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August 17, 2019

Is Affiliate Marketing a Good Way to Make Money on Your Blog?

Is affiliate marketing the way to make money on your blog and how much can you make? Let’s get into the pros and cons of affiliate marketing!

How Long Do Affiliate Programs Last?

Affiliate programs are great but from a long-term business perspective you have to accept that all affiliate offers will disappear or change someday.

Don’t believe me? Check out what happened to the apple app store affiliate program. Or check out when Amazon cut its affiliate program payouts in HALF! There are countless examples of this happening over and over again.

average amazon associate commission

Many people based their entire blog or YouTube channels around an affiliate program. Only to watch their business get destroyed overnight when that program disappeared or cut back. This is why I don’t recommend you rely exclusively on affiliate programs for monetization. I think it’s a great way to monetize today, but may not be as great a way to monetize tomorrow.

affiliate program closed feeling

Do NOT Create 100% of Your Content Solely For Affiliate Programs

Because affiliate programs are not eternal, you don’t want to base all of your content on affiliate offers. I think a healthy mix of “Top 12 product for Y” articles are great for your business, but you should avoid doing that for every post.

Why? Because unless you’re iJustine and are peddling enough camera gear to get YouTube sponsorships this won’t make you particularly rich. And long-term this content may not be viable. You want your content to appreciate in value over time. If every piece of content you produce is a product review then that’s not going to happen.

youtube affiliate reviews

Treat Affiliate Income as Bonus Money, Not Your Primary Income Model

For example, I recently wrote a post on how to setup Gmail with a custom domain name for free. I wrote that post because I believed it could bring in a lot of traffic to this website. Traffic that could help my website gain authority and that might be interested in my core product offer.

Sure, I put the affiliate link for GSuite in the post. But, I didn’t make the post in a desperate attempt to gain affiliate sales. If they come in that’s great, but the content still has value to me even if they don’t.

Focus More On High Paying Affiliate Offers

The most popular affiliate program is the Amazon Associates program. This is because Amazon sells practically everything, so it’s an excellent fit for most blogs regardless of niche.

things you can buy on Amazon.

That said, as of 2021, Amazon is only paying out 3% on anything sold within 24 hours of clicking the link (for US traffic). So to earn $100, you’d have to sell $2,500 worth of Amazon products within 24 hours to US buyers.

Even though Amazon converts reasonably high, it’s got to be one of the lowest paying affiliate programs in existence. It’s why I don’t recommend creating Amazon niche sites in 2021. A large percentage of people will buy 25 hours+ later. And you’ll get nothing for those sales.

Compare that to Clickfunnels. ClickFunnels is a piece of software that enables you to offer 1 click upsells and downsells. As of this writing, a single ClickFunnels sale will make you $40/m until that user unsubscribes. And their cookie lasts forever.

To make $40 on Amazon, you’d have to sell $1,000 worth of goods within 24 hours of the link click. Are we seeing why you should target higher paying affiliate offers?

How Do I Find High Paying Affiliate Products?

There are a surprising number of high paying affiliate programs out there. More products than you think have an affiliate offer.

After you’ve written your content type “Product name + affiliate program” into Google. Do this for any product you mentioned in your blog post. An affiliate product will show up more often than you’d expect.

affiliate program google

I’d recommend you only use affiliate products you were going to link to either way. But, if you’re going to ignore that advice and want to try to find the highest price offer. I would search through an affiliate network like Share-a-Sale for the highest paying offer. Or I’d start Googling “highest paying affiliate offers” and begin your search for high paying offers that way.

Affiliate Program Examples

Here are a few affiliate programs that I like. I like them because they’re products I’ve actually used before and had a good experience with. Some of their commissions pay quite well, some do not.

  • Bluehost pays $65 for each signup.
  • SkillShare pays $10 for every user you sign up.
  • Grammarly pays $25 for you to sign up. Then 20 cents per free user you sign up and $20 for each premium subscription sold.
  • GSuite pays $15 per user signed up. And even more for business users.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud pays 85% of the first month. About $6-$60 per sign up depending on the plan.
  • Tailwind pays 15% of the sale price. If a user signs up for a year, you’ll make $18.
  • Clickfunnels pays $38/m until the user unsubscribes.

This is a small list of software that I enjoy and happens to have affiliate offers. The true list of affiliate programs is much broader than this.

If you’re in a different niche, there are plenty of other options.

The number of affiliate programs out there is massive. No matter your niche, there’s an affiliate program out there that pays quite well. You just have to look for a good match.

How Much Can You Make From Selling Affiliate Products? More Than Ads?

Ads only pay between $10-$30 in revenue per 1000 page views (RPM). How much do affiliate programs pay in comparison to this?

The amount affiliate program pay on an RPM basis is going to be specific to the affiliate program and your content. But, lets try to give a couple real-life examples.

With the Amazon Associates program. We know it pays 3% on sales. If you were getting a 0.5% conversion rate to a $50 product, you’d make $7.50 for every 1,000 page views($7.50 RPM). That is very much in the same ballpark as what ads pay.

ads vs amazon affiliate

You’re about to see why that’s a very low-end affiliate offer. Lets instead try being an affiliate for Clickfunnels where you get $40 per month per signup.

If you had a 0.1% conversion rate for ClickFunnels, your RPM would be $40 x the average number of months a user stays subscribed. If the average amount of time a user signs up is 5 months, your RPM would be $200. Which crushes ads and Amazon affiliate. Heck, this affiliate deal rivals creating your own product as far as monetization goes.

So yes, if you find a high paying affiliate offer that matches your content, you can make a lot of money from it. But again, don’t get sucked into the trap of making 100% of your content exclusively for affiliate deals (even very good ones). If the affiliate program decided to stop paying you one day they’d have the power to ruin your entire business overnight.

Don’t Sign Up For Affiliate Programs Until You Have Traffic

Many beginners will sign up for affiliate programs before they have any traffic. This may prove to be a big waste of your time.

For example, even if you had an RPM of $200 from your affiliate product. If you’re only getting 30 visitors a month, is the $6 per month you’re leaving on the table worth signing up? And most affiliate programs don’t pay nearly that well.

It may not be worth your time to sign up for these affiliate programs until you have more traffic. Focus on creating more content. Sign up for these programs once you have hundreds or thousands of targeted visitors per month.

Remember to Include an Affiliate Disclosure

Affiliate link disclosures are an FTC-mandated practice. Play by the rules and make sure you’re disclosing to your viewership that you have affiliate links in your content.

affiliate disclaimer

Don’t Spam Your Affiliate Links on Social Media

I know the urge to make money is strong. But you’re not setting yourself up for long term success if you’re resorting to spam. For example, it’s short-sighted to create Pinterest Pins with a direct link to your affiliate offer. Or other shady practices.

Other people do it, and it works to some degree, or else they wouldn’t bother. But it’s not the path to the long term sustainable business that you want.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing isn’t a great primary monetization strategy. But, it’s a fantastic secondary monetization strategy!

If you’re affiliate marketing correctly, you’re simply connecting users with the products and services they’re already looking for. Your users will thank you for it and you’ll make as much more more than you did from ads. Plus, it doesn’t hurt UX or bog down your site as ads do.

In that scenario, everybody wins from affiliate marketing.

Shaun Poore worked as a professional software developer for 15 years before transitioning into content creation and digital product businesses. Shaun's currently focused on providing as many people as possible with actionable advice and tools they can use to succeed online, without the fluff or BS that too often plagues this industry.