In early 2017, I was laid off from my job and had a lot of free time on my hands. As a result of this, I decided to try something new—make money online. I’d been hearing about the potential of affiliate marketing with a tool like Amazon Associates for a while, so I figured it was time to give it a try. After all, there was a lot of potential; in 2018 alone, Amazon Associates paid out over $20 million in affiliate commissions to people who worked with them.
My goal was to make $100,000 in 30 days with this new strategy, and I’m very happy to report that I did that and learned a ton along the way. I initially chose to use Reddit, one of the largest and most popular social news websites in the world, to grow my audience. Reddit is generally considered to be a safe place to post articles and make money online. However, just like any other platform, it has its risks. That’s why I used this approach, because I didn’t want to get stuck in a rut; I wanted to find the best, safest, and most effective way to make money online.
Step one: Create a blog around a specific topic
To start generating an income, I created a blog around the topic of entrepreneurship. This was an area that I was already familiar with, as I’d owned and operated several small businesses in the past. Additionally, as the founder of a marketing firm, I regularly worked with entrepreneurs to help them find marketing strategies that worked for their businesses.
I decided to blog about entrepreneurship not only because it was a topic I knew how to write about, but also because it’s something that many people are interested in. In 2018, Google Search interest for “entrepreneurship” surpassed the peak search interest of “self-help” and “motivational speaker.” There’s definitely a demand for content on this topic.
I opened a blog on WordPress, a free, easy-to-use, and highly popular content management system (CMS). When I first opened the site, I focused on building a community around the blog by engaging with my readers regularly via email and social media. This is especially important for a business blog, as it shows that you’re actively trying to be useful and engage with your audience. As a business owner, this was also a way for me to brainstorm ideas and strategies with other entrepreneurs.
Step two: Find relevant products that you can promote and earn commission
Once I had a small but loyal audience around my blog, I knew it was time to find relevant products that they would be interested in. This is where affiliate marketing comes in. Essentially, affiliate marketing is a way for businesses to earn money from advertisers when people click a link or purchase a product that’s promoted on a website or social media account.
To find these products, I used two strategies:
- I browsed Amazon for products that were already mentioned on my blog. This is called Content Promotion. When an advertiser does this, they’re looking for products that are relevant to what their followers or readers are interested in. If you can, develop a strategy and use software like SEMrush to find these keywords
- I posted my blog’s content to social media, where businesses and brands usually look for content to promote.
For example, if I wrote an article on building a marketing plan, a business might want to promote that article to see if anyone learns something new from it. Or, if I wrote an article about productivity, a business might want to promote that article to see if anyone can use it to improve their work performance.
To ensure that I only promote relevant products to my audience, I use a tool called the Content Awareness Score (CAS). The CAS measures the degree of popularity and interest in your content across social media, with a focus on the strength of your Twitter account. The score ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 meaning no interest and higher numbers meaning increasing interest. To calculate the score, you need to follow the steps laid out by Twitter:
- 1. Calculate your overall Twitter score. This will tell you the strength of your account overall.
- 2. Look at the interest of your followers in your tweets. You can see this by clicking on the magnifying glass next to their profile image and looking at the topics they are interested in. You can also see this by looking at the profile images of your followers.
- 3. Use the Search button to look for relevant products that your followers are interested in.
- 4. Use the following button to add these products to your Twitter profile’s Interests section.
This is why I only promote products that I know my audience will be interested in. By doing this, I ensure that the businesses that I work with are also providing content that my audience will find useful and beneficial.
Step three: Create ads for the products you promote
After I found a few relevant products, I needed to figure out how to promote them. To do this, I used a tool called Adwords and created ads for the products that I’d found. Essentially, you can think of Adwords as the online advertising arm of Google. When someone clicks an ad, they’re taken to a website that’s designed to look like an online store. However, instead of buying the product, the visitor usually leaves with their email address in hand, which can then be used to send them content that’s relevant to what they’re looking for.
I used this method to find my first product, Fit Small Business. This is a personal training and lifestyle brand that I knew would be relevant to my audience. As a result of using this strategy, I earned $3,000 in my first 30 days. However, in the beginning, this was all the income I made from this method. As I continued to create ads and promote the products I’d found, my income began to increase exponentially.
Step four: Measure the success of your strategy
To ensure that my efforts were paying off, I needed to track the results of my strategy. Fortunately, Google offers a tool to do just this—Google Analytics. Within Google Analytics, you can track the success of your strategy in several ways. You can track how many visitors you have, how long they stay on your site, and how many pages they view. Additionally, you can use Google Analytics to determine the effectiveness of your ads by looking at the click-through rate of your ads.
I used a tool to track the performance of my ads, which is called Cost per Action (CPA). Essentially, this is when someone clicks on an ad or buys a product that’s promoted on your site, and you earn a commission on that action. As a general rule of thumb, you can look at the CPA as a way to estimate the success of your ad strategy. If you’re using an affiliate marketing tool like Amazon Associates, the CPA gives you an idea of how effective your affiliate marketing strategy is. Generally, the higher the CPA, the more effective the strategy is. For example, if you have a CPA of $10, this shows that you’re bringing in $1 per click on average.
Step five: Continue to evolve your strategy
To continue to evolve my strategy, I use a tool called Growthoid. Growthoid is a sophisticated tool that helps you find your own “sweet spot” or ideal engagement level for different platforms like Twitter and YouTube. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can enter your video’s content, goals, and objectives, as well as the platform you’re using, and it will return you a suggested schedule of videos to upload.
To find my sweet spot, I used Growthoid to analyze the strength of my Twitter account. As a result of this analysis, I learned that I had a strong base of about 500 followers, but I was attracting a lot of new people every day. To continue to grow my audience, I started to engage with my followers regularly via Twitter. Simply put, if you have a Twitter account, you should be using this platform to engage with your audience. This will help you find your sweet spot and continue to grow your account.
To give you an idea of just how much you can make with this approach, here are some additional examples of how brands and businesses successfully used it: