How to Actually Make Money Blogging (Using Affiliate Marketing)

In this Masterclass with 6 Figure Blogger, Johnny FD, we’ll be covering how to build a blog and monetise it using affiliate marketing.

Johnny FD is a location-independent entrepreneur who rose to prominence through his blog and podcast, ‘Travel Like a Boss’ and now makes a 6 figure income from his online brand and teaching others how to do the same through his course, Income Boss (formerly Earnest Affiliate).

In this Masterclass, Johnny shares a mini-version of his affiliate marketing process which he covers fully within the Earnest Affiliate program.

This lesson first appeared as a video on my YouTube channel, which you can watch below.

Otherwise, if you’d like to read along, I’ll be sharing my lesson notes in the following paragraphs.

Why Affiliate Marketing?

Johnny starts off the masterclass by commenting on the sad reality of many bloggers who fail to make a good living through their website.

We’ve both met many aspiring digital nomads that say they have a travel blog but in reality, they’re making little to nothing with it. This is fine if it’s just a hobby but if you want to make a living from blogging, you’ll need a harsh reality call and some concrete instructions for how to actually succeed in the long-term.

Unfortunately, most independent bloggers don’t make enough to cover their expenses but this doesn’t have to be the case. Johnny is a prime example of someone who makes a killing from their blog and does so writing about topics he’s genuinely interested in.

So, how does it do it?

Two words – Affiliate Marketing

If you’re an aspiring blogger, it’s perhaps a monetisation method you haven’t heard of, or maybe you dabbled a little bit in it but you didn’t see results. Johnny on the other hand, uses affiliate marketing as the core revenue model of his blog and podcast.

To summarise affiliate marketing briefly, it’s basically a way to make money through your audience by presenting a link to a product or service that can be traced back to your website. If a user that has been referred by your link buys the product (or takes a desired action), you get paid a commission.

How Affiliate Marketing Works


So why is this powerful? – Let me explain it this way:

Let’s say you have a blog with 5,000 unique sessions per month. For a display ad, you might make $2.80 per thousand views – so $14 dollars in this case. These ads might be delivered through Google Adsense and you have little control over the specific ads that appear. In this case, even with 100,000 users a month, you might be making just a few hundred dollars.

Instead, let’s imagine you present an affiliate offer to those 5,000 users that directly appeals to that audience. Affiliate commissions can be as high as 90% of the product price but for the purpose of this example, let’s say your promoting an ebook worth $30 with a commission of 60% to affiliates. In this case you’ll make $18 for each purchase made and make more money in a single sale than what you would have made running ads for a month to the same audience.

Now, this is just a hypothetical example but I hope that you’re starting to get the picture here.

The reason why affiliate marketing works so well is that you’re much more in control. Rather than run an ad that may or may not appeal to your audience, you’re choosing a specific offer that you know you’re audience will be interested in. Plus, the better you present the offer, the more people will buy.

How you can make over $10,000 per month from blogging

Now before you wet your pants with excitement, let me dish out some important realities.

While it is 100% possible to make over $10k+ per month from blogging, you shouldn’t expect it to come fast and easy.

Creating content online is very much a long-term game so you need to be committed and willing to build the traffic over time. Johnny may be making 6 figures in 2017 but he’s also been producing content regularly since 2013.

Ask yourself: are you passionate and/or committed enough to spend years building up your blog before you make a decent living from it?

If you are committed to your long term vision, now’s the time to get your head in the right mindset. This doesn’t mean that you should have blind faith in your vision but instead requires that you think realistically about the kind of traffic numbers you could expect to build over time and the kind of offers you could present to your target audience.

For someone who’s new to blogging, you may have little idea about what kind of results you can expect. That’s why having Johnny’s private affiliate revenue breakdown can be a great insight into what’s currently working.

You may choose to monetize in alternative ways, maybe through your own products or consulting but regardless of how you choose to do it, it helps to look at successful examples and see how they are doing it.

The first step to earn revenue with your blog is to think deeply about the audience you’re trying to attract and the offers available that you could present to them.

For example, within Johnny’s course, he talks about how achieving success through eCommerce gave him the opportunity to promote the resources that made him successful. Luckily, many of these resources have an ‘affiliate program‘, meaning that they offer commissions for any sales he refers.

This brings me to the first step in the process.

Step 1: Determine the potential of your blog topic

In Johnny’s course, he calls this step ‘Niche Selection’  because if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to think strategically about the topic you choose to cover.

I, on the other hand wager that for most of you reading that you already have an idea of what you want to write about. As previously mentioned, making money blogging is a long-term game and usually, it’s passion for one’s topic that gets people through the initial build phase.

Regardless of whether you have an idea already or you’re actively searching for topics, you’ll need to make sure that there is actually an opportunity to make money from that topic.

I know, sounds obvious right? Well, it may be the case that you’re passionate about a topic that happens to have little potential to earn you revenue or has such little interest that you won’t be able to scale.

This is why it’s important to evaluate your topic and ask yourself, how many people are interested in this topic? & What offers could I present to them?

