Simply put, affiliate marketing helps "other brands or companies sell their products or services, and on the flipside, you're helping customers or decision makers find the best product and service for them," says Nick Loper, who runs the blog Side Hustle Nation.
Earnings could come from touting products in blog posts or podcasts, for example, and including special so-called affiliate links from partner companies that bring people to those products. When people purchase the products through the affiliate link you included, you earn a commission on that sale.
Loper's blog brings in $10,000-$15,000 per month in affiliate marketing revenue. But, he cautions, that success in part comes from the site being "eight years deep in the making."
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you're considering affiliate marketing.
Some side hustles have ample opportunity already built in for affiliate marketing. For example, if you already have a newsletter or YouTube channel, you can include affiliate links or mentions in them.
Websites including CJ Affiliate and ShareASale connect content creators and companies looking for affiliate partners. Creators sign up on the platform and can peruse various brands that pay to be on the site. They pick out the ones that fit their audience and subject matters and get access to affiliate links for their site.
It's "very easy to create your profile on one of those networks and then apply to all of the relevant programs that would be a fit for your audience," says Loper.
You can also look directly to different retailers and brands. Amazon has its own Amazon Associates Program enabling content creators to include links to relevant products on its site for monetization. And some individual companies, such as Zappos, have their own affiliate programs. Look for signup links at the bottom of their sites.
Video by David Fang
Commissions for the products you help sell vary depending on the product you're marketing and platform you're using. On the lower end, you might see "1% on computer hardware," says Loper.
You might be able to find much higher percentages, too. "In the digital product space you can see 30%, 40%, 50% commissions for online courses and stuff like that. Sometimes these command $500, $1,000 [each], so these can be substantial commissions."
That doesn't mean you ought to focus solely on products that can make you the most money. Finding relevant affiliates for your content "plays well," says Loper, "especially if you want to be doing it long term. You can't be just promoting every random thing under the sun." Plugging a high-commission coding boot camp on your vegan recipe blog, for example, isn't likely to earn you any clicks and may alienate visitors.
Take the time to research the products that are aligned with your content and brand and see which affiliate programs are most relevant.
Any success you find in affiliate marketing will come from the work you regularly do to get the word out about your content. A blog post with affiliate links may be live, but if you don't promote and use the best SEO tactics for Google searchers to find it, not many people will see it. Be patient: "Don't expect results right away," says Loper.
"The more that you promote those articles and the pages and get people to spread them, pass them out, reference them," the better, says Rocky Trifari, who runs the blog The Rocky Safari. Trifari's blog brings in anywhere from $100 to $2,500 per month in affiliate marketing revenue, 4 years after he started monetizing it while still in college.
"The more eyes you have on it, the more likely you are to be making those sales," he says.
More from Grow: