A recent study showed that 81% of brands use affiliate marketing programs to promote their businesses.
Affiliate marketing is arguably one of the best ways to make money as an online marketer.
But how exactly does it work?
What is affiliate marketing, and how does it work?
Simply put, your job as an affiliate marketer is to introduce people to products from other companies.
When those people purchase the product, you get to receive a certain percentage of the sale.
Let’s say you promote a $50 product from a company A, and the company A agreed to pay 10% for each sale you make.
When you introduce someone to the product and the person buys it, you will receive $5 (10% of $50).
If you can get 1,000 people to buy the product, you are already making $5,000.
This may feel like an impossible task if you are just getting started with online marketing.
But with the internet, it’s not terribly difficult to reach thousands of people a day.
And if you know how to turn those people into buying customers, you’ll make a lot of money.
That’s not to say it’s easy to make money as an affiliate marketer.
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
But I want you to realize there’s a real opportunity to make a lot of money, and the ceiling for your income potential is set MUCH higher than working at a day job.
Affiliate Marketing For Beginners
There is a reason why affiliate marketing is often the best place to start for a beginner.
If you want to make money online, you need to:
- Build an audience
- Nurture a relationship with your audience
- Create or source a product
- Market your product in a compelling way
- Deal with customer complaints and refunds
These are not easy to master for a beginner affiliate marketer who’s just starting out.
As an affiliate marketer, you only need to focus on building your audience and gaining their trust by providing value.
Once your audience trust you to look out for their best interest, selling is the easy part.
And just because you start with affiliate marketing doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it.
When you’ve built a large enough audience, you are free to sell your own product or promote other’s products as an affiliate.
The hardest part is generating traffic.
By starting with affiliate marketing, you can laser-focus on building your following.
And the results will come much quicker than if you were to juggle between five different things.
Affiliate marketing requirements
You need three things as an affiliate marketer:
1. Traffic: You need an audience to sell your affiliate products. There are many different ways to generate traffic, such as blogs, YouTube, paid traffic, and many more.
2. Products: You are going to need to find products to promote, and these can either be digital or physical products.
3. Contact information: You need a reliable way to contact your audience. It’s highly unlikely for people to buy a product the first time they hear about it.
It will typically take at least four or five times before they decide to click that purchase button, which is why you need a way to contact them.
Many top affiliate marketers primarily use email as a way to build and sustain a relationship with their audience.
How to start affiliate marketing for free?
The beauty of affiliate marketing is you can get started nearly free.
But there’s one important question you need to answer before you worry about anything else.
1. Define your niche
You need to decide your niche.
But how do you pick the right niche?
You want to think about what sort of skills you possess that you can use to help solve other’s problems.
If you have expert knowledge of fitness, then that may be the right niche for you.
If you are great at helping people with their relationship problems, then you may enter a relationship niche.
And you don’t necessarily have to be the foremost expert in the niche you enter.
Even if you don’t have the most impressive qualifications, you can still become a successful affiliate marketer in your niche.
You just need a desire to learn and a willingness to help others.
Are problems big enough?
If you are in a niche where people are not willing to pay to solve their problems, you’re going to have a much tougher time monetizing as an affiliate marketer.
The problems need to be big enough that people are willing to pay money to solve them.
People always seek to improve their health, wealth, and relationship.
These three niches are evergreen, and you will never run out of people who are willing to pay for services in these areas.
You just need to pick a niche that you believe you can stick with for the next three to five years.
Here’s one question you can ask yourself if you’re still struggling to pick a niche.
What topic do you love to talk about at all times?
What topic occupies your head more than any other one?
Maybe you are obsessed with finding the best diet for losing weight.
Perhaps, you love learning about how best to train dogs.
Take some time to reflect on yourself, and don’t look far to find the answers.
Often, the answer is right in front of you.
2. Decide your traffic source
Since you want to get started for free, I recommend you either start with creating a blog or YouTube channel.
Both blogging (to rank on Google) and Youtube offer nearly unlimited potential for building a large audience since they are the two biggest search engines in the world.
And neither of them cost much to start.
Which traffic strategy you choose comes down to your preference.
If you believe you communicate your ideas better in front of a camera, then you should probably start a YouTube channel.
If you can write for hours without burning out, then blogging may be the way to go.
I hope you realize by now that a lot of these choices come down to understanding yourself.
Nobody can answer any of these questions better than you can.
If you’ve made up your mind, I advise you to stick to mastering one traffic source before you branch out.
It takes a lot of effort to become good at building a following with even one traffic source, so you will only slow your progress if you spread yourself too thin.
If you’ve decided you are going to start a blog, be prepared to stick to only blogging for at least one year.
And the same applies if you are starting a YouTube channel.
Why I don’t recommend starting a podcast
You may wonder why I don’t recommend podcasting as one of the viable options for building a following as a beginner affiliate marketer.
Here’s my personal thought.
Podcasting is a great place to branch out if you already have an established blog or a YouTube channel.
But people will have a much more difficult time discovering your podcast as opposed to blogs or YouTube videos.
People do not actively search for answers to their problems on a podcasting platform, which is its main disadvantage.
It may be tempting to create a social media account and build your followers there.
And you can indeed find people who have managed to pull that off successfully.
That being said, there are a couple of drawbacks you want to keep in mind if you plan on using social media as your primary source of traffic.
1. You don’t own your traffic
If your social media account gets banned for whatever reason, then that’s the end of your traffic.
I’m not saying this can’t happen with your YouTube account or your blog (With your blog, it’d be equivalent to your SEO rankings taking a hit).
But it’s much more unlikely to happen.
Once you have a video or a blog post that ranks high in the search engine, you will have new people discovering you for years to come.
You still need to update your content regularly, whether you become a blogger or a YouTuber.
But these are much more sustainable ways to build an audience.
2. People have a much less attention span
People are bombarded with news feeds and messages from their friends on social media.
Your marketing message will be competing against tens of other stimuli, so the odds are not in your favor.
But when people look for answers to their questions, and they stumble on your blogs or videos, they are ready to pay attention.
3. Engagement hits rock bottom as soon as you stop posting
As soon as you stop posting on social media, you’ll see your audience growth come to a stop.
It’s not sustainable unless you’re ready to devote most of your waking hours to social media.
Your following is not built on a solid foundation, unlike search engine traffic.
3. Find a product to promote
This is the easy part.
Building an audience that likes and trusts you is the challenging part.
When you can accomplish that, your audience will practically beg you to recommend them a product or a service they can use to improve their lives further.
Whatever niche you are in, you can simply type “[Name of your niche] affiliate products” on Google, and you will see hundreds of results show up.
Every business is looking for new customers, no matter how big or small they are.
Even a company that is as big as Amazon is looking for affiliate marketers to bring new customers to their website.
There’s almost no company on Earth that would refuse to pay a smaller percentage of sales in exchange for a new customer and sale.
Even if the company doesn’t officially offer any affiliate program, you can contact them directly and often work something out.
If they can see that you have the ability to refer a lot of potential customers to their website, they’ll be more than happy to accommodate your needs.