What Is Affiliate Marketing?
As always, learning a new way to make money starts with answering a basic question. Affiliate marketing is a way to earn residual income by promoting a brand, product or service that you do not own.
Typically, you will create a website that adds visibility to your promotion and even gives visitors a way to make a purchase. When successful, you will receive a commission. It’s pretty simple, right?
Now, there are some pretty crafty ways to do affiliate marketing, but this introductory level guide is only going to cover basic website implementation. Before jumping into the techniques, though, it’s probably best to have a better understanding of affiliate marketing as a whole.
Affiliate Marketing Facts and Figures
Looking at some key stats will really paint a picture of the value and potential in affiliate marketing, so here they are.
In the U.S., more than $5 billion is spent on affiliate marketing each year. In the U.K., it accounts as 1 percent of the total GDP.
On a different side of things, affiliate marketing skills are in high demand. More than 40 percent of marketing professionals list it as the very most important digital skill, and 15 percent of all digital media revenue ties into affiliate marketing.
That’s a global, figure by the way. Ultimately, this technique accounts for 15 to 30 percent of all advertising related sales, and more than 80 percent of brands make use of it. With all of that in mind, let’s learn a little more about the details.
Affiliate Marketing vs Product Selling
It is important to distinguish affiliate marketing from traditional selling. In the old school, individuals have conversations, and the seller tries to convince the buyer to make a purchase.
Affiliate marketing is completely different. The major purpose is to create a tool that does the selling itself, automating and streamlining the process.
Perhaps more important is the idea that good affiliate marketing is appealing to a group that already wants to make a purchase.
The concept is that a proper affiliate marketing approach will introduce a niche market to a solution or boon that they wanted before finding your online supply.
They initiate the buying process without any need for convincing. You can almost think of your role as adding a virtual section to the collective online store.
Much like the makeup section in a Wal-Mart is accessible to the demographic that already wants to buy makeup, your affiliate marketing will just create visible access to the right group of buyers.
How It Works
The five steps to creating your presence will cover more specific details, but an overview of how affiliate marketing works is warranted. The basic process is as follows:
- Find a market and product you want to promote.
- Build your website and online presence.
- Negotiate payment with the supplier.
- Let people shop.
- Get paid.
Of course, the devil is in the details as always, but overall you are just going to be expanding the online presence of something that is already being sold. In so doing, you’ll earn your share. After you get set up, the income is mostly passive.
By and large, there are three primary payment schemes in this business. Your partner will pay your per sale, click or lead.
Which one is appropriate will ultimately depend on your approach to marketing, and understanding these options will help inform some of your decisions later.
- Pay per sale is the most obvious; any purchase made through your website or links will net you a commission.
- Pay per click is a very popular model that earns you a small payment, usually a few cents, every time someone takes one of your links to the supplier’s websites. In this case, your tools will not have direct buying access but will instead lead people to a root website where they can make purchases.
- Pay per lead is potentially more complicated, but in general you will entice shoppers to complete an action that could lead to sales. This can come in the form of downloading an app, filling out a form, signing up for emails or other forms of contact or anything else that can lead to buying.
Why should you do affiliate marketing?
There are two major reasons to get into affiliate marketing. The first is obvious. You can make some good money here.
You can either passively supplement your income or go all-in and make a new career. The second reason is to do work you can believe in. It may sound silly to suggest that helping someone sell stuff will bring you satisfaction, but when you put your marketing efforts behind things you love, that is exactly what will happen.
With all of that said, it’s time to get started.
How To Start Affiliate Marketing
Find a Profitable Niche
This seems like such an obvious step that it doesn’t need to be here, but it’s more important than you might realize.
Running a successful market will require work and regular input on your part, so you want to make sure you are promoting something you value.
Finding the right niche market is the backbone of this whole business, so take your time. Many advisors will tell you that only wildly popular niches can make money, but it isn’t true.
Stick to something that you value personally. If you are a member of your target demographic, you’ll have the insight to market more effectively to that group.
So, think about your life. You can market to a hobby you have, or you can consider an option that solves a daily problem. Think about something you want to change or access every day, and then Google it. Also, don’t be afraid to try a few different markets. This is a learning process, and you’ll get better as you go.
Ideally, you’ll have multiple websites by the time you really get going, which will lead to more money in your pocket.
Choose Products That Sell
The title says product, but services are just as applicable. The real point is this: now that you know what you want to promote, you need to find a specific provider.
The best advice here is to actually try the thing(s) you want to promote. When you really believe in your product, you can find genuine passion to support it, and that will translate in your marketing. Remember, this is a niche that speaks to you on a personal level, and your target audience likely mirrors your feelings.
If you can connect them to a quality solution that you love, they will likely love it too. This is doubly advantageous because you will feel personally rewarded, and if your market loves your product they will help you promote it.
Target Right Keywords
So far your, efforts have been personal. This is where the technical aspects of the job appear, and it is where you might have to start learning something new. Analyzing keywords is a huge industry, and the competition grows more fierce every day.
Rather than being discouraged by this, you should let this information push you to put your best effort into keyword research. Now, you have tons of options for professional keyword analysis that can help you find the perfect phrases, but you have to pay for it.
If you want to stay self sufficient and avoid racking up bills before the money starts flowing, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves. The full scope of keyword research can fill many guides this size, so instead enjoy some very important tips.
First, don’t assume that the best keywords include your product on any level. Someone looking for medication won’t type in “pills.”
Instead, they’ll type their symptoms. That is why being a user of the product helps so much. What did you type to find your partner?
Second, you need an idea of how competitive your keywords are. In almost every niche market there are underrepresented phrases that can generate income with minimal competition, but you have to find them.
If you are flying solo, you’ll need access to a reasonably powerful computer to do a little scraping. There are plenty of guides dedicated to that one topic, just know that the computer will have to pull a few long hours to get you the info you need.
Finally, staying on top of keywords is what will require the most effort on your part. For many markets, the words or phrases you use won’t change, but maintaining a high search ranking will require you to provide fresh content regularly. More on this is coming in the next section.
Make Your Website
If you haven’t done this before, making a website can feel scary and intimidating. Forget those notions. You can make an amazing website that performs competitively without writing a single line of code.
You can also really get into the code and customize things down to the slightest minutia. The point is that you have total freedom here, so it’s ok to let your creativity flourish a little.
It’s also ok to start with the basics. Search engine rankings are primarily based on the quality of your content rather than quantity. Also, algorithms have moved away from linking, so even that aspect is much less important.
If you have a clear idea of what you want on your site, go for it, but please take advice on SEO optimization. Any content management system (CMS) you use will have automated tips to make your site more visible.
Follow them! There are certain types of presentation that unintentionally hide websites from the bots that actually rank them. Your CMS will guide you around these pitfalls as long as you listen. If you have less of an idea about your website, the best place to start is a simple blog.
It will enable you to make quality content that you will need anyways, and simplify the process while you take your time to learn more about your design options. As always, professional help is available, but the more you spend to get started the longer it will take to turn a profit.
Drive Buyer Traffic
Eventually, you need people visiting your site you can earn those scrumptious commissions. Good SEO is your biggest ally because people will stumble onto your website just by using Google. For a competitive marketer, that isn’t enough.
Additionally, the odd thing about website ranking is that you need at least some traffic in the first place to drive your rank. The key to this is social media. Put those accounts to work and present your site.
Make a matching Facebook and/or Google + page that can help drive traffic to your real goals. Get your friends and family to share the site. Make an online group for your niche that discusses interests or solutions.
This is the biggest reason you picked something that matters to you. You’re already a member of the community that is your target audience. Share what you found!