What is affiliate marketing?
Long story short: it is the most popular way that most blogs on the internet use to generate an income, besides ads.
Affiliate marketing is becoming more and more popular by the day, but most of them don’t take advantage of its full potential, because they are not focusing their attention on other, more important aspects, like generating quality content that really helps their audience.
That is the goal of this article.
I have created this detailed affiliate marketing guide to help you achieve exactly that. Follow my advice and you’ll be on your way to increase your revenue massively. It won’t happen overnight, but it won’t take 10 years either.
I will show you exactly what you should do and the things you must avoid, and by the end of it, you will have a clear picture of how this business model works and how to get the best results.
If you don’t trust me, let me give you an example.
Take a look at Pat Flynn’s Income Reports. He’s earned more than $2 million in the last 12 months, and that’s just passive income.
Now, I don’t intend to make all of you believe that you can achieve the same results. That would be a scam, which I hate.
I’m not saying it’s impossible either, but bear in mind that Pat Flynn is an expert who’s been doing this for many years, so it’s only natural that he can earn that much money at this point.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t earn a good revenue out of it too.
If you’re thinking that you are too late to the party and there’s no place for you anymore, let me tell you that there is. While it is not that easy, you have the advantage of seeing what other creators are missing, what opportunities are there and how you can improve the already existing content, strategies, and ideas.
It is possible, and with the right strategy, you can definitely do it!
With that in mind, let’s get started, shall we?
What is affiliate marketing?
In order to understand what affiliate marketing is, I want to share two definitions from Neil Patel and Pat Flynn, who are some of the biggest influencers when it comes to content marketing and passive income.
According to Neil Patel, “affiliate marketing can be seen as the process of spreading product creation and product marketing across different parties, where each party receives a share of the revenue according to their contribution.”
Pat Flynn says that “affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product that you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.”
That’s all you gotta do!
Of course, it’s not that simple, because you do need to take care of some other things that we’ll discuss later on, but to summarize, all you need to do is to find a product that you like, promote it and then earn a commission if your link drives a successful sale.
Before we go into details, let me share some facts with you.
Seeing these numbers, I hope you understand why I believe that this is one of the best ways to make money online. I mean, those numbers are crazy!
With affiliate marketing, you and your merchant share the money you’re making.
This goes both ways:
- If you are the creator of a product and want it to have more exposure and start making more sales, you can start an affiliate program and have others sell your product while they earn a commission
- Or, if you don’t have a product, you can promote other people’s or company’s services that you think are useful for your audience and earn a commission with each successful action.
A very important mention here is that affiliate marketers only make money if they can convince their audience to perform a certain action. If you can’t make them follow your links, buy the products you’re promoting, then you’re not gonna earn any revenue.
That’s why it’s crucial for you to build trust among your followers, to make them understand how buying a product or a service will improve their life or their business.
Affiliate Marketing Guideline
Only share products that you know for sure they’re good.
The first and foremost rule regarding affiliate marketing is that you must promote a product that you know for a fact it’s good. Most of the time, it’s better if you only promote products that you did use before, so you’ve seen it with your eyes, experienced it on your own and you know how they can help other people.
That must be your number one priority: to provide solutions to their problems.
Because you need to gain their trust.
You need to convince them to believe you when you’re promoting a product that you think it’s good. You need to establish yourself as an expert, so they’ll think “If that worked for him, then it should work for me as well”.
How do you know if you should promote a product or not? Think about their problems and then ask yourself “Will my audience benefit from this product?”, “Will this service help them and/or their business?”.
If the answer is yes, then go ahead and promote it, because that’s what you’re here to do: solve their problems.
If it’s not a product that you would use yourself, then please, do yourself a favor and DON’T promote it.
What’s the quickest way to lose their trust?
Promoting something that’s bad. Remember that your main goal here is to help, and then, and ONLY then, you can think of how you can gain financial benefits out of it. So if you are promoting something that is not that good or something that can potentially hurt someone else’s business, just to gain some profit out of it, you’ll lose their trust forever.
Want to share an amazing book that you think it can change their business entirely? Awesome. Just make sure you read it first. Don’t rely on online reviews, because your audience doesn’t want to know what those reviews have to say. They want to hear what YOU have to say about it, how YOU think it can help them.
