S1 EP9: Affiliate Marketing 101: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Making Money with Affiliate Marketing

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Ever wondered what’s the fastest way to make money in an online business (without selling a service? Affiliate marketing might be the answer.

Ben Huber and Jeff Proctor have made multiple 7-figures in revenue from affiliate marketing alone in the last five years of their business.

In this episode, they talk about what you need to start making money with affiliate marketing, how to connect with thousands of your favorite brands at once, and their best tips to increase your conversions and build a loyal, trusting audience.

Links and resources:

Key Takeaways

Here are the key takeaways from Ben and Jeff’s conversation:

1. Affiliate marketing is a great monetization option for new online business owners.

Affiliate marketing allows you to focus on marketing and selling without having to put in the time to create a product or service of your own. If you already have an audience of any size (or even with no audience), it can take less time to start making money with affiliate marketing than many other strategies, like creating a digital product or course.

It’s also easy to shift your strategy if something isn’t working. For example, if you find that an affiliate offer isn’t converting, you can switch it with a different offer. Or if a blog post on an affiliate isn’t getting any sales, then you can write an article for that affiliate in a different style. Both of these take way less time than scrapping a digital product or course and starting from scratch.

Related Podcast: Is Blogging Dead? Here’s How Blogging Has Changed in the Last 7 Years

2. If you want to make money at scale, then you’ll need a steady stream of traffic.

That traffic can be from your Instagram, YouTube, blog, podcast, or something else. Regardless of where it comes from, you need an audience of people to promote your affiliates to.

For a blog, you’ll probably want at least a couple hundred unique visitors per month to start making money with affiliate marketing. For Instagram or other social media, it depends on how engaged your audience is.

3. Join 2-3 affiliate networks.

An affiliate network is a centralized location that manages affiliate programs for other companies.

When you join an affiliate network, you’ll get access to multiple affiliates in one place. From there, you can choose which products and services you want to promote and join all of the programs from one place.

Some common affiliate networks include:

  • Impact.com
  • FlexOffers
  • Awin
  • CJ

Joining an affiliate network streamlines the process of becoming an affiliate and is easier than working with companies one-on-one.

4. Only promote products and services that are relevant to your audience.

This may seem obvious, but it’s tempting to join an affiliate network, sort by “highest payout,” and sign up for the top companies on the list. However, just because a company pays $150 per sale doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to sell their product or service.

If it’s not relevant to your audience and the reason they’re already visiting your website or following you on social media, then they’re not going to buy.

Jeff recommends choosing a core group of affiliates. These should be companies that:

  • You like and support, and
  • Are relevant to your audience

5. High commissions don’t always equal high payouts.

It might seem like a good strategy to promote the highest-paying, most expensive products or services. But unless you have a strong connection with your audience and have already built a significant amount of trust, then don’t expect many (or maybe even any) conversions.

As Ben said in the episode, “Something to keep in mind when you’re getting into affiliate marketing is don’t just go out and slap links on blog content to $3,000 Pelotons when it makes more sense to start with a $10 water bottle.”

You might be surprised to find that you can generate more revenue starting out on lower-priced products at a higher volume. As you become more familiar with affiliate marketing and build trust with your audience, you can move to more higher-ticket products and services.

6. Test out top-of-funnel affiliates.

Ben and Jeff talked about two main types of affiliate programs in this episode:

Top of funnel/Lead generation: The advertiser is looking to build their audience. They want someone to join their email list, download their app, etc. Usually, the action is free for your audience, making it a lower barrier to entry (and an easier “sell” on your part).

Bottom of funnel/Percentage of sale: Based on sales. If you sell something, the company will give you x% of the sale.

If you’re just starting out, try experimenting with top-of-funnel programs in your niche. This will help you learn what your audience wants, improve your affiliate marketing skills, and generate revenue early on.

Related Podcast: How to Create a Winning TikTok Content Strategy to Get Seen, Heard, and Paid

7. Track your affiliates to see what’s performing well.

When you use an affiliate network, you get access to performance reports. In these, you can see how many clicks, conversions, and payouts each of your affiliates have received. This can help you see which products and services your audience likes the most and adjust your promotions accordingly.

For example, if you have one affiliate that’s performing better than its competitors, you might move it higher in your listicle articles so that it gets more views (and more conversions).

8. Compare payouts on different affiliate networks.

Oftentimes, affiliate networks offer varying payouts for the same products and services.

Per Jeff’s example, let’s say you’re promoting a Peloton bike. For a sale of the same amount, affiliate network A might offer a 10% commission, network B offers a 5% commission, and network C offers a 12% commission.

Which affiliate network would you want to use?

Obviously, network C, right? An easy way to optimize your affiliate revenue is to shop around at different affiliate networks to make sure you’re getting the highest commission offered.

9. Experiment with different placements and types of links.

You don’t want to overdo your affiliate link placements. That can look sketchy to readers (and to search engines). However, you do want to give your reader more than one chance to interact with the link to buy or sign up for the offer.

So you might place a link toward the beginning of an article, then somewhere in the middle, then again at the end. You can also test out different types of links, like plain text, buttons, or images.

10. Show your readers how you’ve used the products/services you promote.

One of the best ways to provide value and to make your content unique from other sites that are promoting the same affiliates as you is to tell your audience about your experience using the affiliate you’re promoting. (That means you have to use and test the products yourself first.)

Share screenshots, tell stories, and talk about what you liked and didn’t like. The content you share will depend on the tone of your site, but the point is to look for ways to provide your reader with more value than just reiterating the benefits that they could read from the product or company’s website.

