Understanding exactly how affiliate marketing works so that you are able to apply the right strategies in your affiliate marketing business the proper way is quite essential if you want to succeed online and make passive income every month.
For you to understand how everything works, you have to spend time learning the concepts and principles of this craft, the process that is taken to build an affiliate marketing business from scratch to your first earnings, and then make it a long term income stream.
Within this post, I will be sharing with you how to learn affiliate marketing the easy and rewarding way to help you get started immediately and get going in the right direction.
What You Need to Know About Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is pretty much about marketing products online. You, as the affiliate marketer (also known as the affiliate or publisher), get to build an audience, choose the product you would like to make money with, and promote it to your audience.
There are many ways to build an audience. You can choose to build a website and gain the audience for free using strategies such as email marketing, search engine optimization, YouTube channels, social media influencing, and many others.
You can also take the paid traffic route where you pay companies that have access to huge audiences to put the products you are promoting before their eyes and make some sales.
Examples of paid traffic are advertising with social media such as Facebook or Instagram or search engines like Google and Bing, or even other advertising platforms including Gmail that is based on emails.
Understanding these essential basics of the general overview of affiliate marketing is important as it helps you know your options better and determine which path is your best match.
I encourage you to read my beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing to help you with these and other crucial overview basics.
Another critical thing to know so that there are levels in affiliate marketing, just as there are in other areas of life.
These levels include:
1. Beginner affiliate marketer – A beginner is someone who is just stepping foot into the affiliate marketing arena. The knowledge of the person at this level is limited and has no experience with how things work.
2. Intermediate affiliate marketer – An intermediate marketer is an affiliate who has some knowledge and a bit of experience. People at this level could be making some monthly commissions here and there but not much, most intermediate marketers earn from $1 to a few hundred or thousand dollars a month.
3. Expert or super affiliate marketer – A super affiliate is someone who has a good grasp of how every aspect of affiliate marketing works and how to maximize its full potential. Any person at this level is both a learner and a hard worker. They have more knowledge than the intermediate marketers (even though they keep learning more) and their experience is vast. Super affiliates earn from $10,000 to a few hundred thousand dollars per month.
Every affiliate marketer, including the super affiliates, make their entrance in the beginner’s level and work their way up. You learn how it is done, get started, keep learning from your experiences, and keep growing. This is how the journey is like.
If you are looking to learn affiliate marketing, you are most probably in the beginner’s level but don’t worry. With a heart of learning, evolving and constant effort, you will soon get to the super affiliate level.
How to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing
Many affiliate marketers prefer to do their promotions using websites. While there are other options like video promotions, social media influencing, and podcasting, websites have more advantages and are more profitable in the long run.
However, it all boils down to what option you find good for you, individually, based on your time, lifestyle, and desires.
Let’s take a look at the types of affiliate marketing websites.
Blogs are one of the most popular models of earning an affiliate income. To set up a profitable blog, you need to create good quality, helpful, and informative content around a topic and build trust with your readers.
The good thing about blogging is that you can choose to blog about pretty much anything you want. And within your content, you can recommend the products you like and earn from any purchases made through your affiliate link.
An example of a successful blog is It’s a Lovely Life by Heather Delaney Reese and her family that has made more than $2,000,000 in annual income, with most of their income from affiliate promotions.
The blog is based around helping people start their blogging journey.
Review websites are the websites that are aimed at giving in-depth reviews of products that people are interested in buying. When someone hears about a product they have never heard about before, they normally turn to review websites for more information about it and to know whether it is a good fit for them.
Most review websites feature deep and thorough analysis of a product, what it does, what comes with it, it’s pro’s and con’s and what previous customers of it are saying. This goes a long way in giving the potential buyer a good idea of what the product is and what to expect from it.
If you are going to work with a reviews website, you will need to do lots of research about the product, know what it is all about and be willing to go the extra mile for the reader, in terms of essential things to know about the product. You should stand out as a product reviewer and be very real and truthful in your reviews.
Don’t just aim to create a regular review so that you can drop your affiliate link and get to make a commission, even on products that you know won’t be of help to your readers.
You should establish trust with your readers by telling them things as they really are, even if it goes against your business. You may lose a sale but you have gained trust which is going to come far more in handy than the few dollars worth of sale that slipped through your hands.
There are generally 2 types of review sites.
