Affiliate marketing is one of the best platforms for online sales. You are not restricted by how much stock you can afford or your profit margins. They are not expensive to start up, have low ongoing costs and limitless profit potential. Best of all, as affiliate marketing beginners learn and progress, their passive incomes continue to grow.
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Beginners Guide: Affiliate Marketing
Of all the methods for making money online, I have the strongest preference for affiliate marketing. There is a lot of upfront work required, but it is enjoyable work. You can take a task based focus to creating great online content, rather than a sales based focus, as you will learn in this beginners guide to affiliate marketing.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
“Affiliate marketing” is actually a fairly broad term. It is used to describe a partnership system, in which you refer a customer to an online business and you receive compensation when the customer buys something.
For the purpose of this beginners guide, affiliate marketing means that you will refer customers primarily through Content Marketing techniques, which looks like this:
Build a niche website → Recommend products → Earn commissions
Why Build Affiliate Marketing Websites?
The great advantages of this system are in the lack of commerce on your end. If you run an online store you have to buy products upfront, at your own expense. Even as a drop shipper, you still have to manage the sales side on the customer’s terms.
As an affiliate marketer, you have the following advantages:
- You do not have to pay for any products upfront
- You do not have to manage sales
- No shipping required and no risk of returns
- You work on your own time, at your own pace
- You get to choose any industry you can relate to!
How to Set Up a Niche Website
As affiliate marketing beginners, the first step in deciding what to sell online is deciding on your “niche.” A niche should be considered as a group of people who need certain goods, services or information. For example, the niche of this website is: What to sell online! We cater to people who need more information about online business and e-commerce.
To set up your beginners affiliate marketing website, you will need:
- To have chosen a niche
- An internet connection
- A web building program
- Hosting for your site
- A keyword research tool
- Your own domain name
- Dedicated email address
If you haven’t built a niche website before, you will also need some lessons in how to set up a website. We will give you more affiliate marketing classes on this site.
How to Choose Your Niche
Don’t worry too much about the level of competition between niches, there are literally billions of people on the internet looking for everything and anything. There is room for you to thrive in ANY niche. Instead, try to focus on things you enjoy, things you are knowledgable about and things you could be happy discussing and writing about.
When I’m asked how to choose a niche, I always answer the same: Start by brainstorming three topics in each of the following categories:
- Interests and hobbies – things you are passionate about
- Things you enjoy discussing with friends and colleagues
- Things you know a lot about
That should give you plenty of ideas to base your niche around. The key to a successful niche is to be constantly adding content. And not just any content – it needs to be informative and you need to be the expert. This means that your niche should be something you can constantly research and write about, without getting bored.
Some Popular and Lucrative Niche Ideas
The “Make money online” niche is extremely popular, and has plenty of products that can be recommended. You may notice that this is similar to the niche of the website you are reading right now. Some related products include:
- MLM (multi level marketing) and Network Marketing programs
- Binary trading
- Review and survey websites
- Business tools and services
There are countless other terrific niches out there, with plenty of room for you. I have seen some great ideas:
- Video games
- Food and Beverage
The list is endless. If you are still having trouble, choose a shortlist of a few niche ideas and write them down for later, and then read on…
Find the Best Affiliate Marketing Program
An affiliate program is the agreement between an online business and you, the promoter. Most programs will refer to you as a “publisher.” Once you have your niche, you need to find an affiliate program with a supplier who has related products or services to offer your audience.
There are thousands of affiliate programs out there, and you do need to look into each one carefully as some really are better than others. Some key points to watch:
- Suitability of the product range for your niche
- Commissions – some are as little as 3% commission, others are over 20%. What will you earn per sale?
- Cookie duration – will you keep getting paid for that customer, or will only the first sale count?
- Ease of sales – how frequently will your referred customers convert to sales?
- Terms and conditions – always, always read the T’s and C’s
When applying to affiliate programs, you may need to provide details of your existing website. If you haven’t already, scroll back up and get started on your site now, before you start applying for affiliate programs.
Earning and Increasing Affiliate Commissions
In various affiliate marketing classes, the main complaint I see from beginners is “I’m not making any money!” This does raise a very valid point: affiliate marketing does not yield instant results. It takes time and effort to start earning those commissions.
However, there are several things you can do to speed up that first payment, and then keep them coming in more and more frequently!
- Keep writing content – One of the most important aspects. Keep writing content that people can find, and make sure your content refers them to your affiliate products!
- Build audience trust – you have to prove you are an expert. Research your topics or draw from your own experiences, but make sure your content is providing VALUE to the audience.
- Build audience loyalty – The more people who return to your website, the more sales you will get. People often take time to make a purchase decision, so if you give them valuable advice, they’ll keep coming back and keep taking your advice.
- Email campaigns – One of the most valuable online marketing tools. If people are willing to give you their email address and read your emails, your sales will go through the roof.
- Outsourcing – As your business grows, boost your growth rate by hiring freelancers to write your content for you!
Increasing Traffic to Your Site
Why do you need more traffic to your website? It’s very simple: more site visitors = more chances to make a sale. Increasing your web traffic is a major aspect of affiliate marketing. With good affiliate marketing skills, you can achieve thousands of visits per month within a short period of time.
The major contributing factor to your web traffic is going to be Search Engine Optimisation – often abbreviated to “SEO.” Each search engine has different SEO requirements, but these days it is all about the quality of your content. You will need to find useful topics in your niche, then find the right keywords to place in your content, so that you rank higher on search engines. This will add up to good traffic surprisingly fast!
Aside from SEO, you will want to make use of a few other key traffic drivers. Just be sure to read the T’s and C’s of your affiliate programs, to ensure they allow promotion by the following channels:
- Social Media
- Forums, boards and classifieds
- Email marketing
- Word of mouth / reputation
- Repeat visitors
What to Watch Out For
By now you should have a pretty good idea of whether affiliate marketing is right for you. Let’s recap:
- Nil – low startup costs
- Virtually risk free
- No need to manage sales, shipping and returns
- Requires time and effort to get started
- Takes time before first commissions
If you have decided on this method of making money online, there are some considerations you need to be aware of. Like any business, there are some things to avoid that will save you from later troubles:
Changes in SEO – Be sure to keep aware of anything that may impact your traffic.
Black Hat SEO – This is not so common nowdays, but your competitors can try to sabotage your Google rankings!
Legal requirements in your country / supplier’s country
Affiliate scams – There are plenty of scams out there, so be sure to research before you recommend a product or service. Be particularly careful when recommending MLM or network marketing opportunities.
Links and Resources
Affiliate marketing is truly the perfect online business model for me. The opportunity is very real whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced expert. You may have noticed that this very site is monetised with affiliate links!
You can find more affiliate marketing topics here: All Affiliate Marketing Topics
My very first introduction to affiliate marketing classes came from the Wealthy Affiliate University program. Visit their website for more information and training resources.
Since I practise what I preach, and this site is monetized via affiliate links, you should check out the disclaimers and privacy page for whattosellonline.org as well.