Sarah Titus, whose blog runs the gamut from DIY articles to turning a profit as a professional blogger, has started sharing regular income reports on her blog to inspire readers that they, too, can make a decent profit from their blogs.
Readers who take a look at Titus’ December 2015 earnings — a whopping $23,424 — will notice that nearly 60 percent came from linking to affiliate ads (sharing products from Amazon, ShareaSale and eBates). The remaining 31 percent came from traditional display ads.
Titus has earned a sizable following and an impressive number of affiliate sales because of her natural ability to serve others through blogging and provide consistent recommendations about helpful products to her readers.
“Last month, I made nearly $300 from just one company that only pays me $2.50 per sale. [With] another company, I made $200 and they only pay $2 per sale,” Titus says. “Sometimes, the cheaper products sell far better and easier and match up with exactly what your readers really want. Do that with a bunch of products and you start making very passive income, the easy way.”
Titus says many bloggers make one big mistake when it comes to affiliate ads and share products their audience just doesn’t care about.
“Many bloggers tend to look for the higher paying affiliates and try to make it work when their audience just isn’t interested in it,” Titus explains. “They end up spinning their wheels, frustrating themselves and their readers.”
Instead, Titus urges bloggers to stay true to who they are.
“Blogging isn’t about how much money you make or how popular you are, or even how much traffic you get,” she says. “It’s about serving those around you — sharing your life with them to make theirs better.”
Across the board, affiliate program managers are looking for bloggers with that kind of passion and genuine connection with their product. Merchants rely on affiliates to share the products they love with their readers, promoting sales, favorite products and new releases.
Allison Silverstein, affiliate program manager for Creativebug, says their affiliates come from a variety of backgrounds and include artists, bloggers and crafty influencers.
“Sales, of course, can vary depending on the size of the audience, but we see success even with our smaller-sized partners,” Silverstein says. “As for our top earners, it’s not uncommon for [them] to earn thousands a month. For those who are just starting out or who aren’t as established, we still see success even with those who are still building their base.”
Silverstein agrees with Titus that it’s important to promote content that is relevant to your audience, and to always be sincere.
“Strong social followings aren’t born overnight. They grow by pairing your authentic voice with engaging content. Be authentic, and it stands out,” she says.
Silverstein recommends promoting Creativebug classes through blog posts, Pinterest and Instagram, with a shortened version of the affiliate link in your profile.
Some Craftsy affiliates earned as much as $10,000 last November, after promoting the company’s Black Friday sales.
“Black Friday is the best time of year for affiliate sales, but affiliates still do very well during our regular sale events,” says Craftsy’s affiliate program manager Melissa Cocks.
Posting relevant deals and sharing them often is key, Cocks says.
“A landscape photography blog featuring the Craftsy landscape photography classes on sale in their newsletter will see high conversions,” Cocks explains. “When there is a sale, it is important to send an email as soon as it is live — you want to be the first one to let your followers know so that you can get that initial click. The ‘last chance’ posts and emails that you send out are equally as important. Our most successful affiliates frequently call out specific classes and craft supplies that are on sale at Craftsy throughout the entire sale.”
Out of Craftsy’s current pool of affiliates, Cocks says at least 400 of them actively earn commissions each month. The affiliates who send weekly newsletters and include at least one Craftsy affiliate link tend to earn the highest commissions.
Cocks says blog posts, Facebook pages and groups created by the affiliate also make fantastic real estate for affiliate links.
“If you created a Facebook group for beginner bakers and everyone has been asking questions within the group about the science of bread making … Wouldn’t it be highly valuable to them and to you as the affiliate to provide them with your affiliate link to a paid online video tutorial [while including an affiliate disclosure]?”
Shannon Brown is an associate for Acceleration Partners, which manages affiliate programs for companies such as Cricut, CreativeLive and Tiny Prints. She suggests that bloggers check the commission rates and cookie lengths when they’re shopping for an affiliate program, to help them get a sense of the benefits of each program’s various benefits.
“Another great resource is past newsletters, which can help answer important questions like how engaged are they with their affiliates,” Brown adds. “Do they provide content or promotions for the affiliate to share with their readers? Do they provide banners and/or text links? Are their creatives up-to-date and of good quality?”
Success in an affiliate relationship really varies depending on the retailer and the blogger, Brown explains, but a few strategies seem to work well.
“Share posts on your own social channels, including banners and promotions in newsletters,” Brown advises. “And share content that is fresh and exciting to avoid reader fatigue.”
One of the advantages to being a craft supply business is that affiliate links are genuinely helpful to a person reading a tutorial, explains Joselyn Dykgraaf, marketing manager at CreateForLess.
“In my experience, the most successful links are the ones that incorporate our products with links directly in the content,” Dykgraaf says. “Readers have a quick and easy way to access the materials needed to make the projects themselves. I’ve also seen some success with video tutorials and newsletters.”
Dykgraaf is working to revamp the company’s affiliate program by moving away from the Commission Junction platform.
“One of the reasons we are moving away from it is we have too many low-quality and inactive affiliates there, and quality control is difficult,” she says. “I really have no way of knowing which of the nearly 1,000 affiliates we have are actively trying to produce quality content and links. I absolutely love when bloggers and craft professionals share how they used materials from our site and would love to have their links actually generate some money for them. I don’t know if having a relationship with affiliates is for everyone, but I would really love to work directly with my affiliates to get the most out of the program. If one of my affiliates shares a link with great content, I want to know about it so I can share it.”
Across the board, it appears the best way to represent any brand is to be honest and genuine when sharing.
“With the amount of advertising that is around us in our daily lives, we are very accustomed to tuning it out,” Dykgraaf says. “We still listen to recommendations and tips from people we trust, though, which is where I think affiliates have an advantage. As long as they believe in the recommendations they are giving, they will be successful.”
Lindsay is a freelance writer and editor who recently released her second book, On the Go Bags (Stash Books). Among her side hustles, she blogs about quilting, edits travel guides, dishes up marketing copy and manages C&T Publishing’s affiliate program. On her own blogs, she likes to share simple sewing tutorials and handmade business tips, such as her favorite affiliate programs as a craft blogger. Lindsay lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, toddler son and two cats. You can follow her crafty ventures at Lindsay Sews and Craft Buds.