Today it’s easier than ever to become an affiliate marketer. Set up a blog, start building an audience, then find products on affiliate marketplaces to promote. That’s all there is to it.
But there’s a good reason why less than 10% of affiliates drive 90% of traffic and conversions. Promoting products is easy, but actually creating content that engages your audience and drives them to make purchase decisions is another challenge.
If you want to make it into the 10%, here’s everything you need to know about creating engaging content for affiliate marketing.
Types of Content You Can Create
A great piece of advice you can take as an affiliate marketer is this:
Don’t be a one trick pony.
Create different kinds of content for your affiliate website to attract new audiences back to your site. Track which ones bring you the most traffic, engagement and affiliate clicks, then you can narrow your focus to the content types that resonate most with your audience.
Here’s an overview of the main types of content you can create as an affiliate marketer:
Blog posts are the most common kind of content affiliate marketers make. If you’ve already built up an audience of readers who trust you, blog posts will be a great tool to promote affiliate products.
Creating “how-to” content related to your niche is a great way to offer value with your blog posts, attract traffic, and recommend products that can help your audience in the process.
Although less personal than how-to content, product roundups and “best of” comprehensive lists are another way to highlight affiliate products on your blog. Popular affiliate site The Wirecutter employs this strategy almost exclusively:
In general, creating a variety of content types is a valuable strategy until you can identify which kinds your audience engages with most.
Product reviews and comparisons
Product reviews are the most direct way to evaluate and recommend products to your audience. You can also create “X vs X” product comparison content as a valuable source of information to help people make purchase decisions.
To make your reviews more valuable for your niche audience, personalize them with images and/or video of you trying out the product, offering your candid thoughts on it. You can also help illustrate the value of the product to your audience by explaining its purpose and different ways to use it.
Just be careful when creating reviews for your affiliate products. People know you want your review to help sell the product, so offering blind endorsements without critique can come off as disingenuous and even deceptive to your audience.
Or worse, if you trick your audience into buying a product that doesn’t live up to their expectations, that can ruin trust and affect your credibility.
So put your bias aside, and create a real product review where you highlight both the pros and cons. In reality, if you see a lot of downsides to a certain product, you probably shouldn’t be an affiliate for it in the first place.
People prefer to consume content in all sorts of different ways. If you add video into your content mix, you can cater to a new sub-audience and even widen your reach by publishing on YouTube.
Videos are a great medium to demonstrate how a product works, create a review, or even create how-to content like your blog posts. For example, this YouTuber created a WordPress installation walkthrough, and recommends ThemeForest as an affiliate in the video description:
Product promotion aside, create informative or entertaining videos and you can use them as a channel to attract traffic back to your website.
Some people are more charismatic than others, but video is still a great medium even for the camera shy. If you don’t want to focus the video on yourself, keep it all about your topic. Simply do a voice recording overtop of a Powerpoint or video of the product.
Podcasts are an often overlooked content type that can help you reach a whole new audience base. Many people don’t have time to read blog posts or watch videos, but will turn on a niche podcast at work or on the commute home.
Build an audience of attentive podcast listeners and affiliate marketing becomes simple. If you have a one-on-one affiliate relationship with a business, you can invite them onto the show to explain the value of their product themselves. For example, this popular cryptocurrency podcast regularly hosts ICO spotlights of different blockchain businesses for this purpose:
To build a long-term relationship, affiliates can also sponsor specific episodes to get a recommendation from you. It’s also really easy to turn your podcasts into a video for people who prefer that format.
Social media content
Social media is a great place to share your native blog/video content to broaden reach. But you can also create content specifically for social media to engage your audience, attract web traffic, and encourage your audience to buy.
Post conversation-worthy niche content to your social accounts to generate buzz. Popular finance affiliate MoneySavingExpert.com, for example, shares relevant recent news to start a conversation and suggest related content on their blog:
When creating social media content, be sure to use promotion best practices, like using relevant hashtags, posting at optimum times of the day, etc.
Lead magnets and email content
Email marketing is a must for successful affiliate marketers. Most people aren’t inspired to make purchase decisions after reading just one blog post. Email is an opportunity nurture leads even further, especially for high-dollar affiliate products.
To do this, you’ll need to build a list of email subscribers. A simple “Sign up for our newsletter!” call-to-action on your blog is a start, but if you want to really grow your list, you’ll need to create valuable lead magnets to collect contact information.
A lead magnet is some kind of premium content beyond what you offer for free on your blog, such as an ebook, whitepaper, free tool, template, etc.
