Skip to Content

Blogger’s guide to making your first affiliate sale

Have you joined a bunch of affiliate schemes but are yet to see a single penny from any of them?

Maybe you’ve had the odd sale, but you’re feeling underwhelmed at the results. 

I spent two years getting a few quid here and there from my affiliate links but never really gaining any traction. 

Now affiliate sales make up hundreds of pounds of my monthly income. I know of other much bigger bloggers who make thousands from affiliate sales, in fact for some it’s their biggest earner!

The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you can use it on your blog and your social channels. So if you’re in a position where you don’t yet have a blog, you can start using affiliate links right away in places such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. 

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is where you promote products on behalf of a brand or individual seller. In return you are paid a percentage of the sales. 

For bloggers, affiliate sales are made via links you embed in your website’s posts, emails sent to your subscribers and in social media posts. 

Most major brands have an affiliate scheme along with some individual sellers. In blogging, most bloggers with their own products have an affiliate scheme. 

It makes sense for sellers big and small, because it means you have a small army of people promoting your products for sale. 

The commission rate varies massively, from as little as 1 per cent to as much as 60 per cent or even higher. It really is down to the brand or individual seller. 

Notable affiliate programmes that work well for bloggers include Amazon and Etsy. 

TOP TIP: If you want to know whether your favourite brands have an affiliate programme, and how to join it, simply Google the name of the brand and “affiliate scheme”. Most will have a page outlining the process you need to go through to join the scheme. 

How much do bloggers make from affiliate links?

When I started blogging my first affiliate programme I joined was Amazon – as I’m sure 99 per cent of new bloggers do!

However I had no real concept of the fact that actually, while having the Amazon affiliate programme is great, there are a ton of others out there that can make you a lot more money. While a high volume in sales may bring you a lot of money on Amazon, you would need a LOT of traffic to make it work. 

My other error was I thought I just needed to plonk a few links in my posts and that would be that!

Making affiliate sales, like so many things in blogging, needs a little more care and attention than this. 

But now in the last year I’ve finally been able to make some actual cash from my affiliate programmes. 

Amazon is my biggest earner, and I’m making roughly £300 a month from sales there at present. This is nothing compared to the amazing amounts many bloggers bring in from Amazon. I know many are bringing in thousands every month from Amazon, but they have niches that provide their audience with a lot of help (which in turn lends itself to recommending products) and they have a LOT of traffic.  

However I have other affiliate programmes that bring in £50 to £100 per month on just a handful of sales because the commission rate is so high!

It’s so important to join a range of affiliate schemes, and always look for new ones as you go along in your blogging journey too. 

Before I carry on, I want to recommend Carly’s Affiliate Marketing course. It’s a brilliant guide to getting affiliate marketing right for beginner to intermediate bloggers. Plus it’s an absolute bargain. You can find out more about it here. 

Tips for making your first affiliate sale

So now you have an understanding of what affiliate marketing is and what’s possible, let’s talk about how you can actually make money through affiliate sales. 

Choose relevant affiliate programmes 

First of all, sign up to relevant affiliate programmes!

If you love wearing Boden dresses, that’s great. But signing up to them as an affiliate may not do you a lot of good if your blog niche is home renovations. 

So, your affiliate schemes that you choose to promote on your blog have to relate to your content. 

Amazon is an obvious one, and it’s certainly worth signing up. As I’ve outlined above however, you will need to have high volume traffic to make a decent amount of cash on Amazon. 

Just to give you an idea of conversions, I sold $4,000 worth of goods via my US Amazon traffic and that made me just $140 in the last 30 days. Amazon has currently decreased the commission rate which is hitting my earnings on this particular programme. 

If you’re struggling, look at your competitors to see which affiliate schemes they are using. 

There’s no such thing as joining too many affiliate schemes. But you absolutely should not promote products that are not relevant or that you don’t believe in. More on that shortly!

Build your blog traffic 

If you have no one to sell to, then you will make no affiliate sales. 

That being said, I know of people who make a very decent income with affiliate marketing with around 60,000 page views per month. This is because they have an engaged and very targeted audience. 

They have niched right down and are an expert in their field. It’s just worth remembering that while growing traffic is important, it’s also important that you are very clear on who it is you are writing for. 

Always think about the audience you are trying to reach, and write content for them. By writing content that speaks to your audience, then you are much more likely to gain their confidence, and make them feel confident and motivated to click your links. 

So, you don’t need hundreds of thousands of page views, but you do need a decent amount!

The best ways to increase your blog traffic are: 

  • Create brand new pins every day. I try to make 2-3 new pins daily. 
  • Use Tailwind to schedule your pins at the best times of day so that you can pin in your sleep! If you’re serious about blogging, I think Tailwind is an essential tool. 
  • Check out my tips for ranking number one on Pinterest! These tips will help your pins appear at the top of Pinterest search for your top keywords. 
  • Write new blog posts regularly. Your blog posts should be quality content, but you do need to be posting often in order to increase your blog traffic. I currently try to write 2 new posts per week. 
  • Get clued up on SEO! More on that shortly. 

Write content that solves problems 

As I’ve mentioned above, writing content for your audience is crucial. 

The best type of affiliate content solves problems for your audience. This again comes back to niche and being the go-to person for a particular topic. 

Whether that niche is crochet, baking bread, country-style interiors or breastfeeding, you need an understand of what your audience may struggle with and produce content that offers them solutions and guidance. 

