Welcome to another episode of Mediavine On Air with your host, Jenny Guy.
One of our favorite sayings around here is: Diversify your revenue streams! Now, that might sound odd from a company that provides full service ad management, but our company mission is building sustainable businesses for content creators. And a business relying on only one income stream is just not sustainable.
This interview happened in the Summer of Live 2020 and our guest was the wonderful Katelyn Fagan. She’s a blogger at the site What’s Up Fagans and an instructor on her Best Blog Courses, where she loves to teach bloggers how to make more money.
Katelyn shared some absolute gems for optimizing existing posts to maximize affiliate revenue, the best link type and placement for conversion, Amazon Affiliates and more.
Now, to the earnings!
View Katelyn Fagan’s Affiliate Marketing Slides.
WordPress Gutenberg — Should you switch to WordPress Gutenberg?
Mediavine Ads and Affiliate Marketing — How to find the right balance.
Shorter paragraphs — Increase your RPM by shortening your sentences and paragraphs.
Mediavine’s Create Plugin — Learn more about our WordPress plugin for content creators.
Watch the video here or check out the transcript below.
Improving In-Post Affiliate Earnings Transcript
**The RPM Challenge has been rebranded as the Content Upgrade Challenge**
JENNY GUY: Hello, guys. I am Jenny Guy, and I am the Director of Marketing for Mediavine. How is everyone doing? Katelyn and I — our guest today just had an awesome experience where she was in black and white. So there was a wrong — she kind of looked like Paranormal Activity, the movie, if you’ve seen that. But we’re all good now, which is awesome. Katelyn is cool as a cucumber. But today is Thursday, June 25th and we are so glad to have you with us and for us to have the opportunity to be with you today for another episode of the Mediavine Summer of Live.
We have got quite a few common refrains around these parts for content creators, and one of our most popular ones is diversify your revenue streams. We say it all the time. While Mediavine ad management is our primary offering as a company, we strongly believe — and I will look directly into the camera on this one — that ad revenue should not be your only source of revenue. Please. Affiliate marketing can be a very lucrative part of your blogging business strategy. But it takes some work to be successful
Enter today’s guest, Katylen Fagan, in color — thank god – and she is here to talk about improving in-post affiliate earnings. I’m going to introduce Katelyn. She is a wife and homeschooling mom of five kids who is currently pregnant with her second set of twins due at the beginning of September. What? We can talk more about that later. She grew up in Wisconsin but currently lives in New York. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 2011. Over the last seven years she’s built up a successful blog business while growing her family. That’s kind of the understatement. Her website is “What’s Up Fagans? which is dedicated to resources for family-focused living.
Along with helping families better manage home and life she also loves helping bloggers make more money, especially through affiliate marketing, perfect for today. She and Katie Clark run a free blogging Facebook group and have created several blogging courses for new-to-intermediate bloggers, which can be found at BestBlogCourses.com. And she’s got a special offer for you guys today — 10% off of any of those courses, of her courses, with the code SUMMER OF LIVE, all caps. So SUMMER OF LIVE. We’ll drop the link n the comments for you guys to go check out. And please visit to learn more.
And welcome, Katelyn. Thank you for being amazing and also for handling all of the craziness with aplomb and calm. We appreciate it.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. Yeah, thanks for having me on. I’m so excited to share this with you guys because I didn’t get to go to Baltimore this year. So yeah. I was going to do this presentation there so I’m excited to get started here.
JENNY GUY: We’ll probably go a little bit long, you guys. If you’re here and you followed us through all of these things, please ask us your questions. We’re so glad to have you. We are going to be talking about improving your in-post affiliate earnings, but first, just to kind of say hi and tell us that you’re here, on a scale of 1 to 10 tell us how you feel about yourself as an affiliate marketer, one being I don’t know what you’re talking about, and 10 being I am a 1000% ninja with my affiliate marketing.
OK, Katelyn. Wait. Alrighty. As I always do on most of our Lives here, I start out with the general before we get into the specifics, which we will definitely be diving into of improving in-post affiliate earnings. But first, let’s talk about how you got into affiliate marketing and why you believe it is such a necessary revenue stream for content creators. So, how much can we make? How much of a time investment is requested? Bottom line — sell us on affiliate marketing.
KATELYN FAGAN: I think like most bloggers I got started with the Amazon associates program, and it’s — obviously everyone knows Amazon. It’s an easy place to get started. But then I kind of got into some surveys because I had personally taken some surveys way back in the day and found out, oh, I can make money telling other people to sign up. And some like cashback, and some like freebie offers and some other things. And just kind of word-of-mouth heard about different programs and was like, sure. Sure, let’s try to make some extra bucks, and this idea of diversifying your income obviously was attractive to me.
I eventually stumbled across like subscription boxes, that really upped my affiliate game quite a bit with like one post that made me like hundreds of dollars. So like I was sold after that. Like, oh my gosh, so — like who doesn’t want to make passive income especially when you focus like on affiliate marketing through your website? And I’m a busy person with lots of kids.
JENNY GUY: It’s gonna be a lot more.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah, and more coming. So my goal has like been through the years to figure out ways to build out that passive income. And so once I kind of married SEO with affiliate marketing I was able to make a lot of income without having to promote constantly or to rely just solely on social media or all those other things. And so that was a big turning point and just figuring all that out. And it’s how much you can make. It’s really up to you and how much you put into it, and figure out if you want to tweak things, if you’re going to use email and social media, as well, or just write on the blog to earn your money from affiliates. But quarter four, I can make like just as much as I make from my Mediavine ads or I have in the past, which is amazing.
So like you can make thousands of dollars a month from affiliate marketing if you really work at it. So that might be more active than passive, but it’s all good.
JENNY GUY: Well, it’s active, I’m sure — I mean we don’t like to say ads are necessarily passive either, because you can earn if you just do it, and put it out there, and let it be. But if you’re actually actively trying to optimize and do better then it’s not passive. But how much time would you say, to be a little more specific in terms of focusing on creating new content or focusing on affiliate, working on affiliate marketing in terms of your week, how do you break that down? Can you give a percentage?
KATELYN FAGAN: So usually I include affiliate links in the emails I send out to my newsletter, and that’s about every week. I don’t always send them out. But sometimes a send off like one-off emails, too, for promotions, or sales, or whatever. So it kind of depends. But that’s once a week. I don’t promote as much on social. But then when it comes to any article I write on my blog I try to include affiliate links. So it’s just kind of a natural thing.
