Affiliate marketing is the process through which an affiliate markets a product or service to the audience who might need it. It is one of the oldest forms of online marketing, having been popularized in the 2000s and has survived so long because of its low effort but high profitability nature. Affiliate marketing is all about strategy so it puts people’s marketing skills to the test to make money.
“Actually, affiliate marketing began in 1989 with a man named William J. Tobin, who holds the proud title of the world’s first internet marketer. The founder of PC Flowers & Gifts, Tobin conceptualized the idea of affiliate marketing and launched his program on the Prodigy Network. This model involved paying the Prodigy network a commission on every sale.” Stated on moreniche.com.
An affiliate is essentially an online marketer and advertiser who introduces and recommends a product to an audience. Some affiliates do it for free to connect their audience to recommended products they have enjoyed using but most are doing it mainly as a way to boost their income. It is one of the best ways to make passive income especially if they have an audience willing to purchase the items.
Statistically it is estimated that 80% of brands have affiliate programs with an expected 10% growth in the next couple of years.
When we go online, content creators often recommend products and have a link connected to the reviewed product so that the viewers can easily get the product.
So where does the money an affiliate makes come from?
Once a company provides a product or service, they are sure there will be a certain amount of profit. So the affiliate earns a certain percentage of the profit. The garnered profit could pay commissions from 1% to 200% depending on the company.
Types of affiliate products
- Physical products
They are the easiest to market to your audience. You can record videos to accompany your written content and everyone can see the product for themselves.
Online services are where you refer your readers to a specific website so they can get a service they need such as Bluehost which is one of the largest website hosting providers.
- Information products
These are often marketed by bloggers and authors to educate their readers. Informational products have a high price which means high commission for you as an affiliate. The products offer solutions to problems your readers have, which gives your readers an opportunity to build trust that you will provide for them when in need.
Parties involved in affiliate marketing
This is could be lone entrepreneur or a large enterprise. They are the ones who organize, manage and assume risks of a business. An innovator or developer, who recognizes and seizes opportunities, converts those opportunities into workable marketable ideas, adds value through time, effort, money or skills, and assumes the risks of competitive marketplace to implement these ideas. The product doesn’t have to be physical, it could be a service. Lastly, the seller doesn’t have to be hands on if the product being sold is in the hands of a large enterprise.
As I mentioned earlier an affiliate is a marketer or advertiser who attracts the consumers’ attention to the product. An affiliate doesn’t have to be an individual; there are companies that do affiliate marketing. Affiliates could promote a single or multiple products at the same time. My rule is diversification is a safety net, sticking to one product could slow you down or blow up in your face. By diversifying you are making your affiliate marketing hustle:
- Not volatile
- Expand to different audiences
- Increase your income
You can set up a blog that focuses on product reviews of different merchants’ products and you can decide on a website that is dedicated to finding products related to your niche.
First thing you have to do before you start being an affiliate is to build an audience which could be done on social media or a blog. The customers are the wheels of our car because without them we cannot move. Product purchasing is where you as an affiliate will make money from.
The consumer may or may not know they are in an affiliate marketing system depending on the affiliate. Some tend to be upfront about the product having financial incentive. With a platform like Instagram and YouTube there have been new regulations where the affiliate has to disclose if the product being discussed is a paid advertisement.
It is an intermediary between the affiliate and the seller so both parties can make money. While you could pick and promote a product on your own, a network puts a different approach to it. As an affiliate you have to go through affiliate networks to promote a product as it serves as a database of lots of products which you can pick from, an example is Amazon Associates is one of the biggest affiliate networks when promoting products like tools, books, toys and more. They let you promote any product sold on their platform. It easy to sign up and anyone can do it, even those who are not tech savvy.
Affiliate marketers use networks as tools of the trade to help them make better product selections to promote to the consumers. A benefit of using networks is that they have data on product sales and you can use that information to increase your profits. Making data driven decisions provide better results as compared to going with your gut.
How to start affiliate marketing
Step 1: Choose a platform
There are a number of platforms you can pick; it could be an Instagram account, YouTube or a blog. Considerations you should have when choosing a platform are:
- Which platform is trending at the moment? It gives you a wider audience advantage.
- Which type of audience you are targeting an example is using Tik Tok to target teenagers and young adults while using a blog to target an older more mature audience.
- How long you want to use the platform.
- How much money you want to use to start because not all are free. Registering an Instagram account is free but creating a website costs money.
Step 2: Pick a niche
A niche is an area that you show interest and thrive in. Selecting your niche is a slow process in which you have to self-reflect and see what your interests are, especially with a blog which is long-term. If you do something you dislike, you may lose your interest as it continuously feels like a burden instead of something you love doing. Having knowledge on a specific niche is an added advantage as you will be able to offer professional advice in your content.
Some of the well-known niches are:
- Personal finance
- Health and Fitness
Step 3: Find a program
Picking the first affiliate program you see or heard from a friend is never the way to do it. You have to spend time researching to see which fits you best and offers maximum profits at the same time.
