Given a chance to earn a side income, would you want to:
- Learn how stock markets work so that you could take on substantial risks with your money while working there?
- Find a side job that adds to your weekly working hours and tires you out for the weekend that you spend sleeping? OR
- Get with your time and earn a side income with no risk to your money with a simple process that does not require any effort to learn?
Chances are, you picked the third option. Even if you didn’t, just assume you did and read ahead to learn about this fantastic little concept called Affiliate Marketing.
For those who are dreaming to become influencers, I have other guides on how to make money on Snapchat, but today let’s try your hand at Affiliate Marketing, because a little side income doesn’t hurt, right?
What is affiliate marketing?
You see all those bloggers and influencers recommending you new stuff to try, and let’s be honest, you take their advice seriously sometimes like you would trust a friend, but unlike your friends, they make money every time you buy something off their link — called the affiliate links.
It all works through an affiliate network. You find a product in the networks that appeal to you and start marketing it on your forums. When the product generates sales through your marketing efforts, you earn a commission on it! You don’t have to learn the shorts, longs, and derivatives of a financial market and stock trading to earn your income here. Persistent marketing efforts will get you passive income here!
Affiliate Marketing – The new and the old
Although the concept sounds very modern, it is not. Most people believe that affiliate marketing is a consequence of the internet. But, this has been going on for centuries. It’s similar to how a man discovers fires, tell other people around about it, and the word spreads.
Fast forward to the age of the internet, William J. Tobin launched and patented the first-ever affiliate marketing program in 1989. The program began from his company called PC Flowers & Gifts.
Using Tobin’s ideas, CDNOW launched its BuyWeb program in 1994. This is where the very first idea of affiliate marketing took root. Customers were provided links on third-party websites that would take them directly to CDNOW pages to purchase albums.
After that point, the process kept evolving to turn it into what you see today – one of the main marketing techniques for companies worldwide. So, while in those days, CDNOW needed to have its links on full-fledged websites, today, you could just use social media like Twitter to expand your business.
Here is a very justifiable reason why the idea of Affiliate Marketing has picked up pace in recent years.
Marketing is no longer just about creating awareness about your products. Today, it is about changing perceptions and prompting buying behavior in a consumerist society. And this is precisely what makes marketing so competitive today that strategies have been developed to teach people how to sell anything.
Not just that, the past decade has seen marketing budgets by companies shoot up. The rising competition and all the clutter on popular media are fought with an aggressive approach to marketing today.
So much so that brands are openly competing. Take Burger King, for instance, that has been taking on McDonald’s for years now. With their recent ad burning campaign, Burger King has taken it up one level to beat the giant McDonald’s marketing campaign.
Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
There are a few questions that you might have about affiliate marketing. Do affiliate marketing programs work? Do they bear any benefit for the business? Even more importantly, do they bear any results for you when you start the program?
Well, driving straight into facts, it becomes rather apparent how effective affiliate programs are for publishers. A total of 16% of the total e-commerce sales come from affiliate marketing! Just imagine how huge a figure of 16% of the global online sales represents.
The channel has been so effective and accessible for a business that it was voted as one of the top two revenue generators for publishers. So, there is no doubt about its popularity and effectiveness among affiliates.
It is not just side income that people are earning from affiliate programs, it is a regular source of income. About 35% of affiliates earn over $20000 from their affiliate programs!
When it comes to brands, about 81% of brands use these programs to promote the sales of their products and services to the mass market. Spending on Affiliate marketing is expected to rise to about $6.8 billion in 2020 in the U.S. alone!
How to do Affiliate Marketing
Ever heard someone saying, “I make so much money just from telling people to buy new stuff and click on things,”. There is more to the picture than what it looks like!
While it all sounds lucrative and interesting, affiliate marketing may not be as easy as people make it out to be. After all, it is a process, and you compete against several other affiliates while trying to make an income.
. Given that you stick to the basics (which, by the way, are pretty easy to learn) and follow a clear outline, you can achieve your target..
Here are a few tips on how to do affiliate marketing:
1. Pick a niche
Marketing 101 will teach you that a niche is any product or service that appeals to a select portion of the population. Of course, selecting a niche also implies that the needs and wants of that segment of customers are unmet. So, with your eye for a blue ocean, you enter a market that is only for you.
Here are a few tips on finding your niche:
- Find Inspiration at Home
The essential step at finding a niche is to look for inspiration in your life. Think about your problems and try to identify a segment where no brand already exists. Try looking at your most common problems and your everyday schedule to identify where you can cut down on time and costs.
A hack that people often use to identify their niche is to use premium products in their lives as the focal point. If you can identify a segment that is only being catered to by a premium product that charges a premium price, you can find a cheaper solution and win the segment over.
If you do find something you can work with, congratulations! You have your niche. If you do not, try the next step.
- Look Into People’s Lives
Look around you and observe the lifestyle of others. You will find that purchasing habits tend to be relatively different across a particular lifestyle.
To get some real insights and solutions, try looking into different demographics. That is your choice if you want to tap another economic segment or a different age group, get inspiration wherever it comes from.
