Making money while you sleep... That's kind of the whole point, isn't it? And if I have to guess, that's why you're currently reading The Beginners Guide To Affiliate Marketing, correct?
After all, building a passive income is the reason why millions of people are starting to work online in the first place.
What better way to do that than affiliate marketing?
This post may contain affiliate links, see my disclosure here.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Truth to be told, the answer to that question may vary depending on who you're asking.
For instance, 99% of the people who have basic knowledge on the subject will tell you that affiliate marketing is a process that connects 3 different parties - the merchant, the affiliate, and the customer.
However, other resources like Wikipedia claim that the parties involved are actually 4 - the merchant, the network, the affiliate, and the customer.
Personally, I tend to agree with Wikipedia more - the network is an important player to be considered in the affiliate marketing game.
As such, its participation should never be ignored.
When you're an affiliate, a lot of times you'll have to go through an affiliate network just to be allowed to promote a particular product.
In most cases, that happens if the merchant manages his affiliate program on that network and that network alone.
Now, let's not overwhelm you with so many terms, you'll have plenty of time to get familiar with them later.
Instead, I'll suggest narrowing your focus down to just two of the parties - the merchant and the affiliate.
Especially the latter, considering the whole purpose of this article is to give you a strong foundation for affiliate success!
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Let me explain in the easiest way possible:
Basically, to be an affiliate, you'll have to recommend products/services to an audience for a commission.
Meaning, when people buy something based on your recommendation, you're getting paid for your marketing efforts.
In a nutshell, here is what you'll need to do in order to call yourself an affiliate:
- Decide on a product/service you would like to promote
- Sign up for the affiliate program of that product/service
- Receive a unique (affiliate) link that will allow the merchant to track the people clicking on it
- Once a person completes a purchase through your link, you'll be making your first affiliate sale
- Get paid an affiliate commission
By the way, you've been acting as an affiliate every now and then without even knowing it!
For instance, here is a situation that will sound familiar to all of the ladies reading:
So, you're rocking a brand new pair of boots. They are cool, they are awesome, they are everything a pair of boots should be and then some!
What do you do as soon as you leave the shop?
Well, you brag about them to your girlfriends, right?
You put them on, you walk around the room, and you can't shut up about how that's the best boots you've ever had.
And the next thing you know, at least one of your girlfriends has the exact same pair the very same day.
Do you know what that makes you? Simple, an affiliate of the shop selling the boots.
But did you get paid for sending customers to that shop? Probably not.
What if you were, though?
Imagine what would happen if the shop is actually the whole Internet space with thousands of customers you could recommend and sell to.
Then, you'll be on the road to doing affiliate marketing for a living!
Right now, I can almost hear you:
"Seriously, affiliate marketing is that profitable?"
Let's talk a bit about the subject of money, shall we?
Is The Affiliate Marketing Sector Still Lucrative?
In my opinion, the main idea behind your desire to be an affiliate is to make money, right?
I'm not going to lie, that's why I'm doing it.
Quite frankly, that's why everyone is doing it!
That being said, before I give the beginners guide to affiliate marketing a go, how about we discuss the money factor for a minute?
If you do a bit of research on the matter, this is what you'll most likely read:
Firstly, forget about it - the best days for affiliate marketing are long gone.
Secondly, only a small fraction of the active affiliate marketers are making decent sales.
Lastly, there is just too much competition nowadays, so putting your efforts into doing affiliate marketing is not worth your time.
Mark my words, that's a total BS!
And I'm saying that because I know what I'm talking about:
I've made my first 3 affiliate sales when this site was still brand new and the traffic I was getting was less than 100 visitors a month.
So, let's look at the stats. After all, the numbers don't lie, do they?
- 15% of the total digital media advertising revenue is attributed to affiliate marketing
- the annual affiliate marketing spending is expected to hit the $6.8 billion mark by 2020
- affiliate programs generate 15%-30% of all sales for advertisers...
To see more awesome affiliate marketing stats, just read the whole article here.
The bottom line is - no, you're not too late at the party - there is still a lot of money to be made with affiliate marketing!
How To Start With Affiliate Marketing?
Patience, online pals - the beginners guide to affiliate marketing that I have in mind is a bit different than most of the similar content you can find online.
If it feels like it's taking me forever to give you the steps, trust me - I have my reasons.
Ultimately, I want to make sure that you'll be getting into the affiliate marketing sector as prepared as humanly possible.
As a result, I think that now is the right time to give you some general guidelines:
1) Can Anyone Become An Affiliate Marketer?