11. Bigger companies equal bigger (retargeting) budgets.

One of the big benefits of working with big brands in your niche is that they usually have bigger retargeting budgets. That means they’re able to track readers who click your link and retarget them with ads on other platforms (like Facebook) to increase the possibility of a conversion.

Since the reader clicked your link, as long as it’s within your attribution period (i.e. the period of time from when a user clicks your link to when they have to buy or sign up in order for you to receive credit), the affiliate company’s retargeting efforts increase your chances of getting a payout.

12. Building trust with your audience should be a priority.

In order to be successful long-term, you need to build an audience that likes and trusts you. One way to do that is to share the weaknesses of the affiliates you promote alongside the benefits.

Only sharing the benefits of a product or service can make your content seem surface-level and untrustworthy. Your audience will appreciate your honesty by sharing what you don’t like about a company, product, or service as much as what you do like.

Another way to build trust is to present your audience with alternative products and services (that you may or may not also be affiliates for). This shows that you’re not just shilling the same products to make money and also presents them with other products and services that might be a better fit for their needs.

Related Podcast: How to Design Your Online Course to Increase Your Testimonials (and Revenue)

Episode Transcript (click to expand)

Note: This transcript was automatically generated and may include typos.

[00:00:00] Ben Huber: Hello. And welcome back to the show today. I’m joined again by Jeff. This has been, we’re stepping in for Megan this week. Jeff and I are going to be talking a little bit about affiliate marketing today and more specifically what it is, who can do it and how you can make money, monetizing a lifestyle business with it.

[00:00:35] So without further ado, Jeff, welcome to the show.

[00:00:37] Jeff Proctor: Thank you Ben,

[00:00:39] to be here with you.

[00:00:40] Ben Huber: Awesome. I know it’s again, I still can’t get totally used to the fact that we have these calls everyday, but it is a little bit weird to, record them and to hear your own voice in, see yourself on video, but, with, with affiliate marketing, this is something that you and I have been familiar with, I guess, for about seven years now, it’s actually the first way that we chose to monetize our blog.

[00:01:00] And it’s still the primary way we monetize our blog and actually, Half a decade later, we’ve done multiple seven figures in revenue through affiliate marketing. And we actually haven’t really diversified, beyond that revenue source in a lot of ways, mostly because there’s just such a high ceiling for what can be done, in that area, obviously, there are tons of different ways to monetize the business.

[00:01:23] Be it affiliate marketing, or paid courses or sponsorships, any, any number of ways. influencers nowadays are monetizing their businesses, but this is just, what’s worked for us. And we haven’t felt the need to necessarily stray away from it. In fact, we’ve, we’ve doubled down in a lot of ways and kind of honed our craft.

[00:01:41] And so if this is something that you’ve heard of, or you’re familiar with, and you’d like to learn more about it, that’s what today’s episode is going to be on. So Jeff, if you don’t mind without further ado, for the listeners. Perhaps totally unaware of what affiliate marketing is, or they’ve at least heard of it, but don’t fully understand the concept.

[00:01:58] Could you kind of just fill them in on what it is?

[00:02:01] Jeff Proctor: Yeah. So in a nutshell, affiliate marketing is selling a product or a service that is not your own, but it’s somebody else. And you are getting a commission or a cut from that sale. So for example, let’s say, or I’m just looking at my wife’s Peloton behind me, let’s say I have like a fitness website or a blog.

[00:02:21] And I write about, cardio and being healthy and, and whatnot. And let’s say in one of my posts, I mentioned, Hey, we got this Peloton in. It really is helping us. Lose weight and meet our goals, whatever. And within that post, I mentioned Peloton and like, Hey, here’s a link that you can go, sign up for their free app, which then, will hopefully you to buy their bike.

[00:02:44] If you do end up purchasing a Peloton, through an affiliate link, then the creator that, published that that link will get a commission. So let’s say, and I don’t know how much Peloton pelotons costs these days. My wife got it a couple of years ago on COVID started. Let’s just say a bike is $1,500.

[00:03:02] If there’s a 10% commission on that for affiliates, you’d get $150, for that sale. If you a blogger or an influencer or using, affiliate links. So the cool thing about affiliate marketing or there’s pros and cons, but one of the biggest pros is, as someone who’s, starting an online business, it is?

[00:03:25] an enormous task to deal with not only, product creation, but then the marketing as well, because product creation takes a ton of time.

[00:03:35] Whether it’s an online course, Or you’re designing a Peloton or whatever you want to sell. I mean, if you are creating the thing that you want to sell, that is a whole beast in and of itself. And then to market, it is a whole other task to overcome. So the cool thing about affiliate marketing is at least for us we don’t have to worry as much about. Creating the products. We just worry about finding good products that we like. And for, for dollar sprout we focus a lot on gig economy apps, or side hustle apps or investing apps, that type of thing. So we find stuff that we like and we recommend it to our readers. And then we just, we’re just focusing on the marketing aspect and not so much about how to tinker with the product and make it better, not the engineering and all that stuff that goes into making a good product.

[00:04:24] So for, for us, it was much more, I guess, manageable to. Focus on just the affiliate marketing aspects, because we were learning this whole like business model kind of firm from scratch. So we had never created a product before, and we’d never really marketed a product before. So we kind of like stumbled into if we do the marketing part, at least we can start getting paid sooner rather than later.

[00:04:49] And then we don’t have to worry about the product creation part. Cause there’s already a ton of companies out there that have great products that just need to find, customers.

[00:04:59] Ben Huber: Yeah, I think, I think that’s definitely one of the ease of entry parts of it that appealed to us is. We didn’t need to go out and reinvent the wheel, right? We didn’t have to go out and create a product. I think I can speak for both of us in saying that another one of us is like particularly creative and so creating like a physical product or even a digital product was something that was probably going to be somewhat time intensive and.

