Revenue from affiliate marketing programs appears to be growing at the rate of 10% with no signs of slowing down. The industry’s worth $12 billion and has opportunities for one and all with over 81% of brands relying on some kind of affiliate marketing program. That is why I am pulled together this affiliate marketing for beginners guide.
If you haven’t already jumped the bandwagon then consider knowing what is affiliate marketing and how to get started with affiliate marketing.
We’ll answer all your questions in this affiliate marketing for beginners guide and help you earn money online.
Let’s get started:
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Let’s refer to the affiliate marketing definition.
It can be defined as the process of getting paid a commission helping other companies sell their products or services. In simple words, you will make money (commission) whenever you succeed in selling an item including digital goods.
Unlike traditional selling or marketing, affiliate marketing is totally digital. You advertise online and all your buyers are on the internet.
How Much Do Affiliate Marketers Earn?
Affiliate marketing is a rewarding field and almost everyone makes money here. You must, however, be patient if you want to make a decent amount of money working as an affiliate marketer.
If you search the web, you will find affiliate marketers who make about $100,000 per month by selling affiliate products online. However, not everyone’s lucky and some people only make about $100 per month.
The truth is that it is a competitive industry. You must invest time if you want to enjoy the benefits. It can make you a millionaire but this will not happen overnight.
In fact, many affiliate marketers lose money when they start. You will make errors in the beginning and you may have to spend money to get started. It can take a while to breakeven. We’ll talk more about it later in this article.
It takes most affiliate marketers 9 to 12 months to breakeven and make a profit.
Working with a professional and having access to the right kind of help can make this process easier. You’ll know what not to do to make money.
The average affiliate marketer makes about $1,000 per month. It can, however, be very difficult to correctly predict how much you will make as an affiliate as it depends on several factors including your experience, niche, and marketing budget.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing involves buying and selling but you will not have to purchase a product to take part in affiliate marketing.
The structure is built on real relationships and transparency and not one-off transactions. Here are a few elements to know about if you want to know how affiliate marketing works:
The Product: This term is self explanatory, the product is what you’re going to sell. It can be a physical item or a digital good.
Each product comes at a price that may be fixed or variable.
The Merchant: The term refers to the vendor, brand, seller or creator. In simple words, the merchant is the party that creates or manufactures the product that you sell. The merchant can be a big brand like Adobe or a small firm that produces local soaps.
The merchant can also be a single seller like Trajan King who offers online courses.
The Publisher: Also called the affiliate, the publisher can be an individual or person (you) who sells a product. Publishers use a variety of techniques to make a sale.
We’ll talk more about the techniques publishers can use to sell a product later in this article.
Affiliate Network: Since manufacturers do not always directly sell a product, you may need to turn to an affiliate network like ClickBank. They work as an intermediary between merchants and publishers.
These networks work with several brands giving you access to a number of products and services under one roof. It is very important to choose the right affiliate network.
The Consumer: The consumer is your target audience, the person who will purchase the product. Remember that you will only make a profit when there’s a successful sale. The job of every publisher is to find as many buyers as they can. The more sales you have, the more money you’ll make.
The Commission: This is the amount of money you will make whenever there’s a successful sale. The commission depends on products and networks or merchants. It can be as low as 1.5% or as high as 40%.
If a product sells for $40 and the commission is 10%, your profile will be $4. However, the network may charge a small fee for its services.
So how does affiliate marketing work? You will have to find an affiliate network or brand that is looking for affiliates. Once approved, you will get a custom link that you will have to market.
Each time a consumer opens a website using your link and makes a purchase, you will earn a specific commission. This commission, however, can take a while to reflect in your account as orders can take weeks to get confirmed. Plus, brands also have to take care of the ‘return’ window.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing?
Now that you already know how affiliate marketing works, it is the time to become an affiliate.
Here’s a step by step guide on how to get started with affiliate marketing:
Choose a Niche
The first step is to choose a niche. If you already have a website or virtual presence then it is best to stick to a niche that is relevant to your audience. For example, if you have a social media page about health and fitness with 500,000 followers then it is best to choose health and fitness related products to market.
If you want to create a new website then you will have to choose a niche that’s profitable and easy to manage. However, remember that it is not only about choosing a niche, you will also have to select suitable products in your niche.
