Affiliate Marketing: A step by step guide

Do you want the freedom to make money at any time, from anywhere? If you answered yes, then affiliate marketing is the solution for you! Are you unsure where to get started with affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is a great tactic to drive sales and generate online revenue. A Google search would make you believe that affiliate marketing is all about profits without any efforts. But the truth is quite complicated. It is a known fact that affiliate marketing is highly beneficial to both – the brand and the affiliate marketer.

In fact, studies have shown that 81% of brands and 84% of publishers make the most of affiliate marketing. It is also calculated that there is a 10.1% increase in affiliate marketing spending in the US alone. This roughly means that by the end of 2020, that number will reach a total of $6.8 billion! So, in this article, we help you get started with affiliate marketing after we cover a few basic concepts.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing when an affiliate earns a commission for marketing another brand’s products. The affiliate basically searches for a product they love, then promotes that product and earns a piece of profit from each purchase made. The sales or purchases made are tracked through affiliate links from one website to another. So rather than promoting products on the website with visual advertisements, you can simply embed the product link in your content. To understand this better, let’s look at the basics of how affiliate marketing works.

How does affiliate marketing work?

From the above, you must have figured out that affiliate marketing works by spreading the aspects of product marketing and creation across the parties involved. So, make the most of an effective marketing strategy, the following parties are involved –

Seller and product creators

The seller – whether a solo entrepreneur or a huge enterprise is basically the vendor, the merchant, the product creator, or a retailer in the marketplace. The said product can be a physical object or even a digital solution. The seller is not actively involved in the marketing of the product. But they could be the advertiser and make profits from the revenue sharing from the affiliate marketing.

To make this easier to understand, let’s take an example. Let’s say that the seller is an ecommerce merchant who has a business like dropshipping and wishes to reach out to new audiences. He wants to do this by paying affiliate websites to promote his products.

The affiliate or advertiser

The affiliate can be an individual or a company that markets the seller’s products in an appealing way to potential customers. The affiliate promotes these products and convinces consumers that it is valuable, beneficial, and is a solution to their query. When the  consumer buys the product, the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue made.

Affiliates, however, often have a very specific audience that they market to based on their interests. This creates a very defined niche that helps the affiliate attract the consumers who will be interested in that product’s promotion.

The consumer or the buyer

Consumers are essentially the drivers of affiliate marketing. The affiliate can only do so much and share the products on social media, blogs, websites, and other platforms. It is only when a consumer buys the product that the affiliate can get a shared profit. At times the affiliates can also disclose that they will be receiving a commission on the purchase, or at times the consumer might be unaware of the affiliate marketing structure. Either way, the affiliate’s share of the profit from this affiliate marketing is included in the price.

Six powerful steps to affiliate marketing

Step 1: Choose your platform

You can run affiliate marketing on any platform. However, we recommend the best way to build an audience and increase your affiliate sales is through a blog or your YouTube channel.

Getting started with a blog is relatively cheap and easy. There are many tutorials online that can help you set up your blog pages. And it might cost you only a few dollars to get the right domain name. Once your website is ready, you must optimize it for search engines. This gives your content a better chance of ranking in the search results. From there, you can easily add the affiliate links to your content. We will cover this step in detail a little later.

The other source is the YouTube channel. There is no cost involved in creating and uploading content to YouTube, which is why it may seem ideal for many. You must optimize your videos for search engines and include the affiliate links in your video description.

You will, however, need to disclose to your audience that you are including affiliate links. The FTC or Federal Trade Commission requires affiliates to be transparent while receiving income from an endorsement.

Step 2: Select your niche.

If you are starting a blog today, you are up against a lot of competition. It has been predicted that the number of bloggers by the end of 2020 will reach 31.7 million in the US alone! The best way to gain success as a blogger is to focus solely on your niche.

So, choose a topic that focuses on a specific category. For example, food is a vast topic in itself. Instead, choose a category within food like grilling food or desserts. Keeping your topic to the point can help you build a focused audience base and has the potential to help you rank higher in search engines.

If you are going to create the content yourself, choose something that you are interested in. Many affiliate sites don’t make it due to a lack of consistency. So, if you are passionate about a topic, you will have the motivation to keep your content consistent. If you are outsourcing your content, then you should work with experts in the niche. They can also help create high-quality content. This can lead to more traffic, engaged visitors, and higher affiliate sales.

Step 3: Be a part of affiliate programs

There are three main kinds of affiliate programs that you can choose from.

