Affiliate Marketing – How to Make Money Online
Affiliate marketing. You’ve all heard the term numerous times in your life. But the truth is, very few have actually a clear understanding of what it is or how it works. Many of you dream to become successful affiliate marketers but don’t know where to start.
We are here to the rescue. We will dive deep into the territory of affiliate marketing and understand the concept from the root. If you’ve been waiting your entire life to start your own stream of passive income, this is your opportunity.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
According to the Oxford language, the term ‘affiliate’ means to attach or connect to an organization. It may be an individual like you or a subsidiary group. You become affiliated with them, and in the case of affiliate marketing, you are an external sales person.
Affiliate marketing is your way of officially connecting to an organization and representing them to sell or market their products and services.
But what do you do after you become an affiliate? That’s where the ‘marketing’ part comes into play.
You help sell the organization’s product or services through promotion. And in return, you take home a commission. It’s pay for performance. If you sell, you make money. If you don’t sell, you don’t make money. That’s affiliate marketing at its core.
There are two additional ways to make money from affiliate marketing:
- Pay Per Lead – earn money every time you refer someone to the company as a lead (someone who signed up for an email offer, a free trial, etc. by filling out an information form or creating an account)
- Pay Per Click – earn money when your audience clicks on the affiliate link, sending them to the merchants website
But the main way people make money from affiliate marketing is Pay Per Sale, where you get a commission only once the consumer finishes checkout and actually purchases the product.
You can actively promote affiliate products on social media every day, or passively through content marketing like blog articles and YouTube videos that live forever on the internet to be found months from now and generate sales.
The idea of passive income may incur thoughts like ‘oh! That’s easy. I can do that.’ Of course, you can. But it’s not easy.
Many factors go into becoming a successful affiliate marketer that doesn’t meet the naked eye. But don’t worry, we will cover everything. Just keep reading below.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
In conventional affiliate marketing, there are a total of three parties involved in the process. The merchant, the affiliate, and the consumer.
The merchant is the actual seller or the manufacturer of the product. If it’s a service, the merchant is the service provider, like a roofing construction company. They are well established in their respective networks with plenty of products & services to sell.
Every affiliate network provides the affiliate with a unique URL for your platform. It’s known as the affiliate link. It works as a bridge between the merchant and the affiliate.
When a potential buyer uses the special link and purchases the product, the affiliate gets a percentage of the total price as commission.
The link has code in it that tracks the sale from the customer, crediting the affiliate as the responsible party for producing the sale between the consumer and the merchant.
Next in the relationship we’ll talk about the affiliate and your role as the affiliate.
When you get involved with affiliate marketing to make money, you are the affiliate (also called an affiliate marketer). You can use your platform to promote the merchant’s product. It can either be through blogs, a review website, or YouTube videos. Social media influencers can also use their platform to promote products to their audiences.
If you’re just starting out, we recommend sticking to blogs as a primary way to market products. You need to create your own self-hosted website where you pay for monthly hosting through a website hosting service so that you actually own the content on your websites and the rights to do whatever you wish with that content.
This differs from free website services where the company hosts your website on their servers for free, and they remain the owners of your website with authority to delete or kick you off at anytime.
When running a blog website, you need to post quality blogs about the niche / industry / product category that you’re working with and establish yourself as an expert in that niche. This is how you build trust with your readers and they’ll eventually feel comfortable buying the products you are recommending.
All you have to do is include the affiliate link from your affiliate program network in the blog article. Your audience will click on that text link or image or button (with the link redirecting them) to the product page and that’s how you’ll get credited for the sale when they purchase.
If your content is high-quality and you manage to gain the trust of your audience, it’s only a matter of time before money starts to pour in.
In terms of expense, you’ll only be spending a couple of bucks for your website hosting every month and the website domain (URL).
You can do the same with YouTube videos. But it takes longer than blogs to get traction going and get your content seen on YouTube.
YouTube SEO is one of the most complex tasks to endure and the paradigm is changing constantly. You simply promote the product or service through your video content and add the affiliate links in the description of your video.
If you already have an established YouTube channel, you can easily start there. It’s a free platform that adds an advantage over websites. And if your audience believes in you, you will start generating revenue in no time.
