I always get giddy when I talk about affiliate marketing.
It’s just so darn cool.
You know what I mean?
Okay…fine then. I guess I'll have to convince you.
And I'll do so by telling you about how the best type of affiliate marketing can help you increase the income you’re earning from your food blog (and I know you think that is pretty darn cool).
I want to make sure we’re all on the same page before we jump into my main point for this post, so I’d like to take a moment to share a thrilling short story entitled “A Very Basic Example of Affiliate Marketing.”
A Very Basic Example of Affiliate Marketing
- Sally has a product.
- Bob has an audience.
- Bob signs up for Sally’s affiliate program.
- Bob publishes a blog post promoting Sally’s product.
- Sally pays Bob a commission for every product that someone buys after clicking on Bob’s affiliate link.
That’s it. A very basic example of affiliate marketing. Can you see why affiliate marketing is also called performance marketing? Bob’s income is based solely on how many products he’s able to sell (i.e. how well he performs).
If you’re actively monetizing your food blog then chances are that you’re engaged in affiliate marketing, and chances are even better that it’s the kind of affiliate marketing where you are the publisher and you’re promoting another company’s product.
But here’s the thing: most bloggers aren’t involved in the best type of affiliate marketing: affiliate marketing as the merchant.
To put it more simply, most bloggers are Bob, not Sally.
It’s not bad to be Bob. In fact, if you’re not yet promoting products like Bob does (as the publisher) then I’d suggest you stop reading this post and watch the affiliate marketing course to learn how you can implement Bob style affiliate marketing on your blog.
If you already understand the publisher side of affiliate marketing (Bob style), then keep reading!
Real Life Examples of Affiliate Marketing as a Merchant: Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro.
You don’t have to be a big brand in order to setup an affiliate program for your product. We have affiliate programs for both Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro. Here’s the overview of how they’re setup.
Pinch of Yum
Affiliates for the Pinch of Yum Tasty Food Photography eBook get a 50% commission. That might sound steep, but 50% is a pretty common commission for eBooks, especially considering the fact that the eBook we’re selling is at a lower price point ($29). If the commission was lower (say, 25%) it would be harder to motivate affiliates to promote the products, as their commission would be pretty low ($7.25).
We use E-Junkie to sell the Tasty Food Photography eBook. We also use E-Junkie’s affiliate network to manage the affiliate programs for this eBook. Two for one!
E-Junkie’s affiliate network is basic compared to other affiliate networks, but it provides everything we need in order to effectively run the affiliate programs for the eBook.
The best part about E-Junkie’s affiliate network? It’s free. You don’t have to pay anything extra to use it and E-Junkie doesn’t take any percentage of the transactions. That’s a really good deal, especially considering the fact that our E-Junkie plan costs less than $20 a month.
The biggest downside with E-Junkie’s affiliate network? You have to issue the monthly payments on your own and send out 1099s to affiliates that earn $600 or more in a year. Neither or these things take much time, but the primary issue is that you have to remember to do it. If you don’t, your affiliates won’t be very happy.
In May of 2014 Pinch of Yum affiliates earned $1,247.76, resulting in $1,247.76 of income earned for Pinch of Yum.
Food Blogger Pro
The Food Blogger Pro affiliate program is a recurring, tiered affiliate program that pays an increased percentage based on the number of transactions that each publisher has.
The recurring part means that a publisher gets paid a commission for the lifetime of the member, not just the first payment.
The tiered part means that the publisher gets paid an increased commission percentage based on the number of transactions that they generate each month.
As you might imagine, this type of affiliate payment structure is a little more advanced then the straight 50% we pay for eBook affiliates. We knew that we needed to work with an affiliate network that could meet all of these requirements so we researched a handful of networks. We found the best fit to be ShareASale, a network that is known for being customer focused and feature rich.
The best part about ShareASale? Affiliate marketing is all they do, so they do it really well. ShareASale doesn’t have anything to do with distributing the product or collecting payment for the buyer. They only act as a middle man in the affiliate transaction.
Another benefit with ShareASale (and most other affiliate networks) is that they take care of paying your affiliates as well as submitting the necessary tax documents.
Less tax stuff = happier Bjork.
Sign up fee
The biggest downside with ShareASale? You have to pay to join as a merchant. The total cost to start as a merchant (at the time of writing this post) is $650.
You also have to pay a percentage for every affiliate transaction that occurs. The per transaction fee is 20% of the amount you pay to the affiliate.
Don’t let the sign up fee and payment percentage hold you back for joining an affiliate network though. Your payment helps ensure that ShareASale will continue to have quality support and product development.
In May of 2014 Food Blogger Pro affiliates earned $289.50 resulting in $777.60 of income earned for Food Blogger Pro.
I have a small blog, should I still have an affiliate program?
That question is the main reason that I wrote this blog post.
We get countless emails from bloggers that ask how they could be earning more income from their blog. The issue is that their blog doesn’t have enough traffic to earn significant income from ad networks.
Enter the affiliate program.
As many of you know, building traffic isn’t easy. It takes time, some luck, and lots of persistence. But you don’t need traffic to a blog in order to create an income online.
With an affiliate program, it doesn’t matter how much traffic you have to your blog. The only thing that matters is the quality of your product (it has to be awesome!) and the quality of affiliates that sign up for your program. An affiliate program allows you to remove your blog (and your traffic levels) from the income equation.
An example of how affiliating marketing can help a small blog
Selling an eBook on your blog
Let’s pretend you write an eBook about how to eat healthy when you’re traveling for business. Your price point is $20. You decide that you’re going to sell the book on your blog, which has an average readership of 1,000 people per post. With a 1% conversion rate (which is about average) you could expect to sell 10 copies, making you $200. Not bad, but (as is always the case) it could be better.
Selling an eBook through affiliates
If the eBook had an affiliate program you could get in touch with some popular healthy eating blogs (or business blogs) and offer them a free copy of the eBook and mention that you have an affiliate program that pays a 50% commission.
Let’s pretend one of those sites signs up as an affiliate. They have an average readership of 20,000 per post. We’ll assume the conversion rate is .05% (lower because the audience isn't familiar with you or your blog). With those numbers, after you pay your affiliate commissions, you’d make a cool $500 (20,000 readers x .05 conversion x 50% commission).
We’ve seen this exact situation play out time and time again with Tasty Food Photography. The only difference is that often times the affiliates are not people we’ve actively sought out, they’re simply bloggers that have read the eBook, enjoyed it, and then signed up to be an affiliate so they could tell their readers about it and earn a commission. Imagine if we took the time to actively reach out to bloggers and education them about the affiliate program (hey…that’s a good idea, we should do that!).
So yes, even if you’re a little blog, you should still have an affiliate program. It might even be one of the smartest decision you make in your journey to create an income from your food blog.
Pretty darn cool, huh? 🙂
What if I don’t have a product?
It’s tough to have an affiliate program if you don’t have a product, so the solution is to…you guessed it…create a product. 🙂
We think the best first product to create is an eBook. We talk about specifics in the eBooks courses, covering everything from picking a topic to creating an outline to uploading it and selling it on E-Junkie.
What do you think?
What do you think? Have you ever thought about creating a product? What are the fears you face that are keeping you from doing it? Would there be any reason that you wouldn’t want to have an affiliate program? Maybe you already have an affiliate program…if so, how’s it going?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading!