The Internet can seem like a crazy place, but it’s also a very powerful arena that offers you so many opportunities to make money and the single most productive mechanism definitely comes in the form of affiliate marketing. The affiliate marketing industry should reach almost $7 billion by 2020 in the US alone, but the figure grows bigger on a global scale.
The market is gigantic and ready to accept almost every creative webmaster with a decent business plan, so why wouldn’t you seize the opportunity to grab your own portion of the share?
Ok, we admit it – the very idea of engaging in totally new activities and starting a digital business may seem a little terrifying at first. However, the process is not that difficult after all. All you need to do is to take some time to think about your personal and professional interests and get the whole thing going.
Our job is to help you achieve this goal, so keep reading to see the ultimate guide on how to get started with affiliate marketing in 2020. Let’s begin!
Affiliate Marketing: Definition, Benefits, Statistics
Beginner-level affiliate marketers would probably love someone to explain the entire concept and the mechanisms behind this industry. This is why we will start with the definition.
Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. To put it simply, affiliate marketers get paid a commission every time consumers purchase a client’s product based on affiliate content.
For instance, you can write a blog post about a product called ABC. The post contains a special affiliate link with your ID that redirects potential buyers to the page where they can actually purchase the item. In case they do it, you and your client will know it because it comes from your affiliate link.
The process is relatively simple, but that’s not the only advantage of affiliate marketing. Here are some other benefits that you should think about:
- Low-cost investment: You don’t need to spend a lot of money on starting an affiliate business. It’s a relatively cheap investment, while skilled webmasters can even launch the project free of charge.
- Low-risk investment: The sheer fact that you are not investing too much money suggests that affiliate marketing is also a low-risk investment. It won’t hurt you even if you fail.
- It’s a booming market: Affiliate markets keep growing year after year, thus giving almost any content creator the opportunity to join the game and earn money aside.
- Professional flexibility: As an affiliate marketer, you get to choose the preferred clients, products, and platforms. Everything is up to you, which is a great thing for well-organized and self-confident individuals.
- Free tools: The Internet offers you a whole set of free tools that you can use to maximize the effect of affiliate campaigns. From content management platforms to resume writing services, you can find it all online and use it without spending a dime.
- It’s a performance-based business: There is nothing unclear and uncertain about affiliate marketing. Everything you do is transparent and you depend on your own performance exclusively.
- Profitability: The last tip on the list is definitely not the least important. Namely, affiliate marketers can earn a lot of money. Reports show that intermediate affiliates can make up to $3 thousand a day, but the most successful professional can make even more.
Now, all those benefits sound great, but is it really the truth? We can prove it easily by citing some of the popular studies:
- Almost 80% of publishers think affiliate marketing makes monetizing their website easy.
- 81% of marketers and 84% of publishers leverage the power of affiliate marketing.
- 35% of affiliate marketers earn over $20 thousand a year.
- Affiliate programs generate an average of 23% of all sales for brands.
- Affiliate marketing generated over five billion clicks and more than 170 million transactions in 2017 alone.
Key Concepts of Affiliate Marketing
With all of the benefits we mentioned above, it’s not a surprise to learn that content creators love affiliate marketing. But there is another feature that makes the business so compelling – it is the sheer simplicity of the process.
Namely, there are only four concepts that you need to know and figure out affiliate marketing:
- Publishers: Without publishers, there would be no affiliate marketing. Publishers (also known as affiliates) are bloggers and other content creators who promote products and/or services. They are the ones who have to publish standout posts and attract enough audiences to drive a substantial amount of conversions.
- Merchants: Also known as advertisers, merchants are businesses that are trying to grow sales through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a safe option for them because they don’t risk anything. Each time they pay a commission, they know that you managed to sell a product through your posts.
- Consumers: They are end-users who search for quality content online and buy products based on influencers’ recommendations.
- Affiliate networks: Some publishers prefer working with brands directly, but using affiliate networks is a much faster option. Such platforms gather hundreds or even thousands of affiliates and merchants, thus allowing each party to find the most suitable affiliate partners effortlessly.
How to Become a Successful Affiliate in 5 Steps
Now that you know the basics of affiliate marketing, it is time to concentrate on what matters the most here – how to become a successful affiliate marketer.
There is no magic trick or only one way to achieve this feat, but some strategies apply to more or less every affiliate project. We selected the five most important mechanisms, so let’s check them out one by one:
Launch a personal website
You cannot become an affiliate marketer without a personal website. It’s the fortress of your future business and you must take good care of it if you want to kick off successfully.
First of all, a website must be well-designed and easy to navigate. Reduce the number of categories to help users find the targeted content quickly. Think about the branding strategy, with a special emphasis on website colors and typography.
All those details will strongly impact the overall appearance of the site and hopefully assist you in building a strong and reliable affiliate marketing resource.
Choose the best niche
This tip goes hand in hand with the first one because website design largely depends on the niche you choose to work with. For instance, IT sites will probably look clean and neat with simple color combinations, while children-oriented pages are likely to be colorful and energetic.
Our advice is to stick to the niche that you can write about a lot. Pick something that corresponds with your personal and professional interests because it’s the easiest way to keep coming up with great topics.
