Before I answer the question “what is affiliate marketing and how to start?” let me expand a bit on what I will be covering in this post!
As of 2019, affiliate marketing has become one of the most popular ways people use to earn an income online. Almost every internet marketer has tried their hand at affiliate marketer at least once in their online business. The best part, though, is that although so many people use this avenue to try and make some money online, there are still many more opportunities for newcomers and the experienced alike.
So what is affiliate marketing? And how can you start making money off it? Is it even a legit business option? These are just some of the questions I have often been asked by my readers. This is actually the main reason why I am writing this article. It will be an in depth dive into affiliate marketing and everything it entails, with the primary aim of answering all these questions. I will also give you a few tips that you can use to hit the ground running and hopefully launch your own successful affiliate marketing business.
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WHAT IS AFFILIATE MARKETING?
Affiliate marketing is a business model that allows you to earn a commission by promoting other people’s products and services. Online, it is a type of performance-based marketing strategy where affiliate marketers are rewarded by earning commissions from online retailers for their efforts in increasing sales through their referrals. Basically, the product owners pay you as the affiliate for promoting their products’ sales.
Affiliate marketing works on a cost-per-acquisition or a cost-per-lead basis. Put simply, this means that as an affiliate, you will get paid when someone takes a particular action, for example, by buying a product or signing up for a free trial.
If you are online a lot, you have probably stumbled upon affiliate links and affiliate sites before. In fact, this very site has affiliate links! You have probably seen links to products in the articles you read online. 90% of the time these are usually affiliate links added by the content publisher.
These links function much like targeted recommendations and are a little bit different from the conventional ads you are used to. I’ll talk more about them a little later in this article.
HOW DOES AFFILIATE MARKETING WORK?
Affiliate marketing has various components that work together, with each one depending on the others’ success. Let’s break this down.
Affiliate marketing players include:
– The merchants. These are the owners of the products or services. They can be individuals or companies. A large number of merchants online are online shops like Amazon. The merchant is the one who owns the products and services the affiliate is promoting.
– The affiliates. These are the people who promote the products that the merchants own. Affiliates are the sellers, and they are responsible for influencing the market.
– The consumer. These are the buyers of the products and services. The buyers are the ones who sustain the market. They are the source of the sought-after revenue in the market.
Now that you are aware of all the market components, I have to clarify one more thing. In this article, the focus will be on the perspective of the affiliate. I will only mention anything to do with merchants and consumers in passing.
Before you can become an effective affiliate, you need to first have a way to reach your audience. Most affiliate marketers have blogs where they post product reviews or other similar content that readers can interact with and click on their affiliate links. Others have YouTube channels or some other way that allows them access to an audience. This is very important because affiliate marketing is a business model that runs almost entirely on traffic.
Your next step will then be to pick a product or service that will be relevant to your audience. The company or service provider you pick is called the merchant.
Here is a quick pro tip for you: as an affiliate marketer, you will have to build strong relationships with your customers. This rapport will ensure that you have a steady supply of clicks to your links. Successful affiliate marketing relies on your viewers coming back to your blog and referring it to other people. Remember, the more times your work is seen, the higher the chances of you earning a commission.
After picking your preferred merchant to work with, you will then have to partner with them. You do this by joining their affiliate program. This will make you their affiliate or associate.
Once you have joined the affiliate program, you will be given a unique affiliate ID that will be used for creating links you add to your content. These are called affiliate links. Affiliate links track what your customers buy and make sure you are paid exactly what you are owed every time.
Once you have your affiliate link, you can now promote the product you have chosen by adding in-depth product reviews, recommending it in your articles or whichever way you choose that will allow you to add links to your work. When someone clicks on your link, they will be redirected to your merchant. The traffic you send the merchant’s way will be tracked using the unique affiliate ID.
Once a purchase has been made using your link, you will earn a commission. Some affiliate programs pay out immediately, while others pay out once a certain threshold is reached. The payout is usually done periodically, for example every two weeks or every 30 or 60 days. This all depends on the merchant you choose to work with.
GETTING STARTED WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING
To start your business as an affiliate marketer, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First, you need an audience. The simplest way to get this is through a website or blog. Most affiliate marketers will create blog posts that have a small number of followers to start them off. Do your best to increase the number of readers you have. The reasoning behind this is simple; the more people read your articles or product reviews, the more money you are able to make.
For your blogging needs, you will need to find the right blogging platform. Make sure that you will be allowed to add affiliate links to your work on this site and run affiliate programs on your website. Some websites will have some restrictions regarding products and services you can link to.
Most self-hosted sites will have no restrictions on the products and services you can link and thus you can add any affiliate link you want and manage your affiliate links with no fuss.
If you are an absolute newbie and you do not have a website to run your blog posts, I would advise you to start with a free blog on WordPress first. This will help you understand the ins and outs of content creation, adding links to posts, among other things. Plus, it is all very easy and you do not have to pay a dime. You can easily get started with a few instructional videos you will find online that will teach you how to create your own blog.
I should point out here that your users will need to know that you make money off your website with affiliate marketing. This can easily be achieved by adding a disclosure page. Honesty is key in this business, so let your readers know that when they buy some of the products you mention, you will earn some cash at no extra cost to them.
