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Affiliate Marketing in 2021
Note: Interested in learning through books? I have made a list of the top 10 affiliate marketing books you should read in 2021.
Affiliate Marketing is a method of earning a passive income online. In it, you are a salesperson who promotes products from different merchants and earns a commission on every sale you make.
The best thing about affiliate marketing is that the possibilities are infinite. You are not limited to a single product or company. You are not doing anyone’s job. You are your own boss.
You can choose the product you want to promote and promote it the way you like. The only problem with affiliate marketing is that you need to first build an audience to whom you can promote the products later. This is what most newbies struggle with.
This complete guide will help you out so that you don’t have to struggle like the majority. However, let me be clear, hard work is what pays, and this article won’t show you any shortcuts for succeeding overnight. Instead, this guide will show you the right path to walk.
Recommended Reading: Describe Your Past Experience in Affiliate Marketing | 10 Mistakes to Avoid
The Earning Potential of Affiliate Marketing
One thing that every beginner asks is how much can I earn doing Affiliate Marketing.
The short answer is hundreds of thousands every month. However, here is a trick, only a few i.e. 3% of affiliate marketers make more than 150K a month.
Does that mean Affiliate Marketing is super hard? Of course not. If you do it strategically you can be into that 3%. It does take hard work, but never impossible.
Here is an income report of Ryan Robinson from his blog. He made $33,204.04 in December only from affiliate marketing.
And, here is another income of Adam Enfroy. He made $61,659 from his blog; $59,783 only through affiliate marketing.
His blog’s traffic for that month was 414,389.
I just showed you the earning potential of affiliate marketing. But, it took them years of effort to build the audience they have today to make such an income.
Overnight success is impossible. But, if you are consistent with your work, you can surely reach that point as well. You need to work strategically. This guide will help you to learn some core concepts of affiliate marketing. Learn and implement them.
How Affiliate Marketing Works?
Now, let’s understand how it works.
Basically, there are three parties involved: the merchant, the promoter, and the buyer.
A merchant is a company/individual who has a product to sell. What it does is find some people (affiliate marketers) that can help to generate sales, and in return share the profit. The marketers will promote their product because they are getting the commission on each sale they are responsible for.
A promoter or an affiliate is anyone who promotes others’ products to get a commission. Unlike offline business, anyone who is willing to promote a product can become an affiliate of a company, and promote as many products as s/he wants.
A buyer is a customer who buys something from the merchant. A buyer reaches the merchant through the promoter/affiliate marketer.
Most often there is a fourth party involved in between merchant and promoter called affiliate network.
An affiliate network connects a merchant and a promoter. Merchant signup for a network and lists its products. Promoters sign up, search for products they are interested in, and generate a unique link for each product.
Now, the affiliates/promoters/publishers have to promote that link to their audience. They will make a commission whenever someone visits and buys something.
Sometimes, you don’t have to sell but generate a lead for the merchant such as signup forms, subscriptions, etc. you’ll then be paid based on cost per lead.
Why would anyone buy the products you promote?
If you are thinking, why would anybody care about me promoting the products? The funny thing is: nobody cares about you and the products you want to sell.
People care about what they need and the value they will get. This means you have to provide them the value they need and the solution to their problem. If it’s a product that can solve their problem and satisfy their needs, you can easily sell them the product.
The key is to understand the potential customers’ needs and their pain points. And, provide them the solution. This is the only way to succeed.
Opportunities of Affiliate Marketing
You have already seen how important affiliate marketing is. It’s a win-win for all the merchants, the promoter, and the buyer.
The merchant generates its sale, the promoter gets the commission and the buyer gets the value they need.
The total global annual spending on Affiliate Marketing is USD12 Billion. The market is increasing by 10% every year.
Affiliate marketing generates 20% of the total revenue on the internet.
Look at this data and think about the opportunities affiliate marketing has. It’s growing very rapidly. People check out the reviews and recommendations before buying. That’s where affiliate marketers get a chance to earn a commission.
Affiliate marketing is the major source of revenue for most online businesses. It not just helps to generate sales but also helps to increase brand awareness.
If you want to get rid of your 9 to 5 job, affiliate marketing is the best way to go. It can be your passive income source like many bloggers, marketers, and influencers out there.
It takes time to build the audience, but, once built, money keeps coming to your bank account every month.
So far, you have learned what affiliate marketing is, how it works, the earning potential, and the opportunities. Now, let’s see how you can get started. Below is the step-by-step process to start affiliate marketing.
Choose a Niche
This is the first step to start affiliate marketing. Before doing anything else you have to choose a topic/niche you are interested in.
You’ll find products to promote for almost every niche with a few exceptions like humor and news sites.
