If you’re looking to get started with Affiliate Marketing, the stats from Affstats.com paints a very realistic picture. You’ll see that about 40% of people into affiliate marketing make very little money or no money at all!
That said, it is definitely a very lucrative opportunity to get in on, and if done right – you can get yourself in the top $500k+ fraction (about 3%) in a few years, something that is definitely not achievable at a day job (you’re not a banker are you 😉
So, the very first question – “What exactly is Affiliate Marketing?”
Here’s what Wikipedia says:
“Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.”
What it means is that a company will pay you every time you help them make a sale or any other action that they are willing to pay for (say, a call or a form-fill up). It is as simple as “Paying for Referrals”.
This nifty Infographic from Pepperjam sums it up!
(Credits: Leslie Stewart, Artenot, Pepperjam.com)
While it sounds very simplistic, Affiliate Marketing has a lot more to it. Here are the first things that you ought to know:
“What if I don’t have a blog, what market should I pick then?”
That’s a good question, and while you do not have a blog – you can certainly have one. Yes, you! Think about it – There must be something that you’re good at. Think about something that you have prided yourself on! That chip on the shoulder.
Is there anything that your friends turn to you for help or expertise? Don’t discount anything! If your neighbours ask you to teach their son Word or Excel, or people ask you for gym advice – even that should be a good to go!
No? Ok, how about this – Call or Walk over to your friends and ask them what “they” think “you” are good at! It’s a deceptively simple step, and you know what – it works! As human beings, we are so hard on ourselves that we just overlook most of our strengths!
“What products should I promote?”
Actually, this is such a big question that I wrote an entire post on it. Feel free to check out:
“Which Affiliate Networks should I join?”
As I explained in the previous post (you read it, right?), it’s not just about picking a product! It’s about picking a product that fits your market. Likewise, it’s not about picking an affiliate network.
You see, lots of people who have products just don’t go to an affiliate network! They have their own affiliate tracking system. Here’s how I find them (and you can too!):
That said – is it safer to start off with some of the reputed affiliate networks? Absolutely! Here are our top 5 recommendations:
Pick the one which has the most relevant products for your market. For instance, if a physical product will suit your needs – Amazon is probably the way to go (people trust it the most!). Feel free to explore Linkshare, Shareasale and CJ as well, though! If you want to be an affiliate for an information product, though, Clickbank is probably the way to go.
“How do they know I have made a sale?”
That’s an excellent question! Affiliate networks provide you with a special link that they sometimes call Tracking link/ Tracking URL. This is different from a normal URL because it tracks that the visitor came from your website.
How does it do that? Well, that’s where cookies come into the picture. Once the user clicks your tracking URL, a cookie will be placed in his browser. This cookie will have a tracking period say, 30 days. Now, if the user purchases a product in the next 30 days, you make a sale!
Different networks and programs have different policies for cookies. Amazon has a 1-day cookie period! BUT, you get the sale for everything the user buys in this period on Amazon. Often, that really adds up! You’ll find products that have one full year of the cookie period! How cool is that!
On a side-note, it’s not unethical at all! Web sites place cookies in the browser pretty much all the time. This is how websites deliver a custom experience.
For example, a website may offer its contents in different languages. On your first visit, you may choose to have the content delivered in French and the site may record that preference in a persistent cookie set on your browser. When you revisit that site, it will use the cookie to ensure that the content is delivered in French.
“Do I need to have a Website?”
Image Credits: http://shiftdigital.co.za/
That is totally up to you! If you don’t think you’re ready to invest in your business just yet, you can pick one of the websites that allow you to post! Hubpages.com can get you started. However, this does have a caveat, several websites like Hubpages have seen a massive drop in their Search Engine Rankings and hence, Traffic – so, it is not as lucrative as it used to be!
On the other hand, free website providers will usually have ads (like Weebly). Make sure you read through the terms of service when you get started with one of these. WordPress.com (not the self- hosted version) does not tolerate any kind of promotional material, and it will delete your website if you’re violating!
If you’re ready to invest in your business, you can definitely get yourself a domain, a hosting service and use WordPress.org (the self-hosted version). If you want to cut short your learning, you could upgrade and pay a premium on services like Weebly!
“How would someone come to buy on my site?”
Image Source: ecommerceamplifier.com
This is one of the most fundamental activities as an Affiliate Marketer – Driving Targeted Traffic! You see, you need to have people visiting your website, who want what you have. RELEVANCE is the key word here – if you have a ton of people who will come in totally disinterested, only to leave your website in 6 seconds or less, you’ll not be able to make a sale!
Which brings us to the real question – “How can I get traffic?”
There are several ways, and the first key decision that you need to make is whether you are going to pay for traffic or drive free traffic. Again, if you are looking for results to come in a bit faster and are willing to invest in your business, you can pay for traffic – using Google AdWords. Here’s our last post – which will help you get Adwords Clicks for Cheap!
Otherwise, you can drive traffic for free by getting your web pages to rank in the Search Engine (say Google). We call this SEO. And that’s an entire section that you can browse! Now, let’s get to the last bit!
“How can I sell something to my visitors?”
One of the common misconceptions in Affiliate Marketing is that – “You need to sell”. That is totally untrue. You see, the final page, the one that the user purchases from – that is the page that needs to sell, not YOU!
What you need to do is – PRE-SELL!
That still sounds a bit dodgy doesn’t it? See it this way – you have to match interested people to products that will solve their problems. That’s it.
Like a good matchmaker, all you need to do is tell them why you think it’s a great match! The good, the bad and the ugly!
To summarise, here’s what you need to do to get started in Affiliate Marketing:
1. Find a market that you are interested in, and spot a problem that you’d like to solve
2. Sign up for becoming an affiliate with the network
3. Explore products on the network and Find a relevant product that you’d like to sell
4. Drive Targeted Traffic to your website/blog
5. Write pre-sell content that converts and use the tracking URL to drive affiliate sales and get commissions!
If you feel a bit overwhelmed with a lot of jargon thrown around, feel free to visit our Glossary of Affiliate Marketing Terms