Picture this: waking up at ungodly hour and driving through the streets with half-asleep commuters just to make a few bucks. Sounds terrible, right? What if you could make money from anywhere, anytime - even while asleep? Well, this is the concept behind affiliate marketing. In this post, we’ll give an insight on what affiliate marketing is and how to get started. Let’s jump right in!
What is affiliate marketing?
It’s an effective way of boosting your online business by increasing brand awareness. An affiliate gets a commission for recommending products and services to your readers. And because it’s performance-based, you can capitalize on it and earn a decent income. The only prerequisite to becoming an affiliate marketer is to have a functional blog/website but it’s not a must if you know how to leverage social media. Form a statistic standpoint, 81% of brands in the US rely on affiliate marketing to generate income.
While affiliate marketing may sound like a model of creating multiple income streams, you must maintain consistent engagement with the brand networks.
How affiliate marketing works
Typical affiliate marketing consists of three parties: the creator (vendors), affiliate, and the consumer. The creator is the brand/business that offers products and services while an affiliate is a person who advertises the vendor’s products. Finally, the consumer is the person who buys products solely through the affiliate marketing channel.
Contrary to the popular belief that affiliate marketing is a short-sighted way to make a few bucks, this is not always the case. You must build a long-term business relationship with clients. Affiliate marketing allows you to act as an online salesperson and drive sales to the creator’s website for a commission of the sale price or every lead generated.
This brings us to the question, how does affiliate marketing work? Vendors track the work of the affiliates through cookies and IP addresses. When someone purchases through the affiliate, they earn some commission. Let’s take a closer look.
As a beginner, you must apply for an affiliate marketing program (usually free). Next, your application is reviewed based on the website topic and the traffic you have. Then, you’re given access to products and services to promote. After that, you should get a unique tracking link such that all the sales you refer to are credited in your account. Depending on your needs, you can promote the products on any marketing platform where you have an audience.
When someone buys your product, the sale is credited to the vendor's account and you earn a commission. Of course, you can withdraw the funds when the payment date arrives.
To start with, you must find a niche you’re familiar with. This could be an industry you have basic knowledge about. Try to dig further and find something that you can offer- there must be a missing gap. The idea is to give something that is most sought by visitors. Be sure to build a loyal audience as this is what will help to build sales.
Most vendors will require you to create a website where they can create affiliate marketing links. You don’t have to start affiliate marketing with YouTube thinking that they will create a kill. Well, this may not be necessary based on your niche.
As an affiliate, you should focus on giving value rather than just the commissions. You can start by making interesting lists, guides, and then collect stats to help readers collect the information they need. The more value you give upfront, the higher the chances that someone will want to purchase from you.
Now that you’ve identified your niche and the products to sell, the next step is to look for a reputable affiliate program. While the Amazon affiliate program tops the list, you can find others where you can join for free and make a decent income.
Don’t forget to generate high-quality content for the products you wish to sell. This could be articles with listings of the products you wish to rank or review. Once you have a target audience, there’s always an opportunity to sell.
Unlike other marketing tactics, affiliate marketing has no barriers to entry. Also, you don’t need any endorsements, a degree, or invest in thousands of dollars. As long as you give the vendor your website URL you can start your marketing campaigns. But they're important questions to ask before you add products to your new affiliate site.
Product identification could mean the difference between generating income and closing a sale. If the visitors don’t find the products they are looking for on your site, they will exit quickly. So, as you decide on the products to add to your niche, you should make sure it’s something your customers want to see. Try to anticipate what your target audience is looking for. Here are a few questions to keep in mind:
Will the product or service add value to my audience?
Would I be comfortable using this product myself?
Is the buying process easy for customers?
Will I earn a decent income?
And let’s be honest: there’s no need to add products or services in your affiliate site that won’t help you reach your income goals.
No matter your niche, you’ll find many products to choose from. Amazon is not only the largest e-commerce company but has thousands of products listed across hundreds of categories. Irrespective of the content you publish or the interests of your target audience, you’ll find products that you can promote.
Another major advantage of working as an affiliate is that the seller handles customer support. Your job is just to close the sale. If the customer experiences problems with the product, the seller will provide the necessary assistance.
How much can you make as an affiliate marketer?
Just like any other form of self-employment, you may be wondering whether you can earn a decent income with affiliate marketing. Can it help you achieve your financial goals? If I quit my 9-5 job, how long will it take before I start making money? Well, the answer to these questions will depend on many factors, and most importantly your confidence. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the most successful affiliates post their success stories.
But here is the catch. Just like any startup business, you may not earn a lot of money in the first few months. Unfortunately, some of us can become impatient or even skeptical. And some will give up when they don’t meet their desired sums. For any beginner, there’s an insatiable hunger for figures.
Broadly speaking, you’ll find some low-level affiliates earn up to $300 a day while others can earn as high as $10,000 a day. These big numbers can only be achieved through hard work and persistence. Keep in mind we are talking about profit here.
Perhaps, you’ve heard some people say how they have managed to earn consistent income over the years. With the right niche and strategy, these figures can skyrocket overnight. But don’t forget there’re many cases where some affiliate marketers went from such high numbers to sod – and vice versa.
Because of the volatile nature of the business, it’s hard to give an exact figure of how much you can earn per day. So, if you earn $1000 a day don’t assume that you’ll have $365,000 at the end of the year. The amount you earn will depend on the effort you make in the foreseeable future. Therefore, before you get into this booming industry, don’t start throwing whimsical multipliers that aren’t yours.
