Affiliate marketing describes a mutually beneficial business process where a company/merchant will share a portion of their revenue from a sale with an affiliate if the sale is the result of the affiliate’s promotion or recommendation of the products or services offered by the merchant. It is basically a reward system for affiliates who can earn commissions for linking buyers to a company.
Affiliate Marketing is one of the fastest growing Marketing branches in the world right now. And for good reason: An affiliate relationships can be extremely profitable for both the merchant and the affiliate.
Affiliate Marketing represents a very cost and time efficient marketing strategy for the merchant. The merchant is able to advertise his/her products or services to a relevant audience without having worry about the marketing measures himself/herself.
While traditional marketing methods usually presuppose an initial investment which can turn into burned money if the marketing measures do not work out as planned and do not bring in any profits, such risk does not exist with Affiliate Marketing: The merchant pays a share of the revenue only and if the affiliate manages to generate a buyer or any other wanted action (CPA = Cost Per Action). It is thus a great risk-free way of modern-day marketing.
For the affiliate, on the other hand, Affiliate Marketing represents a great way to turn content into profit and his/her website, blog or social media channel into a money making business.
If you, too, want to join the growing number of successful affiliate marketers, just do it! It is actually easier than you may think. In fact, it can be done in 5 easy steps which will be shown to you in the following:
Step 1: Find A Niche
Affiliate Marketing works best if you concentrate on a certain topic / niche. Pretty much every niche you can think of comes with a high number of relevant products of services that people interested in that topic will be interested in. See where this is going? By concentrating on a specific niche you will attract the target audience for the companies of said niche. This makes you an extremely attractive affiliate who can drive lots of buyers to the respective company.
How to find a niche ?
The absolute best way of finding a good niche is identifying something that personally interests you and that you personally feel passionate about. This makes your work as an affiliate marketer A LOT easier. Actually, it may not even feel like work at all if all you have to do is create content on topics that you love to write (or talk) about anyway. Of course, it should also be a topic you personally know a lot about and can give great tips and insights to your audience.
You should essentially become a trustworthy expert in the niche you chose. That way people will (rightfully) trust your opinions and recommendations which will benefit your conversion rate (the rate of people who will buy the linked affiliate products).
If you have many interests and cannot decide on one (and want to concentrate on one niche at first), then you should just go with the niche that is more potentially profitable. Use a Market Research Tool such as Wordtracker to analyze different keywords (which represent niches on the search engines).
Step 2: Create A Website
Traditional Affiliate Marketing typically works through a website. This is where you build your audience and the place from which you link them to the affiliate products and/or services.
There is, however, also an increasing trend of affiliate marketers who operate without a website. Check out the separate article on how affiliate marketing can work that way.
But again, most affiliate marketers still use their website(s) as the absolute basis for their affiliate marketing business. It is the easiest way of creating content around a niche and link your audience to a relevant and recommended product.
Creating a website isn’t hard at all these days. Through Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress making a website is incredibly easy and does NOT require any coding or IT skills whatsoever. Literally everyone can do it.
But before you can even use a CMS you’ll have to register a domain with a web hosting provider first. Check out the Free Online CEO Tools & Services section for a list of the generally best web hosters on the market right now (the list includes Special Deals and Coupons for you, updated every month!).
Step 3: Produce Content
Here comes the heart and lung of your affiliate marketing business: The content!
At the end of the day, it is all about the content. Your success stands and falls with the content you offer to your audience.
I guarantee you right here right now:
Good content can always be turned into good money. So yes, you will definitely succeed as an affiliate marketer if you produce quality content on a consistent level. How much money will you make? Sky’s the limit really.
If writing is not your strong suite, you could try it without a website and refer back to the “Affiliate Marketing Without a Website” article. Or you could just simply hire a freelance writer for you. This certainly comes at a cost, but will let you save a lot of time.
On Fiverr, the world’s largest freelancer platform, you can find writers who will write you solid texts for as little as $5.
So if your budget allows it, go for it. Whatever you do, just ensure to produce good content.
Step 4: Find Merchants and Products to Link
A good affiliate marketer respects his/her audience and will only recommend products and services that the marketer genuinely believes in. You should follow this way of thinking. Try to identify relevant products and/or services that the audience in your niche may need, want or finde useful.
In the next step, search for merchants that offer these products or services and see if they offer an active affiliate program (usually found in the footer section of the company homepage). If yes, then just apply to it.
