What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing that earns a person (known as an affiliate) a commission by promoting products from a company or person.
For every sale that is made, the affiliate earns a small part of the profit as a commission. The product may be promoted through a blog post, a video, a review, or a platform that reaches a wide audience.
There are three major parties involved in affiliate marketing – the merchant, the affiliate, and the consumer.
The merchant can be a brand, a seller, a vendor, or the creator of a product or service. It can be an individual who is attempting to sell a fitness program or a massive company that wants to sell a particular product such as a credit card.
From entrepreneurs who have just kickstarted their ventures, to well-established Fortune 500 companies, any entity can be the merchant for an affiliate marketing program.
The affiliate, often known as a publisher, is the one who promotes or vouches for a particular product or service. Just like merchants, an affiliate can range from a single individual to a full-fledged organization.
An affiliate can make anywhere from a few dollars in commission to several millions of dollars, depending on the scale of the affiliate marketing business.
The consumer is the most important element in affiliate marketing and facilitates the sale of the product or service. Without sales, there is no profit made by the merchant, and no commissions to be handed out to the affiliate.
There is also a fourth party that is often overlooked – the network. A network, in most cases, acts as an intermediary between the merchant and the affiliate marketer.
The network ensures that the commission is paid to the affiliate whenever a purchase is made using the affiliate link, eliminating the complications of keeping track of every sale and corresponding payouts.
How Common is Affiliate Marketing?
If you are someone who spends a fair amount of time surfing the web and purchasing items online, you are guaranteed to have come across affiliate marketing. If you follow certain blogs or YouTube channels regularly, you may see that they plug in certain products on their page and videos.
Clicking on this link will lead you to an e-commerce platform where you can buy it, and the person who created the content will earn a commission. Other social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram also can be leveraged for affiliate marketing.
Pages and channels with a fairly large number of followers often have a few affiliate links to brands that they are promoting.
These are individuals who have a large following on some form of social media. As a result, they have the power to influence the purchasing decisions of a large population. They can easily promote products through social media, blog posts, and other interactions with followers.
If you follow any well-known personalities on Instagram or YouTube there is a very high chance that you would have seen affiliate links.
Amazon – One of the best examples is Amazone's affiliate marketing program, better known as Amazon Associates. All you need to become an affiliate is to sign up and you'll receive approval. You can then place affiliate links to Amazon products on your website or blog, and receive a commission when someone makes a purchase using this link.
eBay – Another popular e-commerce platform that makes use of affiliate marketing is eBay. Here, affiliates are called eBay partners and can promote the millions of items that are listed on the website.
There are several types of affiliate models associated with eBay, from simple promotional emails, reviews, and blogs, to product listings and browser extensions. Commissions can be quite high, between 40% and 80%, making the eBay affiliate program one of the most rewarding programs for affiliates.
Why Go For Affiliate Marketing?
Turn a Hobby into a Business
If you are someone who loves to post on social media and create blogs and vlogs, affiliate marketing is an excellent way to monetize your hobby.
Rather than thinking of these activities only as a hobby, you can treat it as a start-up business venture that you enjoy doing.
With a little bit of effort and planning, you can soon turn into an excellent source of income!
The Need of the Hour
The shift to working from home, along with a booming e-commerce industry presents several opportunities. You can have a day job, while also running an affiliate marketing business.
You can slowly expand and grow the business into a full-fledged venture while enjoying the numerous perks of having a job that you truly love!
Virtually Zero Start-Up Cost
To become an affiliate marketer, all you need is a computer and an internet connection. They are pretty much the only items and services that you need to invest in to become a full-fledged affiliate marketer.
Most of the affiliate programs available are completely free of charge to sign up for. The amount of money you can earn is solely dependant on how you can promote products and services.
Making money 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year without having to actively work all the time is one of the most alluring aspects of affiliate marketing. Earning commissions even while you sleep or take a vacation is an excellent form of passive income.
Earning sufficient passive income gives you an unmatched sense of freedom, and opens up numerous opportunities and possibilities.
Limitless Earning Potential
Unlike a typical day job, there is no upper limit to the income earned through affiliate marketing. You have the potential to make millions of dollars every year with the right strategy, effort, and performance.
Some of the top individual affiliate marketers make tens of thousands of dollars every month solely from affiliate programs!
Unlike most other businesses, you do not need to develop a service or manufacture and store any type of goods. Developing a product may cost several thousands of dollars and take several months or years before you see even a single sale.
Services and skills take quite some time to master before you can offer it to clients and customers. Affiliate marketing does not experience these pitfalls and can allow you to make money from the get-go.
Flexibility and Convenience
Affiliate marketing has the advantage of giving you complete freedom and control over your goals. You can set your own working hours, work from home, or even work as you travel across the world. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection, and you're golden!
How To Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
Here are a few simple steps to start your journey as an affiliate marketer.