The most important part of the chain. Consumers complete the loop of affiliate marketing. You can promote all the products you want, but if there’s no one to buy them, what’s the point?
When someone visits your website or watches your YouTube videos and clicks on the website link, cookies get stored on the consumer’s device. This type of cookie is known as an affiliate cookie. It’s the merchant’s only way to identify that it was you who made the sale or at least generated the click.
The affiliate cookies generally have an expiry period. For Amazon, it’s 24 hours. The expiry period is extremely important because the customer might not make the purchase immediately. They might take some time to think about the purchase or get back to an important meeting and postpone the purchase.
That’s where the content of your website comes into play. You need to create such engaging content that makes the consumer return. They must remember that they saw your post and liked the product.
So, for Amazon, when the consumer returns to the platform within 24 hours, the cookie will still be active. And if they make the purchase, you get your commission.
Moreover, if the customer decides to buy something else along with the product you promoted, you get an affiliate commission for that purchase as well on Amazon!
How Much Money Do You Make From Affiliate Marketing?
As we’ve mentioned already, you attach to an organization officially to sell their products. And there’s no limit to how many organizations you can attach to. It’s not like you receive or buy the products yourself and then sell them to the customers. You may never see or touch the product ever in your career as an affiliate marketer.
To start, you need an affiliate network account to generate the links. There are plenty of good affiliate networks out there that you can utilize. Amazon Associates is a prime example of such a network. And for most of us, when we hear affiliate marketing, we think about Amazon affiliates.
But the industry has gone far beyond just Amazon in the past few years. Marketers have made millions from networks other than Amazon affiliates. We will go over those at the end of our venture as well.
The best thing is, you can generate unique affiliate links for each product on the marketplace. So, it’s virtually impossible to put a cap on how much money you can make. It all comes down to how well you can present the products or services on your platform and how much your audience trusts you.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing?
If you’re determined to start your own affiliate program, we congratulate you in advance. You have made the right decision for yourself to generate a passive income.
And we’re here to help you get started. There are certain steps that you need to follow for a successful startup. We will break them into a step-by-step guide so that it’s easier for you to follow.
Step 1: Select the Platform(s)
The first and most important decision you need to make is which platform to use. Even Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram works as a platform. But they are neither very reliable nor very sustainable. Our recommendation is either to open your own blog website or open a YouTube Channel.
No matter what platform you choose, it’s crucial that you dedicate yourself to it. If you’re not comfortable with writing, you may want to outsource the work. And make sure that you work with expert writers who know how to engage customers in a positive way.
If you’re going with the YouTube approach, ensure that you create quality content. If you’re representing a product, believe in it. Don’t just do it for the sake of making money. People have special power when it comes to seeing through fake intentions.
Or, if you have enough time or resources, you can utilize both blogs and YouTube videos. It will allow you to reach a broader audience and result in increased revenue in a short time.
Step 2: Research Your Niche
We can’t emphasize selecting the right product for the right audience enough. You cannot sell a winter jacket to someone who lives in a warm region. That’s where research comes into play. You need to dedicate a lot of time researching the products and the customers you are targeting.
Not all niches work well at all times. You need to open yourself to changing trends. If you’re dealing with products related to the weather, the winter jacket, for example, you need to market it when the demand is high.
And when summer comes around, you need to change your product to something more suitable like hiking shoes or t-shirts. It’s all about adapting to the changes and make necessary adjustments to your affiliate marketing modality.
If you decide to start now, you need to understand that the competition is fierce. The affiliate marketing industry has grown beyond anyone’s imagination and it’s a billion-dollar industry now. No matter what category you choose, there will be severe competition and it will be hard for you to generate revenue.
What you can do to deal with this problem is break your category down even more. Break the category to the smallest unit and start from there. As for winter jackets, you can start with winter jackets with hoodies. It will improve your Google ranking and the likelihood of landing your first customer faster.
Step 3: Find the Perfect Volume to Payment Ratio
There are a plethora of affiliate programs out there. They can pay anywhere from $1 to hundreds of dollars. But it comes down to volume. You are more likely to find more volume with low-paying affiliate sites. The opposite will happen with high-paying platforms.
