Everything is so much easier said than done. Such is life.
We know what we have to do, we just don't know where to start or what the correct pathway is.
Affiliate Marketing is one of those topics; simple concept but complex implementation. But it's not a lost cause, my friend.
Through my successes (and failures) with Affiliate Marketing, I've found many resources that can absolutely be beneficial and make your life a heck of a lot easier. Truthfully, I can give full credit to some of these tools for actually sticking with it and steadily growing my Affiliate income.
Many of the links used within this post are Affiliate links. When you click and purchase from one of my links, there's no additional cost to you, but I receive a small commission on each sale.
My hope is that with these tools, you’ll be one step closer to success when it comes to Affiliate Marketing. Which is why I’m so excited to share them with you!
An Affiliate Network is a marketplace of sorts, where a whole bunch of merchants (brands who are interested in paying Affiliates) host their programs and look for recruits.
A good majority of the new clients I onboard are hesitant (or even resistant) to joining an Affiliate network because they only focus on the side of it that seems spammy and slimy-looking. So I have to remind you that it doesn't have to be that way. As an Affiliate Marketer, you are in control. You essentially don't have to do anything you don't want to do!
And frankly, an Affiliate Network or Merchant will never force you to behave in a manner that isn't authentically you.
It costs nothing for you to join an Affiliate network, and trust me when I say that your life will be a whole lot easier when you do. It's not only a way for you to have more than one Affiliate program within one interface, but it's a way for you to easily access your links, view your Affiliate stats, and look for new merchants you may want to promote.
The way that these networks make money is through the Affiliate merchants. They generally pay a percentage of the commission that their program generates to the network. It truly is a beautiful, beneficial pricing model for all parties involved.
There are more Affiliate networks out there than you can count on all your fingers and toes, and some that I like better for different reasons, but I do have a favorite. ShareASale is a great network that is reliable, trustworthy, and has a ton of different Affiliate merchants in many different verticals.
However, I don't love their interface. It functions at a bare minimum, but is by no means intuitive. Still, it does have more legitimacy than some of their competitors that need to put more stringent rules on their vetting process.
I will be the first one to say that you don't need a website to involve yourself in Affiliate Marketing. But on the flip side, it'll make the process of building significant income much quicker and more likely.
So a website host that is optimized for SEO and also user friendly is incredibly important.
As a course creator, I love the all-in-one solution, Kajabi. It hosts all of my products available for purchase, acts as my email service provider, offers access to unlimited landing pages, and hosts my website.
Oh! As a side note, if you are wanting to START an Affiliate program, Kajabi has a great built-in tool just for you. Under the "Sales" tab in the side bar lies an "Affiliates" tool, which allows you to create tracking links for your Affiliates to use.
If you are going through all the work of creating content for your site, you'll want to make sure that it's optimized for SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, means that search engines (like Google, YouTube, and Bing) are more likely to show your content when someone is searching for your product or service.
This is mostly done organically, through keyword-rich content on your website and backlinks from credible sources.
In other words, what types of questions are your community members asking in order to get the results that your content is providing?
Neil Patel's tool, Ubersuggest has so many ways to search for keywords. He has a free version that would absolutely work well as a beginner, and then has very affordable options as your site begins to gain more traffic.
Here, you can see the search results that populate when I typed in "Healthy recipes":
In the free version of Ubersuggest, you can:
Heat mapping for your website is an often overlooked aspect of gauging the website’s success. What landing pages are people going to? How far are they scrolling down the page? Where are they getting stuck and exiting out? What are they clicking on?
Do you know these things?
Having a tool that can tell you where you need to tweak and edit your website or landing pages is invaluable, because we should always be improving these for optimum performance.
For free with Hotjar, you can get data points on what’s happening on your website and have some context for why this behavior is happening on it. The best part, it doesn’t have a steep learning curve or complicated analytics!
In addition to heat maps, they have video recordings of what users are doing when visiting your website. You can see an example in the screenshot below.
Listen, I've been speaking the English language since I said my first word at 9 months old, but that doesn't mean my writing is fool-proof.
I'm constantly tweaking and editing my copy, refining the pieces that I thought were already perfect, and then running them through a free tool like Grammarly, in order to just make sure that it's easy to absorb.
Grammarly can help you do so many things FOR FREE:
I'd highly recommend this tool, whether writing is your primary content creation method, or not. It's even a no-brainer for me as I write scripts for my YouTube channel, and I have no doubt it could work the same for podcast creators as well.
When it comes to using social media and Affiliate Marketing together, my preference is to utilize social media as a cross-promotional tool for my website content.
To clarify, I'm referring to social networks, such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Clubhouse, etc, and NOT referring to YouTube, Podcasts, a Blog, which act as your content platforms.
I will rarely suggest using social media as your content platform, but it does have immense power in the role of cross-promoting your links. Occasionally, posting Affiliate links directly on your social platforms can also be impactful.
So when it comes to setting up your Affiliate revenue stream to be a true form of passive income, a social media scheduling tool is what's going to actually make that happen.
With Tailwind, I'm able to spend a couple hours a MONTH planning out both my social media posts (that lead to my Affiliate content) AND my Pinterest pins (that also have links back to my content).
If you don't have a content platform, or just aren't interested at this moment, yes you can post Affiliate links on most social platforms. However, you must still be mindful of the terms and conditions set by each individual merchant you work with.