Follow these steps:
Make a list of topics
Take a paper and a pen or open text editor on your computer. Make a list of every topic that you are familiar with. At this moment, don’t think about the future just write topics that come to your mind.
Choose one topic from the list
Now, go through the list and choose a topic that you know a lot about.
You’ll have to produce content around that topic. So, choose something you are comfortable writing articles about.
No need to overcomplicate things. Just choose one that is a part of your day-to-day life. To make it easier, check what types of videos/blogs you search on YouTube/Google. Think about what you like the most: watches, computers, smartphones, decoration, beauty products, motorbikes, traveling, etc.
Search for the products on Clickbank
Clickbank is an affiliate network. After choosing the niche, you have to look for the products available to promote.
Signup for a free account on Clickbank.com.
Complete your profile and verify the email address.
After completing the profile, go to the affiliate marketplace.
Now, search your niche in the search bar. Check out the product available.
Also, have a look at the categories for niche ideas. If you are interested in any of those, you might end up choosing one as your niche.
Tips on Choosing the Right Affiliate Programs/Networks and Products
Clickbank is not the only affiliate network you can sign up with. Many other popular platforms are also out there, for example, CJ Affiliates, ShareASale, and Amazon Associates.
Initially, signup for all these 4 major affiliate networks.
Now think about the products you use or have used. Are there any products your potential customers might be interested in, or products you may like to promote?
Search for those products on these affiliate networks. Most of the products can be found on Amazon.
Below are the tips that can help you choose affiliate products.
- As much as possible, try to choose products that you have used or know about.
- Check the quality of both the product and the landing page of the product. Answer this question: why will anybody buy this product?
- Don’t just promote products that have higher commission. Think about the quality and the value they have for your audience.
- If you promote any products that may harm or provide no value to users, you may end up losing the trust of your audience. Trust is the reason why people will buy from you.
- Initially, make of list of 10-15 high-quality products and use the ways described in the next heading to promote those products.
Now, get the affiliate links for those products. Use excel sheets or Google sheets for this.
Methods of Doing Affiliate Marketing
In this guide, I have described 5 ways of doing affiliate marketing.
You are not limited to a single one. You can use multiple methods to do it, each one has its pros and cons.
It doesn’t matter what way you choose to promote your products. If you do it strategically giving your best, you can succeed. But, if you do it wrong you cannot succeed whichever method you choose. So, give your full attention to learn and implement things told in this guide. It will be very helpful to you.
The best strategy is to use all the 5 ways described below to do affiliate marketing.
Content marketing is the best and most popular way to do affiliate marketing.
You have to write content that people want to read. People read content that provides value.
For content marketing, you need to set up a blog. It is very hard to do affiliate marketing without a website. So, I always recommend building one.
There are four steps for doing affiliate marketing through content marketing.
Step 1: Setting up a blog
Setting up a blog is so easy. You just have to buy a domain name (costs around $10) and hosting (starts from $3 a month).
You can find many tutorials online to help you set up a blog.
Step 2: Creating content
The second step is to create valuable content for your users; content that solves users’ problems.
Do keyword research and find topics that users are looking for. Additionally, you can find what your users are talking about on Quora, Reddit, and Niche Forums.
Now create high-quality content for those topics.
Step 3: Monetizing the content through affiliate links
After creating the content, wisely monetize it through affiliate links.
Remember, when users feel like you are trying to sell them the products, they won’t buy. They should feel like you are showing them a way to get what they want.
Step 4: Bring traffic to the site
You created a blog, wrote a few high-quality posts, monetize it through affiliate links; now what?
Well, you’ve just done have of the work. The remaining 50% of your effort should be on promoting your blog so that people visit it and buy something.
The great traffic source is Google. So make the posts rank on Google for consistent organic traffic.
If you are an influence on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, you have a great opportunity to earn from the followers you have already built.
However, starting from scratch is not a good idea if you are not willing to spend on ads.
If individual posts on your social media account get an average of 1000+ views, you can easily monetize it. However, it mostly depends upon the quality of your followers.
For example, if you want to promote blogging-related products and most of your followers are bloggers then the conversion rate will be higher than if they are not.
So, the first important thing to do is studying your followers.
Try to find the answers to the following questions about your followers.
- What is their profession?
- What type of content do they consume on the internet/social media?
- What type of people/businesses they follow?
- What are their interests?
- What is their age, gender, income, country, and so on?
Try to find as much information as you can about your followers, then decide which products they are likely to buy.
The same thing as above (content marketing) applies here as well: give something before taking. Create the value first. Produce content that they are interested in and show them the products as a means to solve their problems.
If you have an ad budget then you can even start from scratch and generate sales and revenue from affiliate marketing.
First, know who you want to sell to. Then, target them with ads about their interests and increase your following.
