Affiliate marketing can be a powerful way for bloggers to create a passive income stream with their blogs - especially in the food space. The keys to success with affiliate marketing, as Meghan Telpner shows us, are choosing your partners wisely and staying true to yourself and what you love.
This article contains affiliate links.
How To Earn Some Moolah While Maintaining Your Awesomeness
Before I had any digital products at all, or any kind of online, or even offline business, I was an affiliate. It just made sense for me. I was a new blogger and worked out pretty quickly that with my low traffic, having ads dynamically generated from various services all over my site promoting things I would never personally support while also earning less than 10 cents per day with these ads, was doing more harm than good to my blog and my brand.
And so I turned to affiliate marketing as a way to accomplish a host of new-to-the-scene blogger goals:
- Align myself with brands I loved and hoped to work with one day.
- Earn some revenue from my blog.
- Cheerlead and share in an honest way the products and brands I was truly loving.
- Maintain my integrity and stay true to the values that backed the philosophy of my blog.
As bloggers we all have a theme, or a niche, or a little pocket of the internet that we like to declare our community. Even as food bloggers we all have our own unique take, even within this category.
Affiliate Marketing Defined
Affiliate marketing is nothing new. It’s what our moms and grandmothers were hustling with their Avon and Tupperware parties. When the internet hatched its magic, affiliate marketing rose to a whole new level, inviting people to make money through online sales channels, which could range from an actual e-commerce website to simple sharing links on your website or social media channels.
Affiliate marketing, when it comes to bloggers, is selling a product or service provided by a third party, and in exchange your referred sale generates a commission. This can help you build a highly effective passive revenue stream without needing any fancy e-commerce bells and whistles. The most common affiliate program that most bloggers us is Amazon - but that's just scratching the surface of what you can do!
There are amazing opportunities, as food bloggers, to earn a lot of money as affiliates given the number of kitchen tools, ingredients and books we naturally use and reference. Most people are missing out! Putting an ad up on your blog, or including a link in an email may work, but with all the noise online, it's no longer enough.
Editor's Note: be careful with Amazon affiliate links - it goes against Amazon's Terms of Service to include their affiliate links in any kind of email, including newsletters and RSS emails.
There are amazingly powerful ways to use affiliate marketing and have it look as natural as posting a recipe.
1. Link Out Within Your Content
This is one of the most powerful integrations as it looks like another hyperlink in a post. The key is to remember to use your links. I have created a spreadsheet for myself of all of the affiliates I work with, and quick reference links to the products I use most often so it’s easy to integrate.
Often when you use your link in a contextual way instead of a selling way, you’ll get more clicks. Every couple of months, I’ll do a post of my favourite things - genuinely my newest favourite things. Not all of the items are affiliates but some are. These posts regularly earn me a few thousand dollars and the extra side-benefit is that the brands love being included so much that often the post is amplified to their networks too.
***Tip: Test those URLs. If you’re using them in an email program that tracks clicks, an additional code is appended to your URLs, which might override your affiliate ID. As well, when you use programs like Bit.ly or the built-in ones with Hootsuite to shorten your links, your affiliate ID disappears. TinyURL is your best bet if you want to shorten your URL but still have the click tracked.
2. Looks Matter
If you’re using a banner ad or image on your blog, be sure to choose the best size, style and placement. Another option, if you’re digitally crafty, is to make your own banners that work with the look and layout of your website. This way you can customize the messaging and your endorsement, which often has the greatest appeal to your readers.
3. Share Your Affiliate Partner’s Content
Notice what you click on when you’re cruising through social media. Most of us shy away from clicking on overt advertisements unless it’s something we know we want right away. Well, most websites, even those of our favourite blender companies, our top nut butters, or cookware, also have a blog. Now, most affiliate programs are set-up to track cookies.
The usual range is 14 days. This means that if you send your Twitter followers or blog subscribers to a recipe on an affiliate partner’s website and they end up making a purchase within 14 days, you will earn your commission. This is a great strategy to employ if you offer countdown posts such as Top 10 Summer Smoothies or My Top 5 Essential Kitchen Tools. Link to informational links on other sites and let any purchases happen organically. You can use your specific code and tag it to the end of any url on the whole website.
4. Opt-in For Updates From Your Affiliates
Like you, my inbox is rather flooded most days. I have a separate email account set up to receive emails from the affiliate programs I participate in. These emails are important. Most affiliate programs will email their affiliates with news and updates about special promotions, new products or services. Take note of these. This is often a great time to let your audience in on special offers, making you more than the awesome blogger that you already are, but a resource for the inside scoop on the stuff your readers love. Time-sensitive offers are a great way to incite activity among your audience.
5. Product Reviews and Giveaways - Do Them!
Often companies will contact bloggers to do reviews and giveaways in exchange for product. Sometimes that may be enough. However, often these companies have more to offer; we just don’t think to ask. Find out if the company has an affiliate program. This gives you added incentive to provide a detailed review and at the same time, the company is going to be sharing what you wrote with their audience.
6. Offer Incentives To Your Readers
In the food blogging community, often you may notice that the same promotions are happening on several sites at one time. And as you know, many of us share the same awesome community. So then, why should someone buy through you? If loads of people are selling the same products or services, how will you make your offering stand out? If you're going to earn $500 commission on a sale, and have a product or service you offer for $100, perhaps it's worth bundling that in as a gift with purchase?
Make your offer unique and special. If your blog is part of your business, you can potentially use this sale as a step towards building a longer, mutually beneficial relationship with your customer.
7. Only Share What You Truly Love
The best selling and promoting (what I like to call ‘cheerleading’) happens when I’m sharing the goods, services, and people I truly think are rockstars. People know when they’re being pitched to. Be genuine in your sharing of products and information.
By Canadian and US law, you must, of course, disclose that you’re an affiliate (for more information see Disclosure Guidelines For Canadian Bloggers & Influencers), but it's also important to be selective. If you only promote and share information, products, and programs that you’re genuinely digging and can confidently stand behind, your readers will trust you and your recommendations. This also means to be selective about when and what you choose to promote. It really needs to make sense and be in line through and through with the content you create.
8. Have Fun With It
Earning commission by referring people to products you believe in is an effective way to earn a little passive revenue, while still keeping you, your blog, your brand and your integrity at the forefront. This also effectively respects the time and trust your readers invest in you. Many of you already cheerlead for the brands you love. You might as well earn a little extra off that so you can enjoy the awesome life you’re living.
More Reading From Meghan
You can read more of Meghan's writing here on FBC!
- A Behind the Scenes Look At Making a Cookbook
- Five Key Strategies To Take Your Blog To The Next Level
- 5 Tips to Ensure a Healthy Body and a Healthy Biz
Find out more about Meghan's Academy of Culinary Nutrition
The Power of Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers was written by Meghan Telpner. Meghan is a Toronto-based author, speaker, nutritionist, and founder of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. Meghan’s Culinary Nutrition certification program is growing a global tribe of vibrant living advocates and her bestselling and award-winning book UnDiet: Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health is creating a revolution in how people think about their health. With an equal passion for both vibrant living and good karma business, Meghan works with health focused independent practitioners and small businesses to find their unique voice in a crowded marketplace, stay ahead of the curve, cultivate community and convert passion into profitable conscious business. For more visit MeghanTelpner.com.