If you have been researching affiliate marketing and trying to get into the field and this type of business, then you have stumbled across the right article to help you along your journey.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I have been an affiliate marketer for over 4 years. When I first started, I didn’t know anything about the industry, what I should do to begin, what skills I would need to learn, nada. During this tenure, I have learned all the ups and downs of being an affiliate marketer.
I have been through many experiences that I know helped me get to where I am today with this type of business. I believe that affiliate marketing is an amazing online business opportunity if you are willing and able to put in the time and effort required to get it started.
I am writing this article to help you along your affiliate marketing way. I know that when I started, I would have loved for someone to come and tell me what to expect, and where I can learn more about running an affiliate marketing business. I had to do a lot of research on my own and I know that being unsure about it will only lead to you quitting halfway through.
Below, I have created a step-by-step process that you can follow to get started on your affiliate journey. These steps incorporate all the pitfalls that I faced during my early days and what you can do to avoid them. I have learned from my mistakes and I can now relay them to those of you who are serious about becoming an affiliate marketer.
So if you are a go-getter with the ambition to begin right now or even if you are still on the fence and want to know more about affiliate marketing, then stick with me through this whole article. I will guide you through each of the steps, and then at the very end, I will give you a platform that is going to make your whole affiliate marketing journey very easy, right from the beginning.
What makes affiliate marketing such a good business model?
First of all, let’s look at what affiliate marketing really is. It is a type of business model where you (the affiliate) will sign a partnership with another company to promote their products for them. You will use your resources to promote the products, and for each sale that comes through your own unique link (affiliate link), you will be paid a commission based on rates pre-set by the partnership.
Now, you may be wondering how this is possible and what are the steps needed to make this work. Let me break it down for you:
- First, you will need to identify a pain point or issue that potential customers are facing in a given industry.
- You will then look for an affiliate business that is providing or manufacturing the solution to this problem.
- You will then form a contract with the business to promote their products to your customer base, and for each sale, you will get a commission paid.
This method of business is quite easy to do when compared to other business models out there. There is some work involved but you don’t have to do things such as:
- Shipping products to customers
- Manufacturing or designing your own products
- Dealing with returns, refunds, and angry customers
- Customer support will not be necessary
- You have the luxury of working anywhere around the world
- You don’t even have to take phone calls
When you think about it this way, this seems like the perfect business model to replicate. And in my opinion, I think this is one of the best ways to earn a passive income from home. However, this is not always as easy as it seems. You need to know how to make use of the best practices to make affiliate marketing work, and you need the proper guidance and tools.
For example, you will need to learn how to:
- Do your research and find the most suitable target audience
- Again doing research to find a product that is a solution while also looking into prices and profit margins
- What type of platform you need to run to make your business run smoothly in the long-run
- Once you have built your page, how can you scale your business to make you even more money
You can’t learn all of this in a day, and it will take time and effort on your part to start making it successful. Using something like the 7 step plan that we’re going through in the next part will be highly beneficial, especially for those who have not been or had much experience in this field.
The steps to learning affiliate marketing
1 – Doing research and identifying the target group that you want to provide a solution for
Having been in the industry, I can tell you right now that generalizing a product or being too broad with your target audience is going to spell trouble for you unless you really know what you are doing. You need to first identify a specific niche that you are interested in and want to work with. This way you can focus your attention on this one area instead of getting your attention spread out across multiple.
First of all, let’s look at some example of what a niche consists of:
- People who have similar hobbies such as reading or singing
- People who are talking about similar topics such as weight loss or space travel
- People who are in the same profession
- People who take part in or are interested in the same sport
- People who have similar items that need additional accessories such as gaming consoles
- Problems that are reflected across many people
Now. these are not all only what a niche is made up of. I have given you a few examples so that you can understand the point I am trying to make. Finding a group that has similar characteristics or interests, will be the best way for you to find the perfect target audience for your intended product.
By focusing on this one area, you will do a lot of digging into this specific area rather than spending more time on a lot of areas. This way you can get more accurate information about the niche and find the best solution based on the answers you have gotten from your research.
Also, to get started, you don’t need to spend as much time researching one niche as you would spend on researching a whole industry. You can start quickly creating content pieces, blogs, research papers, and more that are going to help your business’s website and awareness.
If you are finding it difficult to choose a niche, or you just don’t know where to start, here is my advice:
- Use a sport that you are interested in to find a problem and solution
- Look into your hobby, find like-minded people, and identify problems
- Make use of a skill that you picked up in life and use that to find solutions
- Look at your favorite videos, TV shows, music, or movies to find something that you may be interested in talking about.
