Affiliate Marketing Guide – Section 2…
How To Become An Affiliate Marketer
To become a successful affiliate marketer, you’re going to need the following:
- A collection of products to review, recommend, or mention.
- Platforms where you can recommend this collection of products. (Blog, YouTube, etc)
- A large audience to generate affiliate income.
- An affiliate marketing strategy to maximize your reach and boost profits.
In this section we will run through all of these strategies so you know exactly how to become an affiliate marketer and start you off on the right footing, this will give you the best start to affiliate marketing.
Firstly, let’s talk about one of the most important things you can ever do as an affiliate marketer.
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Plan your way to affiliate marketing success
If you dive straight into affiliate marketing without a clear plan on what you want to do, and how you are going to do it, you’re going to fail quite quickly and for good reason.
Unfortunately, it would seem like most people will do just this. They will hear the term affiliate marketing and jump in headfirst without first learning how to succeed.
The good news is that you are reading this, so automatically you are ahead of most! Well done!
By using this guide, you’re going to plan things out meticulously, set your targets for the first 1, 2, or 3 years, breaking them down into achievable monthly targets, and accurately forecast the money and time you need to achieve these targets.
You will now need to know the following: (this is specific to you, but we will help with some of these and show you where you can save money!)
What is your budget?
This is individual to you, write down a number you are willing to spend as an initial budget to get you started.
How much will your website cost?
Will you make your website yourself for free or will you pay a web designer? Please note that if you do this yourself, you will need hosting so take this into account.
How much your content is going to cost?
Will you use paid images or videos? This will be accounted for here. You may alternatively use websites such as Pixabay.com for royalty-free images and videos.
How much will you spend on advertising?
This depends on the platform you plan on advertising on. Platforms that offer advertising will clearly show their costs. You can now estimate a budget for advertising.
How much will you spend on marketing tools?
Some marketing tools may charge a monthly or annual subscription, with this cost you can assess a budget needed for your marketing tools budget.
How much affiliate income will you need to make your strategy profitable?
Here you will write down a number that corresponds to all expenses that have come out of your pockets.
How much profit do you need?
With a break-even point identified, you can now see what you aim to earn. This will be the profit you need for your business to succeed. We recommend starting with a break-even number, as you can test and scale your project at a later date which will greatly change this number.
When do you need to reach profitability?
How long can you survive with your initial investment? Break costs down to costs per month, now you can easily identify when you will essentially run out of money.
When do you need to reach your target profitability?
Keeping in mind that you don’t want to work forever without being paid, you will have to be able to identify a month when you will need to reach your target profit.
How much are you’re going to earn from every affiliate sale?
As multiple products and affiliate sales will generate different amounts, try to establish an average price per affiliate sale.
How many affiliate sales do you need to hit your targets?
If your project costs $200 a month then you will need to sell 50 products for example. To figure this out, you can use your average price per affiliate sale.
How much traffic do you need to send to partner sites to hit your sales target?
Using the previous number (50 sales) you can now estimate how much traffic you need to achieve this. Statistics say that conversion rates online are approximately 2%, so with 50 sales needed for profit, you will need 2,500 visitors to achieve your sales target.
If you can’t answer all of these bullet points, with precise answers, then you will need to do more research and planning before launching your affiliate website or blog.
Now is a good time to try to answer these questions truthfully on a piece of paper, if any questions are unanswered, complete this guide, then come back to the question. Some information such as “how much from affiliate sales” will be much easier to answer later in this guide.
Once you are capable of answering all of these questions with specific numbers. You can put together a 3-year plan. Starting we suggest you act as optimistic as possible, now once you have a few months of actual figures regarding sales, traffic, and other measurable factors, you will be capable of plotting a more accurate chart, and project a more specific future.
Choose The Products You Want To Promote
Now you will need to choose the type of products you aim to promote in your affiliate marketing strategy. With so many choices out there, it can be hard to narrow down your search to choose specific products. Do not overlook this step though, do some research into the products, how sought after they are, and how hard it will be to sell them.
Keep in mind that affiliate marketing also works for services, not just products!
Promote Products You Already Know & Like
Generally, this will make it easier for you to sell. This will automatically give you the headstart as you will be enthusiastic about the product you are promoting.
To give you an example of what to stay away from, if you have never designed a website, then selling web design software would not be a good match for you. This is because you will be unable to talk about the product in enough detail to make a valid, genuine recommendation.
Instead, look for a product or service that you would buy yourself in your personal or professional life. To help you out, try to think of answers to these questions:
- What software do you use daily?
