Affiliate marketing is quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing ways to earn an income online – a passive income. As you can see, this quickly speaks to why it is an attractive prospect for businesses looking to grow their website’s income.
If you are unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, this is how it works.
Affiliate marketing is a partnership between someone with a product to sell (the merchant) and an individual/company (the publisher/affiliate marketer) who promotes that product to their own audience.
In doing so, the affiliate earns a commission on products and services sold or clicked on (this varies). In other words, you get paid for recommending products and services!
You could promote any number of things, from online courses to software to coaching and more.
You can also promote a product or service in any number of ways, from content marketing such as writing a review of the product on your blog, doing a product demo on YouTube, to social media and more.
Typically, the exchange happens through what is called an “affiliate network.” An example of an affiliate network would be Amazon.com.
In this case, you simply sign up for the affiliate program and then choose the products you want to recommend to your audience. You are then given an “affiliate code” to give out, which directs traffic back to the affiliate network (for example, Amazon.com).
All of this is tracked through software.
There are three different types of affiliate programs in which you can earn a commission.
- Pay Per Sale. Just as it sounds, you get paid when a transaction is made (when someone purchases your recommendation).
- Pay Per Click (PPC). You receive a commission as soon as someone clicks on your link, regardless of whether or not a purchase was actually made.
- Pay Per Lead. You get paid when a consumer fills out a form on the site, which provides the network with their contact details, such as their email address.
Keep in mind that the cost of a given product or service that you recommend typically stays the same.
Now that you have a sense of what all of this is all about, here is your affiliate marketing guide for beginners to get you started.
This is how to do affiliate marketing step by step, the right way.
Advantages of Being An Affiliate Marketer
Since affiliate marketing doesn’t require that you make a product or have a warehouse to store inventory, affiliate marketing affords you some of the benefits of selling a product or service but without the difficult side of running a typical business.
As long as you have a decent sized audience to promote your products to, affiliate marketing can be very effective. There are generally no fees involved, so everything generated from it is pure profit.
How To Increase Affiliate Sales
While affiliate marketing is often hailed as a way to generate “passive” income, this does not mean that you can simply post an ad on the side of your website and watch the sales come in. There is some promotion involved.
With that in mind, here are some ways to increase your affiliate sales.
1. Build an Email List
Email marketing is the most effective way of ensuring that people will see your blog posts recommending various products and services. Sure, you could merely tweet out a link to your review or post it on Facebook, but the shelf life of social media posts is much less than email.
While a Facebook post survives for four and a half hours, an email that includes links to all of your recent content can survive for 12 days and possibly even more. A tweet, by the way, survives for merely 60 minutes maximum.
Keep in mind that even if your email subscriber list is under 500 people, you can still generate a lot of passive income (not to mention all of the other benefits of having an email list, such as the opportunity to build a relationship with your clientele).
There are many ways that you can build and/or grow your email subscriber list, but some of the best ways are to place signup buttons prominently and strategically on your blog.
In addition, adding a popup button with a call to action that has an attractive value proposition (such as a free e-book, etc.) is another way to build and grow your email subscriber list. An exit gate, wherein a popup will appear just as the user is about to leave your blog is also effective.
This is because it has given him or her an opportunity to read your content and decide whether or not they think it provides enough value to warrant subscribing to your email list.
As a final point about building an email list, ensure that you are consistent with sending out your email newsletters. Ideally, Neil Patel of NeilPatel.com recommends that you send an email out weekly.
2. Research Your Product(s) Carefully
When it comes to choosing what products you are going to promote, there are several important things you want to keep in mind.
It is very important to research the demand for your product before attempting to promote it. Consider if the product or service will be useful for your audience and then test the waters.
Send out an online survey via email (just another reason why it is crucial to build your email subscriber list now) or with a social media survey. You must also carefully consider the partnering company – that is, the merchant – and their other products as well.
In the event that the product or service doesn’t fulfill its expectations, you are going to be “affiliated” with that company. That bad publicity can transfer to your own brand.
Here are some more common affiliate marketer mistakes when it comes to choosing products to promote.
It is also worth a mention that you should only promote a few good products or services. Some people try to promote as many products as possible in hopes that they will see a larger return in doing so. However, there are several reasons why you should avoid this.
First, you can quickly lose quickly credibility with your audience if you are constantly pushing products (especially ones you clearly don’t use). If you are constantly recommending products, it will make it seem as though you don’t actually care about those products at all.
Secondly, if you want to generate the most commissions, you need to market them properly. If you are working with too many products at once, things can begin to slip through the cracks and they may not receive as much exposure as they otherwise would.
3. Promote the Products You Actually Use
You will see results from affiliate marketing when you promote the products that have actually worked for you in some way. In fact, recommending products that are outside of your niche or recommending products that you aren’t that invested in will be obvious to your audience.
In doing so, you will damage your credibility, your brand and ultimately your profits, both short-term and long-term.
4. Master the Product Demo
Both Patel and Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com are proponents of doing product demos to in order to be as successful as possible with affiliate marketing. Unbox your product and give your audience the whole shebang.
A great method of doing a product demo is with a webinar, which is the equivalent of live tutorials. Right away, you get a sense of their appeal. Here are a few tips about how to set up a webinar.
1. Use the number one landing page builder, LeadPages, to create a landing page (this is where your audience will fill out a signup form with their email address).
2. Remind people in advance that the webinar is approaching so they don’t forget. You can do this via social media. However, this is where having an email list comes in handy because you can use it to send out automated messages reminding them that the webinar is about to begin.
