Affiliate marketing is the practice of promoting the products or services of another person or company in exchange for a commission on the resulting sale.
Affiliate marketers join affiliate programs, find reputable affiliate products to promote, and then share those products with their audiences.
- When an affiliate joins the merchant’s program, he or she is given a unique ID and a specific URL to use when promoting the company’s product.
- The affiliate includes the link in their blog content and/or via their email marketing efforts and invites readers to click it to find out more.
- When a potential buyer clicks on the link to visit the affiliate partners’ site, a cookie identifying the affiliate is placed on their computer. The cookie ensures that the publisher is credited with the referral sale even if it occurs days or even weeks later.
- Whenever a buyer completes the sale process, the merchant checks the sales record for a cookie identifying the source of the referral.
- If the merchant finds a cookie with an affiliate ID, the affiliate is credited with the sale.
- The merchant makes reports available so that the affiliate can see their referrals (clicks) and sales.
- The merchant pays the affiliate commission at the end of each payment period (i.e. revenue sharing).
OPTION #1: PROMOTE PRODUCTS YOU ALREADY KNOW AND LOVE
This is the most common way to get started with affiliate offers.
You become an affiliate for something that you’ve used yourself, had a good experience with, thoroughly tested and feel good recommending.
You should be fairly confident that others will get the same results you did (or better), as long as they do the work.
If you’ve found great success from a course, mastermind, or ebook that your readers could also benefit from, it only makes sense for you to spread the word and share your results.
Do an inventory of the products, services, and courses you already have experience with. You might have a list of a dozen or more.
Which of these would you be thrilled to promote? Cross out any that don’t fit the bill.
Now simply check to see if the merchant has an affiliate program (some won’t but you’ll probably be surprised at how many do).
Using a search engine like Google, search for “affiliate program” + [product name], or simply email the merchant and ask.
Then run your remaining options through this Good Affiliate Product checklist:
- You’ve previewed the product so you know its quality (given, in this case).
- They have a solid refund policy that you trust they’ll honor.
- They provide good customer support (and you’ve tested it).
- You have a good story to share about your experience with the product.
- The offer fits your audience’s needs and won’t abuse the trust you’ve built with them.
The products that tick all the checkboxes are your best opportunities for affiliate income.
As time goes on, add as many of these products to your mix as you like.
You’ve found your first product! Apply using the merchant’s process and start promoting.
If you’re just dipping your toe in the affiliate marketing channels, this first option may be enough to get you started.
Option #2: Find Products Via an Affiliate Network
However, most bloggers will want to try this one, too.
If you don’t have any direct experience with or knowledge of products in your niche that could help your readers, you can often find good affiliate products on affiliate networks.
But be careful — this approach requires that you invest time into research and money into purchasing products to try out, more so than the first option.
That’s because there’s less trust and prior knowledge involved from the outset.
You have to do your due diligence to protect your reputation and the credibility you’ve built with your readers.
When you work through a network, you typically won’t know the merchant ahead of time and usually won’t build a relationship with them (your business relationship is with the network).
The list of popular and reliable affiliate networks include ClickBank, CJ Affiliate, the eBay Partner Network, and the Amazon Associates program. Some networks will even assign you an affiliate manager to lend a hand and show you the ropes.
Amazon products, in particular, are an easy way to get started.
Many newbies begin by becoming an Amazon affiliate and then scaling to other types of more profitable affiliate offers.
Option #3: Affiliate Marketing for Information Products
The next type of product you can promote is an information product.
This is usually something created by a blogger, marketer or author that teaches you how to do something.
Wealthy Affiliate is a great example of an information product.
There are a lot of reasons that information products are so great to promote:
- Often they are higher priced, which means higher commissions
- They can have a personality behind them, which builds trust and makes them easier to sell
- There are often full marketing funnels behind them aiding in sales
- They solve a problem or provide a solution that your readers are looking for
Generally, it can be a little bit more work to become an affiliate for these products because often the creator is a bit more protective of who they let market the products.
There’s also no central place you can go to join like you could with Amazon.
Usually, you’ll need to talk to the author directly or look for an “affiliates” page on their product site.
A Few Last Affiliate Marketing Tips
If you follow along with the strategies above, you’ll be making affiliate sales in no time off of your blog.
To improve your chances even more, I’ve got a couple more tips for you.
Use Pretty Link
Affiliate links are generally pretty ugly.
They’re long links, that often go to a secondary domain, and are pretty clear that they’re an affiliate.
Download the plugin Pretty Link to make your links look much more friendly.
Develop a Good Relationship with an Affiliate Manager
Most major affiliate programs for physical products or services will have an affiliate manager, whose sole job is to help you generate more sales.
You’ll need to prove to them that you have some potential, but do your best to get them on the phone before you start doing any major promotions.
They’ll be able to give you a good sense of what works, what doesn’t, and potentially even give you a boost in commissions.
One phone call nearly doubled my commissions for one hosting company in particular.
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