Looking for ideas on how to monetize your blog? Or wondering how to create passive income in general?
Although there are many ways you can create passive income, affiliate marketing is often a great place to start for beginners. And the best part is, you can do it with or without a website!
In this post, I’ll be going over the basics of affiliate marketing and how you can start generating revenue while you sleep today!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post contains affiliate links which will reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclaimer.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting another company’s product or service.
What this essentially means is if there is a product or service you personally use and love, you can sign up as an affiliate with the company who created it, and promote that product or service on one of your platforms. That could be your website or blog, on social media, in a newsletter, in an ebook or online course you created, etc.
Bottom line is: Whenever you help a company create a successful sale, you earn a piece of the profit!
Why This is a Win-Win-Win
- You earn a commission.
- The company’s product you promote receives a new sale.
- The customer receives a great product or service through a trusted referral.
The best part about affiliate marketing is that it doesn’t require a big investment of time and effort to create a product to sell. You can begin promoting something as an affiliate as soon as you have a platform to sell it on and start earning income right away!
My Personal Experience
Affiliate marketing is actually the main way I’ve been making money online for years! I started this blog back in 2014, with the intention of learning how to create passive income for myself through blogging and online marketing.
Within 6 months, my blog took off and has continued bringing in a substantial amount of passive income each month ever since. This passive income also gifted me with more time freedom, which meant I could work whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted, and however I wanted! I was truly living the dream!
I ended up using my time freedom to not only travel and play more but to also learn, create and develop more stuff. Since I first started, I’ve created 4 successful niche blogs in total, which has not only helped me generate multiple passive income streams for myself, but has also helped my readers and other businesses achieve their own dreams!
That’s how to work smarter, not harder! 😉
How to Get Started with Affiliate Programs
There are generally two ways you can get started with an affiliate program, either by signing up with a company directly or by finding affiliate programs through an affiliate network.
1. Sign Up For an Affiliate Program Directly
- Think of a product or service, specifically in your business’ industry or your blog’s niche, that has helped you out in some way (here are some examples of affiliate programs I have signed up for).
- Go to that company’s website, and scroll all the way down to the footer. You should see a link somewhere in the footer saying “Affiliates” or “Affiliate Program.” Click on that link.
- Fill out their affiliate application form, read their terms and hit submit.
- If/when you are accepted, you will receive an email from them with your own personal affiliate link or they may give you access to their affiliate site where you can grab your affiliate links, banners, HTML codes, etc.
- You can then create a blog post, a social media post, a YouTube video, etc. that recommends their products or services and include your affiliate link. Just make sure you also use an affiliate disclaimer.
- When someone purchases the product or signs up for a service through your link, you’ll receive a commission! Most companies will pay you (usually via PayPal) either weekly or monthly, but some will pay you once you’ve hit a certain amount, like $50.
2. Find Affiliate Programs Through an Affiliate Network
Another great way to find affiliate programs is to sign up for affiliate networks, which are platforms that act as a middle man between the publisher (you/the affiliate) and the advertiser (the company whose product or service you’re promoting).
Advertisers establish their affiliate programs on an affiliate network so that publishers can search the network to easily find programs that they want to promote.
Here Are a Few Affiliate Networks I Personally Use and Recommend:
How to Get Started:
- Create an account on their network.
- Do a search for advertisers in a particular category, like clothing, travel, health & fitness, etc.
- Find the program you’d like to join, fill out their application, read and agree to their terms and hit submit!
- They will usually respond back to you within a few days whether you were approved or not. If you were approved, you can get your affiliate link directly from the network under that program, add it to some content on your platform, add your affiliate disclaimer and start generating that passive income!
Pro Tip: If you end up creating multiple affiliate links from various companies, you may want to save them all in one place for easy access. This could be something like a Google spreadsheet, Evernote, Notes, or a Word Document.
Affiliate Marketing Guidelines
- Only promote products or services that you know well and that you actually use.
- Don’t promote crap products just to make some extra money. Respect your readers and promote only quality products, with good reputations, that they will find useful.
- I recommend learning some SEO basics as it will greatly increase the chances of getting your content found online. If you’d like to learn SEO you can do so through this online SEO course or this SEO book (I’ve taken and read both.) The return on investment is absolutely worth it!
- Make sure to properly disclose your affiliate links. This Affiliate Disclaimers post gives a good explanation of this but I also added a few quick tips below.
Where to Promote Your Affiliate Links
Once you have an affiliate link, it’s time to start promoting! Below are a few ideas on what you could do to get the ball rolling.
1. Create a Resource Page on Your Website.
A resource page is used to share the products and services that you use and recommend with others who are in your industry. It’s an easy way to help people find solutions through your own personal recommendations, while also helping you build trust with your audience.
Example: Business + Blogging Resources
2. Embed an Affiliate Link Within a Blog Post
One of my favorite ways to drive traffic to an affiliate link (and earn commission over and over again!) is by writing a blog post about a specific product or service. I’ve found the following types of posts tend to drive the most traffic and generate the biggest return on investment:
→ A “How To” post focuses on showing people how to use a product, how to apply a technique, how to set something up, etc.
