Affiliate Marketing Guide for Serious Marketers in 2021
Affiliate marketing has become one of the most attractive sources of passive income. If you can drive in the right way, it can be a growing machine for you.
You should know that affiliate marketing is a kind of promoting other company’s website and earning a percentage of the profit as commission. If someone purchases a promoted product or service using your affiliate tracking URL, you will earn a commission on that purchase.
Today, we will talk about insights, roadmap, and strategies and give you an ultimate guide to start your affiliate marketing journey.
Let’s get started.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing refers to promoting products or services of other companies where a portion of the profit is shared as a commission on the resulting sale. An affiliate joins various popular affiliate programs, promote quality products or services, and generate sales to earn a commission.
Affiliate marketing is actually a great way of making passive income.
Let’s take an example to clarify.
For example, you have a blog on a topic like SEO or something else and you share your knowledge on this blog. You have built an audience that trusts you. Now you’ve found an SEO tool that really helps digital marketers.
You can write an article on that tool using method, pros & cons, and offer them to buy this tool. Your audience will be benefited and at the same time, you will make a good amount of money from the generated sales.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Although the affiliate marketing process may seem a bit technical, it should not be difficult to move on. Affiliate marketing involves promoting other company’s products on your website. There are three or four groups involved in this process:
Affiliate Marketer: Affiliate marketer is also known as a marketer. He runs a website and promotes products using affiliate links.
Consumer: The person who visits the affiliate site and purchases the product by clicking on the affiliate link.
Affiliate Network: This is an internal or third-party platform where the affiliate program is operated by the merchant.
Merchant: This is the company that actually sells the products or services promoted by the affiliate marketer. In some cases, merchants use their own affiliate network and no third party platform is involved there. In that case, we may combine the affiliate network and merchant and turn them into the merchant.
Now you have a good understanding of the affiliate marketing process. Is it still confusing? Well, let make it clearer:
- The affiliate marketer joins the merchant’s affiliate program (affiliate network). He gets a unique ID and affiliate URL to using while promoting the products.
- An affiliate marketer promotes the products on his website. There are many other ways of promoting such as sending emails to the users, publishing videos on video platforms like YouTube, and many more.
- Consumer clicks on the links and purchases the promoted product or any other product from the same company.
- The affiliate network is used to operate and track the sales generated from the affiliation. (I am not going to make you more confused with further technical factors.)
- Merchant is the product or service provider who sells and pays the commission to the affiliate marketer as a reward for promoting the products or services.
Actually, the process is pretty straightforward and it should not be confusing, right? A marketer gets paid whenever a consumer makes a transaction. The transaction may vary from business to business. It can be a click, lead generation, or a monetary transaction.
Here are some common affiliate marketing models:
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC): The marketer gets paid from all clicks generated from the affiliate links.
- Pay-Per-Lead (PPL): In this model, the merchant pays a commission to the marketer based on generated leads. Lead refers to form submission, trial purchase, or just signup.
- Pay-Per-Sale (PPS): The marketer gets a commission based on the sale. The more he generates sales, the more gets commission. This is the most commonly used affiliate marketing model.
Is There Any Cost to Start Affiliate Marketing?
Actually, there is no primary cost on joining an affiliate program but your operational cost will depend on how you want to move your affiliate marketing on.
To be realistic, making money with affiliate marketing may need a decent budget. If you hire people to write for your blog or make videos for your YouTube channel, you should have a budget. Again, hiring a person or company to implement SEO strategies for your website will cost money. There are many sections in affiliate marketing where you may need to pay someone.
The marketing strategy will determine how much you need to invest. Using a blog or website for promotion makes you pay for purchasing a domain and hosting service. Working with paid ads costs you money.
So, before starting, you need to calculate your estimated investment that includes setup and ongoing marketing costs.
Why You Should Choose Affiliate Marketing?
Making money with affiliate marketing fun. While you are passionate about something and interested to share your learning with other people, you might have a blog. Introducing a product to your audience is not only making your business, your audience will be benefited from the information. So monetizing your blog with affiliate marketing is great for all associated parties.
Let’s share some benefits of affiliate marketing:
- You can start your affiliate marketing with almost no money. I am not sure if there is any other business model that generates passive income.
- Who doesn’t like to earn money while sleeping? This is the most interesting advantage of affiliation.
- There is a great scope of synchronizing affiliate marketing with other business models. You can publish ads and promote affiliate products at a time on your blog. Even if you are selling your own products on your website, you can still promote another company’s products. So, you can use multiple sources of revenue on your website.
- You can promote as many companies as you want on a single blog.
- Your audience will also be benefited. They will be engaged with your blog and invite more friends on your blog.
- If you promote subscription-based products or services, you can generate recurring money from a single sale.
- You can start affiliate marketing without being an expert.
How Much Can Be Made From Affiliate Marketing?
You might be wondering, how much can you earn from promoting affiliate products. The affiliate marketing industry is growing faster. Statista reported that spending on affiliate marketing only in the U.S. is expected to rise to $8.2 billion by 2022. So, you have a great scope of establishing your business and earn from it.
STM Forum conducted a poll on “How much do you earn in a year?”
Here is the result:
This chart may make you ambitious about earnings from affiliate commission but along with people, there are still thousands of failure stories out there.
