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If you’re just starting out with affiliate marketing, you’ve come to the right place.
Not only will I teach you the basics of affiliate marketing, but we’ll also study some real life examples of professional affiliate marketers who make thousands or even millions of dollars a year.
In other words…
Do you want to earn some extra money without having to do too much for this?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Or maybe you’re wondering how to become an affiliate marketer and quit your job?
Then you will certainly find this interesting.
If you really want to take it seriously and learn how to earn a minimum of $10,000 a month, take this online course!
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is actually a modern interpretation of a very old idea: getting a commission for a sale through your website. You introduce your readers products or services from trusted companies or individuals and you get a commission for every sale to customers you send them. Don’t have a website yet? Then it is best to start with Bluehost. They offer the best service for a good price!
If you’ve listened to us closely, you’ve already learned that bloggers make money by building an audience that trusts them. They then offer products or services that will actually help that audience.
Affiliate marketing is really just a faster way to offer products and services without making them yourself.
For bloggers, this means finding a product or service you like, promoting it to your readers, and getting a share of the profits from each sale.
Simple idea, right?
Let’s take a look at an example.
For example, give readers the pros and cons of how to choose an excellent host. Some of the readers want to know who we recommend based on those criteria, so here’s what we say:
The arrow points to an affiliate link. If someone clicks on that link and buys there, we earn a commission.
Bloggers can include such links in blog posts, emails, social media posts, and much more. We’ll go into all the options later on.
For now, however, it is important that you know exactly what affiliate marketing means, as well as what you can earn from it as a blogger.
Why should you learn about affiliate marketing?
Here are three main reasons:
- You can make money faster with your blog than if you make your own products from scratch.
- You can learn what types of products your audience is asking for, reducing the risk of a future product launch.
- You can get your readers used to the idea of buying from you and increase their level of trust (as long as you choose the right products and services to sell).
All pretty important benefits for you as a budding blogger.
But that’s not all. There are also additional benefits to affiliate marketing:
- It is easy to implement. You share a link with your readers and that’s it. You don’t have to worry about tracking sales, providing customer service, setting up payments or anything else. All that support is handled by the seller.
- You don’t need to have a support team. Affiliate marketing is easy to do, even if you run it on your own.
- It does not require specialized expertise. You don’t have to be an expert in your niche. You just need to be familiar enough with your topic to know which products are good and worth recommending to your audience.
- It takes little effort and it carries little risk. While affiliate marketing isn’t exactly passive income, it doesn’t require a significant investment of time or money on your part.
Sounds reasonable in theory, right? Let’s see if affiliate marketing is right for you too.
Is affiliate marketing easy?
Affiliate income can look attractive, but you need to have a few things in place if you really want to succeed.
For example, don’t jump in at the deep end if you’re still figuring out how to start a blog.
Instead, make sure that:
- Your regular content on your blog produces. Before asking for sales, you need to give a lot of free value to your readers to increase your credibility.
- You need an email list with at least 500 subscribers. If you can attract and engage about 500 subscribers in your topic, you have a good foundation with earning potential.
Hold off on affiliate marketing if…
You already have a list of at least a few hundred people and plan to start selling services in the near future such as coaching, consulting, design, writing, or other professional services (such as legal advice, finance, or real estate), it is likely best to quit affiliate marketing.
That’s because it’s better for service providers to sell services first. It’s simply your most profitable way to start monetizing.
You may want to consider adding affiliate offers to the mix once your revenue from those services starts rolling in smoothly.
Are you still here? Great!
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: A Crash Course
Although based on a simple idea, affiliate marketing can be complicated. Especially if you start with the most important details.
This section will help you understand the key concepts without going too deep into the technical details.
Let’s start with some basic definitions.
Affiliate Marketing Glossary
Affiliate marketing has its own terminology, which can be confusing at first. But if you become familiar with these concepts, you are well on your way.
Here are some terms that are important to know:
Affiliate — the partner who promotes the seller’s products for a commission. Also known as the publisher.
Affiliate Agreement — an informal agreement that sets out the rules, responsibilities, fees, and other legal aspects that both parties agree to.
Affiliate link — a trackable URL that identifies the affiliate as the source of targeted traffic to a merchant’s website. (A click on an affiliate link counts as a referral.)
