Are you an entrepreneur who is looking for yet another source of revenue? Are you ready to step up your freelancing game and start earning thousands of dollars more each year as an affiliate marketer?
Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest methods of making money for online marketers. Even before the internet started, and people called it affiliate marketing, you could offer discounts or rewards to people who sent their friends, family, or other interested parties to your business (hello, referrals!) The great thing is, you don’t have to deal with customer service or creating new product ideas.
Today, affiliate marketing has expanded into a multi-billion dollar industry on which marketers all over the world capitalize every day. In this article, we will find out all about the basics and benefits of affiliate marketing, how you can get in on the action, the best way to protect yourself in this tricky world, and which tools you may find useful to your work.
How to be an Online Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing is a tool for you to make money for companies to get their products and services into the hands and lives of others. The days of cold advertising on television and in pop-ups are beginning to fade away and are being replaced by “helpful advertising” in the form of online affiliate marketing.
As an affiliate marketer, you create content. Maybe it’s blog content or a full informative website. Perhaps it’s a lively Facebook or Twitter feed. Either way, your content is helpful to people who go online and search for things. Maybe these people want to hear someone else’s thoughts on a particular product. Maybe they want to know what types of products they need to achieve their goals.
Your job, as an affiliate marketer, is to set yourself up as an authority on some sort of topic – beauty, fashion, electronics, automotive repair, et cetera.
Once you have established – on your website, blog, or social media feed – that you know what you are talking about you can start making recommendations to your readers. The recommendations you make lead to sales for other companies and those companies, in turn, pay you a cut of their profits for the help you gave.
The Single Biggest Pro & Con of Being an Affiliate Marketer
Working as an affiliate marketer isn’t really working much at all, once you get into the swing of things. Although the work is front-end heavy (you have to do a lot before you will see any income) you will eventually find that you don’t need to do much work at all and that you will literally make money as you sleep.
Let’s take a look at the biggest pros and cons of affiliate work.
Pro – You can make money while you sleep.
Once you set up your website, get your content flowing and schedule all relevant social media your web traffic will begin to pick up. You can make good passive income money online with affiliate marketing. If you’ve done everything properly you will find that money from purchases and click-throughs comes into your account when you aren’t even looking.
Con – It takes a while to get started.
Getting your feet off the ground and flying through the online affiliate marketing world may get a little frustrating at first. It takes time to build an online presence and really begin competing with other major websites. As long as you don’t give up and continually create helpful content you will come out on top in the end.
How to Start an Online Affiliate Marketing Business from Scratch
So, getting started can take some time but you are still willing to see this through because, well, you could end up making money while you sleep! What’s a little extra work now in order to make more money and work less, right?
There are 3 key parts of the “getting started” process you need to know:
- Finding affiliate partners and affiliate programs
- Setting up affiliate partnerships (yes, this is a step all on its own!)
- Setting up affiliate advertisements
You’ve probably heard about people who use e-commerce websites and large online stores or affiliate marketing networks as their affiliate partners. Usually, these people get a very small cut of the profits and have to compete with all of the other thousands of people out there, who are also trying to see bicycles and computers using websites like Amazon.
Instead of doing what everyone else is doing and making peanuts while doing it, set yourself apart by partnering with mid-sized businesses, who sell products and services which will be highly useful to your readers.
Think about the typical person who visits your website and then ask yourself, “What does this person need to make his or her life easier or more enjoyable?” Then, go out and find those products and services. This is how to start your own digital affiliate program.
Setting Up Affiliate Partnerships
You may be lucky and find companies which already have online affiliate programs in place or are part of a larger affiliate marketing network. In that case, all you will have to do is get yourself connected to the program, follow the rules, and invoice your partner as necessary.
You may, however, find just the right product or service only to see that the business does not have an affiliate program set up.
You will have to work with some companies to create a unique affiliate program just for you. In these cases, follow these steps:
- Take the time to connect with this company
- Explain the potential benefit for both of you if a partnership is formed
- Create a clear and concise contract outlining the payment you will receive for advertising, click-throughs, and/or purchases
- Set up a billing and payment method and schedule
Setting Up Affiliate Advertising
After you have connected yourself to one or more companies in an online affiliate marketing partnership you can begin to set up the affiliate advertising. Basic banner ads and sidebar ads can be helpful to generate some income but you should focus your advertisements on helpfulness.