Example: How to Setup Your WordPress Website with Bluehost
→ A “Review” post can be your personal experience using a specific product or service and why you love it. You could also add the pros and cons that came along with your experience to make your review more authentic.
Example: Why Uber + Lyft Are the Perfect Side Hustles for Entrepreneurs
→ A “Gift Guide” post shares a curated list of gift ideas for a specific type of person. You could create a “Gift Guide for Spiritual People,” a “Gift Guide for Homebodies,” a “Holiday Gift Guide for 30 Year Old Women,” etc. You’re helping your audience easily find the perfect gift for that type of person and they are helping you by shopping with your affiliate links! Plus you’re helping other businesses grow!
Example: Check Out These Gift Guides on Pinterest!
Pro Tip: In addition to adding affiliate links to text, you can also add affiliate links to photos, graphics, screenshots, etc. to create more affiliate opportunities.
3. Embed an Affiliate Link Within Your Blog’s Sidebar
Another option is to put your affiliate links in a sidebar within your blog. You can create a few clickable images, banners or ads that link to various affiliates you support.
4. Embed an Affiliate Link Within a Product or Course
Create an electronic product, like an ebook or an online course and enter affiliate links where you see fit.
For example, let’s say you create an ebook full of recipes. You could create affiliate links to cooking supplies or specific ingredients and make a commission whenever someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase.
Credit: Flexible Dieting Lifestyle – Book of Recipes 5.0
Or, let’s say you create an online course that teaches someone how to create their own successful online business. You could add affiliate links in it that link to certain resources and tools you use and recommend, like your preferred domain and hosting providers, accounting software, WordPress theme resources, etc. You could even go the extra distance in your course by showing people how to set up and use those particular resources!
5. Share Affiliate Links in an Email
If you have a newsletter, you could include affiliate links in your emails.
If you choose to go this route, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re writing to share information not to sell products. So write your emails as if you’re having a casual conversation with a friend and you’re just sharing secret information with them about a new product you discovered that improved your life or business in some way. This will help you seem less “salesy” and naturally build more trust with your subscribers.
- Highlight just a few of a product’s benefits.
- Personalize the recommendation and explain why you recommend the product.
- Keep the affiliate links to a minimum. For example: Place one near the start of the email and one at the end as a reminder.
- Indicate that the link is an affiliate one, so people don’t feel tricked.
- Make sure your email marketing company allows affiliate links. For example, MailChimp does allow affiliate links, but not affiliate marketing.
6. Share Affiliate Links on YouTube
If you’re on YouTube, you could create video content that helps teach your audience how to do something, gives recommendations of certain products, or just entertains people. You can then add affiliate links to any products you used or talked about in the video description.
Be sure to verbally and visually call out the description in your video. Most YouTubers use phrases such as “Click on the links in the description below” to direct viewers to the right area.
Credit: The Gem Goddess
7. Share an Affiliate Link on Facebook
Another place to share your affiliate links is on your personal Facebook profile or on your Facebook Business page. You can share an affiliate link directly or share a link to a blog post you wrote that contains affiliate links.
8. Share an Affiliate Link on Instagram
You can also generate affiliate traffic from your Instagram posts, however, this process is a bit different than YouTube and Facebook, as Instagram doesn’t allow for clickable posts.
Instead, you would have to point your followers to the link in your bio. This link could go to something like LinkTree, or better yet, a custom Instagram landing page (created on your actual website) that includes direct affiliate links or links to blog posts or videos that include affiliate links. Once you gain 10k followers, you can add links to your Instagram Stories content.
If you’re planning to sell on Instagram, I recommend building a loyal audience first. These loyal followers will be more likely to trust you, which means they’ll be more likely to click on your affiliate links, whether they are in your bio or your Instagram Stories.
9. Share an Affiliate Link on Pinterest
Pinterest is a visual search engine that helps people find ideas and information through images.
To start creating passive income via Pinterest, you can begin creating “Pinterest Graphics” (vertical images that are 1000 x 1500 px or longer). The Pinterest Graphic essentially works as an advertisement to help you promote whatever it is you want to promote!
Canva makes it super easy to create Pinterest Graphics, even for non-designers! And you can create branded templates that can be used over and over again to make the process more efficient as you create more content down the road.
After you’ve completed your Pinterest Graphic, download it to your computer and then upload it to a board on your Pinterest account. The “Destination Link” is where you would add in your affiliate link or you could link it to something you’ve already created that has affiliate links in it, like a blog post or a YouTube video. Also make sure to add in some relevant keywords and a few hashtags in the description area to help it get found more organically on Pinterest.
Below are a few affiliates programs I have personally signed up with.
- Adobe – Promote Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Stock and Adobe Document Cloud and earn attractive commissions.
- GoDaddy – Earn cash from sales when you promote GoDaddy domain + web hosting on your site.