Affiliate Network — An online marketplace where sellers list their products and where affiliates can find products to sell.
Affiliate program — a program set up by merchants to pay commissions when affiliates refer people to their products.
Commission — a percentage of the total sales paid to the affiliate for referring the sale.
Cookie — in affiliate marketing, cookies are used to assign a unique ID to the buyer in order to tag the purchase as being referred by you. Cookies usually have a predetermined lifespan, so that even if the buyer doesn’t buy right away, you’ll still get credit for the sale if it happens within that time frame (often 60 days or more).
Customer — the end user or purchaser of the seller’s product or service.
Seller — the owner or creator of the product or service. Also known as a retailer or brand.
Referral — credit for a click or for a sale that occurs when the affiliate sends traffic to the seller’s website.
How do I become an affiliate marketer?
Affiliate marketing can get quite technical. Fortunately, you don’t need to know all the details to get started and it’s best to start a website at Bluehost!
The actual mechanics run in the background, thanks to the merchant’s affiliate program software.
But here’s a quick look behind the scenes:
- When an affiliate joins the merchant’s program, he or she is given a unique ID and specific URL to use in promoting the product.
- The affiliate includes the link in the content of their blog and/or in the subscriber’s email and invites readers to click on it for more information.
- When a potential buyer clicks on the link to visit the seller’s website, a cookie listing the affiliate is placed on their computer. The cookie ensures that the publisher receives the referral for the sale, even if it occurs days or even weeks later.
- Whenever a buyer completes the sales process, the seller checks the sales record for a cookie, which identifies the source of the referral.
- If the merchant finds a cookie with an affiliate ID, the affiliate will be credited for the sale.
- The seller makes reports available so that the affiliates can view their referrals (clicks) and sales.
- The seller pays the affiliate commission at the end of each payment period.
The flow is quite simple once you understand it and it works the same regardless of what kind of product you are promoting or how established you are as an affiliate marketer.
So let’s take a look at the typical progression of a blogger, who is serious about making affiliate marketing a major source of income.
How can you get started with affiliate marketing in five steps?
This is the most important point to understand if you want to become an affiliate marketer:
You earn commission in exchange for giving customers valuable information about products or services they already thought they were going to buy.
In other words, your readers are already buying things. They are going to make that purchase anyway, regardless of whether you give them advice.
The question is, can you help them make a smarter decision?
Because that’s the part where you add value. You earn a commission in return for helping people make smarter decisions, and you use your blog and the internet to systematize that process, providing valuable advice to thousands of people.
Here’s a step-by-step process to do just that:
Step 1: identify what your target audience is already buying
The key question to ask yourself is: What types of products and services is my audience already buying?
So, here’s the question for your audience:
WHAT TYPES OF PRODUCTS OR SERVICES DO THEY BUY?
Initially, you may not know exactly which products you want to promote, but if you think about it for a while, you can probably guess the main categories.
For example, what do mothers of toddlers spend a lot of money on?
My guess: childcare, cleaning supplies, snacks, gasoline, and toys.
How about aspiring freelance photographers?
Cameras, other photography equipment (lighting, lenses, etc.), photography courses, photo editing software, etc.
I’m betting on both, but there’s a good chance my guesses are pretty good. If in doubt, you can also email your target audience and just ask them.
HOW DO YOU SET UP A MINIATURE SURVEY?
There are many tools available for conducting surveys, but the simplest is the good old-fashioned email. Assuming you have an email list, just send an email like this:
Readers come up with answers and give you all kinds of interesting insights. Since it is via email, you can also reply to them to ask them further questions if you wish.
And then you just have to do that…
Step 2: Choose a product that you want to promote as an affiliate
As an ethical blogger you are always limited in the products you want to represent in one of two ways:
- Or you are limited by your experience with the products you have used and liked, which have affiliate programs and which are a good fit for your audience; or
- You are limited by the products you can access to evaluate them, either by purchasing them directly or getting a free sample or trial.
Whichever approach you choose, you should invest time and money in researching the best products for your audience.
Here are your top two options (with your best option listed first).
OPTION #1: PROMOTE PRODUCTS YOU ALREADY KNOW AND LOVE
This is the most common way bloggers get started with affiliate sales.
