Affiliate marketing is one way to make money online for those who want to derive an income from their web use. An affiliate marketer promotes specific products or websites in exchange for a cut of the profits or commissions from the web traffic she generates. Any time the recommendation/web traffic from an internet affiliate leads to a sale, the affiliate earns money. In other words, the products or services are provided by others, while you provide a sales or marketing outlet. While there are no successful get-rich-quick schemes, many people have found success doing internet marketing as an affiliate. Learning how to work as a successful affiliate marketer can help you determine whether a career in this potentially lucrative field might be right for you.
1 Breaking Into Affiliate Marketing
Decide on a business model. There are two primary business models that prospective affiliate marketers choose between. The first is a resource site, and the second is a review site. Which model you choose will depend on your familiarity with the products or services you advertise.
Resource sites typically embed a merchant partner’s website in an affiliate link or banner advertisement within how-to articles and posts. This business model requires frequent updates and fresh content to ensure that customers return to the marketer’s website on a regular basis.
Review sites feature reviews of products/services that the marketer has tried and can attest for. Each product/service review includes a link or banner ad that will take customers to the merchant partner’s website. The advantage of review sites is that they require less frequent updates. Marketers simply have to make minor tweaks to their websites to ensure that search engines continue to list the website in their search results
Create a website. In order to work as an affiliate marketer, you’ll need your own platform (a personal website or blog) on which to post links and advertise for your chosen products or services. If you already have a website or blog, you can use that platform to begin earning additional income as an affiliate marketer. If you do not yet have a website or blog, you will need to create one.
The advantage of a blog, such as Blogger, is that it’s free to operate, whereas some websites require a fee to operate. However, sites like GoDaddy.com and Hostgator offer website services that are relatively inexpensive to operate, and may look more professional than a personal blog
Consider joining up with an affiliated marketing company. One easy way to enter the field of affiliate marketing is to join a company that specializes in online marketing. Though you’ll ultimately work independently, companies like MoreNiche allow aspiring affiliate marketers to join for free to have a platform for advertising products/services
Some websites allow you to engage in pay-per-click affiliate marketing without running your own website or blog. Direct links through outside merchant websites allow you to create and make money off of ads without having to post them to your own website. For instance, you might make an ad for a dating website and advertise on Facebook; when someone clicks on your ad, they go straight to the dating site, instead of a website or landing page you have created. Some affiliate networks that specialize in direct linking include Associate Programs, Affiliates Directory, E-commerce Guide, and Link Share
Select a niche. Most affiliate marketers choose a niche, or area of specialization. Before you begin marketing products or services, you’ll need to find an area you can easily work within to advertise.
Your niche doesn’t necessarily need to be an area you’re already an expert in. You can also choose a specialized area which you’re enthusiastic or interested in learning more about.
The initial startup work can be very intensive, so it’s important to choose a niche in which you won’t mind working for prolonged periods. This can help set you up for success as you get your new career off the ground
Choose products and services. Once you’ve chosen a niche in which to work, you’re ready to start finding products and services to promote on your platform. The products/services you choose to promote, as well as how much work you’ll have to put in, will vary depending on your chosen niche
A company like Commission Junction is ideal for marketers who want to promote more traditional products/services. Commission Junction is involved in a diverse range of potential advertising opportunities, which may be ideal for newcomers to the field who haven’t narrowed down their niche yet.
Marketers interested in digital content, like e-books and software, may enjoy working with companies like Amazon, Clickbank, E-junkie, and PayDotCom.
Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing models like Google AdSense may appeal to some marketers. PPC models pay considerably less than other marketing models, but the advantage is that they require less active work of the marketer. The marketer’s pay is determined by how much web traffic is directed to the target site
Find and work with affiliates. Affiliates will help grow your business and help you tap into web traffic. There are many ways to meet and engage with affiliates, but the best way to access desirable affiliates is by building a reputation for yourself. You can do this by developing a popular blog or otherwise earning a large online following, or by becoming a published author of a book or article There are other ways of meeting affiliates, of course, and each method will vary in its success and required effort. Generally speaking, the basic course of action for acquiring affiliates typically involves one of the following methods:
Emailing or otherwise contacting other bloggers and online marketers who share a common niche and asking them to either promote your product, or engaging in a mutually-beneficial cross-promotion wherein both you and the other blogger promote one another’s products
Finding successful affiliates online, either through forums, mutual contacts, or affiliate networks (such as Clickbank or Commission Junction) that you can join online
Drive traffic to your affiliate program. Once you’ve built a popular platform and secured affiliates to work with, you’ll need to drive traffic to your affiliate program. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but one of the easiest and most successful methods involves writing a blog post or web article and using your email newsletter to invite your subscribers to join the affiliate program of your choosing Other methods include:
Giving away free content to other websites (which may drive traffic to your links)
Using viral marketing, like a link at the end of newsletters that allows readers to pass the newsletter on to other readers quickly and easily
Securing free links on websites that already drive a lot of traffic
2 Developing Your Business
Study and learn from other affiliates. A quick and easy way to gain experience and familiarity as an affiliate marketer is by joining an online community or forum. These online resources are free to join and can offer invaluable advice to marketers at all experience levels.
