$5,000. How much of a difference would that amount of money make in your life every month? What would an extra $5,000/month give you in terms of freedom? My guess is that it would give you financial freedom. Freedom to choose what you work on, freedom to travel and not ask for vacation ever again, freedom to break away from a job you don't enjoy. If you've never earned a penny online, that might seem out of reach. But what about $500? Or $1,000? I can almost guarantee that's within reach. Yes, even for you. To prove it, I interviewed my friend Michelle from the popular blog Making Sense of Cents.
Michelle makes $50,000 in affiliate income online every month, but she started exactly where you are. In fact, I remember Michelle's blog when it was brand new, earning nothing (I was a personal finance blogger at the time). The coolest thing about her story is that she started her blog not expecting it to earn money, and now travels full-time as a digital nomad in an RV with her husband and dogs, visiting national parks and monuments and just living the life. Okay, let's get into it.
Tell us who you are, how you started with affiliate marketing, and how it grew into what you do today =)
In the month of August of 2011 (I can't believe it's been 6 years!), I started Making Sense of Cents with the goals of helping people learn how to save money after reading a magazine (Cosmopolitan Magazine) that featured a personal finance website (Daily Worth). I became familiar with the personal finance community after that and my interest in blogging just grew from there. Before that, I had no idea about what blogs were or that they could even make money.
I did not create my blog with the intention of making money blogging. It was a hobby and an outlet. But then I realized how much I loved blogging, so now I am a full-time blogger! I went full-time in October of 2013 and I’ve never regretted the decision. Blogging has completely changed my life for the better and it's something that I recommend everyone do.
What do you blog about?
On my blog Making Sense of Cents, I talk a lot about how to make extra money, the best ways to save money, achieving your dream life, traveling (me and my husband travel full-time), and more. I always thought that you had to have a huge following and a ton of page views in order to be successful with affiliate marketing. But I made a goal of earning affiliate income. I started by earning a little bit of affiliate income each month, and then it just continued to grow month after month.
Now I earn a minimum of $50,000/month with affiliate marketing.
You don't need a ton of pageviews or a huge following to make an income through affiliate marketing.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you earn income by placing a link on your website or on social media, and people purchase a product through your specific (affiliate) link. If you get someone to sign up through your link, you’re then rewarded by the company for promoting their product.
What are the benefits that advertising or having your own products don't have?
I love affiliate income because it can be passive if you do it correctly (which is something I teach in my course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing). With one post you can earn money for years as long as you maintain it and keep generating traffic to it. With affiliate marketing, I can enjoy life more and know that I am still able to earn a great living promoting products that I use and enjoy. Think about it this way: If you already enjoy a product, why not get paid to promote it?
How much do you make monthly with affiliate marketing?
My affiliate income is usually somewhere around $50,000 to $60,000 a month. It has held steady at that level for over one year now.
How do you find products to be an affiliate for?
I mainly choose products I already use or have used in the past. Sometimes, readers ask me to review products for my blog too. There's an affiliate link for the majority of products out there, so there is never a problem finding a product to be an affiliate for.
How much can you make per product?
The amount you can make varies widely. I'm an affiliate for a product that makes me $3.50 per sign up, and I'm also an affiliate for a product that earns me over $300 per sign up. Even with the significant difference in commissions, over the long run, they earn me almost the same each year!
How much does it cost to start affiliate marketing?
Truthfully, you could start it for $0 – by just placing affiliate links on your social media accounts. If you already have a blog, it won’t cost anything. If not, I’d recommend you start a blog. All you need is a self-hosted WordPress website and a premium theme. It’s very low in cost to start.
Do you think people can still make money through affiliate marketing in niches other than “make money online?”
Yes! Many people think that only the “make money online” niche makes money through affiliate marketing. But it only seems like that because those are the people who are usually publishing income reports. It wouldn't make a ton of sense for blogs in other niches to publish income reports most of the time – for example, why would a elementary education blog publish income reports? But there's plenty of options for affiliate marketing for that type of blog.
What’s your top performing affiliate resource (piece of content, etc)?
I don't talk about blogging a ton on Making Sense of Cents – usually less than twice a month. However, my blogging income reports are extremely popular due to the amount of detail I provide in each one. They’re usually the top performing affiliate resource I have, because I am always linking to the products I am using in them.
How many hours per week do you put in (for affiliate marketing specifically, not including your own products) and how do you spend that time?
I put less than an hour a week towards affiliate marketing, and most months it is probably less than one hour altogether. Most of my affiliate income comes from past blog posts on Making Sense of Cents and continuing to promote those well into the future so that traffic continues to go to them.
What are some tips for somebody who wants to start with affiliate marketing?
My best piece of advice for newbies at affiliate marketing would be to just try! I waited so long to try my hand at affiliate marketing, and I regret waiting so long.
Even if you have a low amount of followers or if you are a brand new blogger, you can still be successful at affiliate marketing. A great way to start would be to take my Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.
You offer a course to help people begin affiliate marketing. What can students learn from your course?
In Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, students will learn:
- The basics of affiliate marketing. I go more in depth about what it is and explain it from the very beginning.
- The positives of affiliate marketing and why all bloggers and social media marketers should be doing it.
- The exact steps I've taken to earn over $500,000 from a single blog post.
- How to pick the correct affiliate products and services to promote to your audience.
- How to increase conversions (a difference of 1% to a 2% conversion rate can mean thousands of dollars a month!).
- Required disclosures that you need to know about – many people completely skip this step which is huge mistake.
- The many different strategies you can use to promote your affiliate products.
- How to use Pinterest to succeed at affiliate marketing (yes, this includes the newest Pinterest affiliate rules!).
What’s your favorite non-blogging/online-business related success story (ie from another niche) from your course?
I have heard many great success stories from people who have taken my course.
- One blogger went from $87 a month in affiliate income before taking the course, to over $1,700 a month after!
- One blogger received their first affiliate sale just two days after taking the course (and they were a brand new blogger too!).
- Another blogger doubled their monthly affiliate income from $2,500 to $5,000.
Click here to get Michelle's excellent course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (affiliate link).
Start Making Affiliate Income & Building Financial Freedom
Whether you already have a blog, or are starting from ground zero you can earn money with affiliate marketing. Maybe not $50,000/month like Michelle (at least, not yet) but $1,000/month is completely attainable. You just have to start. Click here to get Michelle's excellent course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.