You are looking for ways to make extra money online, so your first instinct is to turn to the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) and do some research. As a result, you come across affiliate marketing. However, you are clueless about what is affiliate marketing and most importantly, does it work?
For many, at first, internet marketing is a mysterious black box with loads of unknowns. So, let’s change your perception by getting you well versed in the affiliate world!
However, here is a spoiler alert! If done correctly, yes, you can make affiliate marketing work for you, and earn an income.
In this post, I am giving you some gist concerning the affiliate space, why you should become an affiliate marketer and also help you choose a direction for your online business.
So, without further ado, let’s dig in!
Affiliate Marketing 101
First, let’s break it down into the following steps:
In a nutshell, there are three components to affiliate marketing. The first one is Your Site (the affiliate marketer), then you have the Merchant and lastly the Customer.
As shown in the image above:
You (the affiliate marketer) are the link between the merchant and the customer.
So, let’s that you have a niche website creating content by blogging about hiking backpacks. When someone buys a hiking backpack based on your recommendation, you receive a commission.
How come? Well, you are helping the merchants promote their products by giving them more online visibility, and increasing their sales, so you get rewarded for your efforts.
The amount of the commission varies significantly upon the can be anywhere between 1-75%.
Why Should You Become an Affiliate Marketer?
As tempting as it might be at first to leave your 9-5 job behind and become a full-time affiliate marketer, here is a word of caution: don’t quit your job yet!
There are a few things you need to know before jumping into the affiliate marketing arena! I like to call this your reality checklist, and here it is:
- Affiliate Marketing doesn’t involve any magic; you won’t get rich overnight. Internet marketing requires much work, as it is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme.
- Self-discipline is needed for working from home; you can get easily distracted by your everyday life.
Moreover, there are pros and cons, and they are listed below:
- Very low start-up costs. You don’t need to carry an inventory or to rent office space.
- Can work from anywhere (like from home).
- It’s free to join an affiliate program.
- No staff needed as you are running the show!
- No need to create your own products.
- Many ways to earn an income, such as, for instance, blogging, displaying ads on your site, using pay per click, and so on.
- No customers issue to deal with since the merchants take care of that aspect.
- Working alone. It is quite easy here to get all caught up in work and forget about life. It is good to have a schedule and to stick to it, as well as allowing yourself to take breaks.
- False advertising. Don’t make false claims about the products in order to sell; this will backfire and ruin your reputation as an affiliate marketer as well as the merchant image.
- Get your affiliate links hijacked. Some unscrupulous people might steal your affiliate links to get your commissions.
- No control over the programs. You are at the mercy of the merchant. So, the merchant can change the program without any notice, and there is nothing you could do about it. However, you always have the option to opt-out and find another affiliate program that is a better fit for you.
- Competition. Well, keep in mind that you are not the only affiliate of that merchant there are others as well. However, with the right set of tools and training, it is possible to make a living as an affiliate marketer.
How to Become an Affiliate Marketer?
It is very simple. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Once you have figured out which affiliate program you want to join, then apply for the program.
Following your approval into the program, you will get your affiliate link, which includes an ID code. So, when you make a sale, the merchant will know that it is you and will then pay you your commission.
Start promoting the products or services through your website, and via social media, ads (Facebook) or PPC (paid per click). There are myriads of ways to give more online visibility to the products, just be creative!
Don’t forget to read the terms and conditions of the affiliate program. You need to get acquainted with the rules, how the program works along with all the Do’s and Don’ts about the promotion of the products. It is always good to know what you are getting yourself into!
What to Look For in an Affiliate Program?
First off, not all affiliate programs are created equal. Some are better than others. So, check out the list below to know what to look for in an affiliate program:
(1) The Commission
Is it one-time or a recurring commission? Some programs offer a recurring commission where you get paid for as long as the person pays for the service or subscription.
(2) Commission Rate
How much do you get paid per sale? Is it a fixed amount of money or a percentage? In other words, do you get paid $10 per sale (no matter the value of the item sold) or do you get 5% of the product price as a commission?
(3) Program Incentives
Is there any incentives offered to the affiliates to promote the merchant’s products. For example, if you become their top affiliate, do you get paid a higher commission rate for being a super affiliate.
(4) Product Quality
Is it something that you would buy yourself? Do you find value in the product or service? If so, it will then be easier to recommend their goods, and you won’t be perceived as someone trying to push cheap products to his or her customers only to make a buck.
(5) Customer Service
Look for the client’s satisfaction with the product or service. The best way to do this is to read the customer review on the merchant’s website or browse the internet for reviews about the seller’s products. Another option is to get in touch directly with former clients to find out about their experiences with that merchant.
What to Choose: Affiliate Networks or Affiliate Programs?
When first entering the space of internet marketing, the newbies are often confused by the terminology used. Therefore, the most common questions that I get are the following:
- What is an affiliate network?
- How is it different from an affiliate program?
Well, the difference between the two is a mere technicality!
Let me explain how it works. An affiliate network regroups a wide variety of affiliate programs. It is the-go-between if you will, between the affiliate marketer and the merchant. The affiliate network manages all the aspects related to a particular affiliate program, which include providing the affiliate links, keeping stats about the sales, and paying out the commissions.
Because of this, many companies prefer to join an affiliate network to avoid having to manage their own affiliate program.
So what is best? It all comes down to your personal preferences!
Let’s say you want to promote a wide range of products as part of your online business. You have three choices:
(1) Join Loads of Individuals Affiliate Programs
You can sign up for all the affiliate programs that offer the products that you want to promote as part of your online business.
So let’s say you want to sell a wide range of products such as e-books, electronics, sports equipment and so on, you would have to sign for separate affiliate programs offering each product! Now, you see where I am going with this, to have that many affiliate accounts would be an absolute nightmare to manage as well as being very time-consuming.
(2) Affiliate Networks
To alleviate having to join multiple affiliate programs, you should opt for an affiliate network, such as CJ.com where you will find thousands of products to promote, all in one place.
It is going to be a big-time saver as you will have only one account to manage. Within the affiliate’s network dashboard, you will have access to all your statistics for all the affiliate programs that you are part of, and moreover, you will be paid through a single payment for all the commissions earned from the various programs.
(3) Amazon Associates
Another option is to join the Amazon affiliate program called Amazon Associates. Amazon is by far the biggest seller of products online as it offers more than 500 million products to promote worldwide. Thus, there is no need to join many affiliate programs!
Here is a list of the most popular affiliate networks:
- Amazon Associates
- CJ by Conversant (formerly known as Commission Junction)
Where to Go to Build Your Thriving Affiliate Business?
Nowadays, there are so many offers in the online world claiming to be the best, that it becomes quite a colossal undertaking to go through all those offers to find which ones are legit opportunities.
So let’s cut to the chase, there is no need to do further research to find where to go to set up your business! Since I have been through the process myself, I have done all the research for you and found the most innovative marketing platform within the affiliate space, and it’s called Wealthy Affiliate.
The Wealthy Affiliate platform provides all the tools and the training needed to learn about affiliate marketing, hosting, websites as well as extensive support from a community of well-minded affiliate marketers to help you every step as you build and grow your online business.
There are two levels of membership at Wealthy Affiliate. The first level is the Starter Membership. I strongly suggest that you choose this option at first as it’s free to try. By doing so, it will enable you to “test drive” all the features of the platform. The second level of membership, which is more advanced is the Premium Membership where you get full access to the whole platform for less than $2/day ($495/year).
If you have any questions about affiliate marketing or want to share your ideas for your business with me, please leave a comment below. I am looking forward to hearing from you and helping you become a success in the online world.