An Introduction to Affiliate Marketing
“The only way to make any money is to sell something somebody else makes.” – John Steinbeck, American Author
Affiliate marketing is a simple concept: Someone has a product or service that they wish to sell, but instead of marketing it themself, they get others to market it for them by offering a commission for every sale made. The person doing the marketing is called an affiliate.
In some cases, the affiliate doesn’t even have to make sales.
Instead, they may earn a commission generating leads or collecting information such as phone numbers and email addresses from potential customers. It just depends on the program.
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An example of how affiliate marketing works would be something like this:
Person A creates a dog collar and prices it at $10.
Person A then starts an affiliate program offering 50% commissions for every sale made.
Person B joins the affiliate program and markets the dog collar for Person A.
Person B then receives a $5 commission for every dog collar sold.
As you can see, this is a very simple system that’s designed to be fair to both parties. With affiliate marketing what you put into it is what you get out out of it.
When you are paid for selling an affiliate product, it’s called earning a commission. The percentage you’re paid, as well as the payment structure itself, will vary from program to program.
The commission system benefits the producers of the products and services because they don’t have to spend money on marketing that doesn’t work.
For example, a business may spend thousands of dollars on a traditional marketing campaign that ultimately fails, wasting all of the capital they put into the project. On the other hand, with an affiliate program, they only spend money when an actual sale is made. This means that virtually no money is wasted on failed marketing.
The commission system also benefits the affiliate as well. This is because you are able to have greater control over the total amount of money you earn.
Think of it this way; if you were to charge a flat fee for your marketing services, you might feel as if you were underpaid if the campaign really takes off and a ton of sales are made. In a scenario like this, your work ends up being worth much more than what you actually got paid for it. As an affiliate, this isn’t a problem.
The more sales you make, the more money you make. As mentioned earlier, what you put into affiliate marketing is what you get out of it, and you’ll never feel as if you’re being paid less than your labor is worth. In this way, the commission system is fair to both parties. As long as the affiliate is okay with being paid the percentage promised by the vendor (the person producing the product or service) then there should be no complaints on either side.
Commission rates can vary of course. Some vendors pay a very small percentage per sale, but this can still be acceptable if the product or service sells for quite a bit. For example, earning only a 5 to 10% commission on a product that sells for several thousand dollars may be well worth it. Conversely, marketing a cheap 10 to $20 affiliate product at an 80 to 90% commission rate can also be a good idea depending on the circumstances.
Ultimately what you want to look at when it comes to commissions is how much money you can earn in a given amount of time. This means looking not only at the commission percentage, and the total price of the product or service, but being able to estimate how many total sales you’ll be able to make.
A product or service that’s easier to market may be a better choice even if it has a lower commission and price.
Your Job As an Affiliate is to Market, Not Sell
One thing you need to keep in mind is that as an affiliate you’ll be marketing other people’s products and services, not selling them. This may sound contradictory, but there is actually a very big difference between marketing and selling.
The thing is, vendors typically already have sales funnels set up for their products and services. Online this typically consists of a sales page of some sort if a direct sale is being made, or a squeeze page if they want to collect emails or other contact info.
These sales funnels take care of the selling. All you have to do as an affiliate is send people to them. That’s where the marketing comes in.
As you can imagine, this makes your job super easy; you’re essentially just getting people from Point A to Point B. And as long as you can get people onto the sales page, the rest essentially takes care of itself.
A good example of this would be Amazon’s affiliate program. If you’re familiar with Amazon, then you probably know that their product pages are configured to produce maximum sales using a variety of formatting and design techniques.
As an Amazon affiliate, all you have to do is get people to go to these product pages using the special affiliate link that they give you.
For example, you might have a blog on dog care so you write a post reviewing a dog collar that’s sold on Amazon. At the end of the post, you can link to the product page for the collar using your affiliate link.
Now whenever anyone clicks that link and buys the collar you get paid. It couldn’t be any simpler.
That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that the means by which you’re sending people to the sales page needs to be relevant to what’s being sold.
The blog post example is a good way of doing this. That’s because the blog post targets people who are already interested in dog stuff, and gets them interested in the product before they even land on the Amazon page.
Alternately, a bad method of how to do this would be something like buying untargeted ads on FB to promote the dog collar. Not only will the ad conversions likely be low since the ads are untargeted, but conversions on the Amazon page itself will also probably be low since anyone who lands on it through your ads may only have a passing interest in the product.
Being able to target the proper demographic is extremely important in any marketing campaign, and even more so when it comes to affiliate marketing. In fact, this may just be the biggest hurdle for people who want to get into affiliate marketing but have no prior marketing experience. Don’t worry though, we’ll go over this and more a little bit later.
No Special Skills Or Prior Experience Needed One of the best things about affiliate marketing is the fact that anyone can do it. Even if you’ve never sold anything before, and know nothing about marketing in general, this business model is simple enough that you can learn everything you need to know very quickly and get started right away.
This is why affiliate marketing is most often a person’s gateway into the world of online marketing. And honestly, it’s probably the best place for most people to start. In fact, if you use social media then you already have some knowledge of how the basic fundamentals of online marketing work since you understand how to connect with people through digital means.
Really all you need to learn is how to target the right people, and how to deliver a message that gets them interested in the product or service you’re promoting.
