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Many bloggers rave about Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing from Michelle of Making Sense of Cents, who makes $50,000+ A MONTH from affiliate income ONLY, so it was definitely on my radar. But with the hefty price tag of almost $200, I thought it was destined only for my wish list.
In my first month blogging, I was struggling to decide if I should bite the bullet. Luckily, Michelle made it easier for me to say yes with a sale. I enrolled in the course and am now giving you the lowdown plus my results from it. This is the most comprehensive and honest review of the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course that you're going to see.
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In this post:
Why Affiliate Marketing is a Good Way to Make Money Blogging
I knew from the start that I wanted to monetize my blog so I researched the most effective ways to do this. Affiliate marketing, in which you earn a commission by promoting and selling another's product, is by far the best method for beginner bloggers to implement for these two main reasons:
- It doesn’t require much traffic, which you can expect when you start out blogging
- Promoting a product that is already created means you can start making money right away without having to validate and create a product (which takes time and experience to figure out)
Depending on the niche and your partnership, you can earn a significant commission. The range is pretty broad; Amazon Associates gives you a few percent, but on ANY of their products; to info products, like blogging courses, that offer from 35-50% commission per sale.
What You’ll Learn from the Course
The Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course is a text-based course that is broken down into 6 modules with 3 bonuses.
I’m going to go over each module and bonus of the course to give you an idea of what you can expect if you make this purchase.
Module 1: What is Affiliate Marketing
In this module, you’ll learn the basics of affiliate marketing, like what it is and how it works. Most bloggers are probably familiar with this, so this is very rudimentary knowledge.
Module 2: How to Find and Apply to Affiliate Programs
This module covers the #1 thing you need in order to succeed in affiliate marketing. It goes deeper into how you can find and apply for the affiliate networks and individual programs with a list of ideas for various niches.
For the most part, I think this is information that you can find easily on the internet, or would come with common sense, but if you are just starting out, then it's nice to be told this from the get go.
Module 3: Follow the Rules
You definitely want to make sure you have your i’s dotted and t’s crossed when it comes to legal matters. Most of the information was general, like how to properly disclose affiliations and labeling nofollow links to stay on Google’s good side.
If you are a beginner blogger who really has no clue about this, then you'll find this module informative. If you've been blogging for a while, this is not new info and you're probably already following these rules.
One possible exception may be how to be a successful affiliate if you live in a Nexus State. This basically means there’s a law that makes things complicated for affiliate programs to pay you out, and so some of these programs don’t allow you to be an affiliate if you are a resident of that state. Michelle teaches you other alternatives you can take if this applies to you.
Module 4: How to Get Your Readers to Convert
She teaches strategies that will help tip readers into paying customers. She addresses how to build trust and make things more convenient for your readers to say yes.
There were a few pointers here that were new to me, but for the most part, this too was information that I think can be found on the internet if you search for it.
Module 5: Strategies and Ways to Promote Affiliate Links
This is when I felt like things started to click.
Whereas beginner bloggers would benefit all the way from the first module, seasoned bloggers would probably feel a little disappointed until this point. Here, Michelle gives specific tips on how to incorporate affiliate marketing in a natural, non-salesy way. You’ll also learn tactics that can be used on your blog, in your email list, and on social media, as each of these platforms use slightly different methods.
I also found merit in the information on how to use affiliate links on Pinterest; however, due to my paranoia with using affiliate links directly on Pinterest, I will admit I haven't fully implemented these strategies so I cannot vouch to the level of success in implementing these strategies.
For me, this was the turning point where you really get into deep knowledge that shows Michelle’s expertise in affiliate marketing. Especially the sections on promoting products effectively on social media.
Module 6: Rinse and Repeat
Affiliate marketing isn’t just about putting up your links up and hoping for the best. Michelle goes over things that most people don’t even think about, with tips on how to keep up to date with affiliate products.
She also shares tips for what to do when you begin to succeed with affiliate marketing, like how to negotiate for higher commissions (I didn’t even know that was possible). Of all the modules, I felt this one contained valuable info that I don’t think you can really find floating around on the internet.
How to Get Approved for an Affiliate Program
This comes from an affiliate manager, so you’re hearing insider tips from the other end of the affiliate marketing relationship.
She clarifies what you should be doing when applying for programs and how to appeal if you happen to get rejected. Stuff that I’ve been guessing on when filling out affiliate applications now makes sense and will help me moving forward as I apply for new programs.
I’ll also know what to do if I want to get into a program but don’t make the cut the first time.
These tips come from Rosemarie Groner of The Busy Budgeter (another blogger who’s killing it and making bank on her blog) on how to grow your Pinterest following, click-through traffic, and maintenance of your pinning schedule.
I found the pinning strategy particularly insightful.
To be honest about the method of increasing your following, it is not one that I implemented. I feel that organic growth was the way I wanted to go. I can see how this would be helpful to make you look like a more legit blogger and that you can easily stop after reaching a benchmark, but I didn't find was necessary for my blog's growth.
