How to Make Money: Affiliate Sales
Affiliate sales seem like the easiest way to make money on a blog. Find a company who sells sex toys, sign up as an affiliate, and put that link almost everywhere. Sit back and watch the money just roooooooll in. Right? Not quite.
Like everything else we do in the world of writing, blogging, and creating content, very little is as easy as it seems. I can’t speak for other bloggers with affiliate partnerships, but I know what’s worked and hasn’t worked for me. My affiliate sales aren’t enough to pay the mortgage but the income is steadily increasing.
In the second in the How to Make Money series, let’s discuss how to see results with affiliate sales.
Try a Product First
Ask any sex blogger who’s been around for a while, and we’ve all received the same email. It’s the one that asks us to become an affiliate marketer for a sex toy company we’ve never heard of. The premise makes sense – you link to their website or a product and if anyone clicks and buys something, you both make money. I used to sign up immediately or at least put in my “To Consider” stack. Until I tried to pimp cheeseburger ball gags and felt a little icky pimping a product I knew nothing about and seemed weird to me.
Not every adult company understands this but the vast majority of my affiliate partnerships (with one or two exceptions) are products I’ve tried first. When I receive the offer, I explain my affiliate policy. I tell them I have to try their product or service first, and then I’ll decide. Of course, I sweeten the deal by offering to write a review of the product on my website (free exposure for them). If they’re a company or product I like, I join as an affiliate.
Talk About the Product or Company Honestly
Being able to tell your audience about your experience with a company makes a big difference. Instead of being a shill for some faceless, nameless product, you can back up your opinion. But it only works long-term if you’re honest in your discussion about the company, product, or service.
When I enthusiastically endorse a company I like or believe in, links get clicked and sometimes purchases are made. I don’t believe in the hard sell, so I’m not going to bludgeon people with affiliate sales offers. But as long as I can be counted on to give my honest opinion, people will at least look at a product or company I recommend. It’s up to them to buy or not.
Build Relationships with the Company
This isn’t a new topic around here. Building relationships with adult companies is good for your writing business in general. One company went from being an affiliate partner to a ghostwriting client. Another continually sends me free products that I end up loving and talking about. Still another started out as someone I wrote for (before they knew me personally) and now they help support some of my projects. Relationships matter.
How does this help in affiliate sales? A lot of companies come across as a bloodless organization of faceless robots. In reality, some really great businesses are run by a single person or a small group. They’re doing their best just like you are. Others are big companies but they genuinely care. When I get to know the people behind the business, it helps me talk about that company to my audience. In turn, when the company sees I’m trying to help them, they’re more willing to work with me on other projects – like website sponsorships, giveaways for readers, and more.
Promote Your Affiliate Partnerships
When you can back up your affiliate partnerships with real opinions and experiences, they can make a big impact with your audience. That being said, you still have to promote those affiliate partnerships (says the woman who still finds it difficult or “forgets” to do it). Tweet your affiliate links – and say something interesting. Share blog posts with affiliate links in the content. Use Instagram to tag the company and include your coupon code.
Like all things promotional, you have to find the balance. Spamming your social media followers with affiliate links will turn them off very quickly. Adding affiliate links to every single blog post, even if it doesn’t fit, will make you look like you’re always selling something. Yes, I’m aware there’s an entire philosophy on affiliate marketing that says you should do this, but that’s not my philosophy.
Disclosing your affiliate partnerships doesn’t necessarily earn you more money, but it does keep you ethical. In the United States, it also keeps you on the right side of the Federal Trade Commissions Disclosure rules. Doing the right thing and making sure your audience knows what they’re clicking on builds better relationships which can earn you more money. So maybe disclosures earn money?
Anyway, don’t neglect this part. There are a few ways:
- Use hashtags on social media like #affiliate or #aff
- Add a disclosure to the top of any blog post that includes an affiliate link.
- You may also want to add (affiliate) or some other parenthetical after any affiliate link you include in a post. I like to do this because it’s an immediate disclosure as they’re reading.
- Text disclosures on websites should say something like: Affiliate links are included in this post. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I make a small commission. I’m considering adjusting mine to refer to the commission as “coffee money” or “money for more sex toys.” You can be creative with this, as long as you’re clear in what you mean.
Affiliate Sales in Action
My genuine gushing over The Butters lube has made me over $100 since the beginning of 2017. Discussing Simpatic.Us a service that helps people talk about their kinks earned me $30 in a single month. Am I going to pay the mortgage with that? Of course not, but it’s better than making zero dollars, right?
Like anything you do as a sex writer, blogger, or content creator, you’ve got to put in the work. There’s no such thing as truly easy money, and if it seems easy, you might want to make sure it’s legal. Figure out what works for you with affiliate sales – what you want to promote and how you want to promote it. Once you set up a process from disclosure to promotion, it gets easier and definitely more effective. But only if you’re willing to do your part.
I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s found success with affiliate sales. What do you differently? And if you try any of these methods and see success, please let us know in the comments below!