Whether you started your blog with the intention of making money or not, inevitably you’ll start hearing about how bloggers are making passive income with affiliate marketing and it sounds exciting. And it is exciting, because passive income is one of the many benefits of affiliate marketing for your blog.
I mean, don’t we all want to make money while we sleep?
Here at Thriving Affiliates, affiliate marketing is just about ALL I talk about, so obviously I think it’s not only beneficial, but even vital to a blog’s success. Want to know what those benefits are? Read on…
But I have to warn you, there are some disadvantages, too. So I’ll share a few of those, as well.
9 Benefits of Affiliate Marketing (+3 Disadvantages)
It’s Passive Income
It Has Very Low Start-up Costs
It (can be) Recurring Income
You Can Create Multiple Streams of Income
It’s Mutually Beneficial
It Helps Your Readers
You Don’t Have to be an “Expert”
You Can Make Money With it Doing What You Love
You Can Sell More of Your Own Products with it
You Could Be Leaving Money on the Table
It’s Basically a Commission Based Job
Sometimes the Affiliate Companies or Offers Disappear or change Drastically Without Notice
1. It’s Passive Income
One of the best things, in my opinion, about affiliate marketing is that it’s (mostly) passive income. For instance, you might write a blog post once, but if you incorporate affiliate marketing in that post, you could get paid for it for months, or even years to come.
Yes, there are cases where affiliate marketing is not passive income. Like when a company is doing a “limited time” launch, so you, as the affiliate, have to do a lot to promote the offer before the cart opens until right before it closes. Or, like in the case of Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales, you might do a lot f work for different promotions around that time and once they’re over, so is the work (and new commissions.)
But, in most cases, affiliate marketing income is passive income.
2. It Has Very Low Start-up Costs
These days you can start a blog for free (though I don’t recommend it) on a free blogging site. But even if you go the paid route, starting a blog can cost as little as under $10 for a domain name (a.k.a. URL) and around $5 a month for hosting your site. Just about everyone can afford that.
Even if you want to add some “bells and whistles” like a quality email service provider, landing page maker, or even have your own affiliate marketing program (which, by the way, Kartra can do all that and more for one low monthly price), or buy web design software, a professional website theme, etc., you can easily start a blog for under $500. Compared to an offline “brick and mortar” business, that’s practically nothing.
And you can always add and upgrade things to you blog and business, as you grow.
Though harder, you can actually do affiliate marketing without a blog. You can do this by sending traffic directly to affiliate offers. I caution against this, however, because in the long run you’ll be losing money. It’s better to at least have a landing page where you can get a prospect’s email address before sending them off to an affiliate offer.
If you want to go this route, however, there are some additional downsides you should be aware of first: like the fact that many affiliate networks and companies with affiliate programs won’t accept you without a blog. (I believe ClickBank does, though.) They may, however, accept you without a blog if you have a large social media following.
Plus, even though you might save money by not investing in a blog, you’ll likely have to spend money on advertising with this route.
Still, for some people it might be worth it.
3. It (can be) Recurring Income
Some affiliate companies include recurring commissions. Which means that as long as the person you refer stays a paying customer, you receive a commission on the sales.
Some companies offer lifetime recurring commissions, like:
Others will offer recurring commissions for a specified time:
Recurring income is ideal because it helps stabilize your blogging income. Yes, some people you refer will leave these programs, which is why it’s smart to continue to promote them. But even if they stayed on for 3 months on average, that’s 3 affiliate commissions compared to one affiliate commission for non-recurring payments.
Talk about benefits of affiliate marketing: recurring income is definitely one!
4. You Can Create Multiple Streams of Income
While many bloggers or niche site owners start affiliate marketing with Amazon (probably the biggest affiliate program of them all), there are literally tens of thousands of affiliate programs you could promote.
Obviously bloggers aren’t signing up for thousands of affiliate programs, and I’m not suggesting anyone do that! But I like the fact that you can sign up with multiple companies to be an affiliate. #dontputallyoureggsinonebasket
When you’re first starting, especially, I recommend finding 2-4 “core” affiliate programs you’ll promote. These core programs should be things you like, use, and can honestly recommend.
There are exceptions to this… or rather, a different way of looking at it. For instance, if you want to promote clothing from Target, you’re not going to (typically) buy and wear everything you’re promoting. But if you love Target and shop there all the time, that would be a great fit.
I’ll talk more about this in the “disadvantages of affiliate marketing” section, too…
5. It’s Mutually Beneficial
Another one of the benefits of affiliate marketing for your blog is that it’s mutually beneficial… Between you and the company you’re promoting: because they get more sales and you earn commissions.
But it can also be beneficial between you and your readers, too: because you get a commission, but they might also get a special discount or offer because of your affiliate relationship.Yes, you can ask your affiliate manager to offer perks or discounts that are exclusive to your customers! (Especially when you’re already sending them sales on a consistent basis.)
6. It Helps Your Readers
People are coming to your blog (or listening to your podcast or watching your YouTube Channel or following you on Instagram, etc.) because they like and/or respect what you have to say.
So when you review, suggest or otherwise promote something to them, you’re actually helping them.
Do you have a list of your favorite handmade gifts on Etsy? You’ve just made birthday shopping easier for them.
