You’re a fighter. You will not give up.
Even after Instagram tells you for the 100th time that “You’re all caught up,” you continue scrolling and even switching to the explore tab.
There, you see your favorite influencer all dolled up endorsing a product. You decide to buy it. But, wait. Let me do a little research too, you think.
After a quick search, you find 2-3 blogs which elaborates the experience after using it. Convinced, you decide to give it a try and buy the product.
Welcome to the world of Affiliating Marketing!
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a way of earning money by partnering with a company and promoting their product or service! This promotion can be done through multiple channels, although the most popular ones are YouTube & affiliate blogs.
You are a beacon who spreads the word far and wide for a company. Remember that influencer on Instagram? Just that way.
While a normal sales guy is exclusive for his company, as an affiliate marketer, you get to juggle multiple clients at a time.
You know what this means… More revenue!
According to Web Market Support, 81% of marketers and 84% of publishers leverage the power of online affiliate marketing.
Curious? Let’s take the plunge into the world of online affiliate marketing, then.
Wait, So Who’s Involved?
If you’re looking forward to being an online affiliate marketer, let’s see who are the interaction points in your immediate vicinity.
The parties involved fall into the following categories:
- Affiliates, aka Publishers.
- Merchants, aka Advertisers.
- Affiliate Network
Affiliates or publishers, they are, well you. The people who bridge a company and its consumers.
As an affiliate marketer, you find out relevant products, connect with the company, and promote it for revenue. Affiliation can be carried out from a single person to a corporate company.
Affiliates create a myriad of pieces such as landing pages, blogs, videos, podcasts, vlogs, and more, which are consumed by customers. These are optimized until the venture becomes profitable for both parties.
According to the stats published by Inc.com in 2017,
Affiliate partnerships drive more than 20% of the annual revenue for publishers.
Or the companies, you promote the products for. It’s not mandatory for all the companies to have an affiliate program in place. The affiliate team usually has an accounts manager who connects and engages with the affiliates.
Revenue transfer happens only when a customer conversion is recorded. This makes online affiliate marketing a low-risk way to get more sales at lesser costs.
Affiliate Network 👨💻
Think of affiliate networks as the marketplace where affiliates and merchants meet. It’s one of the easiest to find out and choose affiliate opportunities. Even though a network is not mandatory, you’ll find that many companies prefer this for credibility and trust factor.
These networks act as third-party between merchants & publishers and manage tracking, conversions, and revenue.
The end customers who are targeted to consume your content and buy it. They can be the followers of an Instagram account, subscribers of videos or blogs, or anyone on the internet who came across the product you’ve advertised.
When they purchase via you, that’s when your bank account goes ‘cha-ching’!
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Let’s start with the types of affiliating marketing for you to have a better and easier understanding. This has been beautifully elaborated by Pat Flynn on his blog Smart Passive Income.
Broadly you can categorize affiliating marketing into 3 types:
- Unattached Affiliate Marketing
- Related Affiliate Marketing
- Involved Affiliate Marketing
Unattached Affiliate Marketing
In this type of marketing, you usually don’t have a commanding authority in the domain space of the product being endorsed. All you do here would be to put out your affiliate link to consumers, whom you possibly have no connection with, through say, Google or Facebook ads.
In case they happen to like what they see, click on the affiliate link, and proceed to buy your product, then voila!
Otherwise, your commission? Nada!
No strings attached, it’s the good old pay-per-click marketing. Unattached affiliate marketing is a lucrative option for many since it doesn’t require the authority in the niche where the product belongs.
Related Affiliate Marketing
Contrary to unattached affiliate marketing, related marketing is where you have some presence in the domain where the products you advertise reside. But, here it’s not necessary that you use the products you advertise.
It’s like giving the nod to a neighborhood next to your office. You’ve been there, you know it’s great, and you’d tell a family friend to move in, even though you don’t necessarily live there.
Involved Affiliate Marketing
If you have used a product, loved it, and then recommended it strongly, bingo! That involves affiliate marketing for you, like welcoming someone into your neighborhood.
It wouldn’t hang as a mere banner ad or under the recommended section; it could actually make way into your site’s everyday content.
The type you wish to pursue depends on the product chosen and your affiliate marketing plan. Now, let’s see how exactly to do that. Imagine you’re joining a merchant’s online affiliate program.