You don’t have to be an expert salesperson, and in most cases going for a “hard sell” is a bad idea anyway. You just need to find people who would be interested in your offer and then link them to the sales page. That’s all there is to it. How you go about targeting the proper demographic is up to you, and you may already have the platform you need.
For example, if you have a Facebook page, Instagram account, or Twitter account that’s focused on something like mountain biking, then promoting affiliate offers for mountain bike-related stuff is a natural fit.
One thing to keep in mind though is the fact that you can and will be called a “sellout” by your followers if you just start pitching tons of offers out of nowhere. In cases like these, it pays to be honest, and present the offers as if you’re doing your followers a favor.
Going back to the mountain bike example, you could just give your followers a heads up letting them know that you want to try and earn a little extra money on the side, and will occasionally share affiliate offers that they may be interested in.
The key is to make focus on helping your online community rather than just trying to make money. This will decrease the amount of criticism you receive, and your most loyal followers may even purchase your affiliate offers just to support you. It’s a win-win for everyone.
If you don’t already have a major online following, don’t worry. There are many different ways to connect with your demographic, and getting started with social media, or starting a blog, is very easy these days. Running ads is also an option, but this is one area where having prior experience would be a huge plus.
This is because there is some risk involved since running an ad campaign isn’t free, and you could lose a lot of money if you screw it up. Aside from that, however, getting started with affiliate marketing doesn’t require any prior experience or any specific skill set.
As long as you’re willing to learn some very basic principals about marketing, you can make money with affiliate marketing.
The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing
To close out this chapter, let’s go over the benefits of affiliate marketing, and explore why it’s such a good business model.
1. It Requires Very Little Investment
Unless you’re running an ad campaign (which you should avoid unless you really know what you’re doing) affiliate marketing requires literally no investment other than your time. This is one of the few business models in which it’s practically impossible to lose money, even if you’re a beginner.
2. It’s Beginner Friendly
As stated before, you don’t need any prior experience or special skills to get started with affiliate marketing. All you need is time, and the willingness to learn the basics of marketing. If you can do this, then you can be successful with affiliate marketing.
3. You Get Out What You Put In
Most businesses are a gamble to some degree or another. You could either earn much less than the work and resources you put into it or if you’re lucky, much more. With affiliate marketing, there is no mystery or games of chance. Your commission is a set value, and you are always paid that amount for all the sales you make. This way you’re never being paid less than what you have determined that your labor is actually worth.
4. Most of the Selling is Already Done For You
Your job as an affiliate marketer is to get people from Point A to Point B. That’s pretty much it. You don’t have to be a salesperson, and you don’t have to create a complex sales funnel to lead potential customers through. Just find and connect with the right demographic, then link them to your vendor’s sales page. That basically it.
5. Affiliate Marketing is Highly Scalable
Affiliate marketing is highly saleable. That is to say, once you find a method of getting people to the vendor’s sales page, you can scale up your efforts, and multiply your income very quickly. Yes, it does take some trial and error at the beginning in some cases, but once you find your groove, the money flows fast and easy.
6. There is No Penalty for Failure
Affiliate marketing is one of the few business models in which nothing bad happens to you if you screw something up and fail. In fact, failure can be incredibly rewarding in affiliate marketing because you will learn from your mistakes, and ultimately make more money as you get better at marketing affiliate products.
7. Your Vendor Wants You To Succeed
In affiliate marketing, you have a very powerful alley: your vendor. They want you to succeed because the more money you make, the more money they make. Due to the symbiotic nature of this relationship, many vendors are willing to offer you extra help in your efforts to market their products by giving you special marketing materials, such as banners, resource boxes, and other assets.
Another great thing about affiliate marketing is the fact that you can purchase things through your own affiliate link and essentially receive a discount since part of what you pay will come back to you as a commission. (Make sure there are no rules against this before doing it of course.) Also, some vendors will actually give you a free copy of the product that you’re marketing so that you can understand how to market it better.
9. Be Your Own Boss
This may sound like a cliche in the world of “work from home” business, but it’s true. When you’re a full-time affiliate marketer, you’ve got no one telling you when to wake up, how long you have to work, and how much free time you get. This is all up to you, and you have complete control over your most valuable asset: your time.
Affiliate marketing is an evergreen business model. As long as there are people out there with services and products to sell, there will always be those who are willing to pay you to do the marketing for them. Even if a vendor you’re working with goes out of business, or closes their affiliate marketing program, you can apply all the skills you’ve learned to market another product from another vendor to keep your business going.
Joining An Affiliate Marketing Program
To participate in affiliate marketing, you need to join an affiliate marketing program. How you go about doing this depends on the program itself. Some programs require you to apply for membership, such as Amazon and may accept or reject you. In cases such as these, make sure you read the membership requirements carefully before
applying to increase your chances of success.
In other cases, all you need to do is sign up and you’re good to go.
This is how it tends to work at places such as JVZoo and Clickbank which act as a sort of broker that brings vendors and affiliates together for mutual benefit. Just remember that when signing up for an affiliate program, you may be asked for tax info and info concerning how you will get paid.