You become an affiliate for something that you have used yourself, had a good experience with, tested thoroughly and can advise you well. You should be reasonably confident that others will achieve the same results as you (or even better).
If you’ve had great success with a course, mastermind, or ebook that your readers could benefit from, it only makes sense if you spread the word and share your results.
List the products, services, and courses you already have experience with. You may have a list of a dozen or more.
Which of these would you like to promote? Cross out which are not applicable.
Now simply check to see if the seller has an affiliate program (some don’t, but you’ll probably be surprised at how many do).
Search Google for ‘affiliate program’ + [product name] or simply email the seller and ask.
Then complete your remaining options through this Good Affiliate Product Checklist:
- You previewed the product so you know its quality (given in this case).
- They have a solid refund policy and you trust that they will respect that.
- They provide good customer service (and you tested it yourself).
- You have a good story about your experiences with the product.
- The offering fits the needs of your audience and won’t abuse the trust you’ve built with them.
The products for which you can tick all the boxes are your best opportunities for affiliate income. Over time, add as many of these products as possible to your mix.
You have found your first product! Apply it through the seller’s process and start promoting.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing, this first option might be enough to get you started.
However, most bloggers will want to try the following as well.
(And you’ll also have to explore the second option if you don’t have an existing product that you like that is also a great match for your audience and offers an affiliate program.)
OPTION #2: FIND PRODUCTS THROUGH AN AFFILIATE NETWORK
If you don’t have direct experience 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 you to invest time in research and money buying products to try them out; more than in the first option.
That’s because there’s less trust and insider knowledge involved from the start. So you really need to do good research so as to protect the reputation and credibility that you have built with your readers.
When you work over a network, you usually don’t know the seller in advance and usually don’t build a relationship with them (you have a business relationship with the network).
Step 3: Sign up as an affiliate
Whether you’re working directly with a seller or through a network, you’ll need to apply, get approved, and provide certain information so you can get paid.
You must at least ensure:
- Your personal/business contact information for tax and reporting purposes.
- Your bank account where the commissions can be sent.
In turn, the seller must provide you with:
- An affiliate link. Whenever you post about the product, use this traceable link. It will have a long tag at the end of each link containing your affiliate ID.
You’ll usually also get some tips and helpful items for marketing the product (often found in a welcome guide or on the affiliate reporting site).
These can include:
- An affiliate manual, as well as instructions for using the platform and a summary of the policy such as payment.
- Marketing tools such as banners and sidebar images.
- Example of an email/web page swipe copy.
- Ongoing communication from the seller about promotions, new products, etc.
If you use a network like Amazon, you get your own link for each specific product you promote.
Be sure to check your specific network’s help or support pages for more information.
Tip: If your audience is global (which is true for many bloggers), you might want to check out geniuslink for tracking foreign sales through Amazon, iTunes, and the Microsoft Store.
Step 4: Start promoting your chosen affiliate products
In the end, it pays off all your efforts to find and evaluate products when someone takes your advice and makes the purchase, right?
For that to happen, you need to post your recommendation in front of your audience. More importantly, make your recommendation trustworthy .
This is what many affiliate marketers omit. They think all they need to do is put up some banners on their blog that link to affiliate products.
But take a look at this:
Do you think it looks reliable? Not even remotely, right?
Well, here’s another little secret:
Most successful affiliate promotions don’t look like this.
Here’s what to do:
OPTION #1: CREATE A HELP PAGE ON YOUR BLOG
It promotes many different products, but it also organizes them according to different types of readers and what they may need at the time. It also explains why these products could be helpful to them.
In other words, it’s not just a sales pitch. It is also educational.
And here’s an easy way to get started.
Chances are, you can put together a resource page like this in a matter of hours. Your readers will also appreciate that you put all your recommendations in one place for easy reference.
OPTION #2: CREATE AND PROMOTE CUSTOM CONTENT
Customized content strategies are the backbone of your affiliate promotion activities.
Use as many of the following different strategies as possible that make sense for your blog and your audience.
Note: All of these strategies assume you’re already sending traffic to the latest content, which you’re creating by emailing your list regularly (at least two or four times a month) to let them know what’s new.
