What is Affiliate Marketing?
What is affiliate marketing?
In today’s post, I will cover affiliate marketing meaning, how to do affiliate marketing, and I will answer a question that is probably on your mind as well: is affiliate marketing worth it?
I will also cover different types of affiliate commissions, affiliate networks versus affiliate programs and so much more.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
In simple terms, affiliate marketing is making money by selling someone else’s product for a commission.
Let’s say that I am a travel agency looking for more customers and you are a person with contacts or who knows potential customers looking for vacation packages or hotel bookings. I hire you as an affiliate marketer and offer you a commission on the total price of the package every time you bring me a new customer.
Affiliate marketing has existed before the internet. It just probably had a different name by then. Remember Avon representatives for example? I am sure you’re familiar with those. When someone sells any of the Avon products in the book, they get a commission for whatever they sell to the customers.
In the digital world, it works the same way; except that you do it all online instead of going door to door.
I am an affiliate marketer for many products that I use myself. For example, I use Bluehost for my hosting and recommend it to my readers and viewers on YouTube. When someone buys a hosting package through my affiliate link (more on that later), I will get a commission
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
I have made a video explaining the basics of affiliate marketing. You can watch it below, or continue reading for more details:
So how does affiliate marketing work in the online world?
When you decide to promote a product online, you are provided with what is called an affiliate link or a tracking link. This link is what you will use to promote that affiliate offer and it’s a way for the product owner to know that the sale is coming through you.
In most cases, affiliate links are long links filled with a bunch of letters and numbers, but there is a way to make them shorter and more “esthetic” looking. More on that later.
Is Affiliate Marketing Worth it? Why not Sell Your Own Product?
This is a very good question that a lot of people ask. Why not sell your own products and keep all the money instead of selling someone else’s?
Why Not Sell Your Own?
I have created my own products in the past, but to be honest, I prefer to do affiliate marketing. Creating your own products has pros and cons. Here are a few:
- You get to keep all the money.
- You have full control over your product or service.
- You can build a brand for yourself and your company/ product or service.
- You can build your own list of customers and buyers.
- You can hire affiliates to make even more money if you want to.
- You have to invest time and money creating your own products. Think about software for example. It takes a lot of time and loads of money to pay a developer to create a piece of software for you. Also, you will be responsible for bugs, updates etc.
- Customer service is a pain in the a**. Imagine when you launch your product and people start contacting you left, right and center asking questions, having problems etc. You are the one who will have to deal with all that. Alternatively, you can hire someone to handle customer service for you, but it will cost you even more money.
- The sales pitch! You have to be able to craft a highly converting sales page so that people will buy from you. If you don’t know how to write copy, you (again) need to hire someone and spend even more money on that.
- You will have no guarantee of sales; especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know if your products will be beneficial for your audience and you don’t know if they will sell.
- You need a bit (or a lot) of expertise in your field if you want to position yourself as an authority to create a product for your market
Affiliate Marketing is Far Better, Here's Why:
Being an affiliate marketer is a walk in the park compared to all that! Here’s why:
- You don’t have to create your products. You don’t need to spend sleepless nights making a product, nor do you have to spend any money either. Affiliate marketing is free.
- There are millions of products you could choose from to promote, and you can promote as many as you want simultaneously.
- Very important: you don’t need to provide customer service.
- You don’t need to write a sales letter. All you need to do is to choose a product that is already converting/selling.
Affiliate Products, Programs and Networks. What's the Difference?
These terms can be very confusing when you get started as an affiliate marketer. So allow me to explain each one of them.
An affiliate product or service is what you promote to potential customers in order to get a commission. So for example if a vendor creates a course about video marketing, that couse is the affiliate product that I will promote to get commissions.
An affiliate program is when a company that owns one or more products decides to make them available for affiliates to promote.
For example if Disney wants to have affiliates promoting their products, they will create an affiliate program for some or all of their products and will make them available for you, as an affiliate to promote. But all the products will be from one company, which in this case is Disney.
An affiliate network on the other hand, is a place where product vendors list their affiliate programs.
