I received an interesting email from an SPI reader over the weekend:
“I don’t get it Pat. You make all this affiliate income (your June income report was off the hook!) and you have never come across as being pushy or aggressive with your promotions. I read your blog and am subscribed to your newsletter and you have never sent me anything but content, and somehow you’re earning a CEO’s income. I hope this isn’t rude, and it’s not that I don’t believe you, but how exactly are you doing this?”
To answer this question I can break it down into four key concepts:
- Provide massive value.
- Earn massive trust.
- Learn and understand the needs and wants of your followers.
- Lead and teach by example.
Combining these four concepts together allow me to share products (some of which I am an affiliate for) without being hawkish, and instead of worrying about losing readers, subscribers and potential customers, I’m actually strengthening the relationships I have with them.
For many of you, this isn’t groundbreaking news—and some of you are already putting these concepts into practice, which is fantastic.
Today, however, I wanted to provide you with a more detailed and concrete example of how I earn an income from affiliate programs, specifically illustrating where on my site (and “off site”) sales are coming from.
Getting Into the Details
In my June Income Report, you can see that I am an affiliate for nearly thirty different products and services for SPI and for other niche sites and businesses that I own.
The most profitable product/service was BlueHost (affiliate link – I earn a commission if you purchase), a domain and hosting company that I use and recommend to anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive, quick, and easy way to setup a website. In June, I referred 79 people to Bluehost, earning over $7000.00 in commissions. [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for Bluehost.]
Although June was a record month of affiliate earnings, for Bluehost and overall in my business, Bluehost has consistently been one of the top contributors to my monthly affiliate income.
Honest Recommendations Work
My most important rule for affiliate marketing is this: I only recommend products as an affiliate that I’m extremely very familiar with, and preferably products that I’ve used and have helped me achieve something. If I’m not confident in the product and I don’t feel it will positively help people, I will not promote it.
Although affiliate products are created by others, the moment you promote something you become a representative of that product. That is a reflection on you and your brand.
My second important rule for affiliate marketing is this: I never directly tell anyone to buy a product. I always recommend products based on my experience and in the context of what I’ve done or what I’m doing.
There’s a huge difference (on several levels) between:
“Buy [product] now because you need it to grow your online business. . . “
“This is how I used [Product] to help me achieve. . . “
I obviously have used Bluehost (affiliate link again – I make passive income if you purchase), and I still do (on all sites except for SPI, which needed an upgrade due to traffic and activity), and I am very familiar with how it works so I can be there for some support if it’s needed, which makes people much more comfortable with their investment.
Show ’em How It’s Done
As I just mentioned, affiliate product recommendations are much stronger if you actually demonstrate how the product works and how it’s used.
I do this many times on several different platforms for Bluehost:
- The Infamous 4-Minute Blog YouTube Video: This is a video I created that shows you how to setup a domain and hosting account (and install WordPress) in less than 4 minutes. The “less than 4 minutes” part is important because it differentiates my tutorial from the thousands of other tutorials out there. This video has been viewed over 10,000 times.
- The Niche Site Duel Posts: In this series of posts, I take people through my transparent journey of building a niche site from scratch and turning it into a business that now earns over $1,000.00 per month. During this process, I show people exactly how I built an SEO optimized website.
- My Getting Started Page: This is a page that I recently created for people who are brand new to my site. On this page, I talk about some of the first steps to take, which include setting up a domain and hosting account, and I embed the 4-Minute Blog video to go along with it. You’ll see later in this post exactly how this page converts.
- The SPI Podcast: On a few of my sessions on the SPI podcast, I’ve mentioned Bluehost as the hosting provider that I use. To make it easy for listeners to use my affiliate link, I created a short link using the Pretty Link plugin which make my affiliate link on audio much easier to remember.
- My Resources Page: This is the second most visited page from the navigation menu (My Income Reports is first). Here, I include products that I’ve used during my online journey that have helped me get to where I’m at today.
So Where Exactly Are My Commissions Coming From?
This is for Bluehost only in the month of June 2011:
- The SPI Homepage: 20 referrals. These are from clicks on the 125×125 ad in the sidebar. Part of this comes from the 4-Minute Blog video, which instructs people to click on that ad. If I could go back in time, I would have created a video-specific short URL, like I did for the podcast. Then I could better track how the video performs.
- My Resources Page: 20 referrals. Like I said, this is one of the most visited pages on my site. If you’re not utilizing a resource page for your niche on your site, I recommend that you do! It’s the ultimate non-aggressive way to earn money, leaving all parties happy in the end.
- How to Setup a Niche Site: 10 referrals. This is one post out of several in the Niche Site Duel series.
- My Income Reports: 9 referrals. In each of my income reports, I include links to each of the products and services that have generated an income. These 9 referrals were even distributed through March, April, and May income reports.
- Getting Started Page: 9 referrals. This brand new addition to my site, which introduces myself and my blog to new visitors, is definitely paying off for the time invested to set it up. You can learn more about why I setup this page here.
- Other Pages on SPI (10 total): 11 referrals. Several other pages that briefly mention Bluehost have converted for me as well. Each only have one or two conversions, which is why I didn’t write them out individually. People may arrive on these specific pages from Google searches, exploring on SPI, or a direct link from a podcast or referring website.
The beauty of all of this is that it’s virtually 100 percent passive income. The 4-minute video, all of the blog posts, the podcast sessions, and the resource and getting started pages have already been published and are up for anyone to view at anytime, for now until the Internet dies.
I can work on providing more value and real life experiences to share, and as a result more people will be exposed to these affiliate income opportunities. That’s really what it’s all about when it comes to this kind of affiliate marketing, specifically from a blog.
Plant seeds, nurture them, and watch your income grow.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this insider look at one specific piece of my affiliate income pie, and remember that I have over thirty different products that I promote with a similar, non-aggressive approach which doesn’t upset my followers and allows me to sleep at night knowing I’ve provided some value and help along the way.
I’m interested in what you think. What are your thoughts on the non-aggressive vs. aggressive promotion approach online? Especially since most of you are probably familiar with both as a content consumer. Does the aggressive approach still work? Is it all about getting the “low-hanging fruit” and that’s it? Or, do you feel this passive approach to marketing provides for a more long-term online business?
Please let me know what you think. Cheers!