- The merchant usually provides a unique ID and a special URL that you must use when you promote the product anywhere.
- Say you have a blog up, the link to the product would be this very trackable URL that can be traced by the merchant.
- When one of your audience clicks on the link, a cookie gets created on their device. This helps the merchant to identify that whenever a sale happens with the customer, it has happened through you, the affiliate.
- The cookie usually has an expiration date so that even if there’s no immediate sale, the merchant can still track it and give the affiliate a commission.
- Payment is managed, reports tracked, and the process continues.
Hmm So, How Much Can You Earn?
The million dollar question. We know! 🙂
According to Ink Well Editorial, 35% of affiliates earn over $20,000.
The amount you earn as an affiliate marketer depends on your domain of action, the products you endorse, and the amount of effort you dedicate.
The top affiliate marketers are known to make six figures from the business.
Rae Hoffman, Pat Flynn, John Chow, Kristy Mccubbin, Shawn Collins, and Mark Ling are some of the well-known names in the world of online affiliate marketing. Oh, do follow them!
Niche: Startup Ideas, Blogging, Podcasts, Passive income ideas.
Just to give you a reality check, don’t let the 6-digit or 7-digit income sweep you off your feet. It’s amazing, yes.
Niche: Marketing, Make money online, Blogging.
But, it doesn’t happen overnight. All these successful affiliate marketers gave it their all and well took their time to establish a mark in the space.
Niche: Blogging, SEO, Marketing.
When you start from scratch, expect the revenue to rise gradually. You may not even make anything in the beginning.
Don’t get disheartened.
Take time to build your audience; because, hey, otherwise even if you have the best product to promote and the best commission to receive, you’ll still end up with hands empty. This is just like any other online business. Takes time, but will definitely bring you results.
Yet another thing to keep in mind is profit more than income. You may see an affiliate earning $100,000 with a miserable profit margin and another earning $60,000 making a handsome profit.
If you ask us which is better, we’d point to the latter.
The first affiliate must be spending heavily on paid ads or incurs major marketing expenditures that dips their profit margin. If you plan on spending on ads, do keep this in mind.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing
Let’s break down the steps nice and simple. Let’s call it 3PC.
You’ll need products to promote, of course. Duh!
There are two ways to go about this:
- You can promote the products you already use
- Or, you can reach out to publishers to join their program
The product you choose will decide whether you wish to pursue unattached, related, or involved affiliate marketing. That is, choose a product outside your niche, one in your niche, or one that you swear by personally.
If you’re starting out from scratch, it’s wise to stay within your niche before exploring. This will help you overcome that inertia and then throttle forth.
That’s probably why HeadPhone Addict is still showing raving performances.
Platform is the way to communicate with your audience. Let them know about the product. The two of the most popular and easiest ways to do it are:
- Youtube Channel
Ensure your content is relevant and adds value to users. Stay away from half-baked info that’s just for the sake of having content pertaining to the product. These affect your click-through-rates or CTRs drastically.
Do keep in mind to optimize your content, both blog & videos, for SEO. Better visibility means more traffic, more conversions, and more revenue. There’s no better traffic than organic; get visitors without spending a penny.
When I was searching through the best affiliate marketing blogs, this one caught my attention- Just a Girl and Her Blog.
She writes about DIY stuff, organizing things, and binders. It’s not the typical affiliate website that you imagine to be bug-loaded and filled with ads.
Authority Hacker tells us that Abby Lawson earns more than $40,000 in a month. You go, girl!
The world of affiliate is incomplete if we don’t mention Pat Flynn, who just clocked $3 Million in revenue through passive income.
No, I’m not kidding!
NOTE: While promoting, it’s important that you disclose this information while including the links. Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) requires your full disclosure and transparency while receiving payments for promotions.
If you have a blog, include this information in your footer or have a dedicated page itself for this information.
Let me give you an example; an adorable disclaimer by NomNomPaleo.
In case it’s a YouTube channel, mention the disclaimer in your description box.
Technology is right by our side. Like Albus Dumbledore says, “Use it well…” 🙂
There are a variety of affiliate programs that you can join. According to Ahrefs’ Affiliate Marketing for Beginners, here are the 3 types you can keep a tab of.