[00:05:26] Not only that, but we couldn’t even think of something unique, or even really where to get started. And I think that’s one of the major pros of affiliate marketing is that you don’t necessarily need to have inventory or stock or anything like that. You’re basically finding something that you like or enjoy or know a lot about.

[00:05:44] And then promoting preexisting products in that particular niche. So and this can be like a really primitive scale too. I think that’s, what’s kind of cool in a sense is you don’t even need a blog or even a business to take part in affiliate marketing. You can actually create a little side hustle, income, promoting products for advertisers, even through like your own phone, for example.

[00:06:04] So say you use a grocery cash back app. Like I bought a. Rakuten or something like that. You can be probably some of you may even already do this where you like refer your friends and your family to the apps and you’re getting a commission or a referral for doing that. And so, like I said, I mean, all it took for you to do that was to get a link and share with your family, with friends.

[00:06:26] You can take that to the next level. And you can share that link with people that you’re not necessarily familiar with, but might be receptive to using that app. So say you’re on Facebook and you’re in certain groups that you might be welcome to share your referral link there, within reasonable.

[00:06:42] We’ve seen on our own blog. People try to spam referral links and we all know how annoying that can be. But like I said, on the most primitive scale, it’s really easy to get into affiliate marketing just because advertisers have made it really easy to share their product. And I think that’s kind of the premise of what we do obviously through the blog is that we find products and we, we recommend them based on what we feel will benefit the reader most.

[00:07:06] And we can do that on a much larger scale than just. Having to manually share an affiliate link, or a referral link. , each time someone wants to use it, you can create content or videos or podcasts, for example, or that link can be shared over and over and over. It’s kind of, it can kind of create this passive income stream where we’re not necessarily tied to just manually sharing it.

[00:07:29] We’ve created evergreen content that is relevant all year round and there, within that content, there might be a product which contains an affiliate link and we can create revenue that way. So it’s, it’s pretty easy to see in a sense how you can move beyond just sharing a referral link to creating an evergreen asset.

[00:07:47] Right. Promoting an affiliate product that way and how you can really truly turn it into an income stream, maybe even beyond just a side hustle. So for us, we went from maybe like side hustle income to all right now we’re, we’ve got this consistent evergreen revenue source where it is scalable and we are creating like almost a career out of it.

[00:08:08] And that’s kind of what we did. We, we took. Our day jobs. I was a nurse. Jeff worked for an investment firm and through this passive income source that we created over a lot of time and a lot of work we eventually scaled it into like a five figure income and then a six figure income and then a seven figure income over time, that eventually replaced our day jobs.

[00:08:29] And now we do this full time, but it’s, it’s really cool to see how that that progression can happen and given time. Energy and discipline into learning some of the strategies that go along with affiliate marketing. , if you’re, if this is something you’re interested, you could potentially kind of make that same transition down the road.

[00:08:48] And the more time you put into it, the more skills you’re able to learn. And the more skills you’re able to learn, the better you’re able to optimize kind of your income streams, but all right, so let’s kind of start from the beginning here, Jeff. So. If I were interested in getting started beyond just like intra app or just like a specific a particular, app or particular, product.

[00:09:09] I want to PR , I want a host of products that I could potentially promote. I’m a content creator. I write a lot of content. I perhaps I have a blog, perhaps I. I have like a makeup Instagram or Tik TOK, or fashion or lifestyle brand. And I want to promote a host of products , how can I get access to a host of products?

[00:09:28] Where do I start when it comes to affiliate marketing?

[00:09:31] Jeff Proctor: Yeah.

[00:09:31] So I think the most important thing is first things first is, if you want to start doing it at a scale to where Referring are recommending multiple products and that sort of thing you want to have a good steady stream of, traffic. Now, whether that traffic is audience on your Instagram views on your YouTube page views on your blog, listeners, on your podcast, whatever it is you want to make sure that you can consistently have at least some baseline level of audience to where.

[00:10:01] Cause I mean, if you’re recommending products and No one is there to know that you’re recommending. Yeah, it’s a little bit of a waste. But , you don’t have to have a huge audience by any means. You can start off with just Really just anything, just to start. So if you, like, let’s say I’ll just use our blog for example.

[00:10:18] Cause that’s how we did it. , we had a few hundred people coming to the site every week. That’s kind of when we started to really experiment with affiliate marketing. And the first thing that we did was we joined a handful of what’s called affiliate networks. So an affiliate network would be… I’ll use the impact. As an example, there’s a website called impact.com used to be called impact radius.com. And what they do is they’re basically a centralized hub for a bunch of different companies to promote affiliate offers through. So let’s say I’m a fitness influencer and I go on impact.com.

[00:10:54] I could sign up for. , the gym shark affiliate program, the Peloton affiliate program, the all the protein companies and like whatever you want, basically, if they’re on these platforms you sign up there. So it’s much easier than approaching individual companies one by one, kind of streamlines the process.

[00:11:14] And that’s what we did for. The first couple of years. it took a while for us to get to the point where we were working one-on-one with sponsors, because the affiliate networks are so efficient at what they do. You can imagine, if you’re working with 10 or 12 different affiliates, It would be kind of a headache to keep track of it all.

[00:11:34] But , with these networks, it’s all in one dashboard, you can see your earnings and your clicks and all that. So that’s, that’s what I would recommend first and foremost is join an affiliate network, whether it’s impact or CJ, flex offers and others there’s dozens of them, but there’s if you join two or three of the big ones, you’ve got 90%. Of your basis covered. So join those and then when you first log into these platforms, you’re going to see thousands of brands on there and it’s, it’s tempting to just want to sort by, okay, what pays the highest commission and then start promoting that. So let’s say you have a fitness website, but then you see that, oh, wow.

