It’s not uncommon for first-year hard-core bloggers to make up to 10K a year on their website side hustle and to continue to grow profits each year.
In fact, stats show that 70% of bloggers that have been publishing 3 times a week for over 10 years can make between $500,000 to a million a year (and, now I’m rethinking my career).
There are several ways bloggers make money including a mix of advertising and boosts in traffic, growing a substantial email list, selling ebooks, and creating products. But, one of the most lucrative and easiest ways to build a blog that’s a cash machine is to sell other people’s products on your website.
This is called affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing works by joining an affiliate program, finding products your blog audience will love, promoting those products on your blog, tracking your sales, and then earning a commission from the sales you make.
To give you an idea of how to get started with affiliate marketing, here are three money-making blog posts to guide your efforts.
1. The Points Guy
One of the most popular travel bloggers, The Points Guy (Brian Kelly), is also a killer affiliate marketer. He earns his living by running a blog that provides smart insight into how travelers can cash in on free travel experiences by maximizing the use of reward points earned by opening and spending money on credit cards with travel benefits.
Through Brian Kelly’s advice, I have personally been able to get free Global Entry, free access to ritzy airport lounges, cash credits for travel, and free stays at hotels in Aruba, Beijing, New Orleans, New York, Miami, and several other amazing places.
But, here’s the thing. Every time I get travel advice from The Point’s Guy blog, click on one of his affiliate links to a credit card deal, and sign up, Brian Kelly either get credit card points or a cash reward. Cha-ching!
According to SimilarWeb, The Points Guy blog has received 12.18 million visits over the last 6 months.
If only a portion of those convert, imagine the cash Kelly is bringing in every six months (Yo Brian, can I marry you for money?).
Let’s talk about what affiliate marketing looks like in practice. Here is one of the top posts on The Points Guy blog, The Best Travel Cards for 2020.
The first thing The Points Guy does in this blog post is he picks a topic that is highly searchable and that shows purchasing intent. In this instance, he caters to avid travelers that like to use points for travel and that want to know what the best travel cards are for this year.
Then, The Points Guy offers website visitors an insightful blog post with relevant details.
Here is where affiliate marketing genius comes into play. The goal of the post isn’t just to provide insightful travel details for free; the goal is to provide details and make an affiliate sale.
If you look at the post, you’ll see a series of credit cards with blue links to deals. These links are special affiliate links provided by the credit card company that links to Brian Kelly’s unique affiliate program account.
Every time one of his website visitors click on this unique link and makes a purchase, he gets the credit, and the respective credit card company will pay him in either cash or credit card points.
Take note there are several affiliate links in one post. This provides multiple opportunities for The Points Guy to make an affiliate sale.
If you turn your attention to the right side of the blog (pictured below), you’ll also see a sidebar with the heading “Top offers from our partners.” These also affiliate links, and when someone clicks “learn more,” it’s another opportunity for The Points Guy to make a sale and a commission.
Important note: You’ll also notice a disclaimer at the beginning of the post that lets website visitors know the links are affiliate links and he will get a commission if you click on it and sign up. Providing an affiliate disclosure at the beginning of your post is an FTC requirement.
2. Entrepreneur On Fire
John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire is another popular blogger that makes money by inserting affiliate links into his content.
While Dumas uses a number of different affiliate content strategies, let’s talk about an interesting one that many rich bloggers use (we know they are rich, because they tell us).
Many bloggers will create a monthly post sharing their monthly income report. These income reports usually start with tips that readers will find helpful and an overview of happenings from that particular month. This particular post includes a tax tip and a legal tip, which are particularly relevant to entrepreneurs in January, and then an overview of what happened in January at Entrepreneur on Fire that was significant.
Finally, it’s time to get into the income report. Dumas first starts out with an overview of non-affiliate sources for making income, including the journals he has for sale, podcast revenue, free courses, and more. After this overview, he gets into affiliate income.
The first thing you’ll notice is the required disclaimer that says Dumas is including affiliate links. Then, you’ll see a breakdown of how much money Dumas made on which affiliate programs.
By including the affiliate links in the affiliate income report itself (as opposed to simply including a picture or no links), it provides another opportunity for visitors to learn what he sells, click on it, and to make a purchase.
For example, if, as a website visitor, I click on “Click Funnels,” the link will redirect me to John Lee Dumas’s individual affiliate page for Click Funnels. If I start a free trial, Dumas will get a commission.
If you look at the URL, you’ll notice it’s not just clickfunnels.com, the URL includes an additional tag that is unique to a particular affiliate account (in this case, John Lee Dumas’s account). This is one way you can tell your affiliate link is working properly.
It would still be helpful and interesting to readers for Dumas to include an income report with no affiliate links, but it would not be strategic, and would not provide an additional revenue opportunity. Adding affiliate links in one more place on his blog increases the chances of clickthroughs and conversions.
3. Your Marketing BFF
When you start your blog, it’s imperative to select a niche. Your Marketing BFF is a blog that is all about marketing, and only about marketing. Tana Nelson owns this blog and offers tons of awesome marketing tips.
While Nelson limits her niche to talking specifically about marketing (smart), she doesn’t present herself as the only expert in the industry (also smart).
Part of her charm (and part of the reason she makes money off her blog) is her willingness to share insight from other smart marketers. This strategy further establishes her credibility and also presents an opportunity for her to engage in affiliate marketing.
In one of her top posts, she explains how bloggers can make money. She doesn’t do this by offering only her wisdom (of which she has plenty). Instead, she highlights eight other bloggers that are making thousands of dollars a month, offers a brief description of what they are doing to make money, links to their website, and also makes a recommendation (affiliate linked sales pitch) for products these bloggers have put out that have either helped her grow her business or that she enjoys.
As with any good affiliate blog post, Nelson includes a disclaimer that links in the post are affiliate links and she will get a commission.
When you’re starting a blog, you don’t have to present yourself as the only expert in the niche. The more you branch out and discover products from other bloggers that will help your audience, the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your business.
Did You Know HostGator Has an Affiliate Program?
If you are new to blogging or affiliate marketing, a good place to start is by joining the affiliate program of your own hosting company, HostGator.
HostGator has an affiliate program that is open to you. All you have to do is sign up for the affiliate program here, share your affiliate link in your blog posts, and earn commissions whenever someone else signs up for HostGator through their link.
A strategic way to do this is to create a blog post that is called something like “How I Started A Blog,” “How You Can Start A Blog in Less Than 10 Minutes,” or something similar.
Then, create a tutorial that outlines how to sign up for HostGator’s Web Hosting program, how to install WordPress, and present the basics of how the HostGator WebBuilder works.
Instead of linking to HostGator directly, when you sign up with the affiliate program, HostGator will provide you with a unique HostGator affiliate link that you can add to your post. Any time one of your readers clicks on your link and signs up, you’ll get a commission.
For your reference, this post explains how you must disclose your HostGator affiliate link in your blog posts.
Remember, when it comes to affiliate marketing, your options are endless. You don’t have to commit to just one vendor (remember how The Points Guy is part of several credit card affiliate programs?).
You can create a tutorial of how to create a HostGator account and link your affiliate ID, and seek out other affiliate opportunities.
Get started with HostGator’s affiliate program today, and earn your first commission.
Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.