What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is marketing someone else’s product and getting paid for it when you make a sale.
Affiliate income is basically old fashioned commission paid to you by a product owner for selling his product or service to a 3rd party. It is compensation for referring someone else’s service or product to your audience base.
An affiliate refers a product or service of someone else by sharing it on a blog site, social networks systems, or some other online asset owned by the affiliate, and earns an affiliate commission from the vendor every time somebody buys via the affiliate’s special referral web link.
Remember the salesman who came to your door selling stuff in the days before everything from ‘a to z’ started becoming available online? If he sold you a product he got a commission from the product owner. That’s exactly what affiliate marketing too is. Except that now you’re not going door to door, you’re going email to email or attracting visitors to your site etc, by recommending a product or service to your audience, using special tracking links, and every time someone buys through your link, you get paid a referral called affiliate commission.
To get started with affiliate marketing, you should write about the products you already like and are currently using that you think your readers may be interested in. Check out which of these products have an affiliate program and sign up for those. When you write your article, sprinkle some affiliate links through it moderately . When someone buys through your affiliate link, the vendor will pay you a commission on the sale.
Follow ethical means and do not spam by putting your link on every second line of your article. Write naturally about the product you are promoting, what you like or dislike about it, how it has helped you, what you would like added to it etc.
Basically, follow the rule of giving real valuable content to your readers; the money will follow eventually! When done correctly, affiliates land up earning good income through this method.
Affiliate marketing is one of the greatest ways to make passive income. And you don’t have to stress about creating your own products, or dealing with your own customers and after sales problems. You have to simply sell other people’s products or services and make commissions on your sales.
People are always asking me, Nergis how do I get started with Affiliate Marketing? How can I start seeing results fast? Well, let me tell you that there is no magic wand that you wave or no push button software for this. Here is the ONLY way to get started with affiliate marketing.
Steps to do Affiliate Marketing the Correct Way
Step 1: Choose your Traffic Method
Decide on your traffic source, depending on what you are familiar with and what you are relatively good at. Do you like doing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)? Are you good at paid traffic methods like Google ads, or Facebook ads? Are you good with dealing with JV (Joint Venture) partners? Do you have a blog? Do you like writing reviews and articles? Have you built an email list? Do you have a reader base that you can email regularly to? Based on which type of marketing are you good at, you can decide and determine how to go about doing affiliate marketing. For example, if you like doing SEO you have to first to pick one niche. If you have a knack for joint ventures and partnerships, again you have to decide on one niche and focus all your energy there. If you do paid traffic, you can do any niche out there as long as the payouts are high enough because remember you have to buy that traffic. Now, once you have decided all this, you can proceed.
It’s strange, but people always go about this the opposite way. They first choose the product and then decide on the traffic they are going to use.
Step 2: Niche
Next, you need to define your customer audience. So now decide what is the niche you want to work in. Most people unfortunately decide on their niche by: “I want to be in the niche that pays me the most money.” Let me tell you, that’s the worst way to go about it. You won’t do well as an affiliate marketer that way. It’s simple. When you are doing something without any interest in it, your lack of interest and passion is going to come across to your audience. It’s like cooking. Have you noticed that about food? Someone might make the most exotic dish mechanically but it just lacks that something. But when your mom or any other loved one makes the simplest of dishes, it tastes awesome. That extra flavour is just ‘love’. Anything made with love tastes great. Similarly, in your work, if you hate what you’re doing, you will soon get bored and stop. You just don’t want to spend a ton of time and energy doing it.
Instead, you need to focus your efforts on what you love because when you love what you do, you’re going to create better content, better marketing campaigns, better ad traffic, you’ll get more creative. Also try to stay focused on your core competency. Be the expert in what you do. You’ll notice that you make a huge increase in revenue when you do something you know versus something you have to learn from scratch because when you don’t know the industry, you don’t understand a niche, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, waste a lot of time and lose money compared to focusing on something that you know.
Step 3: What to Promote
Now that you’ve chosen your niche, the next step for you is to think of products or services that will help your customers in the niche that they are in or products/services you know will be a good fit for your audience. Again, there’s a really easy and efficient way to do this.
Products and Services in every possible industry online have their own affiliate programs that you can join. Besides that, there are also so many Affiliate Networks that you can join where tons of affiliate products are listed. An affiliate network mediates between the Vendor and the Affiliate and manages all payments etc between the two. These products are listed on the networks only because they show good results for both the Vendors (called Advertisers) and the affiliates (called Publishers). Therefore, just by checking out the products listed on the Network Marketplace, you will find tons of products or services that you can promote in any niche of your choice.
Amazon has one of the biggest affiliate programs called Amazon Associate Program which is free to join. (We will cover it separately later) Besides that, you can also join some of the big networks like Clickbank, CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), ShareASale, EPN (eBay Partner Network), JVZoo, Warrior Plus, MaxBounty, OfferVault, Click2Sell, CommissionSoup, FlexOffers and many more.
Checking out these networks will give you a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in your chosen niche. Like I said, find out which products are popular on these networks, because it shows that affiliates are making commissions for those products. If you pick the products that are not that popular, it usually means affiliates do not think they are worth promoting because they are not generating enough commissions.