Initially, you should focus on creating your audience than just selling through ads. Create content that interests them and makes them follow you. Later you can easily convert those followers into paying customers.
Email marketing is a process of collecting the email addresses of your targeted audience (with their permission) and sending them targeted emails for profit.
You can promote your products, blog posts, offers, webinars, courses, etc. through email campaigns.
People should give you their email addresses and are willing to receive emails from you. Sending someone continuous emails without their permission is against law. So, you should avoid this.
There are several methods of collecting the email addresses of your target audience. You need a blog for this.
Common ways of gathering email addresses are:
- Welcome bars
- Sidebar/ header embeds
- Content upgrades
- Printable resources like PDFs
- Comments/contact forms
Competitively, email marketing is a low-cost & high return on investment strategy. You should utilize every opportunity to collect your audience’s email addresses.
Tips for sending email campaigns
- Don’t directly promote affiliate products every time you send an email campaign. Instead, bring them to your blog posts where they can convert. Occasionally, you can directly introduce your offers to them providing some form of value.
- Give more value than you ask for. Otherwise, the subscribers will start decreasing.
- Have a visible link to unsubscribe in the emails you send. Otherwise, they may get frustrated and never buy from you. Trust is what makes the relationship healthy between you and your followers.
- Track your email campaigns, analyze the data and improve the quality of your emails over time.
Videos consumers are increasing day by day. Video marketing is very effective for affiliate marketing.
More than 2 billion users watch videos on YouTube alone. You can get high-quality traffic from YouTube to your blog or affiliate site.
YouTube is the second largest search engine right after Google.
If you start a blog and a YouTube channel at the same time, you’ll find that the YouTube channel grows faster in the first few years.
You should start creating high-quality videos from the beginning to get better results. You can promote affiliate products directly on YouTube or bring that traffic to your website. Either way is possible.
I’ve already told you many times about creating value for users before asking for any favor. All the principles that apply to a blog also apply to video marketing.
Don’t just be there to sell, but to create the best possible videos for the targeted audience. Create high-quality, engaging videos and focus more on building trust than anything else.
If you have a budget to spend on ads, you can get results from the first day.
You can run pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google or Bing. The search results you see on top (or other places) with an ad watermark are PPC ads.
Sidebar shopping ads on Google looks like this:
You have to pay a certain amount of money for every click you get. You won’t be charged for impressions.
Bing ads are generally cheaper than Google ads but you’ll get more exposer on Google as it has more than 80% of the search market.
You need to have a website to run Google ads. You will get highly targeted traffic to your blog. Your blog should then be able to convert those visitors to paying customers.
If your conversion rate is very low you might end up losing money on ads. So before running any ads, make sure you will get higher conversion rates for a better return on investment.
Another important thing to care about is to focus on the quality of the landing page. Make sure it is 100% relevant to the search queries you are targeting.
Search engines, especially Google look for the quality and relevancy of the landing page to determine its position on paid search. You can rank higher even if you are paying less than your competitors provided that you have higher quality and more relevant landing pages.
To run Google ads create an AdWords account.
After creating a Google account, add a new campaign for website traffic.
Then follow the instructions to create your first PPC ad on Google.
5 Mistakes to Avoid in Affiliate Marketing
So far, we have learned a lot of technical aspects of affiliate marketing. Now let’s look at some of the mistakes most beginners make.
You should avoid these mistakes to increase your chances of success.
Mistake 1: Not having a business goal
Most of the newbies in affiliate marketing are unaware of what they are doing or trying to accomplish.
Making money is the ultimate goal for every business. But you don’t make money with that goal in mind. You need to be strategic on how you’ll do things that should give the results you want.
Before doing anything, make realistic goals and try to accomplish them with the timeframe you set.
Having goals keeps you consistent with your work and motivates you to keep working. Read the goals every day before starting the day and ask yourself what you can do today to accomplish them.
Initially, it may be hard to exactly determine what you can accomplish within a certain period but once you start building daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals it will start getting easier to build more realistic goals.
Mistake 2: I’m here to make money mindset
The only one thing most newbies have in mind is profit. But, you won’t make money just because you have a blog and affiliate links to add to it.
It is necessary to understand your audience and what they want. Try to give something to the world before expecting to get anything. This is the key to success.
The more value you can create the more you will earn. Put all your efforts to build trust and authority before trying to sell anything.
Succeeding in online business takes time. What happens when you have made money mindset is you lose interest to work and quit as you won’t see any immediate results.
Mistake 3: Focusing on immediate results than long term growth
The true sign of success is persistent hard work with the intense desire of doing something great that nobody has ever done.
It sounds crazy but you won’t get big by desiring small. To do great things you have to be patient, determined, and persistent giving your best. But, the greatest mistake a beginner do is by focusing on the immediate results.
