Professional Affiliate Marketing Primer

If you’re new to the professional affiliate marketing Internet business playground, then you’re no doubt wondering what affiliate marketing is all about. In simplest terms, it is marketing and promoting some other company’s products/services on the Internet. You, the pro affiliate marketer, promote through whatever means is available to you (your ezine, blog, email, online advertising, etc.), which then sends traffic and customers to another company’s website, who then does all the work — develop, sell and support the actual products and/or services; close the sale; process the orders, take payments and make delivery; etc. — for the paying customer. You, as the marketer and source of that business, are then paid a commission for your work. That’s it!

The whole business arrangement is essentially revenue sharing. The company that provides the product or service being sold is generally called the affiliate merchant, and he shares the revenue they generate with you, the affiliate marketer, for sending business their way. In most cases, the affiliate marketer drums up that business through various forms of legitimate advertising techniques on a wide variety of online avenues and platforms.

Note that generally, the affiliate merchant does not pay anything for the “marketing” and promotion until a sale has actually occurred. This way, the merchant can minimize both risk and expenditures. Theoretically, the affiliate can then be rewarded more handsomely for taking on that marketing risk and expenditure. However, since the affiliate marketer does not need to take on the risk, investment and expenditure of developing and supporting a product/service and administering a sale, the relationship is very much considered a win-win arrangement, with each party focusing on the part of the business they are good at and interested in.

Tracking, Calculating and Paying Affiliate Income

How the affiliate marketer essentially gets paid for his work depends entirely on the affiliate merchant. In practically all cases, the arrangement is wholly managed through an automated system, with the merchant using Internet server-based software that gives an affiliate marketer a unique link code or ID which the marketer must then use to identify all the traffic and customers he sends to the merchant. This is really the only way the merchant can properly identify, credit and compensate the right affiliate for any business generated.

In some cases, an affiliate merchant uses the resources of a much larger affiliate network service (such as Commission Junction, LinkShare, etc.) to administer its affiliate program. Some other merchants, on the other hand, choose to run their own in-house affiliate system, keeping their program independent from everybody else’s. In practically all cases, however, the basics of how an affiliate program tracks and calculates affiliate commissions follow what is outlined above.

The merchant generally specifies the financial terms beforehand (pay periods, minimum payment thresholds, when money is paid and how, etc.), whether it uses the services of a 3rd party service or runs its own affiliate program in-house. How an affiliate is ultimately paid will depend on these predetermined specifics, and they can run the gamut from being paid online through services like Paypal, having funds wired directly to an affiliate’s bank account, to having a physical check printed and mailed directly to the affiliate.

Although there is obviously a level of trust in the merchant involved in this arrangement, it works because not only is it to the affiliate merchant’s benefit to maintain a good working relationship with its affiliates in order to grow its business and ensure its continued success, the community of professional affiliate marketers is fairly tight-knit with extensive communications channels that quickly reports any shadiness and negative business dealings. On top of that, affiliate programs that run on third party network services offer an extra layer of protection and trust to the affiliate, with the networks helping ensure that all transactions are properly tracked, calculated and compensated. This is one reason that many professional affiliate marketers often adopt a policy that they will only work with affiliate programs that are administered through these third party affiliate network services.

Affiliate Program Selection

You, as the professional affiliate marketer, are free to choose whatever affiliate program you wish to join and market. In other words, you essentially choose which products and/or services you’ll be promoting (through your blog, web site, ezine, advertisements, etc.). It is not a light decision, since your income is very much affected by how well you match your total “offer” to your “audience” or “market.” That, however, is essentially your job and is part of what you as the professional affiliate marketer is compensated richly for.

In many cases, what affiliate programs you do choose is usually determined by your preexisting markets and audiences, For example, if you already run a gardening blog, then obviously the programs you would seek out would be gardening related or ones that you’ve determined would be of interest to the audience demographic your gardening site attracts.

