Food blogging is about a lot more than taking photos of delicious dishes or posting your tried-and-true recipes. It’s about sharing your passion and showcasing your deep knowledge of whatever food niche you call your own.
And because you put your heart and soul into your food blog, you probably want something in return, like the ability to monetize your website so you can continue connecting with people over your love of food. Affiliate marketing for food bloggers is one of the best ways to do just that.
What Exactly is Affiliate Marketing?
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is when you promote products or services from another brand and make money for yourself. Here are the basics:
- You connect with a brand or company that makes products or services your audience will love.
- The advertiser will supply you with a tracking link that you’ll use in your content. When clicked, the tracking link will add a cookie to the consumer’s computer. This is a small amount of data that lets the advertiser know who to give a commission to.
- You promote the advertiser’s products or services on your blog and/or social media profiles.
- When someone takes action, like making a purchase, you make money via a predetermined commission.
On top of benefiting you, this benefits the company you’re promoting because they’ll reach a new audience without doing any additional marketing on their end.
Why is Affiliate Marketing for Food Bloggers a Good Idea?
Commonly, food bloggers don’t have their own products or services to sell, but affiliate marketing gives you the opportunity to use your sales skills to earn recurring commissions. You’ll also develop trust with your audience as you suggest items that they love, and you’ll find it easier to create content when you have an endless amount of affiliate products to consider. All in all, you don’t have to rely on low-value or irrelevant ads to monetize your blog – affiliate marketing is a more effective alternative.
The Affiliate Marketing Model Explained
Let’s break down the affiliate marketing model so you know exactly what to expect from the process. This will help you understand the ins and outs of affiliate marketing for food bloggers.
The 3 Main Parties
When it comes to affiliate marketing, there are usually three parties involved:
- Advertisers: Also called “merchants,” an advertiser is the brand or company that you’re promoting products or services for.
- Affiliates: Also called “publishers,” the affiliate is the individual who is promoting the advertiser’s products or services. In this case, you are the affiliate.
- Consumers: Also called “end users,” the consumer is the person who is clicking on an affiliate link and taking the next step, like making a purchase.
Sometimes, there’s a fourth party: a network.
A network is a company that works with a number of advertisers. The affiliate will sign up for the network and then apply to individual affiliate programs that are part of the network. Examples of affiliate networks are CJ Affiliate and ShareASale.
For a bit more clarification, here’s how affiliate programs compare to affiliate networks:
Affiliate Program: A program run by one company, usually on their own platform. The brand directly works with their affiliates to give them the tools they need to drive sales. The brand pays out commissions to affiliates, too.
Affiliate Network: A platform that has several affiliate programs to choose from and apply for. The network provides you with the tools you’ll use, like the affiliate links, and you’ll receive payment through the network’s platform, not the company’s program itself. You’ll join the network and then apply to the individual programs you’re interested in.
Types of Ads
Promotions can be run in a number of ways. You may see banner ads on some affiliate marketer’s website or affiliate links within the text, like in a blog post. You may also see some affiliate marketers promoting products or services on social media and adding the affiliate link in the description or somewhere clickable.
The Desired Action
The desired action is the step that you want the consumer to take – it’s the reason you’re running the affiliate promotion. The action will depend on the campaign, but it has to be defined beforehand. That’s the only way to know how to phrase your content. For example, if the desired action is to download content, you’ll use different wording than if the desired action is to make a purchase or click an ad.
With affiliate marketing, no matter what the desired action is or the type of ad you’re running, advertisers only pay for one thing: results. There are a few different payment models that you may be offered:
Cost Per Mile / Cost Per Thousand (CPM)
You get paid when an ad you’ve placed on your blog is viewed a certain number of times. In order to make a decent amount of money with this type of payment structure, your blog needs high traffic.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Each time a consumer visits an advertiser’s page by clicking on the affiliate link, you make money whether a purchase is made or not.
Pay Per Performance (PPP)
You get paid when an action is completed, like when the visitor makes a purchase. There are two types of payment structures under PPP:
- Pay Per Sale: You get paid once a sale is complete. Your commission may be a flat rate, like $25 per sale, or a percentage, like 5% or 40% of the total sale.
- Pay Per Lead: Your job is to help the advertiser grow their customer base. Once you get a lead for the advertiser, you get paid.
