Monetizing a Site: Affiliate Marketing Basics
How do people fund their blogs? The answer you’re likely to hear over and over again is affiliate marketing.
Ready to get a piece of the action? The following overview and key tips should set you in the right direction.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the act of promoting someone else’s product or service online and receiving a commission on any sales that occur as a direct result of your referral. Referrals are tracked through affiliate links and cookies.
Affiliate marketing is considered a form of passive income because money can be generated while you get on with your life. However, it is a bit misleading to think of affiliate marketing in this way.
In order for you to earn money from affiliate links, people actually have to click on the links. That means people have to be reading or viewing your content. And as any blogger knows, driving traffic to your site is certainly not a passive task.
Most affiliate marketers hope to at least earn some return on investment, which helps them dedicate time and energy to sustaining their website, YouTube channel, etc. But the ultimate dream is to have a viral website that chugs money straight into your bank account.
How to Become an Affiliate Marketer
The easiest way to become an affiliate marketer is to join an affiliate network. Start by joining the largest affiliate network, Amazon Affiliates.
From there, consider the brands, companies and websites from which you frequently make purchases. Do a simple Google search with the name of the company plus the word “affiliate,” and you should turn up the page that explains how to start the process.
You’ll notice something right away: there are criteria that must be met before you can join these networks. It’s not as simple as registering and automatically getting in. For the most part, you have to prove your chops.
Typically you need a website and at least one social media channel. Once you have both of these set up, register for some networks. Expect to wait a little while for your application to be approved.
Once your request to join the network gets the seal of approval, all you have to do is follow the directions for generating your affiliate links, banners and images for various products, and embed them on your site.
Easy as pie! Now comes the hard part: telling people about your website. Remember, if no one is even looking at your site, there’s no way anyone can click on an affiliate link.
Keys to Successful Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a numbers game. It requires patience and some marketing savvy.
Here are some tips to help you stay focused and on track:
- Decide on a niche to build a following. What are you truly passionate about? You want your passion to show through each of the reviews.
- Connect with brands on social media. When you give a glowing review of a product, tag the brand in social media. They are likely to share the review on their own channels, giving your site traffic a boost. Don’t be shy in letting brands know that you are interested in reviewing their products; they might even send you some samples at no charge!
- Learn how to use search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) ads, etc. Write your blog posts and reviews in such a way that will make it easy for people to find your site. This means brushing up on your SEO knowledge. According to Regus, traditional marketing methods like exchanging business cards at networking events or paying for print and virtual advertisements should also be considered, even for virtual businesses. Do what makes sense for your niche.
- Be credible in your reviews. People follow the recommendations of people whom they trust. Include your own pictures of the product, anecdotes about why you bought it and how it has helped you, critical evaluations of its flaws, and research that helps back-up any claims about its efficacy. Avoid writing a review that is generic and not compelling.
- Make connections with your readers. Another way to build trust with your readers is to connect with them on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean you should flood their inbox with emails. Instead, reply to their comments on your site or on social media. Allow them to get to know you. They’ll be more likely to return and to trust you when you recommend a product.
- Diversify your site content. By all means, write as many product reviews as you can. Pit similar products together to see which one “wins.” But unless you have an incredible supply of products to review and a very popular niche, it’s wise to diversify your site content. Include educational articles and slip in an affiliate link when appropriate, for example. Write personal blogs about your experiences. Keep it fresh and engaging.
Remember that affiliate marketing is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. You can only succeed if you continue to build your following. Make your site a priority, even if you have a “day job,” and you should see regular progress. That first commission might be a small amount, but it’s a huge accomplishment!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.