Step 1: Understand Your Niche
The first step to starting as an affiliate is to understand the types of products that you will promote and talk about on various platforms. There are plenty of products that you may enjoy using daily. It all boils down to understanding what these products are, and why exactly you enjoy using them.
This type of affiliate marketing is often known as ‘involved affiliate marketing' since you can relate to the product being promoted, rather than advocating for something just for the sake of earning commissions.
There are three questions that you must keep in mind before choosing a niche.
- Is it something you are quite passionate about?
- Is it something that can attract a large enough audience?
- Is it possible to make money in this domain?
It is possible to become an affiliate in nearly any niche. For example, if you are someone who enjoys reading, you can review books and add an affiliate link. If it is something more specific, such as a fascination for Hot Wheels cars and tracks, start a YouTube page that showcases these products and begin putting up affiliate links.
These avenues are guaranteed to bring customers who enjoy the same niches, and will help ensure that you have a much higher chance of earning a commission when they purchase something!
Step 2: Choose Your Platform
You can use almost any platform to do affiliate marketing. It can be social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or even YouTube.
Choosing the right platform can go a long way in helping you connect with the right type of audience who is interested in the products that you are promoting. A blog is often considered to be the best way to get started with affiliate marketing since it is extremely cheap and easy to set up.
Understand which platform is best for your niche, and begin working there. For instance, if your niche is book reviews, with affiliate links to books being sold online, Instagram is probably not a good platform since it is more image-focused rather than text.
A blog will work much better in your favor in this case. If you are selling something visual that is targeted towards younger audiences, Instagram and Facebook might serve as better options, than LinkedIn. If you are into creating ‘How-To' videos and tutorials, YouTube is probably your best bet.
Step 3: Use Affiliate Networks
Once you have zeroed in on a niche, finding affiliate products to promote is quite simple. One of the best ways to choose affiliate products to promote is by joining a well-established affiliate network.
These networks connect marketers with merchants, ensuring that both parties make more money. Some of the most popular networks are ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, Amazon Associates, ClickBank, and the eBay Partner Network.
In addition to giving you tens of thousands of products to promote, they also offer insights and data into how well each product sells. You can then use this data to come up with a strategy that maximizes your profits.
Step 4: Tools To Help you Start
As an affiliate marketer, you need to build email lists and landing pages to attract and engage audiences who are interested in the products that you are promoting. There are a few tools and services that are can make your life as an affiliate marketer much easier.
Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy in which commercial and sales emails are sent to prospective customers. Using certain tools can make email marketing simpler, as well as more effective. Some of the most popular email marketing tools are AWeber, ActiveCampaign, and GetResponse.
AWeber – This platform allows a user to manage contacts, send emails. and analyze the results. It has a very useful auto newsletter and an automatic tagging feature that can help you target the right people and ensure a higher number of purchases.
GetResponse – This is an application that allows you to create a comprehensive mailing list and track it easily. Newsletters can be sent regularly to subscribers on the list, and you can automatically schedule emails with the help of autoresponders. You can then analyze the number of click-throughs, open rates, forwards, and so on to get more detailed insights.
ActiveCampaign – From scheduled emails, autoresponders, targeted emails, and also triggered emails, ActiveCampaign offers a range of features that ensure your email marketing campaign sees optimal results. It also utilizes Machine Learning algorithms to predict the ideal type of content and time to send emails to specific users for maximum engagement.
A landing page refers to a single web page that is specifically created for an advertising or marketing campaign. Unlike other websites and pages that encourage you to explore, a landing page is designed to increase conversion rates with the help of a call to action.
Elementor – One of the most popular tools available to build web pages is Elementor. Available as a plug-in tool on WordPress, you can create stunning landing pages that are sure to capture the attention of potential buyers.
There is a free version available with a vast array of basic features. The Pro version might be worth investing in if you would like to use professionally crafted templates, well-designed forms and have complete control of every element on your landing page.
LeadPages – LeadPages makes the process of building a landing page or website extremely simple with the aid of the Drag and Drop builder. In a matter of minutes, you can have a mobile-friendly page that converts clients!
You have the entire conversion toolkit at hand, including pop-ups, alerts, and opt-in texts. The analytics dashboard can help you fine-tune your strategies to ensure a better success rate.
Thrive Themes – Thrive Themes is built for WordPress, and features an easy-to-use drag and drop page builder, in addition to lead generation and analytics tools. With over 220 fill-in templates for all types of purposes, you also have complete control over all the elements on the page, allowing for maximum customizability.
AWeber and GetResponse also provide intuitive landing page builders, allowing you to create attractive designs quickly and easily.
Step 5: Create Valuable and High-Quality Content
The most crucial aspect of affiliate marketing is creating enjoyable content that presents affiliate products and links as naturally as possible. Curating a list of the best-selling items from Amazon and presenting it to customers is something anyone can do. You must separate yourself by presenting content that solves some particular issues that your customers face.