Sometimes I specifically write content to sell affiliate stuff, as well. So it’s kind of just married into what I’m already doing. So I don’t know how to answer that very well.
JENNY GUY: No, it’s become intuitive to you.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: And I loved hearing about the marriage of a SEO and affiliate, and we’re going to be getting into that more as we go through. But it’s so great to hear that those things can coexist because I think that it might be that some people are thinking about, well if I use affiliate, that’s a separate thing from SEO and could even be like possibly conflicting with each other that you can’t have great SEO and be focusing on affiliate earnings at the same time.
KATELYN FAGAN: Right
JENNY GUY: Let’s dispel those myths. We’ve got a lot of fives here saying and in terms of their affiliate expertise. We’ve got some — a six, that’s good. A couple of threes. A 2.5, that is very specific. And we’ve got a couple of nines, so that’s exciting. All right.
KATELYN FAGAN: Awesome.
JENNY GUY: So let’s talk a little bit about — before we get into, again, with this specific existing post optimization, let’s talk about some of your site-wide recommendations for affiliate marketing. And we’ve got some visual aids that we’re going to show here, too. So let’s do that.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah, so the reality is — if we can see this —
JENNY GUY: I hope you guys see that OK.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah, the reality is a lot of times there’s some simple things that you do to increase your sales, and they’re like site-wide that kind of tweaks you can make. So one of them is just changing your link appearance. If people don’t know there’s a link in your blog post they won’t know to click it.
And so you see here that an easy way to do that is it’s changing your site-wide linking structure. And so I have some examples. CSS, you can add to your WordPress customize — I don’t know.
JENNY GUY: Sidebar?
KATELYN FAGAN: And it will show you that like then you can change it so that it’s bold, it’s underlined, and it’s whatever color you want. Now you can keep your colors along with your theme. That’s good. It should be lighter, though. You don’t want to do like a navy color or maybe even a purple.
Typically like some of the best colors to choose are just the generic blue color that everyone knows and recognizes kind of universally is a hyperlink. So you want to make sure — the underline as well, it kind of signifies that this is a hyperlink. You should click on it. It increases that appeal. I don’t know. But yeah. So this is a really simple fix you can do. I don’t if you guys want to like, I don’t know, save the screen, and you can do this on your own site.
OK. So another thing —
JENNY GUY: I’m here. I don’t know — can you hear me when I’m not —
KATELYN FAGAN: No. I couldn’t hear you at all.
JENNY GUY: Well I’m here. I’m just lurking so we can make it make the screen sharing bigger. So if you want — with all the craziness, guys, we didn’t have as much time for us to talk about how we wanted this to go before the poop hit the fan. So, Katelyn, when you’re ready for a slide or there’s something specific you want me to do, even if you can’t see me just say Jenny, slide this, and I’ll take care of it for you.
KATELYN FAGAN: OK, perfect.
JENNY GUY: I’m here. I’m not gone. I’m just hiding.
KATELYN FAGAN: OK. So another thing that you should probably do for site-wide link management as well as just — this will save you a lot of time and energy should a company switch from Impact Radius to CJ or vice versa is using a link cloaker service like Thirsty Affiliates. I use an easy affiliate plug-in. I think that’s what it’s called.
And so you can see here on the screen where you just have the company name, and you can see stats, though, like how many people are clicking this month, how many people have clicked over the lifetime, and you can then customize it, too. So my links here is WhatsUpFagan’s with the forward slash recommends and then a forward slash whatever I decide. So usually a company name. But then I can change the link. If I change the link on the back end here, it will automatically update all the links on my site to edit all the short links I put into different blog posts. I don’t have to go in and individually edit them. And you can see here that this is how it looks like in your WordPress editor. There’s a little blue special link icon that shows up, and those little dots under Land’s End and Hapari and stuff, those are the affiliate links. And so anytime I mentioned Land’s End or Hapari in different blog posts, if I use a special short code affiliate link, then all of them will all linked to the same thing.
So it’s really helpful for managing links and not having to worry and stress about changes to things. Here, we’ll go to the next one because it’s a little harder to understand. OK. So a plug-in that I really love it, and it’s free, is the Advanced Ads plug-in. It’s actually like designed for Google Adsense. But it’s so useful for affiliate marketing. So you can ad site wide banners with it. You can add category-wide banners. You can add temporary promotions and coupon codes with set publish and expiration dates which is the big like oh my gosh, I love this thing.
And you can choose placement locations really easily for all of that content. So I show you on the right side of the slide, then, kind of what it looks like on the back end. And here is the ultimate homemaking bundle, for example. So they’re live this week, and I’m promoting them. We’re trying to. I’m not doing very well with it, but that’s a different story. But I have — you have to know some HTML to use this. So get out your tech stuff here, tech knowledge. But you can see, though, that there is a publish date and there’s an expiry date. So this sale ends after Friday, and so it’s set to expire then 2:00 AM Pacific time or something. Well, 2:00 AM I guess, my time. But so it’s set to expire then automatically. So I don’t have to go in and change 100 different blog posts that mention different things. And this is also — here if we put on the next slide — so you can see here I’ve only selected this banner to show up on certain categories because it’s homemaking-related. I don’t know that everything I have is homemaking-related. People might not be interested in it.
And I also set the placement. In this case, I was like let’s just put it top foremost whatever. And so this is before content. But you can put it after content, after so many paragraphs, you can put it at the end, you can put it in the middle, you can do all sorts of different placements for it within your content. And you just set it up on the back end, and it’ll auto populate and auto delete once the expiry has come and gone.
So it’s a super awesome plugin, and I’ll show you kind of how I use it then for coupons like within the body of a post, as well, with the next slide. OK. So here you can see like this is my HTML code for a sale that’s going on at SwimOutlet.com going back to that same original post if you clicked, Jenny. OK. So you can see in my post that I can add them with the Gutenberg blocks, it’s just we click on Advanced Ads, and then I select the Swim Outlet 4th of July sale. And it’ll populate then whenever that sale is live. Once the sale disappears it’ll just close out the paragraphs, and you won’t see a big gap or something in your blog posts, because obviously we want things to look nice.
