What is Affiliate Marketing?
People all over the world (people who are just like you) are sitting down at their laptop today and making money through what is called affiliate marketing.
There are a few definitions of affiliate marketing around but I think the one that sums it up best for me is:
"Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting third party products and services which earns the seller (or affiliate) monetary payment for generating sales or leads"
There are several ways to receive compensation. Most affiliate programs use revenue sharing or cost per sale. Others use cost per action or cost per click. As an affiliate of a product it is your job to send visitors through an "affiliate link" (which will be specially provided to you by the vendor with your unique affiliate code inbuilt into it - that's how the vendor knows it is you they have to pay for your efforts) to the product and if a purchase in made, the affiliate marketer gets a commission.
Merchants like affiliate marketing because there’s little expense to them unless a sale is made and as such affiliate marketing is also called performance marketing because you’re rewarded according to your performance.
If you don’t perform, you don’t get paid. Most affiliate programs and affiliate networks offer free participation when you fill out the required forms and get approval. They’ll sometimes want to see your website.
If you develop a website, blog or forum on something you know and love then it becomes much easier as people search the Internet primarily for information and as they’re accessing that information, many will click through your affiliate link for additional data where the sales pitch is made.
The secret is to turn your knowledge into content and content will turn into income.
Affiliate marketing is rarely a get rich quick scheme, but you can start part time requiring little money.
With proper planning, learning and a little work you could develop a respectable income.
Affiliate marketing is really exciting because there are so many possibilities.- in fact, you can promote digital or physical products in your niche. You can even promote services that others provide (for instance hosting services).
There are basically seven steps to affiliate marketing:
- Choose a niche with profit potential
- Find products to promote within the niche
- Join the sales program as an affiliate
- Receive a link from the merchant
- Generate traffic to attract targetted prospects
- Acquire a sale or lead for the merchant
- Merchant pays money for the action taken
So let's briefly cover each:
1: Choose a Niche With Profit Potential
Although there are hundreds of profitable niches out there to choose from – my recommendation is to pick one where people are actively looking to solve a problem. I don’t want you to pick a niche where people couldn’t give a damn if they bought a solution today, or next week. They must be actively searching for what you have to offer – and they must be willing to spend money to get it.
Consequently there are 2 schools of thought on this
- Find an untapped niche where there are loads of buyers but not much competition from other marketers (hint: there aren't many of these left)
- Operate in a "popular" niche where there is lots of competition but lots of buyers. I would go for this option but keep an eye out for "hot trends" along the way
Consequently health, wealth and romance/relationships will always be profitable, as will specific hobbies and pets (especially dogs!)
Here's a little graphic to get you going:
2: Choose a Product to Promote
If you had your way, you’d be able to promote anything and everything.
People would be buying from your links left and right.
Well, it just doesn’t work that way and it is important to be strategic about the things you promote.
You can’t and shouldn’t just promote anything and everything. You should only promote the things you know your audience will need and want, are of high quality, and suit the way you want people to view your business.
In essence, you only want to align yourself with certain products and/or merchants.
It’s not a good idea to promote something that’s of low quality just because it will potentially earn you a good commission. You might end up with a lot of refunds on your hands. More importantly, people will have a lowered perception of you and might not put much (or any) stock into your future product recommendations.
Things are so different, so much better, when you apply a certain set of criteria to the things you choose to promote. Ask yourself:
- Will this product solve a problem or delight my customers?
- Is this product of high quality, so as to have a low refund rate?
- Is this product priced fairly to the customer, even considering my affiliate commission?
- Is this product, and the creator of the product, something and someone I’m proud to associate myself with?
In addition to those questions, you have to find the product in the first place. There are so many out there. It’s hard to know where to look.
How to Find a Great Product to Promote
First, decide what type of product you’re interested in promoting for the promotion you’re doing right now.
If a physical product suits your goals, for now, you might look for a product to promote on Amazon.
Browse around. Look at the affiliate networks you’re already approved for.
If you’re not already approved by relevant affiliate networks, like those mentioned above, then you may want to preemptively apply for approval.
Note that most affiliate networks require you to already have a website to apply with, so you can submit your current website or quickly create something with WordPress. Most of your affiliate promotions will likely stem from your website so that will help you get that out of the way so you can then freely start promoting.
Keep in mind that some affiliate merchants might check out your website or blog before giving their approval, so it should be ready to be viewed. That doesn’t mean you have to have a ton of content on the site, but it should certainly be more than the default “Hello World” post that WordPress starts you off with.
