What is Affiliate Marketing?
Let’s start with the most basic of basic questions: what is affiliate marketing?
Simply put, affiliate marketing is a way for you (the affiliate) to earn a commission for recommending products or services to your friends or readers.
To simplify it, here’s the 4 step process for how it works:
You find a product you want to promote
You sign up for their affiliate program
You get a special link that allows the merchant to track the people who clicked your link
If they buy the product, you get a commission.
Pretty simple, right?
It can get much more advanced, but in this post we’re just going to start with the fundamentals and get you to the point where you’re ready to make your first commission.
How Does It Work?
There are a lot of different ways to track affiliates these days, but all are based off someone clicking your special tracking link.
The most common and basic type of tracking is via a cookie.
When the link is clicked, a small file called a cookie is stored on their computer letting the merchant know that if a sale is made, it came from you.
There are also more advanced methods based on the email used or IP address – but we won’t get into those here, we’ll stick to the basics.
How Do You Find a Product to Promote?
Here’s the thing, you can pick just about any product that you can buy online, and there will be an affiliate program that will pay you a finders fee for referring a sale.
However, just because you can promote anything, doesn’t mean you should.
The most important thing to consider when selecting a product to market is, “is it relevant to your audience?”
For instance, for me to try and advertise for dumbbells on Location 180 probably isn’t the smartest thing, because 99% of my audience could care less about them.
Note: If you happen to be in the market for dumbbells, feel free to go ahead and click that link and prove me wrong
However, for me to promote, say, WP Engine a WordPress hosting company – makes much more sense, since almost every one of my readers either has, or has considered starting a website.
When I’m trying to decide what to promote I always ask myself the following questions:
Do I use this product?
Will the vast majority of my readers benefit from using this product?
Is the buying process easy?
Is there a good affiliate commission? (Not always necessary)
If I answer yes to each of these questions, then it’s probably a good fit and worth promoting.
Action Item: Make a list of products that you use that you think your blog audience would benefit from using as well. Try to think of as many as you can.
Physical Products vs. Information Products vs. Services
Ok, you should have an idea of which products you might want to promote – now it’s time to decide which of those are the best fit for you and your audience.
There are three different types of things you can promote via affiliate marketing:
Each of these has pros and cons, and we’re going to look at those now.
Physical products are probably the easiest thing to promote for one reason, and one reason only: Amazon.
Amazon has the world’s largest affiliate program, and once you sign up, you can get a link for any product on the site, and earn a commission on it!
Pretty cool, right?
Well, yes and no.
Commissions on physical products are notoriously low, due to all of the factors that go into selling them (manufacturing, wholesaling, shipping, etc).
So you can earn a 4% commission on anything at Amazon. Once you’ve referred at least 7 items in a calendar month, your commission will bump up to 6%, then 6.5%, 7 up to a max of around 8.5%.
Even if you’re selling thousands of items a month, you’re still making less than a 10% commission. Because of this I know a ton of people who make a little bit of money off of Amazon, but few who make thousands.
Average Physical Product Commissions: 4-10%. Anything over 10% is very good.
How to Sign Up
Signing up for Amazon’s affiliate program is an excellent starting point, because the chances are good you already use Amazon, are familiar with it, and your readers are too
Why Affiliate Marketing is Better than Other Types of Blog Monetization
Most new bloggers assume that advertising or banner ads are the best way to monetize your site.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
They often get started with Adsense because it’s easy. To be honest I can’t remember the last time I saw an Adsense advertisement – thank you Adblock!
But seriously, not only will these make your site hideous, you have to have obscene amounts of traffic to actually make any real income.
Selling ad space to sponsors is almost as bad.
A good rule of thumb I’ve always used for how much you could sell ad space for is this:
Daily visitors divided by 10 is the dollar amount you can make per month on an ad.
If you get 1,000 visitors a day, you divide that by 10, and see that you can charge $100 a month for each ad on your site.
Now keep in mind this is just a rule of thumb, and depending on your niche it could be substantially higher or substantially lower.
If you’re just starting out, $100 a month could seem pretty good, but it takes a lot of work to get up t0 1k visitors a day – and if you get that many, you’re much better off monetizing via affiliate ads or ads for your own product.
See those Location Rebel ads over on the sidebar?
If someone clicks on that and buys my product I make $500 – 5 times more than I’d make for that sponsor ad. All I need is one every 5 months to make this a better option. Not only that, but it’s helping build my brand identity and reputation, rather than some random company.
Successful Promotion Strategies
Ok, now the most important part.
By now you should have a good sense of what affiliate marketing is, have an idea of what products you want to promote, and know how to get your affiliate links for them.
But if you don’t know how to properly promote them, it doesn’t really matter now does it? Nope.
In this section we’re going to look at some of the easiest and most successful ways to promote an affiliate offer.
The Resource Page
This is probably the easiest thing you can do right now to bring in a few sales over the coming weeks: create a resource page.
Regardless of what your business is, there are tools, products, and services that you use to run your blog or business. By putting together a page of all of your tools and resources, you’re creating something that’s sharable, as well as useful.