Each program is different, and the information that they require can vary. In any case, making sure that you join an affiliate program that works for you is important. This means being able to tell good affiliate programs/vendors apart from bad ones because yes, there are bad programs and vendors out there that should be avoided.
Instead of talking about the bad, let’s start with the good and go over some of the factors that you need to consider when searching for a good affiliate program to join.
We touched on this earlier but this one of the most important factors to consider when looking for an affiliate program to join. And as previously stated, you should be thinking about how much total money you can make, not just the percentage itself.
Commission percentages can vary wildly from program to program. Some may only offer 10% commission, or even lower in some rare cases. Others may offer extremely high commissions such as 90%.
The thing to keep in mind is that a high commission percentage isn’t necessarily better than a lower one. Factors such as the price of the product/service, and how easy it will be to market are huge factors that can’t be ignored.
In any case, these are the main factors to consider when it comes to commission:
How Easy or Hard it Will Be to Market
Whether or Not They Offer Reoccurring Payments
We’ll go over reoccurring payments, bonuses, and refund rates in just a moment, but for now let’s focus on the first three factors, and take a look at two examples. First will be a product that has a high commission, low total price, yet is easy to market.
$10 Total Price
Easy to Market
If you could reliably make 30 sales a week with this product, you’d be looking at around $1,000 a month. Not bad.
Now, let’s look at our next example.
$200 Total Price
Somewhat Difficult to Market
With this product, you will get $40 per sale. You’d only need around 6 sales a week to make the same $1,000 a month as the first example, but marketing a somewhat high priced item like this can be more difficult.
As you can see, all three factors are important to take into consideration when you’re choosing what affiliate program to join. Don’t get distracted by high commission percentages. Instead, take in the big picture, and think about which program will really help you make the most money.
The Vendor’s Sales Funnel
Another factor that’s critically important to your success with affiliate marketing is the quality of the vendor’s sales funnel. Even if you’re marketing an easy to sell the product with a great commission percentage, everything can fall apart if the vendor’s sales funnel doesn’t reliably convert the people you’re sending to it into paying customers.
This means that before joining an affiliate program you’re going to want to take a look at their sales page, and see if it looks like a winner. Of course, it helps to have some knowledge of copywriting and web design in order to make an accurate assessment of the page.
Also keep in mind that if a vendor’s sales page converts well, then they’re probably going to advertise that fact to attract affiliates. If they aren’t sharing their conversion rate, then it’s a good idea to contact their support team and ask about it before signing up. So, this brings us to the million-dollar question: What is a good conversion rate?
For affiliate marketing sales pages, a good conversion rate is typically anything between 10 and 20%. Anything over 20% is pretty amazing and will make your job as an affiliate even easier.
Provided Marketing Materials
In addition to having a good sales page, some vendors will go above and beyond in helping their affiliates to be successful by providing you with marketing materials. This can consist of things like banners, ad graphics, and resource boxes.
A smart vendor will have tested all of this stuff to make sure that it converts. If there’s no info on how well the materials convert, again, try contacting support. Some vendors will go to even greater lengths to help you market their products and services by giving you your own blog or mini-website.
Typically these web properties aren’t much and you’ll have to personalize it yourself, but if you were planning on using a blog to market the vendor’s product and you don’t already have one, it can be a big help.
One thing to keep in mind is that while most vendors will advertise any extra stuff they have to help you market their products and services, sometimes it pays to contact support and ask about it. Vendors want you to be successful because your success is their success so most should be eager to try and make your job easier for you.
Bonuses, Contests, and Prizes
In addition to giving you marketing materials, some vendors will offer incentives as well. One of the most common is paying out bonuses when you reach certain milestones.
For example, a vendor may give you a $100 bonus payment if you make 1,000 sales.
Typically these bonuses are tiered, meaning that the more you sell, the more you get paid in bonuses.
Needless to say though, you need to actually be good at what you’re doing to reach these bonuses. A vendor isn’t going to reward affiliates for mediocrity, only those who are doing a great job of selling their products and services.
In addition to bonus payments, vendors may also offer prizes.
These prizes can range from anything such as cheap promotional products (pens, mugs, and shirts with the vendor’s logo on it) to something as awesome as a paid vacation. As you can imagine, the more valuable a prize is, the harder it is to earn. In most cases, only the very top affiliates will get amazing rewards like paid vacations and such.
Sometimes these prizes are awarded as a part of a contest. In this case, the prizes aren’t tiered based on how much you sell, but rather on how you rank compared to the vendor’s other affiliates.
Once again, only the affiliates that perform the best will get the best prices.
So, should you take an affiliate program’s bonuses, prizes, and contests into consideration when you’re looking for a program to join? If you’re a newbie, probably not.
You see, while all this stuff may sound great, it really only applies to experienced affiliate marketers. If you’re new to all of this, then it may be sometime before you can perform at a level in which you can earn these bonuses and prizes consistently.
Also, you have to remember the old saying: There’s always someone better. No matter how much experience you have, you likely won’t be a vendor’s #1 affiliate. There are people out there who are obsessed with this business model and will almost always win any contest, and dominate any ranking system. Despite this, bonuses and prizes are always a nice incentive and can be something for you to work towards. However, this is probably one of the least important factors when it comes to choosing a good affiliate program.
