Want to know the secret to spotting a newbie affiliate marketer?
Mouse over their hyperlinks!
All jokes aside, the headline of the article is obvious. You’re looking to start promoting products but want to make sure you aren’t using ugly looking affiliate links in the process.
You’ve got the general information of how to make money online and just want to polish things up a bit. We’ve got you covered young Padawan.
One of the many great features of a blog are clean looking affiliate links.
By the end of this article you’ll have created a beautifully branded affiliate link that is ready for clicks. You might even consider yourself a professional affiliate marketer.
Find and Join Affiliate Programs
The first step is to find products that have an affiliate program.
Depending on the niche you’re in, these could be physical products, digital downloads or SaaS (software as a service) products.
Here are some resources that will help you find affiliate links to promote on your website.
Affiliate networks gives you access to a network of merchants who want you to promote their products. Once you’re approved for an affiliate account, you’ll still need to apply for each individual company you want to promote.
Some affiliate merchants may also have a minimum sale requirement and have been known to disable inactive affiliate accounts.
To increase the likelihood that your account will get approved, it’s best to build up your website traffic first and then apply. It’ll also give you peace of mind knowing you’ll be able to drive clicks to different offers, eventually resulting in a sale.
Popular affiliate networks to find affiliate products to promote:
- ShareASale: Great for digital and physical products. They’ve currently got over 16,000 merchants to choose from so you won’t be short of products to promote.
- CJAffiliate (Formerly Commission Junction): Similar to ShareASale, CJAffiliate has a network of merchants to choose from. You can find and physical products to promote here.
- AWIN: 21,000+ advertisers and counting. Physical and digital products as well. They are a Germany based company so you’ll find a lot more European based offers but there’s still American one’s too.
- Impact Radius: Become an affiliate for big box brands like WalMart, Ticketmaster, AirBNB, Uber, StockX, Adidas and much more.
- ClickBank: An affiliate network of digital products ranging from health and wellness, weight loss and even betting. You’ll find a lot of scammy products here but there’s definitely some good one’s. It’s also a great network to become a merchant and have affiliates find you.
- Amazon Associates: Unless you’ve been living deep in the mountains of mars, you’ve heard of Amazon. Now you can get on the other side of the cash register and promote all the products you love spending your hard earned money on. They recently dropped their commission rates so a lot of affiliates have opted to diversify their revenue by reaching out to individual companies to develop affiliate partnerships.
Self-Hosted Affiliate Platforms
One of the upsides of affiliate networks is that you have multiple merchants, stats, and affiliate links all on one convenient dashboard.
With individual affiliate programs, you’ll have multiple dashboards. Which can be hard to manage at times but there are
The upside with this option is that they’re typically really easy to navigate and you can build a one-on-one relationship with affiliate managers.
Down the road, this relationship can lead to perks and also increased commissions.
How to find these products
(add image of product hunt)
Start with a good ole fashioned Google search. Try something like this: does [product you like] have an affiliate program.
That will usually bring up results with a direct link to the affiliate sign up page or at least an answer of whether or not they offer an affiliate program.
If that doesn’t work, go to the company or product website you want to promote and hit command + f on Mac or control + f on Windows. This will bring up the search command feature.
Type in the word ‘affiliate,’ ‘partner,’ or ‘referral’ and then hit enter. This will find the word(s) you’re looking for and should link you directly to a signup page to become a partner. More often than not you’ll find these links in the footer menu of the website.
Another great resource is ProductHunt. It’s an aggregator of all of the best products in tech. It’s intended to be for buyers looking for software but it’s also a great resource to find new affiliate products to promote.
Link Shortening vs Link Cloaking
Now that you’ve signed up for some affiliate programs and have your affiliate links, you’re ready to start promoting. The issue with this is that the affiliate links you’re given usually look really funky.
They’re typically super long and look something like this:
The computer obviously understands what that means. But for someone who’s hovering over your affiliate link, this can look VERY suspicious.
