Can You Make Passive Income With An Affiliate Marketing Blog?

Updated: November 5, 2021
by Ray Alexander

Working from home by affiliate marketing has become an increasingly popular way in the past few years. Popular because it's easy to start. But easy to start does not mean easy to make passive income. "Popular" does not mean easy, it means the competition's fierce. Many say the blogging market is saturated and dead because there are more effective ways to make money, most notably video marketing. But if you still think your best strength is writing, there are some powerful ways to make passive income with an affiliate marketing blog.

Can You Make Passive Income With An Affiliate Marketing Blog?

Passive Income Is A Myth

Just to clarify, first of all, affiliate commissions are often casually referred to as "passive income" because they come in unexpectedly. Passive income is, as you probably know already, where you're required to put in little effort. Royalty income is a typical one. Others include investment dividends and property income. 

But when it comes to affiliate marketing, you're most likely to work on it continuously to maintain a decent level of income. For example,

  • Keep publishing new blog posts.
  • Keep monitoring the SERP position and updating the content to improve the position.
  • Monitor the number of visitors against the SERP position and update the headline.
  • Monitor the visitor's behaviors and update the content (call-to-action.)

...Unless it's a recurring fee. For example, the service that you promote involves a monthly membership, in which case you'll be receiving a "passive income" every month while your referral is a paid active member. But people do shop around and leave for a better service, so again, affiliate commissions can come in unexpectedly, and also stop unexpectedly.

I'll explain more about these points in a little while.

You might also want to promote the blog posts on social media and by using paid traffic. In these cases, traffic will only flow during your promotion, so you'll keep working. 

So as you can see, income from affiliate marketing is not exactly passive. You don't really "sit back and relax while money's rolling in" as some scammy salespeople say!

Types of Affiliate Income Using Your Blog Site

There are roughly two types of commissions you can receive through your affiliate marketing blog site;

#1 PPA (pay per action)

You place your affiliate link, banner, or CTA (call-to-action) button on your blog post. When your visitor clicks on it to visit your affiliate page and makes a purchase, you'll receive a percentage of the price as a commission.

The use of a CTA button is by far the most effective method. Your visitors may or may not end up buying your affiliate product, but you'd better maximize the chances of them clicking the link. So make sure that a large-enough call to action is prominently displayed.

Call To Action Example

Get variety of CTA features like this with Thrive Suite

#2 PPC (pay per click) and PPM (pay per thousand impressions)

Google Adsense is a typical one that provides PPC and PPM ads. 

A PPC (pay per click) ad is where every time your visitor clicks a banner, you'll receive a small amount of commission. Whereas with PPM (pay per thousand impressions), every 1,000 people visit your site where a banner is displayed, you'll receive a small amount of commission. They don't have to click or even physically look at the banner.

You want these ads to be displayed on every page, but it's a hassle to copy and paste a script code every time. So the best ways are;

  • Display the ads outside the blog post frame, e.g. header/footer as a ribbon ad, or the sidebar on desktop view. And/or,
  • Use a tool that comes with a visual blog editor and save the script as a template. This way, you can drag & drop the template in your blog post. 
Google AdSense Auto Ads

Google Adsense "Auto Ads" can automatically insert an ad somewhere on your site. I think it's worth a try. I've tried it myself but personally, I wasn't so keen because I don't have control over whereabouts it appears on the blog. Also the ads seem to pop out quite "in your face".

Simply the more visitors you have, the more income will come in - that's definitely the good thing about Adsense, particularly PPM.

Hubspot site shows you good Adsense alternatives, so you might want to check those if you can't use Adsense for any reason.

Different Blog Post Types

It's hard to come up with truly useful and engaging content every time.

The last thing you want is for a lack of content idea to stress you out, isn't it? You've got to enjoy what you do and that should be the priority (apart from making good money with your blog site!)

Try alternating between the following types of blog posts to bring out your creative side and to keep your regular readers interested.

#1 Product Reviews

Product Reviews

Writing a product review gives you the best chance to earn affiliate commissions because people who actually consider spending money on the product are likely to read it. 

Setting a page template is a good idea. Every time you write a product review, you use the template so you can follow the same format, such as;

  • Product overview
  • List of pros and cons
  • The creator's information / product history
  • Product detail
  • What you like about the product (detailed pros)
  • What you don't like about the product (detailed cons)
  • Other alternatives (compared to other similar products)
  • Final verdict
  • Don't forget to add a call-to-action button!