If they do not have an affiliate program, then you may try to contact them through email and offer them a partnership directly. This approach can work sometimes, but usually it doesn’t honestly.
The easiest way to connect to a relevant merchant is through an affiliate network. There are plenty of such networks out there these days. Here’s a list of the biggest ones:
The biggest affiliate marketplace out there and has been for many years now. Now beware, among the many hundreds of vendors on Clickbank, there are many that offer junk products which could hurt your reputation if you were to promote them. But if you choose the right product, Clickbank is certainly a powerful platform that can be highly profitable to you.
Why? Because the fact of the matter is that there simply is no other Affiliate network that offers you higher average commission rates than Clickbank. The commission rates there are sometimes as high as 90% and usually 50% or around 50%. Now you know why Clickbank is so popular among Affiliate marketers.
There now even is a “Clickbank University” (of course we’re not talking about a real university here) that teaches you how to efficiently find and promote the right products for your niche and audience. They have led their “students” to a total revenue of over $3 billion over the years, so you might want to check it out.
The world’s largest online shop also runs an own affiliate program. I probably don’t even have to mention the biggest advantage of Amazon’s Associates affiliate marketplace, right? Amazon offers the by far widest range of products of any place on the internet. So it really doesn’t matter which niche you are in, your audience will likely always be interested in something that is available on Amazon. An Affiliate marketing dream come true!
The disadvantage of using Amazon, however, is the lackluster commission structure. Especially after the latest update in May 2020. Depending on the product you link, you will earn different rates, but they are now all under 10% (except for the Luxury Beauty and Amazon Coins niches) and usually even below 5%.
Here’s Amazon’s current commission structure at a glance:
This makes Amazon’s affiliate program really only attractive if you have extremely high traffic or if the relevant products for your niche are not available elsewhere.
Share A Sale is among the oldest still active Affiliate networks. Like Clickbank, Share A Sale also is a sole affiliate marketplace and not a shop in itself like Amazon. Share A Sale also offers you a wide range of different products in different niches to promote.
The commission vary strongly, but on average are above those of Amazon, but also well below those of Clickbank. Still, there are many merchants who exclusively run their affiliate programs through Share A Sale so it’s definitely worth checking out the platform.
CJ Affiliate (once known as Commission Junction) is another Affiliate platform which has been in business for quite some time now. CJ Affiliate prides itself with relatively strict admission rules for affiliates. This means that, unlike with most of the other Affiliate networks, not every affiliate marketer can just join. The affiliate first will have to prove that he/she can be a valuable partner for the merchants within the network.
This is both good and bad for affiliate marketers. One one hand it is harder to get access to the network, but once you’re in it, you are part of a very exclusive network and thus, have a smaller competition when promoting the products of the brands and companies who are working with CJ Affiliate.
Step 5: Start Making Money!
Once you found your niche, created and designed your website, produced enough high-quality content and included your affiliate links within it, you’re ready to make some serious money!
From this point on, it is really only going to be a matter of time until you start getting good traffic. If you (or your hired freelancers) have written enough content using relevant keywords then Google and other search engines will DEFINITELY find your site and rank it eventually. It may take a few months, but the traffic will pour in, I promise you this.
Let’s take the by far biggest search engine on the internet as an example:
Obviously this example is a bit simplified, but you get the idea. Search engines are an incredibly powerful tool for Affiliate Marketing and if you offer high-quality content on your website, these search engines will inevitably reward you with lots of visitors.
Want to speed things up? Then make sure your content is search engine optimized (SEO) and checking all the technical marks a website has to check (mobile-friendly design, fast load times, sitemap included, etc.).
Additionally you can speed things up by link building. The more links from other sites pointing back to yours (“Backlinks”), the better your site will rank on Google, etc. But beware, the links shouldn’t come from spammy sites, because quality also matters in link building.
Social Media is another extremely powerful tool that can give you lots of targeted users to your site. Depending on your niche, some social media platforms can be more or less helpful than others for your affiliate marketing business.
But the generally fastest way to promote your website is using the “classic” way: By buying ads. You can buy ads directly on Google, Bing and many other search engines, but also on the social media platforms. In most cases, you will then Pay per Click (PPC), meaning you pay for every click to your website generated by the ad (which can quickly make your costs explode if these clicks don’t lead to sales of your linked affiliate products).
But again, in most cases you can generate very decent traffic just by providing great content on your website. And if you manage to convert this traffic to clicks and sales for the affiliate services and products linked on your site, then congratulations: Your affiliate marketing business has just become a thorough success!