[00:12:19] I finally sell. This Bitcoin app on my site they pay a ton of money. That’s, that’s the thing you do not want to do. And that’s a mistake that a lot of people make is they will start promoting what they think is the highest commission offers on their site. And they kind of forget the fact that, oh, this actually isn’t relevant to my audience.

[00:12:40] So like really no, one’s going to sign up. , whatever you’re promoting, if it doesn’t fit why they’re on your website or your YouTube or Instagram or whatever. So it’s really important to make a core group of affiliates that one, you liked the product or you like the company you support what they do.

[00:12:59] And two they’re they’re a good fit for your audience, both, and even still like, not just. It’s beyond just like, okay. Fitness products for a fitness website. if you have a bodybuilding website, you’re not. So running shoes on that website, even though they’re both technically fitness-related so really making sure that your affiliate offers match the intent and what your audience wants is probably the most important part to get.

[00:13:33] Right. And it’s, it seems like it’d be so easy, but I feel like everyone kinda messes up when they start. I know we did for sure. , start to promote stuff that maybe wasn’t fully in line with what we were doing . And I will say the one nice thing about affiliate marketing that I really like is it’s very easy to make changes to your strategy as you go.

[00:13:57] So if you’re promoting something and you kind of realize like, Hey, this isn’t quite in line with what my audience wants. You can find a replacement and put it in there easily. Whereas if you built this course and you spent months and months building this course, and then you realized it wasn’t exactly what your audience wanted.

[00:14:16] You’re out a ton of time.

[00:14:18] Ben Huber: No turning no turning

[00:14:20] Jeff Proctor: you’re screwed. So that’s one. thing that’s really nice about affiliate marketing is any mistakes you make or shifts in strategy, you can kind of, you can move fairly quick.

[00:14:31] in comparison to yeah. In comparison to other, strategies.

[00:14:36] Ben Huber: Yeah. I think, I think it’s one of those things where when you’re first starting out, obviously. You’ve created blog content. And I know we talked about this, actually, one of our other podcast episodes creating a good foundation of content is, is always in a lot of ways, the first step for anything with in blogging.

[00:14:54] And it kind of will advertently guide a good affiliate marketing strategy in a way, because rather than creating content around. These random affiliate products that you see in a network you’ve got this core content that’s really important to your brand, this core content that actually matches the intent of why people are on your website.

[00:15:16] And then you can naturally find products that align with that content. Create good content first. Be it a video or blog written blog. Or a YouTube video and then look for ways to monetize that existing content. And then your future content strategy can start to envelop some of these tangential affiliate products that when we get to diversifying.

[00:15:39] And we’ll talk a little bit about diversifying here in a minute and the types of products that you might want to consider for your content or for your brand. You can get to those after you’ve kind of. Address these core affiliates. So what I’m going to do is I’ll actually link in the show notes here.

[00:15:53] We have actually have a blog post that talks about affiliate networks, where to start. Some of them have no requirements. Some of them want you to have a baseline level of traffic.

[00:16:01] So say 5,000 readers a month, 25,000 readers a month, there might be a little bit of a burden in that regard, in terms of what some networks are more selective than others. But like I said, if most networks will have. Access to advertisers that aligned with your niche from the get go.

[00:16:18] So even if you can get on one affiliate network, just get approved for flex offers. For example flex offers will have thousands of advertisers and you can start you will likely be able to find a product that aligns with your niche. And we’ll, like I said, link to the, in the show notes to that particular post that talks about those affiliate networks.

[00:16:34] And like Jeff was saying in terms of finding core affiliates, you. Obviously you want to find those that align with your brand. One other thing that I wanted to add on to his message was that You don’t necessarily in this a mistake we made, you don’t necessarily need to go out and promote the most expensive product that you can find on an affiliate network or within an advertisers program.

[00:16:57] Sometimes there’s a lot of audience building, a lot of trust building that goes into converting on said product. And sometimes this gets into the diversity component of, of affiliate marketing is sometimes it’s easier for a consumer that may or may not be super familiar with your brand to convert on a lower priced product.

[00:17:16] And so that’s just something to keep in mind when you’re getting into affiliate marketing is don’t just go out and just slap links on blog content to like $3,000 pelotons. When maybe it makes more sense to start with a $10 water bottle, depending on what you’re promoting.

[00:17:31] You’re going to find that you might generate more revenue more conversions on these lower price products. And as you become more intimately familiar with affiliate marketing, you’re going to learn the strategies that are involved with converting on some of these higher priced products.

[00:17:43] Jeff Proctor: Yeah, one thing that was actually really eye-opening for us, I think is like you said, like if you’re trying to promote a multi thousand dollar piece of exercise equipment if you think about how many people are actually going to go through and click on your link and. On that it is a tiny percentage even if you have a perfect flawless website and , there’s nothing you can do any better.

[00:18:07] There’s still going to be a high barrier to someone buying something that’s so expensive. And what we actually did starting out and even now, what has really worked well for us is actually promoting really low barrier to entry offers. So. And I’m just using Peloton as an example here that I don’t, I don’t know if they actually do this, but let’s say Peloton has a deal for, okay.

[00:18:32] If you sell our bike, you get 10% commission. That sounds great. Cause the bike costs a ton of money. But they may also have a program that says, Hey, if you get someone to sign up for our email list or download our free app, we’ll give you a dollar 50. , on the surface, that sounds not very good because I mean, a dollar 50 is not much money, but if you think about it if you have a thousand people coming to your website, maybe one of them might buy a Peloton, but , maybe 30 of them will sign up for the free app and you start kind of breaking down the numbers and it’s.

