The invention of the internet combined with the technological revolution has created a world of possibilities for the entrepreneurial inclined. There are more ways than ever to get creative, start a business, and make money. One such way is through affiliate marketing. In this article, we will be answering your questions including: What is affiliate marketing?
Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you see “(Affiliate Link)” or banners promoting products or services anywhere in this post, this means that if you choose to purchase from these links, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. I have chosen to become an affiliate for these products/services because I use them and recommend them myself. If you choose to purchase this product, you are not required to purchase through my link, but it is always very much appreciated!
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Warren Buffet once said, “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” Affiliate marketing comes from this same school of thought. Affiliate marketing is where you earn a commission by promoting other people’s or company’s products. The way it works is that you earn a portion of the sales for each product that you help promote and sell.
For example, I am an affiliate for several products and services in the online business space. The products I promote help other online business owners and entrepreneurs with everything from website hosting, to SEO analytics and keyword research.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
Bluehost is one of the main products that I promote. Bluehost is a website hosting platform that I recommend for all beginners and those looking to build their own websites.
When I promote a Bluehost in my blog posts, I will provide a special link that visitors can go to (the link here is my affiliate link). This link is unique to my affiliate account, so if you go through my link above and purchases a domain or hosting from Bluehost, I receive a commission on that sale. This comes at no additional cost to the user purchasing through the link.
Another way to promote affiliate products is through banners, usually provided by the company offering the affiliate program.
This banner is another affiliate link (banner provided by SEMRush). Similarly to the Bluehost link above, if you click on the banner and make a purchase on SEMRush’s website, I will earn a commission from that sale.
One important thing to note, you must disclose any affiliate links in your articles or posts. I am by no means a legal expert, so it is important for you to be familiar with rules and laws regarding privacy and affiliate marketing before getting involved.
What is the Earning Potential in Affiliate Marketing?
As we move through this article we will talk more about specifics and strategies involved to be successful at affiliate marketing. That said, I know what you are all interested in, monetization.
Affiliate marketing earnings are not always consistent. If you’ve ever worked on commission or in sales, you know that there are many ebbs and flows to your take-home pay. It’s best to look at earning potential in terms of annual returns as opposed to incremental amounts of time. The “hard” numbers will vary, but let’s layout a few key waterlines for reference.
The variables to consider here are the volume of sales, commission rates, and cost of the product. According to an article from SEO expert Neil Patel, if you are good at it, the pay can range from $10,000 to $400,000 annually. Neil goes on to say that the ceiling for an elite marketer goes all the way up to $1.5 million!
Is Affiliate Marketing a Pyramid Scheme?
We can address this one quickly, but it is an important thing to cover. We should all be wary of any get-rich-quick, online offer. In the case of affiliate marketing, you can rest assured that is not a pyramid scheme or any kind of scheme.
It’s a commission that you get out of what you put into it. The key to being successful in affiliate marketing is to earn the trust of the readers or those that you are trying to promote products to. You should never promote products that you have not tested or tried yourself. This can leave a very bad taste in people’s mouths. Your intent behind affiliate marketing should be to provide valuable products and services to your audience. The more value you can bring, the more likely people will choose to purchase products you are promoting in the future.
How Do I Get into Affiliate Marketing?
No matter what kind of business you are getting into, it is always best to have a plan. You should take some time to examine the how, what, and why of your business. It’s also good business sense to start small and expand from there.
Have a Plan
Starting off with a smaller niche will make your marketing and content efforts more focused. This will allow you to streamline your work and better analyze what is working and what is not. Once you set up your niche and have some success you can then look to expand into new product categories.
The next thing you need to do is set up an online presence. This can be set up through a website or blog that you’ve created or can be leveraged through social media if you have a large enough audience of engaged followers.
As we head into 2020, content is king. The more valuable information and content you can provide in your given niche, the more people will trust you as an expert in the field. This is the vehicle to deliver traffic to your site. Deciding what to write about can be a tough task at times but luckily there are several content strategies out there to help you.
Find Products or Services to Promote and Sell
Once you have your niche and your content strategy figured out, you need to select the products that you will market. You want to be an expert in this area and an expert on these products. As mentioned before, you want to promote products you’re knowledgeable of and can bring value to your audience.
Once you are ready to start finding products to promote, there are two main ways you can do this:
- Find products/services that you already use and see if they offer their own affiliate programs (I use this method most often)
- Use affiliate programs that provide catalogs of products and services that you can promote
Measure Your Results
Lastly, you should set up reporting. Tracking your data will give you insight into what is working and what is not. Most affiliate programs and networks will offer some form of analytics for the products you are promoting. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these tracking metrics so you can take full advantage of the insights.
If you choose to set up landing pages or product pages for your products, using tools like Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager can be a great way to track the behavior of your visitors.
How to Build an Online Presence for Affiliate Marketing?
The most comprehensive way to build an online presence is to own and manage your own website with your own blog. Outside of that though, there are numerous ways to create an online presence.
Using Social Media
The first, and most obvious, is to take to social media. We are all very aware of the power of social media advertising. It allows you to promote products and to interact with potential customers. Instagram is very well known for allowing influencers the ability to promote products through their posts.
I recently started using Later, which is a social media scheduling platform that allows you to plan out Instagram and Pinterest posts in advance. With Later, you can connect your website and/or your Shopify store directly to your Instagram posts. This creates an awesome advantage for connecting your followers directly with products you are looking to promote and sell.
As we touched on earlier, managing email campaigns is an extremely useful tool for reaching out and promoting products. The best way to collect emails is through gated content on your website, such as subscriber forms.
Email marketing is an option but comes with severe consequences if not executed correctly. Most services such as Mailchimp do not allow affiliate links inside of the emails being sent out. Violating this rule can lead to suspensions or bans of the service. Instead, you want to set up a page on your website that you can send email subscribers to. This is good on two levels:
- You don’t violate email services terms and conditions
- You aren’t able to spam your subscribers with nonstop affiliate links and product promotions
Once again, being sure you know the rules before getting started is extremely important.
Other Online Communities and Forums
Lastly, online communities and forums can be a great outlet to promote your products. Find similar audiences and use these forums to get them in front of those audiences. Again, you want to use discretion when promoting to these groups. Spamming users with promotional links can be a quick way to turn people off or worse get you banned from the groups.
Now it’s Time to Get Started
There is a multitude of ways to build out your affiliate marketing business. From the market you are in, to the products you promote, to the way in which you build a presence, there is no shortage of options.
Layout a plan and remember whatever work you put in will be directly reflected in the results you earn. The most important takeaway from getting started is making sure that you provide value. The more value you provide the more successful your affiliate marketing campaigns will go.
Question of the Day
What affiliate marketing techniques have worked well for you?