So if you click over again, you’ll see what it looks like in-post. So in-post, then, when the sale’s live, you see all the wordage that I put on that first slide with the HTML, and the same 25 percent. And so that promo code will just automatically show up when that ad is filled. So sometimes, too, I create a group just to make sure that I always have an ad or something there. There’s a lot you can do with Advanced Ads. It’s a little hard to figure out. But I really encourage you to figure it out, because it’s really handy.
You can just have the short codes put in next to companies that you talk about and your blog posts. And then every time you get those emails from your affiliate managers about a sale coming up, and they’re like, hey, you should promote this. And you’re like I don’t want to go into my 10 posts that mention Swim Outlet, or mentioned you know whatever affiliate you are, for — but you don’t have to. You just put it once in the back end and it all auto populates in all those locations, which is so helpful, because guys, coupons sell so — coupons are very handy. Everyone loves to save money.
JENNY GUY: We all love coupons. I mean there’s no lie about that. OK, we have a bunch of comments and questions, and I want to go ahead and go to that. The only way that people can see the slides is if I make them full screen, and then I can’t see what’s happening. So that’s what — so please excuse the delay. OK. Alrighty.
Some of the questions that we have — one, the first one is to do with the discount for your courses. How long will the discount be live, Katelyn?
KATELYN FAGAN: We’re going to be 60 days. So for the next —
JENNY GUY: Sixty days.
KATELYN FAGAN: So most of the summer, right?
JENNY GUY: Fantastic. Love that. OK. We appreciate your generosity so much. OK, Larisha says she loves Amazon because everything is all in one place. She’d love to hear about what system you have to manage all the different affiliate programs you have, which is something we are all trying. How do you keep track of them and manage seeing the sales?
KATELYN FAGAN: Sometimes well, sometimes not as well.
JENNY GUY: Fair enough.
KATELYN FAGAN: We do have a really awesome spreadsheet that we have on our Best Blog courses, as well, for affiliate like management. And so it has a lot of great features, and I use some of that. I try to keep an eye on some of these things. But yeah, I use like the Easy Affiliate link and the Advanced Ads to just kind of help me like, oh, there’s a promo code. Let me shove that on my blog real fast. And that makes it speedier. But I just have like a spreadsheet with like all my log-in information, and like the spreadsheet we have, too, has like details about like what categories are excluded. Because like Target, you can’t make commissions on every category. Same with Walmart and even Amazon, like gift cards are 0%.
But we forget all that stuff, because it’s a lot to keep track of between how many affiliate companies you work with. So yeah. So just trying to organize it with a spreadsheet of some kind or however you like to organize things. It’s really helpful to have log-ins as well as like quick access links. And some of these hopefully site-wide kind of things will help you, too.
JENNY GUY: Definitely. And what we’re having some requests for the presentation. So we might be able to — if we can work with you a little bit afterwards, we can share their presentation in the comments, you guys, once we’re done here. So we’ve got a lot of questions right now about asking how — what your opinion is on the interaction between affiliate links and between Mediavine ads. We have a lot of people that, especially in the finance niche, that are very into turning off ads on posts where they’re pushing affiliates. So what is your opinion on that interaction?
KATELYN FAGAN: I keep all my ads there. I know. I’ve heard that, and I do think it could be beneficial to not distract from your ads for affiliates within that Mediavine ads. But you have to realize with how many pageviews you get versus like, I don’t know, it’s a trade off. Because if it’s converting really high, and you want to play around with it, I would say experiment like on one post at a time, right? And just see if you see sales going up or if you don’t notice a difference. And then you’re just moving on ad revenue.
So I would just experiment if that’s something you really want to look at.
JENNY GUY: But it’s not something you’re seeing cutting down in your affiliate earnings. The Mediavine ads are not distracting you. I haven’t played around with it too much, to be honest, mostly because I like my earnings from Mediavine. So, and for as many people as visit a site, not everyone’s clicking, right? So it’s kind of this where I get that impression ad income as well as then people who are looking to buy are going to filter through and ignore the ads.
JENNY GUY: That’s good. I like that. I like that it’s not something that you’re seeing a whole lot of restrictions — so just to recap on the things that you mentioned that people would use, you were talking about the Advanced Ads plugin. You were talking about Easy Affiliate plug-in. So those are the two plugins you’re talking about?
KATELYN FAGAN: Yes.
JENNY GUY: OK, great. Fantastic. All right. So let us go a little bit to this. We’re all about optimizing existing content. We talk about it all the time here at Mediavine. But those four RPMs, so add earnings and for SEO, as well. We have that RPM challenge. We do all sorts things. How you pick which posts for your topics, say which you pitch just to speak out in Baltimore, how do you pick which posts are just ripe for affiliate earnings and optimization? What makes the post a good candidate?
KATELYN FAGAN: Typically, I always recommend starting with the posts that get the best traffic, so your top 10 posts — start there. It’s the easiest thing to do. Because affiliate marketing does still kind of rely on the number of visitors especially on your website, right? So if you focus on the ones that get the most traffic you’ll probably see the biggest return on your investment.
If a post gets like 10 hits a month, you’re kind of wasting your time. So. Yeah, we are.
JENNY GUY: Be real. Get down to it. Be honest.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. So after that I would say posts that get your best search traffic because search traffic, like I mentioned earlier, converts. People who are googling things are typically looking for solutions, or looking for reviews, or looking for help, and if you’re providing a solution to that question or whatever, then they’re most likely to buy. So if you have good affiliate products you promoting, in those you can make more money from those.
So even if they don’t get as much traffic they can convert quite well. And then, yeah, and then I would say — yeah. And then I would say just focus on like seasonal content, like things that are coming up so you’re just ahead of the game. So for this it’s summer travel, or it’s 4th of July, and then back-to-school obviously in the fall. And then so on. And then you can look at content that was trending a year ago, as well, that kind of seasonal thing there. So I would start with those and then you can build off — go the next top ten, and your next top ten searched, and so on.
JENNY GUY: So basically it’s how we recommend in terms of SEO and optimize optimizing for RPM. The only thing that I’ve heard that is slightly different is that you are really focusing on the search traffic because that’s what they’re looking they’re looking to buy. So that’s great. So when you’re optimizing for SEO, you should be optimizing for affiliate, as well. And each time you’re optimizing, kill both of those birds with one stone. OK.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yes.
