How I Finally Started Making Money With Affiliate Links

Making Money With Affiliate Links

Here's the thing about advice: you can listen to it, read it, and agree with it – but actually putting it into action? That's something totally different, isn't it?

As an editor at IFB and a personal style blogger myself, I have the interesting dual role of being both a student and a teacher in many of the aspects of blogging that we discuss. Storytelling techniques? Tried em. Widgets to keep readers on your site? I'm using them, too.

This brings me to monetization. We all write about it for you, using a combination of our own experience, research and interviews with the companies and brands that make it possible. Because we're all pretty close by now, and I feel like I can tell you things, I'll be very honest with you right now: I have been so lazy with my affiliate network links.

Are you disappointed? I know I am. But here's the thing: recently, I've gotten increasingly curious and motivated to see just how successful I could be in trying to monetize my style. The good news? It's working. Without a huge readership or tens of thousands of followers, I am making money with my affiliate links. Am I making tons of money? No, but I thought I'd share a little of my experience with you, because I know many of you, like me, are blogging on a smaller scale and wondering if there's any chance for you to actually make money.

Start at the beginning.

Personally, I use both RewardStyle and ShopSense links, but mostly RewardStyle. While there is value in using different networks to see which have the best commission rates, I have found with sticking with one keeps all my income coming to one source, which gives me the greatest chance of reaching the payment threshold necessary to actually get a check in the mail.

First, I spent some time exploring the RewardStyle site. I looked at who the advertisers were, and which ones might appeal to my readers. I know they have great taste, but like me, they don't consistently spend money on big-ticket items. While I love Alexander Wang as a designer, I can't afford his pieces. So using a Saks Fifth Avenue ad might make sense, but a Saks Fifth Avenue ad featuring Alexander Wang? Probably not. The more honest and close-to-your-style the better, so think not only about where you (online or in-person) window shop, but where you actually make purchases regularly.

Your readers want your style.

You know that saying, “You've gotta spend money to make money?” I have found this to be true with my blog, especially when it comes to my affiliate links. When I buy something new, from a store or brand that is represented within RewardStyle and ShopSense, I post about it as soon as I can. For example, about a month ago, I purchased a coat from Gap that I absolutely love. The next day, I made a Polyvore set that included the jacket, and in the copy below, I wrote a bit of anecdotal copy about it. I sold three in the next two days, with a commission totaling about $13. I also did the same thing with a pair of J Brand twill pants that I have that had recently been marked down. I wore them to an event, mentioned them with a link in the copy, and sold three pairs.

If you dream, your readers will dream with you.

Here's my next tip: Don't be afraid to dream. If there are things you want but haven't bought, a trend you have you eye on, pieces you're coveting, share those too! Daydream with your readers, share your style crushes. You never know what mood your readers might be in and what they might be looking to buy at that moment. My most recent example? I am currently obsessed with these Rag & Bone booties. At the moment I can't afford them, but one of my readers could and I made a sale, with a commission of nearly $40.

Go Deep.

I have noticed that my readers are reading not only my newest content, but scrolling back into my archives. When I've had a minute to spare, I've gone back to those posts (from my lazy days) when I wasn't using links, and have added them in. To get started with this, I look at my analytics and see which posts from the past are still getting traffic. I revisit them first, adding in links to the text where it makes sense.

My quickest tips:

  • I sell more when my links are embedded in copy, rather than listed below a collage
  • The more I like something (and I say so) the more inclined my readers are to at least click through
  • Sell it! Put on your marketing hat and vocalize as best you can why your readers should be motivated to make a purchase
  • Keep. Up. With. It. You have to be diligent about using your links or nothing will happen.
  • Be patient with your readers and your sales. For the first year I used affiliate links, I made a whopping $33. In the last two months, I've made $100.
  • I know other bloggers have had a lot of success with affiliate links placed in tweets and Pinterest pins, but I have yet to make a sale from either of those channels, so I can't share any good tips on those!