A) Write reviews
You can write detailed reviews about products, courses, books or software products that you promote as an affiliate.
Your reviews can focus on a single product or on competing products that you compare.
The second approach probably builds more trust, but also distracts people by giving them many different recommendations.
B) Write definitive content on a related topic
You can make a final, comprehensive post on your site to educate your readers and to ‘soft sell’ your products.
For example, you can also write an ultimate guide on how to set up a WordPress blog and include your affiliate links for your favorite hosting providers.
Whatever the topic, make sure it’s always solid content — information that’s likely to be useful and valuable for years to come.
You can create blog posts, videos, infographics, or anything like that, but whatever you do, it shouldn’t be a sales page.
Ultimately, your content has to be excellent. Make sure it’s an authoritative list post, an epic how to do something, an ultimate guide, or other epic content.
C) Conduct interviews
You can interview people who have had great success using the product so that your audience can hear their stories. Think of it as a kind of audio testimonial.
If the seller is an individual, rather than a company, you can also invite them to chat about how their product works and why your readers will find it useful.
D) Create valuable bonus material
Assuming this is allowed by your affiliate agreement (sometimes this is not the case), you can create bonus material exclusively for your readers that helps people get even more value from the affiliate product.
People love bonuses! You can create many types of bonuses quite quickly and easily, while still giving your readers excellent value for money.
By the way, this is a great way to differentiate yourself from other bloggers, who represent the same products.
Here are some examples of bonuses you could offer:
- Step-by-step checklists
- Quick Start Guides
- Video overviews or demos
- Additional services or discounts on services (e.g. coaching over the phone)
OPTION #3: CREATE PROMOTIONAL EMAILS FOR YOUR SUBSCRIBERS
Your email list is your greatest asset when it comes to driving traffic to your listings.
Assuming you already email your list regularly, e.g. every Tuesday, every two weeks, etc., you can also run occasional promotions where you email your readers more often.
If your mailing list software allows it, you can segment interested readers into a separate interest list so that only people who are interested will receive your free informational and promotional emails.
But even if you can’t segment your list, you’ll want to provide lots of valuable content and anticipate your product offerings.
Here are some quick ideas:
- Promote your offers indirectly by sending emails linking to your free content (blog posts, reviews, etc.).
- Offer occasional special offers (discounts, bonuses, etc.) exclusively for your readers.
- Create “social proof” with giveaways – ask your readers to share their experiences with your process or product in exchange for a chance to win something.
If you’re promoting a low-cost product like an ebook, digital download, or hosted service on an ongoing basis, you can do something as simple as use a PS or signature link in your regular emails, with occasional emails links to custom content.
For higher return courses, masterminds, services or products, you can do something like an official launch once a year with softer launches once a quarter.
And of course always follow the leads of your sellers. For example, if they run big launches twice a year, you can participate and take advantage of the natural momentum these launches often create.
You may have a different promotional plan for each product.
Example of an email sequence
Custom email sequences are especially effective for your core products.
Typically, you send a series of five to seven emails over a period of about two weeks.
These can run in parallel with your regular blog emails or you can ‘pause’ your regular content for the duration of the sequence.
An example of a series of seven emails might look like this:
- A welcome message (if they’ve joined a new interest list) or a content-rich email about the problem the product is solving.
- More useful content (no sales).
- First mention of the product, positioning in relation to the problem, with a link to a sales page.
- More free content with advice that is valuable whether or not the reader buys the product, including another link to the product.
- A “bigger sale” to incentivize the reader to buy using scarcity (e.g., “only 50 spaces left”) or time constraints (e.g., “This offer ends in 48 hours”).*
- Additional useful information, testimonials and/or social proof and a reminder that time is up.
- A final call of the hour to let readers know that the offer will be closing soon.
The important thing is to try different approaches for each product, see what your audience reacts to best, and most importantly, don’t give up!
OPTION #4: RUN EXCLUSIVE LIVE EVENTS
Finally, you can run live events to introduce your products to your audience.
Webinars are the most popular way to do this and you can host them alone or as a joint venture with the vendor. (Usually, sellers will only participate if you can attract a certain number of participants.)