[00:19:08] The small commissions can really add up fast, especially for, the lead generation stuff, the stuff where someone is downloading a free app or signing up for an email list or not, not yet pulling out their wallet to buy something, but these advertisers will still pay you,

[00:19:25] for people to sign up for those things.

[00:19:28] So that is something that, is. I would say a good portion of our, affiliate marketing efforts are on that front. And a lot of that has to do with also the space that we’re in with like financial products and like side hustle apps there’s, there’s not as much stuff for people to quote unquote, buy right away.

[00:19:48] So that was, more part of the niche that we chose was it kind of took us in that direction, but I’m sure in other spaces too, Similar in a way, if not that extreme, I’m sure it does happen a bit.

[00:20:05] Ben Huber: Yeah, I think one of the more eye-opening, components to affiliate marketing that we. I guess it didn’t fully understand at first, but we’ve I guess, come to understand over the last couple of years is kind of the progression of a funnel, so to speak an advertising funnel.

[00:20:20] Say we started to promote offers. We’ve learned how to find an offer on an affiliate network. We’ve learned to take a link and we inserted it into a relevant blog posts. What we’re talking about, affiliate offers in and of themselves. So there’s different types of affiliate offers.

[00:20:37] There’s percentage of sales, there’s lead generation customer acquisition. Can you talk a little bit about the different types? , I know when we talk, you and I, Jeff, we talk about like top of funnel versus bottom of funnel conversion. , I guess my question for you is can you explain a little bit about the types of affiliate programs and then.

[00:20:55] , maybe a little bit about top of funnel. We won’t get too complex for the sake of this call, but the difference between converting to the top of the funnel and the Cabrini at the bottom of the funnel.

[00:21:03] Jeff Proctor: Yeah, so. For like the different types of offers that kind of goes back to what I was saying with like the Peloton example. And there’s a percentage of sales type of offer where, Hey, if you, if you sell this thing, we’ll give you 5% of the sales or 10% or 3% it, it, the percentage kind of varies by industry, but I would say for most like physical product businesses, you’re looking.

[00:21:26] Most likely 5% or lower commission, which isn’t great, but that’s just kind of how it is. Cause I mean, you’ve got the manufacturers have to make their money and the, I mean, there’s this, the margins are lower with physical product businesses.

[00:21:40] Ben Huber: That’s kind of like a bottom of funnel where you actually have to go all the way to the sale in order to convert.

[00:21:47] Jeff Proctor: Yeah. exactly. So like are selling, or recommending a jacket or something on your site you’re only going to get paid if someone buys that jacket. Whereas with top of funnel, The advertiser, the company that you’re promoting, they are just looking to build their audience and they get their audience warm.

[00:22:04] So they want someone to like join their email list, download their app, then once, once you’ve done that for the advertiser, then the advertiser can kind of start warming them up and like getting them down further in the funnel to where hopefully that person will buy the, the expensive Peloton or buy whatever.

[00:22:24] Getting people into the top of the funnel is easier as an affiliate because it’s a lower barrier of entry for the customer, because they don’t have to do much. Whereas getting someone at the bottom of the funnel, it’s really hard for, an affiliate or for the publisher, because you’re basically. Selling that thing right then and there, and you have to close right then and there. And I know I’ve seen those studies before where a customer has to have seven different touches or something before they buy something. So whether that’s through like seeing a commercial on TV and then seeing a Facebook ad, then seeing an Instagram ad and then signing up for their email list.

[00:23:01] I think there was some study somewhere that said that. On about the seventh, time they’ve interacted with that brand, then they buy. So if you’re a blogger or a Instagram person or whatever, and you’re trying to just sell something right there, you basically kind of just have to hope that you’re like, the, the seventh or eighth or ninth time that that person has seen that brand, which , who knows, but it’s much easier to say like, Hey, I’m just going to get you into. The top of the funnel here, and you’re still doing the customer you’re still providing value to the customer. You’re still exposing them to the brand that fits their needs, helps them solve their problems, whatever it is. And , it’s not, it, it’s still, it’s valuable for both the customer and for the advertiser or the

[00:23:51] Ben Huber: Yeah, I know that when we first started, we found a lot more success kind of like you were saying at the top of the funnel with a lot of affiliate programs that we’re looking more for lead generation or new users just to familiarize people with a brand versus bottom of the funnel, converting on a sale.

[00:24:10] So say for example, we’re in the financial space, we’re helping advertise financial products. A lot of time, these advertisers were interested in paying us to get people, to install their app or to like show interest in their financial product. And they were actually converting or paying out on that, entry-level lead.

[00:24:28] Say for example, we were invest we were promoting an, an investment product of some sort, maybe a bank account we were fine. We were finding more success in. I’ve been working with advertisers that were just looking for an email address. , they were paying us $2 for an email address versus a hundred dollars to open an online savings account.

[00:24:46] And so when when you’re

[00:24:47] Jeff Proctor: An online savings account with,

[00:24:49] Ben Huber: exactly like

[00:24:50] Jeff Proctor: deposit. It’s like, okay, who’s gonna do that right off the bat. Like we’re never going to get her a hundred dollars because this just doesn’t happen

[00:24:56] Ben Huber: And so it feels like you’re looking for affiliate programs on these networks for the first time and you’re looking what, what should I consider maybe think about, like I said, these lower barrier programs where they’re just looking for a lead. And then that way you might find users, in the area of their journey, where they’re just interested in , And then advertiser, but they’re not ready to take that next step.

[00:25:21] So they might be willing to sign up for an email list or they might be willing to download the app, but they’re not ready to open an account or they’re not really to willing to, to ready to buy a Peloton, for example, finding them earlier in their customer journey and getting a payout just from that introduction almost.