Wouldn’t it is great to get paid for doing nothing? Well, with an affiliate program that offers reoccurring payments, you can. How this works is that some vendors sell their services or products using a subscription model. This means they will get paid over and over again by each customer, usually monthly. In many cases, the vendor will let their affiliates in on this reoccurring payment system by giving them a cut each time the customer makes a payment.
For example, let’s say you become an affiliate of a vendor selling an ongoing coaching program that costs $30 a month for membership. The program may pay you a 50% commission for the initial sale,
then 20% for each month after until the customer cancels their subscription.
The amount you’re paid can vary in these situations. Sometimes the commission percentage is the same for both the initial sale and the reoccurring payments, while in other cases they can be different, like in the example.
In any case, though, you’re getting paid long after you’ve already done your part, making this one of the best systems in affiliate marketing.
You should keep in mind though that most subscribers in a system like this will cancel their subscription after a while. However, if the rate at which you’re getting people to sign up outpaces the unsub rate, you can scale up your business very quickly, and begin enjoying substantial monthly payments.
Since reoccurring payments are such a powerful way to scale up your income, this is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing which affiliate program to join. If you had to choose between two affiliate programs that were equal in practically every regard, yet one used a subscription model and the other didn’t, then you would definitely want to go with the subscription model.
In short, if you find a vendor that’s looking to sell a subscription or anything that involves reoccurring payments, you want to take the time to really give that program consideration. Sometimes working with them may not be worth it depending on the other factors involved, but in many cases, it most certainly will be.
Getting Good Affiliate Support
In addition to having customer support for their customers, a vendor should also have a support team dedicated to helping their affiliates. If they don’t, then it can be a red flag. The reason this is important is that while affiliate marketing is a very simple business model, there may come a time when you have questions or need technical assistance with something.
For example, maybe a payment you were expecting didn’t arrive on time, or maybe your account gets frozen for some reason. In cases like these, you need to be able to contact someone from the vendor’s side of things to get answers. While it isn’t a hard and fast rule that you should avoid all vendors that don’t offer affiliate support, just be aware that you’re 100% on your own when working for them. If you don’t get paid as you should, that money is most likely gone forever and you won’t be getting it.
Just like with any other business, vendors will have a certain percentage of their purchases refunded. What this means is that when you sell an affiliate product or service that the buyer ultimately refunds, you don’t get paid.
This is another important factor that you need to weight before joining an affiliate program since it will affect your total income. Simply take the refund rate, and subtract it from what you expect to make marketing the vendor’s products or services to get a more accurate picture of how much money you’ll really be making.
Generally speaking, a 10% refund rate is about average for an affiliate program on places like Clickbank. A refunding rate of 5% or less is considered really good, while 20% and up is something to be avoided.
So, should you always avoid programs that have high refund rates? Well, it certainly is a red flag, but ultimately it’s just one factor among many. If you see a program with a high refund rate but everything else seems legit, it could be a good idea to contact support and see what the issue is.
If you’re new to this, however, then you should probably stay away from programs that have higher than average refund rates.
The reason being is that it could discourage you early on if many of your sales get refunded, and you see a chunk of your revenue flow being taken away.
Since staying motivated is so important when you first get started, try, and find programs that have a lower refund rate. And if the refund rate isn’t listed, make sure that you contact the vendor and ask so that there aren’t any surprises down the road.
Scammers and MLM Programs
Another thing that you should be aware that there are many scammers out there posing as legitimate vendors. This doesn’t happen as often in places like JVZoo and Clickbank since they vet their vendors and make sure they’re honest, but any independent the affiliate program that’s not something mainstream like Amazon should be scrutinized to a higher degree before you join.
A good way to do this is to simply Google reviews of the affiliate program. If they’re not paying their affiliates, or are doing something else dishonest, then there will probably be plenty of negative reviews out there talking about it. Something else to avoid when looking for affiliate programs is MLM programs. While multilevel marketing is different from your standard affiliate program, they tend to share many similarities, and if you’re new to this it can be easy to be mistaken.
An MLM program is one in which you earn commission not only from selling whatever products or services are associated with the program but also when people you get to sign up with the program make sales as well.
This creates a pyramid-like structure that mostly benefits those at the top, while those in the middle and bottom see much less reward for their efforts.
Now, you may be thinking that this sounds exactly like affiliate marketing but with an added reoccurring payment structure attached to it. What could possibly go wrong? Well, there are many problems with MLM, and pyramid schemes in general, but some of the biggest are:
Usually a lack of affiliate support
Very little money is made from product sales
Recruiting others into MLM can be difficult and ruin relationships
Very strict rules and guidelines to follow
Typically only those at the very top of the pyramid benefit from this business model
Another issue with MLM is the fact that the whole thing can take on a cult-like aspect if the executives at the top are particularly abusive towards those below them in the pyramid-like structure of the business.
In fact, some MLM programs even require their members to travel frequently (not paid for by the program), and have recruitment quotas that must be met or they will be penalized. The main difference between an affiliate marketing program and an MLM program is the fact that MLM focuses more heavily on recruitment than selling products.
This is what makes the business model inherently unprofitable for those who aren’t at the very top of the pyramid.
If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not a program is MLM or a legitimate affiliate program, contact support and ask. Aside from that, you can also look up reviews of the program, and see what others are saying about it.
