The internet constantly opens up new opportunities for people to make money online through different platforms. And one of today’s most popular methods is affiliate marketing.
Responsible for more than 15% of the total ecommerce sales worldwide, affiliate marketing is a performance-based model where affiliates are rewarded for directing customers to make a purchase on merchant websites. Thus, it lets content creators earn money by promoting products and services they believe in while allowing brands to reach a larger audience.
And whether you’re looking to make some extra money on the side or want to build a full-time business, this guide will show you how to start affiliate marketing step by step.
What’s Affiliate Marketing?
According to Investopedia, affiliate marketing is an advertising strategy wherein a business provides commission to other businesses or individuals, in exchange for driving traffic or sales to their online stores.
It’s a win-win situation for both sides since affiliates only get paid when they generate results, and merchants get more customers without having to spend extra on advertising.
How Does It Work?
Let’s say you have a WordPress blog about beauty and fashion. You can join an affiliate program from a relevant online store, such as Sephora, and start promoting their products on your blog or website.
If a reader clicks on the affiliate link and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a commission from the sale. The process is pretty straightforward, and you can start earning money right away.
Is It Really Passive Income, Though?
Well, nothing’s ever truly passive, but affiliate marketing comes pretty close.
Of course, you’ll still need to put in some effort to drive traffic to your blog or website so you can get people to click on your affiliate links.
But once you have a steady stream of visitors, you can start earning passive income from affiliate marketing. And the best part is, you can do it while continuing to create valuable content for your readers.
Three Kinds of Affiliate Marketing
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of getting started with affiliate marketing, here are three kinds of the model according to Pat Flynn of SPI to help you better understand how it works.
Unattached Affiliate Marketing
You don’t really need to be connected or have a relationship with the merchant to start promoting their products. As long as you can drive traffic to their website or online store, you can start earning commissions.
This is the most common type of affiliate marketing which simply relies on traffic numbers. This is done by putting up banner ads, links, or other forms of promotion on your website or blog.
Related Affiliate Marketing
Only like to promote stuff your visitors would be interested in? This type is for you.
With related affiliate marketing, you only promote products that are relevant to the niche or industry of your website or blog. This usually results in good conversion rates since you’re only targeting people who are already interested in what you have to say.
However, it’s not really necessary that you’ve established a relationship with the merchant beforehand or you’ve used the product yourself.
Involved Affiliate Marketing
Trust is one of the most important aspects of any business relationship, and it’s especially important when it comes to involved affiliate marketing.
With this type, you need to have some sort of connection with the merchant before you start promoting their products. It could be that you’re an existing customer or you’ve used their products before.
This usually results in higher conversion rates and commission since you’re already a trusted source of information for the people who are interested in what you’re promoting. Furthermore, you get to strengthen your connection with your visitors as you only promote products or services that you have first-hand experience with.
How Do You Become an Affiliate Marketer?
Now, let’s get into the fun part–how do you actually become an affiliate marketer?
Here are eight easy steps to get you started:
Step #1: Build Your Own Brand
In order to promote other brands, a marketer has to have their own brand too. And if you’re quite unsure of what a brand is, it’s simply what people perceive you to be–your whole identity as a content creator and an affiliate marketer.
Thus, apart from simply creating content, you must have your own niche, a target audience, and most importantly, a focus.
Discovering Your Niche
If you’re just starting out, chances are you haven’t found your niche yet. And that’s perfectly fine. In fact, it’s better to explore and experiment with different niches before finally settling on one.
You can start by thinking about your hobbies, interests, or things you’re passionate about. From there, you can zero in on a specific topic that you can cover extensively.
For example, if you’re interested in fitness and health, your niche could be anything from weight loss to strength training to healthy eating habits.
You have all the liberty in the world to choose whatever you want. Just make sure that it’s something you’re passionate about and that it’s profitable.
Step #2: Set Up Your Home Base (Your Website, Page, or Blog)
If you don’t have one yet, you need to set up your home base. This is where you’ll be creating and sharing all your content.
It could be in the form of a website, a blog, or even just a social media page. The important thing is to make sure that it looks presentable and that it has a clear purpose.
