Whether you’re at the start of your blogging journey or have already built up a loyal following of readers, working out how to make money efficiently from your blog posts is key if you want to make a living from it.
In this guide we will look at the different options available to you so you can decide what is best for making money from your blog. Read on for the complete guide or use the quick links below to jump straight into each section.
- How Affiliate Marketing Works
- DIY Links With Affiliate Networks
- Automated Links With Skimlinks
- DIY + Automated Links
How Affiliate Marketing Works
Most newbies will first turn to affiliate marketing (AKA performance marketing) as it’s the quickest way to connect with advertisers relevant to the blog posts you’re writing. If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, it works like this:
1) ‘Affiliate Networks’ are technology companies. They give ‘advertisers’ some code to add to their website checkout pages that send details back to the ‘affiliate network’ about any sales generated from people clicking on specific ‘tracking links’ from an ‘affiliate’ website.
2) ‘Advertisers/Brands’ are website operators (e.g. fashion retailers, travel agents). They work with ‘affiliate networks’ to get more online sales, bookings or leads via an ‘affiliate programme’.
3) ‘Affiliates/Publishers’ are (usually) website operators (e.g. bloggers, voucher code websites). They work with ‘affiliate networks’ to send people to ‘advertiser’ websites and get paid a commission if that person buys/books something within a set time period.
‘Advertisers’ love this set up because they don’t have to pay any money until a sale or booking is made. This means they’re not paying a set amount for advertising on a website in the hope that someone will click on an advert and buy something.
‘Affiliates’ love this set up because it gives really easy access to thousands of brands. For new blogs, if you went directly to an ‘advertiser’ you’d struggle to convince them to take a risk and pay you a set amount for advertising on your blog. Affiliate networks remove this barrier and offer you a way to work with ‘advertisers’ in a mutually beneficial way.
DIY Links With Affiliate Networks
After the network has approved your website you can apply to join the ‘affiliate programme’ for any brands like ASOS or Topshop that you’re interested in working with. Once approved, you’ll then be given a specific ‘tracking link’ that you can place on your blog in place of the normal non-tracked link such as www.topshop.com.
Every network will have a tool to help you create ‘deeplinks’ – these are tracking links for specific pages on the advertiser website (e.g. for a product or category).
You can view reports after logging into the affiliate network to see all the clicks/sales that have been tracked and attributed to your blog. Most importantly you can see how much commission you’ve earned.
The drawbacks of DIY affiliate links
With this setup you’ve got to manually edit all non-tracked links to tracked links that are already in posts on your blog if you want to make money from them.
You also have to manually create deeplinks each time for new blog post content that contains non-tracked links that you want to be tracked.
This doesn’t take much time if you are just starting out, but it could be considerable if you’ve already got a lot of links you want to change. For new links you create it’s likely to only take you around 5 minutes to create 10+ links.
You’ll also find a delay between when you’ve applied to join an affiliate programme and when your blog is then ‘accepted’ so you can then get the affiliate links needed. This can be hours, but in most cases is a matter of a few days. Applying to and waiting for acceptance on affiliate programmes takes time, which could be better spent in producing new blog posts.
However, the biggest drawback is that there is more than one affiliate network and advertisers move around to get the best deal (they have to pay fees to the affiliate network they work with). This means if an advertiser closes their programme on one network and moves it to another, you’ve got to change ALL of your links for that advertiser. These aren’t universal tracking links and it happens more than you’d expect.
It can take hours to find all links you’ve got to change and it’s time that could be spent more efficiently producing new blog posts.
Automated Links With Skimlinks
Skimlinks is a technology company that sits between advertisers and affiliates. Like with an affiliate network you can sign up with them to earn commission for any sales/bookings generated from links on your blog.
However, unlike working directly with an affiliate network, you don’t have to create any tracking links yourself. Skimlinks will provide you with one line of code that you add to your blog (or you can use the free Skimlinks WordPress plugin) and it will automatically convert all non-tracked links to tracked links.
This has huge advantages because it means all of your existing links and any new links you add will be tracked without you having to do any further work. Because the links are converted in real-time, if an advertiser has moved their affiliate programme to a new network, you don’t have to update your links.
Like with affiliate networks, you can access reports on clicks and sales to see how much commission you’ve earned from different advertisers.
The drawbacks of automated affiliate links
Skimlinks will only convert non-tracked links to tracked links, which means if you’ve already got affiliate links on you’ll blog you’ll need to change them if you want all tracking to be done via Skimlinks. This may be considerable work if you’ve got a lot of affiliate links already within your blog posts, although you can leave the existing links in place.
Skimlinks doesn’t provide the service for free – they’re a company and also need to make money. Luckily you don’t have to pay anything directly like a set monthly fee, but they do take a cut of around 25% of the commission payment. However, in many cases this is offset as advertisers usually pay Skimlinks a higher commission rate than bloggers would individually receive via the main affiliate programme.
DIY + Automated Affiliate Links
For both fledgling and established blogs, the most efficient way to make the most money from your blog is by using a combination of DIY and automated affiliate links.
Using an automated service like Skimlinks will leave you to focus on content for your blog, without any tedious admin of having to change links and apply for multiple affiliate programmes.
As your readership grows and you’re in a position to work more closely with relevant brands, you can then use DIY affiliate links for any posts created in partnership with the brand. This will mean you earn 100% of the commission rate as Skimlinks won’t be taking a cut (the Skimlinks technology won’t overwrite these affiliate links).
Affiliate networks are great for helping to manage these direct relationships with brands and by only using the affiliate networks for a small number of brands, it will be far easier to manage.
A final word
Making money from blogging takes time and the amount of money you make will ultimately come down to how many people visit your blog and how engaged they are with what they’re reading. Using automated tools to help you monetize links and then building relationships with brands directly via affiliate networks for bigger campaigns is likely to be the best way to make money from your blog.