JENNY GUY: I’m a little thrilled to ask as far as location for the affiliate links, what is most successful for you? We’re going to talk about that in a second. OK, here’s an interesting question from Yvette. Editing a popular post to include affiliate links — does that mess up the SEO if it’s already ranking well?
KATELYN FAGAN: No.
JENNY GUY: No?
KATELYN FAGAN: I mean, if you’re changing a lot, but typically when you make minor changes like adding a hyperlink here and a hyperlink there, or a little image, you’re not screwing up the SEO algorithm because it’s not major content changes. I mean you do wanna be careful, obviously. Because some things I will recommend later are adding things to your blog post. And so if it’s ranking really well, just be careful about that, obviously. So maybe just do one of those tips at the time or something to make sure you don’t lose those rankings.
JENNY GUY: That makes sense. All right, which affiliate programs are your most successful? We’ve got a couple of people with this question.
KATELYN FAGAN: Oh, OK. Well so I’m in the mom-family-home kind of niche. So it would be different for everybody. I’ve either said subscription box that I’ve done really well with. Like I did — and a lot of these it’s because of search traffic. of course, my search traffic has kind of tanked in the last few months. But thank you, Google, for changing something. But so I mean Amazon makes me some. But yeah, I make a lot from my KiwiCo. I’ve made a lot from my Trunk Club over the years.
I make money from some random affiliate partners, too, sometimes like Envirocleanse. I do cleaning content, and they give me 20% commission. So I have a couple of posts that feature their products, and they’re more unique. And so people want them. I’ve sold a lot of Newton baby crib mattresses based on a post that I wrote about babies rolling over at night, and the mattress you can breathe through, and it’s washable. So like yeah. So kind of these more unique programs. But I don’t know.
JENNY GUY: You don’t have any just general — but you also talked some about creating content, which is — I mean we could talk about affiliate marketing on different Lives for 75 different episodes. Like, we could.
KATELYN FAGAN: Sure, sure.
JENNY GUY: As you were saying earlier, I was really interested in hearing about creating content specifically for that. But I really want to stick to the stuff that you — pitches that you want to talk about. Because we could talk about affiliate all day long. And I think that your courses are really great resources in terms of that additional. Information. So we will definitely continue sharing that as well.
But if you’ve got — so let’s say you’ve already got a post that has some affiliate links in it, but it’s not converting. What types of things would you recommend making adjustments on?
KATELYN FAGAN: So I see this a lot. I work with people. They hire me to go through and optimize blog posts for them. And a lot of times their link is just this little kind of afterthought, right? They’re like, well I hyperlinked all my supplies, but I don’t make any sales, right? It’s a DIY tutorial or something. But that’s because you really need to kind of spice up in your presentation. And if you only ever hyperlink to it once you’re doing yourself a big disservice people.
I mean, you mentioned at the top. But then they read the post, and they’re like, wait, what do I buy? Ah, forget it. And they leave, right? So we need to give them lots of opportunities to click if you really want to make sales. So it’s having images, even if the image is like your own image, you can still hyperlink it to your affiliate link if it features a Bosch mixer in it or whatever you’re using. And so you kind of just want to look at how you promote things, too. Sometimes it’s about getting the click. Like we all know Amazon, we really just want people to click through and hopefully they’ll check out their cart, right?
JENNY GUY: At some point.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: Work those cookies.
KATELYN FAGAN: We wanna work the cookies, absolutely. And so you have to get people to click. And so if you just have a list, and you’re like, OK, get pencils, paper, like generic terms — and I think we have a slide about this, too, later but I’m probably getting ahead of myself.
JENNY GUY: You’re good.
KATELYN FAGAN: [LAUGHS] Like it’s really helpful to just make things easier. So some other things, though, is make sure the links you have like they are available, right? And make sure that you’re promoting products that are really the best fit to solve the problem or the issue that you’re talking about in the post.
So you might want to try a different affiliate partner. Like maybe the thing you linked to is just too expensive, and your audience is like, forget that. Or it’s just not their style or their taste. You can maybe option offer like a couple of different alternative options.
You can add coupon codes because people love sales. You can also just organize your content better. So you can have a table contents, and one of the table of contents parts can be like here’s the coupon, right, so people can just click if they’re ready to buy and just go right there so that they don’t waste their time looking, and searching, and scrolling, and then they’re like, ah, that’s too many ads. I’m just kidding.
JENNY GUY: I mean —
KATELYN FAGAN: But some people really hate whatever. Scrolling.
JENNY GUY: Some people, well some people really hate everything. Let’s just —
KATELYN FAGAN: So the easy —
JENNY GUY: Karens are everywhere.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. So — Karens. [LAUGHS] OK. The more you can just get them to get to exactly what you want, the better. So just make things sooner in the post, too. Even if like you’re going to have a big sales pitch at the end of your post, mention it at the beginning. Like hey, this is like for the mattress, the crib mattress that I sold.
Like I had a bunch of great information at the bottom. But I wasn’t seeing high conversions. But the post was getting good traffic. So I made sure to add the coupon. And like, hey, at the bottom there’s more information and just like some other stuff further out. And I got a lot more sales just for making a minor change, right? So it’s — yeah. You have to —
JENNY GUY: Make it easy for people.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: And play with it.
KATELYN FAGAN: Right. And don’t be afraid to tell them that like you’re going to sell them something. I mean not directly, like that. But you know what I mean. Like you’re going to have more information about this later, it’s a great product, and then whatever.
JENNY GUY: Being transparent about that. I also loved when you were saying that you were tying SEO with affiliate marketing. When you said solving the problem — that is such a huge theme that we talk about all the time in SEO that you’re wanting to solve problems for your readers. You’re wanting to figure out what they’re asking, what’s bringing them to you, and then figure out how you’re going to easily solve that for them.
KATELYN FAGAN: Right.
JENNY GUY: Fantastic. OK. So guys, for a better question for the audience out there, and we’re going to move into this with Katelyn as well, but before I ask her I’m going to ask you. What is your best link placement for converting in your posts? If you’re doing affiliate marketing now, where do you find it within the post works best?
And for Katelyn, what types of links convert the best for you? We’ve had a lot of people asking that.