They spam everywhere (social media, blog comments, forums), do their best to find places where they can put their links. By doing this you may get immediate traffic or even a few sales but you are ruining your future as an affiliate marketer or a blogger.
Instead, your focus should be on building long-term relationships with influencers, your audience, and other people in your industry. Take it as a real business that has a future.
The key lesson is to focus on long-term growth than wishing to get everything by tomorrow. Growth takes time, continuous effort, and learning, so accept it.
Mistake 4: Being self-centric
Who do you create content for?
You may think it’s for my audience. But, no matter what type of content you produce (articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, eBooks, etc.), if there are more ‘I’s than ‘you’s in it, one thing is obvious that you are not writing it for your audience.
If you are not creating content for your audience, why will they read it and buy anything?
Know who you are writing for. Understand what they want and write for them.
Don’t write/create what you want but write what they want to read.
Mistake 5: Thinking like a writer
A good writer understands his/her readers. There’s nothing wrong with thinking like a writer as long as you understand your readers.
But, many people use hard vocabulary, jargons (technical words), and overcomplicated sentences.
There won’t be any problem for a native speaker to understand it but they aren’t the only ones who will read your content.
For the majority of internet users, English is the second language. Therefore, if your target audience isn’t native English speakers, always use plain English and explain any jargon used within the text.
Think more like a marketer that knows who his/her customers are.
5 Tips on Growing Your Affiliate Business
The last thing I would like to talk about is the growth of your business. It is a crucial thing to work for.
You won’t succeed unless you have a solid strategy to grow your online business. Below are a few things you can do.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a process of optimizing your content and website so that it ranks higher on the organic search result.
Following SEO best practices is a great way to rank on Google and get high-quality passive traffic.
When a person has to buy something s/he searches on Google for reviews and recommendations. You have a great opportunity to create what users search for and bring that traffic to your site.
Building relationships with influencers and other bloggers in your industry
Building relationships with influencers & other bloggers will help you to get more exposure and a chance to introduce your brand to a new audience.
A few ways of building relationships with influencers are:
- Following them on social media
- Regularly comment on their blog and social media posts
- Regularly share their content on social media and tag them
- Mention them on your blog and contact them to let them know
- Reach them out for advice and quotations
- Asking for guest blogging on their website
- Asking for an interview
The most effective way to build a relationship with other bloggers in your industry is through partnership. Connect them on social media or send them an email asking for a partnership. Remember, they will only collaborate with you if they get the equal value you are getting. So, choose them carefully.
You can collaborate on the following things:
- Creating a course
- Organizing a webinar
- Making an eBook
- Guest post exchange
- Newsletter exchange
- Exchanging interview
- Creating a podcast
You are not limited to the ideas mentioned here. Try to find more ways and more importantly do it. It will grow both your and your partners’ brand.
Building your own audience
Another great way to grow your affiliate business is by building your own audience.
What are you dependent on to bring traffic to your website? Probably, Social Media, Google, Communities, and Forums are your major source of traffic.
If this is the case, you have another great opportunity pending on the table.
Email marketing is my favorite way to build my own audience. I’ve already described email marketing. If you haven’t read it carefully, please go back and read it.
Your email list is something you own that you can use anytime you want to generate traffic to your site. The larger the email list you have the more revenue you can generate.
Focus on building authority and trust
People buy from those who they trust and listen to those who have authority.
Invest most of your time in building the trust and authority of your brand. It will pay you later.
Few things you can do to increase brand trust and authority are:
- Be honest with what you write and offer.
- Don’t just talk about the positive points of the products you promote. If they have any flaws just tell.
- Focus on growing your business as described above.
- Improve the user experience through customer support.
- Send the letter of appreciation if anyone buys something from you.
- Avoid grammar or spelling mistakes on your blog posts.
- Show data or research to prove your claims.
Reinvesting and creating something new
Don’t spend everything you earn from your blog, instead, invest back to grow it.
Create something new that creates additional value to your users such as a free tool, an eBook, or a course. It also helps you to get new visitors to your website and keeps existing users engage with your brand.
If you have read this article carefully, you might have learned a lot about affiliate marketing.
I tried to briefly describe each topic you may need to know.
Moreover, you can join my email list. I send weekly tips about succeeding in affiliate marketing covering a varied range of topics. I’m sure you’ll find it valuable.
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Download the PDF
About the Affiliate Marketing PDF Guide
This pdf contains all the basics you need to know about affiliate marketing. After reading this, you will be able to build strategies for a successful business.
It covers almost all the topics and steps that will help you to make money in the online world.
Next Reading How to Write Content for Affiliate Marketing? Step-by-Step Guide