Most MLM programs won’t use the term “pyramid scheme,” but other than that, they tend to be fairly straightforward regarding their business and recruiting structure. Needless to say, stay away from MLM programs, and stick to
legitimate affiliate marketing.
MLM just isn’t worth it unless you’re a founding member and have no moral issues with exploiting those further down the pyramid than you.
JVZoo and Clickbank
If you’re new to affiliate marketing, your best bet is going to be used sites like Clickbank or JVZoo to find an affiliate program that suits your needs. This is because these places make it fast and easy to compare affiliate programs and see important data on them such as commission percentage, and refund rates.
Having access to all the important data will give you a good idea of which programs are worth your time, and which aren’t. And of course, the more well-known programs are bound to have reviews off-site that you can look up as well.
Joining an affiliate program through a site like Clickbank or JVZoo
has many advantages such as:
You get paid on time every time
Easy to use interface
Access to analytics so you can improve your sales
Lots of useful info on each vendor for easy comparison
Free to sign up
Scammers are weeded out
While these benefits are great, especially for beginners, there are some drawbacks to using these kinds of networks as well. One of the biggest is the fact that the platform tends to take a cut of your earnings.
Ordinarily, this isn’t a huge cut. Places like Clickbank make thousands of sales a day so a small cut from each affiliate is more than enough. However, this fee can sometimes lead you to make an inaccurate assumption of how much money you’ll make promoting a certain affiliate program.
To remedy this issue, always take the platform fee into account when calculating how much money you’d expect to make with each vendor, just like you would with the refund rate. This will help to give you more realistic income expectations.
Another drawback to working with platforms like Clickbank and JVZoo is the fact that while they do weed out scammers, they don’t weed out low-quality products. This means that a lot of times you will find yourself having to search through a lot of junk in order to find a good product or service to promote.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing, this can feel discouraging as in many cases it may take some time to find something that’s right for you among all the garbage.
Overall though, using sites that aggregate affiliate programs is usually a good idea for both newbies and veterans alike. Even with the drawbacks, it is still much faster easier to find a good affiliate program on these sites rather than looking them up manually using a search engine.
Also, if you find that you’re dissatisfied with the affiliate program you’re working for on a site like Clickbank or JVZoo, you can just abandon it and find another one without having to worry too much about it. This makes learning through trial and error, something very important for beginners, more convenient than it otherwise would be.
Setting Up Your Affiliate Marketing Sales Funnel While pretty much all affiliate programs have their own sales
funnels that you’ll be directing potential customers towards, you still need a solid plan to get them there. In essence, you’ll be setting up a sales funnel of your own, only it will be much simpler than the one your vendor uses.
Don’t let the terminology scare you though. In your case a “sales funnel” can be as simple as occasionally posting an affiliate link via Twitter, or placing one at the end of a blog post. With that said, let’s look at several different types of sales funnels that are great for people new to affiliate marketing.
Facebook Sales Funnel
Though its popularity has lessened somewhat in recent years, Facebook is still a very popular social media platform with millions of users. If you have a strong Facebook following or know how to create one, using it to promote affiliate products isn’t a bad idea.
Now, there are several different ways to go about doing this on Facebook since there are so many different facets of the platform. Let’s take a look at each one.
Your Personal Page
Just make a post on your personal page and throw your affiliate link on there at the end. Just make sure that your post actually relates to the affiliate product or service somehow, otherwise, you’ll be sending worthless traffic to your vendor. Also, be aware that if you overdo it with the affiliate links, you could
get a bad reputation among your friends, family, and followers.
Create A Fan Page
Many affiliate marketers will create a fan page if they’re going to use Facebook as a major part of their sales funnel. A fan page related to the topic of the products and/or services you’re promoting is a great way to get your links in front of the right target audience.
Just be aware that overdoing it with the affiliate links can tip off people that you’re just in it for the money, and that you’re not a real fan. The key is to come across as being genuine, not sales.
If you want to take things a step further you can create a Facebook group around a topic that relates to your affiliate products and services.
For example, if you’re trying to sell a dog collar, you could create a group for dog lovers, or dog care specifically. Once again, don’t overdo it with the links or it will turn people off.
If you’re really ambitious and know how to run an ad campaign, you can use Facebook ads to promote your affiliate offers. Just be aware that running an ad campaign is not free; you will pay for clicks whether or not the person clicking your ad actually buys anything.
Also, Facebook has very strict rules regarding affiliate marketing. Typically you have to link to a separate landing page of some sort before linking to your vendor’s sales page.
Another social media platform that can be great for affiliate marketing is Twitter. Of course, this works best if you have a Twitter account that’s based around a specific topic that strongly relates to the products and services you’re trying to sell. Just be aware that throwing out a bunch of affiliate links on your personal Twitter account can negatively affect your reputation.
You will likely be called a “sellout” if you do this. In most cases, it’s best to create an entirely new Twitter account specifically for your affiliate marketing efforts. While it will take time to grow this new account, it will allow you to focus on attracting people who are in your target audience. This way you will get higher conversion rates when you send your followers to your vendor’s sales page.
While Instagram is incredibly popular these days, and boost a much higher engagement rate than other social media platforms, it can be difficult to get your affiliate links in front of your followers. One of the most obvious ways around this problem is to simply put your affiliate link in your bio. You can change it up for each post if you’re promoting different affiliate products to keep from being pigeonholed.
