We’ve all heard the stories of people who start a side gig to make some extra money only to have it turn into a full-time job and successful business. And most of us dream of a scenario like that for our own lives. Heck, Apple computer was started by two people in a garage! Now, we’re not saying that you’ll start the next Apple, but with all of the opportunities available today, turing a side gig into a full-time lucrative business is more realistic for more people than ever!
Over the past decade alone, there have been palpable changes in how business and commerce is conducted. Technological advances have taken place at an unprecedented rate, especially in the field of information technology. As a result, entirely new business models or the so-called “ways to make money” have been come into existence. Affiliate marketing today is one of the most popular business models that has ever existed. So what is this new way to make money?
What Is Affiliate Marketing Today?
In simple terms, modern internet affiliate marketing is the use of affiliates (that’s you) by a company or merchant to sell their products or services to customers. It is by no means a novel concept. It has been around since the inception of the discipline of marketing itself. However, as the marketing landscape transformed, and E-commerce rose in popularity, it has assumed an entire meaning of its own. The modern concept of affiliate marketing involves placing a unique link in your content that refers your audience to a service or product online. If they make a purchase from the brand or company you referred them to, you get to earn a certain percentage of the sales revenue in commissions.
You know how we recommend different services, places, and products to our friends and acquaintances for free? Affiliate marketing will you pay for that.
Internet-driven E-commerce is increasingly a crowded marketplace. Brands or merchants need to generate positive word of mouth out there in the online market to show people the value that their products possess. That’s where the affiliate comes in; he or she will refer the product to their audience, and when they click on the provided link and make a purchase, the affiliate will earn a commission. It’s that simple. Below are a few important terms related to internet affiliate marketing.
Merchant: This is the company, the brand, or the producer who makes the product or is looking to sell it.
Affiliate: The affiliate marketer markets the product or services for the merchant and gets paid a commission in return. He or she may use online content (videos, blogs, and reviews) to suggest or market the merchant’s product to an audience.
Consumer: He or she is simply the person the merchant wants to sell to, and the affiliate marketer will market to or “suggest” the merchant’s services and products.
Is This Really a Great New Way to Make Money?
We all want to make money, don’t we? But let’s not get carried away by the unreal expectations that have come to surround affiliate marketing in the recent past. It is true that a number of affiliate marketers have made it big in the field, but they have only been able to do so after they put in all the requisite efforts; learning, investing time, and so on. There is a certain learning curve at play here. Let’s look more closely at how long it takes to really start making money with internet affiliate marketing.
How Long Before You Can Really Start Making Money with Affiliate Marketing?
Well, harsh truth be told; there’s a steep learning curve that you must get over before you can start making any of the promised wealth. Internet affiliate marketing sure has a number of pros; being your own boss, working from home, making money while you sleep (quite literally), etc. But ask yourself this – how irrational would it sound if all of this were to fall in your lap without you doing all the necessary work?
Your brain will tell you: “Something doesn’t add up here,” and your mind is absolutely right to question the supposed ease of this situation. This kind of money-making technique is almost too good to be true. The world that we’ve known so far does not work this way. Even with all the resources at your disposal, you will still have to learn the necessary process that will make affiliate marketing work for you.
You will have to learn all the intricacies of the craft; things such as building up a website, understanding keyword research and its role in affiliate marketing, generating compelling content, finding the right niches to serve, and more.
If you’re investing about 8 hours daily into learning all the basics of the craft, it will take you about one to two months to get the hang of things. However, not everyone looking to build up a stream of passive income has that kind of time at hand, so it will be at least 4 months before you understand and apply the right principles that will help you grow and generate income.
The overarching principle here is that you will have to treat affiliate marketing like any other online business venture. You will learn the craft, invest your time, and not have unrealistic expectations of getting rich while just being lazy and not putting in the required effort. Here’s a useful link about the dos and don’ts of the business.
So How Do You Get Started?
Now that you’re clear about the realities of internet affiliate marketing, let’s get down to business.
As mentioned above, affiliate marketing involves putting a unique link within your online content and directing your audience towards the merchant’s website where they can make a purchase. So how you do you get started? You need to sign up with an affiliate program, make a website, and build an audience to sell to, and more. Let’s look at all of these steps one by one.
