Starting an Affiliate marketing business seems very easy in theory. Many people will sell you their courses and seminars and they will have you believe that. But, it’s not that easy. In fact, it’s not instant and it will take a lot of work on your part. But, the benefits can be outstanding.
The Affiliate marketing industry is competitive and the percentage of people that are successful is sometimes low, depending on the niche chosen. The main reason behind that is that influencers online will have you thinking that this is passive income. Passive income often means to people that they can be lazy. There is upfront work and then perhaps simply “maintenance” thereafter.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is getting people to complete actions online. It can be anything from signing up to buying products or services. This is supposed to happen through your affiliate link or code. You send traffic to your link and that traffic is hopefully turning into sales which means money for you. You get paid a commission.
This may sound easy but again, it’s not. For one, just imagine how much work it would be to get all of that traffic. And not all traffic is equal. It’s a numbers game. They need to be interested in the thing that you are selling. Quality is more important than quantity here.
Targeted traffic is when you find people who will likely convert.
You need a purchase funnel. Here’s how that’s supposed to look:
- Awareness – This is the stage when people become aware of your products and services and at this stage they are not ready to buy.
- Opinion – This is when a person decides whether your product or service is the right one for them.
- Consideration – This is the stage when people will learn about their problems and the solutions that you offer for them.
- Preference – This is when the customer is deciding what make, model or brand they want to buy, they will review posts and landing pages.
- Purchase – This is the final stage of the funnel. They now know what they want to buy and they are ready to buy.
So, there are many stages of the purchase funnel and there are many different mindsets a person may have. You have to be in those mindsets as well when you are trying to promote your affiliate offer.
When starting out, you will focus on the preference and the purchase stage.
In order to drive people to the product or service, you need to do several things:
Be an authority in the market
This is a crucial part of the process. The internet and our lives are becoming more and more automated so people really crave that human interaction with other people. You need to create that personal relationship online.
If you want to be successful, you need to understand this and build that relationship. Modern day consumers are more informed than ever. We still buy things on impulse, but we are more focused on research and buying high quality products with good recommendations.
So the point of affiliate marketing is to answer all of those questions people have while they do their research. The less salesy you are, the better your chances are at selling things.
This is the value first strategy. You need to help people with their problems and then they will feel like they owe you something which will influence their buying decisions. When you provide value, the audience will likely buy products that you recommend. But this will happen only after you gain their trust.
Choose a niche
Another crucial step is to choose a niche. Every successful affiliate marketer is focused on a single niche. A common mistake is not sticking to a niche when you just get started. But when you focus your efforts on a single vertical or horizontal niche, you get much better value and gain trust from people sooner.
The more important area is focusing on a specific group of people. You can use this to gain key insights and it will allow you to get a bigger ROI over time. You need to have an omnichannel marketing approach.
Another mistake people make is choosing a niche because it seems to make plenty of money. While picking a niche that makes money is important, it’s also important to pick a niche you also like because any niche can make money with a lot of effort.
There are many ways to pick a niche:
- Something you are passionate about
- Something you care enough about and want to become an expert in it
- A niche where there are enough products to promote that are actually beneficial
- Making sure that niche has enough money in it
Here are some big niches you can do:
And so on. But even microniches can be moneymakers for you, depending on how you approach it. And in fact, many microniches fall under these three main niches. For instance, the niche Love can be narrowed down and you may get a niche focused on 30 something dog owners who have a misbehaving dog and need help.
This is just one example, but there are many more out there that you can find useful and profitable.
Being narrow in your niche helps people trust you more and it helps them more because you provide answers to their questions through your content while making money at the same time.
Some examples of content that you could make money from in your niche:
- Recommending books, courses or seminars (in our previous case, that help with dog obedience)
- Helpful list of local dog trainers
- Promote or sell dog leashes, clickers or toys
- Dog insurance offers or groomers, dog watchers or walkers
You see – the niche may have looked too narrow but there are many things that you can do with it. You just need to be passionate about the niche because a lack of passion will be detectable easily by your readers who would be very passionate about their dogs.
If you need more help with the niche choice, you can look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Considerations when picking an affiliate network
Here are some things you need to think about:
- Are they a reputable company?
- Are their offers direct to the advertiser?
- Does it have plenty of offers available in your niche?
You can also go directly to the advertiser. They often have affiliate programs for their own products.
Here are some ways to find out if a company has an affiliate program:
- Google the name of the company with “affiliate program” or “referral program”
- Visit the site directly and look for anything that looks like the link to the partner or affiliate program
You can also reach out to the company directly by sending an email if you want to promote one of their products. For instance, a specific dog toy or something similar.
Visit our list of Top 10 Affiliate Programs and Networks here.
Create your own products
When you become an authority in the niche you have picked, you can also create your own products and services over time. For instance, you could create a book, a course, a seminar or webinar, some products and so on.
You can even have your own ecommerce store on your website. The possibilities are really endless here.
Grow your asset
If you want to be an authority in your niche, this is a very good thing and you need to provide value with every step you take. When starting out, you can just send traffic to an offer but that’s not enough in the long term.
To become an authority in a niche, you need to take advantage of every piece of media you can and consistently update your website, products and materials.
- Make a blog if you are a decent writer
- Film video content if you are good in front of the camera
- Have a podcast
Create more content than you consume. If you just spend all day consuming content, then your online success is probably a big zero. Making content makes you more profitable and successful in general.
Remember that learning is still an important part of everything but you need to take action and share content with people if you want to grow your income.
So, you are better off just focusing on providing value and sending traffic to your own content instead of sending traffic to the affiliate offers. You will still make money but you will also grow your own asset.
You don’t want just any traffic. You want dedicated, highly targeted traffic. There are many ways to find it. Here are some of them:
- Free traffic from your blog, Youtube channel or podcast – Of course, nothing is really free because it takes a lot of time an effort. All traffic will require either resources and time or money. The less money it takes, the more time it will take and vice versa. First things first, you want to start with this free traffic of having your own website and blog, video channel or podcast. To make it is easy with various platforms. Blog is definitely the best way to go. Keep in mind that what matters the most is the content and you need to stop obsessing with design elements. Create content to be as helpful as possible to your target market. This is how you make the real money.
- Other traffic that may be free – SEO is one of the great things you can do if you know how to do it properly. It’s something of a long term game and you are relying on a third party. Most of the times it fails because it takes too long to see any results. It is free but it takes a lot of work and time as well as luck. The competition is also very fierce so you don’t even need to worry about that. You can rely on faster and more safe methods which are usually sharing. People share everything and most affiliates focus on high traffic sites. You can answer questions in the forums and comments and so on. People will be more likely to visit your site this way.
- Paid traffic – Jumping straight into paid traffic means you can lose a lot of money. You need to be very strategic here as well. First you need to research what kind of paid content will work best for you. Then test to see which one really works and which one doesn’t. Find communities which have plenty of your target audience. You can buy ad space on many websites too.
Retargeting and omnichannel
You don’t want to focus on just one device, as it used to be common. Everything is really interconnected. You want to focus on a person behind the device because the device can easily change. You need to add retargeting tags to your website. By adding this you can easily track pixels to your site early on and you can feed this information into various places like Facebook. This means that you can drive traffic to your site for free and have them pixelated for when you want to run paid traffic and Facebook will know who to advertise to.
Getting traffic is going to take a lot of work upfront. It won;t be easy. But it’s the only way to generate proper income with your affiliate marketing business. It can actually bring you passive income over time. This will require consistency. Everyone struggles with this in the beginning and even throughout their careers. But being consistent with the message and the content production as well as the amount of value you provide is how this work will bring you long term success and it will drive your growth.
The internet is very cluttered but it can give you an opportunity to break through and claim your space online. This is when you are consistent in your work. Otherwise, the space will be promptly filled by someone else.
It’s getting harder to find a great space for yourself online but putting in the work is an important part of being successful. This should get you started on the right path with your affiliate business.
There is a lot more to affiliate marketing than people realize. It may seem like a lot but it pays off when you do it properly. Your job is to generate traffic to the offers that will get conversions through helpful and valuable content. Keep all of these tips in mind and you will be successful.
About the Author
Ann Amen is a business coach and editor from LuckyAssignments.com. She enjoys reading and writing on different aspects of entrepreneurship, usually marketing and start-ups.