If your readers are already interested in a particular product, you can make it the core of your webinar by giving attendees one of the following:
- An interactive demonstration, showing you how to use the product, including tips and tricks learned along the way.
- A demonstration of specific features, which are of particular interest to your readers.
- A personal case study of the results you achieved with the product.
More typically, the webinar will focus on a particular outcome that the audience wants to reach and then position the product as a way to achieve those results more easily or faster.
Importantly, the webinar should be valuable, even for people who don’t end up buying the product.
For example, if you’re promoting a software product that automates blogger relationships, your webinar might talk about high-level relationship strategies that attendees could implement manually and then position the product as a time saver that helps you focus on building on relationships rather than the initial relationships.
Tip: To get the most out of a live event, don’t forget to republish and re-promote your webinar to the people who weren’t able to attend the first time.
REMEMBER TO FOLLOW EVERYTHING TO DISCOVER WHAT WORKS BEST
Whatever options you choose to promote your affiliate products, you want to know which ones will deliver the best results.
Most important of all, you have to be patient. Don’t expect to get this right the first time. Keep building a strong foundation of content and constantly testing and trying new things.
Step 5: Meet the legal requirements (and the procedures that are correct)
Don’t be afraid to be transparent. People will appreciate your honesty and want to support you in giving back to improve their lives.
So wherever you share an affiliate link, in blog posts, web pages or emails, let your readers know that you can earn a small commission if they buy from you and if they choose not to use your link, that’s too no problem.
Assure them that you wouldn’t recommend products that you haven’t used yourself or aren’t sure you can help them with.
It is also a good idea to create an affiliate disclaimer page on your website.
We are also clear about what these affiliate links might look like in blog posts.
Affiliate Marketing Examples: Four Ways to Promote Products
So we went through the process of being a successful affiliate marketer. Now let’s take a look at some real-world examples of affiliate marketing by looking at four different types of products that you can promote and make a nice profit on.
Usually, the majority of your affiliate income will come from one or two “ringers”. These are core products that just about everyone in your target audience needs and that also pay a good commission.
As you progress, you can add additional products to expand your offerings and help your audience in new ways, but identifying your top earners is an essential first step.
We strongly recommend that you start with digital products, services, and courses as they usually have more earning potential.
Digital products generally pay higher commissions than physical products because there is much less overhead to produce and distribute them.
They also have the advantage that the seller is often an individual rather than a company, so you can build a personal relationship with them, which will increase your status as a blogger and your future success as an affiliate.
That said, physical products can be a good option for certain niches, but we’ll focus on digital products for the most part (although we’ll also revisit physical products below).
So what is a potential ringer?
Your best products are mid-priced courses or services ($175 – $1,750) that could potentially help practically all of your readers at some point in their lives.
Once you start generating a steady affiliate income, you can offer other similar products, hosted services, or ebooks that will help you help even more people (or help everyone more thoroughly).
Let’s take a look at the product options for bloggers.
Option #1: Digital Downloads
Digital downloads are online resources that your readers can access right away, without having to wait for a package to arrive in the mail (as with physical products).
This can be audio or video files, PDFs, ebooks such as the Weight Loss Recipe Bible, or even links to web pages where the content is online.
- Books or eBooks – books hosted on your seller’s website or downloaded from Amazon, iBooks, or other online sellers
- Software – downloadable programs, games, apps, plug-ins, and cloud services
- Mobile Applications – some of the hundreds of apps available through the iTunes Affiliate Program and other mobile app affiliate networks
- Music, movies, TV shows, and more – media offered through Amazon, as well as the iTunes Affiliate program and others.
- Digital downloads are an easy way to get started and help your audience with urgent issues.
- There are no manufacturing, shipping, or storage overheads.
- Your buyer has immediate access and can start taking advantage of their digital product right away.
- Many ebooks, software, or other downloadable products are relatively inexpensive. You would have to sell a lot of them to make significant money.
What do we recommend?
Do it! But expect higher earnings from other options on this list.
Option #2: Online, Hosted & Professional Services
When it comes to selling services as an affiliate, it’s important to focus on the services that are accessible to your entire audience, no matter where they are located (as opposed to the service providers, which only serve local customers).
In other words, don’t limit your earning potential in geography.
