Affiliate Marketing is many things to many people. For some it’s an opportunity to monetise their hobbies, for others it’s an opportunity to liberate themselves from jobs that they hate and careers that seem to be leading nowhere. The world of affiliate marketing is as versatile as it is exciting. It can be whatever you want it to be. But while most of us have hard of Affiliate Marketing many readers may not be sure of what it looks like in real and tangible terms, how it works and, most importantly, how it can work for them.
If you’re one of these readers, this page is for you. However if you are actually looking to set up an affiliate marketing program, I recommend you check out our blog post “How To Start Affiliate Marketing”. Here we’ll take a close look at this accessible and infinitely personalisable way to make money selling other people’s products. We’ll talk about how to get started and reduce the process to easy-to-follow steps.
Basically, we’ll equip you with everything you need to get started and start making good money from affiliate marketing and potentially transform it into a means to escape your frustrating job and career.
Excited? You should be! We can say without hyperbole that what you’re about to read could change your life. Let’s get started…
Let’s break it down… what is Affiliate Marketing?
In its simplest terms, Affiliate Marketing allows you to use your online platform to advertise other people’s products. This is usually done through a banner or affiliate link on your blog, website or social media profile. If readers in your blog or people in your network click through to buy products, you’ll earn a commission on the sale. How much you earn from each sale will depend on the brand with whom you’ll affiliate. Some offer as little as 5% while others offer up to a generous 30%.
The three parties
Think of Affiliate Marketing as an arrangement between three parties;
- The Publisher / Affiliate (You)
- The Merchant (The person whose product you’re advertising)
- The Consumer (The people who consume your online content and will hopefully purchase the product).
In some cases the publisher and the merchant may be one and the same. There are many who create their own products and promote them via their social presence as well as incentivising other affiliates to promote their products. Selling an online course or an ebook / audio book is a great way to become both a merchant and a publisher without costly production overheads.
For the purposes of this article, however, we’re going to assume that you’d prefer to sell others’ products rather than create your own.
It goes without saying that if the relationship is to be successful and fruitful, you’ll need to ensure that all three are sympatico. The products or services that they sell need to be of interest and value to the people who come into contact with your content on a regular basis. This is why affiliates like Amazon, eBay and Rakuten are so popular. Because they have extremely diverse ranges and supply a little bit of everything, you can tailor your affiliate links to the kinds of products that are most likely to be of value to your audience or target readership. What’s more, they are well known and trusted brands which lends the whole affiliate program a sense of legitimacy and trustworthiness.
While these tend to have relatively low commission rates (Amazon’s, for example, tops out at 10%), affiliates with large followings who can generate high volumes of sales can find success with them.
The network: The fourth party
In some cases there is also a fourth party in the equation- the network. Some affiliates may prefer to use an affiliate network which acts as an intermediary between the affiliate and the merchant. They have brand value in and of themselves and can benefit both the consumer and the affiliate. The consumer gets the recognition and trust that is earned by the network while the affiliate knows that the network will handle all the logistics of facilitating the sale.
Passive income? It’s time to bust some myths
At first glance, affiliate marketing may seem like the perfect opportunity for passive income. In theory, you don’t have to do much more than post an affiliate link where people will see it and wait for the coin to start rolling in.
In practice, however, affiliate marketing is far from passive.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because you’ve posted an affiliate link on your website or social media profile that robust commissions are inevitable. This is the thinking that has led to many disenfranchised and out-of-pocket Multi-Level-Marketing participants.
Affiliate marketing shouldn’t be viewed as a pyramid scheme. More of a “commission only” sales job. And while you won’t need to close each and every sale individually, you’ll need to put some work into developing and maintaining your infrastructure.
What to look for in an affiliate partner
It goes without saying that success as an affiliate starts with finding the right partner. But with so many affiliate partners and networks out there trying to engage you, every partner can look like the right partner.
Before you get started, here are some questions you should ask yourself about every prospective partner;
- Is their product / service relevant to my target audience?
- How well do I know the product? Do I believe in it?
- Are their brand values sympatico with my own?
- Is there name recognition / value in their brand?
- Does their product represent the kind of value with which I want to be associated?
- Do they pay enough commission to make the endeavour worth while?
- Is there a cap on how much I can earn?
- How easy do they make it to get up and running?
- Are there startup costs involved?
- If so, how many sales will it take to earn them back
- Do they offer support and guidance?
- What kind of a message does their banner send to my audience?
Now that we know a little more about the nature of Affiliate Marketing and what to look for in a partner, let’s look at how we can get you started.
