For those of you who are not familiar with what an affiliate is, well, let’s do this using an example. Let’s say I become an affiliate for Joe’s WordPress themes. Because of my relationship with Joe and his products, I am confident I can help him sell his themes. So I write a post about his theme. In it is a link to purchase the theme.
If you decide to click through and buy it, I make a commission. It costs you no more to follow my link to purchase it. And that is that. Now I used a WordPress theme as an example, but there are affiliates in all industries. Heck, even in the credit card industry. And a lot of people make a very good living as affiliate marketers.
How to set up your affiliate products with WooCommerce
The question is: how you can use WooCommerce as an affiliate marketer? In other words, how to make money from affiliates. First off, there are several things to think through on this. As you may know WooCommerce, technically, makes this very easy. When you create a product, you simply choose the Product Data that is labeled, External/Affiliate product. Once you have done that, you can create it like any other product, except that you will be putting in your affiliate link so when people go to the original site to purchase it it is tracked to make sure you get the commission on it. The other unique feature to this product type in WooCommerce is the ease of changing the button text. So instead of having it say “buy now” you might want to say, “buy on Joesthemes.com” or something like that. As you can see, the product creation in WooCommerce is pretty straightforward.
Install a good affiliate manager plugin
The second piece you will want to get in place is some kind of affiliate manager plugin. I use one called Thirsty Affiliates and actually have a post on how to use it with WooCommerce. The real benefit here is that it allows you to do a couple of things. One, to cloak your links, which means that instead of the extremely large link you might get from an affiliate program, it will create a pretty, or easy to remember link. It might look something like bobwp.com/get/JoesThemes.
The second thing it allows you to do is set a no-follow link. In simple terms, the no follow link tells the search engine bots that the link should not influence the links’ target ranking in the search engines. You see, if you Google thinks you are only adding these to make money, well, that doesn’t make them happy and they will penalize you. Now the thing is Google also doesn’t mind if you are using these links with relevant content, but we cannot say they will always figure that one out. So to be safe, it’s best if all affiliate links are no follow. If you don’t have a program that does this, it’s not that hard to add it to the HTML of the link.
An added benefit: affiliate manager plugins make fixing broken links much easier
But the biggest reason to use an affiliate manager plugin is this. Let’s say you use an affiliate link in 30 different scattered posts and you have added those manually as regular links to text within those posts. And that affiliate changes their URL. You are now stuck with 30 broken links. What a plugin like Thirsty Affiliates does is it lets you create the link in one spot, and if it ever needs to be updated, you just go into your link and make the single change. It saves you a lot of headaches and time down the road.
What about locating posts that have affiliate links?
Another advantage of this plugin is that you can scan an affiliate link and identify which posts have it embedded. Again, a huge time-saver. Also this works great if you are looking to boost a post with additional content around a specific affiliate link or need to remove one rather than simply deleting the link on all posts.
Marketing your affiliate products: helpful and persuasive content is key
So as you can see, it’s not really difficult to launch your affiliate shop using WooCommerce. Your real challenge and opportunity for success is determined by your click-through rate. And that, in turn depends to a great degree on how helpful and persuasive your content is. Because once they leave your site and venture over to where the product is sold, it’s out of your hands.
What you don’t want to do is this. Find a bunch of cool products, slap up your affiliates in a WooCommerce shop page on your site and expect miracles. And even if you feel you have this niche site where a shop page of specific products might attract customers, well, that isn’t going to make it any more successful. You are competing with thousands of resellers and retailers, and possibly the product’s original seller. There’s no way you can easily pop up in searches. And if that product is on Amazon.com, your competition is going to be even more fierce.
Now I’m sure there are affiliate marketers that have a method to their madness or, in other words, they have found a way to make it work for them.
We know that affiliate links may get more traction in a review post, but also that depends a lot on your site, who you are, and what the product is.
How we market our affiliate products here at BobWP
So let me tell you what I did.
I have been building up my affiliate income over the last few years. It’s something that takes time, trust me on this. And where my affiliate links work best are in my blog posts. They have been in in-depth guides, tutorials, reviews, you name it., but they all have one thing in common. They are light on sales and heavy on helpful content, the why and the how of the product and ways it can be used. And after testing out different approaches I found that text links within the post work far better than any kind of banner ad. I’m not saying this will be the case for you, but it certainly has been for me.
Consider a affiliate product page using WooCommerce
Consider doing something like this. Create a shop page of either products or services you have affiliate relationships with? But take it a step further.
If you are writing posts about these products or services, and people land on the product page, in addition to the price and brief description, what if they found two links. One to go to the original seller’s site to purchase the product and the other that sends them to the post you wrote to learn about the features and uses. That last one is the incentive: the option to read more about the product from a trusted source (hopefully, that’s you).
If you are just diving into affiliate marketing, we have quite a few posts here on our other site, WPContentMarketing. And again, if you need to refresh the technical perspective of adding affiliates to WooCommerce you can see that post here.