KATELYN FAGAN: So for me, like hyperlinks — they’re always the best. Better than banners, or images, or something because people just recognize hyperlinks. And they’re usually reading and sometimes kind of glaze over pictures, right? We kind of get that ad fatigue.
So a banner isn’t quite the same as an ad, but it’s still that kind of scroll-through.
JENNY GUY: Yeah, it’s a different look.
KATELYN FAGAN: Right. I would have — I have some suggestions later about making your own banners that are definitely very apparent that they are clickable. But I would say just the higher something is in a post, the more sales you’ll get on that item. So like sometimes I have posts that mention like 10 different companies or something.
And the ones at the top typically get the most sales. And so sometimes I do rearrange the items, so the order of affiliates or companies based on commission rates or if — sales or something, just so that I can see if I make more money. And it has worked. But usually the first three in a list of 10 is going to get more of the sales than the bottom ones, right?
JENNY GUY: So when you’re thinking about affiliate, do you — because we are always talking about mobile first — think about how your site is being consumed on mobile? Is that playing a role in your strategy for how you’re using affiliate marketing and optimizing, that mobile-first mindset?
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. I mean, that’s all part of this– the more organization to post, table of contents, the more headers, the more you break up the content, the more it’s going to be easy for people to not get tired scrolling through. The same stuff at Mediavine suggests do, small paragraphs and that, the same thing works for affiliate marketing, too.
JENNY GUY: OK. We’ve got some of comments here. So Leah Ingram was asking about earlier, she was saying that does the Easy Affiliate plugin recognize the names of your affiliates so that each time you type plans in it automatically hyperlinks it? Is that what you were saying?
KATELYN FAGAN: No, it doesn’t do it automatically.
JENNY GUY: OK.
KATELYN FAGAN: So when you’re going to hyperlink it, then you’ll select the blue hyperlink button. And then it will pull up Lands End for you.
JENNY GUY: OK. All right, not quite as easy. But still pretty good. Still a good shortcut. OK. Brenda said, I find that coupon affiliate links are too much to keep up with. As a food blogger, most of my content is evergreen or seasonal, but I just don’t have the time to go in and change something once the coupon offer is over. I believe you’re going to talk about that a little bit later, ways to update your posts as you go forward in time.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. I mean that’s what the Advanced Ads will do for you because you can set those expiry dates. So if you just put in a short code for, I don’t know, bacon coupon or whatever, and then the next time it becomes available you can just plug it in the back end, and it’ll show up in the post. And so it makes it easy. And you do have to remember to delete it, too.
Because yeah, everyone hates like that old coupon that you’re like, oh, I mentioned that sale that was from 2017, right?
JENNY GUY: And then you get — Karen is so mad at you because your coupon expired two years ago, and she’s furious.
KATELYN FAGAN: Right. Right, exactly. I’ve got suggestions for that, yeah.
JENNY GUY: That’s a really helpful thing. And so it will auto pull those things out. You set that expiration date, and that is super helpful. So you don’t have to remember. Love it. Michelle Palin says, how many of the same affiliate links will you include in one post? She is specifically talking about asking about your posts with the bed.
KATELYN FAGAN: So typically like it depends on the type of post you’re writing. But kind of near the top, maybe in the middle, and then if you do make a bigger sales pitch for it like in this mattress bedpost, I did kind of a weird thing — you don’t want to like every single time I say crib mattress, or Newton Baby, like it’s a little overkill. All right? I’m not going to lie. Like you don’t want to be like, OK, I get it. You want me to make a purchase. All right? I get it. Right? Because too many hyperlinks just looks spammy.
So I would just do it maybe every couple of paragraphs. Again, it depends on how you’re doing it. But at the very beginning when I first start talking about something, I definitely hyperlink it first so people who are just like what? They just want to click through right away, they can do so.
And I definitely click it at the end with a strong call-to-action like get yours now, or with the coupon code, or learn more, or take advantage of this sale. So strong click language at the end of kind of me talking about that particular product. But then maybe once or twice between the first hyperlink and the last call-to-action.
JENNY GUY: So it sounds like maybe in the two to four range for the same affiliate link.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah, probably.
JENNY GUY: OK. That’s good advice. All right. We’ve got Leah Ingram actually said, my posts are so long that I just put links throughout. Fair enough. That’s what you were just advising. I’ve been using the Create plugin more, and I think that’s helping with affiliate conversions. Absolutely, Create has a lot of wonderful options that works with Amazon’s API directly just giving those commissions. Katelyn, do you have any experience with Create?
KATELYN FAGAN: I haven’t used it yet.
JENNY GUY: That’s OK. That’s totally OK. If you’re out there and you’re using Create, go ahead and share in the comments why you should. Because there’s ways to do it in Create. Beautiful how-to, and lists, and all those things that really help. We also have a help doc that we can post in there, too, to talk about more ways that you can use Create for affiliate earnings. Because that’s such a huge asset for a plug-in to be able to give you assistance.
So Amy Sugarman says, can I just hire someone to add these links and manage my affiliate strategy for me? Is that a thing? Katelyn, is that a thing?
KATELYN FAGAN: You can hire anyone to do anything.
JENNY GUY: Fair enough. Yeah, I mean, so I don’t — I offer like site or blog post optimizations. But I don’t go into their site because sometimes I need to know — like they need to apply to programs, and I can’t get approved for them. And it’s stuff that like I don’t want access to. And I don’t necessarily want to go and create a user and do some things.
And also because I give it to you, you kind of learn the process, I hope, like what to do so that every time you write the new post you can do it yourself.
JENNY GUY: Give a man an affiliate link post that’s optimized, and he’ll have one new post. Teach a person to affiliate link–
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: You’ll have conversions for days. OK. Mirko says, does it help saying something like, quote, “Buy on Amazon” as opposed to like hyper linking the product name or the title? What do you see in terms of that for the actual hyperlink language?
KATELYN FAGAN: So that’s why I like I typically do hyperlink like the first mention of the product name and then also do a strong call-to-action hyperlink, as well. So yes. Saying buy now does make a difference. Absolutely. OK, how many times do you like, oh, that’s really nice, but if no one actually like directly invites you to do something, are you going to do it?
JENNY GUY: So much psychology. Like you’re waiting for someone to say, buy it. Do it. Do it now. And then I say — and then I’m like, you’re right. I should do it. I do deserve this. These shoes? I need these shoes.
