That old expression “practice makes perfect” is really annoying sometimes, isn't it? We just want to be good at it, already! Apply that mentality to affiliate links and you're like, “I just want to make money blogging, already!” right?
Time to slow your roll, bloggers. Making money with affiliate links doesn't happen overnight, and I've spent about a year figuring that out. Consistency and routine build trust and loyalty amongst your readers, which (hopefully) translates to sales.
Using affiliate links is like remembering to take your daily multivitamin: it helps to take it at the same time of day, everyday, and you're not going to wake up feeling like a superhero after a week. The goal is overall health and steady improvement.
Links on your blog.
Just like planning your route to work or strategizing your monthly budget, you have to try different things to see what's going to work best. And not just once, but a few times. 10 times. See what I mean about the time? Looking at your network's analytics will show you what your readers are responding to. (The more clicks, the better!) Take note of where the items were linked in your content, as well as what kinds of items (price range, accessories, apparel, etc.)
Once you see a pattern, commit! Maybe your readers love shopping out of a widget at the bottom of your post, or prefer a short paragraph of hyperlinks under your collage or personal style images. Maybe your readers prefer to see links embeded in your editorial copy. Pay attention, and they'll let you know!
Facebook: I have yet to see many bloggers using affiliate links in an interesting and not-annoying way on Facebook. If you want to test out this channel, use original images (Facebook users LOVE to “like” pictures). Include your link in the text, but accompany it with an editorial image or photo from your blog post.
Twitter: When done right, using twitter to drive followers to your affiliate links can be very affective. Personally, I really need to be sold to click through – which happens when the tweet is humorous, the item is on sale or I'm just particularly interested in the item in question.
With social media, your readers will let you know what your point of saturation is. For some, posting all the time works great, and for some a more sparing approach is better. The routine that works for you will be determined by the response of your fans and followers.
Perhaps the routine in this case isn't to plan out your links, but to commit to looking for opportunity. Cruise your favorite shopping sites for new pieces you love and sale markdowns you can share. Keeping your eyes open will allow you to take advantage of promotional windows when it feels natural for you.
I count Pinterest as a separate entity from “social media” when it comes to affiliate links, because there's so much potential and you can pin things in waves, whereas you probably want to avoid spamming your followers' twitter feed with tweet after tweet of shopping links at one time. Get in the habit of pinning the affiliate links you used in your blog post that day on the same day your post goes live. Many blogger's I've talked to cite Pinterest as one of their highest-earning channels with affiliates, so don't neglect this one! (Remember, use, don't abuse – be tactical with your pins.)
Set goals. And break your own rules sometimes.
Outline for yourself how much money you want to make this month, this quarter, this year. Start small. Be realistic and optimistic. Take decisive steps to achieve what you want.
Take a look at how often you post on your blog, and what types of posts fill your content calendar. If you're strictly personal style, then it makes sense to use affiliate links every, single, time.
Rules? What rules? There aren't any. What works for you may be a complete flop for another blogger. Routines are really, really helpful to get you started, create habits and give you a strong foundation from which you can stray when it feels right. Innovation doesn't come from sticking to the plan!