Some merchants don't allow it, and it's your duty to abide by their rules.
If they do--more power to you! It can't hurt to try, but I can guarantee it won't be a long-term, profitable solution for you. Stats show it's hard to simply convert buyers directly from social media, with the exception of Facebook groups. And even then, you have hurdles to jump through, because merchants will often forbid you from posting Affiliate links in Facebook groups, unless they are a public group.
When you hear a marketer or brand ambassador say that they have had wild success with Affiliate marketing on Instagram, they likely are already semi-famous and/or have a huge, cult-like following that in fact, will purchase anything they link to. And that's just not the norm!
So let's bring ourselves back down to earth here, recognize where we are at, and work WITH the grain, instead of against it. Sound good?
Tailwind keeps adding more capabilities by the minute, but as of right now, you can automate just about every aspect of your social media planning; from saving your most used hashtags and posting them in the first comment for you, to looping posts on Pinterest. They even have a new "create" tool that has pre-designed templates for you that you can save and reuse over and over again.
It's a life-saver, to say the least. And totally worth the very minimal investment.
Affiliate linking is when you have a unique URL that contains a tracking cookie to pinpoint and track when a conversion is made. Generally, a conversion refers to a sale in Affiliate Marketing. But in other marketing channels, that can often refer to a lead or a click instead.
In order to make Affiliate links, you will first need to join an Affiliate program. That program will provide you with at least one unique tracking link, but you will likely have the opportunity to create your own. This is generally done through selecting a landing page, or specific product, that you want to promote, and using a tool provided by the merchant or Affiliate network to create your unique link.
The only problem, these links are very noticeably Affiliate links. Anyone that sees your link will see a long string of numbers and letters, signifying that it is going to start the tracking cookie.
ThirstyAffiliates is a WordPress Affiliate link management plugin. It allows website owners to add, manage, and easily insert Affiliate links into their posts and pages.
And the great news is that the link cloaking feature allows you to mask your Affiliate links! This doesn't mean we will try to get away with something we're not supposed to--we are still obligated to give full disclosure that we are using Affiliate links. But ThirstyAffiliates will help make them look just a tad prettier, and cleaned up.
An email service provider is a technology company that allows its users to send emails to a list of subscribers.
Yes, email marketing is still very much a “thing". Although, it's much harder to get your hands on the email addresses of consumers these days without giving away a coupon or something that is highly coveted. Gone are the days of easily getting someone's email with a simple "freebie", but when you want to speak directly to your audience, having that email list is invaluable. Think about it. Your email subscribers have specifically opted-in to being interested in the things you have to offer, and that goes for Affiliate products as well.
So, there are a number of great email service providers out there to choose from, but my favorite is Kajabi, due to its all-encompassing product suite and vast SEO integrations.
With Kajabi, you can not only host your website (as discussed earlier in this post), but also organize and automate your email funnels, and much more.
With their email service provider capabilities, you are able to add automations to your funnel that not only make setup a breeze, but allow you to virtually “set it and forget it”. Anyone who has set up a nurture sequence for their email lists knows it can get complicated quickly. Kajabi allows you to set up different email sequences to different segments of your list based upon tags and certain triggers: what they didn't purchase, what they did purchase, what they clicked or didn't click, and about a dozen more variables. It's amazing!
When it comes to getting that professional look without the professional price, my best advice is to invest in a DIY tool that makes it easy for even the non-creatives of the world.
You'll want to templatize everything from infographics on your site, images for your website, email templates, social media posts, and so much more. This will make your content look on-brand and polished. This is one of the major stepping stones to gaining that know/like/trust factor and essentially getting people comfortable enough with your brand to actually click your Affiliate links and then purchase.
Images not only get your brand LOOKING good, but they help you rank for search. Any time you are posting content, make sure that you supplement any of the verbiage or text with infographics, images, or any easily-digestible and shareable tidbits.
I saved this one for last because it’s something that is a little bit more advanced when it comes to Affiliate Marketing, and honestly, optional. Many people have very successful Affiliate revenue streams without using paid search, but it can still be very useful.
As I touched on earlier, Affiliate Marketing models are generally a cost-per-acquisition, or pay-per-sale. So in order for you to be paid as an Affiliate, your referral link has to be clicked and the customer has to have purchased. Other digital marketing models such as Search engine marketing, or paid search, are on a pay-per-click model. So you aren't necessarily generating revenue for the Merchant, but aiming for traffic.
Eleaver's paid search tool allows you to blend these two methods and capitalize on the pros of both pay-per-sale and pay-per-click, but it takes a little bit more knowledge. The good news is, Eleavers makes it super easy to benefit from the pay-per-click model and get paid for posting Affiliate links on your site.
With Eleavers, you can either monetize your website by posting Affiliate links on their platform, or you can bring traffic to your website through Affiliates.
As an advertiser, Eleavers does all the upfront work for you and helps you monetize your website through Affiliates. You don't have to apply to any programs at all! They simply choose the highest bidder to advertise on your site and start paying you the maximum amount of Affiliate income. It really is that simple.
So if you don't exactly know where to start with applying for Affiliate programs, but you want to get started, I encourage you to give it a try.
Well there you have it! My favorite tools. What do you think?
Do you have any of these currently? Am I missing any tools that you absolutely love?