Do you feel like earning more passive income so that you can work less yet earn more?
Do you want to earn money even when you’re asleep?
Do you always feel like you’re stuck when it comes to making affiliate marketing work for your blog?

If your answer is yes to all of the above questions, then this post is for you!

Do note that this post is for intermediate-level bloggers. That means you should already have been running your blog for awhile. You are possibly earning from your blog through various ways like ads, sponsored posts, through your social media, and are wanting to learn how to master the art of earning money passively.

At one point of my blogging journey, these are all the questions (and more) I’d asked myself and said yes to. I’d often felt stuck as to why so many bloggers are earning 3-, 4-figure amounts just putting up affiliate links, yet I am not earning from a single sale from my affiliate links. And then one day, I scored my first sale, and another, and another. That changed everything. I now earn a regular monthly pay check from my affiliates from meeting their minimum threshold – whether it is €100, USD200 or SGD50.

There are many ways to get a passive income. Some sell their own products, others dabble in investment. One other way is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is something I’m trying to focus more energy on on this blog now as well, and as I write about this affiliate marketing guide, I am still learning about this topic everyday.

This post will help you dig deep about your own affiliate marketing strategy. It will go in depth about affiliate marketing, talking about various affiliate marketing strategies that works from years of research, running the blog, and trying and failing, together with actionable steps on how to make it work for your site so you can sleep easy knowing your affiliate income is rolling, once you’ve set your foundations right!

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First of all, what is Affiliate Marketing?

Simply put, affiliate marketing is putting up affiliate links of brands you associate your blog/ brand with on your website. These links could be in the form of products or services. When a reader clicks through your blog and makes a purchase, you get a commission from the sale.

But I believe you already know the basics of how affiliate marketing works, so I won’t go too much into that.

Accessing your affiliate marketing strategy

I will categorise the following affiliate marketing strategies based on questions to ask yourself. Use the questions to guide you as you access your own affiliate marketing strategies.

1. Are you choosing the right affiliate brands?

Are they brands you and your readers would resonate with? Is it even related to the topics that you cover and write about?

If you’re into sports/ outdoors, you’d want to associate with brands like Backcountry, Rei, The North Face, Patagonia, Black Diamond, Outdoor Research, Arc’teryx etc, not talking about your latest Nespresso machine!

2. Reader intent

Reader intent is the backbone of every successful affiliate post. What is your post trying to solve? Answering this question will help you determine what stage your readers’ purchasing journey is in.

A consumer buying journey typically looks like this:

  1. Problem recognition
  2. Information search to solve problem
  3. Evaluation of alternatives, comparison of available solutions
  4. Purchase decision

You should always have in mind the reader’s stage of purchase that you want to attract. Is your post a post people are searching for to purchase something (Stage 3-4), or is this a post where people end up at to find out more information about? (Stage 2)

If you’re wanting to attract them at Stage 2, you’ll want to showcase your inspiration-type posts to your readers. Inspire them to travel to a certain destination. Through this sales funnel, introduce them to specific destinations and convince them. Finally, if you manage to get them to book a trip through your site i.e. Step 4, you’ve successfully completed a sales funnel.

If you want to target readers with strong buying intent, this is where keywords and SEO come in. What would an ideal reader who’s on the brink of booking/ buying something be searching for? More on keywords in the below points.

3. Where are you placing your affiliate links?

Are you making full use of your popular posts where you get most eyes and interest on?

Are your links visible enough? You might want to experiment a different kind of button to test your readers’ response to noticing/ clicking it.

While it is ideal for all your readers to read through your whole article, more often than not it doesn’t happen. Consider putting your affiliate links higher up on your posts.

Putting it on the type of post also makes a difference. Are you only mentioning your affiliate link as part of a longer list? Or are you writing an individual review of the affiliate product? Chances for a successful conversion are higher on the latter.

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4. Consider writing specific product reviews.

Following on from the previous point and looking at your reader intent, readers who chance upon your blog about a specific product/ service would already be considering the product in mind. They are likely past the “shopping around” stage.

sapporo station crowd shoppingHaving an in-depth review of a single product, or providing useful information about a certain product shows that you’ve thoroughly considered it and are honest about your review. This will most likely reinforce your reader’s opinions about the product/ service in question and convince them to purchase it!

5. Are you using CTA?

CTA, as it spells out, means call to action. Simply adding the names of hotels sometimes work for me, but it’s highly suggested that readers are more attuned to actually click something when the keywords explicitly read so.

Words like “click here”, “click to check prices”, “read this post”, “read reviews” are examples of CTA.

If you already are using CTAs, well done! How are you using it is the next question. Try experimenting with different wordings and test it out on different posts. Every reader behaviour is different so use a combination of different wordings and then observe if they pick it up.

6. Are you studying your user behaviour?

This question would apply more to bloggers who are already earning some from affiliates but can’t seem to progress further and don’t know how to maximise your affiliate earning potential. If you’re already converting some, start by studying what sort of products are converting the most

You can glean extremely helpful information from looking at your analytics on your readers’ behaviours.

Knowing what they like, what type of content they frequent, how long they are lingering on certain pages, the destinations your readers end up reading about, etc. all give valuable information on your next steps and what to optimise.

