In my latest monthly income report, you may have noticed that my affiliate income had surpassed my direct income from the electronic products that I sell online. I received a lot of comments, asking me to explain more about where my affiliate income comes from and how it works.
Instead of just breaking down where it all came from – how much this, and how much that – I decided to turn this post into something a little bit more useful that would do more than just tell you how much I earned. Again, I’m not here to show you the money I make online, I’m here to show you how I make money online, and what I’ve learned along the way.
When thinking specifically about affiliate income, I determined that I could divide how people earn money as an affiliate into three primary categories: Unattached, Related, and Involved. I’m speaking in terms of how we are associated with the product or products we may be an affiliate for.
Unattached Affiliate Marketing
These are your basic pay-per-click affiliate marketing campaigns where you have no presence and no authority in the niche of the product you’re promoting. There’s no connection between you and the end consumer, and all you’re doing is showing an affiliate link in front of someone’s face via Google Adwords, Facebook ads or whatever, in hopes that they’ll click on your link, buy the product, and you’ll earn a commission.
The reason why this type of affiliate marketing is so attractive to many is because no presence or authority in a niche is needed! It takes time to build up a reputation and trust with certain groups of people online, and many people are just too scared to commit to working on a blog or website, or just don’t have the time. For many, this is their only option.
Personally, I don’t like this business model because to me, this is not a business model. It’s an income generating model – yes, but a business model where I can build relationships with the end user – no. With PPC affiliate marketing, you become a behind the scenes middle man.
Not for me.
If you dabble in PPC affiliate marketing and are in the positive, I applaud you and I wish you continued success. Trust me, it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds, so props to those of you finding success with it.
Related Affiliate Marketing
Another form of affiliate marketing is what I like to call related affiliate marketing. This is where you have some sort of presence online, whether it’s through a blog, a podcast, videos, or whatever – and you have affiliate links to products related to your niche, but they’re for products you don’t actually use.
Back when text link ads were a big deal, I remember seeing every single “make money online” website with a 125 x 125 pixel advertisement for text link ads. Most of these sites did not actually use the text link ad service on their own sites. On many personal finance blogs, you’ll see a lot of different affiliate advertisements for things like ING, Everbank, LendingClub, and numerous other financial institutions. I doubt that every person who places one of those links on their blog actually uses each of those products and services.
And that’s ok.
Placing affiliate links on your site that are related to your niche is a great strategy to earn an extra income. Whether it’s in the sidebar in banner form, or in a text link at the bottom of your blog post, because you have a website and some authority, people will trust you and your decision to place the ad on your site.
I do have a few of these kinds of links scattered throughout this site. In the sidebar, you’ll see (at the moment) an ad for a “How to Make an iPhone App” product. Many of you know I do have a few iPhone apps that generate an income for me each month, but I did not use this product. I do, however, personally know the owner, which is why I trust him and decided to place that ad there.
Related affiliate marketing is great, but I can tell you that 95% of my affiliate marketing comes from the last type of affiliate marketing I’d like to talk about…
Involved Affiliate Marketing
Involved affiliate marketing is where you’ve used a product or service, truly believe in it, and personally recommend it to your audience. Not in a banner ad or somewhere that says “recommended resources”, but within your content, as part of your life and your strategy for whatever it is you’re talking about. The product almost becomes something people “have to have”, because it’s part of the process.
It’s your involvement and experience with the product that makes that offer so attractive.
There is, however, a level of responsibility that you have to uphold while making these kinds of recommendations, especially if you have a lot of authority and influence over your followers. This is something I take very seriously – even more so now that this blog has become so popular in such a short period of time. If it were up to me, this the only way affiliate marketing would be done, because to me it’s the most honest and most helpful.
This is the complete opposite of PPC, where you’re not even seen by the consumer in order for the transaction to take place. Instead, this is you talking directly to those who may need a product that you’re offering, who have their ears and eyes on you. This is not using your money in order to make money, like with PPC. It’s using your reputation, trust and authority in order to get others to take your recommendation, use it, and pay you something in return in the form of a commission.
My Affiliate Income
Last month, I made $5,023.33 in affiliate sales, and like I said, about 95% of that came from offering products that I’ve used and put my word behind.
Most of it comes from my LEED website. I do sell my own study guides, as you know, but I am also an affiliate for a company who sells practice exams as well. I thought about creating practice exams of my own, but this company is so good at what they do, (I used them to help me pass my test back in March of 2008), that it wouldn’t be fair to my customers if I tried to take their money by creating my own practice exams and kept them from this wonderful resource.
So, instead of creating my own, I have a page on my blog that recommends these exams, and within my eBooks, I talk about how I didn’t include practice exams because the best ones are available from this company, which I’ve personally used to help me pass. Of course, I put an affiliate link within the eBook, which is something you can’t do with a hardcopy book (unless you buy a domain that redirects to an affiliate link, which you can mention in that hardcopy, but that’s a whole other blog post).
I even go into tips for taking practice exams within my eBook, but again – I don’t offer include them, but I offer the affiliate link to where you can get them. Taking practice exams is part of the process that many people feel is necessary to achieve a higher score, and I offer my recommendation through an affiliate link to fulfill that need.
On this blog, I’m sure you’ve seen me personally recommend the Internet Business Mastery Academy before, and I do that because they helped my internet business get to that next level when I was starting out, I’m still a member today, and I truly believe in the program.
To respect the companies I’m an affiliate for, I don’t think I should present exactly how much I earn from eachI hope you can understand. I will tell you, however, that the Internet Business Mastery Academy affiliate program pays a recurring monthly commission, which is awesome.
I’m also an affiliate for a “Make Money Writing for eHow” guide, which I’ve talked about in numerous posts and how it helped me increase my eHow earnings, with numbers to back it up. This has been another great affiliate product that earns me a decent income each month as well.
So, to conclude, I would say that you can choose which kind of affiliate marketing works best for you, unattached, related, or involved, but in my experience, using your authority and presence in a niche to recommend products that you’ve actually used that have actually benefited you in some way is the best way to go. I think people will feel more confortable investing in products recommended in this way because:
- They have some kind of proof that it works,
- They have a resource to go to for help; and
- They know to to blame if it doesn’t work.
Be as involved as you can with the affiliate marketing process and you will see success with your affiliate income.
Thanks everyone! My eBook is finished, and it’s just waiting on a couple videos and you’ll have free access to it very soon. Thanks to all of those on my Facebook Fan Page who have helped me with the name.