You need to make the decision about what you want. If you want more volume with less pay, you may have to work harder in the initial days. You need to post more content and spread the links as much as you can to make it sustainable.
Or, you can go with high-paying platforms. The volume would be quite reasonable. But it will take more time to build up.
We recommend starting with the high-volume lower payment options. They will work as a good stepping stone for your journey in the upcoming days.
Step 4: Open an Affiliate Account
When you decide on the affiliate network that you want to work with, it’s time to open an account. Fill out the account criteria will the necessary information. And never put fake information to get your account approved. It will play out negatively in the long run.
Step 5: Start Producing High-Quality Content
We will remind you of the importance of high-quality content throughout the post. If you want to succeed in your affiliate marketing venture, you must feed the customers good content. Otherwise, why would someone bother to click on your link?
Create a schedule for your platform. If it’s a blog, decide how many blogs you want to post each week. If you’re using YouTube videos for your marketing, decide how many videos you want to publish in a week.
Stick to the schedule. And don’t get restless if you don’t see immediate results. Let the organic traffic build up over time. We can make a promise to you right now. If you provide high-quality content, people will buy.
When you’re publishing content, you need to take the placement of the links into consideration. Nowadays, people have a very short attention span. So, if your affiliate links are always at the bottom, you may be missing out on a lot of sales!
So, spread the links evenly throughout your content. If you can place it on the first or second paragraph, you can almost instantly start to notice the difference.
And don’t forget to give context to the link. A link out of nowhere will raise suspicion among the potential customers and it will hurt your brand image in the long run. So, use the link with a proper anchor text that blends in with the theme of the content.
Step 6: Drive Traffic
Once you master the art of creating good content, you need to drive traffic to your website. Your content must be SEO-friendly for Google to pick up. It’s very much connected to the user intent. What the users are searching on the internet must resonate with your content. Only then the crawling algorithm will rank your website higher.
You must utilize the potential of both on-page and off-page SEO to drive as much organic traffic as you can. On-page SEO means the proper usage of keywords, internal links, image alt texts, and so on. If you’re not comfortable doing your own SEO, you should consult with a professional to help you out.
Then comes off-page SEO. It mainly refers to link building. There must be other authorities on the internet who point to your website. It builds credibility in the eyes of Google algorithms and helps you rank higher in SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
Email listing is a great way to build organic traffic. It’s also known as email marketing. From the existing traffic of your website, you can create a form to collect the email addresses of potential customers. And send them personalized emails once a week and persuade them to buy the product. Email marketing works like a charm for both SEO and affiliate marketing.
Finally, paid traffic. If you saturate all possibilities of organic traffic and are still not satisfied with the results, you can go for paid traffic for your affiliate marketing needs. Running PPC ads is a great way to increase traffic to your affiliate platform.
There are both good and bad sides to paid promotions. The good thing is that you start to see an increase in the traffic graph that moment you start paying. And the bad side is that the payment will further dig into your profits, apart from the initial investments you made.
But if you market the product to the right audience, it will only be a matter of time before you get a higher ROI than you ever expected. It’s all about finding the right balance between demographics and your content.
Step 7: Conversion
In affiliate marketing, there are two major types of conversions. The first one is associated with the clicks. From what you know so far, you should have a very good idea about how you can get the customers to click on your link.
The other type is the purchase. Just because the visitor is clicking on your link doesn’t mean they will purchase the product or the service. That’s where the merchants come into play. And unfortunately, you are not in control of the situation.
You’ve done your job. You’ve converted a potential lead to a confirmed lead the moment the visitor clicked the link. How the merchants convert is a different scenario. And that is exactly why you should always stick to merchants with good conversion rates.
How do you find the information? Well, get on Google! Read the public income reports by different bloggers and find a pattern about which merchants convert the best. If you find a blogger that made a lot of money from the Amazon Associates Program, it means it is a good converting network.
If you can’t find the necessary information, don’t hesitate to ask questions. You can even ask directly to the network itself about their conversion rates. If the platform is reputed and successful, they will answer your questions happily.