Step 2: Finding Affiliate Programs

Examples of Some Affiliate Networks

Examples of affiliate networks from the Blog at Earnest Affiliate

Once you know what you want to write about and have verified that there is an audience that exists for your topic, you’ll want to think about the ways in which you could make money serving that audience.

In the case of this article, we’re focused on affiliate marketing, which means that we’ll be looking to see what products or services we might recommend on our blog and whether or not they have an affiliate program.

Much like the previous step, you could find a good match by browsing through a list of programs and spotting opportunities or by starting with the product/service first and then looking for a relevant program.

You may be wondering where you might find affiliate programs. There are two ways I’d recommend.

First, you may head to what’s called an affiliate network like Clickbank or Share a Sale. Here you can sign up for a free account and start to look through thousands of affiliate programs.

Second, if you have a list of ideas for things you might recommend, quickly Google ‘[ product/service name ] affiliate program‘ and see what comes up or contact the service provider directly.

Affiliate programs vary quite a lot in terms of what they offer. Amazon for example, pays less than 10% for all sales generated by your affiliate link whereas an affiliate program for a specific info product might pay out 50% of the product price or more.

What you’re looking for here are programs that match very closely to the topic you want to write about. The closer the match, the easier you can talk about the product/service and the more likely your audience will buy it.

Step 3: Create your website

For creating your website, you can make the process as simple or complex as you want.

Johnny recommends being honest with yourself and asking yourself how much of the technical side of website development you’d be willing to learn or outsource.

The level of technical knowhow you’ll need to possess depends on just how customised you want your website to be. If you’re ok with getting your hands a little dirty, WordPress is the most popular blogging platform and completely open source, meaning that the source code is available and editable.

On the other hand, you have services like Weebly, Wix and Squarespace that help you build a website with the minimal technical knowhow. The downside of this approach is the level of customisation you might be able to achieve, which may or may not become a big priority in the future.

If the decision between the different solutions is holding you back from taking action, just choose the easiest option to get started. It’s better to have some sort of website than none at all.

Step 4: Create Content

Example of a good blog post graphic from Johnny's blog

Example of a good blog post graphic from Johnny’s blog

At this point, don’t worry if your website is looking a little bare. Your blog is missing one important thing, content!

Johnny recommends that you start getting into the habit of writing without trying to make money just yet. If you publish great content then you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put forward your affiliate offers in the future but for now, you don’t want to make people feel like you’re blogging just to make money.

Within the video, Johnny provides a few good examples of interesting and sharable content but if you’re looking for more ideas, just do a Google search and you will find a ton of articles on how to generate blog posts ideas.

Johnny’s personal blog writing tips include:

  • Keep it casual and personal. Write as though your talking to a friend
  • Spend time to create a good graphic for each post. This graphic will show each time someone shares your content so you’re really missing out if you don’t use this feature!
  • Insert relevant photos or videos throughout. Your post will be much more interesting with graphics, tables, diagrams and videos – basically anything that adds an extra visual element to the post
  • Include a simple email collection box. You don’t need to concern yourself with email marketing at this stage but it’s still a good idea to get in the habit of collecting emails from day one.

Step 5: Generate free traffic

In today’s crowded blogosphere, ‘build it and they will come’ is no longer an appropriate mantra. You may have created some amazing content but don’t expect people to see it just yet.

To start building your traffic, you’re going to need to perform a little content promotion. Don’t worry, there are many free and easy ways of doing this.

Johnny recommends starting small by sharing the article with your friends and family to get the ball rolling, then you can use tactics like:

  • Having easy click-to-share buttons alongside or within each post
  • Making sure that your articles are written in an SEO friendly fashion with each of your headings and images formatted properly, and
  • Using social media to link back to your content

He also recommends that you don’t try to boost your site’s rankings with shady SEO tactics like private blog networks or cold spamming other bloggers to link to your site. Your goal should be to create great content first and foremost as your content will be the foundation of your blog’s success.

Step 6: Automate and Scale

Once you’ve reached the stage where you making consistent money from your blog, you’ll want to start looking at ways you can automate and scale your business.

One of the great benefits of creating content is that it will continue to stay on your site regardless of whether you want to take a holiday however, there should be a little ongoing work to keep your site going strong.

At this stage you can better leverage your time by setting up email autoresponders and repurposing, updating or re-sharing older content.

Again, we’re only scratching the surface here, check out Johnny’s full course for more of this in greater detail.

Bonus: My personal tips for succeeding with blogging

As blogging is such a long-term investment, it can be hard to stay motivated. If you’ve ever laboured over a piece of content only to have it seen by handful of people, I can totally relate.

The best advice I can give you is to write about something you’re truly interested in and have faith that your content will cut through the rest as long as you can honestly vouch for the quality of your work. Also, understand that your audience might fall in love with a particular post that you didn’t expect or vice versa. This is all part of the process so make sure to use both your successes and your fails as a learning experience.

If your content is high quality, unique and on-trend, keep going and you’ll eventually get there.

So, I hope that helped! Check out Johnny’s Course if you’re interested. Otherwise, check out some of these other free masterclasses (below).

Until next time,


Watch the Full Playlist of Masterclasses here:

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.