Digital Point, aBestWeb, and Warrior Forum are excellent and free resources for affiliate marketers. In addition to advice from more experienced marketers, these forums also offer networking opportunities to connect with other marketers.
Build relationships. Affiliate marketing takes a lot of work and patience before any real money is made. Affiliate marketing programs drive traffic to the affiliate marketer’s website, but the marketer is responsible for building lasting professional relationships with the affiliate partners out of that web traffic. The marketer must also continually seek out better partnerships with other affiliates.
Learn how your affiliate partners prefer to communicate. Every partner will have a different work schedule and communication preferences, and it falls on you to respect those preferences.
Know what your affiliates need and expect from you.
Brainstorm new ideas to pitch to your affiliates. You should do a substantial amount of research on your affiliates’ websites, and know how they can improve their websites and services.
Seek feedback from your affiliates on how you can improve your own platform.
Attract targeted traffic. It’s not enough to get people to visit your website or blog. In order to generate money from your marketing platform, you’ll need to get people to click your affiliates’ links. There are four primary methods of attracting potential customers:
Paid advertising — this method requires an effective combination of ad copy, graphics, and a highly-clickable link. Unlike more traditional affiliate marketing strategies, paid advertising (through pay-per-click ads) earn you money regardless of whether a reader buys the product or not. Services like Google’s AdSense make this quick and easy for you, and can even supply you with an advertising code.
Free advertising — this method involves placing links and advertisements on free websites, like Craigslist or US Free Ads. Whenever someone clicks on your ad, both you and the website (for example, Craigslist) earn money from the clicks.
Article marketing — this method seeks to gain a higher ranking in search engine results by establishing the marketer as a credible source that won’t use spam software.Many marketers use websites like Ezine Articles to publish articles that contain a unique “resource box,” and as other bloggers and website managers republish the article (with the resource box intact), the marketer who published the original article gradually earns higher search engine rankings.
Email marketing — in this method, marketers embed an email subscription option for website visitors. This allows the marketer to acquire a site visitor’s name and email address, which can help build a lasting relationship and expose the visitor to the marketer’s newsletter.
Write a pay-per-click ad. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements are the bread and butter of affiliate marketing, but how well you craft your ad could be the difference between success and failure. A strong PPC ad should:
Address a specific problem that consumers might be facing, and call attention to a solution or benefit that the product offers
Use a strong and specific keyword that will help drive traffic (for help choosing appropriate keywords, use Google’s free AdWords Keyword Tool)
Reflect the keywords used on the primary “landing” (linked-to) page
Work in an imperative or call to action to gently urge consumers to click through your link
Aim for quality over quantity. Having a vast network of affiliates will not necessarily help you earn more money. According to some experts, the key to successful affiliate marketing is to find the right affiliates that will drive the most results for your platform. Those affiliates may be big sites, small sites, or a combination of the two, but the most important thing is to build and maintain strong relationships with your chosen affiliates
3 Knowing What to Expect
Expect a lot of hard work. Many people breaking into affiliate marketing expect to get rich quick. However, it takes a lot of work to get your affiliate marketing business off the ground, especially in the early stages. Some marketers work 12 hours each day, seven days a week as they try to launch and develop their platforms.
Keep in mind the field is very competitive and many marketing companies are run by professional marketers or large companies cable of spending large sums to attract traffic.
Learn how it works. An affiliate marketer embeds her own unique affiliate link in her web page or blog. This link does not have any impact on customers, and it does not alter the price of any products/services being offered by affiliates. However, any time the customer makes a purchase after clicking an affiliate link within a specified time frame, the marketer gets a commission from that sale. How much you earn will depend on each affiliate’s prices, commission percentages, and the number of sales you’re able to initiate on a weekly or monthly basis.
Understand your demographics. Every affiliate will have their own target demographic. As the affiliate marketer, it’s your job to understand your affiliates’ demographics, and tailor your advertisements or reviews in such a way that that target demographic will be reached through your platform. Knowing, for example, the target demographic’s age, interests, and average income range, will help you tailor your reviews and advertisements to that demographic.