Results of my Affiliate Marketing Experiment

I created this blog, in part, with a view to make some money from it one day. When a website gains traffic, one simple route to monetisation is simply to display ads. Another popular monetisation strategy is affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is whereby a publisher e.g. a blogger like myself, channels traffic towards online retailers. If this traffic converts to paid customers then the publisher is awarded a commission. This commission can range from 1 to 60%, it depends on the product. Software products, for example, benefit from huge profit margins and so typically pay affiliates high rates of commission.

Why I can’t monetise my blog just yet

In short, I don’t have anywhere near enough traffic. As a blog that is only a year old in the personal finance space, Google doesn’t trust my website enough yet to rank it on page 1 for many of the keywords I’ve been targeting. This is why I am pivoting strategy and trying to make my blog more lifestyle focused.

So why are you messing about with affiliate marketing?

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an affiliate programme for Three (the mobile phone network). As a happy Three customer for the last 8 years, I thought it might be cool to sign up to see the rates of commission they offer. So I signed up, got accepted and then didn’t do anything with it. They sent me a few emails promoting their latest offers that they, in turn, were looking for me to promote as an affiliate. One of these caught my eye: a 12 month, SIM-only contract that includes 12GB data and unlimited calls for just £8 / month. This is the same tariff that I’m on, except I pay £12 / month for it!

So I shared my affiliate link on my Facebook page. It only has around 100-odd likes but I noticed it got a few clicks on it. And so it appeared others too thought it was a good idea and wanted to check it out.

The offer was due to expire on 1st June and the affiliate commission offer was pretty juicy: £35 per sign-up! I wondered if there was any way for me to capitalise on it over the last two days of May. I decided I would run a Facebook ad, something I’ve tried a couple of times before. I created a very basic image (see below) and my ad targeting was unimaginative too. Just demographic targetting like 18-35-year-olds living in the UK. Unsurprisingly, by the end of day 1, I’d spent $17 on ads with 0 sign-ups to show for it.

My original FB ad creative

How did I end up?

At the start of day 2, I decided to switch up my add and spent a bit more time creating a nicer visual, with better copy. Again, I budgeted $17 for the day and let Facebook do its thing. At the end of the day, first I checked my Facebook ad results. Over the 2 days, a total of 10k people saw my ad with 111 clicks. Next, I checked my Three Affiliate account and was delighted to see one person had signed up! This means I made a modest £8 profit. Not an astronomical amount of money but, for me, it’s not the profit that is significant. Rather, it’s the experience, the learnings and the reaffirmation that there might be scope to do something similar in the future, at a bigger scale.

My revised FB ad creative. I added the Three logo to look more official but this design was entirely my own.