Maybe you are just like me. For more than two years, I was up at 5:00 AM six days a week. I published new content every day. I was spending money left and right on hosting, email systems, and more...and I made exactly $0.
I SAID I had a business, but what I really had was an expensive HOBBY!
The funny thing is that I knew all about one of the easiest ways to start monetizing my blog...affiliate marketing. I’d worked with some of the top brands in the world like Shutterfly and Adidas on their affiliate programs. I’d worked with top entrepreneurs like Michael Hyatt, Ray Edwards, and Jeff Goins on their programs too. And yet, I’d never done it myself.
I was ready to give up on my blog. It was draining time, energy, and money, with nothing in return.
That’s when I did my first affiliate promotion.
I promoted just like I’d taught others to do for more than a decade. And it worked! I made $588 in that first promotion, with a list of barely 800 people.
I’d proven to myself that I could do this. I could make money with my blog. And I didn’t even need a product to do it.
Over the next two years, I made more than $134,000 in affiliate commissions. I finished in the top 10 in many affiliate competitions. I even won a small one.
And I did it all with a list that was never larger than 2,300 people.
For years, I’d seen what the top affiliates were doing. I’d seen the power of affiliate marketing.
And yet...I wasn’t taking advantage of the opportunity right in front of me. I didn’t have a product, but I did have a big PROBLEM...I was losing money fast. And affiliate marketing was the answer to my problem.
Now that $134,000+ in commissions MIGHT seem like the most obvious benefit to aff marketing, but I actually have 10 more benefits you might not have even thought of. These are the “hidden” benefits of affiliate marketing that can help ALL areas of your online business.
So many people preach that when you start a blog, you should give, give, give. Content, content, content. But when you give, give, give without ever asking for a financial transaction, it sets you up for burnout. I know because I’ve been there.
So much of running an online BUSINESS is mental and I want you in a money-making mindset from day one.
Repeat after me: I run an online business. And businesses make money.
When you start affiliate marketing right away, it gets you in this proper mindset.
Imagine for a moment that a new store opens up across town. Whether it’s a Walmart or a mom and pop doesn’t matter. What is ONE thing all stores have in common?
THEY SELL STUFF! On day one!
And don’t apologize for it.
They give away free samples for six weeks and then ask you to buy. They sell to you on day one!
Here’s the problem with an online business, though. It’s hard to know what your audience wants on day one, so it’s hard to create the right products or courses...which leads us to benefit number three...
When you first start your blog, you are still learning what your audience wants and needs. You have no idea what products they are interested in buying, what price points they buy at, or what is the best way to sell to them.
In other words, creating a product of your own on day one is RISKY. Just ask anyone who’s created something, ordered 1000 of them and parks their car in the driveway not the garage as a result.
Affiliate marketing teaches you what your audience wants. You get to test different products, topics, price points, and sales methods.
You also learn what specific people on your list are interested in. That allows you to segment them over time.
If you run a health blog, Person A might be more interested purchasing fitness equipment, while Person B is into supplements. This gives you incredible insight into what products will perform best with them in the future.
In the long-term, this is huge for your business.
One way or another, you are conditioning your audience.
The question is: What are you conditioning them to do?
Are you conditioning them to click links in your emails or just read the content in the email? Are you conditioning them to expect periodic offers or to receive free content indefinitely?
Think about this...if you have nothing to sell and go on for years or even just months without selling, your audience conditioned. Then when you DO sell, it’s the end of the world. They freak out, unsubscribe in droves, even send you hate mail...seriously, it happens, people are just crazy.
Remember this, you are conditioning your audience one way or the other. Make a choice to condition them the right way.
Here’s the biggest difference between someone who blogs as a hobby and a professional blogger:
A content and promotional calendar.
When you blog for a hobby, you post when you want to. No one is expecting much. Don’t feel like posting today? No biggie. Got nothing for next week? Who cares!
A content calendar is the first step in putting on your grown up blogger pants. The next step is a promotional calendar.
Think of it like a content calendar on steroids. With the attention span of a toddler who accidentally drank your coffee.
Promotional calendars are hard to manage. You have to build up to a specific topic and promotion. You warm your list up and crescendo at the end of the promotion. Like this:
If you’d like a sample promotion warm up plan, just click here and I’ll send you the one we use for our own affiliate promotions (it also works for internal product promotions as well).
Here’s a little secret...even the biggest names in the online marketing world like to get noticed.
They like to see their names on affiliate leaderboards. They like when they promote something and are recognized. They like beating other marketers.
When you start in affiliate marketing early, you get better at it earlier and you get noticed earlier. That means you are able to connect with other people who can help you massively scale your business.
