Hello there! As an affiliate marketer, I’m always curious about what sparks someone’s interest in this area. Regardless, I’m glad you want to learn how to start affiliate marketing. It takes work, but so does every worthy undertaking in life, right?
What is Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is simply selling other people’s products online and earning commissions.
The “people” I’m referring to are most often called “merchants” or “vendors.” They may be big companies (Amazon, etc.) or independent sellers (a personal trainer turned entrepreneur selling workout DVDs).
Put most simply, affiliates just drive traffic to a seller – that’s it. It’s basically the online equivalent of being paid to refer a customer to your gym (or your favorite boutique, or whatever).
“That sounds awesome, Scott,” you might be saying, “but how the heck do I do that online?” Well, I would just be honored to be your guide in this affiliate marketing for beginners mini-course. Let’s get started.
How To Start Affiliate Marketing
First, just surf the web for five or ten minutes. You’ll likely come across affiliate content in the form of articles, blog posts, social media ads, videos, landing pages, forums, and much more. If the person sponsoring the content isn’t themselves the seller, but they’re still leading you to an offer, then they’re an affiliate!
Now, you can’t just become an affiliate for any product/seller that you want. Not every seller allows affiliates to drive traffic, but the many that do will become part of an affiliate network. (Some sellers will allow affiliates to sign up with them directly on their site, but it’s more common to find them as part of networks.)
An affiliate network is an online marketplace designed to bring merchants and affiliates together. For example, some of the best affiliate programs for beginners and veterans are JVZoo and Clickbank. Each provides hundreds of offers for affiliates to promote.
I know this is a bit much in one throw, so let’s…
- Affiliate marketers drive traffic to a merchant’s product offers using affiliate content (get to that in a sec).
- The merchant pays the affiliate commissions based on how many sales they refer.
- Affiliates and merchants meet up at affiliate networks.
That’s the meat and potatoes of affiliate marketing for beginners, but there’s much, much more to know. First of all, both affiliate networks and the individual sellers within them have rules.
When you agree to work with a merchant, they will give you an affiliate link – this is how they know that the traffic came from you. You embed the unique link with a tracking code into your content, your reader heads to the offer and buys, and you get paid.
As mentioned, however, there are rules. Some networks/sellers won’t grant commissions if the traffic is produced in a certain way (PPC versus email, for example). Some networks will give you 24 hours to earn a commission after the customer clicks on your link, and some will give you longer.
The rules and regulations for each network and/or seller are generally straightforward and fair, but if you don’t read them, you could waste an entire project (and tons of money).
Networks also differ in terms of commissions. Some networks, like Clickbank, will offer super high commissions. You can make as high as 50 percent on each sale! It makes sense in Clickbank’s case, since they sell low-overhead digital info products. Other networks will be closer to 10-15 percent, and some will offer recurring commissions (generally on sales of subscription services).
I won’t sugar coat it, some of the products on these networks are cheap and low quality, but that doesn’t represent the awesomeness of affiliate marketing. If you start hawking crummy products right out the gate, however, it will represent you. Make sure you really research your networks and products so that you can stand by your offers.
Figure Out What to Promote
So, out of the thousands of products out there, how do you pick? Well, you have to find products that are within your niche. A niche is a particular market. For example, the health and wellness niche, the parenting niche, the making money online niche, the fitness niche, and so on.
You absolutely have to promote a product within the appropriate niche, and you must be familiar with that niche! I cannot stress this enough. If you promote a fitness product to a niche of people trying to make money online, then it won’t happen. Also, if you are promoting something you know nothing about or wouldn’t buy for yourself, then people will see right through you.
This is as good a time as any to break down affiliate content a little more. Learning how to start affiliate marketing for beginners can be a bit daunting, especially with the technical stuff (link tracking, analytics, etc.). Affiliate content is a nice break from that.
It’s not to say that there’s no science behind the perfect blog post or YouTube video, because there is, but it’s much less dry than staring at a 6-month readout of your click-through rates, make sense?
Great affiliate content is approachable, yet direct and honest. Let the merchant sound all “corporate-y.” You can sound professional in your blog posts, landing pages, videos and so forth, but not at the expense of that human element.
Content strategies can vary depending on your niche, your product, and your own talents as a marketer. Some common strategies for promoting offers include product reviews, “unboxing” videos, how-to posts and articles, and more.
Let’s take the “how-to” format as an example. So, you join up with a merchant at an affiliate network. You get this shiny new link that points to a back pain relief product. You write a helpful, sincere post about back pain solutions on your blog, and you work that link in naturally. Your audience heads to the offer, and you make money every time they buy.
Since you are learning how to start affiliate marketing, I would highly recommend you study the success strategies of top notch affiliates. Also, find a teacher/guide/mentor. If you can’t find one, there are training programs out there like my personal favorite, super affiliate Vick Strizheus’ step by step affiliate marketing training.
I’m not just talking to talk here – this is how I upped my game, and I couldn’t believe the improvement!
The feeling of your first sale is euphoria 🙂 But then you realize, “Ok, back to work – more sales must and can be made”!!
Affiliate marketing is definitely worth it. The more you learn, the easier it will get. But you have to stay dedicated to it for anything to come out of it.
Final Steps On How To Start Affiliate Marketing
Research your affiliate programs and sellers to ensure they have strong reputations. Don’t rely on the testimonials on the website. Search for other opinions. That said, if someone has something bad to say, contact them and ask if they gave it 100% effort. Sometimes, people become negative because the program wasn’t easy money.
Also, make sure the program has excellent customer service. You will have questions and concerns, trust me. If those questions and concerns can’t be answered quickly, then they will hurt your progress.
You also want to find out what the sales success rate of a product in an affiliate network or a merchant’s company is. In ClickBank, for example, you can view a product’s “gravity,” which is their metric for determining how well a product is selling. This is a verrrry nice tool for supporting your decisions.
Finally, whenever you start promoting and bringing in traffic (which is literally people viewing your link), you don’t want any of it to go waste. You want to follow up with plenty of content for your prospects in the form of a well-planned email series.
If you can nurture an email list, then they can learn to trust you and buy from you, and it will help to smooth out the unpredictability of affiliate earnings. No audience? You’re praying by your computer for one of your ad clicks to convert. Audience? Meh – Terry will want the new up-sell for sure, he’s been asking about it.
I hope these answers gave you what you’re looking for, and I want to sincerely wish you the best of luck.
Stick with it.