Consider the ‘beauty and fashion’ niche, it is a popular option with several products including beauty products for men, makeup products for women, etc.
We have covered the five best niches for affiliate marketing later in this article with some great tips on how to choose an appropriate product. Keep reading for more.
Find an Appropriate Affiliate Program
Once you have selected a niche, it is time to decide how you wish to approach it. You can directly work with the manufacturer or choose an affiliate program. Each option has its own perks and cons.
Working directly with the seller may offer you more money since you will not have to pay network fees and other charges.
Moreover, networks may also have stringent requirements such as a specific number of followers before you can sign up. But, there are various advantages of working with a network.
First of all, you will have access to a large number of products under one roof. Top affiliate networks have thousands of products for partners to select. This makes management easier as you will not have to have multiple accounts in order to market multiple products.
Plus, affiliate networks are also known for ease. They offer insights and analytical tools that make marketing easier.
Lastly, affiliate networks offer more security. If you search the web, you will find a number of brands offering affiliate programs. While some of them are reliable, some are only out there to rob you.
Working with a reputable network reduces the risk of scams as networks typically only include brands or companies that are safe and reliable.
Create a Site or Utilize Your Online Presence
Since affiliate marketing involves selling online, you will need a solid virtual presence to make money on the internet.
The first step should be to create a website, or in my case a YouTube channel, that can help people find what you’re selling. It should be in the same niche as the product you’re trying to sell. You can opt to have an e-commerce store but that may not be the most effective option as it can be hard to rank online stores.
We suggest that you start a website dedicated to the product and post content such as blogs and reviews. Since about 97% of people read reviews before buying a product, posting such content can be very effective in finding buyers.
In addition to a website, consider creating social media pages as well. You have a variety of options including Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Since it can be difficult to be active on all social media platforms, we suggest that you stick to one that houses your audience.
LinkedIn, for example, can be a great pick if you offer producers for executives such as hiring services. Similarly, Instagram can be a great option if you sell fashion and beauty products since it’s popular among makeup artists.
Market What You’re Trying to Sell
Merely having a social media account or website is not enough, you will have to market what you’re trying to sell. You can have the best product in the world but no one’s going to buy it if they’re not aware of it.
Affiliate marketers use a variety of techniques to market products. Some use paid options while some stick to free ways to market affiliate products.
The company you’ve joined hands with may have a manual on how to market its products. Affiliate networks are also known to offer marketing materials including banners that can be placed on your website.
In most cases, you will be given a code or special link to include in your marketing content so that the website can track your users. Using generic links or product names will not give you any results as the system will not be able to link a sale to your account.
Some affiliate networks and companies are very stringent about the marketing techniques used. Make sure to go through the terms and conditions so that you do not get into any trouble.
It is important that you know about the product you are trying to market or sell. Buyers may have a lot of questions regarding your product including its benefits and use.
Not being able to answer their questions can cause them to look elsewhere, hence get educated and make sure to get your hands on what you’re trying to sell so that you’re fully aware of what it’s capable of.
Build Your Audience
Now that your site is up and running, it is time to build your audience. Remember that marketing is a continuous process. If you stop putting efforts into selling and gaining more views, someone else will dethrone you.
Competition is tough. Never take things lightly and continue to put your best foot forward so that you can sell more.
Your website must be user-friendly. Remember to make it easy for people to give you money. Connect with your audiences and work on building relationships. Relationship marketing can be helpful in finding success as an affiliate marketer.
Earn and Withdraw Money
Now that you’ve started to sell, you will begin to earn money. It can take new affiliate marketers months before they have enough money to withdraw. Also, some networks will keep your money for security purposes before releasing it to you.
Since affiliate marketing involves real money, you might be required to submit identity documents such as your driver’s license before you can withdraw money. Hence, make sure to use true and real information for signing up for an account. Using fake information can get your account blocked.
How Can I Become a Successful Affiliate Marketer?
Everyone wants to be an affiliate marketer and make money but not everyone finds success in this field. Here are a few things you must keep in mind to become a successful affiliate marketer:
Choose the Right Product
This is the most important step because you will never be able to find success if you do not choose the right product.