Did you create a ConvertKit tutorial? You just helped someone who thought they couldn’t handle the tech feel confident about using that email service provider.
Did you tell them how Tailwind makes it super easy and quick to schedule out your Pinterest pins to promote their businesses? You just helped save them hours each month.
Those are just a few examples of how affiliate marketing can help your readers.
7. You Don’t Have to be an “Expert”
Even though I know A LOT about affiliate marketing, I haven’t hit the six figure mark when it comes to affiliate commissions. So rather than create a course myself, I can just promote Pat Flynn’s course, 123 Affiliate Marketing. I know Pat knows his stuff (he’s made millions in affiliate income), and I’ve taken the course myself so I know it’s top notch.
You also don’t have to create courses or products and be an expert in your field to sell things via affiliate marketing.
Here are some examples:
Maybe you know how to sew, but you don’t know how to make patterns. You could make sewing tutorials sharing other people’s patterns and use affiliate links to sell them.
Or, if your a mom blogger and you don’t know how to sew at all, you can become an affiliate for another mom that makes and sell reusable diapers on Etsy. (Yes, Etsy has an affiliate program, and no, the makers/sellers on that platform do not make less if you promote them as an affiliate.)
You can also interview the maker of a course, program or product, and highlight the fact that they are the expert. (And you didn’t have to make that course, program or product! Sweet!)
8. You Can Make Money With it Doing What You Love
This is one of my favorite benefits of affiliate marketing, because I believe we should all be doing work we love.
For example, this blog! Yes, I love affiliate marketing. But what I love even more, and what is the driving passion behind the reason why I created this website, is helping people reach their goals and dreams by being self-employed.
I have some of the worst horror stories about former bosses, and so in 2014 I took control of my life and my income and started my online business (again! I actually had a couple of online businesses years before that, too.)
But being self-employed is not just horrible bosses and crappy jobs… it’s about having no limits: on your income, your time freedom, your HAPPINESS.
And doing what you love is just the start of that.
I know, firsthand, that you can make a living doing what you love, because I’m doing just that not only here, but with one of my niche sites. It’s all about a hobby I’m passionate about, and as of this writing, my income from it is 100% affiliate marketing. (Though I do plan to put ads on that site with Ezoic, once my traffic has hit 10k a month there, which will hopefully be very soon!)
9. You Can Sell More of Your Own Products with it
If you do have products, courses, ebooks, etc. that you’ve created yourself, you can recruit affiliates to help you sell them, too!
With technology these days, it’s actually easier than ever to sell your products via affiliate marketing. It kind of depends on where you are and how technically inclined you are (plus what additional tools you may or may not need), I like the following software for setting up your own affiliate program:
If you’re selling digital or physical products, memberships, or subscriptions, SendOwl can help you. I like SendOwl because it’s easy to use, and the price is affordable for almost anyone.
Kartra is my personal favorite choice, because it’s so much more that an affiliate platform… You also get email software, landing pages, sales pages, pop-ups, video hosting, funnels, memberships, checkout pages, booking calendars, and so much more! Yes, it’s the priciest on this list, but because you can get rid of so many other things you’re already paying monthly for, Kartra could end up saving you money. (It did for me!)
Tapfiliate is really somewhere between the two programs above, both in price and features. They also offer the option to pay recurring commissions, so if you’re selling a monthly membership or subscription, Tapfiliate might be the best choice for you.
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of affiliate marketing, let’s get real about some of the downsides.
1. You Could be Leaving Money on the Table
By selling someone else’s product(s) or services, you could be leaving money on the table.
Well, if you’re promoting a course about organic farming, and you’re already an organic farmer, you could create your own course and sell that for 100% of the profits, rather than whatever percentage that other course creator offers.
But, just like I’m happily promoting Pat Flynn’s affiliate marketing course now, eventually I’ll create my own. You could do something similar while you build your expertise and product(s).
2. It’s Basically a Commission Based Job
It’s true: you only make money when someone clicks through and buys something. So you’ll have to be comfortable with selling. (Though I feel like it’s more “recommending”… so if you have a block around selling, you can think of it that way, too.)
Eventually you might also want to figure out what your ROI is, so you can decide whether a certain affiliate product is even worth your efforts in selling.
But being a commission-based opportunity can also be a good thing! You’re not limited by how much you can make, because you’re not trading your hours for dollars.
3. Sometimes the Affiliate Companies or Offers Disappear or change Drastically Without Notice
This has happened to me, and it’s a total bummer. There was a certain course I was heavily promoting because it was an amazing course at an amazing price! It was basically a no-brainer for people to buy, which meant it sold – a lot.
But then one day I got an email saying they were dropping the affiliate program essentially immediately (I think I got like 3 day’s notice?) and I should remove all of my affiliate links right away. Bah! Talk about a bummer!
This is one of the reasons why I mentioned not putting all of your eggs in one basket in number 4 above. If that one affiliate program was the only one I was promoting, 100% of mu income would have been gone. Which is why I highly recommend being an affiliate for at least 2 to 4 different companies.
So there you have it: 9 Benefits of Affiliate Marketing on your blog and 3 disadvantages!
What do you think? Will you try (or try more) affiliate marketing on your blog or website? Let us know in the comments below!