Online affiliate marketing is one way you can earn money travel blogging or any kind of niche blogging.
But, making money from affiliate marketing was not something we put much effort into when we first started travel blogging.
Because … well, because we’re freakin CRAZY!!!!!
Not implementing any affiliate marketing tips and a strategy from the beginning is our biggest regret.
Don’t worry if you don’t have traffic at the moment, get started with affiliate marketing. Something you write now could get unlimited traffic in a few months’ time and then you’ve missed a golden opportunity to earn affiliate money.
Like we did.
My friend, Michelle, from Making Sense of Cents, has recently created a course on affiliate marketing, which I have done and am now an affiliate for. In sharing her course, I’m going to offer some of my affiliate marketing tips that I’ve learned.
The good news for you is that from Thursday, February 16th to Sunday, February 19th, 11:59 p.m. PT, you can use the coupon code 28FEBDISCOUNT to receive $28 off the course.
Since doing Michelle’s Course, I’ve refined a few things and seen my affiliate income increase as a result. She earns over $50,000 a month with affiliate marketing and knows what she’s talking about.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is where you share, or promote, a service or product you didn’t create. If someone purchases that product through your recommendation, i.e. an affiliate link connected to you, you receive a commission.
The commission you receive for your recommendation can vary significantly depending on the product or service you share. Generally, tangible products and travel booking commissions will be as low as 4-6% and e-products and courses can go up to 50%.
Two types of affiliate marketing
From my experiences with affiliate marketing, I have categorized it into two types. Other people may call things differently, but this is what works for my brain.
Passive affiliate marketing tips
The first of my affiliate marketing tips is where you do the work once, as in producing (evergreen) content that includes your affiliate links and then you let time and traffic take over to continually bring in the income, even when you sleep.
This is everyone’s ideal right?
It still involves work, but there is nothing like seeing money flow to you from something you wrote (and forgot about) months, or even years ago.
It’s not ever truly passive. We do recommend you keep checking in with those posts to update, re-promote and refine. But, it’s a lot less work and non-intrusive as the next type of affiliate marketing.
This is a slower way to make money through affiliate marketing, but it’s long-term and passive, so it’s ultimate.
Active affiliate marketing tips
The second of my affiliate marketing tips is to talk about one-off launch type affiliate programs. They’re usually courses that are only released once a year or special deals.
I call them active because it is a launch process, which means you’re doing a lot of work promoting them during the finite launch period.
Unfortunately, for most of these affiliate courses, they don’t open their program until the launch starts. So you can’t write evergreen posts that include your affiliate link, which you can use to drive onto their lead list continually.
You do the majority of the work within the launch period and it has a lot of disadvantages such as content overload, too many partners promoting the same thing, and a reduction in your email openings and an increase in your spam complaints and email opt-outs.
It can be exhausting, but one-off affiliate launches can be great income. They work better if you have a strong influence and an email list. I only do these type of launches for products I’ve invested in myself and know are valuable and can change people’s lives.
B-School was the first active launch I did. I invested in the course myself and worked hard to get results using the training. Then I signed up to become an affiliate. I knew it was valuable and was not going to share it unless I knew you could get results. I’ve never seen a course produce so many success stories like B-School. It’s incredible. I’m probably not going to be an affiliate for B-School this year – for reasons I’ll explain another day.
With affiliate marketing, especially launches that involve big investments, it’s important you support it only if you are passionate about it and it feels right.
B-School is not quite feeling right for me this year as an affiliate. If you’ve followed us for awhile you know I’m only ever guided by my gut and won’t budge when it gives me the answer. I’m still humming over it.
School of the Modern Mystic is a course I have invested two years of my time and money into being a student of. It’s a unique course, and, in some respects, not related to travel, but in other respects, it is because it’s about living your soul purpose and spirituality.
It’s because of this course that I’ve connected with my soul purpose to live a life of travel and through joy It’s given me the courage to listen to my inner voice and the trust to take that leap into living this travel lifestyle. Ha. So it’s probably the best course for travel there is!!
The other two launches I support are Paradise Pack and The Ultimate Bundles – both offer fantastic value for bloggers, travelers, and entrepreneurs at a much lower investment than B-School. I use the products within the bundles myself weekly to improve my business.
And the Ultimate Bundles will have a photography pack I’ll share in a few months. I’m happy to share something for those interested in just travel.
This is a more labor-intensive way to make money affiliate marketing, but you can make large chunks of money in a short space of time.
9 affiliate marketing tips
1. Only brands/products you like, use and trust
Have an abundance mentality. You don’t need to partner with and share all the products out there.
I’m offered opportunities almost weekly to share programs as an affiliate. I reject a lot of money because it either doesn’t fit, or I haven’t tried it myself, nor am I interested in trying it.