Side note: I do feel that this depends on your niche. For one that's hard to break into, like blogging, then this might be a tactic you'd want to consider. As a general lifestyle blogger, I did just fine growing on my own.
With algorithm changes in which content from someone's network of family and friends will be shown more often than third-party content (like your business Facebook page), Facebook ads will help you grow your presence on this platform that millions are on every day. Learn the basics on how to utilize ads to convert viewers to customers.
I did not implement the strategies outlined in this bonus so I cannot speak to the effectiveness of this bonus. I am content with how my blog is currently monetized and don't find it necessary as of yet to invest in ad spend. This may be useful if you are more niched or focused on growing your email list (both of which don't apply to this blog).
Facebook Group Mastermind
This is an exclusive Facebook group reserved just for students of her course. I’m a part of multiple Facebook groups (like 30+), and I gotta say, this one is a pretty involved, collaborative group. This is crucial for networking and connecting with other bloggers within your same niche. Also, on the topic of affiliate marketing, the questions and responses that you’ll find on here are bound to help improve your strategy.
I do appreciate that the group is active in general, and that Michelle does participate in her own group.
My Experience with Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
Now some success stories fail to mention advantages that the person had prior to taking the course. In full disclosure, here is my background to give you a realistic context of where I was coming from and the results I had implementing the strategies of this course.
- This is my first blog.
- I knew I wanted to make money from the get go. I do not have any problems implementing tactics from the start (ie. I don't feel the need to "wait" for any milestone before I started monetizing).
- I do not focus on social media or an email list at all, so the money made is all from blog content.
Before & After Results
Prior to course, I did my own research into affiliate marketing on the web. I applied for some programs like:
I incorporated a bunch of links on my website and left it at that.
But after taking the course, I ramped up my strategy, particularly with points outlined in Module 4 and 5. I took this course towards the end of my first month blogging and thought nothing of it since I was practically brand new to all of this.
I was totally surprised to get my first $100 blogging in the same week after I made this change. Yup, I was totally like, what?! It was for a non-blogging product that you can actually earn money even if you don’t want to blog about it.
Pros of the course
If I were to highlight the best parts of this course, it would be:
- The single most valuable part of this course is access to the Facebook group mastermind, which is essentially a ticket to her but also a group of like-minded individuals who interact in the group and are supportive.
- Going into the psychology that will convert readers into sales so that you don’t have to feel icky about selling things because you’re promoting products in a tasteful way
- Having EXAMPLES of how to accomplish the above point not only in blog posts, but in social media platforms because each one caters to your audience in a different way
- Learning knowledge to help you make more out of your affiliate marketing even after you start making money; most courses are geared towards beginners, but this is something that covers stuff even the most advanced bloggers aren’t aware of and can benefit from
- Getting outside expert advice, from an affiliate manager, the six-figure blogger who taught Michelle her Pinterest strategy, and another six-figure blogger whose expertise is with Facebook ads
- There’s an affiliate program for this course, so it’s a great way to put our affiliate knowledge to practice
- Many of her students have achieved success (including yours truly!); read all about these impressive results here
Cons of the course
No product is perfect, not even from someone who is making my annual salary just in affiliate sales in a single month. So here are the drawbacks:
- Her list of 80+ affiliate programs for any niche aren’t really 80 programs because some are repeated in different niches. Also, Michelle’s list includes more products for the niches she is most familiar with (personal finances and travel), so if this is your niche, you'll probably benefit the most from the list of affiliate programs.
- The Pinterest strategy that Rosemarie outlines is 80% valuable information; her Pinterest scheduler is Boardbooster though, so for someone like me who has a Tailwind annual plan and doesn’t want to add yet another blogging expense, I won’t fully benefit from this lesson.
- It’s kinda pricey, so I can understand why you would hesitate on buying it.
I did make $100 within the same week after implementing strategies from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Could I have made the sale without this course? Maybe, but I'm pretty sure it would have taken longer to get it.
I knew going into blogging that it typically takes bloggers 6 months before they start seeing any income. Yet even though I was prepared for that, it was discouraging to feel like getting the hang of blogging was such an uphill battle in the beginning.
To have earned this much this early on has been a great boost to my confidence.
Of course, I can’t guarantee that you’ll see the same results, but the course page has testimonials from others who have achieved success (some have even grew their affiliate income by thousands of percent!), so you don’t have to solely take my word on it.
Update: Oh, and within the next two weeks, I made enough in affiliate sales to cover the total cost I invested into this course, so for me, it was money well spent. My average monthly affiliate income is about $150, which is a success in my book for:
- a newbie like me
- a blogger who only used part of the strategies, plus only uses it on my blog (vs. email and social media)
If you are serious about monetizing your blog, then I am confident in recommending that you invest in this course and start learning the strategies to make money blogging. I made this the most comprehensive and honest review of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, but if you have any other questions, feel free to let me know in the comments.