Your best bet is to represent online, hosted, or professional service providers/influencers that you have worked with in the past and have full confidence in.
Examples of professional services:
- Media or creative companies
- Marketing services
- Masterminds and Membership Sites
- Research or advisory services
- Accounting, financial or legal advice (as permitted by law)
- Niche specialties – pop culture, travel, tourism, nightlife, crafts/craftsmen
Examples of online/hosted services:
- Website platforms
- Lead generation services
- Email service providers
- Website services (e.g. hosting, antispam, security, etc.)
- Course Platforms
- Virtual assistant or customer service
- IT support, cloud-based storage, backup, security, or other technical services on a monthly subscription basis
- It’s easy to become an affiliate partner and it helps your audience manage important tasks that require specific expertise.
- There is likely to be a higher earning potential than from digital downloads, as these services are usually offered at a higher price.
- Many hosted services offer a recurring commission – meaning you get paid as long as the customers you mention continue to use the service.
- Some of your favorite professional service providers (with whom you have experience) may not have an affiliate program installed.
What do we recommend?
Do it! Especially if you can find an excellent service provider that has the ability to help almost everyone in your target audience at some point, as this can be a strong, stable revenue generator.
Option #3: Online Courses
Online courses, especially for bloggers, are an important part of digital products and the market is huge. They are so popular that they deserve their own category on this list.
Online courses exist on just about every topic you can think of. They range in price from free to thousands of dollars, with even more expensive programs promising great results for the participants.
- Courses are one of the best ways to help your audience achieve a goal that is important to them or get past a block that has hindered them. You can deliver incredible value with little effort on your part.
- Courses are often offered at a higher price point than other digital products, so your earning potential is also higher.
- Courses are popular. It should be easy to find other influencers in your niche whose courses can help your readers.
- You’ll need to spend time reviewing and reviewing courses to make sure they deliver on their promises (and to protect your reputation).
What do we recommend?
Do it! Help your readers in a great way and earn a lot of money at the same time.
Option #4: Physical Products
If you decide to represent physical products on your blog, it is best to choose high-quality, distinctive products that appeal to your specific target audience.
Avoid mass products that your readers can buy everywhere – the commissions are so small that you won’t make any money unless you can drive massive traffic to your site.
Commissions on physical products are usually quite low due to the overhead of production costs, storage costs, shipping, etc. So unless you’re planning to build a large review or shopping site, physical products will probably only make up a very small part of your income.
However, if you have a favorite tool in your field, a must-have gadget to make your readers’ lives easier, or a high-quality recommendation that you’re sure people will love, then go ahead and bid. it on.
You build up goodwill, even if you don’t earn too much money.
- Niche shopping
- Technical gadgets or gadgets
- cool stuff
- Once you have an established blog, companies can approach you and offer you a free product in exchange for a review. (You should always disclose this as it could be seen as a conflict of interest.)
- If you can afford to buy products to test them, you will be seen as a true objective reviewer.
- Commissions on physical products are usually a lot lower because of the overhead, so you will have to sell a lot of products to make a decent income.
- Buying products so you can view them before promoting them can be very expensive.
What do we recommend?
Offer physical products only under certain circumstances:
- If they are directly related to your blog topic and something your target audience absolutely needs.
- They are not mass-produced. Specialized and distinctive products will suit you better and improve your reputation and credibility.
You should now have plenty of ideas about the types of products you can represent.
Conclusion about affiliate marketing
That dream you’ve had of making money while you sleep isn’t just a silly fantasy. It’s a completely achievable reality. So if you really want to learn it step by step, it’s best to follow the Internet Success Guide course.
Sure, it’s not as easy as pressing a magic button, but with a little knowledge and persistence, you can definitely do it.
Once you have gained a respectable following, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money blogging.
And the best news is that it’s so easy to get started. All steps are described in detail in this post.
Simply identify the one big thing everyone in your audience needs to achieve their goals and start doing that.
Pick a great digital product you believe in and then share it. Tell the story of your successes.
Provide lots of valuable content that helps your readers and provides information and make sure you are not too pushy.
Be honest and transparent. Nurture the confidence readers have in you.
And finally, be patient. All your efforts pay off with that sweet sound of money being deposited into your bank account.