I know this happens because it’s exactly what happened with me. I began promoting affiliate offers, I started getting on leaderboards, and people started reaching out to me. Today, I consider many of those people friends (and clients).
Imagine what this would feel like...and do for your business:
Realistically, you don’t need to be at the top to get noticed. Being listed anywhere is enough to give you credibility and raise some eyebrows.
I cannot stress how important this is. When you get a taste of success, you want more.
When I made that first $588 commission, I was thrilled. But I also saw what was possible. And I wanted more of it.
$588 became $1,124. Then I made more than $7,000 in my next one. In my fifth promotion, I made more than $10,000 for the first time.
These amounts were game changers for my business and my life. And it all started with that first $588.
Starting a blog is easy and usually inexpensive, but starting an online business requires an investment.
It’s not much. $20 here. $30 there. $50 for the guy to fix that plugin that's crashing your site. But it adds up and it’s especially demoralizing when you have nothing coming in.
A REAL business pays for itself. It has revenues coming in that support the expenses going out. And affiliate marketing is a great way to do that.
Imagine if you simply had $100 a month coming in right now from your blog. That would pay for your hosting, your email service, your images, and maybe even for a premium theme or plugin. It could change your business.
And it could change your perception (and others’ perception as well). Suddenly, you have a business that brings in money. Suddenly you are turning a profit.
That does wonders for your psyche.
Promoting affiliate offers taught me how to sell long before I ever had a product of my own. I understand how to warm up my audience, how to engage them, what copy worked best, and what worked and what didn’t.
In other words, I got to test my sales skills out on other people’s products, not mine.
I learned when to email during a promotion, what length of emails worked best, what subject lines worked and so much more.
Promoting affiliate offers taught me how to sell but most importantly it proved I could. Instead of being reluctant and doubting myself when I launched my first product, it was like second nature.
When I launched my affiliate marketing training course, No Product No Problem, earlier this year, I had absolutely no stress about the marketing. I’d done it 20+ times already. Creating the promotional plan for the course launch was, quite frankly, one of the easiest things I’ve done in my business.
Whether you know it yet or not, you will have an affiliate program of your own one day. I won’t try to convince you of that here, but just know that you will. It’s the single best way to explode your online business.
And when you promote others’ affiliate offers, you learn how to do that.
Amazingly, after spending nearly a decade running affiliate programs for everyone from Lewis Howes and Michael Hyatt to multi-billion dollar companies, I learned more from promoting offers myself.
To quote Pablo Picasso: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”
And boy, have I stolen some good ideas.
I learned what I liked in an affiliate program. Every single promotion gave me at least one awesome idea to use for our clients.
I also learned what I didn’t like. If something bugged me, I assumed it bugged others and I vowed to do better.
Seeing things from the perspective of an affiliate has made me ten times better at helping our affiliates.
And the best part about all these benefits is that you get to enjoy them while getting paid!
It’s like going to school and the college pays YOU!
Promoting affiliate offers from day one can be very profitable.
So here’s my question for you...What would making an extra $67,000 a year do for you?
Or even half that. What would an extra $34,000 do? Or $20,000?
Could you pay for your startup expenses? Could you pay off your debt? Could you quit that part-time job and spend a little more time with your family?
Could you prove to your spouse or other naysayers that this crazy online business thing is actually a good idea? Could you prove it to YOURSELF? Or maybe you would make enough to go full-time with your business.
This is the power of affiliate marketing...the ability to make money without creating a product of your own. And you learn a lot of cool stuff along the way.
If you’re just started out with your blog, start affiliate marketing now. Start benefiting from the income and the learning today.
If you’ve been blogging for years, but you aren’t doing affiliate marketing yet, start now.
The old Chinese proverb says the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is today. Whether you are just starting out or are a veteran blogger, start affiliate marketing today.
I’ve put together a special “bundle” of resources for Sue’s readers to help you get started.
The “Successful Blogging Affiliate Bundle” has the promo calendar samples I mentioned above, plus my Affiliate Program Scorecard, and a video training to help make your next affiliate promotion your best ever.
The Affiliate Program Scorecard will show you what offers to promote and what offers to pass on. The video training takes a deep dive into the 5 Pillars of a Killer Affiliate Promo. I share what the top affiliates are doing and how to stand out from the crowd.
Entrepreneurs and companies such as Michael Hyatt, Ray Edwards, Brian Tracy, Lewis Howes, Shutterfly, Peter Voogd, and Jeff Goins have trusted us to run their affiliate launches. I help online business owners and brands, small and large, to leverage the power of partners to grow their businesses. I teach you how to make money as an affiliate and how to work better with affiliates.