[00:25:36] And we found a lot of success with that. And then we kind of learned how to do that. Trust building, kind of warming up a reader to a brand. Helping them become more intimately familiar with that brand. And then maybe at some point down the road, they’re converting on that like thousand dollar product, versus the $10 product or even the free product.

[00:25:52] So we did, we definitely found a lot of success, early on there.

[00:25:56] But anyhow, switching gears for a minute Jeff, we’ve talked a little bit about matching good offers to your content, like finding a core offer, maybe trying to weave that into your content. How do I know whether or not, that offer that I’m trying to promote is actually converting.

[00:26:16] Is there a way to see data on like the number of clicks and all that kind of stuff?

[00:26:20] Jeff Proctor: Yeah. Yeah. So this is where, like the affiliate networks are really helpful the sites, like impact or CJ or whatever. When you log in to those, you can see All your data right. there. So you can pull up like basic, like a little report of all your affiliate offers how many clicks each one got?

[00:26:39] How many conversions, each one guy how much money you made from each one. So. The reason that that’s really helpful is let’s say you start with, , 10 affiliate offers that you’re running on a platform and you do it for a month and you want to see like, okay, how did things go?

[00:26:57] And you see offers a, B and C. We’re like, okay, we got like some clicks and a couple of conversions, but then offer D. Everyone seemed to be converting on that one. And we made a lot more money. And you kind of, you can start to pick up patterns on what’s performing good.

[00:27:11] What’s not performing good. And you can actually then take those findings and then look at your content and see like, oh, okay. So in this article I have on the 10 best, whatever if you’ve got your one product that is like outperforming the others by a ton, but it’s not even, let’s say it’s number six on your list of 10, but it’s getting the most. Conversions you can Kind of deduce the clearly the audience is more interested in that product. And what you can actually do is move that product higher up on your list to where it can appear number, number one or two in the article. And what that does is just by, and this is kind of speaking from experience of doing this ourselves, , hundreds of times, The higher something appears in an article, the more visibility it’s going to get, the more people are going to click on that thing.

[00:28:03] So, , if you have an offer, that’s converting really well, but it’s just not getting the, the clicks that it could be getting. If you move it up higher on the list, now you’ve got a high converting offer that is getting more visibility on your site. And then I bet if you were to go back a month later and run your numbers, right.

[00:28:24] You would see huge improvements in your revenue that way. So that’s kind of the cool thing about where the affiliate marketing is. You can always keep kind of fine tuning your whole site, basically. So that, that’s probably, I think that the biggest, one of the biggest advantages to doing affiliate marketing and really diving into the data that these dashboards.

[00:28:47] Ben Huber: All right. Kind of on that note, you were talking about like fine tuning, say, , you and I are a new blogger and we’re at like a one month in and we’re looking for tips to optimize. So let’s just get into , maybe some tips that a newer blogger could use to kind of start to like fine tune their affiliate strategy.

[00:29:03] Can you think of anything? That you feel would really, I’m gonna try to try them in here too, a little bit things that would really benefit a listener who has got a blog. They’ve got Instagram account and they’re promoting and what can I do to more efficiently monetize my brand.

[00:29:18] Jeff Proctor: Yeah.

[00:29:19] So the first thing that I think of just off the top of my head was the guts say you’re able to get on three affiliate networks, which is doable. So if you’re on three networks and we’ll just go back to the Balaton example, cause that’s the easiest one to use because it’s top of mind.

[00:29:37] So let’s say on network, a Peloton is offering 10% commission. You might see that our network would be, they’re offering 5% commission a network. See they’re offering 12% commission. And this happens all the time. And the affiliate marketing space all these brands are working out their own deals with these networks.

[00:29:58] And you’re going to have different commissions on a lot of them. So if I’m promoting a product and I’m on a few different networks the, an easy first step, to kind of optimizing your site would be like, okay, I’m going to at least make sure that I’m running the offer. That gets me the most for whatever that offer is.

[00:30:18] So if , Peloton is offering 12% on network C, I’m going to use network C’s affiliate. I’m not going to use network BS link. That only gets me 5%. So if you do that across your whole collection of, five or 10 or 15 affiliates, those gains will add up over time.

[00:30:37] Ben Huber: Yeah, I’m going to let you think of another one here. I’m going to see if I can chime in with one.

[00:30:41] So the first tip I really had is to maybe consider tinkering with placement of an affiliate link, right? So say you’ve got a piece of blog content. I’ve written an article, you’ve presented a problem and you’re promoting your product or the affiliate product as a solution.

[00:30:59] one of the things that you and I found out early on was that a single affiliate link in a certain spot may not quote unquote, get the job done. Right? So sometimes you have to give your reader. A number of opportunities to convert on that link. And the cool thing about affiliate programs is a lot of times when they click the link you have, what’s called an attribution window where as long as they click that link at some point during the process.

[00:31:25] Even if they convert on that link down the road, like say they, they weren’t ready to buy then. 10 days later you might still get credit for that particular conversion. So in terms of tinkering with placement, you might want to consider putting an affiliate link when you first introduce the product, like linked to the product itself, but then also you may want to consider linking to that product kind of as a refresher or reminder somewhere towards the bottom of the post.

[00:31:51] After that, person’s kind of like a call to action, as we say, they’ve read you’ve built trust. You’ve kind of presented this product as the solution to their problem. And now that they finished your article, they’re ready to convert on it. So it’s one of those things where you want to give your reader ample opportunities, not overdo it, but giving them my apple ample opportunities to actually convert on the product.