Am I going to able to live off of my sales any time soon? No way. But if I keep at it the way I am right now, I should be able to use the money from my sales to treat myself to some shopping, and keep the cycle of sharing what I love and making smart connections for my readers going.

What are your best monotization tips? Share in the comments!

This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.

More fashion articles:

  • Recreating Mom's Look by Fashion Panache
  • Name My Blog Contest by LRB and Associates
  • How I Finally Started Making Money With Affiliate Links by IFB

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About The Author

Ana is a Travel Blogger and Blogging Coach at The City Sidewalks. With her expertise in online marketing, she's able to help other bloggers, creatives, and entrepreneurs grow their businesses so that they can achieve financial freedom to travel the world on their own terms.

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29 Responses

  1. Barbara

    O waoh, I have a couple of affiliate links too but sometimes I just feel that because I am far away in Nigeria and have not actually made purchases from some of them, I can’t use them.
    This is not the case I know but I am finding it hard to kick the habit.
    This should make me get a move on I guess.
    Thanks Taylor

    Lagos, Nigeria

  2. Alina

    Great post, Taylor – thank you for sharing.

    I’ve only started my blog a month ago and been recently exploring the affiliate links and its benefits. This post has definitely encouraged me to try them out, I should definitely give them a go and use your tips wherever I can!

    Thanks and best regards,

  3. A Girls Fancies

    That is great of how things are working out for you. I hope one day they might work out for me too. But, it’s rather difficult. I have looked into affiliate links but the rules and/or criteria they have is something a bit difficult.
    As i am new to blogging and do not have very many readers, it is an automatic turndown. On the other hand there is no Paypal service in my country. I live in Pakistan. Plus then comes the culture factor, not a lot of girls are into these variety of clothes etc.
    I am hoping for things to come out better.

  4. Jill

    Love this article… it’s so true that once you put the work into affiliate links you see the fruits of your labor. I’ve been using Shopsense for years and at first it would take months to reach the $100 threshold to be paid, now it comes a lot quicker. These programs can be very lucrative especially once your readers start depending on you to direct them to sales, good deals and your favorite products. Plus, keep in mind that affiliate links are a numbers game… your earnings will increase as your readership does!

  5. Alyssa

    Thank you for this great post!! I don’t have any affiliate links yet because I always thought it was for blogs with thousands of readers!
    This post really went through the details of affiliate links and I will definitely be trying them out!

  6. count to four

    great post! i just started my blog with my sisters a few months ago, and now i am seriously thinking about including affiliate links on my blog, this was really helpful! thanks 🙂

  7. Chichi O

    Thanks so much for your post this is the second one ive seen in two days im thinking its a sign vlogging and blogging can get expensive ive been researching ways to make it work thank you.

  8. Mark Alexander

    I am also in the process of incorporating affiliate links into my posts. I also noticed better response to links embedded in copy rather than ad banners. I haven’t had any checks in the post yet but I feel optimistic about it. It doesn’t cost anything to set it up and it’s worth doing. Thanks again for another great post.
    PS Would you do a post on setting up goals in Google Analytics to track affiliate links performance?

  9. ShoesTweet

    This is a very useful post. I’ve been using affiliate links for a while now — about 6 months. Like you, I haven’t made big money yet, but I’m excited to apply this very sound tips. I’m persistent — and making money blogging requires persistence.

  10. Heather

    Great tips! I am pretty lazy about affiliates too… I really should think about monetizing more – right now my blog is my fun hobby. I’m afraid if it becomes too much like a job it won’t be as fun 🙂


  11. Kobi

    Hi, Great Post. I have multiple sites and my newest is a shopping site, which is a work in progress! I have some really great designer labels in multiple categories and a boutique higher end category along with everything else you could ever need in life…electronics, food, etc….anyway, as I continue to work on the site, I am putting individual items on my blog, right now I’m really just trying to put up great gift ideas….that have awesome discounts! One thing I am wondering about as I read another post of yours as well is Pinterest. I am on there. I keep reading how they do this and change that and it’s crazy, but is promotion of affiliate links allowed? Their rules say NO redirects OK… I have some affiliate programs I’m in which will only let me point to my website (not a good thing necessarily) and with everyone having so many different rules I think you are wise to stick with one large program in your Niche!
    It’s gotta be easier to keep track of. And I was wondering if either of the above programs you mentioned use any type of cloaking or shortening program?