* Niche related review sites – These are sites that usually review products in a specific niche like rap music, break dancing, building muscles, losing belly fat, or any other niche out there. Being focused on one niche helps you establish authority in that area and people have a better comprehension of what you do and they see you as an expert in that area. However, you are only limited to the products in that particular niche.
A good example of a niche review site is Headphones Addict, which reviews headphones.
Here you get almost everything you need to know about the headphones you are interested in knowing more about or buying.
* General review sites – These are websites that review products from all niches and industries. Think of them as a supermarket, where you can find literally anything you want. The general review websites provide reviews for almost all kinds of products you want “under the sun”. Many of these websites start out as niche related review sites and expand with time as this is the most strategic way to go about it.
An example of a general review website is Wirecutter, a popular review website that tests the products it writes reviews on.
It was recently bought by the New York Times for 30 million dollars.
Instructional (how to) websites
Just as the name suggests, instructional websites are based on educating you and showing you how to do various things. They help you accomplish your goals. There are different ways to go with this but many people prefer teaching their readers how to complete tasks step by step.
Instructional websites give a clear list of steps on how you should take on a certain task to get the kind of results you are looking for, a good example of a how-to website is Wikihow, although it is not an affiliate marketing website. Their content model describes how instructional sites should be.
When you are running a how-to website on affiliate marketing, you add affiliate links of the products related to tasks you are showing people to do. The product could be anything as far as it is relevant and it complements the content and topic you are writing about.
Website Setup is a website that teaches people how to set up different aspects of their websites and it works with affiliate marketing to make money.
These are websites that compare different related products and services to help the readers identify what best suits them based on the different factors that determine the quality and value of the product or service.
There are many types of websites that fall under this category including price comparison websites and quality comparison websites.
Comparing products and services gives the reader or potential buyer the ability to know the available options and their features, and have an easy time weighing them and making the final decision on what to go with.
Most comparison sites that leverage affiliate marketing compare products and add a link to the seller of the products or services so that they can earn from the purchases made from either or all of the compared products or services.
Skyscanner is a website that compares the prices of flights that take the same route from different airlines, that benefits from affiliate marketing.
Online tools or resource websites
Tools or resource websites are sites that have created a tool or resource or even a number of them that help people do a certain essential task, usually for free.
It could be a recipe book, calculator, converter, or a result-based tool that gives you the results of something after considering a number of variables for making something work in a given aspect of life.
The good thing with these tools is that, by giving them out for free, you get lots of people using them. And you can add content that has affiliate links to give people more information, advice, and even direct them to the sellers of the products that are linked to the factors and topics covered in the tools and resources.
An example of a tool or resource website is MoneySavingExpert, which is a website that aims at helping people cut most of the expenses and save money from various angles.
It also has a credit card eligibility calculator, income tax calculator, and basic mortgage calculator, among other tools that make it easy for the users to perform different calculations to help improve their finances and determine their eligibility for different privileges.
These are websites that help consumers of different products get discounts on the products. These websites often partner with companies and producers to give coupons to their audience.
What happens here is, when the website gives the readers ways to get discounts, the readers use the coupons, and then they are directed to the stored where they will buy the products through an affiliate link.
And when they buy, the owners of the coupon websites get a certain cut out of the purchases.
An example of a coupon website is VoucherCodes that has partnered with thousands of restaurants, online shops, and stores to provide coupons for their audience.
Affiliate Marketing Strategies
It is also worth noting that from a product’s usage perspective, affiliate marketing can also be divided into 3 categories. Patt Flynn describes different types of affiliate marketers going by how they interact with the products they promote.
Here they are.
– Involved affiliate marketing – This is a type of affiliate marketing where you have personally bought the products you are promoting, you have used them and have benefited from them. This is perhaps the best type since you have interacted with the product from a consumer’s perspective so you know how well the product you are recommending has satisfied the need in that area.
It also creates authenticity and trust with your audience. When you explain how you used the product and how it helps in your daily life or how it helped at a certain period in your life, makes the product kind of essential in that particular stage and people can have a proper understanding of how it helps as well as how it may be a solution to their problems.
I highly recommend working with this type of marketing since I have personally seen good results with it.
Even the way you recommend it to your readers becomes different and engaging as you are no longer the affiliate marketer but a fellow consumer talking to another potential consumer and you just naturally feel the need to help them because you know their struggles well.
