Squirrel Note: When we were looking through past topic suggestions from NEPA BlogCon attendees, the one thing that kept popping up over and over was the question of affiliate marketing.
- How do I get started?
- Is this something I should do for my blog?
- Why would I ever want to try it?
Well, to get started in answering these questions, we asked our friend Bryan Cardillo.
Bryan is an Associate Account Manager at CJ Affiliate by Conversant and he’s originally from NEPA.
When we asked to pick his brain about affiliate, he graciously offered to share some of his expertise (and some sweet tools) with the folks of NEPA BlogCon.
So, without further ado, I’m going to turn it over to Bryan to share his post. Take it away, Bryan!
Bryan’s Take on Getting Started in Affiliate Marketing
Freshly French pressed, hot coffee awaits the great and powerful creator of content.
It is potent, but the writer’s mind is too, and when the two are combined the cosmos itself shakes by that which is wrought from their stupendous entwining!
Okay, but where’s the coffee coming from?
And don’t forget the Internet bill.
And…wait, seriously? Out of bagels again?
Doesn’t anyone else buy groceries in this place???
Though I do acknowledge the power of thought leadership and engrossing visuals, there’s no denying that every word’s gotta help where it counts most.
When blogging’s your life, monetizing it isn’t always black and white, or simple for that matter. Your heart burns to be genuine as more of the sphere gets converted from editorial to advertorial; isn’t there some way to make the two happen in tandem? Besides, what’s even the best way to do it, and how does one really get started?
Not only can you create great content that delights your readers and keeps them coming back, but you can do it in a way that pays the bills and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. And in only 5 measly steps! Read on.
One world on fire for blogs right now is ‘affiliate marketing,’ my personal stock and trade. This is a digital channel based on advertiser/affiliate relationships and e-commerce tracking, and is typically a ‘pay-per-performance’ channel. This means that every time you drive committed actions like sales, you get paid.
Want more detail? Allow me to get all jargony:
An advertiser (the brand who owns the products or services) founds relationships with affiliate websites (That’s you! a.k.a. ‘Publishers’) to promote their products and services, and tracking links are used to attribute credit to sales or leads completed, thanks to your efforts.
The beauty of it is that you can do a ton with those links, including placing them in search ads, emails, social posts, and of course right on your site itself.
Now you may ask yourself…how and where do I acquire these magical tracking links? And how do I start relationships with advertisers? Well that’s where I come in. Okay, not me, but the company I work for.
“Affiliate networks” are a great way to get in the door. These are full-service platforms which connect thousands of publishers and advertisers via providing tracking, analytics, and other tools, making them a one-stop-shop for the channel.
1. Sign up for CJ as a Publisher (totally FREE!)
This is your first step of the journey, congrats! You’re on your way to monetization and it won’t cost you a dime. You’ll need to enter some basic info on who you are, the site(s) your run, and how you plan to promote the advertisers you’ll work with.
Once you’re in, you’ll get access to the dashboard, support team, and everything CJ has to offer.
2. Check out the advertisers and apply, apply, apply…
Okay, technically you won’t have everything that CJ has to offer since you can’t yet get any links. Navigate your way to the ‘Advertisers’ area to see all the brands that work with CJ.
Every program is unique in their needs, offerings, and constraints, so read their terms carefully as you apply. You’re on your way to establishing live relationships with these brands.
3. Getting Started with CJ‘s Blogger-Happy Tools
While you’re waiting for advertisers to accept your application (which can vary from a few hours to a few days, just be patient!), take a moment to check out all the great tools you’ve got at your disposal. Two I definitely want to highlight are the Deep Link Generator and Deep Link Automation.
The first is a bookmarklet that lets you quickly make an affiliate link to any page within the advertiser’s site you’d like to promote.
Check out the sweet videos linked earlier in this section for some more detail on these. Also, check out our Product Widgets!
4. Remember, communication is the key to a great relationship. Also, don’t be rude.
Now that you’re getting some accepted applications, I want to make sure to stress an important nuance of affiliate marketing.
This channel doesn’t turn on like a light-switch as some others do; it takes time and patience from both ends, and is best founded in relationships that last years, built on its mutually beneficial nature.
Being responsive, intentional, and forthcoming from your first days in will guarantee a proper climb to success that’s sustainable and scalable.
And, as I hope this goes without saying, don’t be shady. The one thing you may know about this channel is that it has a history of shady activities and non-compliant behavior (‘cookie-stuffing’, click bots, fraudulent transactions, you name it).
First, CJ is a major leader in compliance enforcement and assurance, and second it’s not worth putting a strong relationship at risk because you wanted to find a loophole in the system and earn an extra buck.
Be honest and considerate of your advertisers’ rules and limitations when it comes to promoting them, and you’ll never have a thing to worry about here.
5. DO YOUR THING!
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Bryan, I thought you said that I’d be able to keep the genuine intent of my content. It sounds to me like you want me to be a total sell out!
Well friends, here’s the part of this article I’ve been most excited to write:
When you do affiliate right, everybody wins. Yes, the brands you work with want to help their bottom line, but they also represent the products and services they stand by, and most of all they want publishers who will earnestly stand by them too.
If you’re writing about running a small business, for instance, you might decide to blog about the best desk chair you’ve truly ever had, or an amazing small business credit card that saved you when things got really tight. Let your own voice and experiences guide your words, and not only will you be adding value for the brands you promote, but for your readers too.
Too often, there’s so much fear associated with being ‘sold to,’ but at the end of the day aren’t there always things that could make our lives a little easier? I like to think of it as ‘affiliate marketing for good,’ and it’s the kind of approach lets readers know that you’re really looking out for them, and they’ll keep coming back for more.
You’ve got the steps, so now it’s up to you. Go forth and conquer, content publisher!