You need to establish trust, make them come to you again next time, and doing something that can hurt their business surely won’t make that happen.
If all you care about is to make a profit, I’m sorry, but you’re not gonna make it. You may fool one or two people, but you won’t go far this way.
Only promote products that are relevant to your niche.
As I mentioned earlier, you are here to solve a problem.
This means that you must always, with no exceptions, promote products that are relevant to their problems, to your topic.
This can help both of you because:
- You help them find a solution to a problem that’s been giving him a hard time and they will buy the service you’re promoting
- They help you earn a commission for each sale because the more relevant the ads are, the more likely they are to buy that product
Imagine the following situation: You are passionate about gardening, and you’re searching for gardening tips. You end up on a website that’s teaching you how to do gardening, but you end up seeing all kinds of ads promoting gym workouts.
“Wait, what?! This can’t be right. I’m here to learn about gardening, not how to grow my back muscles!”
Why is everyone having this reaction?
Because these two are not related at all.
If your website is about blogging, share products related to blogging, like SEO tools, hosting providers and so on. If your business is about fitness, then share supplements, workouts etc.
You get the point.
Never promote a product that is not related to your niche. It will make you look bad and unprofessional, and the user will go to your competition, where he knows he will find only the content and the services that are related to what he’s actually interested in.
Don’t over-promote a product.
Make sure that when you’re promoting something, it’s actually relevant to the context. Seeing the same link 20 times in a single article is surely not going to convince anyone to click and buy that.
Instead, they will feel harassed, forced to do something that they don’t want to do.
Organize your content so that you can have a better picture when it is best to promote it. It’s fine if you have to repeat yourself 2 or 3 times over a long piece of document, but make sure it makes sense to do so, because you’re not fooling anyone, except yourself.
Also, if you’re promoting different services through your emails, then you must never run an aggressive campaign and send them the same email with the same products every single day. Just don’t!
You will annoy them, they’ll unsubscribe from your email list and you can say “bye-bye” to a potential customer.
Always disclose your affiliations
Most websites tend to let the user know that he is using an affiliate link, from which he will receive money.
Full disclosure is going to help you build the trust I was talking earlier. It’s better to be straight-forward with this and inform them that you’ll earn a commission for each sale, and most of them won’t mind.
In fact, they may even be more willing to contribute to your revenue, but if they feel like you are trying to fool them, your chances of being successful drop dramatically.
This also helps you to be more transparent and build a better relationship with them, as in most cases, the user will not pay a higher price for that product, but instead, he may even get a better deal.
One other popular strategy is that, if your campaign is very successful, you can contact the creator and try to come up with a custom offer for your audience alone. This is a very powerful and effective approach, and you will see far better results.
You may also negotiate higher commissions for very successful campaigns, although you will find that not many merchants are willing to do that.
How To Determine How Much You Can Make
How popular is your niche?
As you may realize, there are some things on the internet that sell way better than others. If you want to have higher chances to earn a solid income from affiliate marketing, then you need to be in a popular niche, with lots of searches and lots of people interested in that topic. You might find it harder to succeed if you’re in a niche that very few people are interested in, though, it’s not impossible.
According to this infographic from AMNavigator, these are the most popular affiliate niches.
What is the quality of your content?
Photo by Floret Media
Content is king. You hear it everywhere, you’ve become tired of it. Yet, it is still a fact that you simply can’t ignore.
Having a very high-quality content is the most important factor that will determine your success.
It will determine how much traffic your website gets.
Well, it’s actually very simple: if you don’t have great content, no one will come read your blog.
Having great content helps you rank better, and you have very high chances of people linking back to you. What this means is that not only your usual followers read your content, but also your competitor’s audience, which can potentially lead to more sales.
That’s the dream, right?
Wondering how content leads to sales?
Well, if your content is amazing, lots of people will talk about it, there will be a lot of buzz around it and you will automatically rank higher in Google rankings. This is very important because better ranking in Google = more organic visitors to your website = more people to sell to.
They’re not all going to buy what you are promoting. In fact, a fairly low percentage will follow your link. That’s why you must always try to create high-quality content.
You need as many people as possible to visit your website. If only you and your mom know about it, then you’re not gonna be very successful.
One strategy that you might want to try is to constantly upgrade your content. You don’t have to change it dramatically, but if you just published a new article and they are related, go to the older one and link back to this new article.