In my opinion, anyone can dive into affiliate marketing and find success with it.
Meaning, if you have Internet access, desire to learn, and you're willing to put in the work, then you're good to go.
Furthermore, you don't need to have any marketing background or previous experience.
However, the one thing you need for sure is the right mindset, especially at the beginning.
Let's make something perfectly clear:
By all means, affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
Subsequently, you won't see any significant results over-night.
But if you keep your eyes on the prize and follow the right path, the results will come eventually!
2) What Do You Need To Start With Affiliate Marketing?
First and foremost, there are a couple of ways to do affiliate marketing.
For instance, most of the beginners prefer to start with a landing page.
Now, that's not an awful way to test the waters. You can create a landing page for the product you would like to promote and then focus your efforts on driving traffic to your offer.
To be honest, though, that may not be an awful way to start, but it's not a great one either.
Because as awesome and valuable a good landing page can be, relying solely on it just won't be enough.
Even more, why should you settle for promoting a single product when you can promote as many products as you would like?
So, what's the other option then?
Well, there are a couple of them, but the best one is to start your own blog.
3) Why Do You Need A Blog To Be Successful With Affiliate Marketing?
In the interest of full disclosure, you can make money without a blog through affiliate sales.
I mean, you can work with YouTube and leave affiliate links below your videos for example. And it's perfectly fine if those affiliate links go straight to the product's sales page.
Again, not the best practice if you're interested to earn your living with affiliate marketing.
Here is the most important thing you should always remember:
Above all, the people who will click on your affiliate links are ready to be customers.
Meaning, they are already looking for the product you're promoting because they expect that product to solve their problem.
As an affiliate marketer, your job is not to give your audience links that will allow them to buy a product - they can find those links everywhere!
On the contrary, your job is to help your readers make an informed decision on whether they should buy the product at all.
Likewise, you need to provide them with valuable information and show them why and how that particular product will solve their problem.
And the best way to do that is to start a website and fill it with a high-quality content wrapped around the products you're promoting.
Related: 10 Reasons To Start A Blog Today
The Beginners Guide To Affiliate Marketing - Your Steps To Affiliate Success
OK, it's time to get this guide rolling.
Not that I want to nag you but still:
If you want to have a solid foundation for your future affiliate sales, don't skip any of the following steps:
1) Choose An Industry
In other words, decide on the niche your blog will focus on.
To clarify, a niche is a small segment of the market that you'll be targeting.
Chances are, you're probably wondering:
"Why should I limit my site to a single niche? Doesn't writing about tons of different products give me a better chance for more affiliate sales?"
Actually, quite an argument can be made about that, but here is what I believe:
Honestly, there are sites that blog about plenty of different topics and have incredible success online.
From the top of my head, have a look at Chasing Foxes - its owners produce content about travel, food and drink, lifestyle, how to blog...
However, blogs like Chasing Foxes are more of an exception nowadays and there is a reason for that:
By all means, a niche-focused website has a much better chance for success than a website that covers just about everything.
Because you can't earn the trust of your audience and become an expert in your field if don't pick a field in the first place!
For instance, have a look at Culture Wedding - it's all about fashion and weddings, so don't expect to read any parenting advice there!
2) Launch Your Blog
First and foremost, don't let the idea of building a website to give you a small heart attack.
There is absolutely no reason to freak out, you can trust me on that:
Personally, I'm probably the last person in the world you can call a tech-savvy.
But it turns out that this doesn't matter at all - I've managed to build my site in less than 10 minutes.
Needless to say, so will you.
Nowadays, no coding experience or anything similar is required to start a blog.
Even more, there are tons of blogging tools that are specifically designed to help you launch your business.
On that note, I can recommend you to give SiteRubix a try - it's the platform I used to build this website.
3) Write Valuable Content
Don't worry, we're fast approaching the most important part of the beginners guide to affiliate marketing.
Not just yet though:
Before you start adding affiliate link after link, you'll need something to add all those links to first.
Now, I've already mentioned that your content has to be valuable and high-quality.
Meaning, every single article that you upload needs to provide the information your readers are looking for and/or solve their problem.
Make no mistake, you can't publish 400 words long post that doesn't serve your audience in any manner and to expect this post to bring you money.
Firstly, the tiny articles don't rank on Google anymore. Therefore, if you want to see massive free traffic, you'll need to do a much better job with optimizing your work for the search engines.
Secondly, if you just touch briefly a certain topic without really getting into it, you're not much of a help, are you?