- What products do you know inside out that others struggle to understand?
- What are your biggest passions in life what are the products/services you use in pursuit of them?
For example, if you are an accountant, you can easily promote accountancy software, this is because you will be familiar with specific software and can give a genuine review of such products and recommend them to visitors. You can also offer tutorials etc which can form your content, or offer lessons to boost your income.
Maybe you’re a photography enthusiast who has a wealth of knowledge with some of the specifics of photography. In this case, you can easily sell camera parts where you can use your knowledge to discuss camera bodies, lenses, accessories, editing software, and any other related materials.
In reality, affiliate marketing all comes down to having enough knowledge about the products you’re promoting, which you can promote to help less-informed people to make better buying decisions. Or at least make people feel like they’re making better buying decisions.
Let’s imagine a situation where a photographer wants to buy a new camera but doesn’t know where to start. You as an affiliate marketer can offer this person a website or blog whereby this photographer can easily see the pros and cons of certain products, and thanks to your review and recommendation, this photographer will go on to buy the camera or camera accessory.
Your role in all of this will be to help people make buying decisions and the commission from sales will be your reward for doing so.
Actively search for products in your niche (with affiliate programs)
Once you have identified the niche you want to enter. You can start to pick some specific products to promote. You should probably already have a few products in mind if you chose a niche that you are familiar with.
If you can specifically identify a few products, be sure to check their website and look for any affiliate program they might have.
Once you’ve decided what your niche is going to be, you can start to pick specific products to promote. You should already have a list of potential products in mind and you can check their websites directly to see if they have an affiliate program. If they do, add them to your list of potential options.
If a product you’re thinking of does not have an affiliate program, then you will not earn any money from recommending their products, however, you can still use the knowledge you know about them in your content. We will talk more about this later.
Once you’ve figured out which products do & don’t have affiliate programs, its time to search for the alternatives, the competitors of these products.
Keeping with the same category as before, let us say you are creating a website or a blog around cameras. You may want to promote Cannon, but they do not have an affiliate program, you may want to therefore promote Panasonic. You will also be able to use your knowledge of Cannon to help you promote and recommend certain Panasonic products.
(I do not know about these companies, but rather are the two companies that came to mind for cameras!)
With that in mind, you will want to draw up a list of all other companies, and products around the product you want to promote. You will now have a list of companies and products that you can check for affiliate programs.
Once you have a list of products, companies, or services you want to promote, you can now create entire sections of reviews that are made up of products you can earn a commission from (by recommending) and those you won’t earn from (don’t recommend these but still talk about them, this will get you the keywords to boost your website or blog!)
Now you have covered your main topic, you will want to branch out slightly. To do this you can think of associated products or services to your main topic. In the case of cameras, you could easily search for photo editing software for example.
You must start with products you know first, from here you can then branch out, this will maximize your knowledge within your chosen niche.
Searching Affiliate Networks
Commission Junction is easily one of the most common, and most used affiliate networks. Once you have a list of products or services you want to target, an affiliate network such as Commission Junction (CJ.com) will be capable of bridging your company with these affiliate deals.
Some of these networks are free to join and there is no downside from joining. We would always recommend Commission Junction, it’s free to sign up at CJ.com
As the main purpose of affiliate networks is to connect merchants with affiliate marketers. These services are usually very easy to use and will save you the time and effort of searching for individual merchants.
Some of the most popular affiliate networks are:
- Amazon Associates
- Commission Junction
- eBay Partner Network
Affiliate networks can be extremely useful if you’re looking to add new products to an already profitable affiliate website or blog, or if you’re planning to manage multiple affiliate websites at once.
So what is better? The manual approach or affiliate marketing networks?
For new affiliate marketers, we would suggest starting with the manual approach, then if you are having problems finding affiliates, or aim to expand, you can easily make the move to an affiliate network.
Although affiliate networks can make it easier to find some affiliate programs, some negatives come with using them, these include:
- You have to pay some of your commission to the network
- You have limited control over the affiliate program
- Programs may be canceled without any prior notice
- Accounts may be deleted without any prior notice
- PayPal payouts are often unavailable
- Any new network will be a new platform to learn and manage
- Customer service can be poor
- Creating accounts (getting accepted) can be difficult
- Getting paid can be difficult
Here at Passive Income Tutor, we find that affiliate networks are most useful for affiliate marketers who are working on a large scale. With that being said, if you can afford to lose a portion of your commission then an affiliate network will be the best option for you. The time saved from using this network can be invested in promoting and optimizing your website or blog.