Lastly, affiliate marketing is largely dependent on your intuition. You need to make accurate guesses about the demand for a product at any given time and how your audience will react to it. You must also use your intuition while selecting the right merchant based on the conversion rates.
Different Resources for Your Affiliate Marketing Needs
As we’ve already mentioned, there are hundreds of affiliate networks around the world. Some pay well, some don’t. And we’ve tried our best to clarify what affiliate marketing is and what steps you should take to become a successful marketer.
In this section, we are going to look at some of the best and most reputed networks where you can start your journey.
Undoubtedly the most popular affiliate network out there. It’s a great platform to monetize your blog website. You cannot use your Amazon user account or your seller account for the Associates program. You need a dedicated Amazon Associates account to start making money through affiliate marketing.
The sign-up process is very straightforward. You visit www.affiliate-program.amazon.com and open your account. The account is completely free as well!
Make sure that your YouTube channel or website is ready to go before you sign up. Because Amazon will ask for your website address to enroll you as an associate. It’s true for other networks as well. You can create a unique store ID for your account and add methods to drive traffic.
Then, you can select any of our preferred payment methods. Lastly, you can select any product from the Amazon inventory and create affiliate links for those products immediately.
As long as you adhere to some simple rules, you can become quite successful as a marketer.
- Rule 1: You must declare in your website or your YouTube video that you are using affiliate links and you may be eligible for a commission for your recommendations.
- Rule 2: You cannot and should not use fake information or claims about the product you are promoting.
- Rule 3: You cannot use Amazon affiliate links for offline promotions or emails.
- Rule 4: You cannot use link shortening applications on affiliate links.
The commission on sales vary from category to category. You can expect to earn anywhere between 1% to 10%. Luxury products usually pay the highest while gift cards, alcoholic beverage, etc. pay nothing.
ClickBank is another top-rated and very popular platform among affiliate marketers. It might take a little more tweaking than Amazon Associates, but it can pay very well in return. It’s a great platform for both product manufacturers and affiliates, who can coexist in the same healthy ecosystem.
Unlike Amazon, the product itinerary for ClickBank is limited. It’s more focused on eBooks, digital courses, music, videos, and other digital products. So, if you’re interested to become an affiliate in such niches, ClickBank is the way to go.
Another reason to work with ClickBank is the high payments. As it mostly deals with digital products from thousands of creators worldwide, the profit margin is very high. It can pay up to 75% of the product price as a commission to the affiliate!
Target Store Affiliate Program
It might not be as big as Amazon Associates or the ClickBank, but the Target Store affiliate program is a very respectable way to make money. And it’s true for both independent affiliates and retailers.
If you didn’t know already, Target Corporation is the eighth largest retailer in America. And the website gets a lot of traffic every day. So, you have a very good opportunity to increase your revenue as an affiliate by including Target in your list.
Your first step is to open an account at Impact Radius. It’s the hosting platform for the Target Store affiliate program. As long as you have the majority of your website traffic from the USA, your account will be approved easily.
Target allows you to promote accessories and apparel, health & beauty, furniture, home and outdoor living, etc. categories. And the content must be targeted at the US audience. The standard commission on this network is 4% regardless of which category you select.
Walmart Affiliate Program
When it comes to physical retailers, there’s not a single one bigger than Walmart. And so, there are plenty of opportunities to make money through the Walmart Affiliate Program. Getting accepted for the program is quite easy as long as your website doesn’t promote sexual or illegal activities.
You can sign up for a lot of different categories and the commission varies with it as well. Although the percentage is quite low at an average of 4%, when you consider the volume you can generate through your website for Walmart, it makes sense. Being a reputed retailer all over the world, people automatically put their trust in Walmart.
The contact lenses and business & personal checks category pays the highest, 10% and 18% respectively. So, if you have a niche website for the highest paying categories like baby, beauty, contact lenses, business & personal checks, you can make a lot of money in a very short time through Walmart affiliate marketing.
We’ve covered everything there is about starting your own affiliate marketing venture. But you should keep in mind that the industry is changing constantly, so are the opportunities. You should always be on top of the global trends and look out for reputed platforms that pay the most!
As for now, go ahead and start crafting your platform, be it a website or a YouTube channel, and start earning money through affiliate marketing!