Alternatively, you can use third-party software such as Link2Buy or Linkin.bio to set up a series of clickable posts in your profile. It’s not particularly complicated, but you will have to follow some very specific instructions to get everything set up.
Another social media platform with a high engagement rate is YouTube. In fact, YouTube is probably one of the easiest social media platforms out there to promote affiliate products.
For example, you could start a channel that’s all about reviewing dog care products, then post affiliate links in the comments and description to the products you review. Just make sure that you tell your audience about the links at the end of each video. You can’t expect to make many sales without a strong call to action after all.
The biggest drawback to YouTube is of course that getting views is all about pleasing the algorithm, and unfortunately, there are no set guidelines as to what you need to do to please it other than following a few best practices with your title, tags, and description.
The YouTube algorithm is hard to predict, and while chasing it can sometimes lead to getting more exposure for your videos, in many cases, you may find your videos stuck in obscurity instead.
Despite this, the more videos you post on YouTube, the more the algorithm will notice you, and promote your videos, at least to some degree. However, the algorithm will also pigeonhole you. What this means is that if you start out promoting dog care products, and then try switching to office supplies, all of your office supply videos will likely get buried.
If you plan on drastically switching the type of products you’ repromoting, you’ll probably be better off starting a new channel altogether. This will give you a fresh start, and give the algorithm a better chance to figure out what your channel is all about.
Starting a Blog
While it can take time to grow an audience with a blog, it is probably the most powerful method of promoting affiliate offers. The reason for this is the fact that you can use many different social media platforms to send traffic to your blog, then use your blog to link them to your vendor’s sales page.
This will give your multiple sources of traffic to draw from, and the more traffic you have, the more sales you will make. Another thing to consider is that you have more control over a blog than you do your social media accounts. This is especially true if you buy your own domain, and set up your blog that way instead of using a blog creation site.
On a blog, you can advertise your affiliate offers in a variety of ways such as having the standard affiliate link at the end of your blog posts. You can also use banner ads, sidebar ads, and even images ads right in the middle of your posts.
The main issue with starting a blog is the fact that like with social media accounts, it takes time to build a following. However, if you’re using multiple social media platforms to drive traffic to your blog, then it will grow much faster.
You also need to take into account SEO, search engine optimization, when building a blog.
Organic traffic is very powerful because it consists of people actively searching for what you have to offer. Giving your blog a boost in the search engine rankings with SEO can lead to a drastic increase in sales. Overall, starting a blog is a great option for anyone serious about affiliate marketing.
And even if you don’t enjoy writing, you can always hire others to do it for you for dirt cheap using content mills like Textbroker. In the end, there really is no reason not to use a blog to promote your affiliate offers.
Example Sales Funnels
In order to give you a better idea of how this works, let’s take a look at some example sales funnels, and what makes them so powerful. Keep in mind that their examples are just suggestions, there are many different ways to set up an affiliate marketing sale funnel.
Also, remember that you don’t necessarily have to set all of this up yourself. There are plenty of businesses and freelancers that are more than willing to do it for you for a price. If you’re really stuck when it comes to building your sales funnel, don’t hesitate to hire the pros.
Facebook Fan Page Funnel
Setting up a sales funnel using a Facebook fan page would look something like this: Internal Facebook Traffic –> Your Fan Page –> Your Vendor’s
In a case like this, you’re attracting the internal traffic of a social media platform with a page that’s relevant to their interests, then directing them to a related offer. This method sends high-quality traffic to your vendor’s sales page so it has a very good chance of converting into actual sales.
If you were to promote affiliate products and services using youtube, it would look something like this:
Search Engine Traffic/Internal YouTube Traffic/Subscriber Traffic — Your Videos — Your Vendor’s Sales Page
As you can see, this sales funnel draws on traffic from three different sources as opposed to just the one in the previous example. This makes it a very powerful marketing method as long as you take the time to build your channel up and hopefully get picked up by the algorithm.
Even better is the fact that when you run a YouTube channel you’re essentially developing your own community of loyal followers: your subscribers. A portion of these followers can be counted on to use your affiliate links regularly, making it even easier to make sales.
The last sales funnel we’re going to look at is Twitter, mainly because it works a lot differently than most affiliate marketing methods. A Twitter sales funnel looks like this:
You Send a Tweet with an Affiliate Link
Your Followers See the Tweet and Some Visit Your Vendor’s Sales Page
Some of Your Followers Also Re-tweet Your Tweet
Some of Their Followers See Your Tweet and Visit Your Vendor’s Sales Page
The big advantage here is that your promotional tweets have the chance to spread organically with your followers doing a lot of the work for you by re-tweeting your tweets. This can get your offers a lot more exposure than they would normally. The disadvantage of using Twitter as a marketing platform is of course the fact that people searching for what you have to offer probably aren’t going to stumble upon your Twitter account. Instead, you have to grow your following in other ways.
Designing a Sales Funnel That Works for You
The most important thing to remember when it comes to creating a sales funnel to market affiliate products is to keep in mind that different people are better at using different sales funnels. If you’re a Twitter expert then Twitter may be the best option for you even if it is one of the weaker methods of marketing affiliate offers in many cases.