Join an Affiliate Programs
Almost all major companies these days run an affiliate program. Before you can work as an affiliate, you must apply for a program and register yourself as one. There are a number of affiliate programs out there; some of them allow you to work directly with the merchant or the company, others are affiliate networks that will provide a number of merchants to market the products or services of. So start off with a simple Google search if it’s a specific company whose products you want to market. There are plenty of affiliate programs out there, and choosing the right one out of such a vast number can be quite the headache.
Therefore, to help you with this basic step, we have put together some of the best options that exist out there when it comes to affiliate programs for beginners.
Amazon Associates is hands down one of the most popular affiliate programs for those starting out on their affiliate marketing journey.
The range of stock that Amazon has can cater to almost all affiliate niches (more on niches in a while). This allows you to find any product or service to market as an affiliate regardless of whether your niche is gadgets, makeup, or nutrition supplements. Another positive thing about Amazon’s affiliate program is that you get to earn from any sale that your referrals end up making once they visit the website; it doesn’t necessarily have to be the particular product that you’re marketing.
For example, you directed your audience towards Amazon’s website through the embedded link as you marketed a nutrition supplement in your fitness blog. But someone clicks the link and goes on to buy a TV instead of the nutrition supplements. Guess what? You’ll still get paid the commission. With the Amazon affiliate program, you can hope to make up to 10% in commissions.
ShareASale is another sound option for affiliate marketers to join as they start out. It has been in the business for over 17 years. ShareASale has made a name for itself for working with small and medium businesses that want to sell their products or services online. It is free to join and you can choose from thousands of products and services that will fit your niche.
eBay gets over 175 million buyers annually, and there are over a billion listings at any point in time. Just like Amazon, eBay offers the affiliate marketer a wide range of merchants and brands to choose from.
Target a Niche
One of the most basic steps when starting as an affiliate marketer is deciding on the niche you will serve. A niche is nothing but a segment of the market that you will be serving. It’s a segmented target group out of all the customers out there. For example, you may choose to market fitness and nutrition-related products such as supplements. The choice is driven by a number of factors, such as your passion, the content you make, the things you best know, as well as what is in demand – where is it that the need gap exists in the market?
Deciding on a niche to serve helps to focus your efforts and stops you from wasting your efforts on useless products.
Affiliate Marketing Today:
Create an Effective Website and Cultivate an Audience
A website is one of the most important basic steps when you’re starting as an affiliate marketer. Once you’ve decided on your target niche, you need a website that will attract traffic and subsequently, make sales. It will require you to learn the nitty-gritty of making a website that works smoothly and makes the whole user experience seamless.
The next obvious step is to build traffic on that website. You have to generate an audience that is large enough to actually market a product or service to. Driving traffic to your website can be a slow and steady process. How long it takes can depend on a number of different variables. You’ll cultivate a loyal audience over time when you’re consistently churning out quality content for your specific niche, doing search engine optimization the right way, and more.
The audience that you can sell to will not come overnight; it will take time. Strive to provide value to your particular niche through all the content that you generate. When you persistently do so over a period of time, it will inspire trust in your audience and breed loyalty. They will more to likely be able to follow your suggestions then. This trust-building exercise will enhance the effectiveness of all your future content and marketing efforts, so it is well worth the investment of time and energy.
Affiliate Marketing Today:
There has been an increasing trend to disclose to the audience when you’re marketing a product to them or when it’s a sponsored post. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) introduced rules and regulations a couple of years ago that professionalized the blogging world to a great degree. This requires that affiliate marketers disclose to their consumers or the audience when a post is sponsored or when the audience in question is being marketed to. This is especially applicable in the case of affiliate links.
Letting your audience know that a post is sponsored or that you’re marketing a product to them is actually a great way of making sales. If you’ve personally used the product, then you can talk it up to your audience. Personal experience is a great way to make sales.
Affiliate Marketing Today: Measure and Track
Last but not least, you must test the efficacy of your strategies and tools by measuring your performance constantly. This will allow you to establish what works best for your affiliate marketing strategy. For example, measuring whether the banner ads or the SEO worked better for you will help you make the necessary tweaks and allow you to improve performance along the way.
All in all, this new way of making money can work if you have realistic expectations and put in all the necessary work that will allow you to take off as a successful affiliate marketer over time. If you’re looking for a guide to start off as an affiliate marketer, here is a useful link.
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