    I really enjoyed reading your posts and I will be back!
    Thanks so much!

  12. Allison

    Taylor, thanks for this article. I would love to get your opinion on when to apply for sites like Reward Style. I started my blog in October and have all original content, but I don’t know if I should wait until I have more content to apply.

    If anyone else could share how long they applied for affiliate links after starting their blog, that would be super helpful! I’ve asked about this in the forums and haven’t gotten any responses.


  13. Ariel Azoff

    Thanks so much, I’ve been blogging for about a year and am only just now exploring monetization. I’m concerned about the scope of any affiliate network in relation to my niche, which is the small (but growing!) one of eco fashion. Any tips on how to make sure there will be sufficient products in the networks to link to?

  14. Monique Dundas

    Great post! got into some specifics, and not the same old stale tips. Thanks!!

  15. Ashley

    Kitsy Lane is a great way to make money as a fashion blogger. You can set up your own jewelry boutique with them and add it to your blog. the commissions are outstanding and their jewelry is high quality. Worth looking into.

    You can watch the video here. Warning its kinda corny but money is money.

  16. Emma

    Really great tips on earning money through affiliate links. Thanks for share this information.

  17. Erika Batista

    Awesome read! THANK YOU this is definitely;y inspiring and pushing me to just start!

  18. geekmom

    I make affiliate and direct cash through blogging every month, enough to support 3 kids at home as a single mom. I’ve just started using pinterest, but I think the trick there is to watermark some of your pics that you know will go viral and to comment a lot on other people’s pics. It’s just the same as the other social networking sites but with pics.

  19. Dreamy

    Hi, I hope someone can help… I have been asked by an agent, representing an enormous London department store (my blog is TINY, I don’t understand why they would contact me! But anyway….), to put together a Polyvore-type outfit post with links to products on their site. She asked how much I would charge for such a thing, but I have NO idea! 50p, £10, £40? Help!

  20. Maryam ce

    Thank You for the tips. My blog is new i’m thinking to monetize it i will have a look 🙂 www.malabisatfal.com

  21. Emily

    Thank you for this post.
    It is very helpful for those, like myself, that are starting out with affiliate linking.

  22. sorin regenstraif

    Making money through blogging obliges a painstakingly thoroughly considered topic. On the off chance that you have a current blog with a little group of onlookers, be fair when considering whether the topic has expansive request that isn’t secured by other made bloggers.

  23. that derry girl

    Great tips for making money via blogging. I have been tinkering with Shopsense for a while and was hoping to find out if it was worthwhile putting more effort in. Will definitely be using the blogging tips you have shared here -thanks! <3 http://thatderrygirl.blogspot.co.uk/

  24. Nadine

    thanks for the post! I’ve been using shopsense since a while and have already reached the 100 dollar mark. Nonetheless I can not enter my paypal adress somewhere to get payed. Do you have any idea where I could enter it ? I’m quite helpless and the owner of the site cant really help me.thanks for your help!

  25. Rajkumar

    If capitalized perfectly, everyone can make huge money with affiliate marketing strategies via blogging. There are many types of affiliate marketing and one has to pick the best that works for your site. You offer other’s product to your audience and when they buy you get the money. Despite other programs, Affiliate marketing gives commission ranging between 20-70% to the publisher.

  26. Miranda

    Thank you so much for this info! There is such an information overload when it comes to making money off blogging, and I’m super thankful for your advice!

  27. Silz

    Thanks for sharing your story. Did I miss to see how one can acquire affiliate links?