Step 4: Create a Relevant and Valuable Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is something you offer for free initially to hook in a prospect. It can be something like a Cheat sheet, a Checklist, a Report, an infographic, an eBook, a video Tutorial – or just anything that your prospect will find worthwhile to give his/her email in exchange for it. You must be encountering this everyday for certain. Either via an email offering you a free ‘whatever’, or when you visit a website, a box suddenly pops up after a while or when you are about to leave, offering the freebie. Do remember though, that what you are offering should be a highly valuable and informative piece.
Also make sure that your lead magnet is relevant to the offer you are planning to promote. The free offer should create a hunger for immediately grabbing the product you offer later. If your offer is about building a blog, you should give away an eBook on “10 ways to make money with your website” or something similar. After reading this eBook, all your prospects should want to do the same. They should think, how can I also do this? How can I start making money with a website? Now when you sell them a product called “Step by Step Tutorial to create a Money Making Blog in 7 Days”, they already have this dream and need, they will jump at it. However, if your lead magnet was something like “tips on saving electricity at your home”, it may be useful, but it has no connection at all to the offer you are promoting. They will take your free lead magnet, but their focus is not on building a blog, you will probably get no takers for your offer.
Step 5: Build your Funnel
So now you have got your traffic all lined up, your SEO is done correctly, your niche chosen, you have your sights on the product you want to promote and you have created a relevant and valuable lead magnet. The next step is to build your funnel. This is what it all boils down to. Once you create this step, you are setting yourself up for passive income. Because you have to create this just once. Once you have created your funnel, it will automatically keep running.
A Funnel is how you guide your cold prospects into hot leads and them into customers. Every funnel has 4 main parts – AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. When you acquire customers via AIDA, and then nurture them continuously, you have a customer for life.
Are you driving traffic through SEO? Start with writing your content, then set up an optin form to collect your visitor’s email via a Hello Bar or ConvertPro or through any tool out there. You have already created a lead magnet that you will give away to people who optin for the freebie you are giving away.
If you are doing paid ads, create a landing page first that educates and really provides a ton of value. Ideally, you should have some testimonials and case studies within that educational piece of content. On that too, which you can have an optin form to collect emails and give away your freebie. When you have got your prospect’s email via a paid ad, you can also drive them to a free webinar where you can teach them something valuable. At the end of the webinar, while they are still wanting more, give them an offer – sell your affiliate product or service to those people. For all the people who don’t come to the webinar, follow up through an email sequence and sell them through text-based content. That way, the paid traffic that’s leaving and not converting right then and there, you can still get them to convert over the next two or three weeks. By combining a webinar with text-based sequences, you should start getting sales from your SEO traffic.
Suppose you’re monetizing through JVs and partnerships, the best way to convert is to cohost a webinar. When you get other influencers in your niche along with you on a webinar, selling a product or a service converts extremely well. It’s the easiest way
Step 6: The Decider – Bonuses
Marketing is all about giving value to your customer. Even when you go to a brick and mortar shop and try out a dress, the sales lady will tell you how good it looks on you, she will tell you about the material that is soft to the touch and easy to wash at home, about the fast that are fast and will not run etc etc. She won’t just come up to you and say, “here, buy this one!” will she? Affiliate marketing, for that matter ANY marketing, works the same way. You have to show your customer how the offer you are promoting will benefit him, why it is the best for his needs and the reasons he should buy it. But beyond this, very often it is the ethical bribe that is the clincher finally.
A funny incident comes to mind. When my son was around ten, he asked my husband for some money to buy bubble gum at a local store in our neighbourhood. 10 minutes later he came back with a whole bunch of superman stickers. We asked him where is the bubble gum? What he said astonished us and made us laugh! He said he actually wanted the stickers which were being offered free with the bubble gum so he left the gum at the shop itself!!! How many times have you done that too? Bought something because you wanted the freebie that came together? I know I have.
So, the point I am making here is that, if you are able to offer an ethical bribe to people for buying the product from you, instead of from someone else, that might make you the differentiator from other people offering the same product. This ethical bribe is the Special Bonus you can give the customers who you buy from you instead from other another affiliate.
Especially if you are in a network like JVZoo, Warrior+ or Clickbank, where there are products being launched daily and there are a bunch of affiliates all offering the same product, if you are able to give them that extra bonus that sounds like something they MUST have, they will choose to buy from you over another affiliate.
When I was working as a Virtual Assistant to one of the biggest Vendors on JVZoo, I saw that a bunch of different affiliates would be promoting the the same product to practically the same huge group of people daily. And those people would sometimes buy a product from a particular affiliate ONLY for the bonuses he was offering. Often they valued the bonus as ten times or 100 times more valuable than the product itself, just so that people would buy from them instead of from some other affiliate.
So Bonuses can very often be the deciding factor in your affiliate sales.
The Last Step: Keep Adding Value
Now the last step I have for you is to keep adding value in your content for your customers and subscribers. Most affiliates make the mistake of forgetting that after getting conversions. They collect their affiliate commission and they’re like, “ok great, that’s it.” Well hello, you already have that list. Why are you not continually selling to those people campaign after campaign? Or, more important why are you not continually adding value to them and not just ALWAYS selling to them? That way, when you have the next product to offer them, they are going to be more likely to buy from you because you have been helping them out, answering their questions, listening to what they say.
If you just sell to them every single week, eventually they’re going to ‘unsubscribe’ from your list. But if you give them value, by answering their queries and solving their problems, most of the time, then you can sell to them once in a while, and they’re much more likely to buy from you.