Or if you have experience running a YouTube channel you may want to use it as your primary method of driving traffic to your vendor’s sales page.
Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to try new things. Maybe you’ve never created a YouTube channel or Facebook fan page, but maybe you’d be good at it. Maybe you’ve never blogged before, but it might just be the perfect method of marketing affiliate products for you.
Also, don’t shy away from combining these methods with one another. You can have a YouTube channel, Twitter account, and Facebook fan page all funneling traffic to your blog which you then use to send people to your vendor’s sales page.
The more methods of getting the traffic you have, the more sales you’re going to make, and that’s a fact.
Keep in mind that knowledge is power. Trying to figure all of this out through trial and error can be a valuable learning experience, but the early failures that are sure to come with that experience maybe too much of a blow to your morals.
The good news is that there are a variety of strategies and techniques that can be used to keep your morale high, and keep you working towards your affiliate marketing goals.
How to Stay Motivated with Affiliate Marketing
The #1 thing that will kill your affiliate marketing business isn’t lack of sales, your vendor going out of business, or getting scammed by an unscrupulous vendor. The #1 thing that will kill your affiliate marketing business is a lack of motivation.
Unlike other business models where if you screw up bad enough, or often enough, you go bankrupt, you get unlimited chances with affiliate marketing. The reason for this is that even though you’re running a legitimate business, it’s essentially a marketing business, not a product production business, or service providing business.
If your vendor goes out of business, there are tons of other vendors that sell similar products or services that you can plug into your sales funnel.
If you aren’t making any sales just keep improving your sales funnel until you do. Since affiliate marketing has virtually no overhead costs, not making sales won’t tank your business.
If you end up getting scammed by an unethical vendor, learn from your mistake, report them to the appropriate authorities, and move on. You may not get the money you’re owed, but you did learn a valuable lesson. (Besides, getting scammed by a vendor is very unlikely anyway.)
The only reason your affiliate marketing business will ever die is if you decide to let it die, and this usually comes from having a lack of motivation. It’s no secret that the path to success is most often paved with failures, and some people simply can’t handle this truth. Staying motivated, especially during the early months, is the biggest challenge you will face as an affiliate marketer. The good news is that there are many strategies and techniques that can help
you stay motivated so that you don’t give up on your dream of being a successful affiliate marketer.
Have a Work Schedule
Being your own boss is great, as is waking up whenever you want, and doing whatever you want. However, this can be problematic for people who get into affiliate marketing.
Let’s be honest here, affiliate marketing is work, and work usually isn’t fun. However, achieving your goals, no matter what they are, requires at least some work if you’re not rich enough to pay others to do it for you.
To make sure that the work that needs to be done gets done, it is advised to create a work schedule for yourself. This applies even if you haven’t quit your day job yet. Make a schedule for your affiliate marketing work, and stick to it every single day the same way you would a “real” job. If you can do this, then you will see your business grow, and your income with it.
Get The Money Flowing Fast
Seeing a little success is a huge motivator in any endeavor, but even more so when you’re doing something that relies upon self- motivation. The sooner you see money coming in from your affiliate marketing efforts, no matter how small it is, the more motivated you will be.
The best way to achieve this is to be a fast action taker. Learn what you need to learn, then immediately apply it. If it doesn’t work, learn from your mistakes, correct your course, and try again. Keep pressing forward.
The worst thing you can do when you’re new to affiliate marketing is to get “analysis paralysis,” and focus too much on learning, strategizing, and trying to make everything perfect. This will only slow you down.
The truth is, your first affiliate marketing campaign is going to be poorly done. Just like how an artist’s first painting will be terrible compared to their later works, you should expect your first affiliate marketing efforts to pale in comparison to what you will go on to accomplish months, and years later. And that’s okay.
The point here is to take action, and actually get an affiliate marketing campaign going regardless of the quality. Even a poorly done campaign can still make some money if you’ve followed the fundamentals. And that small trickle of cash will show you that yes, this business model does work, and you can eventually achieve your dreams and make a living off of it.
Don’t Talk About Your Business
There are several reasons that you should avoid talking about your affiliate marketing business to others, at least until you have achieved a reasonable amount of success. One of these reasons is the fact that many people are simply “crabs in a barrel.” Crabs in a barrel is a phrase used to describe people who don’t want to see their peers succeed, and will try to drag them down. Even your friends and family can be crabs in a barrel and in some cases,
they may not even realize what they’re doing.
Another problem with talking to others about your affiliate marketing business is the fact that just saying you’re going to do something can feel as psychologically rewarding as actually doing it. This is one of the major contributing factors to procrastination. Even worse is the fact that if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, you will look like a loser.
The solution here is simple: Don’t talk about affiliate marketing with your friends, family, coworkers, etc. If you want someone to talk to, your best bet is to hire a coach, find a mentor, or an accountability partner who will help keep you motivated.
Hiring a Coach or Mentor
While some people can drag you down if you talk to them about your affiliate marketing goals and dreams, there are others who will help keep you motivated. The catch here is that in many cases you will need to actually hire them in some official capacity.
Hiring a business coach or mentor is fairly straight forward. There are many coaching programs out there for affiliate marketing, and failing that, you can put a listing on a place like Upwork to find and hire a coach.
