There seem to be many people who believe that affiliate marketing is some magical system that allows us to make a lot of money online with very little effort. All the schemes that promote the “magic system” are scams, don’t fall for their false promises.
Affiliate marketing is a legitimate way to earn money on the internet, but not everyone is cut out for this. Many will fail because they won’t face the truth. The reality is, this takes hard work, time, determination and patience.
Is affiliate marketing for you?
If you are a beginner, I suggest you answer the following questions to see if this is something you should consider.
- Do you know that building an online business isn’t a get rich quick scheme, but instead it’s about creating an income stream over a period of time?
- Are you willing to follow a step by step training course, over a number of weeks or months, that will show you how to set up your affiliate marketing business?
- Are you ready to create your own website by following the step by step instructions and a few clicks of your mouse?
- Are you willing to devote as much time as possible and never give up?
- Are you happy to invest some money to receive training, hosting, help and support and all the tools you need to get started?
- Do you want to earn money online?
If you answered yes to all these questions, then affiliate marketing is perfect for you.
Now we have decided that this is a good business for you, let’s have a look at affiliate marketing in a little more detail and see how to get started.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a method for earning commissions for promoting someone else’s products. You find a product that you think is good, you promote it and you receive a payment when someone buys the product. You are an intermediary between the buyer and the seller.
A couple of advantages offered by affiliate marketing are, you don’t have to spend time and money creating a product and it’s quick and cheap to get started.
I also do affiliate marketing on this site, however, I will only recommend products that I feel could be useful for my readers. If I am not confident in a product then I won’t recommend it. For me being honest is important and hopefully you will be the same too. Recommending products that we know and have some experience with means that:
- You will be happy earning commission for a useful product
- The seller will be happy having a new customer
- The customer will be happy as they have a product that is useful and they received some good information from you
Why become an affiliate marketer
There are several good reasons to consider affiliate marketing over some other businesses:
- You can work from home – once you are earning some money you can give up your current day job and have all the advantages that go with it, for example no more commuting, no boss, more time with your family…
- It’s economical – internet marketing is cheap to get started, no cost producing a product, you don’t need employees and you don’t need work premises. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.
- No storage or shipping to worry about. That is handled by the seller.
- You don’t need to provide customer support. Again, this is handled by the seller.
- Your market is worldwide and you’re online 24 hours a day.
- You can earn a passive income. With a normal job you have to be at work to earn money, when you’re an affiliate marketer, you can earn when you are not at your computer
- You don’t need any prior experience. There are courses online that will teach you everything you need to know, you have to put in the time and effort.
How does affiliate marketing work?
The easiest and most rewarding way to get started in affiliate marketing is by having your own website. Once you have a website you can start promoting products related to the niche (more about this later) you have chosen by writing articles or reviews.
To refer people to the seller’s site, you are given a unique affiliate link. Affiliate programs may offer ready made banners or other forms of graphics where it’s only necessary to copy the code and place it on your website. Another and better alternative is to include text links in your posts. When visitors are interested they click on these links and are redirected to the product site. If they decide to make a purchase, you as the referrer make a commission.
The sellers can track your affiliate link to see your performance and you will usually have access to sales and other statistics.
Below is the step by step process of how it works, assuming that you have already signed up for an affiliate program and that you have your special affiliate link:
- When you mention the product on your website or you review the product you use the affiliate link. You should only include one or two affiliate links per post.
- A visitor to your site clicks on the affiliate link and is directed to the advertiser’s/merchant’s website
- The potential customer is tracked by a cookie that is installed on his computer.
- The customer decides to buy something and proceeds to the checkout.
- Thanks to the cookie on the customer’s computer the merchant will know that it was you who referred the customer. You will receive credit for the sale.
- Payment of your commission for all sales generated from your affiliate link. This is usually once a month.
Choosing a niche
One of the most important tasks when you have decided to start affiliate marketing is to choose your niche. You may be wondering what is a niche?
A niche is really a group of people interested in a subject. For example, it could be people trying to stop smoking, people interested in electric gardening tools or people interested in drones. Your niche can be anything that interests others.
Ideally, your niche will also be a subject that interests you, perhaps a hobby or another passion you may have. The reason for this is you will be writing a lot of content on this subject, so if it’s something you know and enjoy this will be much easier.