You feel the need that the potential buyer has at a deeper level and you naturally don’t want to mislead them because you know how the problem they are trying to overcome affected you personally.
– Unattached affiliate marketing – This type is more about promoting products through advertisements. Here, you don’t have the trust of your readers and you also don’t have any authority in the niche you are working with.
An example of unattached affiliate marketing is when you promote products on Facebook, Instagram, Google, Bing, or even Pinterest using ads.
It is basically Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing.
It is where you don’t need to have a well-built profile and no authority that stems from the trust your audience has in you.
This is a really hard type of marketing and it can also be quite expensive since you are paying for the clicks from your audience, most of which don’t convert.
I tried it a couple of times and I didn’t get to make anything substantial.
For the most part, you are only wishing people to buy the products so that you get returns on your investment.
Other expert affiliates, including Patt Flynn, has had the same experience.
Although, PPC is actually a good fit for some people and it works well for them. But I believe most experts who have had the taste of having an authoritative platform and have known the dynamics of sales would encourage you to work towards creating trust and authority with your audience because it converts very well in the long term.
However, if PPC is proving to be useful and rewarding for you, or you feel it could, by all means, explore and make good use of it. We are all differently gifted.
– Related affiliate marketing – This is where you promote different types of products within your niche but you have not tried them out.
Let’s face it, we may not get the chance of trying out all the products we are promoting for different reasons and that shouldn’t stop us from making some commissions out of them.
However, it is always wise to be careful with the products you have not used. It is easy to be carried away by the money they make you and find yourself promoting even the low-quality products and scam products that can reduce your readers’ trust in you.
If you want to promote products you have not used or place an advertisement on your website about a company you have not worked with in the past, make sure you have done proper research on them.
Be sure to do a background check of the company, know what previous customers have said about their products and customer support and anything else you know is essential in determining if they are trustworthy and worth advertising for.
Personally, I work with this principle, “It is not worth losing an audience you have struggled and taken years to find and build trust with for just a couple of dollars.”
It is not a fair exchange at all.
In fact, you should never exchange loyalty or trust for any amount of money in the world.
That is a saying about life but it also plays a huge role in the business world too.
Now that you have known the different types of affiliate marketing and affiliate sites, I would advise you to scrutinize yourself, your lifestyle, schedule, and time you want to put into affiliate marketing and make a decision on how you want to do it.
Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing
Here are the steps to follow to build your basic affiliate marketing foundation:
Step #1. Choose your platform – Before anything else, you have to decide on the platform that you will use to do your affiliate promotions. You can choose to do a website or blog, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, google ads, Bing ads, or Pinterest.
Although the 3 most popular options are website or blog, YouTube, and Instagram, feel free to settle for what you feel is your perfect platform based on your personal considerations.
If you are going to create a website, you should buy a domain, choose a good theme, get website hosting, and set up the frame of your site. If it is social media, create your account and fill in the details in the profile.
If it is paid advertising, create your account with the companies you will be using to advertise your promotions.
When you have the platform ready, proceed to the next step.
Step #2. Select your area of interest (niche) – You also have to know what kind of products you want to promote and the topics you will be talking about on your selected platform, unless you want to go with the general category for general review sites.
Although, you should also remember that even the general categories websites start with one niche and then move to the others in good time.
So you simply want to have a specific niche you love or you’re passionate about or one that you feel is interesting and would love to know more about.
Step #3. Create high-quality content – You have a platform and area you want to specialize in. The next natural step becomes building out the content. Most bloggers will say that joining an affiliate program at this point, even without having the content in place, is a good move.
But it is not always a good idea except if you are working with paid strategies. If you are going to build your affiliate business using free strategies, you will want to go for some authority first.
Think about it, if you start a business with promotions right off the bat, there is a chance you will only be sales-oriented, which may affect your business in the long run.
If you begin by creating high-quality content that addresses the needing issues in your niche, the few people who will come to interact with your posts, photos, videos or podcasts, will resonate with you and start trusting you, and as you keep rolling out more quality content, the trust will increase.
In this step, you should decide if you are going to create the content yourself or you will hire people to do it. If you will do it yourself, start by discussing the things you like about the niche or the basics of the niche.
For instance, if your niche is basketball skills, talk about the most awesome skills and drills in basketball or the most famously skilled basketball players.
You can also show newbies how to start learning from scratch. That can also go along way for you.