Think of affiliate networks as marketplaces where people list their products to attract affiliates and make more sales through affiliates.
There are so many affiliate networks out there. It could be hard and confusing to choose which ones to sign up to, but I will provide you with a list (more on that later) to get you started.
How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing
So how do you make money with affiliate marketing?
Signing up to affiliate networks and choosing what products to promote are only the first step in your journey as an affiliate marketer. Once you have decided what products to promote, it’s time to do the work to make it happen and start generating some cash.
Here are some of my favorite methods:
I have to say that I am biased because I am a blogger, so I will put blogging at the top of this list.
Blogging is an excellent way to generate income with affiliate products. What you would normally do is write a good piece of content that offers a lot of value to your readers, then insert affiliate links within your content as product or service recommendations. Because you are offering value to your readers, they will more likely buy from you because you are building trust and a long term relationship with your audience.
If you are unsure about how to get started with blogging, I have written an extensive guide that you can find here. It’s the ultimate guide on blogging and it walks you every step of the way to get you started.
Your List of Subscribers:
A list of subscribers (also called an email list) is vital if you want to succeed online. If you build a good list and nurture it by offering value to your audience, they will more likely buy from you.
Subscribers are by far the best source of targeted traffic. Once you have an established list, you can pretty much make money every time you send an email promoting an offer.
If you wish to learn how to build your list, check my blog post here.
An excellent way to promote your affiliate offers is through video marketing. If you are using the product yourself (I highly recommend that you do), it’s a great way to demonstrate the product to your audience and review it in a video.
Video marketing is free to do and really has the potential to bring you a lot of traffic. If you want to learn how to make videos, how to rank them in YouTube search results and how to make money as an affiliate through video, I highly recommend this course.
Best Affiliate Networks to Join
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of affiliate networks that you could choose from, and this could be a little confusing at first. But don’t worry, I have made a list of some of the best ones to get you started.
If you have ever read anything about affiliate marketing, I am sure you have read about Clickbank. It’s the network almost everyone chooses first when they get started, because you can literally choose an offer, get your tracking link (affiliate link) and get started straight away.
Most offers will be available for you to promote immediately, but in some cases, you will need to request for approval from the vendor. With that said, when you are tipping your toes in the affiliate marketing world, I suggest you go for the instant approval offers. Once you build your profile and have a few sales under your belt, you can start requesting approval for other offers.
The pay rate for affiliate offers in Clickbank varies. It always depends on the product, the vendor and other variables.
Clickbank was the first network I joined when I was a beginner 🙂
JVZoo is another good affiliate network that has loads of offers to choose from. It has a huge section of products in the online marketing niche. So if you are in that niche, you will have so many options to choose from.
However, with JVZoo, most of the time, you will have to request the vendor to approve you as an affiliate. It may be hard if they don’t know who you are. But if you already have some sales in Clickbank for example, you could write to the vendor and explain that you are new to JVZoo but that you have some sales in other networks and that you are serious about promoting their offer. Alternatively, if you have a blog or a YouTube channel where you do your product reviews, you can share a link to that with them.
They might accept you on delayed commissions, which is fine, but once they know you and trust you, you can request to be put on instant commissions. This means that as soon as the sale is made, the money is in your PayPal account.
Just like Clickbank, the commission rates in JVZoo depend on the products and vendors.
ShareASale is another great affiliate network that has both digital and physical offers. It has a lot of offers to choose from and some of them have very high commissions.
ShareASale works with big brands like Reebok, Etsy, Groupon, Buzzfeed and so many others. So you can be sure you are promoting quality products.
Note: you will need to request for approval for almost every offer on this network.
Erica Stone, a very successful affiliate marketer has released a course on how to make big commissions with ShareASale, you can check it out by clicking here.
WarriorPlus or W+ is another affiliate network that you can get started on. It is mainly concentrated on online marketing related offers and make money online products.
I have promoted many products on WarriorPlus, but I have to warn you about something when it comes to this network. There are unfortunately many many vendors on there selling utter crap products that many affiliates promote. Do not be fooled by that. If you see a product that sells 3,000 copies, it does NOT mean that it’s a good one. Unfortunately, nowadays, these products and the affiliates who promote them are a dime a dozen. I will explain later how to choose a good product to promote.