When you select a niche you should make it as narrow as possible. For example gardening would be too broad, you should make it more focussed something like growing vegetables, manual lawnmowers or ponds. By making your niche more focussed there is less competition, which means it will be easier for you to make money.
What products to promote?
This will depend on whether you have chosen a niche you are familiar with or not. If it is a subject you know and you use some of the products or services, which you appreciate I would start with these. You will need to find out if there are affiliate programs attached to these products.
To do this go to the website of the product manufacturer and see if you can find a link for affiliates or referral program, this is often placed in the footer.
Another way to do this, select the product you like and google it with “product + affiliate program” If you don’t succeed the first time try again with a slight variation in the product name. You can also use this method for finding other products to promote later.
You can also check to see what other bloggers in your niche are promoting. Check out the products and perhaps you can promote these as well, but only if they completely ethical.
Many companies don’t offer their affiliate program directly to the affiliate marketers, they do it via an affiliate network. Accordingly, you will have to join the affiliate network, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, they are free to join and you will have access to many products, all in the same place.
What are affiliate networks?
An affiliate network is a go-between between the companies that have products to sell, often known as the advertisers and you the affiliate marketer, also known as the publisher.
When an advertiser wants to sell more of a certain product, they may approach an affiliate network to see if they are interested in listing the product on their website. After they agree the product will be listed on their website.
As an affiliate marketer, you join the network and see the product listed. After verifying it’s a good product and it fits in with your niche, you decide to promote it. Depending on the affiliate network and the advertiser, you may be able to start promoting the product immediately or sometimes you need to be accepted by the advertiser.
Once you’re accepted, you can start promoting the product. Usually you will find some banners and text links that, include your unique affiliate link, that you can use, or you can just copy your affiliate link to use in your posts. When your readers click on the link, they are taken to the advertiser’s website. If they follow through and buy the product you will be paid by the affiliate network. The affiliate network is also paid by the advertiser.
Perhaps the best thing about affiliate networks is that when you join one of them, you get access to hundreds or thousands of affiliate programs all in one place, but you must always check the quality of the products. You may find some low quality products on some affiliate networks, if you promote these you will harm your reputation. This is why it is important to only promote quality, legitimate products that will please your visitors.
Some of the better known affiliate networks are CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, Clickbank or Rakuten Affiliate Network
Content is king
Writing content will be your main job as an affiliate marketer. Each time you write an awesome article you create another opportunity to make a sale. Although you hope to produce a sale from your article you should write your post or review to inform, educate or help your readers. Your article should provide great information that incites the reader to buy something you’re promoting.
How do you get started?
You now understand what affiliate marketing is all about and can see it is good for beginners, therefore you may want to know the best way to get started. When starting a new business, you will need some guidance to learn the correct way to set everything up. What better way than by following some step by step training from some already successful internet marketers.
For this, the best resource, by far, that I have found for learning how to set up a successful affiliate marketing business is Wealthy Affiliate. They offer a free starter membership, that includes 10 lessons that will run you through the process of choosing your niche and setting up your first website.
If you’re concerned that creating a website might be beyond your capabilities, don’t worry. Wealthy Affiliate has a site building platform, SiteRubix, which is the easiest website building program I have used. You can see how easy it is by just choosing a name for your free website in the form below.
The training at Wealthy Affiliate is ideal for all levels of affiliate marketers, especially for people with little computer or website building knowledge. You learn at your own speed, following the video and text lessons which give you simple tasks to complete at each step.
The Wealthy Affiliate platform has been online since 2005 and has more than 200,000 members from all around the world. The members come from varying backgrounds and from different age groups. However, they have one thing in common, they are learning how to become or they are already successful internet marketers.
I joined as a free member with no experience of affiliate marketing about 18 months ago and I decided to upgrade to the paid membership after a few days. I now have a business that provides a regular income every month. If you follow the training, take action and don’t give up, you will also be able to have you’re own successful online business.
After the initial free lessons you are can decide to stay as a free member or continue your training and become a premium member. The cost of joining as a paid member is $47 per month, this includes everything you need to operate your business. For more information on this program you can read my review.
If you have any questions, comments or would simply like to share your experience as an affiliate marketer please leave your feedback below.
Best of luck with your business,