What Is Affiliate Marketing?

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There are a lot of ways that bloggers make money. While many bloggers think they need to find advertisers or sponsors to make money from their blogs – and while that may be a good way to make extra money – the one thing every blogger should do to guarantee she makes money from her blog is to become an affiliate marketer.

Which leads us to the oft-asked question, “What is affiliate marketing?”

The long and short of affiliate marketing is that when you place an affiliate link on your blog – be it to a specific product or even a company – you may earn a commission when someone clicks that link and makes a purchase.

A lot of bloggers choose to make money via affiliate marketing because it is an easy way to monetize a blog. There aren’t any contracts or sponsors to worry about as you choose all of the links that appear on your site and you (usually) only get paid when people make purchases.

Have you ever used a site like Ebates? That’s an affiliate marketing website! Ebates is earning a commission any time you place an order and then giving some of that commission back to you. How about Retailmenot.com? Yep, they’re an affiliate site, too, only they don’t share anything with you. (Boo!)

Have you ever looked at a review on Trip Advisor and then clicked one of their links to book a hotel? Yep, that’s an affiliate link and your booking has probably made TripAdvisor a little bit of money… and possibly even the blogger or website that referred you to TripAdvisor, if applicable!

Affiliate links are absolutely everywhere.

So, how can you use affiliate links on your blog? It’s easy!

Examples of How Bloggers Use Affiliate Links

  • Book review bloggers might use affiliate links from stores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million (or all three or any others there may be) in their posts and earn a commission when anyone purchases the books they’re recommending! (Yes, e-books, too!)
  • Fashion bloggers can use affiliate links as they detail everything that they’re wearing. If the items they are wearing are older and no longer in stores, they might share affiliate links for similar items that are available.
  • Food and recipe bloggers use affiliate links when talking about the cookware or other utensils they’re using. Perhaps they share links to their favorite cookbooks. They might even be able to use Amazon or other stores to link to some of the food products in their recipes.
  • Craft and DIY bloggers who share their newest projects can use affiliate links when they post about the supplies that they use to create their projects.
  • Coupons and deal bloggers have access to so many affiliate programs that will not only help them find the deals to write about but will also pay when people print out coupons!
  • Travel bloggers might use affiliate links for any of the hotels they stayed at, tours they took, and sometimes even the airlines they fly. They might even recommend luggage, travel accessories, our travel books and use affiliate links in all of those posts.

The bottom line is this: Every blogger SHOULD be using affiliate links in her blog posts. Period.

The reason that, ideally, the money made from affiliate marketing would be your primary revenue stream is because what you’re making is solely dependent on you. The more you work and hustle, the more you’re going to make. If you’re relying solely on advertisers or sponsorships to come through, well, you could be waiting a long time and you could get a sponsorship one month and then not see another one for another year. You just never know.

Another perk to affiliate marketing over other forms of blog monetization is that it can lead to passive income. Passive meaning you can write one post that includes affiliate links and continue to get paid out on that one post for years to come! Wouldn’t it be great to see money coming in to you for a post you wrote three years ago? While an advertiser may pay you a nice amount up front, the amount that you can make for one post via affiliate links may be substantially more over the long run.

Now that you know what affiliate marketing is, our goal is to teach you all of the tips, tricks, and tools you’ll need to become a successful affiliate marketer and start making money from your blog in no time!

If you’ve read this and you’re still wondering, “What is affiliate marketing?” or have any related questions, please leave a comment and we will try to help you out!

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Lisa Koivu

Founder at Oh, She Blogs!
Lisa Koivu is the founder of Oh, She Blogs! A seven year blogging veteran, Lisa can also be found posting shopping deals and steals at ShopGirlDaily.com . In her free time (ha!) she is also a freelance writer who has written for About.com and U.S. News.
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