We’ve broken the process down into 6 easy to follow steps;
Step 1: Choose a product
It’s much, much easier to find success in affiliate marketing if you have the right product. After all, it’s the product that’s going to generate those clicks and get the revenue coming in. If the product doesn’t sell itself to your target audience, you won’t make sales. If you have to try too hard to sell the product you won’t make sales (and you may also risk alienating your following).
The better you know your niche, the better able to you are to determine the best product. While you might be tempted to choose a product that’s designed to serve a broad range of people, you actually stand a better chance of success with a niche product.
Remember that the product or even the types of product can change (many merchants offer a range of products available via Affiliate Marketing). Just so long as you maintain a clear focus on your target market.
Step 2: Ascertain quantifiable interest
Now that we have a product (or range of products) in mind, we need to make sure that it’s something your target audience is interested in. This is where a little market research goes a long way.
Take a look at who follow you. Who always watches your Instagram stories? Who’s the first person to like and comment on your blog posts? Who always retweets you? These are the people who are your brand advocates, and the most likely to trust any product you offer as part of an affiliate scheme.
Find out as much as you can about them. Ascertain their needs. Find out what kind of products interest them, or are of use and value to them. Once again, the better you know your niche, the more able you are to anticipate their needs. Knowing your target audience will also help you to introduce your affiliate prospect without it coming across as a hard sell. They’ll be focused on the value of the proposition for them.
Step 3: Choose an appropriate partner
With a little market research and a clearer understanding of your followers’ needs you’ve chosen the perfect product(s) with which to get started. Now you need to choose an appropriate partner who can provide that product for your following.
While we talked at length above about what you should look for in an affiliate partner, be aware that you may face something of a balancing act depending on your niche and your following. You may not find a partner that ticks all the boxes. In fairness, you don’t really have to. You just have to find the best fit for your needs and the needs of your following. For example, you may not need to worry about brand recognition if their product or service is hyper-relevant to your following. You may not need to worry about making a lot of sales if their commission is generous just as you don’t need to worry about lower commissions if you have every reason to believe you’ll make a lot of sales.
Step 4: Start reviewing products
Not sure how to start posting affiliate links on your blog or YouTube page? Start reviewing products. Reviews are attractive to your following because they’re consumers, and all consumers value social proof. When all’s said and done, we as consumers take everything brands say about themselves with a big chunk of salt. Even brands we trust. Reviews, however, allow your following an honest appraisal of the product as well as, where possible, the chance to see it in action and ascertain how useful it is for them. Comparison reviews are particularly effective as are more useful for audiences. The more value there is in your review, the more trust there will be in the affiliate link. If, however, followers sense that the review is just an advert in disguise, they are more likely to be put off.
This is why it’s so important to choose a product that you genuinely like, use and believe in.
Step 5: Build a list of prospects
While we live in the age of social media, email is still an incredibly potent marketing tool. It helps you to stay in touch with your following, guide them towards the best and most relevant deals and helps to maintain the relationship they share with your own brand and the products and services you offer through your affiliate.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to use your email mailing list to cultivate a list of prospects. Of course, you’ll need to make it quick and easy for them to join your mailing list (there’s nothing more off putting than lengthy opt-in forms). You’ll also want to give followers an incentive to join from access to a free e-book to promising a shortcut to the best bargains via your email shoots.
Step 6: Keep in touch and grow your audience
If you’re to ensure that your prospects convert regularly, you need to keep in touch with them regularly with regular emails every months. If possible, you should have some sort of exclusive offers and promotions which build value in your emails and prevent them from languishing, unopened in inbox.
Of course, emails aren’t the only means by which you can keep in touch. Webinars are also an effective way to talk about the products you offer through your affiliate scheme and your personal relationship with them. They can also help you to grow your audience and increase your chances of referring new people to your affiliated merchants.
Staying in touch in these ways helps your following to see the scheme for what it is- an opportunity to share your views on products you believe in with your following.
The CurrantWeb Affiliate Scheme… What makes us different?
Still not sure which affiliate scheme to choose? We’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you a little bit about our own, CurrantWeb’s Affiliate Scheme. We’ve worked hard to build an affiliate scheme that’s appealing to those who are interested in getting into affiliate marketing. It’s quick, easy and affordable to set up and easy to find success;
- Quick and easy to get set up with no joining fees
- Generous commission (up to 30%) with no earnings cap
- Relevant to your readership (who doesn’t need a website in the 21st century?)
- All the support you need to find success
- No web development skills or experience necessary
Sound good? We really hope so! Take a moment to find out more about how to become an affiliate.