How to Use Affiliate Marketing

Photography: Storefronts ~1920

First, a teaser. I’m working with someone to deliver a great ebook on affiliate marketing. Watch for that. In the interim, I wanted to just tell you a bit about how I use affiliate marketing as part of what I do. It’s not necessarily the best way, and definitely not the only way, but maybe this will resonate. Note: I’ve written about this a bit before when I told you about my worry reduction buttons. That’s a good place to start.

Quick Definition of Affiliate Marketing

I define affiliate marketing as “promoting a product or service that someone else has created to your community with the hope of providing benefit to that community, and to be compensated for that promotion.” For instance, I am an affiliate for several premium WordPress themes. Over on Man on the Go, I use affiliate marketing as most of my ads. Thus, anything at the top or bottom of every post, plus most of those sidebars is an affiliate program.

In all these cases, I don’t own the end product. I own a relationship with a community who matters to me (you), and I own a transactional relationship with the company that sells the product or service. They don’t pay me for promoting them. They pay me if I sell one of their products (or sometimes, if I sell a lead towards a potential sale).

Which Products and Services Should You Sell?

In my case, I’m a bit of a mixed bag. On my site, I promote products and services that make sense for bloggers and media makers. I sell Genesis (affiliate link), a WordPress theme, and I promote Rackspace (aff link), my hosting provider, and products like that.

I only promote products that I’ve used and that I can vouch for. That’s not how everyone does this, but for me, my relationship with you is worth more than $14 or so bucks, so I’d rather be able to vouch for the quality of a service.

You can find products to promote on places like Commission Junction, Share-a-Sale, LinkShare, not to mention finding direct affiliate programs with certain people like GoDaddy (example: Resell Domains for GoDaddy.com).

I Don’t Want to Seem Scammy or Disingenuous

Welcome to my world. I recently wrote disclosure always to talk about how I handle disclosure. I also link in that post to how others handle it. To me, when in doubt, be clear on your disclosure that you stand to make money should someone buy something from your site. I have a whole section for disclosures of all types on my about page. Even in Twitter, that’s how I do it. If I mention something is an affiliate product, I put it somewhere in the tweet, so that people know my intentions.

The More Integrated, The Better

Over at Man on the Go, I add affiliate links to products and services that would make sense to business travelers. Here on [chrisbrogan.com], I link to things that might make sense to business people and marketers, as well as new media types. I do my best to make the products and services match the community, and I recommend this for you, too.

Is It Worth It?

This is a tough question to answer, because your mileage will vary. I have around 300,000 unique visitors a month, so I get enough traffic and have enough built-in trust to convert buyers reasonably well. On my site, a couple links I have are paying 1-3x my mortgage payment every month. That means, my kids have a house no matter what I do right or wrong with my business. Is that worth it? To me, it is.

What should you expect starting out? Aim for beer money. Then aim for steak money. Then aim for an additional car payment. Then mortgage. That’s how I did it. Some day soon, I’ll figure out what’s next: maybe aim for an entire salary off affiliate links?

This is just one stream of revenue, but it means that I can stop eating ramen noodles, and it means that I don’t wince whenever the mortgage check payment comes out. Is that worth it to me? I say yes.

Thoughts? Questions?

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