4 Steps To Become A Successful Affiliate Marketer
In other words, you will learn how to make extra money on the side without having to put in much additional effort.
I'm working on the assumption that you already know what affiliate marketing is, as well as the potential it presents for you as a blogger. You know why you should learn it, and all you need right now is a crash course to get you started.
But for those who don't know, a quick recap:
Affiliate marketing is simply a process where you get paid a commission for selling other people's products.
You get to learn the types of products that your audience wants, and this reduces the risk of failing when you launch your own product in the future.
It gets readers used to the idea of purchasing from you, and as long as you choose the right products to sell, this increases the level of trust between you.
These are pretty significant advantages of learning affiliate marketing, aren't they?
But there's more:
Affiliate marketing is easy to implement.
All you need to do is share a link with readers, and that's it - your work is done! You don't have to check sales, provide customer service, set up payments, or do anything else. The merchant handles all that and more.
You don't need to have support teams in place.
For each product you sell, you don't need to have a support team, which means that you can sell as many products as you want, even if you're working alone in your business.
Affiliate marketing does not require specialized expertise.
Even for those who are not experts in their niche, you only have to be knowledgeable enough about your topic area for you to have a good idea which products are worth recommending to readers.
Being an affiliate is low-risk and low-effort. Although it's not exactly passive income, affiliate marketing really doesn't require a large investment of time or money on your part.
Sounds great so far, right?
But, to be honest, affiliate marketing is NOT for everyone. Is it right for you?
How to Be Successful in Affiliate Marketing
As you can see, affiliate marketing looks pretty attractive, but in order for you to be truly successful at it, there are a few things that you need to have in place first.
For example, if you are someone who is still trying to figure out how to create your blog, then you really don't want to be jumping into the affiliate marketing deep end just yet.
First things first, make sure that you’re publishing content on a regular basis on your blog.
Also, you stand a better chance of succeeding if you have an email list of at least 500 subscribers. This is because if you've managed to attract and keep over 500 subscribers engaged, then it means your topic offers a foundation that has great earning potential.
However, you need to hold off on getting started as an affiliate marketer if you already have a list, but you plan to sell services like consulting, coaching, writing, design, and various other professional services, such as legal advice, real estate, and finance.
If that's you, then it's probably best to hold off on becoming an affiliate marketer – at least in the short term.
This is because if you are a service provider, you're better off selling services first. They are your most profitable way of monetizing your blog, so why would you do anything else first?
Later, when you have everything running smoothly in your money-making machine, you can then consider adding some affiliate offers.
Still with me?
Okay, let's carry on!
Getting Started in Affiliate Marketing
The channel of affiliate marketing can get very technical, but fortunately, you don't have to know every single detail in order to get started.
Most of the mechanics run seamlessly in the background thanks to the affiliate program software used by the merchant.
However, it helps to know the basics, so here's a quick peek behind the scenes:
An affiliate joins the merchant's program and is given a specific URL and unique ID that they can use to promote the product.
The affiliate includes that link within their blog content, subscriber emails, social media posts, lead magnets, etc. inviting readers to click the link and find out more.
Potential buyers click on the link, visit the merchant’s site, and a cookie which identifies the affiliate is immediately placed on the prospect’s computer.
This cookie is vital to ensure that the affiliate marketer is credited with that referral sale even if it doesn't occur immediately
When a buyer makes a purchase, the merchant checks for the identifying cookie in the sales record to determine who referred the customer, and then credits them with the sale.
Reports are made available by the merchant so that affiliates can keep track of their clicks (referrals) and sales.
Each payment period, the merchant then pays the publisher their commission for all the sales made.
As you can see, this flow is straightforward and once you understand it, you'll be able to make use of it no matter what type of product you're promoting.
It also won’t matter whether you are well-established in affiliate marketing or not.
So, for a blogger who is serious about creating a high, steady income from affiliate marketing, they might take the following steps to get started in affiliate marketing the right way:
Just keep in mind that, as an affiliate marketer, you will be earning commissions in exchange for providing your readers with valuable insights on specific products and services that they are already thinking of buying.
In other words, the people in your audience are already purchasing things.
Whether or not you offer them advice, they are still going to buy that product or service. The only question then becomes, can you help them in making smarter buying decisions than they could on their own?
The answer to this question is what separates mediocre affiliate marketers and the super affiliates that you see online.
