Affiliate Marketing: Uses, Strategies, and Tips for 2021

This up-to-date and comphrehensive blog posts teaches you all about the right way to do affiliate marketing in 2021

It seems ideal, doesn’t it? You set up a website, add a few affiliate links, and start earning the passive income you’ve always dreamed of.

Many bloggers are earning top dollar this way. For example, Ryan Robinson over at makes mid-five figures every month.

Blogging isn’t the only way of making money from affiliate marketing, though. Microsites, email lists, and video marketing are just a few methods people use to generate an online income.

Although not everyone is making six figures from affiliate marketing, there are tips and strategies you can use to improve your site and increase your income.

Ready to find out more? Let’s start with the basics—what it is and who uses it.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is promoting other people’s products in return for a small commission for each sale. You’ve probably seen headings marked “affiliate link” or “sponsored post” on many of the websites you visit; or maybe you’ve already taken the first step and signed up to an affiliate network.

If you are new to affiliate marketing, let’s cover how it works.

First, you find an affiliate program or network that you are interested in. Look at the program overview, including the type of products or services, payment methods, and commissions they offer.

If it appeals to you, sign up and wait for confirmation of your acceptance. Then, start creating content, adding the custom links the program provides. Those links track when one of your users makes a purchase, and you’ll earn a small commission.

You can work with individual companies or affiliate networks, where you register and choose the programs that interest you. The programs are generally divided into categories to make selection easier. Once approved, start promoting your affiliate links on your website, in newsletters, on social media, and anywhere else you’re permitted to share links.

The network sends you a payment when you’ve reached the minimum payment level. Payment methods vary, and usually include PayPal, bank transfers, and checks.

The Top 7 Uses of Affiliate Marketing in 2021

Aside from the traditional ways of promoting affiliate marketing links, there are distinctive new trends in recent years. This next section looks at some of these trends and more traditional ways of promoting affiliate links.

1. Influencer Marketing

Influencers are one of the top faces of today’s affiliate marketing, thanks to social media and sites like YouTube.

Celebrities Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Selena Gomez are among the world’s top influencers. However, many ordinary people have become famous just because of their influencer status and ability to create engaging content and interact with their audience.

Photographer Murad Osmann, TikTokker Addison Rae, and cleaning expert Mrs. Hinch are examples of top influencers that built their platform from the ground up.

While brands often pay influencers to promote products, it also makes sense for them to share affiliate links with their followers in return for commissions.

If you’re a business with a considerable or passionate audience, then consider influencer marketing.

For instance, on Instagram, you can share and promote your links by:

  • Tagging the brand when you’re promoting their product.
  • Add links to your bio.
  • Use Instagram Stories and IGTV to talk about and promote products.
  • Create product comparisons and gift guides to educate your audience.

When you add links, make sure to include a strong CTA to encourage visitors to click like Instagram influencer Ashley Spivey does.

One final tip: choose products that make sense for your brand or niche and only share products you like. Your audience needs to trust you have their best interests in mind.

2. Blogging

Affiliate marketing is often the go-to choice for bloggers wanting to monetize content.

Bloggers generally specialize in a specific niche and share products or services of interest to their audience. For instance, it could be customer management systems, health trackers, or credit cards.

This type of affiliate program works well with niche businesses, and the further you can niche down, the better.

One example is Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits. Besides his main site, he owns several profitable niche sites. You can see how Haws adds affiliate marketing links in the image below:

To implement affiliate marketing on your blog, include links in blog posts, or add banners, video clips, even pop-ups. Social and email can also help you share your links.

However, only include links when they’re natural and don’t oversell. If you have a newsletter, share your links through special offers, gift lists, product comparisons.

Finally, concentrate on sharing links that are useful and offer value to your subscribers. Don’t just go for the sale—make sure you provide value first.

3. Referral Links

When you’ve signed up for an affiliate platform, you gain access to a personalized link, known as a referral link.

When visitors to your blog, newsletter, or social media page click on the link and make a purchase, you earn a commission.

For instance, BigCommerce has its own high-paying affiliate program, which pays $1,500 for every enterprise referral.

Businesses regularly sending out newsletters or writing blogs/reviews usually find this strategy a good fit. However, you can also use referral links in:

  • reviews/tutorials
  • resource pages
  • some forums
  • banners and video content
  • blog posts

However you use referral links, make sure your content is useful and your links are contextual and visible.

If you send out content to new subscribers, focus on building customer relationships and trust before adding your links. With social media, it’s not good form to share affiliate links directly, but do share links to your published content with affiliate links.

One final tip, don’t forget the usual standards for creating good content, such as using keywords, including CTAs, and creating clickable titles.

4. Microsites

Microsites or mini-sites are separate from a main website and are often used to target specific audiences. Brands may use them alongside other marketing efforts, like blogging or social media.

A microsite’s format varies from single pages to promote specific products or services to a collection of pages. It may have its own domain or be a sub-domain of the main site.

Typically, brands use microsites to highlight something specific. This could be:

  • individual events
  • products, campaigns
  • content/branded content

However, it’s not just brands using microsites. Regular affiliates create them too. Here is an example.

As you’ve likely guessed from its name, creates content around shavers and includes extensive reviews to help buyers find the right razor.

Whether a microsite is appropriate for your purpose depends on a variety of factors, such as:

  • The role in your customer journey.
  • If you need to keep the site up long term.
  • If you’re testing campaigns or keywords.
  • You’re an affiliate targeting a specific niche.

To improve your chances of success with microsites, ensure you:

  • Write detailed, media-rich content.
  • Highlight features and benefits so visitors can read content at a glance.
  • Include a mix of content to suit visitors’ preferences— for example, video content.
  • Add reviews of products you’ve tried and tested—and be honest.
  • Use a combination of products from different affiliate programs for a more comprehensive mix.
  • Have a range of products at different price points.