The benefits of a coach are many, including the fact that they will keep you accountable, and in some ways, function like a real-life boss or supervisor would. They also possess lots of knowledge and experience that they can share with you, giving you a solid foundation to build your affiliate marketing business.
The drawback here is that you have to pay them for their services. High-quality business coaches tend to be pricey because they know just how valuable their services really are. If you are going to hire a coach, you have to look at it as an investment. Of course, you have to be the one to put in the work and really make this investment count.
One of the leading causes of losing motivation is burnout. Burnout is when you put 110% into your affiliate marketing efforts, and eventually, you just get sick of it all. Avoiding burnout in your affiliate marketing business is much like
avoiding it at a “real” job. Taking regular breaks, having off days, and scheduling vacation time is critically important because it gives you time to refresh your mind and reset your motivation.
Once again this goes back to having a schedule set up that you follow, not just on a daily basis, but also on a monthly and yearly basis as well. This will help to ensure that you don’t get sick of affiliate marketing the same way you may get sick of any other line of work.
One of the best things about taking regular brakes is the fact that it can be a great time to think about other things, and allow your sense of inspiration and creativity to recharge. When you return to your business, you may find that you have new and exciting ideas that can help take it to new levels of profitability.
If you feel like garbage all the time, then you’re not going to want to do any work. In the worst-case scenario, you may feel like just lying around in bed all day. Needless to say, you’re in pretty bad shape mentally as well as physically if you reach that point.
Maintaining both your physical and mental health while working from home can be a challenge. Unlike a “real” job, there is less socialization, something that’s very important for maintaining mental health. When working from home the isolation can make it very easy to become withdrawn and ultimately fall into melancholy, or even depression.
To counter this, make sure that you’re spending time with your friends and family regularly. Since you’re not going to be around them during your work hours, it can be easy to start feeling like an outsider, but chances are, they don’t actually think of you that way.
Stay in touch, and make sure that they know you still want to spend time with them when you can. In addition to feelings of isolation, there is also the problem of feeling like you’re overwhelmed. Being self-employed can be quite
the task since you’re essentially having to fill multiple roles in your business, rather than being assigned just a single role as in a “real” job.
To keep from feeling overwhelmed, practicing meditation can be a good option. By learning to clear your mind of all the clutter, and having a greater sense of tranquility through mindlessness, you can feel more at peace even when things may start to feel overwhelming.
If meditating feels like a chore, remember that just doing it for three to five minutes a day can be enough in most cases. This is because having the self-discipline to actually sit down and do it is just as important as the act of meditating itself.
As for maintaining your physical health, doing regular exercise is usually enough to do the trick. You can schedule certain days to go to the gym, or simply do bodyweight workouts every morning. And you’re really into the meditation stuff, you may want to consider trying something like yoga.
These types of exercises help to build mental discipline and mindfulness, allowing you to bring a greater level of focus and concentration to your work as an affiliate marketer.
Another thing to consider about your health is the negative effects that sitting all day can have on your heart. If this is a concern for you, getting a standing desk, or one that’s adjustable maybe a good idea.
In any case, maintaining your physical and mental health will improve productivity, and help you to avoid a variety of health problems that can have a serious impact on your business, and your life as a whole.
Outsourcing Your Work
These days it’s easier than ever to outsource your work if you work from home. Sites like Upwork and Freelancer.com allow you to hire others to perform the essential tasks of your business, allowing you to take on a more supervisory role.
The catch here is that outsourcing costs money, and honestly, it isn’t recommended that you try and build an affiliate marketing business through outsourcing. Doing so is actually one of the very few ways to put yourself in a financial hole with this business model.
Instead, you should consider outsourcing once you’ve grown your business to an acceptable level, and are making enough money with it to cover the costs of outsourcing. Just remember that you will take a financial hit at first as you pay others to work for you, but once you find a system that’s reliable, you can upscale your outsourcing efforts, and being growing your income again.
If you’re going to outsource your work, there are a few skills that you need to be proficient at. One of these is communication. Remember, your workers will be following your instructions, so you need to be able to explain to them clearly what is expected of them.
You also need to have strong leadership skills as well. This means being able to correct and criticize your workers in a way that helps them to improve their services without leaving them feeling demotivated.
Overall outsourcing your work is one of the best, if not the best, the method for staying motivated. It’s hard to burn yourself out when you’re really just supervising your business a few times a week instead of having your nose to the grindstone every day.
The Secret to Never Giving Up
The most important part of being successful with affiliate marketing, as well as anything else in life, is not giving up. As previously mentioned, the path to success is most often paved with failure. But what does that really mean?
Having the will to press on through both failure and bad luck isn’t just a mindset. It’s not something that you can gain by just looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself that you’ve got to be motivated.
The true secret to never giving up is having a reason to keep going. Is your dream of escaping the 9 to 5 grind enough to keep you going, even though the hard times? Or is there something more to it?
Are you trying to start an affiliate marketing business to better support your family? Or is it to show everyone around you that you’re better than they think you are?
In the end, the specific reasoning doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have something that keeps you going. Something that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. Something that makes you sit down and work on your business even when you don’t want to. Whatever that something is, if you have it, you can do anything.
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