Last week I addressed the Fashionista article which claimed that some personal style bloggers would earn up to $50,000 a month in affiliate commissions via RewardStyle. Then I countered with my own average affiliate earnings of about $3,700 a month. Needless to say, I'm not here to tell you exactly how you too can earn $50,000/month in affiliate commissions, but I CAN tell you how I've been successful with affiliate linking and give you some ideas on what might work for you.
First, though, I have to qualify everything by saying that I AM NOT AN EXPERT in affiliate marketing and I am not trying to be. There are lots of those out there if you want to get hardcore into it, they usually run online shopping malls and coupon database sites and are more than willing to sell you ebooks with their affiliate marketing tips for just $5.99!! I am just a “pro” blogger who has made a significant portion of my full-time blogging income from affiliate commissions over the last (almost) 10 years.
Several years ago, I misguidedly went through a lot of analysis, trying to pinpoint successes and come up with some sort of formula, like: “if I post this link, I'll make this much $” or “if I buy this and wear it, I'll make this much $ in commission.” It doesn't work.
First, it's impossible to tell via affiliate programs the exact item your reader bought – you can only see what link they clicked on. I try to estimate based on commission if they purchased the item they clicked on, and most of the time they DID NOT, or maybe they did, and added something else.
And besides “analysis paralysis,” this sort of over-thinking to maximize affiliate commissions takes all the fun out of blogging – and misses the point altogether. I'm first and foremost a SHOPPING blogger (think Lucky, not Vogue) with a passion for specific designers/aesthetics, and the thrill of the hunt. If I'm trying to boil everything down to a formula, I'll lose what makes my readers trust and appreciate my voice in the first place. Which will ultimately decrease the amount of money I earn because without my readers and our relationship, I have nothing.
If you're one of the millionaire bloggers though, perhaps it IS all about the number of affiliate links you have out there, choosing the right one at the right time, and having loads of traffic to your blog; a million page impressions a day or month will inevitably lead to higher earnings. My niche is quite focused and my audience rather small comparatively speaking (more like 65-70,000 page impressions a month), so what works for me is simply focusing on my own personal style, buying and featuring things I love, and recommending them to my readers.
My niche is quite focused and my audience rather small comparatively speaking (more like 65-70,000 page impressions a month), so what works for me is simply focusing on my own personal style, buying and featuring things I love, and recommending them to my readers.
99% of what I wear in outfit posts, I buy myself. And while I don't buy/wear items only because I can earn a commission on them when a readers buys via my link, I can't say it's not a factor sometimes as I'm deciding between pieces to invest in. Anyway, most of the pieces/designers I buy are associated with affiliate programs and of course I link them up if they are. If they're not, I link directly to where to buy them, or don't link them at all if they're not available anymore – I never link “similar” items, and don't generally recommend it. And maybe I'll link something to Revolve even though I bought it at Nordstrom because I earn more from Revolve (for example).
It IS important to pay attention to the links your readers click on most often over a period of time and continue focusing on those. More clicks may not always translate into more commission, but the clicks are what tell you the content, and specifically which items are resonating MOST with your readers. Over time, that will generally lead to more sales and commissions for you.
When posting your affiliate links, keep in mind:
- ONLY link to items you would or could buy with your own money
- Establish trust with your readers
- Be genuine and personal, there is no substitute for your own voice
- Tell a story: Your readers want the story behind the things you wear/buy, not just a regurgitation of items you're wearing and links
- Create a relationship with your readers; engage with them personally as often as possible
- Don't link to things you wouldn't spend your own money on
- Live your passion – make it evident to your readers whenever you post
- Narrow down your niche
- Be honest and open about how you make money on your blog. Let your readers know what happens when they click on an affiliate link. If they trust you and want to support you, they'll be happy to do it by buying through your links
- If you wouldn't link to or talk about a product for FREE, do NOT link to it or talk about it JUST because you'll earn 10% when a readers buys it.
- NEVER link to anything you wouldn't spend your own money on
Did I say enough times how important it is to maintain trust with your readers and only link to items you would be willing to (and CAN) spend your own money on? If you're a college student on a strict budget and wear mostly H&M and thrifted pieces, DO NOT link to “similar” more expensive items at Shopbop or Saks hoping to earn something off your readers. They're probably in the same situation you are; they can't afford the more expensive items, and anyway they'll start to see through what you're doing quickly and stop reading.
Ultimately, the key to making money blogging is that you have a trusting relationship with your readers.
THAT IS IT.
There is no secret formula to success or five things you can do to earn $10,000 a month via your blog (that won't compromise your integrity), it is just hard work, living your passion, and engaging with your readers. Once you have a vibrant community of readers surrounding your blog, the money will come.