By doing this, not only will your audience be able to find your content easier, but it will also help you in Google rankings, because everyone loves new content, and so if your article is 2 years old, people might not click on it and visit a new, updated article from your competitors.
You don’t have to do this daily, but once every 6 months or every year, go through your older articles and see how you can update or improve them.
Are you patient and willing to wait?
Are you expecting over-night results?
Well, I’m sorry to inform you that affiliate marketing doesn’t work like that. If you need money straight-away, then go find something else, because this isn’t the right model for you.
At first, you’ll have to put in a lot of work without seeing any or very few results, but the beauty of this is that once you have everything set up and you manage to build yourself as an authority, after a while you will start feeling like you’re making money doing absolutely nothing at all.
This can take at least a few months until you start seeing some results.
You just launched your website, so you can’t really hope for thousands of people to come to you from day one. It takes time, so if you are patient, constantly building and upgrading your content, building backlinks, developing your brand, you will eventually succeed. You have to!
Funny story from Pat Flynn’s book Will It Fly?.
In his book, he shared a cute, but inspiring story about how rushing to get results will most certainly make you fail.
He tells a story about him and his 3-year-old son, and he’s showing him how to fold a paper airplane. His kid is fascinated, but when he tries to do it himself, he’s not waiting for his father to explain what to do, and so he fails to create a plane that will successfully fly.
You can imagine that once he did not get the result he was hoping for, he instantly gave up and went upstairs to play with his Batman toy.
Afterward, his father went to his room and tried to explain the right way to fold a paper plane, and this time, he had the patience to listen and understand what is the proper way to do it himself and what was missing the first time he attempted, and his next try was a far better success.
Why am I telling you this?
Because a lot of people act like 3-year-old kids. They want to be on top right from the start, and this just doesn’t work like that.
It takes time. Everything takes time.
A lot of time, in some cases. So stick to it, follow this kid’s example to go back and try again, go search for solutions, keep trying and keep improving your business.
Joel Barker said: Speed is only useful when you’re running in the right direction.
So if you’re not seeing a million dollars in your bank account the morning after you got started, don’t worry and don’t be disappointed. Be patient!
How are you getting your traffic?
There are many ways to generate traffic to your website. It can be organic traffic, it can be social media or it can be through paid ads.
The reason why I’m asking you this question is that you need to have a clear picture of your traffic channels right from the start.
Why is this important?
Because you need as much organic traffic as possible.
Sure, it feels great to see your traffic growing when you’re paying for advertising, but you need to ask yourself this: What would happen if I stopped my Pay-per-Click Campaign? Will my traffic drop massively?
If you think the answer is yes, then you must start improving your content immediately, and start building backlinks.
It’s pointless if you earn, let’s say, $1000 each month with your affiliate marketing campaigns, but you spend almost as much or even more on advertising.
Your goal is to increase your profit as much as possible, and the fastest way to do it is to start focusing on your content.
The 3 Sides Of Affiliate Marketing
In this business model, there are 3 big players:
- the creator of the product, who runs an affiliate program
- the publisher, who promotes it
- the consumer, the one who’s buying the product or service.
Photo by CJ
There are two ways you can do this:
- Make your own product, then create an affiliate marketing program where other people promote it and you give them a commission
- Take the easier way and become an affiliate, where your only job is to promote a product or service that other people have created
Most of the people choose to go for the second approach and not go through the entire process of creating their own product, then finding affiliates to promote it and so on.
You just take someone else’s product, one that you believe has good value and can help someone’s problem, and you promote it. You’d be amazed by the different deals that are out there on the internet.
For instance, if you manage to convince a single person to sign up on Constant Contact, you earn $105.
That’s a lot, and it’s not the only program that pays extremely well. But we’ll get to that later in this article.
This is the easier way, but you will start seeing results a bit later compared to the situation where you choose to create your own product
While I do recommend that you choose to promote other people’s products, especially if you are a beginner, I know that some of you would prefer to create their own product, so I recommend that you create one of these two:
- An online course: There are tons of tutorials online on how to create one. Take a look at Teachable’s blog and you will find all the resources and guides that you need to start creating your own online course.