If this still fails you and you are looking for inspiration or a place to start then you may want to check these websites:
- Clickbank – This is an online affiliate marketing platform that allows businesses to post about their affiliate programs for affiliates to see and sign up for. You will find only digital products such as ebooks on here.
- Udemy – This is meant solely for selling online courses. It is a learning platform that has courses on all topics.
- Amazon or eBay – These are online marketplaces where vendors and sellers meet to sell physical and digital goods. You can find ideas for potential products through these sites.
Now, these sites can be used to find inspiration for potential products/solutions that you are looking for. If you are still looking for potential problems or want to look deeper into the mind of your consumer and understand their problems, then you will need to look at forums and discussion boards where people will similar interests will meet to talk about various topics:
- Reddit, Quora – These are sites where people ask questions and the community responds. You can find a lot of potential information here.
- Facebook groups – There are specific pages dedicated to certain niches, groups, or interests. You will need to do research, find them, and then go through what the members are posting.
It is not very easy trying to find the perfect product to match your target audience’s problems. You will need to do a lot of research and go through some trial and error before you find it unless you are lucky!
Here is one final tip to finding your product – Use keywords and keyword finding tools to find other relevant keywords. You can use a tool like Jaaxy, type in your related industry, and identify the keywords that have a lot of search volume. This search volume indicates how popular a certain word or phrase is.
You can also use Google Trends in order to find the sales and interest trends of a certain product/niche. This tool will give you all the data regarding whether or not that niche is still a viable option as well as the months you should really focus on to maximize sales.
2 – Now look into affiliate marketplaces to find the best product supplier
Then, let’s say you found the perfect product. What you need to do is go on affiliate marketplaces or do some searches to find out if there is enough supply and suppliers for this product that you are able to get at an affordable price with a margin for you.Also, you may be wondering how these companies will keep track of your sales when compared to the other affiliates who are promoting their products for them. They do this through something called an affiliate link. This is a unique link that you will get once you sign up for an affiliate marketplace or program. If a customer comes through this link, their details will be listed under your name for a period of time called cookie duration. The longer the cookie duration of your affiliate company, the more potential to earn more commissions for every single one of your leads.
So what exactly is an affiliate program? As I mentioned, you will need to get into a partnership with a business in order to start promoting their products. This affiliate program will act as the mediator between the company and the affiliate detailing the below:
- How much you will get per sale you bring in
- Which of their products you can promote
- The methods you will be paid through and when you will be paid
- Any tools that they offer to help you promote such as business collateral
And how do you go about finding these affiliate programs that fit your requirements? Here are two methods:
- All you have to do is a simple Google search. Go on to the search bar and type in the name of your niche + your product + the phrase “affiliate program”. This will give you a whole list of results that have these keywords in them. They may not all be exactly relevant for you, but it is a good way to start finding them.
- Then the second method is to actually go to the specific website marketplaces or the individual websites of the product itself to find these products. For the marketplaces, you need to type the keyword in and sort through the results that come up. For individual websites with potential affiliate programs, you will either have to check their footer or their homepage buttons to know if they have an affiliate program already.
You also need to keep in mind that joining an affiliate program is not always going to be a seamless process. Some programs require some criteria to be met before you are accepted such as the need to have a website already created and catering to the niche. Once you apply to become an affiliate, it may take some time for your application to be reviewed.
In an affiliate marketplace, you will have many options to choose from for your niche. Here you can pick the best one based on how much commission they pay, their reviews, how often they payout, and more.
Depending on the product as well, you will find different commission rates. For example, an e-book or e-course will usually have a high commission rate (over 50%) because there is very little cost for the supplier to provide these items. They will go to the customer almost instantaneously. However, if you were to sell an Amazon home improvement product, you would likely only have a 5 – 10% commission rate because of all the additional costs that come with selling physical products.
On top of these, there are also certain affiliate programs that pay you per user you bring into their business. Now, this is mostly for businesses that act as a service such as Shopify. If you bring in new leads to the business and they sign up for a monthly subscription, you will be paid your commission on that.
3 – Now select the platforms that you are going to be promoting in
In order to promote these products to potential customers, you will need to use some social or online platforms to appeal to them, show them why they need the product, and why they need to purchase it.
There are a lot of articles out there that talk about using social media platforms, forums, and Q&A websites that you can use to promote these products. However, I would suggest taking these ideas with a grain. Yes, they are right that these have the potential to bring a good audience in front of your product and your pitch, however, when compared to what a website can bring you, these have a ton of limitations that are detrimental to your potential sales figures.