Try looking for people who need an offering that is not available. Try looking for people who have had complaints with their previous purchases, and you know how to solve their problems. If people can find inspiration for ideas like Robinhood, you can find ideas for paid offerings.
- Ads are Your Friends
Do you know those annoying ads that keep popping up as you connect with your friends over social media?
When these ads pop up, try looking at what they are offering. They could be your insight into a niche that you will tap and work on.
From their offering, you can gauge pretty well what type of target market they are working on and use the same ideas. Or, if possible, you could try to work on a similar sort of offering for your niche.
- Technology Trends
Perhaps the safest bet at finding a niche is to follow hardcore facts and trends. Try looking into technology and understand what is coming.
When you know what is coming in the future, you have a much better chance of predicting and creating a service that people do not yet have. And you know about technology, the ground belongs to the first-mover.
- Find Good Products to Promote
Once you have a niche, the next step is to choose the specific product to work on. As a beginner, you would want to work on products that can get you into sales figures, even if they offer lower commissions.
As you learn the tricks of this trade, you can expand into product categories that give you a higher commission for each sale.
Regardless of the commission, though, what you must be able to tell is whether the product is sellable. You probably cannot create a market for an iPhone 4 today, neither can you sell those old bulky monitors.
To understand what products sell today and which ones do not, market research is a must. And you begin from the very basics when doing that research. You begin from the industry to understand where it’s going. If the trends dictate that the industry is dying out, you do not jump into it.
You also look into the specifications and the quality of the product. Understanding the product build quality and specifications will help you tweak its value proposition to fit your target market.
Perhaps the biggest help in deciding on a good product to sell is to look at its product reviews. Where do you look for them? Of course, at a site that sells everything from A to Z i.e Amazon.
Statistics clearly show that the highest sales are for products that have a high rating.
But Amazon is not the only place that you can find reviews for your product. Studies show that reviews in e-commerce are one of the most important factors in sales growth for companies.
No matter how big Amazon maybe, it is not the only place to find reviews about your products. Social media platforms, in particular, are an important source of review collection and generation.
Since organizations are much more responsive to social media, people may want to reach out to them there. That is why a bulk of reviews on social media are catered to immediately.
I am sure my guide on finding a niche that I wrote for The Huffington post will make your decision easier. Read it here!
2. Decide on The Platforms to Use
The only way you can ensure that your affiliate program is better than others and hence attracts more people is to ensure that you choose the right platform to work. Every platform will be different and offer its features to help you work.
You get to decide what platform works best in general, fit in with your niche and target audience, and helps you tackle competition. You can find plenty of reviews about the platforms. Of the most popular affiliate platforms today, some are as follows:
- Amazon affiliates
Also called Amazon Associates, is a platform by ) Amazon. And just like any other platform running a full-fledged affiliate program, Amazon Affiliates provides its customers with plenty of choices.
You get to choose from three different types of affiliate marketing:
- Pay-per-click: affiliate paid on how many visitors arrive at the site via the affiliate’s link
- Pay-per-sale: affiliate paid on how many purchases customers sent by the affiliate make.
- Pay-per-lead: affiliate paid on the number of visitors that sign up as leads with the merchant.
Whatever the type of program you choose, Amazon takes only about 24 hours to give you your share when you succeed in bringing in a customer.
ClickBank is another one of the most popular affiliate platforms running today that has a vast network for marketers to promote programs. You can use the Affiliate Finder feature in the network to find the best affiliates.
Moreover, ClickBank is one of the few affiliate marketing platforms that offer mobile-optimized order forms for your smartphones and tablets. As an affiliate, you can also find custom order forms that will give you better conversions and subscription management to control product subscriptions and memberships.
One of the best features of ClickBank, though, is the great customer support it offers and the ability to create joint venture contracts. The pricing for the platform is reasonable.
ClickFunnels is among one of the new platforms to offer its support for affiliate programs and offers features like no other. The commission rates at ClickFunnels are just crazy, standing at 40% of each sale that the affiliate brings.
All you need to earn this money is to create a ClickFunnels affiliate account and get working. However, you will need some help in understanding how the platform works and the type of benefits it offers. It is not every day that you get to use a tool that is considered to be number one when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Relevant: Read my review of Clickfunnels here
- Other Brands
While not as popular, several different brands, too, run their affiliate marketing programs. These include Canva, SEMrush and Bluehost that offer affiliates brands flexibility. Of course, these platforms may not be as powerful as the other three, but they do offer a basic understanding of how affiliate marketing works.
3. Buy a domain and hosting
Your effort in affiliate marketing focuses on your website that takes people to the merchant site. For this very reason, you must ensure that you always get the right domain and hosting.
Contrary to popular beliefs, your domain and hosting for affiliate marketing may be different from your regular everyday website. Two of the platforms most considered for affiliate marketing hosting are Godaddy and Bluehost.
However, you should understand what factors go into picking the right domain and hosting for your affiliate marketing program. In choosing the right program, ensure that you consider the following factors:
- Guaranteed Uptimes: this is how often your website will be online during a week, month, or year. People will not come back to your site if they see it is down unless necessary.