Of course, it is always a nice idea to explore popular affiliate marketing niches. Although the competition is harsh, you can probably make the best results in fashion, health, beauty, sportswear, gaming, and so on.
Publish amazing content consistently
If your website is not able to generate a lot of traffic consistently, you will not succeed in the affiliate universe. Therefore, you must make sure to publish amazing content in the long run to become a well-known niche authority.
If you are a blogger, do your best to write standout articles that cover topics from every point of view. Modern consumers love all-encompassing posts, which is exactly why the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.
You have to be highly analytical and prove professional expertise in all posts. That way, you are going to earn respect and become a key opinion leader in your industry.
Don’t be afraid of mixing formats
We know that blogging is the primary choice for all of you content creators out there, but you should not neglect the power of multimedia. After all, studies prove that the human brain processes images 60 thousand times faster than text, while 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
This is why we encourage first-time affiliates to focus on other marketing formats as well, including videos, audio podcasts, animations, memes, GIFs, infographics, charts, product reviews, and many more. Such an approach will enrich your site and help you to stand out among other, less agile content creators.
Make a list of possible clients and reach out
Now that you’ve built a great website, you should start your search for affiliate partners. The easiest option is to join affiliate marketing networks, but if you prefer working with merchants directly, then you should make a list of potential partners.
These should be the brands that perfectly suit your interests and your style of work. You can reach out to them using a personalized email and explain what makes you an ideal publisher for their affiliate campaigns. As long as you keep the message concise and straightforward, you shouldn’t have a problem establishing new affiliate partnerships.
The Best Affiliate Marketing Networks
We already mentioned that the simplest way to find the first client is to join professional affiliate marketing networks. If you don’t want to waste time looking for clients, then we recommend you to check out these networks:
- Shopify Affiliate Program
One of the largest eCommerce platforms in the world has its own affiliate marketing network. Shopify Affiliate Program gives “an average of $58 for each user who signs up for a paid plan with your unique referral link, and $2000 for each Plus referral.”
If you are opting for the sheer versatility of merchants, perhaps you should test ShareASale. It’s a massive network of publishers and merchants who work together to sell everything from fashion and beauty products to cutting-edge tech gadgets.
- CJ Affiliate
CJ Affiliate (previously known as Commission Junction) generates almost $2 billion a year through millions of affiliate-driven transactions. With almost 20 years of professional experience, CJ Affiliates is one of the safest and most reliable affiliate marketing platforms.
- Amazon Associates
The affiliate marketing universe would be incomplete without the largest eCommerce company in the world. Amazon Associates invites all content creators to contribute to this online retail community and earn money on the go.
- Bluehost Affiliate Program
If you are running a tech-oriented website, we suggest trying the Bluehost Affiliate Program. The purpose of this platform is simple – you can promote Bluehost and earn $65 for each qualified sign-up.
The Don’ts of Affiliate Marketing
So far, we discussed a lot of things that you should do in order to become a successful affiliate marketer, but we must also highlight the things you should avoid. There are so many don’ts in the affiliate business, with these three being the most important features:
- Don’t be impatient: We’ve seen so many people entering the affiliate business hoping to make some serious money within months or even weeks. Needless to say, such an attitude is completely wrong. If you want to take things seriously, you better prepare for months or even years of hard work. First of all, you have to build a reputation and generate website traffic before you start thinking about becoming an affiliate marketer.
- Don’t go too wide: When you start making affiliate money, it might be tempting to go all in and accept every offer. It’s a good way to make a lot of money quickly, but working with irrelevant brands will kill your credibility and you will start losing money long-term. This is why we recommend you to stick to the products in your niche and accept other offers only if you can make a meaningful connection with your content.
- Don’t push it: The main goal of affiliate marketers is to sell as many products as possible, but you don’t want to push it too hard and publish sales-oriented articles only. A much better idea is to follow the 80/20 pattern: publish 80% of educational and non-promotional posts and save only 20% of the content for affiliate campaigns. That way, you won’t burden regular visitors with aggressive sales messages.
If you asked us to recommend you only one online business, we would definitely choose affiliate marketing as our first pick. The industry is booming and giving a chance to content creators from all over the globe to take part and make a small fortune working from the comfort of their homes.
But it doesn’t mean that being an affiliate marketer is easy. On the contrary, you have to be well-prepared and ready to spend a lot of time planning future activities. This is why we wrote this piece and tried to teach you the following:
- The definition of affiliate marketing with all of its benefits
- The basic concepts in this field
- How to become an affiliate marketer in five simple steps
- The best affiliate marketing networks
- The don’ts of affiliate marketing
Keep in mind that you can be flexible and rearrange some of these mechanisms according to the peculiarities of your own business. Good luck with that and feel free to leave a comment if you need any additional explanations – we would be glad to help you out!
About the Author
Susan Saurel is a full-time digital marketer and a part-time resume help writer from Houston, Texas. Susan is an affiliate marketing specialist, but she is no stranger to other topics such as social media, paid advertising, and search engine optimization. Susan is the mother of two lovely daughters and a dedicated long-distance runner.