KATELYN FAGAN: Right. So some people do think — I mean we can also play around with the language specifically. So, check out the price on Amazon. Or — and you cannot say Amazon if you don’t want to, but I feel like some people like knowing where they’re going. And they might they might not click if they like, where is this going to take me? Some spammy site? So it’s helpful sometimes to make it very clear where they’re going, and where you’re sending them, and all that.
But, yeah. Get it now, buy now, learn more is OK. It’s not as strong, but take advantage of this sale, all those things are great.
JENNY GUY: Don’t wait. OK. So we have some more questions. We’ve been posting a bunch of lists and having people say, I started it. I used it. I love it. The list is now user perfect. He said on links we agree. So Anna is asking, does the Create plugin do the same thing as the Advanced Ads plugin, or do I need both?
No they’re very – they’re different things. Create is basically the most valuable content plugin where you can incorporate affiliate links from Amazon into those in your how-to lists or whatever. Advanced — sorry, the comments just blurred while I was talking. We’ll go back to that. Yeah. The plugin that you recommended, Advanced Ads, is different.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. It’s different.
JENNY GUY: Okey doke. Let’s go to some more here. So how do you choose what to link to when you’re linking?
KATELYN FAGAN: OK. So first and foremost, you need to think about your audience, right? And think about, well if someone is reading this post, what would help them the most to solve this problem, or this dilemma, or help them follow my tutorial to the T, because some people really want to do it exactly like you did it —
JENNY GUY: Sure.
KATELYN FAGAN: So like what would help them or enhance their process in learning how to do something or whatever it is? I mean even if it’s like talking about toddler tantrums, it’s like, well hey, there’s this book, or you can try these calm down beads, or you can give them just those additional resources, right?
Just really be super helpful. So think about yourself as like, I really want to solve this problem. And then think about affiliate products. Or just think about products, and then find out how you can affiliate for them. Sometimes I reverse engineer things a little bit. And that way like, OK. So this would be a great post, and these would be great products that would fit that. Let’s find out those affiliates for it.
JENNY GUY: I love that.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. So, but — then once you kind of figure out, and join programs, and get your links, sometimes it’s a matter of is it in stock? And sometimes if you’re doing like a tutorial and you can’t find the exact fabric you used, or you can’t– that same color paint is no longer — discontinued, it’s important to maybe offer alternative options. Because you have to keep in mind your audience isn’t exactly like you.
And so sometimes things that are like, well this was really expensive, but there is this other one in case you don’t have quite as much money, or there’s a different color, or a different size, or a different style so that you let people know that like they don’t need to get the exact one in case they’re like, well I do like this, but is there something that’s maybe all natural or that’s organic? Or — so you can give them options, and that would be helpful, too.
And then like if you’re talking about Amazon especially, like is there free shipping on it? Is it Prime eligible? I usually stick to things that are just Prime eligible. Typically then they don’t go out of stock, or they stay around a little bit longer. Because that is the problem when you have — you go and click through something, you’re like, oh, this is no longer available. Great.
So you don’t want that as much as possible. So sometimes, too, then I just link to like Amazon or any other website, like Walmart or something, a landing page for that type of product, right? High chairs, or car seats, or whatever it is.
JENNY GUY: That’s helpful, rather than that specific product, you’re linking to a landing page. But that only works for affiliate programs which work like Amazon where it doesn’t matter the specific product, but you’re still going to get the green if you —
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. So a bigger commerce kind of store, right? Yeah, so you can link them to like – I mean that’s what deep linking is for, right? You link to those category pages, and then you don’t have to worry so much about like an individual thing that you linked. And that’s more for not like specific items that they need, right? But just kind of generic.
And then I often, especially if it’s like an everyday item, I link to things like vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, right? And obviously we all know those are dirt cheap at the grocery store, all right? So if I’m looking on Amazon — because like, they are, like they’ll get a bottle of peroxide. It’s like less than a buck at Walmart. OK? But you look at Amazon, and sometimes it’s like, oh, you’re charging $6 for a bottle? Like no one’s going to spend that, like because they’re not fools, hopefully.
So I try to like search for the bulk one that is a better deal, or something. Because I understand that they could just go to the store, and then I don’t get the sale for it. So think about like — think about that especially for everyday things. Yeah. And then obviously look for high commission rates. That’s always good.
So if there’s like a couple of networks you belong to, and maybe they’re on two different programs, you can see which one offers a higher rate.
JENNY GUY: Do a little research on that. Yeah, absolutely. OK. So we have a question on, again, where are you finding your affiliate programs? Are you talking about Share A Sale? Are you talking about CJ? Are you talking about Apogee? Somewhere else?
KATELYN FAGAN: Yes. I belong to a lot of networks. I’ve kind of been doing this for a long time. So sorry. Definitely Amazon, CJ, Share A Sale, Impact Radius, Pepperidge — sorry, Pepperjam network, and a couple other ones. But I also belong then to a bunch of other kind of smaller programs and networks. And, yeah, and then from there you just find partners that you want to work with.
JENNY GUY: Yeah. Absolutely. OK. Is your go-to — Michelle wants to know — is your go-to still Amazon for general products? Or with the cut in commissions has another major retailer become your go-to?
KATELYN FAGAN: It’s so hard. Obviously this is a new change with Amazon just offering like 1 to 3% on most items, right? But generally, I’m still finding that Amazon is the easiest to kind of link to because people buy more frequently kind of everyday items from Amazon versus Walmart.com or something. And so other retailers don’t sell these small everyday items, right?
So I mean for years I’ve been trying not to just promote Amazon because the sales are pennies on the dollar, right? And so that’s why I think that subscription boxes or things that offer those like bigger bounties, like you make 20 bucks for every one sale is pretty awesome. So if you can figure out how to make one of those, that’s great. But yeah, for everyday kind of general products, that’s still Amazon.
JENNY GUY: OK. And then Amazon also would work. We have a travel blogger who’s asking about recommendations beyond just Amazon for that. So Amazon works for travel bloggers. Amazon works for everyone. Do you have any specifics for travel bloggers, though?
KATELYN FAGAN: I do. I’ve worked with helping optimize some travel bloggers websites.
JENNY GUY: Great, thank you.