By following such a format, you will be more focused on what you need to write, allowing you to write faster.

#2 Product Comparisons

You know, "20 Best Electric Shavers", "Top 15 Autoresponder Service Providers", "Product (A) vs Product (B), Which One Is Better?"... There are advantages and disadvantages though.

Advantages;

  • People always love to check out "Best Of..." articles.
  • You can recommend multiple affiliate products in one post - more commission opportunities.

Disadvantages;

  • Again, popular means competitive. It's hard to get your "10 best of" article to beat your competitor's "50 best of" article in SERP ranking.
  • Multiple products - it'll take you longer to research.
  • It's not like you actually try all the products. Writing a "review" based on the specification or the reputation and trying to sound authentic can be challenging.

#3 "How To" Guides / Tutorials

A how-to guide is another great way to sell your affiliate products. The key is to recommend a product that's directly related to your guide article so that users can replicate your steps fully if they use that particular product.

How To Guides Litter Robot

Alternatively, you can add a "by the way" section at the end of the guide.

For example, you write a cat grooming guide article. At the end of it, you recommend a self-cleaning cat litter box as your affiliate product, by saying "by the way, do you know this litter robot that cleans itself automatically?"

The product may not be totally relevant to cat grooming, but it's effective because it's perfect for the target audience (meaning the readers are most definitely new cat owners.)

Writing Negative Reviews

Don't be afraid to write negative reviews. While it's important to give a fair and unbiased opinion, you are entitled to call a product "useless" so long as you genuinely believe so based on your experience as a user. 

In other words, don't make anything up in your review. Remember, if you give a product a bad name on a speculation basis, you'll risk being sued by the seller. Be truthful and try to appear to be truthful, then you can say anything you want. 

With that said... You have the privilege of helping others through your blog site. So your voice should be louder and more powerful than just customer reviews. Your voice should be credible, shouldn't it? How you criticize bad products is up to you, but you don't want to miserably rant and leave it there. Make sure to recommend your affiliate product as a better alternative, and never forget to give the reason for the recommendation! You should be proud of yourself for doing so because you're not running your blog to please everyone. It's entirely up to the readers to trust your review or not.

Keep Working On Your Affiliate Marketing Blog

As I mentioned earlier, affiliate marketing is far from a passive source of income since you will likely have to maintain your efforts. Because search engine algorithms start to lower your page ranking positions as you add content less frequently. If you rely on organic traffic 100%, then you know how vital it is to top up more content - add new blog posts and refresh existing posts.

Monitoring and Editing

At the time of publishing a blog post, you don't know how well it's going to rank on Google. So you want to keep monitoring the position for a while.

If it does rank well, you never know how long for. If it doesn't, keep editing them according to the SEO rules. 

Of course, you can't monitor every post that you've published - you only need to keep an eye on the pages that you want to sell the most. Good keyword tools such as Jaaxy have rank tracking features, they can help you achieve this.

Writing Credible Content

Writing blog content that drives organic traffic, that's useful to readers, and sells affiliate products at the same time can be really challenging.

Make it lengthy, or it won't hit Google page 1, hence no sales. But unnecessarily lengthy content will drive readers away.

I've seen a lot of rubbish over the past few years, you know - we have welcomed guest bloggers and published a few very useful articles on this site. My team and I are so grateful for them, no doubt. But we've also rejected hundreds of (literally!) articles due to the lack of quality.

I mean, who am I to judge anyone's writing style? Mine's far from perfect. I read back what I've written and go, what the hell was I talking about? So embarrassing. But at least I try to be truthful to myself as well as to the readers.

From my experience from a proofreader's point of view, I can point out some similar patterns in those low/no-quality guest articles. The following are some of the examples that you should avoid; the factors that may get readers to leave your site before the content convinces them to make a purchase.

Dragging on the header part

We sometimes struggle to come up with the very first paragraph of a blog post. The reason often is the (SEO) keywords that need to be incorporated. And it's an introduction part. So we tend to ramble on in the first paragraph or two. But if you drag on for so long and don't get to the main part, then you'll already lose credibility.

Overstretching the content

Similarly, unnecessarily stretched content is so unenjoyable to read. For example, instead of saying "this device can be used anywhere as long as the internet is connected", you say "this device can be used in your kitchen, bedroom, in a cafe, office...you name it!" It's not a shopping channel. So try to get to the point in the fewest sentences possible.