High-paying, low-volume programs
These affiliate programs are laser-focused on products and have a niche of their own and offer high commissions to affiliates. The sale needn’t be of mass volume. The competition can be quite stiff.
If you’re just starting off, it might be quite a task to make a presence and get satisfactory revenue, competing with seasoned affiliate marketers.
Low-paying, high-volume programs
These are the programs that focus on the mass volume of traffic but have lower paychecks for each sale- for instance, Amazon’s affiliate program. There would be a myriad of products to choose from, and you’ll need a very good number of sales.
To ace in such affiliate programs, you’ll need a good audience following or traffic.
High-paying, high-volume programs
Good paychecks and a huge chunk of traffic. Not limited to a niche. When there’s a huge commission involved, you can expect expert marketer’s presence & competition there.
Content. Content. Content. 😍
Be it any program, you’ll need high-quality content to back you up, any day. One-size for all wouldn’t do the job.
- Create videos or write blogs relevant to topics surrounding your products to attract traffic.
- Don’t shy from writing reviews
- NEVER forget to add value to readers. Always project the pain points which the said product solves.
People don’t buy products, they invest in solutions. Give them that!
- Create extra resources to help readers at every point. This will create a positive aura from the merchants who are tied to you as well.
Source: Lucie’s List
👉 Clicks Matter.
Don’t spam. Period.
- Add links wherever necessary.
- Include Call-to-action in between to increase the chances of clicks. Buttons do go a long way in capturing the user’s attention.
Drive traffic to your website through PPC ads, organically through SEO, or even through email marketing.
Source: The Wirecutter
As an affiliate, you earn a commission when the person clicks on the affiliate link, lands on the product page, and makes a sale.
Even if there’s no immediate sale, don’t worry.
Cookies that get added will track the user’s sale whenever it happens so that the affiliate gets their due credit. Do look for cookie life length while choosing an affiliate program. Typically, you can find a 90-day period.
The commission would also depend on your conversion rates.
Conversation Rates = (Sale/No: of visitors)* 100
If you had 1000 visitors and made 10 sales, you’ll have a 1% conversion rate.
According to Monitor Backlinks, affiliate marketers get conversion rates between 0.5-1%.
Top Affiliate Marketing Tools To Help You Get Started
It can get tedious. That’s why here’s a little bonus from our end.
Our research about tools to help affiliate marketers landed on a couple of articles about an array of useful tools & pluggins.
Having these tools (or their alternatives) can greatly reduce your workload and make life a lot easier.
1. Affiliate Website Creation Tools
There are free & paid plans available for these. However, you’ll notice that some premium features that’ll come handy in your affiliate journey fall under the paid plans.
See what works best for you and choose the tool and plan.
Do remember to optimize for Search Engines. There’s no traffic like organic.
2. Search Engine Optimization Tools
Remember Rachel Green’s famous line, “We’re powering through,” yes.
So here are some tools to power your website through SEO. Don’t get too many on board and then get data all over the place. It would be the same plight as poor Joey’s!
Using an SEO tool such as SEMRush or Ahrefs will help you evaluate website performance holistically. Right from rank tracking, competitor analysis, keyword research, content performance, user-behavior stats, and more. It also helps you track backlinks and find new opportunities for link building.
In addition, plugins like Yoast for WordPress will help you set-up the basic SEO for any webpage without any programming. Meta Title & Description configuration, sitemaps, meta robots customization, and more.
3. Affiliate Link Management Plugin
God bless the guy who found copy-paste, sure yes.
But, imagine copy-pasting the affiliate link each time you wanna link a product? Especially when your website grows.
ThirstyAffiliates is a link management plugin for affiliate marketers like you to easily add affiliate links on WordPress.
It helps to shorten and make pretty URLs that are appealing to users. ThirstyAffiliates also have the option to add links to keywords.
4. Affiliate Ad Management Plugin
Having ads on your affiliate site or blog is important to get all those clicks. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be a festival of ads.
AdSanity is an ad management tool that helps to create banner ads from WP sites and manage them easily. You can easily insert these ads on your posts and widgets.
5. Affiliate Traffic Analyzer
Get your numbers right to improve. Analyze traffic, user behavior & demographic, and their source using Google analytics Plugin for WP, for instance, MonsterInsights.
