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How to Earn From Affiliate Marketing

Updated on November 10, 2017
Michael-Duncan profile image

Michael is an online affiliate marketer and blogger who also works full time as a sales operations analyst for a global software company.

Introduction

Affiliate marketing is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative forms of marketing around. It is based on revenue sharing where you as the affiliate are rewarded with commissions for promoting a company’s product or service. The question you may be asking (aside from what is affiliate marketing) is can one really make money from affiliate marketing? In this submission, you will discover how you can earn as an affiliate. Well, let’s get down to it.

1. Find Your Niche

The next big thing after discovering your market, is to identify your niche market. Once you have done this, you can select niche products that you personally enjoy and can easily identify with. When the spark of excitement and natural interest is injected into your marketing efforts, it adds quality and value to the overall affiliate experience. Avoid promoting a product or service that you have little knowledge about, because when it hampers your marketing efforts, it will hurt your profits. It is much easier to promote what matches your natural talents and endowments. There is something out there for everyone. If you are a pet-lover and have experience with various breeds of dogs, hamsters, horses or goldfish, that could be your niche market opportunity. The same applies to techies with gadgets, stay-at-home moms with recipes, farmers with agricultural equipment and daycare workers with kids.

Aside from Amazon, one popular program is Clickbank which provides affiliates with detailed tracking for their single or multiple sites. Here, you can route all your marketing activities to a central account and monitor them continually. Another program, Paydotcom makes quick payments to affiliates’ PayPal accounts after sales are concluded. You can further research on the rankings of the best affiliate marketing companies before making a final decision. Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of the affiliate program so that there are no unwelcome surprises later on down the road. When you sit down to compare the different commissions, factor into the calculation any extra fees that may be charged for accounts and online transactions.

Though it is important to ensure that the affiliate program you choose is reputable and has a history of paying consistent, generous commissions, remember the products or services themselves need to appeal to your target audience. Try gauging the forces of supply and demand that are working in the niche market you’ve chosen before taking the plunge. If you find the competition too high relative to demand, simply drop the product or service and move on to another so that you do not waste your time and resources.

Diversification is the next marketing strategy. Don't stick to promoting one merchant. Go instead for at least four within the same niche. When you start engaging with multiple products, use a different webpage to promote each and don't combine all of them on one site. As far as possible, target products whose commissions are residual or recurring, which in turn position you to keep earning for the rest of your life! Remember also, that when your promotional campaign does well, you can confidently ask for higher commissions from merchants with a winning negotiation.

2. Bonus Incentives

Here's where we sweeten the deal. First, check out this definition of perceived value from BusinessDictionary.com: A customer’s opinion of a product’s value to him or her. It may have little or nothing to do with the product’s market price, and depends on the product’s ability to satisfy his or her needs or requirements.

Your product or service will become much more attractive when combined with an offer that enriches its value. So why not throw in a free complementary report, e-Book, e-Course, e-Newsletter or e-Guide, containing your website and affiliate links? These days, you don't even have to be a photographer to create a collection of quality photos which you can offer your customers freely through social media and other platforms. Neither are special videography skills needed to make a compelling video that complements your products or services. One way to gain more insight into which complementary item best matches your product, is to check Amazon’s ‘Frequently bought together’ section. For example, a lot of 11’6 inch laptop sleeves are being currently shifted due to the latest sensation - the new stylish ASUS Chromebook with 360 degree hinge, 64 GB and HD touchscreen.

Another way is to provide after-sales assistance through tutorials that instruct the customer on how to gain the most out of the products or services they have purchased. These can be attractively packaged as videocasts, screencasts or podcasts. It is also possible to provide a free online seminar for the first group of customers who procure your product or service. Be creative. Research on the bonuses and complementary products offered by the competition in your niche market, and then outdo them in both quality and quantity!

