Let’s face it: earning a passive income is the absolute dream – whether that’s for your personal website, or a way to grow the revenue of your business. And one of the best ways to earn money online is through affiliate marketing, where you’ll be rewarded for directing visitors and customers to an online retailer.
Let’s give you an idea of how much you could make: the top-earning blog CopyBlogger, a digital marketing education platform, makes over $1,100 each day, with most of this income being from affiliate sales. (For the more mathematically challenged among us, that’s almost £900.)
Interested yet…? Let’s dig deeper and see how some of the top earners on the Internet got to where they are today, and how you can apply affiliate marketing to your personal website or business to achieve the same results. (And get that sweet, sweet cash money.)
Who are the top affiliate revenue generators?
1. Matthew Woodward
“Digital entrepreneur” Matthew Woodward is the owner of the award-winning business and digital marketing blog matthewwoodward.co.uk, and is one of the UK’s top affiliate marketers. In November 2016, he made $22,788.34 from affiliate marketing only. Just let the number sink in – that’s 18,483.75 of your finest British pounds. In one month!
But how did Matthew get started in affiliate marketing? In 2012, he created his blog with one challenge in mind: rank in SEO without using link building. (If it sounds crazy, that’s because it is.)
Here’s a rough idea of the plan he followed:
- Create a strongly branded blog with a clear focus and content strategy
- Set up the blog to extract value (a.k.a money
- Drive affiliate clicks and sales
In his first month, Matthew made $605.28 and received 2,125 unique visitors – all from creating and publishing great content, coupled with an affiliate strategy that he knew would benefit his readers. Matthew says: “If you can think of a product that you believe in, and they offer an affiliate program that you feel will benefit your audience, you should offer it to them through an affiliate link.”
What you need to do to drive affiliate sales is simple:
- Figure out what your audience needs/wants
- Find the products or services to help them
- Promote the product on your website through an affiliate link
If you put in the work – you’ll see results. And who knows, you might earn as much as Matthew one day.
2. Gear Patrol
A digital lifestyle publication for ‘young, affluent men’ (in their own words), Gear Patrol was launched in 2007 and has since become one of the top affiliate earners on the Internet. Their secret? Many, many ‘gift guides’ packed with affiliate links and reviews, tailored to their readers’ tastes and needs.
In its first twelve months of affiliate marketing, the website earned as much as $20,000 – and that amount has since quadrupled, making up 10% of Gear Patrol’s revenue.
Despite having limited resources when they started pushing e-commerce related content (around 2011), Gear Patrol’s content strategy enabled them to optimise their posts and attract readers, who in turn purchased the recommended products and allowed the website to earn a commission from the sales.
Gear Patrol’s affiliate-based content focuses on:
- Curated lists of items, buying guides
- Knowledge of their audience’s needs and tastes
- Strong, original and high-quality imagery
- Maintaining and updating older posts with newer products
When asked about their affiliate strategy, founder Ben Bowers told Digiday: “We don’t necessarily go out and create content with affiliate marketing in our minds. The most important thing to us is our brand. The success we’ve had is because we’ve maintained a sense of style and curation.”
Do we even need to introduce TechRadar to you? The technology website, launched in 2000, is one of the most popular websites dedicated to tech and gadgets and boasts over 50 million visits per month.
Their in-depth reviews of technology products have been helping their audience choose the right phone, laptop or other gadget for years – and in 2015, they started to also tell their customers where to buy the items they review.
Future, TechRadar’s publisher, decided to delve into affiliate marketing as a new way to grow revenue following a loss of £35.4m in 2014 – and it hopes to generate over £1 million from this alone.
TechRadar’s strategy to drive affiliate sales is to still focus on reviews and continue to bring relevant information to their readers. Editor-in-chief Patrick Goss said, “What we’re trying to do is benefit the users. Given we’re principally a review site, telling people why this phone is better than the other is great, but being able to tell them where they can buy that phone as well is a whole other level of user service.”
What’s the best way to drive affiliate clicks and sales?
Two words: content strategy. And just one more word (for good luck): strong. A strong content strategy, then, is the best way to:
- Rank in Google and get your website/blog found
- Attract and keep readers
- Direct those readers to products relevant to their needs
- Get £££! (Let’s be honest – this is why you’re here.)
A content strategy focusing on affiliate marketing will typically take the form of buying guides and reviews – so figure out what you know about (tech, makeup, sports equipment) and draft up some educational guides to inform your readers on the best products to buy. Add affiliate links to the post, publish it… and watch the cash come in. (Insert Scrooge McDuck GIF here.)