- BlueHost – Refer visitors to for BlueHost and you will receive up to $65.00 for each qualified sign-up.
- DreamHost – Join the DreamHost domain + web hosting Affiliate Program and earn up to $200 per referral.
- WPEngine – Earn $200 minimum commissions for WP Engine sales and 35% of StudioPress theme sales.
- LegalZoom – Earn a 15% commission for every sale completed by a referral.
- iThemes – The iThemes Affiliate Program pays 25% in commission for sales generated through your affiliate links for iThemes products.
- FreshBooks – As a Reseller Partner, you’ll enjoy lucrative compensation for every trial and upgrade you sell.
- Creative Market – Earn 10% on all referred Creative Market customer purchases for a full year.
- Restored316 – Earn 20% commissions on WordPress themes and their business planner.
- Envato Marketplace – Earn 30% commission on any first purchase you refer.
- aThemes – Earn 50% commission for every sale you generate.
How to Disclose Affiliate Links
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you must disclose that you’re an affiliate anytime you promote affiliate products. This helps protect consumers from being misled. If they know you’re getting paid, they can make a more informed decision about whether to buy a product. If you don’t disclose your affiliate links, the FTC could fine you.
Below are some quick tips to make sure you are staying legally compliant with the FTC guidelines!
1. How to Disclose Affiliate Links in a Blog Post
Disclose your affiliate links in a clear and conspicuous manner at the top of each blog post (or before an affiliate link).
Here’s what I usually use:
“Disclaimer: Some of these links are affiliate links and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission that helps me run this website — keeping it free for everyone to use!”
Or, if I’m using Amazon affiliate links, I use this disclaimer at the top:
“Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post contains affiliate links which will reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases. For more information, please read my affiliate disclaimer.”
Or this one:
“Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases. For more information, please read my affiliate disclaimer.”
2. How to Disclose Affiliate Links in Your Blog’s Sidebar
This is what I put in my blog’s sidebar:
“I am a member of a number of affiliate programs and some of the links on this site are affiliate links. This means if you purchase an item from a link that I provide, or sign up for something using my referral code, I may receive a commission (but at no extra cost to you.) Thank you for supporting these sponsors as well as myself!”
3. How to Disclose Affiliate Links on Youtube
It’s recommended that you put a disclaimer in the description box of every video you use affiliate links in. Make sure you are direct with the reader/person viewing your video and let them know you are receiving a commission or some sort of compensation for promoting your affiliate links.
You could add a link in your description box and then add at the bottom:
“(Some links may be affiliate)” or “(affiliate link, thanks!)”
If you’re promoting Amazon affiliate links, you could provide the following disclaimer:
“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
4. How to Disclose Affiliate Links on Facebook
Be sure to let your Facebook followers know that you may receive compensation if they click the link you’re sharing. The disclosure could say something like this: “Note, I’m using a referral link below. This means if you sign up I may receive a small commission.” Or you could add something shorter like “[ADVERT]” or “[SPONSORED]”.
5. How to Disclose Affiliate Links on Instagram
Your Instagram affiliate marketing posts should also have #ad before or nearest to your first affiliate link, and a fuller disclosure blurb ( i.e. “this post contains affiliate links, meaning I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you…”) in the caption as well.
If you use affiliate links in your bio link, swipe up stories, on Linktree or on your Instagram landing page, you’ll need to find additional ways to clearly state that your affiliate relationship and what exactly that means.
6. How to Disclose Affiliate Links on Pinterest
Add the hashtag “#affiliatelink”, “#ad”, or “#sponsored” within your description or at the end of your description.
Want to Make Sure Your Blog or Website is Legally Compliant?
The last thing you want is to spend a ton of time and effort building an awesome online business, only to get fined by the FTC for not having a legally compliant site.
In addition to disclosing affiliate links on your pages and posts, you will also need to have an Affiliate Disclaimer in your Terms & Conditions page.
To get this properly set up within 30 minutes, I recommend checking out this source for customizable legal page templates.
Tools to Manage Your Affiliate Links
Sometimes affiliate links change or expire. Imagine having to sort through and update hundreds of these when you have no idea where you’ve placed them on your website (I’ve actually had to do this – it’s not really the most fun thing to do!) 😑You’re looking at hours of headaches and tons of wasted profit from expired links that have been forgotten about. *womp, womp*
The solution for this is an affiliate link plugin that will help you manage all of your affiliate links in one place.
I personally recommend the Easy Affiliate Links plugin, as it is easy to set up, track and manage your affiliate links all in one place. They offer both a free version and a premium version and I actually recommend the premium version because they will automatically check for broken links and notify you via email.
If the day ever comes where you’re asked to update old affiliate links from your partners, you’ll be able to accomplish it in minutes instead of days!
Can You Imagine the Income Possibilities?
I highly recommend getting yourself set up on some affiliate programs and getting to work! It can really help you out, especially if you are just starting out and need some extra income to help pay your bills as you build your business!
If you want some help designing your blog or setting up some affiliate links for you, please feel free to reach out!