It is important to keep in mind that your content should be well researched, well presented, and quite interactive with your audience.
Aim to keep your content interesting, unique, and of higher value than what your competitors are offering. This is what makes you stand out from the crowd.
If you are going to hire freelance writers, get the best.
Step #4. Build an audience -This is mainly for the free strategies. If you are running a blog, YouTube channel, or social media account, you got to have your audience. You can build the audience by optimizing your platform so that the search engines can help increase the exposure of your content.
This is where SEO or search engine optimization comes in.
This involves certain practices you can take up on your platform to increase the chances of getting good rankings by the search engines. Optimizing aspects keywords, meta descriptions, and other factors, helps you get rewarded with more visits to your content.
You also need to promote your content on other platforms other than the one you wish to make money with. If you have a website or a YouTube channel, share the content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other relevant social sites. This will help with the growth of your platform.
A great way to have a growing audience if you are using a website is to build a mailing list by adding a provision on your site and getting people to subscribe to the list.
Step #5. Find and join affiliate programs – After you have gotten a good deal of authority in your niche and your audience has started trusting you, it is time to monetize your platform. You will now go out and look for affiliate programs that are related to your niche which are offering good commissions.
As I discussed it on my beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing, there are high ticket programs and low ticket programs with each having its own benefits and downsides.
Have a look at both and weigh your options.
But remember to work with the products that have real value to your audience and don’t be driven by the number of commissions they promise.
One rule of thumb is to promote a product you have full confidence in, after doing your due diligence.
Step #6. Add affiliate links to your content – You will get your affiliate links from the affiliate programs and other promotional resources like banners to help you promote and earn money. Add them to your content by linking various texts like the name of the products within the content or by using the call to action buttons.
For YouTube, you drop the links in the description area.
When people click on the links and they go purchase the products from the seller, you make commissions.
Learning Affiliate Marketing to The Tiniest Details
Affiliate marketing is a whole career and you can make more than a full-time income from it. That being the case, you need to see it as such and be fully invested in it.
As with all careers, you should have taken training of some kind that is related to what you are doing. Some have taken degrees and some have had to learn from the industry experts outside of school. Either way, you have to learn and train yourself to become an expert with any career out there.
The same case applies to affiliate marketing.
I can go on and on about the many aspects of affiliate marketing but I can never really cover everything there is to know about this craft.
I may have vast knowledge in the area but I cannot exhaust everything a newbie should know in a single post. Neither can any other affiliate marketer.
There is always something to learn every day, even for the super affiliates.
Therefore I would encourage you to consider getting an affiliate marketing course for beginners to help you get started with the basics.
Look for a course that will help you put the idea and steps I have offered in action and get to execute them well enough to see good results.
The benefits of getting a beginner’s course in affiliate marketing are that it will help you learn step by step how everything works and master the basics which will then help you scale your business.
Some courses are free and others are paid for.
The paid programs are usually the ones that carry the highest value since the owners or creators of these courses have to keep working on them and updating them often so as to maintain their value.
What I would recommend you do is research, learn more about the courses and do a proper analysis of the courses that match what you want and which also teach in a way that you are comfortable with.
Whether it is YouTube training, Instagram course, affiliate websites training, or PPC, there are some key things you should look out for to make sure you get the right one for yourself. Personally, here are the 5 essential features of a good course:
1. It offers a free trial to have a feel of what you are getting
2. It is comprehensive and covers all areas of what you want to learn
3. There is really good support
4. The price is reasonable and worth the value (with no upsells or money tricks)
5. It is more student-oriented than it is money-oriented
6. It is practical and they help you put into action what are you learning immediately
These factors vary with different programs but the take-home message is that you should only settle for a course you are SURE is offering what you are looking for, there is ready help when you have troubles and they value you more than your money.
So make sure you have learned all you need about a course before buying into it and you are completely comfortable with what they are offering you.
In conclusion, you should know that affiliate marketing is not really difficult. With the right training and place where you can get help when you need it (because you are going to need a lot of help as you start), you should be good to go.
Just take your time, choose the right training, and get started with it right away. Don’t forget to take action immediately and to learn at your own pace.
Before you know it, you will have set up a good foundation for your online business and maybe you will have seen some earning here and there coming in.
I wish you the best!
In case you need help with anything, always feel free to reach out to me in the comments area and I will be more than glad to give you a hand. Good luck!