As one who has often been enticed over the years by the promise of passive income, I’ve played around with the concept of using “affiliate links,” but have not seen much fruit. Until recently.
What Are Affiliate Links?
An affiliate link allows you to promote somebody else’s product with a special link, and when somebody purchases after clicking your link, you receive a (usually) small compensation.
For example, on the Tools I Love page on this site, you will see several of Kim’s favorite products, and if you click through and purchase something she will receive a small monetary reward (if it is an affiliate link). And it doesn’t cost you any more to purchase through her link than it would to go directly to the website without an affiliate link.
Who Offers Affiliate Programs?
Many companies offer an affiliate program. Amazon, for example, will pay you anywhere from 4% to 8.5% on products purchased though your link, depending on how many products are purchased in one month. And many of the service based companies that we use in our businesses offer an affiliate program, like website hosting companies, WordPress themes, and client management services.
If you are interested in finding out about what affiliate programs are offered by the products you use and recommend, the easiest way to find out is to just Google the product name + affiliate program. For example: Evernote Affiliate Program
How Do Affiliate Programs Work?
Let’s say you set up an affiliate relationship with Amazon and recommend a book that costs $15 in one of your blog posts. And then let’s say 3 people purchase it. You will get 4% of the total of those 3 purchases, or $1.80. You’re not going to get rich off of that!
However, if you happen to write about photography, and have a link to the new camera you just purchased, and 3 people purchase a $600 camera through your link… Well, that’s $72. Nothing to sneeze at, particularly if you continue to make recommendations in your new post each week and people keep buying through your links.
Some affiliate programs will send you gift cards, or extend your subscription, or write you a check, or deposit your earnings to PayPal. Sometimes you get your bonus every time somebody purchases through your link. Sometimes you have to reach a particular threshold of earnings before the company pays you… You have to do your due diligence.
The Fine Print
Be aware that if you do use affiliate links on your website, that you must (by law) disclose that affiliate relationship clearly on every page where you have an affiliate link. Check out Tools I Love for an example.
Is It Worth the Effort?
As I said at the beginning, I’ve been chasing the promise of passive income for years. What experience has taught me is that one size does NOT fit all!
Certainly you can load your website with affiliate links and hope for the best. You’ll earn something, but it probably won’t be much, and in the end, only you will be able to determine whether or not it has been worth the time and effort you have spent on it.
The key seems to be to find a product that enhances the benefit your tribe is getting from you rather than just offering a random link here and there.
Here’s my example. In October I offered my first website building class called DIVI Bootcamp. It offers coaches a way to (finally) build their own website using the very user-friendly theme called Divi. One of the prerequisites for the class was that you had to have the Divi theme installed and ready to go, and I provided a link right there on the sales page to purchase it if you didn’t already have it. When the class was all over and I tallied up my income, I was astounded to see that my affiliate income was something like 30% of my total revenue for the class!
So, is using affiliate links worth the effort? The answer is (say it with me…) “It depends.”
Do your research, and think it through. Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite affiliate program.