Affiliate Marketing: Your Guide to Making Money with This Powerful Tool
Looking for a way to make money online? There are plenty of options out there. You could start an ecommerce business, for instance. However, you don’t necessarily need to start a business of your own. That can be incredibly rewarding, sure, but there’s a ton of work that goes into it. There’s also the fact that not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. That doesn’t mean that you have no options for making money online.
In fact, if you have a little time, some patience, and the ability to string a few words together, you can turn affiliate marketing into a moneymaker for you, build multiple streams of passive income, and work just a few hours each week! What’s affiliate marketing and how can you make this method work for you?
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Let’s start off the discussion with a quick introduction on affiliate marketing. Essentially, it’s a platform that allows you to make money by promoting the products of other companies. No, you’re not really an advertiser. At least not in the traditional sense. However, you do advertise products and sometimes services. Essentially, you find a product that you like, and then you share it with other people online. In exchange for your efforts, you’re rewarded with a commission payment.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing might sound confusing, but it’s really no different than any other sales position out there. You promote a product. When a customer buys that product, you earn money. This is the same principle that backs most forms of professional sales, whether we’re talking about cars or vacuums or timeshares or even website space.
There are three primary partners involved with affiliate marketing – the manufacturer, the affiliate marketer, and the customer. Some authorities list the network as another party, but we’ll omit that for the moment.
Manufacturer: The manufacturer is the one who creates the product that is being marketed and purchased. They pay your commission when the customer takes what’s called “a qualifying action”, which could be making a purchase, or it could be signing up for a newsletter or requesting more information. It varies from company to company, and even from product to product in some cases.
Affiliate Marketer: The affiliate marketer, that’s you, is the one who is responsible for promoting the manufacturer’s product(s) in the online environment. This is generally done through a blog, but it can also be done through a website. You might write a product review and include your affiliate link so that customers can click the link and be taken to the manufacturer’s website. Their browser is tagged with your affiliate code, and when they take a qualifying action on the manufacturer’s website, your account is credited. Product reviews are just one example – there are tons of other things you can do, including promoting products within activity or interest specific articles, and the like.
Customer: The customer is the one you’re marketing to, and who the manufacturer wants to attract. They’re the ones who ultimately pay your commission, as if there is no sale or qualifying action taken, you can’t earn any money. Customers can be anyone with access to the Internet, but they will all have an interest in the product that you’re promoting. For instance, if you were working with Patagonia to promote their hiking shorts, the target customers would be men and women interested in spending time outdoors while being comfortable.
Can You Actually Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?
The answer to the question above is yes, you can. However, the real issue here is the amount of hype surrounding the process. There are so many so-called gurus out there that claim you can create a stream of wealth while you sleep. While earning money while you sleep is possible, it’s not attainable without some work first. Affiliate marketing is work, plain and simple. Once you decide to go all in, you must spend the time, effort and money necessary to build your foundation. Only once you have all the pieces in place can you start to earn money.
The reality of affiliate marketing is this – there are very few people who get filthy rich with this method. However, there are plenty of people who use it to augment income from other options, and even many who earn their primary income from it. With that being said, there are people who never get off the ground with it. It’s really more about whether you have what it takes to make it work.
Is Affiliate Marketing Right for You?
So, how do you know if affiliate marketing is the right choice for your needs? Basically, you need to ask yourself if you’re ready for the chance to take control of your financial future. Can you work with minimal income at first for the chance to automate and build passive income in the future? Are you able to keep yourself motivated in a work-at-home environment where you have no boss but yourself, and no one forcing you to be productive? If you answered yes to those questions, then you’re a good fit.
How Do You Get Started with Affiliate Marketing?
First, you need to decide what you’re going to focus on. Ideally, this will be something that is also a personal interest, as that can help alleviate some of the drudgery in the beginning while you build your foundation and start creating content to draw traffic. For instance, if you enjoy the outdoors, then a blog or website about hiking, camping, and the like could be a good option. If you enjoy home brewing, then a site about that is a no-brainer. If you like to cook, and are interested in new health breakthroughs like realizing the impact of gut flora on your health, you could create a blog or site dedicated to fermented foods, or to cooking dishes that build your microbiome. You get the idea – choose something that interests you, and that you’re passionate about.
Once you do that, you need to start creating content. Go ahead and come up with a name for your site. Find hosting. Design the site and go live. Start creating content around your topics so that you can begin to establish yourself with Google and other search engines.
Wait – what about those affiliate products? Aren’t you supposed to be promoting them? Well, yes, but not yet. Here’s the thing. No manufacturer is going to take a chance on a site that’s brand new with unproven potential. The same is true for those networks we mentioned earlier. Most have a requirement that your blog or website be active for at least six months before you can become an affiliate marketer. So, you need to put in the time first.
Build good content. Research your chosen area and find out what people are talking about, what their pain points are, and what challenges they face. Then, write articles and blog posts that help solve those problems. Build a name for yourself. While you’re doing this, keep an eye out for products that tie into your topic of choice. That way you can hit the ground running once you have been established long enough to sign on with a network.
Do You Have to Focus on Just One Area?
You can focus on as many areas as you like. You could have one blog dedicated to outdoor grilling and another one related to classic car repair, or one related to dating and another related to board games. There’s no limit but the amount of time you have available to create good content.
If you choose to have more than one site, make sure you have ample time for both. Too many people get carried away and create blog after blog, and then find they have no time to maintain any of them. Ultimately, they fail to make any money simply because they bit off more than they could chew. Don’t be that person.
My personal recommendation is to start with just one focus. Build amazing content. Create a strong name. Start generating an income. Then, as you start to cut back on your time commitment to the first site, you can build a second. The money from the first will sustain you while you flesh out the second. Then, when you’ve got two up, running, and generating cash flow, you can start a third if you like. Baby steps help ensure that you’re able to make money without losing your mind by having too many irons in the fire at once.
Ready to get started? Here’s a quick, bullet point list of what you need to do:
Find your niche.
Choose your name and build a website.
Create great content that addresses the needs of real people.
Choose products that solve those problems and sign up to be an affiliate.
Create great content that attracts real people and presents affiliate products for their consideration.
Rinse and repeat.
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