Most affiliate marketers know about ClickBank (and if you don’t I’ll explain exactly what it does just below) but few of you guys know how to make money with Clickbank.
A typical process for a newbie to affiliate marketing is that they sign up, find some crappy product with a high commission and start to fantasize about how it’s going to make sales.
Then, they throw some random traffic at it and watch how nobody spends a dime on it. Finally, they come to the conclusion that the platform sucks. Sounds familiar?
Well, here’s how it worked for us.
2014 was the first year we tried to make some money off the platform. We ended up making $37,075 off it without trying very hard (ClickBank has always been a secondary monetization method, so far, for our businesses).
As we saw the affiliate marketing revenue from Clickbank grow we paid more attention to it and decided to optimize the process so we can make more money online with Clickbank.
After a few months of hard work, we managed to transform this small income stream into something a lot more sizable as you can see by this screenshot:
In this post is that I’ll show you exactly how to make money with Clickbank using the process we devised during this time period.
Let’s get started!
- What ClickBank is and how to use it to make thousands of dollars monthly
- How to pick ClickBank products to promote
- The most common ways to promote ClickBank products
- The unique funnel we use to scale up our sales
- How to build these funnels
- How to scale them up and take over the offer
What is Clickbank?
Many people consider Clickbank just another affiliate network. But unlike traditional affiliate platforms, Clickbank serves as a marketplace for both people who create products and affiliates, so they can make money together without complex paperwork or agreements.
How Does it Work?
In other words, Clickbank is the middleman between creators of digital products, such as ebooks, video, music and so on, and people who can sell those products, i.e. affiliate marketers.
Obviously, depending on which party of the marketplace are you, Clickbank fulfills one of the two functions:
1. A Product Marketplace For Affiliates
As an affiliate marketer, you can jump right in, create your unique affiliate links for thousands of products (more on that later) and start to drive traffic right away to start making money. You will also see your earnings in real time.
It’s free to join and there’s no screening process. No cap or complicated metrics. It’s basically a simplified affiliate network, open to anyone that wants to give it a shot.
In case you want to try it out, simply go register on their homepage.
2. An E-Commerce Platform For Information Product Owners
As a product owner, you can add your product to the database and ClickBank will take care of all the checkout and e-commerce part, as well as offering an affiliate program for it.
You will be charged $49.95 one time activation fee, for becoming a seller on Clickbank. I believe this fee does a good job of keeping some low-quality vendors out of the platform.
This is great if you don’t want to handle the technical part of things but you have to know that the platform will take quite a bit of money off your sales ($1 + 7.5% of the sales).
That’s why if you start making some serious sales volume, you may want to move out of the platform to platforms like Thinkific or Teachable because these don’t take a % of your sales.
In addition to % of sales, you’re charged $2.5 dollars payment processing fee, every time you take out the money. Clickbank can also approve customer refunds and charge you $0.50 or $1 for that.
The rise of the LMS platforms like the two above is probably why Clickbank has been losing some steam in the last few years …
As an affiliate marketer you might ask yourself, why sell ebooks and online courses from unknown producers, if you can just sign up with say CJ or Amazon Associates and sell reputable products.
Firstly, online education is a huge market and Clickbank itself generates close to a quarter billion dollars in sales revenue each year.
Secondly, there’s a beauty to digital products. That beauty is the highest margins possible. Because, to make a copy of a video and sell it, costs nothing.
100% of the revenue can be considered the profit (outside of marketing costs).
High profits = high affiliate commissions. And Clickbank pays up to 75%.
Pros & Cons Of ClickBank
I really like ClickBank and I think it’s a fantastic place for new affiliate marketers to get started and earn money online without the hassle of more advanced affiliate networks. There’s no cap, you don’t need to be approved for 90% of the offers and you can start selling straight away.
Trust me, that’s a huge plus when you get started and have no track record to show to those big affiliate networks.
Here is a short list of the pros & cons of the platform:
- Highly paid offers (75% commission is common)
- You can sell in most countries
- Several recurring offers to sell, for ongoing income
- Takes the tech out of the way
- Lots of shitty products & sales pages
- Lots of competition on popular products
- Hard to tell what does well without investing traffic
- High costs associated to the e-commerce platform
Step-by-step: How to Make Money with Clickbank
To make money with Clickbank, you have to follow the same formula as any successful venture.
You need a solid product that customers want and create a funnel to convert the traffic, to begin with. Then you build up your traffic, optimize your funnel, and once you know you’re profitable (i.e. you convert $ more than you invest), you scale the whole thing.