Testing items and giving a review is often an excellent way to start your affiliate journey. You don't need to even buy all the products that you review. Find a few interesting and useful items lying around your house, and try to find an affiliate network that lists them.
Most Profitable Niches
Knowing which niches are profitable can help you specialize in affiliate marketing in a specific domain that promises the best return for your efforts.
Health and Fitness
The health and fitness industry is without a doubt the best one to capitalize on for affiliate marketers, owing to the sheer number of merchants selling products and services. From workout programs and exercise routines to diet plans and supplements, health and fitness is an eternally popular niche that is guaranteed to draw customers.
People absolutely love to read up on and watch content that is related to their hobbies. Finding a wide customer base may be tricky for certain types of hobbies. Once you attract the right audience, however, they are much more likely to spend a lot of money, as long as you present content in an appealing manner.
Wealth and Money
People are always interested in learning how to make more money, invest better, and educate themselves about finance. From investing and Bitcoin to credit cards and loans, this niche promises incredibly high commission rates and payouts for each customer that is converted.
If you can build your affiliate marketing business serving one of these niches, and hit it off well, the sky is the limit to your earning potential!
Methods to Generate Traffic
Once you have set up a page, decided on which products you will promote, and have created engaging content that is useful and valuable to people, you must look at ways to increase traffic to your business.
Emails continue to be one of the best avenues for marketing and email marketing is something that you should take seriously to expand your customer base and to engage current subscribers. To have visitors sign up to your email list, you must offer them something valuable.
Call to Action at the Top
Whenever someone visits your page, having a call to action at the top is bound to catch their attention. In the call to action, you can offer content at a discount or for free. When they click on this link, they are redirected to a page where they can enter their email to receive the content.
Use your Sidebar Correctly
Most pages have a lot of cluttered information on the sidebar. When a visitor sees 15 different items and links on the sidebar, there is a good chance that they won't click on anything at all. Instead, have a simple call to action with an eye-catching caption, where they can exchange their email for some free content.
Just ensure to keep your audience engaged with regular emails and updates. The emails don't always need to be a sale or marketing pitch. A simple email describing the new post on your blog, sent out once a week, is sufficient to create interest in your audience.
Joint Venture Webinars
Webinars are an excellent way to engage with your audience and showcase the product that you are promoting. You can also answer questions live, and help the audience get the best out of the session.
Create a landing page for the webinar and post it on all your social media platforms to get people to sign up for it. You can then stream the webinar for free, using Google Hangouts. It takes just a few minutes to set up, and you will be ready to go.
At the end of the session, you can point to your affiliate link and share it with your audience. It feels natural since you just spent some time talking about the product.
If you can get your merchant to give a special deal for your audience, you have a much higher chance of converting your audience right then and there.
Once you see a lot more engagement with your affiliate marketing business, you can look at paid advertising for more sales volume. Paid advertising is worth it only if you are confident in making your money back.
Pay per click or PPC advertising can be leveraged to make more sales, to get people to sign up for your webinars, and also to build your email list. Do note that each click costs a certain amount of money and that you may have to shell out quite a bit before you can see large enough sales to compensate with commissions.
Paid advertising can work well with high-paying affiliate programs where you obtain a larger piece of the pie for every conversion.
SEO For Blogs and YouTube
One of the most powerful techniques for attracting large amounts of traffic to your website, blog, or YouTube page is Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
In its essence, SEO is about understanding the topics that customers are interested in and searching for, creating content that caters to these topics, and taking care of the technical intricacies to ensure that your content ranks higher on search engines.
Keywords form the heart of SEO. A keyword is a search query that customers type into any search engine when they want to know more about something.
For instance, if you live in LA and wanted some nice Italian food, you would probably type in ‘good Italian restaurants in LA' on a search engine. Your content must feature such keywords, which are referred to as ‘long-tail' since they are very specific.
You can use numerous online tools such as Soovle, SEMrush, Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Planner to do keyword research. If you are trying to rank your YouTube channel higher on Google or YouTube search, try to use relevant keywords in the title, and more importantly, in the description.
There are hundreds of resources on SEO, and how to do it well. Be sure to read up and use it to your advantage.
Affiliate marketing can often be overwhelming for beginners. Once you break down the process of getting started step-by-step, however, it doesn't feel all that sophisticated.
The current shift in the economy is facilitating a lot of new business models, with e-commerce platforms and online businesses seeing a renewed spurt in their growth. Affiliate marketing is all set to flourish, as thousands of individuals and businesses aim to utilize the internet to sell their products and services.
Anyone can start an affiliate marketing business with the simple guidelines laid out in this article. If you have ever wanted to start an online venture, this is the perfect time to do so! Follow these steps, and you will be on your way to becoming a successful affiliate marketer!