- An eBook: While it may feel like almost everyone can write an eBook these days, if you are really good at something, then start writing. Take your time and create the best piece of content your mind can possibly think of. It doesn’t have to be a very large one. If it has only 60 pages of extremely valuable content, then it’s far better than most of the 200 pages eBooks out there filled with low-quality content.
These are my top suggestions because they are the easiest to create, you can make them without spending any money and so, there is no risk for you.
Optimize Your Campaigns
Now, what do you actually need to start earning money through affiliate marketing?
Having a big audience is the number 1 rule to have successful affiliate campaigns.
“Wait, didn’t you say that high-quality content is the most important factor to determine our success?”
Yes, that’s exactly what I said, but here’s my simple, predictable thought process: If you have great content, then people will eventually find your website. Of course, you need to do some marketing and other things, but the content is what really determines whether you have a big audience or not.
You also need to remember that only a small percent of your visitors will follow your links. I’m going to elaborate more on why the conversion rate is important, but this helps me prove my point: Once you have your content, start promoting it effectively, go search for strategies people are using to increase their traffic, whatever it is, just start focusing on increasing your audience.
Having 100 visitors per month might work if you’re the luckiest person in the world and people are buying everything you tell them to, but if you’re not that lucky, then you need a way bigger audience.
That’s why I would also suggest that you completely forget about affiliate marketing until you can get a big audience.
In the beginning, there are 3 things you need to focus on: content, content, content.
Promote your products
The way you manage to promote your products will determine whether you are successful or not.
If you manage to find the right strategy, then you can expect your revenue to keep increasing. Regardless, if you fail, expect little to no results. Sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.
There are many ways to do this. You can include them in an article, a list post, a very detailed guide, or even on one of your top pages, one that can be accessed very easily, at any time.
Take ProBlogger as an example.
On the top menu, Darren created a Resources page, in which you can find what products he thinks are useful for his audience. This works very well because, as I mentioned before, anytime someone wants to find what tools he’s recommending, they can go to that page in an instant. This leads to better conversion and better sales.
This page can be on your menu bar, on your footer, your sidebar. Just make sure that they can access it at any point.
Another very effective way to promote your products is to create a very detailed, impartial review about it, where you talk about all the things that you find amazing about it and why they should try it as well.
You want to be honest though, so don’t start writing reviews about different products and claim that they’ve all changed your life completely and that you don’t understand how you managed to live without them until now. People are not gonna fall for it, instead, they will feel like you’re trying to manipulate them.
One other thing that most affiliates tend to ignore is to promote your products with your email list.
If you’re reading this and you realize that you did not pay enough attention to your email list, don’t delay another second!
Start growing or creating your email list as soon as possible, because your email list will be one of your most effective channels to promote your content and your products.
You don’t want to spam your subscribers though, so make sure that your email content is interesting, relevant and useful for the user.
Promote more than one product
Even if you are the most faithful client in the world, you still have to promote more than one product for this to work.
Because your audience has different goals, different budgets, so you need to provide options for everyone.
Let’s say you want to promote a hosting provider. Everyone knows that WpEngine is the best WordPress hosting out there, and you might feel tempted to promote them only.
But guess what?
Their price is way too high compared to what most people can afford.
Not everyone can pay $35 a month to host their website. Most of them will go for cheaper, but still very good alternatives like Siteground or Bluehost for example, having to pay around $4 per month for the basic hosting plan.
Do you understand know why it’s important to promote more than a product?
Always try to anticipate your audience’s needs and try to find the best solution for everyone.
Also, you need to keep looking for different valuable products and services that you can affiliate with and share them with your audience.
Improve your conversion rate
This is a very important step to increase your earnings, and still, for some reason, many people choose to ignore it completely or they don’t focus their efforts to do this.
Why is it important to improve your conversion rate?
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you get 10,000 visitors per month. If only 3% of those people click on your link, that’s 300 people. You get $50 for each successful sale.
That automatically translates to $15,000.
Sounds good, right?
Well, what if I tell you that it can be a lot better?
When trying to increase their sales, many people only care about increasing their traffic. Don’t get me wrong; having your traffic constantly growing is extremely good, but if they don’t convert, then you’re not getting too much benefit out of it.
This is why conversion is extremely important. Let’s take those numbers back again.
