SO YOU'VE GOT A BLOG.
Your analytics are telling you that people are reading your content. Now you know you want to make the leap into monetization on your website without losing your authentic voice. What’s next?
I know it doesn’t sound sexy, but I can assure you, it is. This is your gateway to $$$!
Affiliate marketing at its core is simply placing trackable links within your content to get paid when your users shop. Aside from the obvious benefit of getting paid for promoting products you already love, affiliate marketing will give you data around your shoppers’ behaviors. This data will be crucial for you as you learn about your demographic. You’ll gain insights into what products and brands your readers respond to. You can then use these statistics and success stories as part of your media kit and story when speaking to brands and marketing yourself. You’ve just armed yourself to become an insanely professional, money-making machine.
[define it: Affiliate Marketing: At its core this practice is simply placing trackable links within your content to get paid when your users shop.]
You are probably wondering where you go to get these mysterious monetizable links. If you haven’t already, create an account on ShopStyle Collective, ShopStyle’s influencer network. You’re going to be able to access links, data on your link performance, and insights into your shoppers’ behaviors in one handy login. There’s even an app so you can monetize on the go!
Now that you’ve got your ShopStyle Collective account, there are a variety of ways to create links. You can do so within the interface, use the toolbar link generator, or create widgets for your blog. It’s fairly self-explanatory.
Now that we’ve discussed why and how, let’s talk about the most important issue: where.
You don’t want your site to look like one big advertisement, nor do you want to miss out on opportunities to earn revenue. The goal with affiliate marketing is to build upon content you are creating organically and simply add another layer of visual interest, while driving your readers to brands and products you love.
Affiliate marketing also gives you a lens through which to think about your content calendar — do you want to create entire style guides for a season with looks for every occasion? Link those products! Create gift guides for holidays and special occasions. I personally love content where bloggers create how-tos and share ideas for how to wear trends or incorporate statement pieces. One of my favorite bloggers, The12ish Style, does a series where she re-creates celebrity looks in her own unique style. I actually just bought a sweater today from one of these posts (proof they actually work!).
KEY TIPS FOR PLACING LINKS
Make sure you are hyperlinking any photographs on your blog to the primary item you are showcasing.
Always use text and hyperlink, describing your products right underneath the top photo of your post — many readers won’t scroll down to read your entire post.
Hyperlink any text that describes a product throughout your post.
Provide alternatives — if you are showing a $2,000 Chloé bag, you can contrast that with a more affordable bag in a similar style as an added opportunity to drive traffic and convert your readers into shoppers.
Another great spot for links is within a scrolling widget beneath your post. ShopStyle Collective’s widget helps you generate a scrolling visual where you can add multiple product options beneath each post. These products can be directly related to your content or they can be another place to get fun and creative. Let’s say you are posting an amazing recipe for truffle french fries or a crazy-cool birthday cake. You can include your favorite cooking tools, new apron, dishes, or serving pieces in the widget beneath the post to impart additional visuals, stylish objects, and drive more traffic to shopping partners. The idea here is to give your readers access to your aspirational lifestyle, which they already want to re-create for themselves (and their own Instagrams).
One more idea: use the widgets for vacation packing lists — so necessary (and shoppable) with all the summer travel opportunities right around the corner!
Hilary Sloan leads ShopStyle’s North American business development team and works with top brands like Net-a-Porter.com, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barneys New York to monetize via affiliate and creative partnerships. In building relationships with brands and working with ShopStyle and ShopStyle Collective’s blogger community, she realized that many young bloggers don’t quite have the tools to get started on building their business. She’s spoken in the past at Create + Cultivate, IFB, and other blogger conferences on the topic of monetization, revenue, and brand partnerships. When not at ShopStyle, Hilary can be found applying all her skills to her own mini influencer, her dog, Ella Bean.