If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in affiliate marketing but you aren’t sure if you can really make money with it because your blogging traffic is relatively low.

I’ve been there!

I’m working on increasing my traffic (mainly by improving my Pinterest strategy), but in the meantime, I’ve learned a lot about how to master affiliate marketing with a small blog.

*Dislcosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy here.

First off, for those of you who are new to affiliate marketing…

What is affiliate marketing?

With affiliate marketing, a blogger will post a link to a product or service on her blog.  When someone clicks on the link and makes a purchase, the blogger will earn a commission on the sale.

Typical conversion rates are about 1%.  This means that if 1,000 people read a blog post, only 10 people will click on an affiliate link in the post and even fewer will actually buy the product or service.  This is why traffic matters!

If 1 million people read an article, 10,000 will click on the affiliate link and a percentage of those 10,000 will buy the product.  In this scenario, your chance of making a sale (or multiple sales) is much greater.

Traffic is important, but it is certainly not the only factor that drives successful affiliate marketing.  It is entirely possible to make money with affiliate marketing even without a huge amount of traffic.

Here are a few tips for mastering affiliate marketing with a smaller blog!

Select a product that benefits your readers.

This one goes for anyone who wants to make money with affiliate marketing.  To get your readers to purchase something, they need to trust you.  You build trust by offering valuable advice and promoting awesome products.

Trying to sell something sleazy won’t help you or your readers.

I once read a blog post that was sponsored by Sallie Mae and instantly felt turned off when I saw who was sponsoring the post.  Be careful to work with brands that are trusted and ones who can provide something useful to your readers.

The products/services should make sense for your niche.  For example, my niche is personal finance and frugal living.  If I were to promote Ferraris or $20,000 Birkin bags, it would seem odd to my readers.

In contrast, my readers would love to learn about an app that can help them to save money on groceries.

Choose a product that appeals to your ENTIRE audience.

When you have a relatively small audience, you need to choose affiliate products that will appeal to most of your readers, not just a small subsect of them.

For example, many personal finance bloggers with high traffic promote products such as Bluehost (for website hosting) or student loan refinancing (LendEDU is a popular choice).  There’s nothing wrong with promoting Bluehost or LendEDU, and both of these companies have affiliate programs that pay well.

However, I find that most of my readers aren’t interested in these products. Why?  Because they only appeal to people with very specific interests.

Bluehost is a website hosting service – the only people that will be interested in purchasing a hosting service are people who want to start a blog.  Someone who already has a blog or has no interest in blogging isn’t going to sign up for Bluehost.

Likewise, LendEDU only appeals to readers who currently have student loans.  My readers who have never had student loans or have already paid their loans off aren’t interested in refinancing loans.

So… what does appeal to a lot of my readers?

Resources that can help ANYONE to save money.  Ibotta and Ebates are both great affiliate programs to use because they can be used by anyone who wants to save money on everyday items.  Both sites are free to use which also makes them more appealing!

The downside of these types of affiliate program is that they typically pay less.  For example, Ibotta pays $5 per referral…in contrast, Bluehost pays around $65 (or more) per signup.

My recommendation is to do a mix of both.  Find some affiliate programs that appeal to most of your audience (and may pay a fairly low amount), and select some that might fit only certain members of your audience (but pay much higher).

Pick something free!

Convincing someone to purchase something expensive can be a challenge, especially on a frugal living blog!  Some people might consider it if the item will provide value to their lives, but others just aren’t in a position to spend money on anything expensive.

This is why choosing a free product or service is a great option.  I promote Ibotta, Ebates, Shopkick, and Credit Sesame, which are all free apps!  It’s not hard to convince someone to download a free app that will help them to save money.

In some cases, you can use an affiliate link to promote a free product or service.  Then, once the person has clicked on the link and is browsing the website, the person who owns the site does the “hard selling” and has the task of convincing the person to buy something that isn’t free.

You might still earn a commission on the product the person purchased even though the item you promoted on your blog was free.

Learn more about affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing used to be a complete mystery to me until I took Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s class Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.  Michelle makes over $50,000 per month with affiliate marketing!

Affiliate marketing is so much more than just slapping a couple links up here and there and hoping that someone makes a purchase.  In Michelle’s course, you’ll learn:

  • How to pick the best affiliate products to promote
  • How to increase conversion rates
  • Different strategies to use to promote affiliate products
  • How to use Pinterest to succeed at affiliate marketing
  • The exact steps she’s taken to earn $300,000 from a single blog post
  • And so much more!

Prior to taking Michelle’s course, I was just earning a few pennies on Amazon every month.  Now I’ve earned money through multiple different affiliate programs and I’m confident that I can continue to grow my affiliate income.

I’m extremely frugal, so I only purchase blogging classes if I know I’ll see a huge ROI for my blog.  Michelle’s class was definitely worth it!

Sign up for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing today to explode your blogging income!

Mastering Affiliate Marketing

Traffic is important for affiliate marketing, but it is certainly possible to make money with affiliate marketing with a smaller blog.

Make sure to choose a product that provides value to all (or most) of your readers instead of just a small subsect of them.

Selecting a free product or service is a great option that will appeal to many people.  Lastly, learn as much as you can about affiliate marketing strategies!