I use. Remember how I mentioned including affiliate links when a product or service comes up in your natural conversation as you write? Well, that Mailchimp one was one. And hey, here is a cool bonus. If you sign up for Mailchimp via my affiliate link, I get a $30 credit on my account and so do you.
- Did you just buy something cool (maybe a new laptop or a book you read) and fall in love with it? Share about it on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. You probably do that already, so just add an affiliate link. Just like anything else on social media, just don’t overdo it. Do it just as frequently as you would tweet or update about a product you love now, and your audience shouldn’t be jarred by any change.
- Whatever your topic, consider including a blurb in your sidebar with some of your favorite things, or your blog’s official recommendations. For example, a mom tech or gadget blog could include your smartphone, tablet, SLR and laptop of choice.
Photo © Luminis – Fotolia.com
Have you found success (or so not) with affiliates? Share your experiences, questions and advice below.