Easy on paper, but sadly, few people put the effort to get it right. 90% of affiliate revenues come from 10% of affiliates, so put your best work in.
Let’s start with the product.
How To Pick The Right Product To Promote
One of the best ways to make money on Clickbank is to start as an affiliate, promoting pages that have already been optimized, in order to build your sales funnels.
Much like keyword research for SEO, picking the right product to promote on ClickBank is extremely important. No matter how good you are at promoting if you drive traffic to a sales page that doesn’t sell, you will not make much money.
Here is a short video of me going through the ClickBank affiliate marketplace to find juicy products to promote.
What Is A Great Product To Promote
Screening offers is a big part of knowing how to make money with Clickbank. Here are the things we look for when it comes to screening offers to promote:
- Low-cost initial offer with up to 3 upsales
- Video sales pages & “native” sales pages (pages that feel like content)
- Products with good reviews online (low refunds = more money and less list burnout)
- Gravity above 20 (means that the page converts fairly well)
How Everyone Tries To Make Money From ClickBank
If you read on other affiliate marketing blogs, you’ll see a ton of “tactics” on how to make money with ClickBank. Some of them work and some of them clearly don’t work.
The issue most of these tactics have, apart from the last one, is that they have very limited preselling. People are thrown to sales pages without knowing exactly why they are there or who is this guy trying to sell them an information product.
From our experience, preselling is HUGE. You need to give people valid reasons why they should buy the product and if you can be that 3rd party giving a recommendation, your conversion rates will 5-10x very often (hint: that’s what I do all over Authority Hacker).
Additionally, repeat exposure to the offer does very very well for us. More on that later though.
Let’s have a recap of the most “common” ways people make money with ClickBank before I show you our secret sauce.
This one is the most common and very often least profitable. The tactic is simple. Find a somewhat related article on your site and slap a banner on the sidebar or in the middle of the article, without any form of pre-selling the product specifically.
Because the traffic is somewhat related to the offer, some people will convert. However, your EPC ( earnings per click) will be very low because the product does not come recommended by the author.
In Content Links
In content, links are usually in line recommendations that are embedded directly in the text. The recommendation often comes from the voice of the author and if they’ve done a good job building trust throughout the article/post, the conversion rates will be decent.
However, they’re not very prominent and will only catch the attention of the most attentive readers. Other than trusting the author, there’s not much of an incentive to click through.
This is one tactic we still use to this day and for good reason: it works! Review traffic is extremely targeted and people landing on your page have a very high chance to buy.
If your review doesn’t look completely biased, there’s a good chance they’ll trust you and click through your affiliate link to buy the product.
Read more: How to write product reviews that sell without being cheesy
The issue with reviews is to actually get the volume of traffic you need to make a lot of sales.
The traffic on review keywords is low and the competition is fierce. Every SEO and their dog tries to make money online with reviews and you end up sitting in the middle of a negative SEO fest, for trickles of traffic.
Not ideal, if you’re trying to build a long term property. Also, there’s no other way to scale than horizontally (produce more reviews) because there just isn’t much traffic for each product review. This makes it hard to grow faster or use paid traffic to push things up.
Building A Value-Oriented Media Funnel
All the methods we talked about before tend to work to some extent but they’re usually worn out and overused by everyone in the industry making it very competitive and hard to scale unless you have a site with hundreds and hundreds of reviews.
Plus, nobody links or shares any of the content above because it sells and people tend to hate linking or sharing stuff that sells something to its readers. It’s just the way it is.
Not being sharable or linkable is a huge handicap in today’s social web. This means you will have to pay or produce all of your traffic and if you ever want to have a chance to show up in Google, you’ll have to spend hours doing tedious link building. Not fun, not scalable, not economical.
So how do you remain shareable while making sales? Simple, give free stuff and add value.
But how to make money with Clickbank then? You sell to the people that wanted more free stuff and gave you their email for it.
You basically keep your front end clean of ANY sales pitch. You run it like a media company offering free content to the readers.
You then offer lead magnets through content upgrades, opt-in pop-ups and retargeting. The lead magnet offers more free stuff to those who are interested enough to trade their contact information for it.
You can THEN start linking to the offer from the thank you page and start emailing people about the offer so you make sure they don’t miss out on it.
But wait! If I only show my offer to those who opted in am I not losing on sales?
Well, if someone doesn’t care enough about the topic to give you their email address, they probably won’t give you money for it.
Here is an outline of the system we use:
This system is the best out there, in my opinion, for the following reasons:
- You keep your front end clean of commercial offers meaning you can get tons of links/shares etc.