Making money from affiliate marketing is more about generating profits rather than revenue. Generating organic sales through marketing is an important factor for this business model. Earning $700 for no cost is ideally better than $2000 at a cost of $1700. To be successful, you have to align your expectations to your earning potential.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing? (Step by Step Guide)
Due to the low startup budget, affiliate marketing has been popular among marketers. To help you get started easily, we will go through a step-by-step guide that will help you turn your blog into a successful affiliate website.
Step 1: Select a Suitable Niche
If you are a first-time affiliate marketer, you’ll need to be careful in choosing a perfect niche to work in. Your niche will determine what kind of article you will publish on your blog, what kind of product you will promote, and how you will create your marketing strategy.
Choosing a niche that suits you most is a crucial decision. You need to select a niche that makes interest in people who will turn your promotion into the sale. Picking up the best niche from thousands of options will help you become successful. Keyword research can be a smart way to find your expected subject. This method will help you find a topic where people have enough interest. Doing the keyword research perfectly, you will learn what kinds of keywords are driving most traffic from search engines.
However, niche selection is not just about the product line that pays you most. You’ll need to choose an area of focus where you have enough knowledge and you are interested in. Choosing a niche that you already know very well, will give an advantage in sharing authoritative and engaging resources.
Keep in mind that, it doesn’t matter how good your niche is or how much commission you will get from each sale unless you can create public interest in your content. You have to convince your audience to purchase from your affiliate links. That’s why you’ll need a vast knowledge of your niche. The more you know about your topic, you better content you will be able to publish.
Understanding your target audience’s needs and interests is another important factor. You have to put yourself in a position that your audience can trust you. If they can trust your suggestions and recommendations, they are more likely to purchase from your affiliate links. So, focus on choosing a niche where you can create useful and reliable content for your potential customers.
Step 2: Create Your Affiliate Website
If you have already selected your favorite niche, you should make your website the right way. Making a website shouldn’t be costly and time-consuming today! You will need to find a domain name according to your selected niche and purchase a hosting plan where you will build your website or blog.
Once your domain and hosting are activated, it’s time to start building your website. You can create your website using WordPress within a very short time. WordPress is the most popular content management system where you will be able to manage your website using its dashboard without any coding knowledge.
When your website is ready, you should start publishing content there. Try to create audience engagement with useful content. Publish articles on your blog regularly. Make sure your users can share their thoughts via commenting and engage yourself in the discussion by replying to them.
Besides the website, you can use also promote your products with publishing videos on various platforms like YouTube.
Step 3: Find and Join the Right Affiliate Programs
Once your website is ready with a good amount of content, find the affiliate program on your niche. Do some research on available programs and choose the right one. You can select multiple companies and there is no limit. But make sure they are offering quality products and services. Promoting good products will help you build the audience’s trust in you.
While you are choosing affiliate programs to join, you should look at what products they want you to promote. Try to select some brands that are already popular for their products in your niche. Check if they have affiliate programs. For example, if your site is about technology or building websites, you can look for web hosting companies with affiliate platforms.
You will find many giant brands like Amazon, eBay who are offering their own programs. These merchants are very much popular for their affiliate programs.
Besides merchant-driven affiliate programs, there are many affiliate networks in the market who are offering affiliation integrating with merchants. Some popular affiliate networks are CJ, AWin, Avangate, Rokuten, and ClickBank. They are driving thousands of affiliate products from different merchants. You can join these networks and work with several merchants from a single platform.
Working with the best merchant should give you a good return. So, try to choose those companies that are paying a smart commission. You should also look at terms of services of affiliate merchants to make sure their policy doesn’t make any obstacle to your move.
If you want to learn more from other affiliates, there are several affiliate communities like STM Forum. You will find affiliates are having discussions and sharing their real-life experiences. To get success with affiliation, you must keep yourself updated with the market. You have to study from different forums, blogs, and follow good marketers on social media platforms.
Step 4: Start Promoting Your Affiliate Products
Now you are in a position to share your affiliate products with your audience. Put your affiliate links on your website by focusing on your target market. Implementing links to your site will vary depending on how you are creating content.
For instance, you can promote your affiliate links on a review site. Normally, you can add this as a text link or you can add a banner to your site. However, you should keep your promoted products separate from your original content. This will keep your users away from getting confused.
A good way to promote your products is to keep them separate from your main content. You may use buttons with your affiliate links and place them just below your relevant content. A good example from OutdoorGearLab how they are approaching affiliate products.
Some affiliate programs are providing marketing assets such as banners that you can use to promote their products. These assets will help you keep your products separate from the informative content.
Your product linking approach and niche should work along with your site’s purpose. Don’t forget to use A/B testing your website. Your result may vary with different strategies. Keep in mind that you must add value to your content according to your audience. Without value, your users won’t trust your recommendations and you will get zero return. Try to get feedback from your users about your content and give your best effort to meet their expectations.
Another suggestion for you is to put affiliate disclosure on your website. This is a crucial part of your affiliate marketing and you must comply with the endorsement guidelines provided by the FTC. Violating these guidelines could lead to legal action which you wish to avoid.
Affiliate marketing is a win-win marketing strategy for both affiliates and merchants. With an effective marketing plan and good effort, you can earn a smart amount as a passive income. You can use other monetization methods for your site along with affiliate marketing. This is a rare combination of higher results with less effort.
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Jacob is the affiliate manager at VernalWeb. His primary goal at VernalWeb is helping grow our client base through affiliates and strategic partnerships. It is all about statistics analysis, communication with our affiliates, working on various campaigns, searching the web for trends and generating ideas for future projects.