Your home base should also be able to capture leads–meaning, you should have a space where you can get your visitors’ contact information so you can turn them into subscribers.
Step #3: Start Creating and Sharing Your Content
There are different types of content you can create, and the kind you’ll produce depends on your niche.
One of the most popular types is blog posts. They’re relatively easy to produce, and you can cover a lot of topics under one niche. You can also mix it up and write about different subtopics under the same niche.
Another type of content you can create is podcasts. They’re perfect for people who commute or drive a lot since they can listen to them while on the go.
Apart from crafting such content, you can also keep your followers or visitors hooked by selling your own merch they can use, or by providing them with valuable resources like e-books and cheat sheets.
For example, if your podcast is all about relatable girl struggles and women empowerment, you can launch your own line of shirts and tote bags with catchphrases from your show. Awkward Styles can help you create and fulfill every order you’ll get with ease!
Promoting Your Content on Different Platforms
Now that you’ve created your content, it’s time to share it with the world!
The best way to do this is by utilizing different platforms or channels such as Instagram and TikTok. You can also use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website or blog.
Organic reach on social media is becoming more and more difficult, so don’t be afraid to use paid ads as well. If your content is truly worth viewing, every penny you spend on ads will pay off in the long run.
You can also collaborate with other influencers or content creators in your niche. This is a great way to cross-promote your content and reach a wider audience.
Step #4: Join an Affiliate Network
And you’re ready to start marketing other brands and earning from affiliate commissions.
Now, the next step is to look for an affiliate network you can join to have access to a plethora of affiliate programs.
The best way to find a good affiliate program is to look for one that covers products or services related to your niche.
For example, if you’re in the fitness and health niche, you can look for affiliate programs from platforms that offer fitness equipment, healthy food delivery services, or workout apps.
Step #5: Promote Your Affiliate Links
Here’s the actual meat of affiliate marketing–promoting your affiliate links.
The best way to do this is by sharing your content on social media, or by including your affiliate links in your blog posts or newsletters. If most of your content are vlogs or podcasts, you can mention your affiliate products in the description box or in the show notes.
You can also use paid ads to promote your affiliate links along with your content. Again, make sure that your ads are eye-catching and relevant to your target audience so you can get the most bang for your buck.
Step #6: Track Your Progress and Optimize Your Programs
As mentioned, it’s passive income but that doesn’t mean that you can just set it and forget it.
You still need to track your progress to see which programs are giving you the most return on investment. Are people clicking on your affiliate links? Are they actually buying the products you’re promoting?
You can also use Google Analytics to track the number of clicks and conversions you’re getting. This will help you determine which programs are worth your time and effort, and which ones you need to let go.
Tweaking Your Promotions
Whatever’s not working, you need to let go and focus on those that do.
It’s also important to test different strategies and see what works best for you and your audience. Try different types of content, or use different platforms to see which ones generate the most traffic or conversions.
This is the beauty of affiliate marketing–it’s flexible and you can tailor it according to your needs and the trends that catch your interest.
The key is to be patient, and to always be open to trying new things.
Step #7: Get Paid!
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for–getting paid for your efforts!
The process of getting paid will depend on the affiliate network or platform you’re using. Some networks will send you a check or wire transfer, while others will deposit the money directly into your PayPal account.
Most affiliate programs will also issue payments on a monthly basis, so you don’t have to wait too long to get your hands on your earnings.
Step #8: Rinse and Repeat!
Of course, your work doesn’t stop here!
Remember that affiliate marketing is a marathon and not a sprint, so you need to be in it for the long haul. As long as you keep producing quality content and promoting relevant products, you can continue earning from affiliate marketing for years to come.
Just keep in mind that you need to be patient and consistent with your efforts, and always be on the lookout for new opportunities to be better and to earn more.
And That’s a Wrap!
Affiliate marketing may seem pretty easy on the surface, but there’s a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into it.
Nonetheless, it can be a great way to earn some extra cash while producing content both you and your audience will enjoy.
Just remember to take things slow, and to always be open to trying new things so you can find the best strategies that work for you.
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