3. Use Google Hangouts to host the actual webinar itself. At the end, mention the affiliate link. You can execute the webinar in any number of ways, from doing a demo to discussing the pros and cons of the product and even answering their questions.
The great thing about using the webinar to promote a particular product is it not only boosts engagement in many different ways (the live aspect, the Q&A format, etc.), but it is also a very natural way to bring up the affiliate link.
Ensure that you record the video (see the ‘Tools’ section below) to post on your website.
Pro Tip: If you can arrange for around 200 people to tune into your webinar, you will be more likely to secure a discount code for the people in your audience by reaching out to the merchant. In doing so, your affiliate marketing sales will increase.
Doing an unboxing in a regular video format is also effective, but a blog post that includes step-by-step images of you unboxing the product can also be effective. This also happens to be the easiest way to do an unboxing.
Aside from unboxings, comparison reviews between two related products are also effective. For example, reviewing the latest Apple flagship with the Samsung one typically generates a lot of interest as customers are often choosing between products.
5. Use of Combination of Promotional Methods
Talk about your products more than once. Feel free to mention them in a few different blog posts. An effective way to do this is to talk about two different aspects of the product in multiple posts. Keep in mind that simply sharing one link won’t deliver the results you want.
There is a lot of noise on the web and it can be difficult to be heard. That’s why it’s so important to talk about these products across different platforms, such as social media, your podcast, blog posts and videos if you have them! Here are some additional methods to increase your affiliate sales.
Not only that, but is is also imperative that your website’s pages rank high in search engines so that people actually have a chance to see your product review or video. One of the most important things you can do is to optimize your website with SEO. Check out this ultimate guide to SEO.
6. Be Honest
Be honest that you’re sharing an affiliate link – specifically make it a point to tell your audience that you will earn a profit if they follow the link. In doing so, you portray yourself as trustworthy and honest.
Moreover, you would be surprised at how much your audience is willing to follow the link just because they find value in the content you provide and may even like the idea of helping you with a little profit. That is why delivering high-quality content is always so important.
Not only should you be upfront about the fact that you’re recommending an affiliate product, but you can also increase your sales if you are careful about the way in which you discuss the product.
For example, tell your audience that you are “recommending” this product as opposed to language that tells them to buy the product.
7. Add a Resource Page to Your Blog
Flynn recommends adding a ‘Resource page’ on your blog or website that lists all of your favourite products and services (which are, of course, your affiliate links that you have mentioned before).
Not only is your audience going to find this very helpful, but this is when the passive part of affiliate marketing really shines. With that in mind, it is a good idea to update the list every so often and to make a point of mentioning that somewhere on the page to draw renewed attention to the list.
Also keep track of the metrics and remove ones that aren’t generating any additional income to better emphasize the ones that you’re benefiting from.
8. Provide Incentives Alongside Your Product Recommendations
Not all companies will allow you to provide additional incentives if people click or purchase your product recommendation (you will need to contact the product owner first).
However, you can increase your affiliate sales by personally providing various bonuses, such as quick start guides, tutorials, etc.
9. Reach Out to The Product Owner
It is a good idea to reach out to the product owner. Building a relationship with the product owner could be a very valuable asset in promoting the product.
Cultivating a relationship with the product owner also makes it more likely that you could ask to increase your commissions if you sell enough of the product. Flynn, for example, increased his commissions by as much as 300% by forging a relationship with the product owner.
He also featured him on his podcast so that his audience could hear more about the product itself.
10. Measure Your Results
As with any marketing strategy, you will get the best results if you measure your success (or lack thereof) via conversions tracking software.
In the event that you are not seeing the results you had expected, consider that even making small changes can result in substantial changes to your income. For example, ensure that ads are placed on all of your site’s pages and that they are placed strategically.
Affiliate Marketing Tools
- PrettyLink – This is a WordPress plugin that turns affiliate links into smaller ones that are easy to remember. It will also keep track of your clicks.
- ScreenFlow (Mac) or Camtasia Studios (PC) – These tools allow you to record any part of your screen, making it possible to share your webinar with a wider audience, for example, at a later date.
- ThirstyAffiliates – This WordPress plugin is an affiliate link manager that makes adding affiliate links to your WordPress blog easy, as well as allowing for easy management of all of your links.
How To Find The Best Affiliate Marketing Websites
There are a range of affiliate marketing websites out there, but not all of them are created equal. Some pay much more than others. In order for you to be well on your way to generating income, our affiliate marketing guide will provide some good options to make it easy for you. Take a look!
1. CJ Affiliate – This is perhaps the largest affiliate marketing website. Benefits include its massive network base (which includes mostly all major retailers), ease of comparing different merchants and reliable payments.
It also offers a great built-in metric system so that you can maximize your results. As far as cons, it is not necessarily the easiest affiliate marketing website to learn how to use.
2. Amazon Associates In terms of how to start affiliate marketing for beginners, Amazon’s Associate program, one of the first of its kind, is certainly one of the easiest to use, simply requiring just one approval in order to sign up. This is also a great source for how to start affiliate marketing for free.
3. ShareSale – This allows you to generate income via clicks, leads and sales. It is one of the larger affiliate networks with advantages such as a large number of partners to choose from, the ability to make comparisons and its quick payment schedule.
As you can see, affiliate marketing is a great way to earn a relatively passive income. Follow the affiliate marketing guide above and get started supplementing your income immediately!