Showing numbers without proof

"Some statistics reveal that 79% of brands have affiliate programs." "According to the recent study, 550 million people work from home..."

Which statistics? Or are you making that up? If you come up with a number, you must place a link to the source document!

Merely telling the readers to "do the right thing"

"You need to figure out xxx" "Do your own research, and hopefully you'll find the answer." "You must do some homework, otherwise things can go horribly wrong."

Of course, readers need to figure things out. Of course, they'll get any answers by researching. The question is HOW, and that's what readers want to know. There's no quality in saying "go and find it out yourself" and leaving it there.

Only sharing theoretical ideas

Nothing's more frustrating when you hear advice that's only theoretical and not practical. You get told what should be done, but you never get told the actual steps to take to achieve it - again, it's the question of "how". So don't forget to give some examples if you tell readers what to do.

Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers

If you've been blogging for a while but haven't actually monetized your site yet, you should already know how to engage with the readers. So you're almost there - you just need to learn;

  • What kind of niche products to promote.
  • How you turn your blog content into a product recommendation naturally.
  • How. you can become a specialist for that particular class of affiliate products so you build trust with buyers.

And even if you haven't yet started blogging, you can start earning income from affiliate marketing by learning these essential tips. If you're interested, join me via the link below. You'll get a free web hosting plan and also get all your questions answered by the community of experts.

You Too Can Blog and Make Money!

Learn every step that I took to make $6,000 every month from blogging and niche affiliate marketing from here.

Sign Up For FREE!

About the author 

Ray Alexander

Hi! I’m Ray. Over the past 15+ years I have been involved with web designing, programming and online marketing. I work from home and have a passion for exploring new tools, services and programs in order to make money online. I’m here to help you succeed in building a profitable business by sharing my experiences. Any question, don’t hesitate to ask!

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  1. Hello. I hope this message finds you well. I have been an internet user for over 20 years and have read hundreds of blogs over time. I was always wondering how they maintain their sites because oh yes, I too have tried it and it cost me hundreds of dollars worth of usage every year before I decided I couldn’t afford it. I had no idea if people knew about my site, I guess no one was visiting my site. The only thing I wish I knew was that there was a way to make money from it. Back then, I wasn’t even familiar with affiliate marketing. This blog has given me the courage to start writing again as I have full of ideas. I even learned some good tips from a few other sites. My dear, the only thing that confuses me is how to start. The basics seem clear to me. The basics of HTML are familiar to me. However I’m nervous about starting with the basic stuff!

    1. Hi Marti, thanks for sharing your thoughts. If you’ve been away from website building for so long, you’ll be amazed to know how easy it is now compared to a couple of decades ago. You no longer need knowledge of HTML – you can leave anything technical to developers and only focus on writing and embedding ready-made elements (images, buttons, forms, ads, etc.) How to start – join me from the link above (at the end of the post) for free. I can take you through. I wish you all the best!

  2. i checked your get paid for writing your comments. how much do you pay also what kind of comments can i write. i need some money quickly.

  3. Thank you for your advice. I just registered with your 2nd email newsletter. But I already tried wealthy affiliate and it didn’t work for me. I tried to log on again but didn’t let me do it. is there another system I can use? What do you think of herculist?

    1. Hi Joliya, thanks for signing up! Wealthy Affiliate will allow you to start niche affiliate marketing via blog sites, so I believe it's suitable if you wish to start blogging. The membership includes WordPress web hosting, premium SEO keyword tool plus full training and support, so you wouldn't need anything else apart from perhaps an autoresponder service. If blogging is not for you, then WA is not for you, but tell us why it didn't work out for you.

      Herculist is a community where beginners try to sell their (affiliate) products to each other. Have you tried it yourself?
      Thanks for your comment.

  4. Thank you for the very useful article, Ray. Regarding passive income, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately that I’ve been working nonstop and wondering if I’ll ever be able to retire and receive pure passive income without putting any effort into it. As you point out, affiliate marketing can be so hard work, and making money without doing anything is next to impossible.

    Your tips for writing persuasively are very helpful. Everything you said I will definitely take into account, but I will also strive to write more meaningful content. It’s hard work, but I’d rather write than use other methods such as video marketing, so I’m willing to learn as much as I can to expand my audience. I appreciate your assistance, Ray.

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