Quite a few bloggers make their income in the few months before Christmas thanks to affiliate programs. For other bloggers, affiliate programs are their bread and butter year-round. If you publish a holiday guide or two and don’t request products for review from companies, you’ll want to make the most of your affiliate programs.
My Current Affiliate Strategy
As I work on monetizing my site, one of the areas I’ve been building up are affiliate links through VigLinks. Starting in August, I set a goal of including 1 to 2 affiliate links in each post. Most of the time, I had no problem including the affiliate link. If I did a post about a recipe or food, I could link to some of the ingredients and kitchen tools on Amazon. Other posts were more difficult like my post about writing a letter to my children’s teachers. I don’t think there’s any way to add an affiliate link, and that’s okay.
Basically, my strategy has been to build up a bank of affiliate links over time. Affiliate links are similar to money in the bank. The more affiliate links you include, the more opportunities for income for your site. As you’ve seen from my income and expense reports for the past few months, blogging does cost money. Our time spent creating crafts, recipes, and printables not to mention parenting tips and tips for saving money is worth something. We don’t charge for providing this content like magazines do, however, someone has to keep the lights on. That someone is us.
Simply, by having a post with affiliate links on my site every day, I went from $1.50 in June to $4 in July, $8 in August, and $18 in September. Not a ton of income, though if you add in income from other sources, my VigLinks monthly income covers my hosting fees and my RSS feed fee.
Affiliate Programs and Holiday Guides
If you plan on providing holiday guides for your readers and you don’t have products to review for whatever reason (I’m the first to tell you that I don’t ask for products to review), use affiliate links in your holiday guides. If you’re new to affiliate programs, use your holiday guides as a test run to see what works for your site and your readers.
Look at the products what you’d like to recommend to your readers. See if those companies have affiliate programs. Many do – through ShareaSale, Commission Junction, Ebay, Linkshare and other big companies. To find the information about the affiliate program, check out the footer on the company’s website. Usually, you’ll see “affiliates” listed if there’s an existing program.
If you want to keep things simple, sign up with VigLinks and use Amazon links for the products. VigLinks will take many of those links and redirect them to sites in their program that will pay you a commission for purchases made through the link.
How I Use VigLinks
I started out as an Amazon affiliate and quickly grew frustrated. Each month I would see over 3,000 clicks on my affiliate links, and only earn $10 maybe every 7 to 8 months, no matter what I did.
Then, I learned about VigLinks from Sarah of USA Love List. Basically you sign up with VigLinks and install a plugin on your WordPress site. Any time you include a link to a product, VigLinks will monetize it if it’s possible. And, usually, VigLinks can monetize those links, even the Amazon ones. I made money with Amazon along with other companies.
VigLinks makes it incredibly easy to see how you’re doing with the affiliate links in their Dashboard. You can look at an overview of the month, or drill down to look at the links creating income for you each week. I found that kitchen tools and some crafting supplies resonated with my readers.
The only caveat – you can’t use the link shortener in VigLinks for Amazon links. For whatever reason, VigLinks doesn’t shorten them properly putting your bit.ly links in violation of Amazon’s TOS. You can shorten them through bit.ly and remain legal with Amazon.
Sign Up for Affiliate Programs Based on Your Family’s Habits
Year-round, always be mindful of the products and services your family uses, and sign up for affiliate programs based on those choices. You will always be an expert on those products and services because of your personal experience. For example, my oldest son has been buying and selling video games and consoles at Gamestop since he was about 12 years old. I am always happy to talk about Gamestop, and in November, I’ll be writing a post or two about shopping at Gamestop.
It took me awhile to realize I could include affiliate links when talking about products my family uses. The light bulb went on when I walked past a pile of magazines from Cricket we receive monthly thanks to subscriptions given to my kids for their birthdays. My kids love these magazines, and save every single one to read again, just like books. We’ve made recipes from Cobblestone and tried some projects from the other magazines. It’s easy for me to share our experience because we’ve enjoyed the Cricket magazines so much.
Affiliate Programs I Use
I keep a list in Evernote of my affiliate programs and login information. When I plan my editorial calendar, I take a quick look at the affiliate programs to see where I can include an affiliate link in an upcoming post. I’ve also started reviewing posts with high pageviews to see if I missed an opportunity to include an affiliate link. Then, I repromote the post on social media and pin it to a few strategic boards over a week’s time.