There’s nothing wrong with testing new things, just back out if it didn’t work and always go with your gut feeling. I’ve made mistakes before but have worked to re-correct them. You don’t know everything and you’re not perfect. Allow yourself AND others the space to make mistakes.
Don’t base what you promote on commission rates either. They can vary quite a lot. Make it about what you want to share no matter your cut.
2. Invest in products yourself
As mentioned above, one of my most important affiliate marketing tips is that I invest in the courses I share and complete them before I share them. Some of these products are expensive, but I believe passionately in learning and growing.
Some of these products are expensive, but I believe passionately in learning and growing. I am my business so if I want it to rock, improving myself is key.
Many of these eCourses won’t let you be an affiliate unless you have invested and completed the course and love it yourself. I only allow participants of my 30 Day Money Cleanse to be affiliates. I only want genuine passionate supporters who understand the product and be a living example of how it can transform you.
I take a LOT of courses. I read a lot of books. I attend a lot of conferences. I share a small number of what I think is the best and worth my readers doing.
I just turned down an opportunity last week from someone asking me to promote their course. I know the person, their course would be good. The commission was high, but I haven’t done the course, and at this stage, I’m not doing any other blogging or business courses.
Sometimes, we share products that we may not have used, but feel safe in linking to. It might be a $5 door stop or safety whistle. These aren’t really endorsements. People can check out the door stop and then go elsewhere. We write posts like 11 of the best suitcases for travel where obviously we haven’t tried each suitcase, but Craig’s spent HOURS researching them to find the best.
We knew these are super useful posts, which saves our readers time and the feedback we get is overwhelmingly positive.
Use good judgment.
Which leads me to the next affiliate marketing tip…
3. Be valuable
Curation posts like I just mentioned can be hugely valuable to your readers. They want you to help save them time and money and to create a meaningful life.
Be that person for them. Go out of your way to make their life easier. Be an example of integrity and honesty. Help them out as much as you can, but do it with depth and consideration.
What do they need help with? Do the research for them and recommend only the most useful products and services.
Holy shit. So many people don’t do this. I know because I know.
I could rant about it and it’s annoying, but I can’t control what anyone else does, so I’m letting it go. But it’s a crucial one of my affiliate marketing tips.
We make money from this blog, but we put in a lot of hard work and passion to make it valuable for readers. If we don’t make money we can’t keep helping to change peoples lives in the way that we do. If you do that, you deserve to be paid, just like anyone in any job anywhere.
Most people won’t care if you maintain that honest and transparent relationship with them and only share value. I don’t care my chiropractor and kinesiologist make money – they make my life easier and better. I’m grateful they do.
Sure there are a lot of negative, cynical people out there who don’t believe you can be honest and make money and will project that BS onto you. People will hate you because you make money, especially if it’s something you love and “looks” easy.
That’s their problem. Invite them to go hang out elsewhere, but don’t hide for fear of them. Overcome them with honesty, passion, and kindness!
Invite them to go hang out elsewhere, but don’t hide for fear of them. Overcome them with honesty, passion, and kindness!
Putting the integrity aside, there are plenty of laws coming out now which means you can get into a lot of trouble if you’re found to not be disclosing. It’s always been a grey area and when we first started with small Amazon links I didn’t disclaim because I felt I was linking rather than endorsing.
But, now I think it’s better to just be upfront and safe.
We’ve had our developer create a little disclaimer sentence we can easily add to the beginning of every post. We check a box that says it contains affiliate links, or if it’s a sponsored post.
It’s a recent feature of our site and we’re now going back through all the posts again to add it in. [look above, you’ll see what we have. You can see it on our sponsored posts as well. It will say Sponsored by (brand name)]
I recommend putting your disclaimer at the beginning of the post just so the reader is aware as they are reading. We also mention it within the post and sometimes at the bottom.
5. Less is more –align with partners
We receive multiple emails a week from a new hotel or car rental booking site or VPN provider – the list goes on. Many of them I know are reputable and we could become affiliates and promote them on our site.
But, I choose not to. It becomes too much work on our end to manage, AND I find it’s too confusing and labor-intensive for the reader to give them multiple booking sites.
We have so much choice in modern society but it can be so overwhelming that we end up doing nothing. We’re about unplugging and simplifying.
My travel style has changed – I’m not going to spend half a day checking multiple accommodation sites to save an extra $10 on accommodation with the best deal. I just go to the ones I trust.
I say mostly only because there are a couple of informative articles we have on finding cheap accommodation, finding cheap car rental or finding cheap flights, where it is important for us to list the various option for the reader.
So within those resource articles, we list other booking sites with the focus mainly on the ones we support and partner with.
We call them our partners on our site – not because we have any formal arrangement with them, just to signify that this is the affiliate we have chosen to align with and share.
We chose these affiliate partners because we’ve always used them and still do.