Successful affiliate marketer Melyssa Griffin shows her lead magnet prominently on the homepage of her site:
Use a tool like ClickFunnels, and it’s easy to create squeeze pages to get signups for your autoresponder. Follow their intuitive no-coding process to create your funnel, then you can focus more energy on creating great email content.
Once you get email signups from your blog, you can create engaging email content that offers value to your audience, attracts them back to your site, and encourages purchase decisions. Create email messages that complement your website content and warm prospects to your affiliate products.
Tips for Improving Your Affiliate Content
Creating a variety of content is the first step to engaging your audience. But it’s still pretty easy for affiliate marketers to fall into common traps that make their content come off as self serving and disingenuous.
Here are a few tips to remember to improve your content to meet your audience’s needs:
Remember products aren’t the reason for content
The first and foremost purpose of your content should always be to offer value for your audience. Your readers don’t need products, they need actionable insights and advice related to your niche. So when you develop content ideas, make sure you focus first on what interests your audience. You can then strategically incorporate product recommendations into the value you’re already offering.
For example, say you run a niche blog about baking. The focus of your “how to make a Bundt cake” content should be how to do it the traditional way, since that’s what most people are interested in learning how to do. That non-traditional heart-shaped bundt pan you recommend is only a suggestion to change things up.
It’s a story as old as the blogosphere — Niche blogger creates engaging content and builds a strong audience base. Blog gets monetized. Audience tapers off.
You’ve taken the time to build up an engaged audience that trusts what you have to say. Don’t ruin it by suddenly recommending products you never actually tried.
Readers are very sensitive to this kind of thing. They want full disclosure when you’re recommending affiliate products, and they want to feel like you actually like the things you’re recommending.
Once you lose credibility with your audience, it’s an uphill battle to build up that trust and traffic again.
Carol Tice’s approach to this on Make a Living Writing is great. She incorporates recommendations into her blog posts, but also has a designated page disclosing all the products she’s an affiliate for:
Be a scientist
When trying out a new product for your audience, think of unique ways you can test and demonstrate its effectiveness, and incorporate this information into your content strategy.
Hard data and statistics about a product’s effectiveness from you (not the manufacturer) is as or even more valuable than social proof. For example, say you’re an affiliate for a new SaaS product that helps improve reach on social media. When you try out the product, collect some hard data on how it impacted your social profiles, then share the findings with your audience.
Use social proof
Hopefully, you already have an audience that values and trusts your recommendations. But if you want to get them even more interested in your affiliate products, enlist the help of others to provide social proof.
Incorporate testimonials into your content. If someone (whether it be your brother or another industry blogger) recommended a product for you to try out, mention that in your content. The more people you can demonstrate like and recommend the product, the better.
Don’t think of your content as like a landing page when you provide social proof. Incorporate it into the story you tell so the recommendations come off as genuine (hopefully, they are).
Bring it home
One great way to reassure your audience that you truly like your affiliate products is to focus on your personal experience with the product, not its features or perks.
Talk about why you were interested in buying the product, how you felt when you first tried it out, etc. If it’s a product that offers long-term results (e.g. a new fertilizer for your lawn), then wait until you see the real effect before you write the content.
Food blogger Lindsey at Pinch of Yum does a great job of this with her affiliate products. Most of her posts are just delicious recipes, no affiliate links included. But periodically she creates personal posts, like this “February coffee date” with her readers:
In this post she keeps it personal, chatting about her life, her family, changes she’s made, etc. As part of her story she recommends Instacart, a product she and her husband use and love:
Like Lindsey, make your message personal and demonstrate how the product really benefited you specifically. Avoid focusing too much on how it could benefit others.
Pay attention to audience feedback
Not every piece of content you create is going to be popular with your audience. Pay attention to how much engagement certain content gets, and how people respond to your recommendations in your blog comments.
You’ll probably find that certain types of products and related content are more popular than others. Use this information to inform your content creation and product promotion in the long run.
And while your interests and those of your audience might not always be perfectly aligned, remember to always focus on topics and products that you have a genuine interest in, that they will enjoy as well.
Ninety percent of affiliate marketers today don’t bother diversifying their content strategy, making efforts to build trust, or demonstrating value to their audiences. As a result, their “monetized” website doesn’t earn very much from affiliate commissions.
Start incorporating these strategies into your affiliate content and track the results. Then you’ll see for yourself how they impact your audience’s confidence in your product recommendations.