The term ‘right’ is ambiguous as what works for someone else may not be right for you. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a product:
- The Demand
Technically speaking, there’s a demand for almost every product out there but some have more buyers than others. It is best to stick to a product that’s heavily in demand so that you do not have to work very hard to find buyers.
You can look at tools such as Google Trends to know more about what’s in demand and what isn’t. Also, remember that some products are not in demand throughout the air.
Air conditioners, for example, usually sell well during the hotter months. If you choose a product that only sells a few months of a year, you might not be able to make a decent amount of money throughout the year.
- The Price
Since you will only get a small percentage of the selling price, it is very important to pay attention to this factor.
Expensive products typically offer more money but they may not be the best option since it can be hard to sell expensive products.
Think about shoes, a pair that costs $1,000 and pays 2% commission will earn you $20 per sale. Since the price tag is very high, you might not be able to sell more than 12 units per month, which means you will earn a commission of only $240 per month.
On the other hand, if you choose to sell a pair that costs $100 and pays a 2% commission, you might be able to sell 150 pairs in a month due to high demand.
At the end of the day, your commission will be $300. As evident from this example, commission for each unit is higher for expensive products but the overall profit is usually more for more affordable products.
Always choose a product according to your buyers. If you think they can afford expensive shoes then you can stick to $1,000 shoes. Otherwise, work with brands that are more reasonable.
- The Competition
Affiliate marketing networks carried out over 170 million transactions in 2017. This does not only show how big affiliate marketing is but it also highlights how stiff competition can be. Everyone’s fighting for a share of the pie.
Cutthroat competition can make it difficult for new marketers to make a mark in the field. If you’re still finding a foothold then try to find a niche or product that is not very competitive.
- The Commission
As mentioned earlier, the commission is variable and can be between 2% to 40%. Big names like Amazon offer low commissions but a huge number of products. It’s also easier to sell Amazon products since the company offers international delivery and buyers also trust the brand.
Do not run after high commissions. A lot of companies that offer very high commissions are either scams or unreliable. It can be hard to convince buyers to purchase a product that has been manufactured by a company that nobody knows of. Hence, be responsible.
Select the Right Platform
Do not blindly select a platform. The first decision is between the official site or affiliate networks. If you are going for the latter then select options that are reliable.
Not all affiliate networks accept users from all around the world. Also, some may charge a joining fee or commission on every sale. A very important factor to remember when selecting a platform is the cookie period.
Most buyers will not make a purchase right away. They’ll go to multiple sites and compare products for a few days before they finalize a purchase. Affiliate networks take this period into consideration and offer a ‘cookie period’ that is usually between 20 to 60 days.
If a user reaches a product via an affiliate link through your site and makes a purchase within the specified period, it will be considered a sale and get credited to your account. The higher this period the better it is.
Make Sure to Market Properly
Do not make the mistake of neglecting this factor. You can use a variety of techniques to market products. Here are some of the most popular choices:
- SEO, since about 51% of traffic is organic. But, get ready to spend a lot of time on SEO as it can take websites a long time to rank well.
- Email marketing, after all, it still offers an ROI of up to 4,300%. You will, however, need a solid email list to make use of this method.
- Social media because it influences about 74% of shoppers. Plus, buyers tend to trust reviews found on third-party sites.
- YouTube as it is now the second largest search engine and a lot of people love to watch videos about how to use a product before they purchase it.
- Website because it can help users find you. Post a variety of content on your site including blogs, infographics, podcasts, etc. Make sure to include a search function on your site and have a mobile friendly website since about 5.16 billion users now have mobile phones and most of them use mobile devices to access the web.
You can use all these marketing methods and compare what works for you. Once you find the option that offers the highest return, stick to it.
Do I Need Money to Become an Affiliate Marketer?
Technically speaking, you do not need money to become an affiliate marketer. However, it can be very difficult to be a successful affiliate marketer without spending a penny.
Here are a few expenses you may have to incur:
Get a Website – starts as low as $150 per year
A website is not a must to become an affiliate marketing but it can increase your chances of finding success. Plus, some affiliate networks have it as a prerequisite.
You can get a free website but a .com or paid domain looks better. It will cost you about $10 per month. Avoid cheap or free hosting servers. They have limitations and they’re also insecure. Spend about $100 on hosting per month.