Your reader wants to know something. Maybe the reader wants to know which laptop to buy for her new graphics career. In that case, she is probably looking for someone who will give her reviews of top-selling laptops and how each one can or cannot be beneficial to someone in her industry.
Maybe your reader wants advice about creating a healthy lifestyle. In this case, he might want to know about basic lifestyle changes he could make to create a healthier lifestyle. In the midst of giving that advice, you can also suggest a product or two that he may find useful.
The purpose of this type of marketing is not to shove things down your readers’ throats and hope that they will become so annoyed by your advertisements that they’ll click them. The purpose is to convince your reader that you are a trustworthy source of information and then to suggest ways they can improve their lives with the products and services offered by your affiliate partners.
Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up an Affiliate Marketing Website
Do – Make use of your blog
Your blog is a great way to make things personal. You can show your personality more on blog posts than on individual informational website pages. You can also focus each post on a particular topic, niche, or reader. It is also a great way to utilize SEO strategies to pull readers from search engines. Remember to make all posts focused on being helpful.
Don’t – Try to do it all yourself
Unless you have a ton of spare time or are willing to take years to get things started it can be helpful to elicit the help of others in the creation of your website. Allow guest bloggers to offer content to your website, hire someone to create the website layout, use a simple program for sending invoices – whatever saves you time without costing tons of money.
Do – Take advantage of Social Media
Many people who create affiliate marketing websites think that the website will just run itself. Though good content and proper SEO practices will bring in readers from search engines, social media can also be a very helpful tool for filtering people to your website. Try to make your social media posts related to your website content and helpful tips more so than the actual products. The point here is to get people to your page and then present them with the product after creating a connection with them.
Don’t – Create fake content
Trust is one of the most important parts of the inbound affiliate marketing approach. Your reader needs to trust that you have helpful information and that you are suggesting a particular product because you actually care about his or her needs.
Some affiliate marketers boast about using products they’ve never actually even seen in person. Your readers will eventually catch on that there is no way you’ve actually used every one of the 25 hair dryers you advertise on your website. Instead of implying that you have experience with things you do not, tell your readers your opinion of those products based on your research and what other people are saying.
Tips to Improve Your Affiliate Marketing ROI & Success
Whether you’re new to the world of freelancing or you’ve been at it for years there is always more you can learn. Online affiliate marketing programs are a rich source of online income, but getting started can be a tricky process. Whether you are looking to establish an ongoing business or just need some extra money, there are some important tips you need to create your perfect affiliate marketing campaign this year.
Make Mobile Part Of Your Strategy
As you already know, mobile marketing is all the rage. More and more people are using their phones to purchase, opt in, and get their daily dose of content. In fact, Affiliate World Asia 2016, concluded that mobile use would be the future in affiliate marketing trends and that has proven true in 2019.
There’s still a place for even more affiliate marketers who need to get started with their mobile marketing strategy. You can do this by investing in getting traffic through mobile devices and placing advertisements on mobile apps.
Don’t Forget About Relationships
Build relationships. This is a key feature in affiliate marketing. You have found your audience, you know what they want and need, now the only thing to do is to find who they look up to. Who do they share the most, or talk about with others? These are the influencers in your industry and they will have the most impact on the people in which you are trying to place your product in front of.
Relationship marketing and influencer marketing are essential to affiliate marketing. It’s important to have great working relationships with influencers in your niche, so they can talk about your product to people who will find it relevant.
Engage with the influencer and begin to create conversation (if you don’t know them yet). If you do this consistently, after a bit, you can approach them with an offer to promote your product to their followers. This usually comes at a price, but think of it as an advertising strategy.
Sell Products that Deliver Value to the User
One of the mistakes many new affiliate marketers make when starting out is to sell anything and everything. You need to make sure the product you’re about to present to your audience is a product which will be valuable and helpful to your target market.
Remember, you have a reputation to uphold. And if any of these people are going to come back and buy from you again and again, you need to be the go-to source for recommending and selling the best products in your niche.
Providing value to the buyer is really the key. You don’t want a one-off sales strategy where you pick a product blindly and then pray to God (or spend money on A/B testing after the fact) it works. Take some time and research valuable products which will benefit your users.