KATELYN FAGAN: Obviously I don’t have them memorized because I don’t work and travel myself. But them, and there’s all sorts of things like Booking.com and Hotels.com. Besides booking, but there’s also like you could do like Tripadvisor I think has a pretty good program I hear, as well. And I think a lot of those are on CJ. But yeah. There’s unique ways you can promote things on Amazon that don’t have to be — oh, sorry, promote travel without being on Amazon.
Again, you just have to kind of be creative with a lot of, like, luxury affiliate, like especially travel brands, and companies, and luggage companies that would love to work with people to help them promote it. Obviously, you have to weigh the unfamiliar territory with products that aren’t maybe as recognizable or that have their own programs. Because people typically, they go to Amazon when they start their searches, right? And so when you’re looking for — this is a little off topic, but —
JENNY GUY: No, you’re good.
KATELYN FAGAN: When you’re looking for new partners, you do have to weigh kind of the is it worth promoting this versus something that’s on Amazon? Because people do just buy more on Amazon. And you have to think about the commission rate might be a lot higher. But is anyone going to buy it?
And so sometimes I actually look at their website itself. And I think there’s a couple of things you do, then, when you look at their website. You have to look at like what does their landing page look like? Like how easy is it the checkout, especially, too? Does it look trustworthy?
Like does it look really dated? Like these things are a huge turn-offs to people. So even if you drive 100 clicks because you’re selling it great on your end, if they don’t close the sale you’re not going to close the sale, either. So it’s important to realize that when you’re working with other companies outside of major retailers is that their website has to close the sale. So if you’re looking at them, you should ask them– or if they don’t have advertised– like what’s your click-through rate?
What’s your buy rate? What’s the EPC — earnings per click? And like what’s the average commission people are seeing based on those clicks and things? So there’s a lot of questions you can ask them to kind of help you to determine if it’s worth promoting or not.
JENNY GUY: That’s fantastic. Is that actually in your course, too, like a list of questions to ask your affiliate —
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: Potential affiliates? That’s great. That’s very helpful, thank you. And do you have a recommendation on who you’re going to to ask these questions? So I mean, like I said, some just offer it like on their landing page for their affiliate program or whatever, right? Like CJ, and like Share A Sale, they have all the information like right there on their merchant pages. But otherwise you can just reach out to their contact page and ask about affiliate program. That’s usually what I do.
JENNY GUY: That’s fantastic. Great. OK. So we — I wanted to talk about getting people to click, and then beyond links, kind of going outside just the hyperlink box, what else can we do to get people to buy? And I’m going to actually probably disappear again so we can go —
JENNY GUY: — screen. Yep.
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah. Yeah, so here is spicing up the text and adding hyperlinks, OK? So I kind of talked about this. But here’s kind of some examples. Can you guys see this OK? I hope. So the first one it’s like an example of a blog post that I have. Actually, I think I had a contributor write it. But it mentions some products, right? But they weren’t hyperlinked before. And instead of just hyperlinking underneath compression whatever I have there, I can’t read it, but I spiced up, too, and I added like some name brands. I added some description to the links rather than just hyperlinking to them.
So that way it’s a little more exciting. You’re like, oh, what’s this company? I haven’t heard about them that sell maternity clothes. I haven’t — I’m not familiar with them. And so again, curiosity is a big seller and so is novelty, OK? I know some people do really good things. Like if they mentioned Band-Aid, they don’t just like hyperlink under Band-Aids. They’re like, oh, this really unique band that smells when you scratch it, or something. People are like, what the heck is that, right? Click. I got to see this.
So like it’s one of those things where you just need to — sorry, you need to need to entice people to really see what — like, we want them to click. And so adding some intriguing language, even if it’s descriptive language can help a lot with that. On the right side, then, it’s like a generic supply list, right? They weren’t hyperlinks before.
And then after, you can see like I add a lot of different unique language to hopefully get people to click, OK? So I’ve got — so like the first one, for example, I’m adding like specific things that I talked about, oh yeah, I like finding it at Michael’s. That’s the best price. Then people are like like, oh, is it? I’ll trust your opinion, and then they know where they’re going. And then, two, and they can click through and see it.
And then you’re talking about glue stick, right? Everyone has glue sticks. Everyone knows where to get those. But I have a link that’s like oh, you can buy it in bulk here, right? So even though it’s a generic product, I’m like, hey, buy it in bulk here so you’re stocked up and you don’t have to worry about it. It’s a good price, I assume, right?
And then I link like a specific type or brand name of the paints rather than saying acrylic paint, and people don’t know where they’re going. And so, yeah. I hope we can see that like I’m trying to list like company names and specific things rather than just saying paint brush, dish soap, acrylic paint, glue sticks, various card stock — you are the expert, and people want to know exactly where you shop, where you like to save money when you shop for craft supplies, and all these things.
It can totally work for food, especially, too, this is kind of like the supply list thing. So people love this kind of stuff. OK, and then if we go the next slide — OK. So here’s this kind of ugly banner I was talking about. This is the one that Katy made — Katy Clark — for her website. You’ll notice a couple of things.
First, she’s got a vanity coupon code, CLARKS600, right? Which vanity coupon codes are really nice to have, because they typically are more evergreen, or you can hopefully work with your affiliate partner, and then you don’t have to change your language on your post all the time. But she is trying to make it a little more ugly so that it sticks out from a regular, pretty ad, right? And you can see exactly what you want to buy. She’s got a finger, like click to redeem, obviously like you can use language like that like click to redeem, click here, use my link to get 60% off, or whatever. Like people like knowing that kind of language and that it works.
And so this is kind of a way to do that. And then she could put this in using Advanced Ads into any post that’s like a craft-related post, perhaps. Or she can — whatever you want to do with it. Yeah so that’s it. I think that’s most of it. So then beyond just links — so, yeah. So I would say, too, when you’re optimizing your post, and you’re going back through to edit them, organization is a big part like I’ve mentioned before.
So there’s some things to — so like I showed the slides. Like you want to look for product mentions that maybe you didn’t hyperlink before. And so even if it’s in passing, Elmer’s glue, or I use a stapler, or I mean whatever, you can spice it up with a hyperlink and it’s all about making sales and making people click. So you don’t have to go into a big sales speech about a stapler or glue sticks, but you can hyperlink and you can like add like — find a weird glue stick thing out there, or like novelty is a big thing with affiliate marketing, right? Some people like finding new products that solve unique problems, right?