Helpful posts in all sorts of different guises. These might be: 

  • A how-to 
  • A tutorial explaining a technique or hack 
  • A review of a product (you can link to the product as well as related products in the post)
  • An account of your experiences of a particular problem and how you overcame it (for example, how you managed to bake a loaf of bread when you had no yeast)

Having said that I do find that there is the odd post that can make sales that is not a purely helpful post. It might just be a post that talks about a topic where a particular product is mentioned in a relevant passage. 

Experiment with how you add the links

There are various different ways you can add affiliate links to your posts. Here are some of the main examples: 

  • Text link where you name the product – for example in a post about the best way to clean floors I may name the Shark Click N Flip mop as my fave steam mop with the name of the product as the link text.  
  • Text link where you direct the audience to click the link for your favourite product but don’t name the brand (this one is good because the audience has to click through to see the product, it works well for things like Amazon where anything the user buys within 24 hours earns you commission). 
  • Picture link – You can add a URL to pictures by simply clicking on the picture when editing your post. A little link chain appears at the top of the picture, just click it and add your link. 

With Amazon you can also add picture/text links. Amazon makes it easy to add picture links, text links or the combination of the two. Once you have your affiliate approval with Amazon, you will see a shortcut to create your Amazon links when you’re on the website with the Amazon Stripe bar. 

Amazon affiliate link builder

Improve your SEO game 

It is totally possible to make money from affiliate sales when most of your traffic comes from Pinterest. In fact many big bloggers do make a great living with traffic that primarily comes from Pinterest. 

But there’s strong evidence that traffic that comes from Google just converts better when it comes to affiliate links. This is because when people who land on your site from Google are more likely to have intent. 

They have landed on your site after searching for something specific and if you provide them with an answer or a great review of a product, it’s more likely they will click through your links and make a purchase. 

So spend some time improving your SEO game!

This is not only beneficial to your potential to make affiliate sales, but it can increase your traffic in general with also makes it easier to monetise your site with ads or even sell your own products. 

I have an entire post about improving your site’s search engine potential, but here are some key points to think about: 

  • Check your site speed – you can do this on Google Page Speed Insights
  • Delete unnecessary plugins which can slow your site
  • Optimise images for your website – images over 100kb can slow your site right down! Resize your images before uploading them to your site
  • Use good on-page SEO. I recommend Debbie Gartner’s Easy On Page SEO ebook for learning all about the art of great on-page SEO. Key things include using good keywords, making your posts really information, using H2 headings with keywords, adding internal and external links and double checking your post URLs don’t contain dates or other numbers and are short and sweet. 
  • Have a website theme that is built for speed. Do your research when it comes to buying a WordPress theme. Some look pretty, but are not built to be fast when it comes to your user’s experience of loading pages. Simply Google fast WordPress themes and find one you love from a recommended list. 

Set up Amazon One Link 

A lot of my traffic to my parenting website comes from overseas in the US and Canada. 

Amazon lets you monetise traffic from its regional stores around the world with the One Link tool. 

It means that when a reader clicks an Amazon affiliate link on your site, they are redirected to their relevant Amazon country store. If a reader in another country clicks the same link, they are redirected to their own Amazon store. So you can have one link, but it works for US, UK and Australian readers!

Setting it up is fairly straightforward in the Amazon affiliate dashboard and there are plenty of instructions from Amazon to help you along the way. 

Amazon one link

Know the products you’re recommending 

There’s no point in trying to sell products that you know nothing about or that are totally useless for the job you’re claiming they can do. 

Part of becoming an authority in your niche will be building trust with your audience. 

It’s far better that you recommend products that you have already used and know do the job, than to recommend something that a buyer will quickly discover is useless. 

I only recommend products I have confidence in. For example on this site I link to SiteGround and Lyrical Host, because they are both companies I have used for hosting and they have both never let me down. I wouldn’t recommend a host I have never used, because I couldn’t honestly say whether they would be any good for the job. 

Finally: Always disclose and make it a no-follow link!

You MUST disclose your affiliate links! It’s so so important that you tell your audience that your posts contain affiliate links, and you must do this before they see the links. 

Your affiliate disclosure should be right at the top of the your post before any of your affiliate links. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be absolutely crystal clear that your post has affiliate links. 

Amazon also requires that its affiliate members have a disclosure in the sidebar or footer of your website to explain you are part of its programme. Even with this, you still need to disclose where a post contains affiliate links!

As part of this transparency, you should also make your affiliate links “no follow” links. 

What is a no-follow link? It’s a link with a little bit of added code (don’t be scared, it’s not complicated to do once you know how) that tells Google to ignore the link. 

The theory is that Google does not like paid-for links which “trick” it into giving the site you’ve linked to extra credibility. All links that involve a commercial element, such as a sponsored deal or affiliate, should be not only disclosed, but also no-follow. 

To add no-follow links to your site simply click on the link and check the “no-follow” option. You can do it manually by adding the no follow code to your links, but I prefer this shortcut!

How to make links no follow

Final thoughts on making sales with affiliate links 

These tips will have you on the way to making your first affiliate sale!

Without a doubt, the most important element of good affiliate marketing is having an engaged audience who trusts what you are saying. 

So making good money from affiliate links may not happen overnight, because you need to build that trust. 

Join schemes and add links right from the start, and as your blog grows so too should your affiliate sales!

How to make your first affiliate sale - tips for bloggers on affiliate marketing