How to Make More Money From Your Website: Be an Affiliate

(This is the second post in my series on making money from your website. The first one is The Easiest Way To Earn Money From Your Blog and the third is Advertising and sponsorship)

If you already have a website or blog for your business, you could be making commission by recommending other products and services to your clients.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re a virtual assistant and do administration work for small businesses. Your clients will need to buy computers, business cards, printer ink, paper, business insurance and many other products and services. If you recommend one (or more) of these products/services on your website and include an affiliate link, you’ll get commission if a visitor to your site clicks through and buys the product/service you recommend.

An affiliate link it works like a normal link but it also tracks the clicks coming through from your website so you can be paid commission. Affiliate links can either be text links or adverts (ie a graphic image such as a .jpg file).

Who to recommend

Only recommend products that you have already tried for yourself and really like. Ideally, pick a product that’s so good you’d recommend it even if you weren’t being paid to do so.

It’s best to be an affiliate for only one or two of each type of product. That’s because if you’re recommending (say) ten different printing companies, it looks like you’re blatantly trying to make money out of your clients rather than recommending a product that you genuinely use and like.

Where to find companies to recommend

Most larger companies (and many small ones) have affiliate programmes. Small on-line businesses that sell e-books and e-courses often have an ‘affiliates’ menu at the top of their home page, but other businesses tend to be more subtle. Think about a company that you might want to recommend on your website and look at the bottom of their website for a link to their affiliates page. It may be called ‘affiliates’ or something similar like ‘trade’, ‘partners’, ‘resellers’. You may be surprised at just how many companies will pay you to refer clients to them.

Make sure you look at the percentage commission that the company pays to its affiliates. Some of the percentages can be quite low, so you’ll want to weigh up if it’s worth the effort before you sign up. Information products such as ebooks have the highest percentage rates – sometimes as much as 50% – because there isn’t a physical product to manufacture, store or ship. Tangible products can have commission rates around 10%.

Take a look at Clickbank for information products, or keep an eye on Business Plus Baby as I’m currently creating digital products with affiliate programmes.  The first one is Earn What You Deserve as a Mumpreneur and you can find out more about its affiliate programme here.

Or just Google the words ‘affiliate’ and the type of product you’re looking to promote e.g. ‘affiliate toys’

How to sign up to an affiliate programme

The company you’re recommending will usually use another company like Affiliate Window, Affiliate Future or Paid On Results (or Clickbank or EJunkie for information products) to manage its affiliate programme.  You’ll  need to set up an account with the affiliate company to get paid. Once you’ve signed up and been approved (which can take just minutes) you’ll be given access to a range of different adverts and text links that you can copy and paste into your website.

Once you’ve signed up with the affiliate company, you can browse through their clients to see if there are any others that you’d like to recommend.

How to get people to click on the affiliate links/adverts

Sadly it’s not usually as simple as sticking an advert on your website and watching the cash roll in!

To increase your chances of making commission you could:

  • Promote the product in much the same way as you would your own – put a link in your email signature, mention it on Twitter or your Facebook page and newsletter. Check the terms and conditions of internet forums though, as some don’t allow affiliate links.
  • If you have a blog, write a helpful post explaining why you use this product, why it’s better than the others you could buy and what specific problems it solved for you. Try to write it as if you were recommending the product to a friend in an email rather than as a sales pitch. This will get more attention than an advert in your sidebar.
  • Create a resources page listing all the products that you recommend and why.
  • Always be open about your affiliate links. If you’re recommended a product and later find out that the person recommending it was being paid to do so, it feels a little underhand and could be a turn-off.
  • Make your affiliate links/adverts very relevant to your target audience. Ideally, aim to solve a problem that they have rather than recommending a product they can easily find for themselves.
  • Experiment with the wording and position of your affiliate links/adverts to see what works best.

(This post contains an affiliate link)

Creative Commons License photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML

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