[00:32:08] So tinker with placements at some point down the road, you can actually get into like AB testing and really honing in on what links people are clicking on, but for the purposes of just starting. Don’t overdo it, but look for at least one or two relevant places in every blog post that you are promoting a product to link to it.

[00:32:24] So that a reader doesn’t forget about it. It’s the only will stay in their frame of reference for just one second, give them another chance to convert, but you got another one.

[00:32:32] Jeff Proctor: Um, yeah. And it, well going off of that a little bit, like with tinkering with placements, another thing that, that we’ve experimented with in the past, and we still do now is tinkering with not just placements, but also how the link looks when we first mentioned the product, , Via text link, like in the paragraph that we’re writing about the product about, but then maybe at the end we’ll have, a little button that they can click that says learn more.

[00:32:57] And then there’s a picture of the product or a short description or kind of just a little snippet that summarizes the thing. And it gives them a button to click. That’s a little bit more of like a call to action. As opposed

[00:33:08] to, you know,

[00:33:09] just having a text link that says. Just the name of the product, which people might not click on that.

[00:33:15] Another thing I was thinking of, and this is definitely something that I think we’ve gotten better at over the years is finding ways to make your content more effective. , highlighting the benefits of the affiliate product. So whether it’s, your personal experience with the product, like Hey, I got this Peloton and like, here’s a picture of me on it.

[00:33:40] And here’s every ride I’ve done for the past month. Here’s my weight. Something like that is going to be way more valuable to a reader than Hey, I bought this Peloton and you should. Cause it’s awesome. Like that’s not gonna, no, one’s gonna really act on that.

[00:33:58] So the more that you can really connect and depending on like the style of your blog, some are more personal than others, but the more that you can kind of create a unique angle or added perspective on that affiliate offer the better it’s going to perform. And I got one more tip, but I’ll let you go.

[00:34:16] Okay. You’re you

[00:34:17] have mine? I don’t want to, I don’t want to spill all

[00:34:19] Ben Huber: Yeah, this is actually when I forgot earlier. And I finally reminded myself of it. I think one of the cool, inadvertent lessons that we learned early on when we started our affiliate marketing journey was that it’s kind of nice to work with bigger players in a space sometimes.

[00:34:34] And the reason for that, obviously there’s brand recognition. Everyone recognizes the Peloton brand name, but perhaps. More unnoticeable, but really, really important component to working with a bigger brand is that bigger brands have bigger budgets. And by that I specifically mean retargeting budgets. So for example, say you’re promoting you’ve you’re on an affiliate network and you’ve got two similar offers that you’re interested in promoting.

[00:34:59] There’s two companies that have an exercise bike, you’ve got Peloton, and then you’ve got like unknown brand C and unknown brand C might even sell a bike. That’s better. And even slightly cheaper than pelotons, but they’re not a very big company and they might not have what’s called a big remarketing budget.

[00:35:16] So getting back to like, when, when a user clicks on a link, it sets a cookie in their browser or on their phone, and then the advertiser can re target that user so that they will all of a sudden start seeing. And we’ve all seen it. You’ll see. An ad on Facebook for your running shoes or the Peloton or whatever it is, you visited that website even for like a brief moment.

[00:35:38] And all of a sudden you’re getting ads and larger advertisers have larger budgets often more often than not to re target a user to kind of rewarm them. Refamiliarize them with the brand kind of just. Knocking out those seven interactions that Jeff was alluding to there, they just have the budget to reach people.

[00:35:57] So when you’re considering a product, it might prove profitable to, error on siding with the brand that it might have the larger, advertising budget. So that’s

[00:36:08] Jeff Proctor: Um, because you’re still, you’re still

[00:36:10] Ben Huber: Yup. Yeah. And so we’ve, we had a lot of success working with programs that did have big budgets. We Airbnb, for example, on our own blog used to.

[00:36:19] Have a, an affiliate program where a reader could make money hosting their pad, so to speak on Airbnb and Airbnb at the time was in growth phase and they were spending money like crazy marketing. And so we’ve benefited from. We would kind of get people into the top of their funnel and Airbnb would take it from there.

[00:36:40] They would spend their, multi hundred million dollar advertising budget on acquiring users for us. So that was kind of a neat thing that I didn’t really think about when we first started affiliate marketing, but we started to kind of notice that trend where sometimes working with partners that have large remarketing budgets can be super beneficial.

[00:36:56] So that’s just one thing to.

[00:36:57] Jeff Proctor: Yeah, one other A tip. I was thinking of that. We’ve definitely messed up

[00:37:04] Ben Huber: mistake. I thought

[00:37:05] Jeff Proctor: like,

[00:37:05] Ben Huber: I mistake.

[00:37:08] Jeff Proctor: oh yeah. This is a mistake that you don’t want to make, that we’ve made. Don’t be afraid to share weaknesses of. because your readers and your audience is smart. And if they see that, wow, like this site only

[00:37:22] just, it’s like reading one bit, it’s like one big sales pitch, this whole site, or this whole account if I’m always mentioning Peloton and how great they are and how amazing they are.

[00:37:33] But then like, I don’t mention that, Hey, it’s hard to get my feet out of the pedals or the app is glitchy or it’s not glitchy, but if I’m just trying to think of some weaknesses, I don’t really use this Peloton if you can’t tell, but I’m trying to think of weaknesses. Everybody knows that no product is perfect and readers will trust you much more.

[00:37:55] If you are forthcoming about like, Hey, this is where this product falls short. Like there’s nothing wrong with saying if you want to get, like this result, like this product is great for that, but if you’re looking to do this other thing, you’d be better off going somewhere else. , that will go a long way towards not just building trust, right there in the moment, but also kind of long-term like brand trust among your readers that like, they know like, Hey, they’re going to get a good honest assessment of a product or a service when they come to your site.