Another point of interest is that if you are looking to test out different products and promotions, an affiliate network will give you access to some of these products where you can then test them on your website, this will allow you to see if that branch of products is worth pursuing further.
Should you go with affiliate networks you will need to accept that there may be some small delays in getting paid, as well there is the risk of a program being shut down without notice.
For some new affiliates, who are already facing enough challenges with getting used to the industry. The cons of using some affiliate networks can sometimes be too much them to handle. This will ultimately result in negative reviews for the networks.
If you are going to use a network, know what you can expect from them, learn how to use their network as well as when to use them. They can always be kept on the side as a go-to place to go to should you need their service.
Choose Platforms To Post Affiliate Content
With your affiliate programs sorted, you will need to decide where you going to promote your links. Your website or blog will be the focal point of your affiliate marketing strategy, but this isn’t the only place you can promote your content on.
Your Blog or Website
Part of a more successful strategy will be to essentially create your branding. This means that it is always a good idea to use social media platforms and other referrals to come to your website first. This will build up your website or blog presence and may lead users to keep coming back to your website or blog in the future.
Keeping your affiliate products contained on your website will give you more control over the content and links you promote.
Your website is also going to be your most important resource in terms of building any search presence. As you publish articles and gain traffic you will establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
You aim to create a complete resource of information for your target audience so they can easily find buying advice they may need to make purchases with confidence.
This connection between you and your website or blog users will be crucial for maximizing your affiliate sales and commissions.
A key role your website or blog will play is that this platform will give you a way to build and increase the purchase intent of your traffic. When people first land on your website or blog, they will probably be quite far from making any purchase and therefore any chance of earning affiliate income is relatively low.
Some people will believe that the next customer will buy something when in fact they will probably do the same as the first user. This means that all your hard work will be for nothing. You have invested time and money to get these visitors, do everything you can to make these users click through your links, and ultimately buy a product, even if they don’t do it on their first visit to your website or blog.
To do this, you will need to offer an incentive to sign up for your blog or website newsletter, this will allow you to keep your users engaged. The more they visit your website or blog the more credibility they will give you, and ultimately the more likely they are to click through to affiliate deals and make a purchase.
One method of email marketing is to tell users about new product reviews, buying guides, or tutorials on how to use certain products.
According to research that was carried out by “Think with Google”, 62% of consumers watch videos before making a purchase.
If you use the example from earlier around photography, this means that you can create videos on YouTube promoting certain products. Pair this fact with another study from Google which shows that unboxing videos have become one of the biggest influencers in consumer electronic buying decisions.
This means that in this niche if you offer sound reviews of products, you create YouTube reviews which include the theme of “unboxing”. You are already setting yourself up for success!
Even if consumer electronics are not part of your affiliate marketing plans, publishing content on YouTube and other similar platforms can be very useful and this option should be explored.
You don’t need to spend huge amounts of money on professional footage, some of the most successful YouTube affiliate marketers simply film themselves using or unboxing a product.
If you do not want to appear in videos, an alternative is to record your voice for a product review and learn to create videos with programs such as OpenShot. This will ultimately save you money but does require you to learn how to create a video, although it is quite straight forward (drag and drop)
Social media platforms will play a crucial channel for promoting your affiliate products.
There are two ways to tackle this aspect:
- Promoting your affiliate content organically
- Promoting your affiliate content with paid ads
The key point here is “content”, most social networks will not allow you to post any form of affiliate links directly. Not to mention that this probably not a great way to grow your profile and maximize your profits.
Instead, think of social media as a means to promote your website or blog content. This is a great way to promote blog posts, guides, videos, etc. The aim of this is not to gain new affiliate sales but rather to grow your visitors, and hopefully to leave them with a positive experience of your website. This will likely lead to them either subscribing to a newsletter or simply coming back to your website or blog in the future.
As we aim to plan for the longterm, not the get rich quick, this method will help increase your traffic. As well as potentially lead to followers. Not to mention if some users like your content, they may inadvertently help you buy recommending your website or blog to friends and family.
Build an audience large enough for affiliate marketing
If you already have a blog with a large audience, with new visitors coming in every day, then you’re already in a great position to start affiliate marketing, not to mention it will be cheaper for you to get started.
Anything can be monetized, even if you have a cooking blog, you can easily say where you bought certain products or tools, these recommendations will form your affiliate marketing strategy. As your readers already follow you, they potentially want to know where you get products from, so by earning money, you may be providing more to your readers!
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t that lucky and most of us will have to start from the bottom. This means we will have to build an audience. With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get the traffic you need to be profitable.