Because that is where you are able to add value!
The commission you’re earning is in exchange for assisting people to make better-informed decisions. You basically use your blog and the web to systematize the process and provide valuable advice to your audience.
So Here Are The Four Steps:
1. What Is Your Audience Already Purchasing?
What types of services or products as they buying?
Although you may not know the exact products you should promote initially, you'll at least be able to guess a few of the major categories.
A simple example:
What do toddlers’ moms spend lots of money on?
Childcare, snacks, toys, gas, cleaning supplies, etc.
What about freelance photography students?
Cameras, lenses, lighting, other photography equipment, photo editing software, photography courses, and so on.
Although these are mere guesses, chances are they are spot on. But when in doubt, simply email your audience and ask them. You can conduct a miniature survey using any of the many tools available to you online.
However, email is the easiest, simplest, and most affordable one of all - assuming, of course, that you have already started building an email list.
The readers who reply to you will offer a lot of interesting insights and if you’re using email, you can also reply quickly with follow-up questions if you want.
2. Choose Products To Promote
Being the ethical blogger that you are, the products you decide to represent will be limited either by your experience or by your access to them.
Since you only want to recommend products that you've used yourself (and liked), are a great fit for your readers, or those that you can buy (or get free trials/samples) in order to evaluate them, you can expect to have to put in quite a lot of time and money into finding only the best products to recommend to your audience.
Your options in this regard are as follows:
Option #1: Promote Products You Know
This is the way most bloggers get started in affiliate marketing. They become affiliates for products that they already know, have used themselves, and that they love.
If you have any products that you had a good experience with, that you have thoroughly tested, and that you would recommend to your own mother, then you can get started with those.
But before you recommend the product to your readers, run it through this checklist:
Check that the merchant or vendor has a solid refund policy
Test their customer service to ensure it’s good
Make sure the offer fits perfectly with your audience’s needs
Have a great story to share concerning your experience with that product
Option #2: Use Affiliate Networks to Find Products
I won't go into too much detail about this option.
Just be careful because this approach calls for an investment of a lot of time researching products, and you may have to spend money buying products so you can try them out if you cannot get free trials or samples to evaluates the product.
The number one reasons why many affiliate marketers fail is because they recommend products without doing their due diligence which results in their reputation, credibility, and the trust that they've built with their readers being broken.
And Finally: Affiliate Set up
Your next step is to apply for approval and provide the information required so you can be paid as an affiliate. This is regardless of whether you choose to work through a network or directly with specific merchants.
The minimum you will need to provide includes your bank account where they can send your commissions and your personal or business contact information. This is required for reporting and tax purposes.
In turn, the merchant will provide you with an affiliate link which is trackable with a long tag at the end of it that includes your new affiliate ID.
An affiliate link typically looks something like this:
Most merchants also offer tips and useful resources to help you market the product.
This includes marketing tools such as banners, sidebar graphics, simple webpage or email swipe copy, ongoing communications about new products, promotions, etc.
Step 4: Get to Promoting Your Products
All the work you put into finding and evaluating the different affiliate products will only pay off if your readers take your advice and buy the product, right?
In order for that to occur, you need to place your recommendations in front of readers and even more importantly, your recommendations need to be trustworthy.
This is where the majority of marketers (those who tell you that affiliate marketing doesn't work) tend to slip up.
They simply slap a few banners on to their blog, linking affiliate products and they think their work is done. If your post is completely unrelated to your affiliate links, you cannot expect to get any satisfying results from your efforts.
Here's what you should do instead:
Create resource pages on your blog
This is a great way of promoting a lot of different products while also organizing them depending on the different types of readers as well as the types of tools and resources they might need at that particular time.
Another option is to publish and promote customer content
This strategy is the backbone of any successful affiliate promotional activity.
You can write reviews
(see my post about writing great product reviews) Create definitive content on related topics, conduct interviews, create useful bonus content, and so on.
Occasionally run promotions offering your readers special deals, discounts, bonuses, social media giveaways, or you can promote offers indirectly by linking to free content like blog posts and reviews within your emails.
The Bottom Line
This is just the tip of the iceberg, you can also run live, exclusive events to promote products.
The main thing to keep in mind here is that you should try to track everything so that you know what works best.
Also, remember to comply with all legal requirements as well as best practices such as letting people know that you will earn a commission from any of your affiliate links that they click on.
Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!