When I first started blogging, I thought you needed to be a “big” blogger to make money from affiliate sales. I saw the words “affiliate marketing” and was like “nope, not me!”
Eventually, I included affiliate marketing into my baby blog (which had less than 10,000 monthly views at the time) and kicked myself for not doing it sooner.
The truth is, if you’re getting even a minuscule amount of traffic, you can make money from affiliate sales in a non-sleazy way.
This guide will share how you can make your first $100 via affiliate sales on your baby blog too, all without writing any new blog posts!
Here it goes, my friends!
1. Make a list of your top-performing blog posts
If you haven’t used affiliate links before, the best place to start is with old content (yes, old content!)
While you should be adding affiliate links to new content you create, I would prioritize old blog posts. Your old blog posts already have traffic. They will also have higher rankings on Google and will be prioritized on Pinterest.
So head on over to your Google Analytics, and make a list of your top-performing posts.
We want to be intentional though, so don’t get too excited and add links randomly.
The strategy I’ve used?
You want to add links to articles where readers are already in a “purchasing” mindset.
I repeat: you want to add links to articles where readers are already in a “purchasing” mindset.
What do I mean by that?
It means your readers are in the mindset where they are buying, booking, and handing over dollars.
Some examples of travel-related posts that’ll perform the best:
- Packing guides
- Itinerary posts
- Country and city guides
- How-to posts (just like this one!)
This type of content is what people usually read when they’re booking hotels, cars, tours, and buying last-minute items for their vacation.
I’ve found affiliate links don’t work that well on inspirational posts (e.g., X European cities to visit on your summer vacation). When readers are looking at these types of posts, they not in the “purchasing” mindset.
When your readers read content like this, they’re more likely looking for inspiration. Maybe they haven’t decided where they’re going yet or for how long.
The reason why city guides or itineraries result in affiliate sales is that this is when people are planning their trip and looking for accommodation or tours to book.
So go on, narrow down your list of blog posts which fall into the above categories!
Once you have the list of your blog posts …
2. Sign up to affiliate programs
When I started using affiliate marketing, this was the most confusing part.
There are so many affiliate programs out there – where do you start?!
The affiliate programs you sign up to will depend on your niche, your audience, and the type of content you write.
For example, if you write itinerary posts or “things to do in X city” type posts, you’ll want to sign up for accommodation booking affiliate programs like Expedia or booking.com
You also want to take into account where your audience is based. If your audience is mainly Australian, there’s no point in signing up for Amazon Associates. But if your audience is US-based? Sign up to Amazon ASAP, my friend!
Take a look at where the majority of your readers come from (use Google Analytics!) and sign up to programs that apply to your readers.
As a starting point, some great affiliate programs include…
Booking.com is hands down my favorite program (and where I’ve earned most of my affiliate sales!)
If you have a US-based audience, I’d highly recommend signing up for the Booking.com affiliate program.
Booking.com run their own affiliate program, where you will receive 25% of any commissions they make from accommodations.
While this doesn’t sound like a lot, it can add up pretty quickly, and if you have an audience that likes to splurge on their hotels, you can receive a lot more than you think!
I once made 97 Euros (108 USD) from one booking. Yes – one single booking!
Psst: It’s important to remember while booking.com is great, you will only get paid once the booking is fulfilled. This means you could be waiting a long time depending on when the booking is for. This is why it’s so important to start including those booking.com affiliates ASAP!
The cruise I went on in Halong Bay, Vietnam, was booked via Booking.com!
Amazon is also a great option if your audience is US-based.
I have a big chunk of my audience from Australia, but since there is no Australian alternative, I still use Amazon since half of my audience is US-based.
If you mention a product anywhere in your posts, you should link to it on Amazon!
This includes packing lists or guides where you mention any tools you use (e.g. photography equipment or tripods).
Signing up to the Amazon Associates program is super easy and you don’t need to wait for approval before you start linking to Amazon products.
Psst: remember to include the Amazon Associates disclaimer on your blog. To be on the safe side, I’d recommend using their exact wording.
If you have any guides for how to take photos, gear, or packing guides, Amazon is a must!
Admittedly, I don’t use the Airbnb referral program but have heard great things about it.
I did a survey of my email subscribers and the majority of them say they use Airbnb. I don’t feel comfortable recommending a platform I haven’t had great experiences with, which is why I’ve never acted on this.
But if your audience loves Airbnb?
Go for it!
I’ve signed up to the Expedia affiliates program through Commission Junction (they’re a program which houses a bunch of affiliate programs in the one place). Expedia doesn’t have their own stand-alone affiliate program, which is why you need to sign up with a third party.
My conversion rates with Expedia are not that great, as my audience loves Booking.com so much more! I’ve had a couple of sales, but nothing to write home about.
But my experience is not representative of everyone. If your audience uses Expedia (and let’s be honest, Expedia’s reach is huge) then you should definitely sign up to their affiliate program!
I recommend signing up via Commission Junction, as you’ll get access to many other affiliate programs too.
Our hotel in Wellington which we booked via Expedia
TripAdvisor is probably one of the most well-known and well-trusted travel companies around the world. Even my mom knows who TripAdvisor is, and she doesn’t have a Facebook account!
I link to TripAdvisor whenever I mention a hotel or tour, as people often like to read reviews before they book anything. This way, you’re capturing people during both the research and booking phases.
If you want to join the TripAdvisor affiliates program, you can sign up via the Commission Junction program, which will give you access to the Expedia affiliate program too.
3. Add affiliate links
Once you’ve signed up for the relevant affiliate programs, you want to go back to your shortlist of blog posts we made in the first step!
Anywhere you’ve mentioned a product, hotel, or tour, you want to add an affiliate link.
For product posts:
- Include photos of you using the product where possible: don’t use generic photos provided by the company, your readers want to see your photos!
- Write about the product: include a couple of sentences about your experiences using the product. Why did you love it? Your readers want to read your experiences
- Text links: I’ve found text links convert the highest, but this is where you can experiment. Start with text links and try banner ads as well to see whether they convert better for your audience.
Take photos of your recommended products, especially if you’re using them when traveling
If you have an itinerary, country, or city guides:
- Include affiliate links at the bottom of the post: I’ve found I get the highest conversion if I include a small “where to stay” section at the bottom of a post. Including links at the bottoms means that your readers will get all the relevant information up-front and you get to build trust with them.
- Text links result in higher conversion: many of the affiliate programs offer banner options, but text links result in higher conversions
- Write about your experience: your readers want to hear about your experience with the hotel or tour. What did you like? What didn’t you like?
- Include photos: if you have a photo from your tour or hotel visit, this is the time to include it!
- Recommend alternatives: this is not for every blogger, but I like to include alternative hotels for travelers on different budgets. If I’m doing this, I always make sure to research the hotel like crazy (I would hate for someone to have a bad experience), and I always link to TripAdvisor reviews so they can read more.
I procrastinated for so long from adding affiliate links into my post, and adding these small sections to a couple of posts that are already getting traffic can bring in the $$.
4. Sit back + let watch the $$ roll in
Now, this is when you watch the sweet dollars roll into your bank account!
The one thing I love the most about affiliate marketing is that there is minimal upkeep – you create quality content and leave helpful suggestions and voila! You can make income, even when you sleep!
It’s a common misconception that you need loads of traffic to be making money from affiliates.
I used to think affiliates was for the “big” blogs, but now I wish I had started using affiliate marketing earlier on in my blogging journey.
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