One last piece of advice. Take a tip from ShaverGuru by including a “Check Price On Amazon” hyperlink, taking visitors directly to your affiliate products.

5. Social Media Sites

Affiliate marketers can advertise on Facebook and other social media sites, but you must check your ads comply with the guidelines on each channel.

Sharing your affiliate marketing links on Facebook or similar sites could be ideal for affiliates with a large following or a very niche product.

Some ways of sharing your links include:

6. Email Lists

Email lists are another popular way to share affiliate links with your audience.

Marketers set up email lists of their registered users through services like MailChimp, AWeber, or a similar service. Usually, they give some incentive for signing up, like a free training session, templates, or an eBook.

The newsletters often include affiliate links, allowing the marketer to make money when a subscriber clicks on a link and makes a purchase.

Marketers with an existing email list and engaged subscribers can benefit from this type of affiliate link promotion, no matter what niche they are in.

This method is suitable when you already have a list or share valuable content with your audience, such as training and tips. Time-limited and exclusive offers from affiliate programs are effective, too.

For example, uses this strategy, promoting both its own and affiliate marketing products.

7. Create Videos

People don’t just like video content. They love it. Just look at YouTube and its 2.1 billion active users.

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are perfect for sharing video content, too.

Video content is easily consumable for busy people and perfect for showing people how they can use a product, how it benefits them, and for highlighting the pros and cons.

The usual best practice is adding affiliate products, pinning them underneath the video on YouTube, adding them to your bio, and being active on your community page, like the gaming product channel Worth a Buy.

Consider using this approach to instill confidence in your consumers and if video demonstrations help illustrate your product’s benefits.

Affiliate Marketing Mistakes and Strategies to Avoid

Though many people are successful with affiliate marketing, there can be a dark side, too.

As with any other business that involves making money, affiliate marketing is the target of various types of fraud, like cookie stuffing or dropping. However, there are other practices to steer clear of, including:

  • Creating poor quality content: Gone are the days when you can produce keyword-loaded content and dominate Google. Instead, write quality content and add value to each article.
  • Using the “hard sell” approach: Concentrate on relationship-building rather than the direct sales approach. Once a customer trusts you, they’re more prone to buy what you recommend.
  • Failing to check the legitimacy of products: That health product may sound impressive and pay high commissions, but does it actually do what it claims? Choose your products carefully and read reviews online.
  • Misleading buyers: It should go without saying, but the lure of commissions can cause some affiliates to misrepresent the benefits of products. By making bold claims, you may get more click-throughs, but it’s unethical and could also be illegal.

As an affiliate marketer, your reputation is everything. If your audience doesn’t trust or believe you, you won’t earn any income. Focus on your audience first and foremost.

How to Track Affiliate Marketing Success

How can you tell if your marketing efforts are working? By tracking metrics.

Start with your affiliate programs dashboard, and see what this tells you. Affiliates using ad programs like Google, Facebook, or Amazon can also use their dashboards to monitor stats for individual channels.

There are also affiliate marketing tools that help track performance, gather analytics, and provide competitor data.  

Here are the key affiliate metrics to pay attention to:

  • clickthroughs
  • ad spend
  • ROI
  • conversion rates
  • net monthly sales
  • overall revenue

These metrics will tell you how often people click on your links and how often they buy. Pay attention to what type of content is most effective at driving sales and create more of that type of content.

How to Pick the Right Affiliate Marketing Strategy for Your Business in 2021

Affiliate marketing is a viable monetization method for any business, but the success of your campaign relies on choosing the right strategy. Here’s how to pick the right affiliate marketing strategy for your business.

  1. Ensure the strategy works for your audience
  2. Do they hang out on social media? On forums? Do they search Google looking for answers? Know where your potential customers are and target them there.
  3. Understanding the kind of content your audience responds to
  4. What gets them clicking to find out more or sign up for a product?
  5. Which offers work best for your particular crowd?
  6. Is it free gifts? Competitions? Discounts? The right offers can make or break your affiliate marketing campaigns.
  7. Use A/B testing
  8. Compare the results and use this data to refine your affiliate strategy.
  9. Understand your customers’ pain points
  10. Address those issues with detailed content and relevant products.

FAQs About Affiliate Marketing in 2021

How do I find affiliate marketing partners?

Begin by looking at affiliate marketing networks in your niche. Compare the types of products, commissions, and payment methods.

Look at the tools and products you already use. Hosting companies and marketing tools often have affiliate programs.

Another way is to look for well-known sites in your niche and see if they have an affiliate program. Or just search for “affiliates + your niche” and go through the results.

How do I start affiliate marketing from scratch?

1. First up, decide on your platform. You don’t need to be a blog or newsletter, although some programs have restrictions.
2. Choose products to promote that are of interest to your audience.
3. Read the terms and conditions and apply for the affiliate program.
4. Add your links to blog posts, newsletters, long-form content, underneath your videos on YouTube and social media.
5. Finally, don’t forget to mention the link your sharing is for an affiliate product, and you’re receiving a commission.

What type of content is best for affiliate marketing?

Wherever you can link affiliate products naturally—for instance, if you review pet products, add a direct link so your readers can click through and make a purchase.

Or send out a list of the best presents for pets in the run-up to holidays and share it in a newsletter or as a YouTube video review with your affiliate links underneath.

Affiliate Marketing in 2021 Conclusion

Affiliate marketing is a straightforward way to monetize your content and build an online income.

As times change, affiliate marketing is evolving. Once blogging and email lists were the main ways to share affiliate links, but social media now means influencers are earning considerable income promoting affiliate products.

Whichever method you choose, make sure the products you share are relevant to your audience, and steer clear of any shady practices.