It seems ideal, doesn’t it? You set up a website, add a few affiliate links, and start earning the passive income you’ve always dreamed of.
Many bloggers are earning top dollar this way. For example, Ryan Robinson over at ryrob.com makes mid-five figures every month.
Blogging isn’t the only way of making money from affiliate marketing, though. Microsites, email lists, and video marketing are just a few methods people use to generate an online income.
Although not everyone is making six figures from affiliate marketing, you can use tips and strategies to improve your site and increase your income.
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning money (commissions) every time you promote a company’s products or services and drive a sale. You only get paid every time you drive a sale, just like a commission-only sales representative.
Now before I dive into affiliate marketing, let me tell you why you should care.
Ever since the 4-Hour Workweek was released, everyone seems to have the same goal.
That’s the dream, right?
Make money while you sleep.
Ready to find out more? Let’s start with the basics—what it is and who uses it.
Affiliate marketing is promoting other people’s products in return for a small commission for each sale. You’ve probably seen headings marked “affiliate link” or “sponsored post” on many of the websites you visit; or maybe you’ve already taken the first step and signed up to an affiliate network.
If you are new to affiliate marketing, let’s cover how it works.
First, find an affiliate program or network you are interested in. Look at the program overview, including the type of products or services, payment methods, and commissions they offer.
If it appeals to you, sign up and wait for confirmation of your acceptance. Then, start creating content, adding the custom links the program provides. Those links track when one of your users makes a purchase, and you’ll earn a small commission.
You can work with individual companies or affiliate networks, where you register and choose the programs that interest you. The programs are generally divided into categories to make selection easier. Once approved, start promoting your affiliate links on your website, in newsletters, on social media, and anywhere else you’re permitted to share links.
The network sends you a payment when you’ve reached the minimum payment level. Payment methods vary, and usually include PayPal, bank transfers, and checks.
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Let’s take a more in-depth look at the parts of a successful affiliate marketing system.
Sometimes also known as the creator, the seller, the brand, the retailer, or the vendor. This is the party that creates the product. It can be a big company, like Dyson, who produces vacuum cleaners.
From solo entrepreneurs to startups to massive Fortune 500 companies, anyone could be the merchant behind an affiliate marketing program. They don’t even have to be actively involved. They just have to have a product to sell.
The Affiliate Marketers
This party is sometimes also known as the publisher. Affiliates can also range from single individuals to entire companies. An affiliate marketing business can produce a few hundred dollars in commissions each month or tens of millions of dollars.
It’s where the marketing happens. An affiliate promotes one or multiple affiliate products and tries to attract and convince potential customers of the value of the merchant’s product so that they end up buying it.
It could also be an entire site dedicated to finding cool products related to certain topic and promoting those affiliate products.
(This is why I’m broke is one of the most popular affiliate network sites
The affiliate will try to market to the consumer on whatever channel they see fit, whether that’s a social network, digital billboards or through a search engine using content marketing on a blog.
The consumer needs to knows they are part of an affiliate marketing system. Usually a short disclaimer like “If you purchase items on this site, I may earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting our work.” is fine.
The consumer will not typically pay a higher price to the affiliate marketer, as the cost of the affiliate network is already included in the retail price.
While you could technically promote someone else’s course and arrange a direct revenue share with them, letting a network such as ClickBank or Commission Junction handle the payment and product delivery puts a more serious note on your affiliate marketing.
Sometimes, affiliates have to go through an affiliate network to even be able to promote the product. For example, this happens if the merchant only manages their affiliate program on that network.
The affiliate network then also serves as a database of lots of products, out of which the affiliate marketer can choose which to promote.
Clickbank is an example of an affiliate network.
In the case of promoting consumer products, like tools, books, toys and household items, the biggest affiliate network, by far, is Amazon.
Their Amazon Associates affiliate program lets you promote any item that is sold on their platform.
Anyone can sign up and then generate a custom affiliate link to Amazon products. If someone purchases through your link, you earn a small commission.
With the basic terms clarified, let’s get an overview of how you can best get started with building your affiliate marketing business.
As I said, there are basically two sides of the affiliate marketing equation to choose from, assuming you are not going to build an affiliate network like Commission Junction.
You can become a merchant and have others promote your product, in exchange for giving them a commission from the sales that they make.
Or, you can become an affiliate marketer for several products and market those to consumers, in order to make money.
While most people start by taking the affiliate route and it definitely is the easier path to take, building enough traffic to make a meaningful income just from affiliate sales isn’t quick or easy.
That’s why I’ll walk you through the four basic steps to get started on both sides of the affiliate marketing industry.
If you want to become an affiliate program merchant and then make money by having affiliates sell your product, here are the steps to follow.
First, you need to have a product idea. I’ll show you a few ways to generate those ideas, based off what’s already popular, in the next section.
Second, you have to validate your idea. You could just go ahead and build your idea. What if people don’t even want it? An idea is only good if people want it to come to life.
Third, you have to create the product. Since creating a physical product usually comes with huge investment and risks, I’ll only show you ways to create digital products. These are the best place to get started since they typically only require your time and little or no money.
Also, once your product is created and released, you need to find affiliates to promote your product — this is where affiliate networks can help.
Instead, just look at what products and services are already out there. Consider how you can improve upon them, by delivering something that solves the problems with those products.
You can, of course, always, choose a topic you’re interested or involved in.
Imagine you’re a stay at home parent, for a second.
Maybe you want to create a product that makes household chores easier. For example, you could look for a vacuum robot to get some ideas.
a great idea could be to develop a virtual wall that works for all vacuum robots.
I imagine you could sell anyone who owns a vacuum robot a system that works as a virtual wall, so their robot only cleans a predefined space.
Now that’s a valid idea!
This works for anything, I’ll show you.
Another way to do research is to use a tool called Buzzsumo, which shows you what’s popular, based on social shares.
Even if you’re into building sandcastles, you can instantly see what content has been recently popular.
If you go on YouTube and search for ‘build a sandcastle,’ you’ll find thousands of results.
Apparently, people really want to know how to build cool sandcastles. So, what could you do?
Record a series of videos where you show people, step-by-step, how to build 5 very specific, epic sandcastles.
Or, you can do a write-up of all of the tools you need to build epic sandcastles.
You could even come up with some forms or stencils that people can use to make building epic sandcastles a whole lot easier.
The question is…will people pay for it?
How do you do that?
Simple: You ask people to pay you for it.
How do you find these people? Easy.
Take the URL from one of the sandcastle posts on Buzzsumo and plug it into a tool like Keyhole.
They’ll give you a list people who tweeted a link or about specific topics.
You can then directly tell them about your idea, by hitting the reply button…
Make sure to ask them whether or not they would buy your idea — not just if they like it.
Anyone will say that they like something just to be nice.
If they respond with a yes, you need to directly follow up with an ask to buy.
Saying they will spend money is not the same as spending it.
When people are interested in your product, give them a chance to buy. You can simply use PayPal and say you’re going to build it if you get a certain amount of orders.
Once you cross your threshold and make sure that people want it, you can start creating the product.
I’m only give you resources for starting digital products, because I don’t want you to waste precious time and money on creating a physical product on your first try 🙂
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