- You can target viral topics or high traffic keywords related to the problems the offer solves meaning there’s no traffic problem.
- It can run 100% without PPC if that’s not your thing (many of those run purely on organic for us)
- You’re building an email list meaning that you own the audience. This means that you can sell more things to them once they reach your main list, and the value of your media property is greatly increased and compounds over time.
Let’s dive into each element of the funnel and how you can execute each of them:
1. Traffic & Content
This one is pretty straight forward. If you create value only content, getting links using these tactics and getting shares is fairly easy. There are 3 main ways I recommend you to go after traffic:
- SEO: If you’re going to create content, you might as well optimize it for search engines. If you want more info on implementing SEO for your authority site I recommend our free authority SEO course (see what I’m doing here?).
- Facebook: Pretty much all audiences are on Facebook and you can get very cheap traffic. I recommend this method by Digital marketer or to build a big fan page, engage it and drive traffic through organic reach (case study coming soon on that one).
- Content distribution networks: I don’t have a ton of experience with these but judging by the number of people running this tactic across networks like taboola and outbrain I imagine this must be fairly successful. This works especially well if you’re covering a widespread issue.
Remember these rules. Keep the content clean of promotions (apart from your opt-in), give value, establish yourself as an authority and don’t be greedy. That will really set you apart from 99% of affiliates.
Create a complementary piece of content to the article. For example, if the article is a list of tips, create 3 more tips that people can download. This can be more recipes or anything that is a continuation of the content. This way, the people that were engaged enough to read until the end will most likely want to trade their email for more.
To distribute this lead magnet I recommend you look into:
- Opt-in pop-ups – They just do wonders for us, with up to 6% opt-in rate on this very site and 5.5% on Health Ambition. We collect hundreds of emails daily with those. Read more on opt-in pop-ups.
- Content upgrades – They’re a great final call to action at the end of your content, hard to miss along with the pop-up. It’s also very inexpensive to set up. Read more on content upgrades.
- Retargeting + Opt-in page – If people didn’t take your offer on the site, maybe they got busy. Add them to a retargeting list on Facebook and send them to an opt-in page to download the bonuses.
To create all of these, so far the best tool is still Thrive Leads (review). But if you are going to be using Elementor PRO as a site builder they also have a great pop-up / opt-in builder baked in.
3. Thank You Page & Offer
Now that people have opted in, you need to redirect them to a thank you page where you can (finally) promote your offer.
While promoting the offer is important, it’s also important to “bridge” the offer with the lead magnet they just opted in for. Otherwise, people will be frustrated and think they need to pay for the lead magnet. Trust me we’ve made that mistake!
Note that we also have a retargeting pixel on this page to set up a negative audience and not advertise the lead magnet to those who already opted in.
You then want to explain to people why the lead magnet they’ve downloaded is incomplete and why they should take the offer you present along with it, to get better results.
In this case, people download a juicing recipes book but we explain to them that without the 30-day plan, they won’t get very far and achieve what they want.
Notice that the call to action is to “continue” meaning we’re not telling them anything is for sale yet. That means more clicks to our sales page and eventually more sales.
You can build a basic version of these landing pages with Gutenberg but I recommend Elementor (Review) or Thrive Architect (Review) for it, with the drag & drop editor you can create these in seconds.
4. Email Marketing
This is where things start to be fun. As opposed to people trying to throw traffic to a sales page once and then have no chance to see those visitors again, you have their contact details!
Note: If you don’t have an email marketing service yet, I recommend Getresponse for affiliate marketers, it’s far superior to Aweber and offers great automation for the exact same price and has a free trial for you to see if you like it.
That means you can expose them to the offer again in case they didn’t buy and take your time to convince them that it’s what they need (and you know it is because they downloaded the related lead magnet).
When you get started, I recommend to only set up a 3 part autoresponder. It’s enough to know if the offer is going to convert or not. Here’s how I break it down:
Email 1 – Features & Logic
In the first email, I first send them the link to the lead magnet a second time (the excuse to email them) and ask them if they saw the offer (affiliate link).
I then go on and give a bullet point list of why I think they should get it as well as maybe 1 testimonial to give it credibility and start easing into the emotional realm. I’ll usually finish with a question, opening a loop making them want to open the next email.
Email 2 – Emotions
In the second email, you email them to answer the question you asked in the previous email and start (excuse for the email).
Then you go on and help them visualize themselves having solved the problem and all the things they could do when it is solved.
In the case of weight loss, for example, it could be:
- Being more attractive and finding the love of your life
- Not being ashamed when people look at you anymore
- Having more energy / being able to do more
- Not dying early
Simply elicit positive emotions of all the great things that could happen and link it back to your product.