This is where link shortening and link cloaking come into play.
What is link shortening?
Link shortening is exactly what it sounds like. You’re taking that long affiliate link and simply shortening it so it doesn’t look as ugly.
Bit.ly for example is one of the most popular link shortener’s available. You would simply take your affiliate link, plug it into their link shortener and you go from this..
Their user interface is super clean. You’re able to track where the clicks come from, sort by the most engaged with links. They also offer branded URL’s if you upgrade to their paid subscription.
They used to allow you to have an annual view of all click-through-rates but now the data is restricted to only show the rolling 30-day metrics. If you want the full data, you’ve got to upgrade. Still a good tool if you simply want to shorten links.
The downside to using Bit.ly is that you’re constantly competing with others for subdomain names. So you’ve got to get creative with naming your links to make sure the sub-url you want is available.
What is link cloaking?
Cloaking affiliate links is what professional affiliate marketers do. They create branded links so that there’s a trust factor included on the site.
Link cloaking will take your generic affiliate links from this:
When a user clicks on this new and improved link, they’ll be redirect to the website you assigned this link to.
It’s important to note that the URL in the address bar will change if you have a 307 temporary redirect enabled (we’ll show you how to configure this below).
True link cloaking means that when your visitor clicks on the link, the URL in the address bar will still keep your branded link, even though they are now on an entirely different website.
Doing this is against most affiliate programs terms-of-service. We’d recommend staying away from this.
By now it should be obvious that you want to go with cloaking your affiliate links with a 307 temporary redirect. Here’s how to do it for your WordPress website.
Pretty Links: Cloaking 101
You’ve signed up for some affiliate programs, you’ve got your affiliate links, now let’s get into how to add affiliate links to your site like the pro’s do.
It’s pretty simple and straight forward. For this we’re going to use a WordPress plugin called Pretty Links.
Why Pretty Links
One of the main reasons we’ll be using Pretty Links is because they have a free version called Pretty Links Lite that does a great job. The paid version offers a lot more data and control but it will do for now.
300,000+ active installations from WordPress users around the globe also gives it some decent credibility.
Installing Pretty Links from your WordPress dashboard
Login to your WordPress dashboard and then navigate to plugins > add new
From there, type ‘Pretty Links’ into the search bar and you should see it show up like so.
Add New Pretty Link
Now that you’ve downloaded Pretty Links, you should see it on your sidebar from your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to Pretty Links > Add New
Configure basic link settings
Under the Basic settings tab, you’ll see all of these boxes appear.
Here’s what do add for each section:
- Title: Typically you’ll want to give this the affiliate product name
- Redirection: Stick with a 307 temporary redirect
- Target URL: This is where you’ll paste your affiliate link
- Pretty Link: Create a URL slug.. https://yoursite.com/this-part-here/
- Notes: Add notes about the link. We like to add commission percentages, affiliate network, link to affiliate dashboard, specific page that the link is sending users to, if it’s a discount link, etc.
Advanced link settings
Next, click on the tab that says advanced and make sure your affiliate link is set to nofollow. This is so search engines won’t crawl your affiliate links.
Once you’ve configured your link settings, click the update button on the right hand side and you’ll be redirect to the dashboard where you can manage all of your branded affiliate links.
That’s it! You’ve officially created your first cloaked affiliate link. To embed, you’ll simply hover the small clipboard icon and click to copy your link.
Paste it into a new tab and hit enter and you should be redirected to the destination URL (your affiliate link).
You can embed affiliate links in images, create clean URL affiliate banners, add text links, and even include affiliate links on specific buttons while creating a website.
And who says you have to only use these links on your website? You can get creative and add these newly branded affiliate links to your YouTube videos in the description box.
Now that you know how to create affiliate links like a professional affiliate marketer, start creating valuable content and start driving traffic to your links.
You’ll be generating sales in no time!