3. Avoid Rebates

As an affiliate marketer, your profits are linearly proportional to your sales. So offering big discounts will eat into your commissions and you will always have to sell more products or services to make up for the difference. The end result is reduced earnings. Granted, it is easier to simply give discounts than to offer compelling bonuses, but this type of survival marketing is not profitable in the long run. You are not in this game to survive but to thrive. Stay away from cheap shortcuts and be prepared to put in the work required to have your products and services sold at their full value. Don’t be concerned with the huge discounts the competition might be offering. Your marketing objective is not simply to attract buyers, but the right kind of buyers. A healthy business is not only sustained by quality products and services. It requires quality customers too. Rebates can give the impression that the product or service is not really valuable, therefore not worth spending time or money on. As an affiliate marketer, if you work at providing more compelling incentives instead, you will be attracting the right type of customers.

4. Include Links

Whenever you create articles, e-Books or presentations that promote your product or service, always include a section that contains your name and website as well as several affiliate links within the content. You can submit these and other documents to directories and file sharing sites like Scribd, 4Shared, AuthorStream and many more. Also, wherever possible include your name and website in the signature section when communicating in blogs, chatrooms, discussion boards and forums. Instead of joining every one that is related to your product or service, be selective and go for five of the ones with the highest number of contributing members. Check the posting rules on these sites. While not all will allow you to post affiliate links, you could add your website URL instead.

Relationships take time to develop here, so be patient, courteous and understanding as you interact with members. Avoid coming across as desperate or opportunistic. When used properly, these can be convenient platforms for exposing your business to a much wider audience free of charge, while at the same time building for you a strong and rewarding reputation. For example: you can create or join a LinkedIn Group and begin networking with members. If you are promoting products or services in the fitness industry, you could join Athlinks, which is a huge social network of endurance athletes. If you are into travelling, Bootsnall is a good choice for travel offers, gear and equipment. Alternatively, if you are in the food sector, you could join AllRecipes, where links can be included in recipes and comments.

5. Pay Per Click (PPC)

This is one of the most effective methods of online advertising. However, it does require some knowledge of how to identify the best keywords in order to avoid burning through your finances. When well researched and executed though, it yields quicker results than organic traffic. If you decide to go this route, I recommend you promote affiliate products that have a proven track record of high conversion rates. Combine these with high ticket products which generate commissions in the back end via ads on such platforms as Bing or Facebook. That way, when even one of these is sold, it will have covered your investment many times over. Have your email list and a well-designed sales funnel ready.

If this is your first time, you can start by opening an account at Google AdWords. Use the tools and features available to test keywords which are relevant your niche and determine the cost of your campaign. Also, be open to try others whose rates may be cheaper. Check out BuySellAds, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft Bing Ads. Moreover, it is possible to pay cents for viewers' clicks on YouTube, while promoting top quality products having high rates of commission. With PPC, you will need a prepared budget and the awareness that some cash may burn before you identify what works best. Remember to create your own unique and compelling ads that make you stand apart from the competition.

6. Use Landing Pages

As is the case in real life, visitors can easily be turned off if suddenly confronted by an online sales pitch, pricing and payment methods. There is need for a bridging phase before you can engage them with the actual sale of the product or service. A professionally designed landing page containing your own experience or testimonials from others propounding the benefits of the product or service, makes for good sales preparation. Remember beforehand to secure permission to use customers’ names and photos for this. If you are promoting health supplements for example, genuine before-and-after photos combined with a description of the benefits, will help you build credibility. And while you build traffic for this, you can have your main site connected with Google AdSense as a source of revenue.

7. Product Reviews

It is important for customers to have clear insight into the nature of the product or service you are promoting. Of course, the best way to do this is by using the product or service yourself. You will then be able to endorse it with your own personal, first-hand experience. If this is not possible, then exhaustive research is your second alternative. Be honest about potential limitations or other issues the customer needs to be aware of. Moreover, be on the lookout for other new products that are about to be launched in your niche, because an incredible demand for reviews immediately follows each new launch. You can tap into this opportunity by purchasing the newly launched product and being among very first to post a review on blogs, chat rooms, discussion boards, forums and other platforms. This will open up a chance for you to make money as an affiliate.

8. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

This is how you augment the ranking of your website on search engines. One effective method to drive traffic to your website is adding fresh, top quality content consistently. Visitors should not have to engage with material that is outdated or boring, but instead succulent, rich, relevant and well-presented. Refrain from making the site cluttered, difficult to navigate or too congested with links and ads. Select and use keywords and phrases which your target audience are likely to search for and this will help popularize your site and boost its ranking.

Here, you can use Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. You can also simply enter a Google search and check for autosuggestions and related results to find the long tail keywords. Another effective tool that is free is Soovle which returns results from several search engines at once. The more popular your website is, the better the chances that your promotional efforts will bear sustainable results. So submit your site to directories and search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo and Ask. Use Google Analytics or Statcounter to track the visitors to your site, their demographics, the searches they type in and other relevant marketing information.

9. Build a Mailing List

Ideally, your sales page should explain two things: the problem that people face and the solution your product or service provides. This is also where you put up a sign-up section for visitors to submit their name and email address, in order to start reaching out to them through an autoresponder. Do the same for those who download your free complementary products, so you can follow up on them for future sales. Automate the process using brilliant messages through an e-newsletter to develop lasting relationships with your customers. If you don’t know how exactly to go about this, you could sign up for one-month free trial at Aweber.com.

Your mailing list consists of your captive audience. It can be used as an indicator of the interest your product or service is generating. The more you engage with the audience, the higher the chances of pitching other products and services. Your messages need to be unique and not readily available on the Internet, giving information about yourself and the business. Avoid coming across as being pushy or desperate. Provide your audience instead with genuine, thorough reviews of what you are promoting. You can also use your mailing list to display a tantalizing preview of one of the chapters of your e-Book with the option for them to sign in to access the complete material. Alternatively, you can build a momentum of interest before a major product launch, such that by the time it arrives, there will be loyal buyers eager and willing to make the purchase.

10. Develop your Competence

No need to reinvent the wheel. Take time to network and learn from other affiliate marketers that have become successful in the field. Acquire knowledge by devouring online resources - webinars, videos, podcasts, articles, forums and ongoing discussions. You don’t need to enroll in expensive affiliate marketing courses. The internet is saturated with tons of quality information free of charge. Seize the opportunity. Build your skills, master the latest technologies and apply reliable tips blogged by experienced affiliate marketers whose stories challenge and inspire like Ewen Chia, John Chow and Pat Flynn. Also, make use of Warrior Forum, which is ranked the world's largest internet marketing community and marketplace. Study the plethora of websites that are engaged in the sale of products and services and learn how to administrate a team, set targets and execute them. Aim at becoming so skillful that sellers literally compete to have you promote their products and services. Increasing your expertise and effectiveness adds to your credibility and makes you stand out from other marketers who may not have the same level of competence.

11. Become Exceptional

Irrespective of the niche you choose to specialize in, the stark reality is you are not the only hunter in this jungle. The territory is teeming with other marketers, advertising the same product or service, targeting the same audience and likely using the same methods as you. How then do you ensure you hold the attention of buyers and keep them hooked on your offer?

Set yourself apart. Establish you as a reliable authority in the field. This can be achieved by integrating quality and excellence in everything you do. Publish profoundly well-written articles, informative blog posts, compelling vlogs, captivating E-Books. Leverage the power of webinars where you can host or become hosted as a main contributor and share unique insights that induce and inspire the masses.

Details matter. So never miss a chance to engage intelligently with your subscribers, readers and viewers, be it in a comprehensive report or in the briefest of responses to a posted comment. Refine your marketing communication and pay attention to how you use language and netiquette. In other words presell yourself before selling. This ought to be the heart of every course on how to become an affiliate marketer or affiliate marketing for beginners.

Trust is key to succeeding in this business. So make it your objective to build a solid, indisputable reputation. Consolidate your USP or ‘Unique Selling Position’. Make everything about you useful and relevant. When you become exceptional, your target audience will be the first to recognize your credibility and will stay with you, regardless of the competition's clamor.

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