We have 10,000 visitors a month. If you manage to increase your conversion rate by only 2%, that will result in 500 successful links. Multiplying that by the $50 commission you get from your affiliate, that’s $25,000.
That’s $10,000 more in your bank account, with the same amount of traffic!
Improving your conversion rate is also an easier task than increasing your traffic. Optimize your page, improve your content marketing strategy, be more convincing, look like an expert and the sales will start flowing.
Track which links produce the most sales
You always need to check what pages provide the best results and where are most of your sales coming from.
This allows you to improve your conversion, so that if some links are better than others, then you wanna make sure that you maximize the potential of those links.
Not keeping track of where the clicks are coming from can damage your potential earnings because you won’t know what works and what doesn’t.
It’s also not that great of an effort, so make sure you don’t lose any money because of it.
What To Promote On Your Website
There are all sorts of products that you can promote on your website, but, in my opinion, digital products are the most effective ones.
For example, something that is very popular is to sell books or eBooks through the Amazon Associate Program. Also, you can find amazing apps and software that you can affiliate with.
Another thing that you may sell on your website is online courses. There are many platforms out there, and you can find an online course about almost everything the human mind can think of.
If you’re in the programming niche, promote a link that teaches a new programming language.
You’re in the SEO niche? There are tons and tons of courses on SEO.
For instance, check out Teachable’s affiliate program. They are the top platform to sell online courses right now, and it’s being used by a lot of influencers.
You can also affiliate with online service providers.
You’re teaching your audience how to launch a new website? Link to a domain name provider, a hosting provider, a design marketplace.
There are many online services that you can affiliate with.
Here are some of the best affiliate marketing opportunities I know. There are many more out there, so if these do not fit your interests, do your research, find out how popular they are, buy their product and if you like it, start promoting it.
My point is: You can definitely find something relevant to your niche that you can affiliate with. These are only a few of the best affiliate marketing programs I came up with.
The results vary, of course, on how popular is your topic, how much your audience trusts you, how good you can optimize your page and so on.
It’s not easy, results won’t come overnight, but it’s certainly doable.
What are affiliate networks?
According to SmartBlogger, “Affiliate networks are middlemen connecting bloggers and entrepreneurs with companies offering affiliate program opportunities for their products or services. Through a single portal, affiliate networks give publishers access to numerous affiliate programs”.
To be a little more precise: affiliate networks are like a big store, where you can find multiple companies in the same place, running their own affiliate marketing program.
There are many affiliate networks out there, but the most popular one is, by far, Amazon Associates. With Amazon Associates, you can earn up to 10% in advertising fees.
Why would you want to affiliate with Amazon?
Simply put: because they are the biggest online store out there, and you can find and sell almost anything possible. If you can’t find a product on Amazon, then it’s unlikely that you’ll find it anywhere else.
Last year, they became the 2nd company to have crossed the $1,000 billion net worth barrier, alongside Apple.
Quite impressive, I’d say.
So go out there and if there’s something useful that your audience can benefit from and it’s on Amazon, do it without second thoughts.
Another big affiliate network is the eBay Partner Network.
Other affiliate networks that you might want to check out are:
These are some of the most trustworthy and efficient affiliate networks out there, so go check them out, search for products that are relevant to your business and start earning money!
If you want to learn some other ways to make money with your blog, check out this article.
That’s it, everyone!
Hope you enjoyed this article. I tried to make it as easy as possible, so after reading over 5,000 words, I really hope that you have a better picture of what affiliate marketing is.
Remember the key points of this guide.
It is possible to earn money through affiliate marketing, which is the best way to earn a passive income.
Just be patient, don’t expect results to come up overnight, and don’t give up even if it takes more than you thought it would.
How do you have a successful affiliate marketing campaign?
Be honest, don’t think that much about money, because you are here to help.
Find a product that helped you and share it with your audience. Remember that you have to be absolutely certain that what you’re promoting is valuable because it can really hurt your trust if it’s not.
Find the best way to promote it. It can be on one of your pages, on your sidebar, a review, a comprehensive guide on how to use it, whatever you want. Just make sure to diversify as much as possible, and then see what method works best.
Start promoting it! You need an audience first, so remember to post high-quality content, optimize your website and grow your email list.
Hope this guide worked out for you.
Leave a comment below and let me know how you intend to make money with affiliate marketing.