Affiliate Marketing has grown into a $12 Billion industry and growing at 10% every year. Almost 16% of all ecommerce sales are done by affiliate marketing. If you are wondering how to start affiliate marketing? It’s about time. With all the knowledge about this industry and practices available over the internet, affiliate marketing for beginners has never been easy, as it is now.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Let us first understand the basic concepts of affiliate marketing and how it works? Well, you promote or try to sell a product of a Merchant, and when someone buys that product because of your efforts you get a commission from the Merchant for making that sale.
Affiliate Marketing is a relationship among three parties i.e. Affiliates, Merchants and Consumers. An affiliate is someone who is promoting the product through his website or through social media. A merchant could be a manufacturer or producer of that product or it could be a retailer where different manufacturers sell their products, like Amazon. A consumer is someone who was either looking for that particular product over the internet or just saw your advertisement and decided to buy it.
How does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Whenever you decide to promote a product, you have to inform the product owner about your intentions. In the case of affiliate marketing, you have to sign up for the affiliate program of that particular retailer or manufacturer.
You are provided a unique link by the retailer at the time of sign up which you can place on your website or in your social media advertisements. When a user clicks on your link, he is sent to the retailer’s website where he can make the purchase. Because of the unique link of that product provided to you, the retailer can identify that you sent that user to their website and you get your commission.
There could be thousands of affiliates who have signed up for an affiliate program and because of unique link given to each affiliate, it becomes easy for the retailer to know which affiliate has sent the user to their website.
Types of Affiliate Programs
Initially, product manufacturers and producers used to have their own affiliate programs where an affiliate had to sign up for every program whose products he was going to promote. But with the time, affiliate marketing has matured and its processes streamlined.
Now, majority of producers and manufacturers instead join an affiliate network, and you as an affiliate have to just sign up for that affiliate network. By signing up for one affiliate network you will have access to promote products of many producers and manufacturers who are part of that affiliate network. Amazon Associates, ClickBank, ShareASale, Commission Junction are some examples of affiliate networks.
When you sign up for any of these affiliate networks you must read their guidelines to affiliate marketers and must comply with them. Few of the important guidelines may include below
1. Commission Rates
Each affiliate network has different commission rates and each affiliate program in an affiliate network has different commission rates as well. So, you need to understand commission rates for a product that you are going to promote at first to analyze whether it is worth promoting or not.
2. Payment Structure
Most of the affiliate networks pay their affiliates monthly or biweekly. Which means when would you be getting your commission for the sale you just made.
3. Product Promotion Policy
This is perhaps one of the most important one to analyze. Every affiliate network guides its affiliates on where and how they can promote their products and where they cannot. Some affiliate networks may allow product promotions on social media and some won’t. Some networks may even allow direct email marketing and some simply won’t. You must understand this before selecting an affiliate network as it will decide your medium of promotion.
How to Promote Affiliate Products?
To figure out where you can promote affiliate products you have to understand product promotion policy of affiliate networks you have signed up for. Every affiliate program has different guidelines, but here are the most commonly used mediums of promotion.
My personal favorite and one of the commonly used medium for affiliate product promotions. It is commonly used because of two main reasons i.e. user preferences and cost effectiveness. Most of the users head over to google when looking for a product to buy to read reviews and comparisons of different brands before making the purchase. Having your website makes it easy for you to be found by those users who are already looking for the product that you are promoting.
Building a website and promoting products on website is relatively less costly than using other medium of promotion.
YouTube garners over a Billion video views daily. Because of a lot of users preferring watching product videos over reading reviews it has become one of the best ways to promote products. Affiliates provide their unique link to the product in the video description that they are reviewing.
3. Social Media
Initially, social media was the go to place for every affiliate marketer who was looking to make quick money. Most of the affiliates used to promote products through Facebooks Pages, Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest and even Linkedin. But with time organic reach has become limited and now you have to advertise on social media to the target audience. Because of the high costs associated with social media advertisements, only products that offer really good commissions are promoted on social media by affiliates.
4. Email Marketing
It is another almost free medium to promote your products. Affiliates start collecting email ids of the visitors who had visited their website at some time and then email them latest products of their interest. These emails have the affiliates’ unique link to the product so they could get commission when someone makes the purchase by clicking on that product link in the email.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing?
To start your affiliate journey, you need to make few decisions before you start promoting any product. Let us go through them one by one to understand why these decisions are important and how they will affect your affiliate journey.
1. Niche Selection
Niche represents a certain segment or type of products that you are going to focus. Three main categories of niches are physical products, digital products and services. In physical products niche; Sports gear, Electronics, Furniture, Music and Health products are all examples of niches.
Every niche has micro niches which you should target to stay relevant. For example, in sports gear niche the micro niches could be golf gear, football gear, water sports and boxing. If you want you can explore further into these micro niches and water polo, kayaking, surfing and swimming in the niche of water sports as well.
The idea is to stay laser focused so your users know what your site is all about and you could generate repeat visitors who are interested in your niche.
2. Select an Affiliate Program
Depending upon what niche you are interested in and what medium of promotion you have in your mind, you have to select relevant affiliate program. If you have decided to promote digital products, then make sure you sign up for an affiliate program which offers digital products.
Secondly, the promotion strategy you are going to use will affect your selection of affiliate program. If social media marketing is your medium of promotion for affiliate products, then make sure the affiliate program that you sign up for allows this.
Now, if you have decided to promote products through social media then you are all set to start promoting as you would have got your unique link at sign up. But if you decide to promote products through a website it will take a bit more effort.
3. Build a Website
Building a website has become easier than ever because of WordPress and you can learn how to make you website within few hours from YouTube. All you have to do is buy a domain and hosting plan, install WordPress with a relevant and attractive theme and start promoting products on your website.
4. Create Unique and Engaging Content
Even if you are new to the affiliate world, you might have heard “content is the king” phrase from someone. Well this is because how much search engines prefer fresh and quality content over outdated content.
You have to keep your potential visitors in mind while writing the content and what users are searching on search engines, like google. These queries are usually called “keywords” in the online marketing field. In affiliate marketing, usually content is about products reviews where you compare pros and cons of different products to help visitors in making up their mind about a product. While writing those reviews, you include your unique affiliate links to those products so users may purchase them from the retailer if they have made up their mind.
There are free tools out there like Moz Pro that can help you with what users are searching related to products that you are going to promote. All you have to do is write content that answers those queries that users are asking on search engines.
5. Attract Visitors to your website
The idea is to rank your website on first page of google results so users can visit your website and click on those affiliate links. If you are just starting out, focus on keywords which have low volume of searches so you can rank your website easily for those keywords. Further, you should learn how to do search engine optimization (SEO) of your website so search engines prefer your website over others.
Once your website starts ranking on google results page, you will start generating commission from your affiliate products.
If you follow steps laid out in this article you will surely realize your dreams of passive income within few months. Affiliate marketing for beginners could be a test of your patience as this whole process will take at least few months and is not get rich overnight scheme.
And remember that doing is learning. Even if you are not confident about how to exactly make this work, we recommend you to follow laid out steps and build you website. Facing obstacles and overcoming them is a part of learning which will not only increase your knowledge but would also provide you a list of do’s and don’ts for your next project.