That being said, here is the type of articles that work best for affiliate sales:
- How To's - teach your readers how to do whatever they need to do
- Tutorials - lead them through each step by the hand
- Product Reviews - show them why they should/shouldn't buy a specific product/service
Related: How To Write Posts That Sell
4) Find Products To Promote
Alright, this is the most essential part of today's article.
And I would like to start covering it by telling you what not to do when choosing products to promote:
- Offering Irrelevant Products - you can't add an affiliate link for a product that has nothing to do with your business and its audience. It doesn't matter how big of a commission it offers - it's not going to work!
- Promoting Crappy Products - that's the fastest way to lose your reader's trust. Again, don't let the greed to affect your marketing decisions.
- Overdoing It - from my personal experience, I can say that much - if every second line of your post contains an affiliate link, I'm out!
So, now that you know the basics of how not to choose products, let's talk about how you should.
But this is going to be a very long conversation, so let's give it the chapter it deserves, shall we?
What Kind Of Products You Can Promote As An Affiliate Marketer?
Generally, I'll do my best to keep this paragraph as simple as possible.
So many articles online tend to over-complicating it, talking about tons of terms that can be quite confusing if you're a newbie.
Besides, this is the beginners guide to affiliate marketing, so I won't follow their footsteps.
Basically, there are 2 types of products you can promote on your blog - physical products and digital products.
1) Physical Products
Without a doubt, promoting physical products is the best and fastest way to make your first dollar as an affiliate.
If you're wondering why is that, the answer is really simple:
Nowadays, people are terribly busy.
As a result, they do most of their shopping online.
With that being said, the first thing you'll need to do is create an account with Amazon Associates.
Currently, this is the largest affiliate program in the world and once you join it, you can get an affiliate link for any product being offered on the site.
Honestly, I don't think that there is even one person that I know who hasn't bought something from Amazon at some point in time, myself included.
So, you won't have any problem finding physical products to promote that will suit your niche with Amazon Associates.
However, it's important to note that while this program can make you affiliate sales fast, it's not without disadvantages.
Firstly, the commission rate is pretty low - it's hard to get more than 10%.
Secondly, the cookie duration is only 24 hours and that's an extremely short window for affiliate sales.
Still, Amazon Associates is your best bet to earn an affiliate commission today.
Therefore, I wouldn't look elsewhere if this was my day one working in the field.
2) Digital Products
Finally, those are my favorite!
And when you see what an incredible choice you'll have, they'll be yours as well.
I have no intention to waste any time, so here we go:
- e-Books - one of the most popular types of digital products you can promote. They're so easy to consume and that's probably why thousands of people prefer them.
In case you're interested to make a full-time income from creating and selling your own e-books, I have an entire post about it.
- Software - don't underestimate it, this industry is growing so fast. Take your pick - games, apps, plugins, cloud services...
- Mobile Apps - they tend to make a really nice extra income. And that's why the audience can say no to them!
- Online/Hosted Services - the products here are more than I can count. Think about website platforms, lead generation services (example: Thrive Leads), email service providers (example: ConvertKit)
- Professional Services - content marketing services, graphic design services, virtual assistant services
- Online Courses - there are online courses on just about any topic you can think of. Subsequently, the opportunity to earn commissions will surpass your expectations.
Recommended Affiliate Marketing Courses:
The Beginners Guide To Affiliate Marketing - Additional Help
So far, you're already aware of what is affiliate marketing and how it works.
Don't kid yourselves, though, all the knowledge in the world won't do you any good unless you act on it.
But what if you need help with that?
Well, then ask for it, it's what I did not that long ago.
That's how I found Wealthy Affiliate.
For those of you who don't know yet:
Above all, Wealthy Affiliate is the place you go to if you want to transform yourself into a powerful affiliate marketer.
To clarify, this online university will teach you the ins and outs of SEO, keyword research, driving organic traffic to your site, using Social Media to maximize exposure and so much more.
Plus, it will give you 2 free websites and free access to a premium keyword research tool to get your business out of the door today.
Most importantly, it will welcome you into the most helpful and resourceful blogging community I've ever been a part of.
Not to mention that it's free to join!
Hopefully, the beginners guide to affiliate marketing will help you find your way to making a satisfying online income.
Just remember, this whole process is a marathon, not a sprint.
Give it time, work hard, and you'll see those affiliate commissions coming!
Now, what's your take on affiliate marketing?
Do you see yourself becoming pretty successful with it? Or is there something stopping you from even trying?
Let me know in the comments!