For example, if you use anything other than your own website, you will always be at the mercy of the platform you are using be it Instagram, Quora, or Pinterest. If any of these platforms decide to block your account or flag it, then all the work that you put in will go to waste. And the problem is that sometimes your account can be blocked for the most inane reasons and you can’t do much about it once it has been blocked or removed.
The other thing is that using these platforms doesn’t allow you to find the best target audiences. Think about it, on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the users are not really looking for the product you are promoting. Instead, you are putting the product in front of people who have similar characteristics to those who MIGHT buy your product. So there is no intent to purchase and so you have to push harder to get them to purchase.
The same goes for online forums. The users on them are there to find out information and not to buy a product. Therefore, your plug will really need to be top-notch in order to push them to buy.
What then is the best platform to use to create a sustainable business? That would definitely be a content management system that allows you to create and manage blog content such as WordPress. You will be able to use a theme and create a beautiful-looking website without having any technical knowledge at all. This website is your proprietary software and there is no chance of anyone taking it away from you. Also, people come onto a website through search intent, meaning they looked for your product before coming to the website. This means they will be more likely to buy.
4 – Use Q&A platforms to find related questions and provide solutions
Let me tell you about a method that you can use to bring in free traffic to your website. You will need to go through online platforms such as Quora and Reddit where people ask questions about almost any topic/niche. You should find the questions that you can answer and then draft responses that are detailed and provide relevant information to the readers.
If you do a good job and people start reading your answers and interacting with them, more people who stumble on to your question will be more likely to click on the link back to your website through the answer. These sites will even rank these questions to appear on search results of Google, so if your answer is on top, then those who come on to the site through Google SERP will see your answer first.
5 – Use other monetization methods on your website
Before you start earning well from affiliate marketing you will need to bring your site up to an acceptable level. Until then, you will still need to be earning some money in order to keep your website running and to cover other marketing expenses.
You can do things like display ads from Google which allows you to earn some income from people viewing the ads when they visit your site. However, this method should only be kept in the backburner and just run automatically. Your main focus should be on affiliate marketing and writing proper content that people are willing to read and helpful to them. These are the best forms of content as people don’t want a sales pitch. They would rather get an answer to their problems and then be guided to the product where this problem will be solved.
6 – Grow your business with other traffic-driving methods
Once you have implemented all of the above and are starting to see some steady traffic coming on to your website, it is time to scale your business and incorporate more methods to increase traffic. Here are some methods you could do:
- Create a YouTube channel and create useful videos relating to your niche. Research has shown that videos have the most engagement with users.
- Create your own Facebook group and interact with the users on your page. You need to only post useful content and link back to the products inside these posts.
- Start building email lists from the visitors who come to your site. Get them to sign up for a newsletter, or give them something for taking an action on the site. You can do some great promotional campaigns via email marketing which is still a very viable strategy.
7 – Repeat the steps from 4 to 6 and keep scaling your website
As your website grows and your traffic starts improving, now you need to place even more importance on creating content. It may come to the point where you can’t write everything yourself. You will need to hire others to write content in a similar style to yours.
Can you really make a lot of money using this business model?
You need to keep in mind, this is not some get-rich-quick scheme. I am not here to tell you that you will see overnight success when you try this method. There is a lot that you will have to go through, you will have your work cut out for you for the next few months, but take it from me, this is one of the most sustainable and reliable business models out there.
If you follow the steps I have outlined above and put in a good amount of time and effort, there is almost nothing that can stop you from becoming successful by doing this. Of course, you will need to do the right type of strategies and be smart about the way you operate the website to achieve this. I have come across affiliates who are easily making thousands of dollars every month, and I have also come across those who made a few dollars and then gave up before they could become lucrative because they were not patient.
Just know that there is no magical method to start making money. It all depends on how well you are able to apply these methods to your niche.
My verdict – Still need help running your affiliate business?
At this point, I am sure you can see that I love the affiliate marketing business. Also, like I promised I will take you through the platform that helped me get to where I am now and it is a platform that I am sure will help you in your affiliate journey as well.
The platform is called Wealthy Affiliate and it is made up of a step-by-step training guide about running an affiliate business from start to finish as well as all the tools you will need to run the business such as a website designer, keyword tool, and website hosting services.
On top of that, they have a really awesome community of like-minded people who are interested in affiliate marketing and have been doing this business for ages. They are always willing to help you out and answer any questions that may potentially have.
I can guarantee that this platform will have a lot of answers that you are searching for and will provide a solid foundation for you to start your business on. If you want to first try out the platform, they even have a free account that you can create without even having to enter your card details. It’s as simple as that and risk-free!
If this place wasn’t so great I wouldn’t be recommending it to you. I have got my affiliate reputation to uphold! I think this can really help you and I urge you to go at least check them out.