It helps with not just tracking visitor traffic but also the outbound links to your domain that helps you understand which affiliate links are clicked more than the others.
6. Affiliate Content Wizard Tools
Getting your content game on point is ridiculously important. To make that part easy on you, here are some of our suggestions.
Get your verbs right, cross your T’s, and dot your I’s with Grammarly. When it comes to content, plagiarism is a mighty big NO.
You can either make use of the plagiarism checker within Grammarly or go for dedicated tools, such as Duplichecker.
While you write, ensuring the readability of the content is crucial to help with the ranking on search engines. Flesch score indicates the ease with which content can be read and understood.
Higher the score, the better it is.
Lower the score, poorer the readability. We don’t want that.
The best way to ensure your content has good readability is by using a simple language. Shorter sentences. No hard words that can be misspelled even by Spell-B Champion. Hemingway Editor will help you do exactly that.
7. Affiliate Design Magic Tools
So here’s it. You don’t need to depend on another person to design your creatives or ad copies or anything for that matter. When it comes to design, Canva is gold. There are both free & paid versions.
PS: I started off with a free trial of the premium version, and the end of the period actually ended up paying. It’s worth your every penny.
PPS: I use it regularly, and it’s ridiculously easy to use.
SEO Best Practices for Affiliates☝️
Let’s get to some good ol’ SEO, shall we?
A 301 link or redirection is the process of sending a user to a new destination or web URL. 301s typically come handy to permanently send users to a new address when the old URL is no longer of any use.
There were speculations in the past that Google hates affiliate links. To avoid penalization, people followed the process of redirecting it through a folder that’s blocked by the search engine. This practice was called cloaking affiliate links.
However, Google’s John Mueller cleared this SEO myth and went on to provide some clean insights when it comes to affiliate marketing SEO.
Affiliate marketing veteran Rae Dolan says in his article why it’s good to redirect your affiliate links. To summarize his article,
- For starters, it’s easier to manage the links. No more ugly, senseless, and long URLs. Neat & crisp.
- If the merchant decides to change networks or linking methods, all you need to change is the redirect rather than set out on a hunt to track & change every instance of it on your website. Phew!
- If you happen to work with fellow affiliates, the redirection will prevent any affiliate link switching.
- It becomes easier to track the clicks as well!
Avoid Duplicate Content 🕵️♀️
As an affiliate, it’s common to depend on data feeds from merchants to run your content. Most often, this can end in content duplication.
Panda is brutal. Oh, not the black & white fluffball. I’m referring to Google’s Panda update that acts as a strict filter to content duplication & plagiarism. Just like Dragon Warrior Po.
The scroll which Master Shifu gave Po wasn’t blank.
It read “Unique Content.”
If you plan to run content solely with data feeds, there’s a high probability that Google picks this duplication saga and demotes your website.
Yes. Drafting unique content is the best way to avoid any unnecessary ranking trouble or SEO-hassle. It’s time-consuming, yes. But worth it!
Fix Broken Links 🔗🥺
Broken links are those links which redirect a user to a 404 page. A “Page not Found” or 404 link abruptly ends the user navigation and is not favored by search engines.
How creative is Email Center UK’s 404 page?
There there, let’s be kind, now.
PS: I think it’s Martin. He has that ‘oops’ written all over that face.
Now coming back, there can be instances where a product URL gets updated, leaving behind a broken link on your website. I know it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack, and possibly you can’t spend time every day to keep checking for broken links.
You’ve got better things to do. There are many tools online you can delegate this task to. Even Ahrefs has a broken link checker tool. Go to the relevant page and get it corrected at once.
Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?
According to stats by eMarketer,
Affiliate marketing reached $6.4 billion in turnover in 2019.
Uniqodo stats say that…
16% of all online orders are generated from affiliate marketing.
So in short. No.
Affiliate marketing is not dead. Far from it actually.
It gets competitive each day, but that shouldn’t discourage you from giving your best shot.
Just like the way you fell down many times before riding that bike without supporting wheelies, this takes time, effort, and patience too!
Don’t get disheartened easily.
Choose products, programs, and platforms wisely.
Then content, clicks, and commission follows! 🙂