How To Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

girl sitting floor wall laptop

There are lots of ways to monetize your blog: advertising, affiliate marketing, ebooks, selling a product. It's always best to diversify though, and find the right mix of all of these things for you and your audience, but as I've mentioned before, I make the majority of my blogging income via affiliate commissions. It's not for everyone though.

Here's how to determine if affiliate marketing is right for your blog:

  • Do you post outfit pictures?
  • Do you feature items you love on your blog?
  • Do you talk about shopping?
  • Do you review things you've purchased for your readers?
  • Do you write about sticking to a budget?
  • Do you write about personal style and wardrobe styling?

If you answered yes to any of these, then affiliate marketing will probably work well for you. If you tend to write more about runway fashion or new designers as opposed to “where to buy,” then it's not likely that affiliate marketing is the best monetization strategy for you, or at least not your main money-maker.

The key to any monetization strategy really is that it is a NATURAL fit to your blog, integrates seamlessly into what you're already talking about, and never compromises your voice or the trust you've established with your readers.

I don't recommend starting your blog and immediately using affiliate links, although I know that some do. When I started, I didn't realize I had an option, and anyway, my blog was just a creative outlet for my passion for shopping, so I took some time building up trust and linking to boutiques/designers I liked anyway (even though I wasn't getting paid for it). Once I started taking advertising and adding in affiliate links, it wasn't any different than before; everything was seamless and non-intrusive.

Sign up for affiliate programs

Linkshare, CJ, Pepperjam, RewardStyle, are all good places to start. You have to apply to each one and be accepted, and make sure you read all the fine print as you're doing so. Some programs have minimum payouts, or you have to earn a certain amount a month or pay a fee. RewardStyle is geared specifically towards fashion bloggers and has the best tools, offers some of the highest commission rates, and brings together nearly all of the fashion/lifestyle-related programs in one place. Otherwise, you'll have to look and see which affiliate programs the merchants you want to work with are part of and apply to them individually. For example, Nordstrom works via Linkshare and Shopbop works via CJ, but they're both included in RewardStyle.

*edited to add ShopSense – I left this out originally, because it's a pay-per-click model instead of direct commission, but the pay per click rate is calculated based from your sales conversion, so you will see your earning increase as you drive more sales and traffic.


Once you do decide to pursue affiliate marketing, make sure you disclose that you may make make a commission off links you share on your blog (I do this at the bottom of every post)

Add links

Deep linking (linking directly to a product you're featuring) is the most effective way to use affiliate links. Linkshare and RewardStyle make that VERY easy, and CJ has widget builders you can use in your sidebars. I've found that linking to products in the text of my post is the most effective way to use affiliate links. Too many graphic ads in your sidebar will be overwhelming – and keep in mind that everyone else will have access to those same ads; save your ad space for exclusive deals you get with advertisers.


Keep a close eye on what your readers are clicking on and buying to know better what sorts of products and tools resonate with them.

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20 Responses

  1. TlvBirdie

    Nice introduction into affiliate marketing,
    I totally agree about placing the links inside the text and keeping the sidebar clean. I am not into Affiliate programs yet, but willing to start…
    I got one question though, when you sign up for programs, is your tax number required? that means, your blog should be a registered business for doing that, right?


  2. Juliana

    I haven’t been blogging for very long, about a year and a half now, so I haven’t given affiliate marketing a lot of thought until recently when I’ve become more interested in taking my blog to the next level. This post helped steer me into the right direction to start, so I’ll definitely be checking out RewardStyle for that!

  3. Joanne / Fashion-Oh

    Being fairly new to the blogging world, this isn’t something I’ve ever heard of before. It seems like it would definitely be worthwhile if you’re getting a reasonable amount of traffic to your blog. I’m not sure if I’m ready for it quite yet, but when the day comes that I’d like to start making a little money from my blog, rather than just for fun, this seems like it would be perfect!! 🙂


  4. Joanne

    Being quite new to the blogging world this isn’t something I’ve heard of before. It seems like it could definitely be worthwhile if you had a reasonable amount of traffic to your blog. I don’t think I’m quite at that stage yet, but this is definitely something I’ll keep in mind once I’ve grown a little and feel the need to take my blog up to the next level. 🙂


  5. Rossana Vanoni

    You’re so spot on. Advertising and affiliate links should come natural when blogging. Most readers want to know where you got what’s on your photo. It only makes sense to provide a link. Don’t overhype it. Just a “Find it here”, or “similar” should suffice. When I find something that I love, I have to let others know. It’s just me!

  6. Lee Anne

    Chippmunk Rewards is an awesome new tool for affiliate marketing!


    • Gregor S

      My FIRST $100 – finally (after trying 8 months!) 🙂

      Thank you for all your tips! In the end I subscribed to Affilorama

      I got overwhelmed with all the info (a lot of scam too) on the internet. Now, I stick to ONE source – no searching, no confusion, but step-by-step.

      How did you guys feel, making the first few dollars online? Oh man, I still can’t believe it!

  7. Adrian

    Great informative post. I’ve been looking into affiliate links lately and this was a big help.

  8. Anastasia

    I started a few months ago with affiliate links with Reward style…During that time I had thousands of clicks on my links but just one purchase! So I guess pay per click model would suit me better, and looks like ShopStyle is a good option for ppc – BUT they work just with a few countries! So I can’t join them..
    Others companies are not so fashion-oriented as SS:(

    Anybody can suggest any other good option with ppc model?


  9. M

    This is a great intro post on affiliates. Thanks so much. We’ve been using ShopSense, but hopefully will switch or use a hybrid of ShopSense with RewardStyle.


  10. Deborah A

    What a great post on Affiliates! Up until reading this post, I really did not know much about how I could monetize my blog therefore, this will definitely come in handy hopefully soon 🙂 Thank you so much!

  11. Olivia

    Very informative. All information are usefull about it!!
    please guys, take a look at my blog or leave a comment on g+ http://zip.net/bmpfT6
    Thank U

  12. Onianwah

    While I do have a few affiliation accounts and thousands of clicks on them I am yet to make ONE single sale so I am a bit stuck on the whole affiliates thing. I must admit though that my 9-5 does take up a lot of my time thus I don’t quite have ample time to stick to properly craft posts but when I do, I embed deeplinks and so far all I see are clicks but not one purchase.
    What do you think is wrong?

    Lagos, Nigeria

  13. Svetlana

    As I am new to the blogging also I find it your info very helpful…thanks for sharing it and please have a peak at my blog 😉

  14. Maria

    I’ve been started this affiliate program, but still keep a limit to display badge in my side bar. I think it’s better to put the link in the bottom of the post, so that our side bar won’t be fulled by just advertisement.


  15. Tracy Ann

    Love this blog, so glad I joined the community. So much to learn, thanks for the info!

  16. Coco

    I don’t think my blog is ready for this just yet,but thank you so much for this as a start up blogger I can use all this information on a later stage.

  17. Anastasia

    You write such a good posts for bloggers! I just started my blog and this information is soo useful!