Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways of making money online. It is about a relationship between three main parties: the affiliate (publisher), the merchant (advertiser), and the customer. Affiliates act as extended sales and marketing departments of the merchants and help the customers choose products.
Affiliate marketing can provide you with a steady flow of income. What you can earn depends on how successful you are in converting your audience into buyers and service subscribers. It is cost effective and you can work from any place in the world.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Although affiliate marketing doesn’t require a fortune and years of experience to get started, you shouldn’t expect great results overnight. It is very competitive and you need to spend some time choosing products, making sure that they meet market needs, learn how to promote them and how to measure the success.
What is affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing. When you sign up for a partner program, you are assigned a link with a unique ID that makes it possible to track all traffic you send to the advertiser's site. If your visitor clicks on it and performs the qualified action, you will receive a commission. The qualified action depends on the compensation model. The most commonly used one is pay per sale model which is based on the revenue sharing when a merchant pays an affiliate the percentage of the sale.
How to become an affiliate marketer
Even though becoming an affiliate marketer can seem like a lot of work, you can make your life a bit easier by organizing your work a bit. By following these steps, you will be able get your own affiliate marketing off the ground in no time.
1. Find your niche
In order to succeed you need to start with three basic steps:
- Find your proper audience,
- analyze the problem your audience is facing,
- solve their problems and help them achieve their goals.
If you are not sure what products and solutions your audience would benefit from, you should do proper research. Start with forums and websites popular in your specific industry. What are the most common questions and the most popular products?
2. Become an Expert in your niche
When you write products reviews you should know more about them, than your average site visitors. Make sure you provide an honest description and accurate information. If a merchant offers a free trial, make sure to sign up and test it.
You can start with the products you use and know well and share your own experience. If you decide to build a website from scratch with the purpose of affiliate marketing and the topic is completely new to you, you will have to spend a lot of time doing proper research. It can bring great results, but before you dive in, first make sure you are enthusiastic about the chosen topic.
3. Find affiliate programs to promote
Once you have a category of products selected, you need to choose affiliate programs. You can either sign up for affiliate networks or choose independent programs run by the merchants. Don’t choose advertisers based solely on the highest commission. There are a couple of important factors:
- Does the merchant have a good reputation and sell quality products? You wouldn’t like to promote a brand that generates bad word of mouth. Don’t forget that you are putting your reputation on the line too when promoting a product to your customers. Would you buy it yourself or recommend it to your family? If you don’t trust the company, don’t promote it. If you don’t know the product well, check review websites and read testimonials from other users.
- Does the merchant look reliable? You don’t want to promote the business that probably won’t be on the market in a couple of months.
- Think about the payout. Do you prefer high one-time commission or do you prefer making money on each payment your customers make? When you promote SaaS products, a lifetime recurring commission may seem to be much more attractive in a long term. Do similar brands offer similar percentage? As mentioned before, don’t fall for a very high commission and get–rich–quick promise.
- What’s the performance model that works best for you? If there is not a lot of traffic on your website, don’t expect to make a fortune in a pay per click model. However, if you have even a small group of loyal readers, there is a chance that they will buy a product you recommend (pay-per-sale should be your choice then).
- Is this program free to join and do you have to be a customer?
- How the lifetime cookie works? Will your visitors be assigned to your affiliate account if they return to the merchant site after several months?
- Check the terms and conditions for clauses in the agreement that you find unacceptable eg. whether trademark bidding on search engines is allowed.
- How about reports? Will you be able to easily track your results?
4. Start promoting
There are many traffic sources and you can try them out simultaneously to increase your chances of making money:
- Banners: linking images and banners to the merchant’s website is the least you can do to get started. Focus on quality, not quantity. One well-placed banner is worth a thousand spread across the whole website.
- Social Media: testimonials on Twitter and Facebook can bring great results, but you can also try other channels. Pinterest disappointed many users by removing the affiliate links in Feb 2015 to bring them back over a year later. Now you can share photos of your recommended products (relevant to your boards!) and include affiliate links.
- Newsletters: collect emails from your website visitors and let them know when you publish a new post.
- Reviews: share your personal opinion about a product. Why do you find it useful? How did it improve your KPIs? Visitors read reviews to learn something new and find out what experience other people had with a product or service.
- Comparison posts– who's offering the best deal? What’s the difference between product A and product B?
- Tutorials: step–by–step instructions and tips on how to make the most of the product.
- Resource page: recommend solutions that you use on your website.
- Ebook: if you consider yourself a writer and have interesting statistics or stories you’d like to share, publish an ebook. You can include your affiliate links in text or images.
- Anything else you can think of: be creative and come up with new ideas. A comparison post doesn’t have to include a table. For example, you can come up with a quiz for your audience and show the products that match their answers.
Remember: Products you promote and the content you create should match. Your audience comes to your website or signs up to your newsletters to read valuable articles. Focus on your readers, the problems they may face, and how to solve them. If your content is of real value and doesn’t look like it’s been created for the sole purpose of promotion, people will more likely click on links.
5. Monitor your results
In affiliate marketing it is important to test various promotional strategies and track your online marketing efforts. If the merchant provides reports based on UTM codes, don’t forget to tag your campaigns. It will help you understand what kind of campaigns work with your audience.
Affiliate marketing done right
Affiliate marketing is not as easy as it seems, but when it’s done right, it’s worth the effort. Foster relationships, learn every day to become an expert in your niche, and focus on creative ways to promote affiliate programs.
If you are ready to make your first commission, I encourage you to check our Partner Program. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need help with getting started and I’ll be happy to help.