What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is an online marketing process where a product or service vendor pays commission to publishers or affiliates for referring new customers to their website. In some cases affiliates get paid for just referring the customer, but the majority of the time the commissions paid are a percentage of the cost of the product or service.
Affiliate marketing is performance based, which means that affiliates will only be paid when their promotional activity results in an action the vendor requires to trigger the commission payment to the affiliate.
Essentially, affiliate marketing is a relationship between three people: the vendor, the affiliate and the consumer.
The vendor, also known as the merchant, creator, seller or brand, is the one who creates the product.
The vendor is willing to pay other people to help with promoting their products or services through an affiliate program to increase sales.
You, as the affiliate (or publisher) will agree to promote the product or service and be rewarded by means of earning commission.
The consumer is the one that sees the ad and takes action by clicking on a link and entering their details on a form to optin to receive promotional emails or buying the product or service on offer. When buying the product or service, the customer will have usually done both of the aforementioned actions. The consumer is the final part in the affiliate / vendor / customer relationship.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Having shown an interest in the process and deciding to go with this process, you need to sign up for the relevant vendor’s affiliate program in order to choose the products you want to promote.
You will be given a unique affiliate link that you will use to promote and refer traffic to the offer you wish to endorse.
You may wonder how you are going to get paid for your efforts. Simply put, affiliate links have tracking codes in them that are unique to you to be sure you are credited for every sale made via your link. The vendor will therefore know it’s you that referred the customer to the product or service.You will find that many affiliate programs are managed via specific networks. These networks are designed to attract affiliates to sell a wide range of products and manage the commission payments etc to those affiliates. The vendor of the product signs up to the network to make use of those services.
Some affiliate programs can be found on just one network, but others may be found on several.
How Do You Get Started in Affiliate Marketing?
There is one thing you specifically need to be in affiliate marketing, as with any other business in fact, and that is consistent! If you take action on some very important steps and consistently follow the following important steps, you can certainly be successful.
This step by step process is important when choosing the products to promote:
- Choose a Niche.
Before you build anything – website, email list or anything related to promoting an offer, you must first choose a niche you want to target.To choose the right niche, consider a topic you are familiar with and have some knowledge of. Many say to choose something you’re already passionate about, but the most important thing is knowledge.If you were to have a passion for music, you could choose something in that specific niche. However, if there is no market for that can make you enough money, then it would be a bad choice. On the other hand, if you have a lot of knowledge about bike repair and there is a market to help people with that, would it not be more sensible to go with the knowledge?
As you learn to take the necessary steps of researching each product and its potential for you to earn, you may find products in your preferred niche in the future, so don’t give up on that. The most important thing is to learn the skills and start making money.
So, when you consider any niche you need to look at the competition and how easy or hard it will be to rank your website well, or reach enough people competing with more established brands maybe. Keyword research is one of the first things you can do to start with. There are tools available, both free and paid, but remember most of these are good guidelines to see if the potential is there for you to earn from that niche.
These tools are:
Google Keyword Planner (free)
Keyword Surfer (Free), A chrome Browser extension
Keywords Everywhere (Paid), which is a browser add on and shows results when searching
Long Tail Pro (Paid) that has a great training series to use this tool the best way
Market Samurai (Free trial and then paid), which is a tried and trusted product with great training and customer service.
- Find a Good Affiliate Program.
So, you have decided on your niche. Now it’s time to start researching the affiliate programs to get those hidden gems for you to promote.Before you choose an affiliate program, consider the vendors who use the program and the commission you are going to make from the products.It’s a good idea to check the customer support the network provides after signing up. All this will help to gauge your potential success with a particular program. These people can be invaluable to you in your journey. Ask for advice on how to get the best from the program and if they are receptive and give you great advice, they are likely to be a good fit for you.
There are many good programs out there. Check out this article on the Top 10 Affiliate Programs to help you decide.
- Build Your Own Website.
The initial steps are all about research and finding out the possibilities and profitability of any potential niche and product.Now, the time has come to take action on making that research count. It’s time to get yourself a website.This may be scary for you, as it was for me initially, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many free resources to help you learn the basics, so search for them.By far the quickest way to set up a website is by using WordPress. Follow these simple steps to get started:
- Buy a domain
- Buy and set up hosting
- Install WordPress
- Install an attractive WordPress theme
Check out this great article on how to set up your Wordpress website, where it goes through everything step by step.
- Create High Quality Content.
After you have your website set up, you need to create interesting and engaging content for it.It’s best to focus each page or article or post on one keyword phrase. Being specific to topic will help you gain more traction from the search engines. This is where the vital task of keyword research comes into play.The more engaging your product reviews, articles and pages are the better. Getting good visitor feedback and information published on your site, the better your chances of attracting visitors.It’s always the best idea to create unique content. You may see people going on about not using “duplicate content” because Google will penalise you for it. I believe this is a myth because how many news websites are out there that have the same content and they are still ranking highly? There is nothing wrong with content syndication if it’s valuable to your readers and RELEVANT. Relevance is the key to everything. Write, or hire someone to write unique, niche relevant content for your site most of the time if you can.
Popular tactics most affiliate marketers use to build an email list is by building capture pages offering free products to help your site visitors. These may be informational products that include mini-courses, email series and e-books. There are many places to get these kinds of products. These are usually PLR (Private label rights) products and here are some places you can go to get these:
- Build an Audience for the Site.
If you produce excellent, shareable content, it will be easier building an audience for your website. An interesting and engaging audience will not only attract more visitors to your site, but will help you to get consistent sales and therefore higher profit.Sharing content on social media is a great way to get free visitors to your site. You need to also invest in basic SEO tactics and maybe some paid advertising if your budget allows. Learning the free methods is the most profitable obviously, but there is nothing wrong with building an audience with paid advertising if it leads to sales on the back end of that advertising.
- Promote Affiliate Offers.
Now you have engaging content and a good target audience, you can start to monetise your site with valuable, relevant product offers that will help your visitors to deal with a problem they might have. Products you promote can be shown in many ways. You can show banner ads on your site, write honest product reviews showing the good and bad points of a product, you can link to other products from within your content using what is known as contextual links. These links can be shown as keywords relevant to a specific product. “Keyword research” can be linked to any one of the previously mentioned keyword research tools for example. This is known as hypertext too.If you build a relationship with specific product vendors you may be able to arrange discounts. When you build your own email list, you will be able to promote relevant offers to that list. Finding appropriate free product giveaways is important to keep your audience engaged and happy as well as getting new potential customers to your offers by capturing their information and getting their permission to email them with more offers.
I hope this helps you understand more about affiliate marketing. Remember this is a process and educating yourself is also important.