And then adding a supply list or a resource list, great. Adding a where-to-buy section is also great because some people hate Walmart, or they hate Amazon. And so if you can list like other places online where they can buy supplies, that’s great. And people who love Amazon will go to Amazon. That’s fine. But giving options I have always felt is really helpful for affiliate marketing because people trust you, I feel like, too. Because trust a is a thing that you need to have.
So yes. So for me when I’m listing, for example, like I have a post like 13 different alternatives to StitchFix, right? And instead of just listing out like the names of all 13, I go through, and I talk about like this is what makes this one different from StitchFix. And I go through like this is their return window. This is how much items typically costs that are in the box. This is what sizes they carry. And I go through and I list out all the details.
I think sometimes we’re worried about being salesy that we don’t want to include all the details in our blog posts. But in my experience I have found that people really like that. I try to make the sale before they ever click through to buy the item. So if I already answer all their items because I took the time to go to their FAQ page, and I took the time to research, well what’s the return policy? And what’s the shipping window, and all the information that they might also be curious about, I save them that time so they’re like, oh, this is what I want to do. This one works best for me. And so giving like the 13 options, too, obviously is a little overkill, perhaps, right? But it depends.
So people want to know like, well, what else is there? I’ve heard of Stitch Fix, everyone talks about it, but I don’t like it for whatever reason. And so you just go through and explain how other companies that are similar work and operate that’s a little different or if it’s pretty much the same. Because there are some that are very similar.
JENNY GUY: But you’re doing the comparison shopping for them. You’re taking all the work out of it. They don’t have to do any of the things, and that’s basically the biggest tip I’ve seen. You want to be transparent about the fact that you’re selling. Like not saying, I am a salesperson, but saying I’m going to give you the opportunity to buy this, or I’m going to link you to where you can go.
Two is do your research and answer questions. Basically solve their problem for them within the context of your post. And you said even just taking the things from their FAQ and restating it in your post makes it to where they don’t have to click around and go to different places. And, love that. All right. So before we go, I’m going to make a couple of announcements. Larisha is 100% spot on that today’s Live is basically a 2020 encapsulation right here in one hour, just — and Katelyn has been amazing.
She said Katelyn is a trooper. Katelyn is a trooper. She’s amazing. She’s pregnant with twins, and she’s still here. And I’m so grateful. So what I’m going to have – if you would tell them, I want to talk to about your course for your last thing before you say people will find when they go click over, and what would be the course that you would recommend if people want to continue learning what you and I have been talking about for this last hour? Tell them where they need to go and what course. I’m going to share that link again. And I’m going to make couple of announcements before I come back.
Guys, thank you for being patient with us today. We have another Live next Thursday, July 2, at 3:00 PM eastern. I mean, that’s our theory. We’ll start at 3:00 PM eastern. It’s going to be with Sherry Smotherman-Short Cub Scout Ideas and Painless Blog Analytics. We’re going to be talking about how to use Google Analytics to improve your site performance. Plus, we’re going to be pairing Google Analytics with the new Mediavine dashboard and pick at page RPM data, ways to work those things together.
And then for those of us who, when I clicked the wrong link and put us in the Monday’s Live, on Monday, June 29 at 3:00 PM eastern, Mediavine CEO Eric Hochberger is joining me for a special State of the Vine to talk about Trellis. I mean, we’ll talk about other things, as well, other Mediavine updates, exciting things. But really we know that you want to know about Trellis, so that’s what we’re going to be talking about on Monday.
So please join us then. Join us Monday. Join us Thursday. And if you have to miss any of these, please subscribe on our YouTube channel. We always upload these. We will delete the craziness that happened, and we will upload it there so you have Katelyn’s amazing content available to you at all times.
So subscribe to our YouTube channel. And Katelyn, let’s finish up with you, too. Will you please tell us a little bit more about your courses?
KATELYN FAGAN: Yeah, so I created a landing page for you Mediavine people, too. So it makes it nice and easy to learn what my affiliate offerings are for you. Because I have a couple products. I mentioned we have a spreadsheet that’s like $10, but it’s awesome. We have, I just launched a free introduction to affiliate marketing class. So if this whole video was like totally over your head, go ahead and start there.
And then we just updated a course that’s called kind of Beyond Amazon Associates, and how to up your long term affiliate strategy using programs outside of affiliate. And in that one, we cover a lot of what we covered today, but we also go out and have big lists of awesome programs in every niche like for like 15 different niches. I know we had a travel question, and I’m like I have a list, but I don’t have it here. So it’s my course. Yeah, so those are not on top of my head.
JENNY GUY: Go to the course, yeah. Go. It’s all there.
KATELYN FAGAN: Go. It’s all there. It’s got great information. It talks about, too, how to do the affiliate marketing on social media on each different channel as well as YouTube and video. And it also talks about optimizing email marketing for affiliate marketing, as well, because we didn’t have time to go into all of that.
JENNY GUY: Too much.
KATELYN FAGAN: It’s too much. Affiliate marketing, you could talk about forever.
JENNY GUY: Days, weeks.
KATELYN FAGAN: And so like I hope it’s very helpful. But yeah, we can take 10% off with the Summer of Live code. That’s good for the next 60 days, so summer it up, right? But yeah, and then I do offer, still, the post optimization. I offer five of those, five posts at a time just so I don’t get overwhelmed.
JENNY GUY: Yeah.
KATELYN FAGAN: But you get like a nice word doc with me with a bunch of like recommendations for programs based on the content. I read every word on those blog posts, and I click every link on those. And I make sure that they’re going to good places and that things are working and opening in the right windows and all that. And people have loved them. So if that’s something that you want direct help with, that personal feedback, I will look into those, as well.
JENNY GUY: Awesome. Katelyn, you are a great resource. We have shared your slides. We made a copy of what you shared. It’s got the information. It’s got the code. It’s got the link. You’ve got everything that you guys need plus everything she talked about today. She is a savior. You guys are amazing for following us. Please have a wonderful weekend and a big round of applause for Katelyn and the team, and we’ll see you guys next week.
KATELYN FAGAN: Bye.
JENNY GUY: Thank you, guys.
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