Actually, we used RentalCars.com long before I even knew what a blog was. It has nothing to do with affiliate commissions. I couldn’t even tell you who pays more out of all the different affiliate networks. It’s not why I choose to partner with someone.
6. Set up an affiliate system now
This should probably rank as my number one affiliate marketing tips – the biggest blogging mistake of ours was never bothering to set up an online affiliate marketing system from the beginning of our blog.
We didn’t believe in it at the beginning an thought it was a waste of time. We were focused on building our brand and other income strategies. actually, we didn’t know what we were doing.
The building of our brand was important, which has helped us build this platform and community and create incredible opportunities.
But as mentioned in the beginning, we missed the boat with online affiliate marketing and it has cost us a lot of time and effort to go back and set a system up.
Plan your affiliate strategy.
What will it look like? Who will you align with? What partners will you work with? How will you manage and record it? what content will you create?
7. SEO your posts
Search Engine Traffic is amazing for bringing you passive eyeballs and income. You write a post once that includes basic white hat SEO principles.
Your content is useful and epic and gets shared a lot. Then you let the search engines take over, (i.e. mostly Google and Pinterest). They then do the work of bringing over the passive eyeballs and income. Money while you sleep.
That’s another thing I’ve been doing – going back through 1500 posts to optimize them properly. This is what happens when you start blogging with no idea what you’re doing!! #killmenow
8. Offer bonuses
With one off active affiliate launches, I sometimes offer bonuses. They’re high-end products that involve a lot of investment of time and money. It can be a great way to encourage people to take the leap and receive more value.
I’ve offered bonuses with various things, but I’m not too sure I find it so valuable anymore. My gut lately has been saying “don’t like it anymore” for various reasons. Sometimes it works okay and I feel fine about it. Go with your gut.
Ensure you can track the purchases properly, otherwise, you won’t know who to give the bonus to.
Most affiliate marketing programs will have tracking attached but check this out first. If it’s a first click tracking, then bonuses won’t really work. You won’t know who clicked who’s link first. You can’t entice them to click on your link before they purchase to get the bonus.
But, if it’s a last click tracking then you can, as they’ll click on your link last before they purchase and so go through the tracking system connected to you
Phew. That was complicated.
9. Give back and let go
Use other people’s affiliate links. If someone has helped you out or introduced you to a good tool or service use their link, or reach out and ask them for it.
I believe in karma and putting out into the world what you want to receive back.
If I am going to purchase a product or service I will reach out to someone I know first who may have an affiliate link to that product. Why wouldn’t I help out a friend, especially if they were the ones that made me aware of it?
Help without expectation of receiving anything in return. Let go of the need for people to thank you and give you something in return – you’ll only get pissed off and it will shut down your goodness.
If you’re supporting and helping others, life will support and help you back. It can return in various abundant forms, but it starts with you first giving without expectation.
Also be aware that with affiliate marketing, sometimes tracking systems don’t work properly and you may not receive the commission. Caches get cleared, people last click via someone else and you won’t receive a commission.
I’ve lost thousands because of this. Have an abundance mentality and let it go. You’re sharing something ultimately because you think it can change their lives.
If that goal is achieved then celebrate that rather than crying over lost commissions. It’s just a part of affiliate marketing.
Trust that it will return to you thanks to the circle of life.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course
As mentioned, my friend Michelle has recently created her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, which I’m now sharing. I think it’s the best way to start with affiliate marketing.
Both Craig and I have completed this course and love it. I finished another affiliate marketing tips course at the same time as Michelle’s, which was also very good.
But, I found Michelle’s to be outstanding. She’s also earning an incredible amount of money from affiliate marketing so I say follow those who have what you want.
I could have earned more money in sharing the other course over Michelle’s but I believe her affiliate marketing course is better.
All her lessons on affiliate marketing tips flow nicely and are easy to understand with implementation tasks.
Everything is clearly described and explained and she shares all the resources to help you get started with affiliate marketing, set up an affiliate system, manage your affiliate marketing strategy, and how to create and promote content.
The best thing I love about the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course is the Facebook group. It’s one of the best course related Facebook groups I’m in.
Michelle is a very active leader and participant. Sharing, supporting and helping is encouraged. I am engaging with awesome people in there and learning important affiliate marketing tips.
Michelle has frequent Q & A and opportunities to critique and share each others’ work.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best and easiest ways to earn money online. We love it and have put in practices so we can receive and live off passive income for life, which means no more stressing about not having a superannuation or 401K plan in place.
I was pretty intermediate when I did Michelle’s course – definitely not earning $50,000+ a month!! #dreamsaremade of. How much travel can you do with that? (btw Michelle travels around the US in an RV) I still learned a lot from the course.
It’s a valuable investment if you want to earn money while you sleep and travel more in the waking hours.
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What are your online affiliate marketing tips?