It sounds like something you might need a business degree for, right? Or at least a pricey college course to understand? Well, I’m here to tell you that absolutely anyone can be a successful affiliate marketer. No previous experience required. In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know to get started on making money by investing nothing more than some time and energy in promoting your favourite products.
It’s never been easier to earn residual income, than in our current age of online connectivity and clever software, accessible to regular people, as well as those who are more technologically inclined. With an initial amount of time, energy and patience and producing great content, you can earn passive income. Imagine being paid whilst you sleep! With affiliate marketing, that’s a very real possibility.
To sum up the process, the affiliate (you) will promote the product or brand of your choice, to help the owner of that product or brand to reach a wider audience. In return, you receive a commission percentage of the sales that you generate. I know it sounds too easy, but the concept really is that simple!
The benefits of pursuing affiliate marketing are great, and once you start, we promise you’ll be hooked!
• Extremely low start-up costs – literally, from absolutely nothing at all to the price of lunch out at your favourite café. You can invest more, but it’s really not necessary at this point. Your time is a more important investment.
• You don’t need to create a product or service – you just need to promote someone else’s!
• You don’t need to be an expert – Either in technology, or your niche. All you need is a can-do attitude and some basic online research skills.
• No staff or colleagues or set work hours – You’ll be your own boss. Now, maybe you won’t be in the Bahamas on a cruise next month, sipping cocktails and only working an hour a day, but being your own boss means a flexible schedule and no juggling staff or a 9-5 workday. Perfect!
• Passive income – Undoubtedly one of the major perks. The same content, be it a blog post or an advert or some content that lives on your website, will continue to earn you money after you post it. So rather than getting paid per job, or per hour, you have the potential to be paid continually from one piece of work. It doesn’t get much better than that!
There are four parties involved in affiliate marketing: the creator, the affiliate network, the publisher and the customer.
This may look confusing, but don’t panic. Let me break it down for you.
The Creator – Also known as the seller, brand or product inventor or retailer. This is the person or company who have created the brand or product you are going to promote. They can vary hugely in size; from large corporations like Adobe and John Lewis right down to the solo entrepreneur of a start-up company making hand-made products. It really doesn’t matter if they’re actively involved or how large the brand is, they just need to have a product to sell.
The Affiliate Network – The affiliate network can do all kinds of things; from managing your online presence, to generating leads for you. Although this is a very useful party, it is not considered by some to be completely necessary. Before you dismiss the idea of the affiliate network though, check out some of the extremely useful benefits of having the support of a network, further down in this article.
The Publisher – This is where you come in. You are the affiliate; the publisher of the top-quality content, that makes the sales, that pays the commission. Your job is to convince potential customers of the value of whatever you’re selling.
The Customer – Arguably the most important link in this chain is the customers themselves. Without them, no one gets paid. How you reach out is up to you, blog posts, online billboards or social media, but gathering a following of potential customers is absolutely essential.
The first thing you need to decide is, what area do you want to focus on? What niche do you intend to target? What is your favourite product or brand? Choosing a niche is useful because you can tailor your content, whether it’s a website or blog (more on that later!), to target a specific audience.
The first part of the process of creating your affiliate business will involve a lot of research. The good thing about this step is that, once you’ve done the bulk of this research, you won’t need to do it again. After you’ve chosen and thoroughly researched your niche, all you’ll need to do is keep up to date with the latest news, products and services so that your content and what you’re selling stays relevant and interesting.
Whilst this may seem overwhelming, here are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help you get started.
1. What am I interested in?
What are you passionate about? It’s much easier to pitch a product you already feel enthusiastic towards. You need to be able to continually produce quality content pertaining to your chosen niche. Do you love make-up and skin care? Are you an avid collector of costume jewellery or board games? Choosing something you are already passionate about, usually means your knowledge base is already established, making the process easier from the start.
2. Can I make money with it?
Although it’s a great place to start, passion alone doesn’t make money. It can be more lucrative to explore other niches that are generating more profit. Don’t know anything about decorating, but it’s going to earn you money? Look it up! You might even find a new passion for hanging wallpaper in the process!
3. Can I sustain the content?
Whatever you choose to write about, you must make sure you could comfortably write potentially endless blog posts on the topic. Continually producing quality content in your chosen niche will ensure you always have eager followers waiting to read your next blog post and buy the next product, earning you money!
4. Is there a space for me?
Like anything, some markets are saturated. Some of the more profitable ones may already have many affiliate marketers, some of whom have a following of potential customers that may seem impossibly daunting to a beginner. But don’t panic – just keep searching for your niche!
5. Can I sell products in my chosen niche?
How much of your niche is just interesting and will draw people in to reading and understanding more about it, and how much does it have the potential for selling products? You need consumer interest to sell products in your niche. Are there people ready to buy?
6. Is there an affiliate program available?
The final and most important consideration in this important stage of research, is discovering whether it’s possible to become an affiliate marketer in your chosen niche. Is there a program for you to sell those products or brands? Do the companies who create the products within your niche have any interest in affiliate marketing? If not, just keep looking!
Choosing the right affiliate network for both you and the customer is extremely important. You want to be able to reach the maximum amount of people within your chosen niche. Consequently, you need to make sure that similar merchants and sellers are using the program. Again, this takes a small amount of time and effort, but you should already be fairly knowledgeable on your chosen niche now. This will help when choosing the right network as you’ll have a better idea of which products and brands exist within your niche.
After your initial research and the setting up of all the different online processes your affiliate marketing business needs to run, you can start watching the money come in, with minimal maintenance. But how does that work? Like anything, you get out what you put in.