Email 3 – Scarcity
In the final email of the series, you want to push people to take action right now. This is when you use a mixture of limited time offers (discounts, bonuses etc if available with the offer) and guilt people for not taking action.
You can use sentences like: “Einstein defined insanity as the fact of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” or “You need something new if you really want to change your life”.
This is when you want to make sure the product actually delivers. If I guilt someone into buying a product that actually helps them lose 20lbs and live a better life, I’m happy I did it. If you guilt low-income overweight people to buy a crappy pseudoscience product and they lose both money and hope, you’re not a great person.
These sales tactics are powerful and work but you have to have ethics when using them. Remember, we want to sell MANY things to our prospects so the first product better deliver! Really helping people makes you more money.
If you want to build real scarcity, you can use a tool like Deadline Funnels and actually open and close the offers for your subscribers.
This sounds counter-intuitive but limited access does increase sales dramatically so if you want the best results, I recommend you open and close the offers as a product launch to your list. Deadline funnels allow you to do just that, you can even add a timer on top of the affiliate sales page.
If you’re thinking this is a lot of work, and it really isn’t, then imagine how happy you’ll be when your daily emails go out and you see money trickling in that way (wait, was that visualization?).
Once people have gone through the 3 part autoresponder, simply add them to your main broadcast list and email them your next pieces of content. If they’re interested, they’ll opt in and enter a new mini sales funnel.
This is a great way to not burn your email list while constantly selling. Those who don’t opt in never get sold to, until they are interested enough to download your lead magnet. At this point, you’re seen as a great value giver since your front end is always pure value.
Sadly, this option is becoming more and more popular so I won’t be able to enjoy it alone anymore.
Using Facebook or any other retargeting service, you can create audiences of people visiting your website (minus those who opted in from the site) and advertise lead magnets to them for about 30 days.
The process is fairly simple and after a bit of optimization, you’ll be able to let it run as people get out of your retargeting list after the 30 days have elapsed. This means you don’t run into ad fatigue problems nearly as much as you do when running cold traffic campaigns.
Send that traffic to a squeeze page. They will know who you are and you can achieve as much as 70% opt-in rate with some headline tweaking. Here’s an example of opt in page (I created it with Elementor Pro) I send traffic to the free webinar we offer on this site.
Creating Your Affiliate Links & TID’s
In order to know where your conversions come from (Which E-mail, Facebook ad or blog post), the best practice is to create a new affiliate link each time you put a link somewhere. This way, you will be able to tell which emails/pages convert and which don’t.
In order to create a tracking ID, when you create your link simply add it in the “Tracking ID” field as per the screenshot below.
Now that you’ve built the initial funnel, let it run for a little bit. Perhaps start building a second one and after a while, decide if it’s worth spending more time on it.
If it’s making some sales and you want to expand it, all you need to do is pick one area and expand it. These include:
- Creating more SEO content around more keywords related to the product you’re selling.
- Link building your existing content to improve its rankings.
- Using paid social to grow the traffic to your content.
- Expanding your autoresponder from 3 to 12-15 emails to increase sales.
- A/B test your pop-ups and opt-ins to increase the opt-in rate.
Owning The Offer
When you’ve reached a certain scale, you should already be making several thousand dollars per month. At this point, it’s time to start considering swapping the affiliate offer with your own offer.
This will allow you to keep all the money coming in and control things such as:
- The upsales
- The sales page
- Being able to buy traffic directly to your sales pages
- Have affiliates make money for you by promoting your product
It’s not easy and it’s not something I would consider doing if I had no traffic and no revenue. But once you have proven you can get people and sell them info products, this is one of the best ways to grow your own revenue.
At that point though, I would consider solutions such as Thinkific or Teachable to sell your own courses or information products.
They are just easier, more up to date and just cheaper to use as you grow (Thinkific even has a totally free plan where they take a small % of your sales as Clickbank does).
To Wrap It Up
As you probably guessed, the scope of this strategy is slightly larger than ClickBank itself. ClickBank is a great, simple place to start replacing things such as Adsense or Amazon revenue for real sales.
It tends to generate much more revenue if you manage to make it work.
You can use this in other affiliate programs or even for your own products to promote. Be careful though, as offers do occasionally get pulled. You need to be sure you have a backup offer in case this happens (or you’re ready to create a backup yourself).
I hope this tutorial inspired you to get out of the “easy” monetization methods and showed you that it is possible to build a long term property, be seen as a value adder and yet make money with Clickbank. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.