- Load Times: statistics say that the probability of bounce increases by 32% if the loading speed of your website increases by two seconds from 1 to 3 seconds! You know what to do.
- Backup: you never know when your website may get attacked, and you lose your data. That is why it is so important to always get back up for your data when you get your hosting.
- Support: usually, websites offer support for their hosting. In case you are a beginner, you are going to need it and must ensure that the support quality is better than most.
4. Create Content to Promote Products
With almost 1.75 billion websites on the internet, how would your website break the noise and stand out for viewers? While you make your guesses, everyone understands that the only true answer is Search Engine Optimization.
Here is why it’s important:
Not only does the online experience for most people begin with a search engine, but also that most people tend to ignore the paid advertisements online.
Contrary to popular beliefs, though, SEO is not all about keywords. The algorithm for Google has changed over the years to include not only keywords but also the length of the content, the number of pictures, and high authority links on the page.
In addition to just that, modern trends dictate that SEO is more about engaging with people. This includes personalization for content and helps people connect to the content. Moreover, establishing authority creates credibility and helps people connect with your website.
5. Promote The Content via Different Channels
One of the most common trends today in promoting your content and products on the internet is to never rely on anyone’s platform too much. To reach out to a maximum number of the customer throughout the internet, the real strategy to follow is to use multiple channels.
- Social media
Social media forms one of the most important channels by far for any type of promotion. Several statistics talk about how social networks form the best online media for purchases among customers.
But it’s always smart to take into account other forums besides Facebook to make sure you target all target audiences.
- YouTube videos
YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google. That in itself says a lot about its importance as a channel for promoting your products. That is why it is especially popular among brands and affiliates to market their products.
Statistics show that YouTube is by far the most popular when it comes to content distribution plans of organizations around the world. YouTube has a huge part to play in making your affiliate marketing success.
So, you should start with your YouTube SEO soon and focus on it as you go along.
As discussed earlier, email is still one of the most important media to market your products and services around the world. Even today, while most people would consider it to be outdated, email usage is still massive.
It is still growing, and the expected number of people using email is to rise to 4.3 billion people by 2023.
Webinars have not only become popular but are still growing in popularity as social media takes over. Webinars are online meetings held often through the use of social media channels and bring together several people.
- Paid ads
While most people believe that paid ads on the internet are a dying trend, it is not the case. As a matter of fact, with the tools that social media is allowing its customers, particularly regarding the specific targeting campaigns that they offer, ads are anything but dying out now.
A study of the marketing budgets reveals that these budgets have been rising and will continue to rise in the coming five years too.
So, while a channel may look uninteresting at the very onset, it is always worth investigating what impact a channel can create for your affiliate marketing. Without any doubt, paid advertisements always have and always will work out for your business.
The Common Practice in Affiliate Marketing What Passes for Usual
With such prevalence in the market, any concept will usually find plenty of typical activities associated with it. For affiliate Marketers, these are some of the common practices these are:
- Researching: since affiliate marketing is about acquiring more and more customers for your merchant, it is essential to understand what the customers are looking for. This then means that the affiliate has to put in plenty of time to research before designing any proper marketing campaign.
- Blogs: most affiliates will try their hand at creating blogs to begin their affiliate marketing effort and keep them updated. Not just that, blogs are created but also that they are regularly updated. That is why the internet is so filled with information about all those blogs that guide people to do better.
- Sticking to What Works: affiliates also tend to follow trends, just like any other marketer. Sticking to what works is standard in every other business. So why not affiliate marketing?
- Emailing: As cliche as it might sound, emails are still one of the most popular segments for marketing, particularly affiliate marketing. This will usually work with the help of an email service provider.
- Utilizing Influencers: As the world follows more and more thought leaders and influences, marketers have realized that they can become indispensable resources for their businesses. Using these influencers to spread the word has become a usual practice in Affiliate Marketing.
- Personalization: Empowerment (regardless of gender) is an everyday topic today. This has marketers recognizing that generic campaigns can no longer tap their customers. That every campaign for every customer has to be personalized for maximum impact. So, adding customer names rather than just pronouns is a common practice for affiliate marketers today.
The Best Affiliate Products for Beginners
A considerable proportion of success for several affiliate marketers depends on the category of affiliate product chosen.
Statistics clearly show that the best 20 affiliate categories range from fashion to art and photography. While beginners should always stick to categories that are on the top of these stats because of guaranteed sales, competition is a factor worth considering.
As experience increases, you can explore the categories in the lower segment, given that there is little to no competition.
To Wrap Up!
To recap, here is what you need to do to begin as an affiliate marketer:
- Come up with a niche — something that excites you to the core of what you are an expert at!
- Decide on the platform to use —there are so many options, check which one would suit your niche and interest.
- Set up a website/blog
- Start reviewing the product — Make the most of the social marketing channels.
- Be persistent with content
- Boom! Just be patient as the marketing efforts will take some time to deliver!
If this article helped you, don’t forget to share it with your friends. Let me know in the comments section if you ever planned to plunge into this exciting world of affiliate marketing.