You also need to be approved to sell on WarriorPlus.
Like I mentioned earlier, there are a LOT of affiliate networks out there, but you can get started with the above ones as they are so easy to get into and you can really make some good money with their offers.
Affiliate Links or Tracking links
As mentioned earlier, your affiliate link or tracking link is the link that the affiliate network gives you once you decide to promote a product.
Every affiliate link contains a tracking code, which in most cases is a sequence of letters and numbers. An affiliate link looks like this:
As you can see, it’s long and ugly and is definitely not appealing to click on 😀 So what you can do, if you have a blog (which I recommend you do) is use a plugin called Pretty Links to make that link shorter and well… pretty.
So instead of this:
You can have something like this:
That contains my website, with the name I want to give to that link. It definitely looks better.
If you don’t know what a WordPress plugin is, you can check out my video here.
Affiliate Makreting Best Practices
I felt that I had to dedicate a section just to talk about affiliate marketing best practices. When you are new to affiliate marketing, it’s so easy to be influenced by other people’s opinions and practices, and they may not always give you the best advice
Excuse my French there, but there is no other way I can describe them.
So let’s start with the crappy products and their respective crappy vendors, as well as the crappy affiliates who promote them. You see a product selling by the thousands, and you immediately think: wow this must be an amazing product.
Not all the products that sell a lot are good ones. Simply because there is a circle of jerks online who sell each other’s products on a daily basis and who sell absolute sh*t. They don’t care about their audience and they don’t care if the product will benefit the buyer. All they care about is to make a quick buck out of desperate people who want to succeed online.
I am sorry if I am getting serious here, but it’s the sad truth. And this is exactly why affiliate marketing has such a bad name.
So how do you choose a good product to promote?
Well, there are a couple of ways you can do that. But the best way in my opinion and the only method I will discuss here is to actually have the product yourself and recommend it.
Because when you recommend something you are using yourself, chances are people will see you using it and will trust you more because if it’s good enough for you, it will be good enough for them.
Don’t choose a product you know nothing about, because you will not be able to build that rapport with your audience. Sooner of later, you will lose their respect.
If it’s a digital product, there is an option to ask the vendor for a review copy. If you are new and can’t get a review copy, buy it and review it. Yes, trust me, it’s the best way to do a thorough review and recommendation.
Another thing to keep in mind is the commission rate. Make sure it’s worth your effort.
Always Be Honest:
I know this goes without saying, but always be honest when you are recommending a product that you want to sell.
What I mean by that is; if there is anything about the product you don’t like, do mention it in your recommendation. Always make a list of pros and cons of whatever you are promoting. People will respect you more for being honest in your reviews.
Don't Be a Spammer:
When you get your affiliate link the first time, you just want to blast that link everywhere and make people see it and visit it so you can start making money. As tempting as it is…
Don’t do it. Because you will:
A. Not get any sales.
B. Be banned from the affiliate network for spamming.
Keep in mind that most affiliate networks (if not all) are very particular about spamming and they can tell if you’ve been doing it.
In some cases of affiliate network that have a long approval process, if you ever do that, you will be banned for life and never be able to get your account again.
Can You Make a Full Time Income on Affiliate Marketing?
The short answer is it depends.
Yes, you can make a full time income as an affiliate marketer if you give it time, work on it and build it up.
No, it won’t happen overnight because this is a business and you need to build it up from scratch and grow it.
I am not a full time affiliate marketer yet. I make my income from other online sources too, but I personally know people who make 5 figures a month with online marketing alone. So yes, it is possible.
I hope this post has shed some light on what affiliate marketing is and how it works. It takes work, patience and time to succeed as an affiliate marketer, but in the end, it’s totally worth it.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post. Please ask me any questions that you have in the comments section, and I will be more than happy to help when I can.
If you want a very detailed course about affiliate marketing, I highly recommend Adam Payne’s Affiliate Oracle. It’s an extensive course that teaches you how to make money as an affiliate from scratch.