Affiliate Marketing for Food Bloggers: A Step-by-Step Overview of the Process
These are the six main steps to getting started with affiliate marketing for food bloggers:
1. Gather your blog’s demographics and stats
To vet and join the best affiliate programs, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of your blog. Get clear on the demographics of your audience (age, gender, location, etc.), and make sure you know how much traffic you attract.
2. Find an affiliate program (or several)
Find an affiliate program that works well for your niche and your audience. You can look for a stand-alone affiliate program, or you can apply to a few through an affiliate network. Both are excellent marketing strategies, but know that with a network, you get to decide how many programs to apply to and manage through one platform.
3. Check out the affiliate program’s requirements
It’s important that the affiliate program’s requirements are aligned with what you’re willing and able to do. For starters, consider the following:
- Brands you’ll promote (if you’re joining a network)
- Products or services you’ll promote
- Types of campaigns you’re able to run
- Size of the ads
- Payment process (commission rate, payout frequency, payment gateway, etc.)
Does everything check out? Go ahead and apply!
4. Get your affiliate links
The advertiser or network will provide you with tracking banners and/or links that you can add to your blog and your content.
5. Create content!
We’ve arrived at the fun part – it’s time to actually create your content. There are all sorts of ways to add affiliate links to your content, especially if you’re using text links. Here are a few ideas:
- List several affiliated products or services in a roundup dedicated to a food topic, like the best international snack subscription boxes or the top food items to pack for road trips.
- Outline a foodie event for the reader, like how to throw the perfect BBQ or tips for hosting a cocktail party. Add a few affiliate links to promote products that go with the theme.
- Write an in-depth review that compares two leading food-related products, like coffee machines or blenders. Use affiliate links for both products so that consumers can easily buy the one that best suits their needs.
Remember as you’re creating content that you want to frame the affiliate products or services in a positive light – which is why it’s so important to only promote the ones that you actually have experience with and stand behind. Affiliate marketing may be a monetization tactic, but it also has to be genuine.
6. Earn those commissions
Start earning passive affiliate income every time your visitors engage with your content and carry out the desired action on the advertiser’s website.
Do’s and Don’ts of Affiliate Marketing for Food Bloggers
Here’s how to follow best practices of affiliate marketing while avoiding common pitfalls.
Do work with brands you’re comfortable with (and love!)
Whether you’re promoting organic seasonings or baking equipment, your city’s street food or health store finds, make sure your product is aligned with your brand. You always want to stay true to your values and your audience.
Don’t accept offers that aren’t a good fit
Affiliate marketing for food bloggers is a two-way street. You promote the advertiser’s products, and they pay you for the results you generate. If you feel that the offers are not aligned with your content or are irrelevant for your audience, you need to address the matter with the merchant or the network – or find another affiliate program that’s better suited to you.
Do always create valuable, high-quality content
Whether you’re sharing a recipe or writing a product review, you need to attract and retain website visitors if you want to run a successful affiliate marketing campaign. And to attract high-quality brands, you need to demonstrate that you have a loyal following. On top of taking pro-level food photography, make sure to write great content, like thorough recipes with lots of tips and alternatives or in-depth reviews of a product. Aim to regularly produce new, original content that’s both creative and useful.
Don’t lose track of your initial objective
You want to run a professional and beautiful food blog that delights your audience with quality content – not manage an advertising monster. Instead of adding so many affiliate links and banners to your blog that it starts to look like spam, be strategic about placement. Affiliate banners should be the right size and style, and links should blend nicely with your content.
Do keep up-to-date with your food affiliate programs
Brands and networks often email affiliates to share news and updates about special promotions or new products. This is a great opportunity to promote exclusive offers that will delight your audience or double your commission during a limited time.
Don’t settle for poor compensation
You should always be compensated fairly and according to your performance. If the commission is too low, the advertiser is not paying your commissions regularly or you’re only compensated with free products, you may want to find a new program that truly values your content and effort.
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Final Thoughts on Affiliate Marketing for Food Bloggers
It can feel like a dream come true to make money online from your love of food. And while making passive income with affiliate marketing as a food blogger is possible, it takes time, dedication and a solid strategy. Plus, you have to regularly create great content and run your business with passion if you want to charm your readers.
By using tools that do some of the heavy lifting and automation for you, you can concentrate on the fun part.
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Ready to make your food blogging dreams come true?