You can do a simple Google search. Search for the type of product you’re interested in promoting along with “affiliates” or “affiliate program.” Try different keyword variations until you find what you’re looking for. Sometimes, you’ll find great, high paying products you can be an affiliate for that are high converting but not at all saturated because not as many affiliates know about them as compared to a product on Amazon.
If you’re interested in promoting a digital product, then you might search through products found at places like Clickbank.com or JVZoo.com. There are many digital product based affiliate programs out there.
Just as you can with physical products, you can search for digital products you can be an affiliate for. Search for keywords related to your ideal product along with “ebook” or “course” or whatever it is you’re interested in.
Write down the products that interest you. You might even come across some services that interest you and are available for affiliate promotion.
If you haven’t already, apply for the various products and networks that interest you. You’ll want to apply early because it can sometimes take awhile for approval. In the meantime, you can apply your list of criteria so you can make the final decision as to what you want to promote.
Will This Product Solve a Problem or Delight My Customers?
First ask yourself if the product truly serves the needs of your customers. At this point, you should have a pretty solid idea of what the people in your niche need and want. If you’re new to your niche, then I recommend you pause and get to know your audience more.
What are other people promoting successfully in your niche? What do your potential customers talk about on social media and on forums? What are other leaders and authorities in your niche recommending to their followers?
Put the customer first. It’s easy to get swayed by a shiny looking commission but you’ll do a lot better over the long term if you really consider the customer first.
Ideally, the product will solve a desperate problem they have. That way, they’ll be eager to purchase the product, landing you a commission. If the product is very high quality, this creates a win-win situation. They’ll have solved their problem and you’ll earn money.
Other products are for pure enjoyment or entertainment value. Is the “wow” factor there? Will people be really eager to buy the product you’re interested in promoting? Do your due diligence to make sure this is the case.
Is This Product Of High Quality?
Ask yourself how high quality the product is. There are certain products out there that are really attractive on the surface. They might have a fancy sales page or shiny exterior. But, when you open them up, they’re just a mess. They’re not helpful to anyone except for the product’s creator whose pockets are getting lined with cash because of gullible customers and either gullible or shady affiliates.
You don’t have to own every product you promote. In some cases, it’s a very good idea though. Ask for a review copy if it’s a digital product. The author might be reluctant to give review copies to unproven affiliates, though, so don’t be annoyed if they say no. You should just go ahead and purchase a copy if you think you’ll be promoting it.
At the very least, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the product and find out more information about the product.
Search around on Google. What are the current reviews like? Today’s web customers tend not to be afraid to share their opinions, both good and bad. Take that to heart. Hopefully the product you’re considering will still be very high on your list.
Is This Product Priced Fairly?
Now, consider the price. There are some products out there that are way overpriced and are only that way because the product creator is over compensating for affiliates. They’ll charge $2000 for something for the sole reason of giving the affiliate half.
Now, you might view that product as actually being worth $1000, even if you’re getting half. That’s fine. It’s just a judgment call you’ll have to make for yourself.
It’s not just about fairness—it’s also about conversions. Will you make more sales of a $10 product given your current customer base or will you make more sales of a $100 product that has more features and benefits? Think about it. Figure out which type of promotion is likely to land you the most commissions while being fair and enticing to your customers and readers.
Is This Product Something I’m Proud to Associate Myself With?
The products you promote should be something you’re happy to associate yourself with. Is the product you’re considering part of that equation? Does the product creator have a good reputation?
Your reputation is very important and you don’t want to risk it for a little bit of money. You want to build a fantastic reputation because your readers have come to really trust you. They know that if you’re recommending it, that it’s a great purchase.
Making the Choice
You have some decision making to do. Hopefully, this process doesn’t intimidate you at all. There are so many products out there that it can be overwhelming. You don’t want to make the wrong choice.
The great thing is that, after you’ve done it a few times, you’ll be a natural. You’ll be able to apply these criteria without giving it nearly as much thought. You’ll pick great products left and right, earning a great income as an affiliate and delighting your customers as a result.
And of course, you’re not limited to just one product. The product you choose to recommend today won’t make or break you. Far from it! You’ll promote many products over the months and years, getting closer and closer to what your customer base will be thrilled with and buy like crazy.
You’ll repeat some promotions and end others early. You’ll go with the flow of the new products that are coming out. You’ll promote the classics over and over again. You’ll develop a reputation as someone who promotes the best, most helpful, most exciting products around.
And speaking of promoting the classics, that’s something that many affiliates neglect. Many, especially those who are promoting digital products, only bother to promote products that are brand new and “hot”. You should keep your eyes out for evergreen products that people are constantly looking for, and consider adding recommendations and reviews for them in your autoresponder sequence. You’ll have far less competition that way, and separate yourself from the crowd of “me too” affiliate marketers.