Things to consider are:
- Does it fit your niche
Having products aligned with your niche is the most important detail to watch out for. If you have a finance website but the products you are linking to are about fashion, your readers cannot relate to and purchase products.
- Conversion rates
Affiliate markets work on a cost per sale compensation model so you should choose one that has a high conversion rate to get profits.
- Public perception of the program
Picking a program that has a negative reputation will yield no fruits so ensure you chose a reputable program with quality products and services.
Niche saturation is a reality we have to live with, so you have to consider this when picking a program. There are certain products that many similar sites have so you have to get a program that offers products that haven’t been posted everywhere. If it is possible, adjust you niche to something more specific so that you don’t become part of the crowd.
Reputable programs offer certain tools and resources that make the promotion smooth for the affiliates such as banner ads and testimonials.
- Sales tracking is important and great affiliate programs have systems built for it.
- Cookie life is essential as the longer it is the more time you have to market it to your audience
- Terms and conditions should be favorable to you as an affiliate.
Step 4: Content creation
Making money should be a goal because you have to provide for yourself but many forget the content part of it. Your blog is built on content that drives people to your content so as an affiliate you should strive to create engaging content for your audience. This information access you provide for free will make your readers more inclined to purchase your products and those you market.
Step 5: Traffic
Once you have everything ready, you have to get traffic to your blog. This can be done by sharing your content with your contacts, on your social media accounts and paid promotions. Generating traffic will increase your affiliate marketing income by getting more clicks on your links and purchases. You will also get new readers who have an interest in a different aspect of your niche which will help you broaden your horizons.
How are affiliates paid?
After building an audience and you know the parties involved, you get to the money. Which method will be used in deciding how much you will be paid? Different programs have different ways of measuring the affiliates influence on the seller’s product sales. There are different three ways an affiliate could get paid.
Pay per sale
This is the standard affiliate marketing program, where the merchant pays an affiliate a percentage of the sale price after a consumer purchases the product. The product in the case should have directed traffic from the affiliate to the seller.
Pay per lead
This is a more complex structure as compared to per sale. Pay per lead affiliate programs offer compensation to the affiliates based on the conversion of leads. The affiliate convinces their audience to visit a consumer’s website and follow certain steps which could be signing up for a product trial.
Pay per click
As an affiliate this could be simpler than the two. It is whereby the affiliate directs their audience to perform a simple action by clicking on a link or a banner to drive traffic to the merchants’ website.
Why get into affiliate marketing?
As time goes on marketing trends fade out of our minds but some stick around because you see them being used constantly. Affiliate marketing is one of those that have stuck around for decades without losing its charm. You buy products that you love and talk your friends and family into purchasing them, so why wouldn’t you share the knowledge with the people you interact with on social media and make money while doing it? It is a simple thing to do and in this piece we will explore the various benefits of being an affiliate and you would understand it better.
Working on getting your active income which could be a 9-5 job, being an affiliate provides an added financial cushion. The economy is tough and to be able to live a comfortable life or retire early you will have to add more sources of income. You can get stretched thin if you have several hands on projects together with your job which is why passive income is the solution.
Passive income is essentially a way to work smart not hard because you make money without being constantly hands on. Affiliate marketing is a source of passive income where once you build your audience and a solid platform, you post links or banners then wait. Investing time to a campaign will yield continuous results for a while.
Affiliate marketing is an old way used to make money, you may doubt it but the truth rings out in those who do it. With great marketing skills will be earning your steady flow without sitting in front of the computer all day.
Work from home
While getting up early and going to work daily is favored by some; as an affiliate you can step back from that if it isn’t your cup of tea. I am not saying you should quit instantly but it’s a long-term goal you can set. Creating a blog or a social media following is great and all but affiliate marketing income takes a while to reach thousands.
Consistency is key, so put your all in what you do and you will reach a point where you can work in the comfort of your home. There are full-time affiliates who make so much money working from home. This is an attainable goal for many as there is still a gap present for those who want to step in.
The idea of free money sounds ludicrous the moment you hear it but it is possible. To start a business you require capital to get space to work as well as money to purchase the products to sell. Affiliate marketing can be done at low-cost or even free. There is no affiliate marketing fees or extra charges to worry about and neither do you need to go through the process of creating a product. The products you push to the audience are created by others; all you have to do is put them in people’s hands and make money doing it at the comfort of your home.
There are some affiliates who pay to get better deals but it is not necessary. Interacting with your audience to the point where you know what they want will give you a chance to find a product that you can recommend. Building an audience whether on social media or in a blog is tough and slow which is normal however, while doing it make sure you interact with them and grow their trust in you.