A nifty way to track what external links your readers are clicking to is by going to Google Analytics.

Here are the steps:
Behaviour > Events > Top Events. Under Primary Dimension, click the Event Action tab. Here, it’ll show you all the external links your readers are clicking to. If you want to further analyse the keywords they are clicking to, under Secondary Dimension, click Event Label. Now there will be two columns side by side for you to see what anchor text leads to what URL and then you can analyse from there.

For example, Booking.com vs AgodaGetYourGuide vs Viator. Which affiliate partners to use? Travellers from Asia typically book through Agoda and GetYourGuide, whereas I find more Europe destination bookings come through Booking.com. I don’t use Viator personally, but I’ve heard they cater more to European destinations.

Other OTAs such as Klook and KKday are highly popular in certain countries because of the unbeatable deals they have with their suppliers, so they are also worth looking at

Think about which country tends towards booking what destinations. My western audience loves booking to certain destinations, while my India readers are more interested in others. You can then consider supplying content for these countries.

Which countries attract luxury bookers and which destinations are more popular with backpackers? Knowing what earns you the most also provides the impetus to create more content revolving that destination.

7. Use personal experience.

koh klang thailand voluntourism tourism family girl smiling

Surely I can get you to buy these watches?

I’ve found that when I recommend certain products/ experiences, my readers would trust my personal judgement and experience more than if I were to just throw a bunch of different options for them to click on.

Use your personal experiences to your advantage and tell your readers the honest truth in your reviews.

8. Assess booking periods.

Consider your target audience’s peak booking periods. Then boost posts for their popular destinations leading up to their peak travel period.

8. Drive traffic – SEO

The point of having affiliate posts is so you want your readers to click on them and purchase something that solves their problem yes? Whether it is the best carry on luggage or the most versatile travel backpack, you want to connect their needs to the solution.

Best Hardside Carry On Luggage, airportHow will you get the right readers to chance upon your informative article then?

The answer is, SEO! With solid SEO work being put in, your article will be ranked at the top of Google when your potential readers search for certain keywords. You want your article to be the answer to what your potential readers are asking/ searching for, and so this is where the power of SEO comes in.

SEO is complicated, which is why people outsource SEO work to the professionals. I, for one, have clients I do SEO work for.

Significant increases in organic traffic!

I could go on about SEO all day, but I might leave that to another post.

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In any case, the number 1 tool that gave me SEO success was Keysearch. Keysearch allows you to search up potential keywords your target audience are looking for, assess competitiveness, and suggests more relevant keywords around the topic you are going for.

keysearchI’ve tried many free tools out there and honestly, they were a pain. It was hard to get any measurable results with those free tools and they took way too much time. And trust me, if there’s any other misers out there wanting to save costs on running a blog, it’s me. Keysearch is a low-cost investment that I cannot do without now.

If you’re interested in getting some SEO audit or wish to engage someone to help your website content get more traffic on Google/ Yahoo/ Bing searches, feel free to drop me an email.

9. Drive traffic – Pinterest

While Google is my number source of traffic, depending on the topics you cover, Pinterest is another way to drive traffic to affiliate posts. To successfully do that, Tailwind is a tool that is essential for every serious blogger wanting to drive traffic.

Try Tailwind for free here!

I wouldn’t elaborate too much on here, but I may create another post about driving traffic to your blog. Keen to hear about it? I’ll put you in the loop if you wish!

10. Where else can you incorporate affiliate links?

Your mailing list? In social media posts? Youtube video? Depending on what your topic is and where your strengths are in, try to incorporate your affiliate posts in there!

Yahoo! So… How do I get affiliate marketing to work for me?

Anyone can make affiliate marketing work with the right tools! Here’s how you can start:

  1. Scroll back up and go through my points again, taking particular note of areas you are lacking.
  2. Sign up for affiliate networks like Commission Junction, Awin, Rakuten, SkimLinks. Browse through their merchants and think about how you can create content revolving it. You’ll be surprised how brands you frequent the most have affiliate programs associated with it. These include TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Groupon, Mango, Topman, Mankind, ASOS, REVOLVE, Lululemon (my favourite yoga brand!), Nike (my favourite sportswear brand!), DJI
  3. Look at your top 10 posts in terms of traffic. Analyse these posts for any affiliate opportunities where you can fit in.
  4. Consider different CTA wording, use an image or a prominent button.

It’s a long journey from here on, so I hope you have the patience. For me, I really enjoy studying my user behaviour and gleaning opportunities to improve on my posts and strategies. If you’d rather have someone else do a site audit for you, feel free to reach out!

Let me help you!

I took a long time to draft and write this post. I hope you found it informative!

If you’ve found this post useful, please let me know and drop me a comment below! It would really encourage me to come up with more blogging how-to content for you. 🙂

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Isabel Leong

Isabel Leong

An explorer at heart, the world is Isabel's playground. She enjoys seizing every moment exploring every hideout and doing the unimaginable, like bungee jumping in Phuket and couchsurfing in Europe. If she had wings, she’d definitely be soaring right now. Also a fitness trainer, if she’s not at the gym, you can find her doing yoga or rock climbing! Read more about her on belaroundtheworld.com/about.