[00:38:23] They’re not. They’re not interested. They are to be someone that clicks on your affiliate link. So that that’s something that I think we, we can always get better at, but it’s tricky though, because you, as an advertiser or as a publisher, that’s promoting these affiliates, it’s kind of a balancing act between like if you convert, you make money, but you also.

[00:38:47] I want to preserve that trust you have with your readers. So I think it’s always good to put that trust element first and over the long-term it

[00:38:56] Ben Huber: Yeah, actually, I think my last tip kind of piggybacks on kind of the trust element in a sense. And by that, I mean, one thing that you might want to consider when you’re creating your content and you’re a lot of times will you create content based on our affiliate strategy is you want to consider, or even present alternatives to the product that you’re promoting.

[00:39:16] And there’s two reasons for that one, the trust component, like you’re not just shilling a product, right? Obviously, you’re presenting your audience with a product that you think. Present as a solution to their problem, but then here is an alternative, right? So we’ve done our research.

[00:39:32] Here’s the primary solution, but here’s an, a backup solution. And that there’s good. That’s good. In a couple of ways, one, it provides a reader a second opportunity to convert, but furthermore, They are, our reader might already be familiar with the one product that you’ve presented and they’re looking for an alternative.

[00:39:48] And so by presenting with that alternative, not only have you built trust in the sense that you’re not just shilling a product, but you’ve now introduced them as color idea discovery. You’ve now introduced them to a second product that might fix their problem. So that’s one.

[00:40:03] Jeff Proctor: and the alternative can be

[00:40:04] an affiliate to

[00:40:05] Ben Huber: Yep. Exactly. And then.

[00:40:08] Along that same line. , say you’ve got a piece of content, you presenting an alternative. Another thing that to kind of keep in mind, my last tip is that sometimes it’s convenient or even nice to have a backup, offer. And this kind of goes into more of like the strategic business side of things in the sense that you’ve invested time and maybe even money into creating a piece of content, especially if it’s an evergreen piece of content.

[00:40:30] It is often a good strategic move to have a backup offer. So say there is a similar product in that space that will also serve a reader’s genuine interest. But the primary affiliate that you had for that piece closes their program, which we’ve had. Dozens of times over the last seven years, it’s nice to operate in a space where there’s a backup offer.

[00:40:53] So that’s just another thing to consider when you’re creating content. You’re investing all this time or money into a piece of content. Is that. All right. I had planned around this particular affiliate, but if that particular affiliate closes shop and it can be a multi-billion dollar brand that pulls the rug on you in this time.

[00:41:08] And again, all, all the time to us, is there another player in this space that we can promote and kind of quickly either alter the copy or made might not even it might not even need a copy alteration depending on what the particular, circumstances, but is there a backup offer that I could immediately put into this space?

[00:41:26] And I think that is. A good strategic move to make, just because you’ve invested so much time and money. You don’t want to have something be dead in the water if there’s nothing else in that space to promote. So, but I don’t know. I think that’s, I think that in terms of, we could go all day with, with tips here.

[00:41:45] I think

[00:41:45] that it is. And I think that I think this is something that’s just going to involve like a more nuanced discussion. I think that maybe a second episode, Jeff. Quote-unquote advanced affiliate marketing tips. We can get into more nuanced, AB testing. We can get into affiliate software, all that kind of stuff, but that might be a conversation for another day.

[00:42:03] Is there anything else other than I’ll let you share some resources here at the end where people can find us and ask us questions, but is there anything else that you can, they’d like to add?

[00:42:12] Jeff Proctor: no, I think that’s pretty much it. I think. , affiliate marketing, isn’t going anywhere. I think it’s going to be around for awhile and it’s a very viable business model, especially if you’re looking for passive income opportunities. And I know that it’s. On a sudden I could not being too sappy.

[00:42:32] It’s like changed our lives. And hopefully it’s in some small way, helped the people that have come along and visited our affiliate links and found products that help them out. So Yeah.

[00:42:46] do it. I think if you’re on the fence about it, that the great thing again about affiliate marketing is it’s, it’s a low barrier to entry.

[00:42:52] I know you can always and always try it out for a few months. And if it’s not your thing, you can go back to, creating your course or creating your own product line or whatever. But it’s definitely worth trying because if it works, you can definitely make some pretty good income and have a really nice

[00:43:10] Ben Huber: Yeah, no doubt. I think, I think that’s an underestimate or under underestimated pro to affiliate marketing. It is, in my opinion, it is the lowest barrier to entry revenue source that you can create as , I’m online business owner like sponsors. Takes time of course creation takes time, but affiliate marketing if you have even a modest stable of content, you can very quickly pivot from just on monetized content to potentially producing income through, through your content.

[00:43:40] So yeah, definitely the lowest barrier entry revenue source, and the diversity I said is there, I think that. It’s kind of like healthcare that I worked in, there’s always going to be people in need of a hospital. There’s always going to be someone selling a product. And it’s kinda nice to not have to have inventory, to not have to create your own product and, , find the products that are relevant for your audience and just, hit the ground running there.

[00:44:01] But all right. Yeah. I think that for, for this episode, if you have any questions, feel free again as always to drop them in our blogging groups, the dollars brought blogging, And you can just sign this on Facebook. Jeff and I are there every day. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also leave a comment on this episode, and we will get back to you that way as well.

[00:44:19] If you have a specific question, we’ll answer it as best we can. And we look forward to talking with you guys in the next episode where we will do affiliate marketing or more advanced affiliate marketing down the road. So hit us up with your questions. We will answer them, then have a good one.

[00:44:33] Jeff Proctor: Cool.

[00:44:34] Enjoy it.