With other businesses or your place of employment you may need to put in the hours to get a salary. Affiliate marketing on the other hand gives you enough independence to work where ever and whenever you want. For those who want second income source affiliate marketing is the way to go for you. After a long day at work can spend a few minutes checking on it and you are done. It doesn’t have the added burden of keeping you active for hours to make ends meet.
As an affiliate you are a freelancer so you get to choose your own hours, set your own goals and even change course when you want to. The products you choose to promote are also your choice. With the abundance of choice on your hands you have unlimited possibilities to pick from. Get the best deal for your audience and yourself as well.
The flexibility also gives you the opportunity to decide on whether to keep recommending a product or step back and pick another one to promote. You are not tied to a single company, store or person however you move around picking what fits you best at the time.
Affiliates have been making money quietly for years and with time their living standards have improved without working overtime or putting their life on hold. It has provided a means of lively hood and a way to improve their financial lives.
How to get maximum profit as an affiliate
Affiliate marketing can provide a good revenue stream and maximize your earnings if you engage your audience. Traditionally advertisers were paid for impression or clicks but affiliates have a variety of payment modes that more flexible and favorable to them. Here are a few ways to improve.
Know your audience
Affiliate programs work when you get consumers to buy products. When building an audience you should get to know them. This can be done by looking at comments, blog insights (to know there age, geographical location and more) and any other form of interaction. The type of content you put out is also guide to what your audience wants.
As an affiliate knowing your audience is the key to making high figure income because you will be able to know which products to market. Marketing the wrong product could end with you losing a significant number of your audience so no matter how tempting it is, don’t. The more relevant the ads are to your readers the higher the chances of them clicking on your links. You can also educate your audience about the product or service and how they can use it to improve their lives.
Knowing your audience helps you identify the best places to market and advertise. Remember to be data driven when looking at your audience and the product.
My dad always says trust is given once, when betrayed you have to work really hard to earn it back. Your audience might contain a few people who don’t question your intentions but a lot of people know an affiliate link when they see one. When you build your audience you will have readers who have been with you from the beginning. They are the ones who maintain and drive traffic to your site so when you promote a product for monetary gain or take advantage of them by splashing your website with too many ads, they will feel used and betrayed in the end never coming back.
I like to think of my audience as my family and you put family first even when they don’t give you anything in return. So I constantly provide quality content even if no one clicks on the affiliate links. Being an affiliate you should put the content first and promote genuine products to maintain their trust.
Your affiliate hustle is an extension of your core that is either a blog or a social media account. Your main role is to inform, educate or help your audience so makes sure to provide quality over quantity.
When writing a review take time to write it well with as much necessary information as possible which will put them on the right track if they were to follow your guidance. A review is better when you have a personal testimonial on the product you are pushing to the masses.
When writing a post or review featuring a financial incentive, it is better to be honest with your readers. People appreciate honesty and they will easily help you out by visiting the merchants’ site. Deceiving them will lead them to think negatively of you and lose trust in all your content. They will bypass your link and go direct to the merchant leaving your referral link hanging. Your readers expect you to have some loyalty and trust in them to help you in getting paid as a way to thank you for providing valuable information to help them out.
When selecting products you should take your time to determine the best fit for you by going through all the products thoroughly. As an affiliate you need to find a product or service that will be appropriate for your audience. The right product will give back high revenue.
If I was to recommend something it would be promoting digital information products since the have higher conversion rates as well as providing great service for the people. They also offer higher commissions than physical products. My second recommendation is to promote high priced products if your audience can manage to purchase them.
Next to product selection is the ads and banners. As an affiliate you should find the right banners and ads for your site. You should test different ads to see which one is best. There are instances when vendors let the affiliate’s design their own banners (it’s uncommon but you could ask).
Diversify your program
When choosing an affiliate program you should find one that caters to your need and if it doesn’t you can try others. Even if the one you are using is great, you should add another program to create diversity. The programs are different therefore the products they offer and their payment could be different. Some will have payout on sales, others will put a 30-90 days limit and others offer flexibility in the type of ads.
By trying a variety of programs you will find one that triggers a positive response from your audience
Write timeless content
No matter how long ago you published your content, if it was good then it doesn’t need to be on the front page to create impact. When publishing content it should be written in a way that it will be relevant in 5 years or more. Information changes fast so finding a way of adapting will prevent the added work of updating.
As an affiliate you have to go back and update your links to prevent a loss of income when people come across your old content first. Always focus on the evergreen content. The sweet spot is a ratio of one regular to one evergreen post
Rome was not built in a day and neither will your affiliate marketing income. It takes time to get enough people to use your links and a while for the payout to grow. The process of testing out different programs and products is time consuming so you will have to be patient to figure out the right way that will compliment your blog or post.
When it comes to passive income streams, affiliate marketing is one of the best as it high profit with no financial risk. As an affiliate all you have to do is build an audience and sell them a product or service that you did not spend money to create. There are cases where people promote their own products as affiliates which give them double money. Being an affiliate is an amazing way to diversify your income sources with the little influence you have.