The next step is building a website. You can use WordPress and other such platforms to create a free site. If you want a kickass website then you’ll have to hire developers. This can cost you between $100 to $1,000.
Come up with a unique name and get a logo. You can create free logos online or hire a designer to get the job done for you. It can cost between $5 and $100.
Create Content for Your Site – starts as low as $200 per month
You must post regular content on your site. It can be in the form of blogs, videos, or podcasts or a mix of all these.
You will not have much to worry about if you can create your own content. The articles must be informative, long, and SEO friendly. Consider including graphics as well since posts that contain images tend to get more likes, shares, and engagement.
Post at least twice a month to ensure your visitors have something to come back to. Plus, you can make money blogging if you play it right.
In addition to your website, you will also have to take care of your social media pages. You must post at least once a day so that engagement can be maintained.
You can use your mobile phone to click photos or make videos. Some marketers also opt to invest in professional cameras to get high quality content for their pages.
You can handle this all on your own but it can take about 10 to 20 hours per week since managing a website and social media is a full-time job. If you’re too busy you can consider hiring a manager or content creator to take care of the job. They’ll charge anywhere between $8 to $20 per hour.
Hire an SEO firm – starts as low as $500 per month
You will have to hire an SEO agency to rank well on search engines. This is important because about 71% of users do not go beyond the first page when they look for a product or service online.
SEO is technical and includes a lot of elements such as backlinks, inner links, keywords, etc. Companies charge between $500 and $5,000 per month for SEO services.
Look for a provider with experience in the business so you can increase your rate of conversion and sell more.
Advertise Your Content – starts as low as $5 per month
Affiliate marketers have the option to advertise on Google, Facebook, and other such platforms. It’s a quick way to reach buyers but such campaigns need to be designed with care because you will not get good returns if you do not target the right audience.
You can hire professionals to manage your accounts. They usually charge a percentage of the total advertising budget. Find an option that offers the best returns.
Which Is The Best Affiliate Marketing Niche?
Since there are a lot of niches out there, it can be very difficult to pick the right one. To help you become an affiliate marketer, we have highlighted five of the best niches:
Health and Fitness
You can sell supplements, gym equipment, gym memberships, and fitness eBooks. Commissions are in the range of 20 to 40 percent.
Wealth and Money
This is a very popular niche. You can work with trading companies, finance gurus, and investment firms. The commission can be up to 50% but competition is very stiff in this niche.
Fashion and Beauty
The industry is worth $2 trillion and has a lot of potential but commission is low – between 3 and 10 percent.
Gaming and Software
With a CAGR of 12%, this is one of the fastest growing fields. It offers very high commissions – up to 30% – and gives a chance to sell a variety of software in multiple niches.
Hobbies and Survival
This one includes all kinds of hobbies such as fishing, golfing, flying, and painting. Commissions vary based on products but the option is very lucrative due to the huge number of options out there.
These are some of the best affiliate marketing niches. Make sure to pick one that fits you the best.
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: FAQ
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about affiliate marketing:
#1 Can an affiliate work with several companies?
Yes, you can, there are no limits on the number of affiliate networks a person works with.
#2 How many followers do I need to become an affiliate?
This depends on the network or website you’re signing up for. Most require at least 5,000 followers but some can be more demanding.
#3 Shall I tell people if I am an affiliate?
Yes, the Federal Trade Commission requires affiliates to disclose if they get compensated for promoting a product or service. Not doing so can get you into trouble.
#4 How much money will I make as an affiliate marketer?
You can make between $100 to $10,000 per month depending on your audience, product, and other such factors.
#5 Which is the best affiliate network?
Some of the best affiliate networks include ClickBank, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, Amazon Associates, and Rakuten Marketing. Compare all these options and pick what fits you the best.
#6 Can I sell outside of the internet?
You can market the product outside of the internet but all purchases must be made online.
#7 When will I get paid?
You will get paid when you reach the minimum threshold that can be as low as $50 or as high as $500 depending on the platform you’re working with.
#9 Can affiliate marketing be a substitute for a full time job?
While there are people making a lot of money as an affiliate marketer, the truth is that it may not be a safe substitute for a full-time job because the amount of money you’ll make per month is never guaranteed.
Ready to work as an affiliate marketer? Check our blog section for tips and get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help you.