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What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work

There are many ways to earn income as a Christian blogger. Affiliate marketing is probably the most common way that newer bloggers get started with.

But what exactly is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

The short is answer is simple. Affiliate marketing is a method of earning income by recommending products/services to your audience.

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This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.

Affiliate Marketing for Christian Bloggers

Just in case you are new to the term, affiliate marketing is where you promote products for different companies and earn a commission when a sale is generated. This is one of the most common ways Christian bloggers earn money. Affiliate links can be shared in blog posts, resource pages, and on your social channels.

Before I jump into the “how” of using affiliate links, it is important to understand the 2 most important factors that will affect your success with affiliate marketing as a Christian blogger.

  1. Having a clearly defined target audience. The products and/or services that you recommend should have some clear relation to the needs of your audience.
  2. Understanding SEO and keyword research. Whether you are mentioning a product in a blog post or writing a post specifically about a particular product, it is important that you choose the best keyword to ensure organic traffic to the post.

How to Use Affiliate Links on Your Blog

There are a variety of ways to recommend products/services on your blog. Many Christian bloggers are concerned with sounding “sales-ey” and often shy away from using affiliate links.

The most important thing to remember is to NOT make it about selling a product. Instead, focus on SERVING your audience through great content (with some subtle but helpful product recommendations).

Hopefully, the following tips will help you find a happy balance that you are comfortable with. Just remember that SEO is the key to all of these being fruitful.

**If you are looking for some great programs to join, be sure to check out our List of Affiliate Programs for Christian Bloggers.

Product Review posts

These are the most obvious ways to recommend products/services. Many Christian bloggers do book review posts which makes it easy to insert an affiliate link for the book being reviewed. Other reviews could include products or services that serve your audience.

Product (Roundup) Posts

These are different from “product review” posts in that they are basically “list-posts” in which you provide a listing of a particular type of product. When writing these, ensure you write them like a full blog post with headings and paragraphs. Pick products that make sense for your audience.

Make sure you do keyword research to choose the best keyword phrase to rank for so you can get organic traffic to the post. You can see examples of a product roundup post below:

How To (Tutorial) Posts

These are great because most people will go to Google to find instructions and supplies for doing different things. Christian mom bloggers, for example, can publish a variety of DIY posts for kids' activities. Simply link to the products needed to do the project (Amazon is great for this!).

Bible journaling tips are another great idea for Christian bloggers because there are so many different supplies needed for the different styles.

Solution Posts

Solution Posts – These are posts that are SEO'd around a problem and the solution. An example of this would be something like “5 Ways to Make Bible Study Fun” where one of the ways includes Bible study journals. These posts are structured around the problem, not the affiliate product, and can often have more than one product mentioned in the post.

Resource Pages

Resource Pages – Resource pages are a great addition to your blog. These should be resources that your target audience would benefit from and should include a combination of affiliate links and regular links. You can create more than one resource page to address the different needs of your audience. You can see some of our Resource Pages below:

Gift Guides

These are great to offer your readers for the different holidays throughout the year. You can create them as a blog post that published to your feed and/or on (page) templates. Be sure to go back to older gift guide posts and update them for the current year (change the products and links).

To keep them visible during a particular holiday season, link to them in your navigation menu and also create a clickable image for your sidebar. Once the season has passed, you can remove the navigation link and the image (or leave it year-round).

Product Widget

Amazon and a few other affiliate programs enable you to create widgets that display several products. If you decide to use these, only put them at the end of the post. When you place them in the actual post (between paragraphs) it can come across as very “salesy” and may not convert well.

When placed at the end of a post, make sure the products in the widget truly relate to the post. For example, if you had a post that was “Bible Verses About Confidence,” you could have an Amazon widget with some Devotionals about confidence listed.

Shop Page

Creating a Shop page enables you to display a variety of products in a way that looks more like a store checkout and doesn't require you to write blog content with the products. Be sure to mention (and link to) your shop page in your regular blog posts!

Legal Requirements for Affiliate Marketing (Blog)

Affiliate marketing does come with legal requirements. At a minimum, you must disclose the use of affiliate links to your readers. The easiest way to do this is to create an Affiliate Disclosure on a page template and link to it in every single post. You can see ours directly under the pinnable image at the top of this post. Your disclaimer must be visible BEFORE the use of any affiliate links.

If you are an Amazon affiliate, you must also include specific verbiage in your disclosure and place that text to where it is visible on every page where links might be used. The easiest way to accomplish this is to add their disclaimer as a text widget to your sidebar (see ours at the bottom of the sidebar on the right).

Another thing to keep in mind as an Amazon affiliate is that you can not share Amazon links in your emails. But you can link to blog posts that contain links which is why those product posts and gift guides are so important!

Related: 4 Reasons Your Amazon Links Aren’t Converting as a Christian Blogger

Ways to Boost Conversions on Your Affiliate Links

Of course the best way to boost your affiliate conversions is to simply write more SEO-optimized content that is targeting money-making keywords. But there are ways to boost traffic to that content which may also boost conversions to the links in them.

  • Create multiple pinnable images for your resource pages, gift guides, and shop page and share them (spaced out) on Pinterest.
  • Mention (and link to) your resource pages, shop page, and/or gift guides in your individual blog posts.
  • Add links to your resource pages, shop page, and gift guides in your navigation menu and on your sidebar.
  • Create a permanent spot in your weekly email that links to your resource pages, shop page, and/or gift guides (when appropriate).
  • When using Amazon links, in-sentence links convert much better than images.

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