What an affiliate earns may not necessarily be the exact amount they bank in their account. Although not all affiliate programs are equal, you should expect your income range as an established affiliate marketer to be around $220-$320 a day. Again, don’t be surprised to jump from earning $300 a day to $3,000.
Before you quit your 9-5 job, there are a few things you should know. If you want to make $5,000 a day as a beginner, its time you take the reality check. Also, if your heart beats for the million-dollar salary, it doesn’t make sense to concentrate on micro-niches. Most affiliate marketers fail to recognize the power of diminishing returns. What is the pinnacle of your financial situation? If you’re comfortable earning $200 a day, you should push beyond this. Simply put, you should get out of your comfort zone to survive in the long-term.
Some affiliates use black hat SEO techniques and copied content to build their affiliate sites –Never do that. Instead, you should create a reliable bridge between the seller and consumers. Be the person an audience thinks about when they need to buy a specific product. When you solve other people’s problems, then money will start flowing in. Don’t be fooled by some funny success stories without basis.
Depending on the products you promote and the strategy you use, you can earn $100 today or even $1,000 the first month. Your earning potential will depend on the value you offer. Also, you must be smart. Don’t fall prey to spammy affiliate techniques like bombarding your customers with sales messages or purchasing email lists – they don’t work anymore. Nobody can stop you from earning a million dollars a year if you build a sustainable business. Got it?
Step-by-step guide on how to get started with affiliate marketing
We can’t deny the fact that the future of affiliate marketing is bright. Now that you’ve decided to join the ever-evolving industry, the fundamentals remain the same. Here is how you can get started with affiliate marketing.
1. Find a profitable affiliate marketing niche
While this may seem difficult when you consider the competition, it could mean the difference between your success and failure. Niche selection is all about finding a missing gap and understanding the problems of the target audience. Without the audience insights, you may not know the correct marketing angle to use or even make a basic sales pitch. Don’t just rely on the surface-knowledge. You have to dig deeper and evaluate why people need the products.
Secondly, you should identify your interests. If you select a niche that you can’t write content for, your website won’t survive for long. And come to think about it, how would you feel if you get stuck in a site after spending tons of money? It’s frustrating, right? To eliminate any guesswork out of the equation, you should follow your passion, not the money.
When choosing the niche to market the products or services, you don’t have to be an expert. If you’re a travel enthusiast, you may not do well in the food industry. The niche should fit into your previous interests and knowledge. The best approach is to make a list of what interests you and then decide on the one to concentrate on.
Niche's popularity also matters. You can check Google Trends to evaluate the popularity of a specific industry. Avoid those that keep changing. I’m sure by now you already have a handful of topics that you enjoy online. Remember, you’ll be recommending the product and services to readers. Take your time to find those products/services people are willing to buy. And to get a better understanding of whether those products or services sell, you can check the keywords on Amazon. There you are - you now have the perfect niche.
2. Create a blog or website
Will your site be an online store or it will work better as a product review site? This is something you have to consider without leaving room for error. Put yourself in the customers’ shoes and think about how they can benefit from the site. Are they looking for a place where they can get information about the product they intend to buy? Or do they want a place they can get the actual products or services? And could a blog be the answer?
Your blog should not just be a sales pitch but a place where people can get information. Be sure to include a link that directs them to the landing page. If you want to start a blog without spending a lot of money, you should consider WordPress. And the great thing is that you don’t need prior experience to create the site you want. But to ensure you have the flexibility and control of your site, you have to choose a hosting provider.
Is a website your answer? Ask any successful affiliate marketer and they will tell you a website can be very rewarding. However, it may not be necessary depending on the strengths of the niche you intend to concentrate on.
3. Find products in your niche
Now that you have a website, you should understand that people will be coming there to search for products. Others want to know the features. Whatever the reason, you should identify the areas of interest and then provide content that fulfills the customer’s needs.
Once you design your site around certain products or services, you should provide a list of questions that are helpful to your audience. When it comes to product reviews, you should ensure they are unbiased and honest.
4. Select affiliate marketing programs
Your website is running and you have the right questions for the products. It’s time you select the products and market in your online portal. The best approach is to identify the vendors who want to supply the products to customers. While the most popular program is Amazon Associates, you can try others within your interest. Amazon has a range of tools to help customers turn buyers into repeat customers.
Another popular network is eBay. They have a great commission structure and offer a wide range of product promotion tactics. If you are targeting electronics, home goods, clothing, or beauty products, then Target can be a good option for you.
As you narrow down on the best affiliate program for you, be sure to estimate the revenue potential. It’s worth mentioning that how much you make will depend on where your website is ranking on SERPs and how good your SEO is.
5. Create optimized content
One fact you have to face as an affiliate marketer is that you’ll be up against stiff competition. Think of any industry and try to search the keywords on Google and you’ll get hundreds of results. Do you get the picture? When your site ranks successfully, you’ll generate reasonable income from the affiliate marketing world.
6. Earn links from the products you promote
If you’ve already built your site’s authority, the next step is to earn links to build a network. While many platforms can help you get more links, you should not underestimate the power of great content. Your goal should be to make it informative, valuable, and likable.
7. Build a strong social media presence
Part of your website promotion effort is to increase awareness. And social media will help you achieve that. First, you should set up the main four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to participate in a question and answer site like Reddit. This is an opportunity to position your business as an expert in a specific field. Be sure to include links that direct readers to your content. Needless to say, YouTube will help you direct tons of traffic to your site for free.
Let’s face it: affiliate marketing is here to stay. In fact, the industry is focused on hitting the $8.2 billion mark by 2022. This is arguably the fastest and easiest way to make money online if you have a respectable following. Of course, for your online business to thrive you have to be honest and transparent to the readers.