So, the more content you create and the more people you reach with your marketing strategies, the more money you’ll make – easy!
• Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) – The most established method of payment is CPA. You get paid every time you drive a completed sale; the commission percentage rate varies, so check what rate the company offers to make sure it’s worth your while.
• Cost Per Click (CPC) – CPC is an easier way to make money as an affiliate as you only have to drive leads to the correct destination. They don’t necessarily have to make a purchase. However, there are only certain industries that use this method as it is not always the best financial decision for the merchant. If that’s your niche, though, then great!
• Fixed Cost – This model rewards the affiliate for the amount of time their leads spend engaging with or browsing the merchant’s web pages. This method is generally used for those publishers who have an already established, extended reach and give the merchant a good guarantee that they will reach a wide customer base. It’s a more guaranteed way to earn as you expand and nurture your following.
Again, you don’t need to be a computer expert to direct your customers to the relevant websites. Even if you don’t know how to create a banner as an advert, you can simply use an affiliate link to the product or service and therefore notify whoever the merchant is that the customer came via your link.
These affiliate links are tracked, so you know you’ll never miss the commission from a sale. It’s important to point out here, that you aren’t duping anyone AT ALL. Your commission is already built into the price of the product or service that you’re selling, so there is no detriment to the paying customer. They don’t pay more, they don’t miss out, and they get a great, honest and useful review before they buy. Most customers won’t be aware that they purchased through an affiliate link at all.
For a better idea of what affiliate networks are and how they run, have a look at Amazonassociates – one of the largest affiliate networks out there.
Are you proud to promote the product/brand?
You have to believe in the product or brand and know everything you can possibly know about it, to make a credible and convincing sales pitch.
Customers value honesty when buying any service or product, and if you can provide them with a sincere and trustworthy review of whatever it is you’re selling, they will be more likely to buy the product. building trust also means that they are likely to return to you for advice on future products, within your niche. This means more sales and the building up of a loyal customer base.
Be sure to check exactly what your affiliate network actually does. Is there someone available to call on the phone? Or is it email-only? Do you have to wait 72 hours for a reply?
You will need some sort of support, especially in the early days, so this is a really important bit of research to do. Speak to other affiliates who are members of the network, if you can, to find some honest reports and do your research online too.
An affiliate network can do a huge bulk of the work for you, after your initial set-up process. Can you really ask for more than that? From sourcing clients, to providing the software that generates leads and automated posts and emails. Using a good management company could even mean that your website is managed for you and your customer data is used to its full potential to generate even more future sales.
These guys know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to complicated programs, software and tech stuff. It can usually be extremely beneficial to your business to hand over the management of all the complicated bits to a professional, so that you can focus on becoming the best content creator and sales-person in your niche. Leave the boring bits to them!
The benefits of having someone to manage the time-consuming elements of your business, speak for themselves. Do you have time to post to social media a few times a day, answer emails and customer queries, sort through customer data and build lead generation lists, maintain your website and data gathering forms, all the while keeping up to date in your niche and creating effective and entertaining content?
All sounding a bit too much?
With many people starting out in affiliate marketing having to fit it around their existing lives and schedules, the list above can seem almost impossible to manage. Admin is a busy job but luckily, there are companies that can do it for you!
They use sophisticated systems and software, as well as dedicated and experienced staff to manage your online business so you can focus on creating great content. This not only saves you time, but as time is money, it also saves you some of that too in the long run.
So, you’ve done your research, you’ve picked your niche and you’ve chosen a network. You’re ready to start selling. This is where you can put all of your research (or residual knowledge) to good use and start making some money. But how do you reach your audience?
• Make a website – there are a few places online where creating your own website is as simple as buying your domain and getting started on making it look great. WordPress is an example of one of these.
• Create amazing content – Now you need to create interesting content that will keep your audience returning for more and more of your brilliant insights. You need to keep it exciting and fast-paced and most of all relevant to your niche. Using keywords (Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)) is a key factor in getting your content seen. Check out moz for an in-depth introduction to SEO. There are also a number of books that you can look at, but Adam Clarke’s, SEO 2018: Learn search engine optimization with smart internet marketing strategies, is the original bestseller.
• Review products – A great and easy way to get started is to write some effective and useful product or service reviews. Things like My Top Five Favourite Face Creams, or, Which TV should I choose next… well, you get the idea. Again, try to keep your reviews as honest as possible and try and have actually used the products or service that you’re reviewing, or at least have an excellent, in-depth knowledge of them.
Check out this blog post on nichehacks on creating a great review site.
• Blog posts – Blog posts are useful for a more in-depth exploration of an element of your niche. The trick here is to research key-words that appear frequently in your niche and write them into your post in a natural and valuable way, not just using them to optimise your search engine potential (SEO), but really provide your audience with some helpful information on a topic. Researching competitors and scouring social media can be useful when trying to come up with the topic and titles for your blog. You can then link readers to useful products or services as you explore your topic.
• Evergreen content – If your niche has useful information that won’t change or become dated, and will remain useful, it is the perfect opportunity to provide your potential customers with what is known as evergreen content.
This is also a very important opportunity to use relevant key-words. If you organise your evergreen content under easy-to-find headings that are relevant all year round, it makes it easy and convenient for the reader to find what they’re looking for. User-friendly content will keep your customers returning to your site.
Head over to authorityhacker to see some great examples of real-life affiliate blogs and posts to give you a good idea of what you’re aiming for.
With so many resources available online and minimal financial risk, there’s no excuse not to give affiliate marketing a go.
Just remember, you get out what you put in with this business, so the earning potential is huge.
What are you waiting for? Find your niche and start your very own business today! Affiliate sign up