Type 1: High-paying and low volume affiliate program

This kind of affiliate program is for niche-specific products with higher payouts.

For instance, an affiliate program could pay you a fixed amount per month if you send a certain number of customers their way. But you need to be careful as sometimes, based on the product and the niche, you might not have a great pool of audience. The competition is also quite high for such programs. As a beginner, it is not recommended that you compete against experienced marketers with skills and deep pockets.

Type 2: Low-paying and high-volume affiliate program

These are affiliate programs for products that have a low payout but have a huge mass appeal.

For instance, a PS4 game has a huge audience base. But the overall cost of the product is only around $50. So this means you would earn around $2 to $3 per sale. The benefit of this program is that it has offered tons of products with a huge audience pool for sale.

Another great example is that of Amazon’s affiliate program. You can earn a 10% commission on almost anything that Amazon sells. And at times, you might also get commissioned on the entire value of the purchase rather than only the product you recommended. However, to make the most of this kind of affiliate program, you need to have great traffic.

Type 3: High-paying and high-volume affiliate program

These are affiliate programs for products with a mass appeal that pay high commissions. For example, everyone needs a credit card and will also be loyal to the company. So there is a huge audience base for this product. However, programs like these attract affiliates with lots of expertise and deep pockets.

How to choose a program?

This highly depends on your niche and the level of expertise. If you are targeting consumers, you would like the second type of program. If you are targeting a business audience, you can opt for the first model.

 Step 4: Drive traffic to your affiliate link

Once you have also started creating great content, you need to get more people to read and click on your affiliate links. You can drive traffic in three ways –

Method 1: Paid traffic

In this method, you can pay for traffic to your site. You can do this using a PPC ad. The benefits of paid ads are that as soon as you start paying, you can get traffic. However, a downside is that the ads can dig deep into your profit. So, there is a possibility that you might spend more before you can start earning. So be realistic and understand what works for you.

Method 2: SEO

When you optimize your pages and website for search engines, you rank higher in the search results. You should consider the following –

  • Understand what your target customers are searching for.
  • Creating content around those topics
  • Looking after the technical aspects to push these pages higher in search engines.

Method 3: Build an email list

Email lists are a great way to communicate with your readers. Build an email to tell them about new content and keep them coming back to your site. This leads to more affiliate clicks and sales. All you have to do is persuade your audience to sign up with their email addresses.

Step 5: Get clicks on your affiliate links

You need to persuade your readers to click on your affiliate links. You can do this in a few ways –

Method 1: Link placement

If your affiliate links are at the bottom of your page, your readers might not scroll all the way down. If you place the link in your introduction, your content might look spammy. So, you need to find a balance and the right link placement for your readers to click on.

Method 2: Callouts

Using callouts in the form of buttons, tables, and boxes can attract attention and make the post easy to read through. When you use eye-catching boxes with product links, your readers are more inclined to click the button and make a purchase.

Step 6: Convert those clicks to sale

For you to have a successful affiliate marketing process, there are two conversions that need to happen. The first is a click to the product page, and you are in action. Using the tactics in the previous step will help you get that click. The second conversion is the visitor purchasing that product. This aspect of the process is out of your control. The trick to play this to your advantage is to look for programs that will convert well.

If there is not a lot of information available about an affiliate program that you wish to join, you must sign up and ask questions about their average conversion rates, an overview of monthly commissions, etc. However, at times you should go with your gut feeling too. The checkout process of your affiliate program or the product needs to be appealing and user-friendly. This can help you figure out if the program is worth promoting.

Wrapping it up

Affiliate marketing is a great solution if you are looking to gain control of your source of income by laying emphasis on performance-based income models. Being motivated and working at par with the seller will help you achieve a passive income from the comfort of your home without worrying about producing your own product or service.

An elegant and transparent process, affiliate marketing through reviews, blogs, social media, webinars, and other platforms is something that you need to experiment with and understand it’s impacted by yourself. If you follow this guide, then you should be able to set up the basics, engage with your audience, convert your audience into consumers, and grow your income gradually!

Have you tried affiliate marketing yet? Got questions? Let us know in the comments below.

Affiliate Marketing: A step by step guide via @bloggingfilter
Ayesha Siddiqua

Ayesha Siddiqua

Ayesha is the founder of Blogging Filter and Invent Isle. She is a passionate blogger, digital marketing professional & tech enthusiast. She puts an exceptional effort to research and turn it into helpful tips to answer her readers’ queries.

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