What is Affiliate Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

It’s predicted that $5.3 billion will have been spent on US affiliate marketing in 2017, and a whopping 81 percent of brands now use affiliate marketing programs to promote and sell their products.

Affiliate marketing is huge, and it’s growing all the time.

The opportunity for online marketers to make money from affiliate marketing is clear. In fact, a 2016 survey of online publishers, carried out by Rakuten, showed that affiliate marketing drove more than 20 percent of their annual income — that’s a serious chunk.

Whether you’re just starting out in online marketing and want to make money blogging or you’re a seasoned professional with multiple high-traffic sites, you need to take advantage of affiliate marketing.

what is affiliate marketing

How to Make Money Online.

There are really only two ways to make money online:

  1. Sell your own products as an eCommerce retailer.
  2. Sell or promote someone else’s products and get paid a commission for referring traffic.

What’s the Definition of Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is pretty simple. It’s the process of promoting somebody else’s product for them and then receiving a portion of the revenue when they make sales as a result of your efforts.

So, if you create a blog post advertising a product you love and include an affiliate link, you’ll receive a small amount of income every time somebody clicks on your link and buys the product.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

There are two mains forms of affiliate marketing, and both work in a similar way.

In some cases, there’s a direct relationship between the publisher and the merchant selling the product. In other cases, the publisher joins an affiliate network and has access to affiliate programs from a wide range of merchants.

With the first example, you might join an affiliate program via the merchant’s website, or arrange a revenue-sharing system with the merchant directly. This is ideal if you want to promote products from only one or two companies.

Alternatively, you could join an affiliate network, where you’ll be offered the chance to apply to a range of affiliate programs from different merchants. If you’re accepted to a program, you’ll be given a unique affiliate link that tracks the purchases that customers make after visiting your site.

Joining an affiliate network gives you a lot more choice and allows you to experiment with different types of affiliate programs. Most networks will give you access to analytics that help you to track the success of different campaigns.

The commission level you’re offered will vary from merchant to merchant, so it’s worth shopping around to find the most profitable affiliate programs.

How Can You Become an Affiliate Marketer?

Ready to start earning some passive income with affiliate marketing?

You’ll need to choose a profitable niche, create a platform, build a following, pick the right affiliate programs and create high-quality content to market your chosen products.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to getting started.

1. Choose a Profitable Niche

Before you start affiliate marketing, you need to choose an appropriate niche. You’ll use this niche to help you create a publishing platform, choose affiliate products to promote and decide what kind of content to create.

Your niche should be something you’re interested in and/or knowledgable about, or you’ll struggle to promote products with any authority. You’ll also need to carry out research to validate your niche and make sure that it’s popular and profitable.

2. Create a Publishing Platform

Before you start promoting affiliate products, you’ll need a platform. This could be a blog, a website, a social media page, a mailing list or any other way of interacting with people online.

If you already run a successful blog, website or social media page, it makes sense to start your affiliate marketing journey here. If you don’t have a platform yet, you’ve got a blank slate, but you’ll have to spend time building a following before you start promoting products. Read my article on how to start a blog and make money online if you need step by step guidance on how to get started.

Related: How to Build a Solid Blog Foundation

3. Build a Following

To make any money with affiliate marketing, you need to build an engaged following. You could do this by publishing educational content, connecting with other bloggers and marketers in the same niche, offering free content and/or promoting yourself on social media.

Spend some time focusing on content marketing, blogging, email marketing and link building, and you’ll soon be well-placed to start making money via affiliate marketing.

The larger and more engaged your following, the more successful your affiliate marketing efforts will be.

Related: How to Build a Social Following

4. Choose an Affiliate Program to Join

Once you’ve got a publishing platform and a following, it’s time to choose which products you want to promote. It’s important to select affiliate programs that are relevant to your niche and only promote products that you genuinely like and believe in.

If you start promoting any old product, you’ll come across as inauthentic and will lose a large part of your following.

5. Create High-Quality Content to Promote Affiliate Products

You can’t expect to slap affiliate links all over your website and make a profit. One needs to create high-quality content that actually helps readers. You could film video reviews of products, put together product comparison charts, create Top X lists of items in different niches and more.

Never create content solely to push your affiliate link — readers will see through this and be much less likely to read your content in the future.

Related: How to Cloak Affiliate Links

Affiliate Marketing: An Excellent Way to Generate Passive Income Online

Whether you’re looking to monetize an existing website or you want to start completely from scratch, now is a great time to invest in affiliate marketing.

Creating just one piece of successful affiliate content could make you a profit for years to come.

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