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FINDING THE RIGHT SERVICES AND PRODUCTS TO PROMOTE
The products and services you choose to promote will determine just how successful your venture will be. Doing some quick research will help you cross this bridge with ease. You can do this in the following ways;
1. Becoming an affiliate for products you already use.
This is by far the best way that will allow you to build a rapport with your customers. By promoting the products you already use, you get a deeper understanding of what your customers will need or lack already. You will be able to anticipate their needs more accurately which will greatly build your reputation.
2. Reach out to companies.
You can simply ask companies you can’t find affiliate programs on by simply writing them via a well-worded e-mail. You might find that some companies might not be actively promoting their affiliate programs. A simple email requesting to join their program might grant you an invitation.
3. Join mainstream affiliate networks.
Affiliate networks act as the middleman between the affiliates and the merchants. Many products and companies already have affiliate networks you can join. These networks will help you find the right products for you to promote on your website.
4. Look at products other blogs are recommending.
Look for ideas on similar blogs available online. Be sure to only consult reputable sites with a huge apparent following if you don’t want to risk recommending substandard products to your audience. Good thing these kinds of blogs are readily available for your research purposes.
AFFILIATE NETWORKS, ARE THEY A GOOD IDEA?
Affiliate networks offer a connection between you, the affiliate marketer and the merchants who offer up products for sale. Affiliate networks mean different things for the parties involved. To the affiliate marketers, affiliate networks offer a simple platform to search for products, to track their earnings and performance. They also give you the chance to sign up as an affiliate.
To the merchants, affiliate networks mean that they get a constant supply of marketers for their products. The platform also provides a service to list their products and services. They can also track and manage affiliate traffic. Payments can also be sent through the service.
Some of the most popular affiliate networks you can join include; Amazon Associates, Click Bank, CJAffiliates, JVZoo among others.
Affiliate networks are definitely not for everyone. You need to know what you are dealing with before you can start recommending some of the products they have. Some affiliate networks allow literally any product to be promoted through their platform, so many scam artists take advantage of this. As you explore this option, you need to be aware of this and do your research well before settling on anything.
Pick a network where you can get access to all the products that your audience will need. Joining multiple networks is not a bad idea either. You can join multiple networks for different products.
Be sure to check on the program’s policies, terms and conditions. You will also need to run through the policies of the individual products and merchants to get the clearest ideas on the payment rates and options plus additional information about your earnings and incentives.
TIPS AND TRICKS TO INCREASE YOUR EARNINGS.
Affiliate marketing takes time and effort. The rewards can take a few months to materialize. It is important to remain focused and to continue creating amazing content for your readers during these challenging times. Having said that, here are some concrete things that you need to do to increase your traffic and earnings:
1. Carefully choose the companies you wish to promote.
One of the major challenges that you will face as an affiliate marketer is that you really have no control over what the merchant chooses to do in terms of the quality of products they choose to produce. Because of this, you will have to do your own comprehensive research on these companies and their related products.
You will be the one whose word will be put to trial if the merchant’s products quality is not what you actually said when championing for them.
To be on the safe side, recommend products you have actually tried before. It is easy for you this way because you have put yourself in the shoes of your audience and in this way, you are able to know the pros and cons of the products you are promoting.
2. Your aim is to create value
Adding random links to your work is one thing but what impact will these actually make on the lives of your faithful readers? Ask yourself this question every time you would like to promote a product.
Your main aim will be to change the lives of your readers one product at a time. Doing this will give your work meaning and direction, something most affiliate failures lacked when they ventured out.
3. Your audience comes first
Putting the needs of your readers first will help you build the rapport that will grow your following. Do this by reading and responding to their comments. The two aforementioned rules will also help you achieve this goal.
BEWARE OF THE SCAMS GOING AROUND!
As a new player in the affiliate marketing game, one of the biggest challenges you will face is being able to tell the difference between legit products and products that are all hype with nothing to back them up. Scammers are a plague in this industry, and they give every internet marketer a bad name.
You will encounter a large number of get-rich-quick scams that promise life-changing six-figure incomes overnight. Develop a keen eye and learn to spot them from a mile away. Many affiliate marketing beginners will fall prey to the affiliate “gurus” who lure them in with click-bait titles and the promise of turning them into millionaires overnight with zero effort. And they all always ask you to pay some money upfront if you want to access their ‘proven’ secrets. Stay as far away from these scams as you can.
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Affiliate marketing is a very simple and straightforward business model. If done right, it has the potential to make you some serious cash. This is one of the reasons why many people are trying it out. However, not many people succeed in this venture because they are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. If this is what you are after, then affiliate marketing is not for you. If you are ready to put in the work, though, and you are patient enough to wait and reap the results later for the hard work you put in today, then affiliate marketing will prove very lucrative for you.
Before I leave you I want to reiterate that in addition to hard work and dedication, to be successful in affiliate marketing you need to think of your readers/customers first and profit second. I cannot emphasize this enough. Recommending sub par products because they have higher commissions will only erode trust and eventually kill your business. Keep that in mind and always make sure you operate with your customer’s best interest in mind. Do this and you will increase your chances of success a hundred fold!
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To your success,