If you are approaching this affiliate marketing business as a pure marketer, however, where the decision on how to market a product or service would be highly dependent on what it is you actually select to promote, how you select an affiliate program can be based on many different factors.

Some professional affiliate marketers, for example, choose programs based on commission size (high payouts per sale) or market size. These are business decisions you have to make, again, part of what you’re getting paid for. Here are some suggestions for beginners, however, that may help you get started.

Choose products/services you are personally interested in. If you are interested in gardening or golf, for example, then focus on products/services specifically for those markets. The plain simple truth of it is that it is much harder to promote a product or service that you really couldn’t care less about.

Choose products/services that do not embarrass you and that you are comfortable having your friends and family associate with you. For example, even though it’s quite lucrative, some professional affiliate marketers are unable to promote dating sites and services for reasons of embarrassment and discomfort.

Choose products/services you are already familiar with and fully understand. Even if you are not all that interested in automobiles or travel, for instance, you may already know more than enough about the products and services in those particular markets that you can actually sell in those market niches.

Select affiliate programs that provide you with the best sales support. This only comes up from prior research, of course, but it’s something you must do anyway. The sales support referred to here are things like training, advertising material and resources, extensive product information, etc. Obviously, the more tools they give you to sell with, the better your chances.

Remember: Being a professional affiliate marketer means that you are in business. Your business. Your success is ultimately determined by your decisions and actions. Good luck.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Affiliate Marketing

Most people have heard of affiliate marketing, even if they haven’t actually started doing it. Affiliate marketing is basically referring people to various products and services around the internet. For each sale you generate through your affiliate link, you earn a commission. The size of the commission depends on the products themselves, who is selling them and the percentage offered by the seller to the affiliate.

But what is actually involved in affiliate marketing? What do affiliates do on a daily basis? How do they earn money and how do they learn what to do?

1 An Example Of A Successful Website

There’s several ways of marketing products and services online. Many affiliates create a blog first and sell products and services through their blog. Martin Lewis has a very successful website called moneysavingexpert.com. This is also an affiliate website. By creating content and helping people decide which service to use: which credit card offers to choose, the best interest rate etc. moneysavingexpert.com makes money by sending website visitors to various offers. If a sale is made through this website, the link this credited to it and a commission is made. By creating content, offering value and helping people make sensible choices, the website has built a reputation and become more prevalent over time. Google ranks the site highly in the search engines and thousands of people use it to make purchasing decisions every day.

2 How Can I Get Started As An Affiliate?

Affiliate marketing is huge. There are thousands of people already making their main source of income from the internet. To get started as an affiliate you need to learn some basic strategies and build various methods of generating traffic from the internet to those offers. A lot of affiliates start with a simple blog. Many travelers ‘blog’ about their travels. If you don’t have a passion or interest to blog about, you can start by following an online course which will help. See my bio for more info on this.

3 How Long Does It Take To Make A Living?

Some people go into affiliate marketing with the intention of creating a second income. Some people want to make big money. Depending on how much time you can dedicate to your affiliate business, and how dedicated you are to it, is a big factor in determining your results. Results vary from person to person. With a large advertising budget and the right business model, some affiliates have replaced their living in 6-12 months. For others it can take years before it replaces their existing income. Depending on your approach, advertising budget, and business model, it can take between 3 months and several years to build it to a point where it can replace an existing income.

4 Can Anyone Do It?

One of the great things about affiliate marketing is that the technology is now available to allow anyone to build their own online business. As long as you are prepared to learn and implement that knowledge, anyone who can operate an email, can use online platforms and tools to build their own online business. The main thing you need is the desire to learn. Affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone though. It does take a lot of hard work and it can take years before you are rewarded financially.

5 What Are The Pitfalls Of An Affiliate Business?

You need to dedicate some time to your affiliate business for it to work for the long term. Some people go into affiliate marketing thinking it is some magic pill which will pay them instantly in cash. Much like a job you can’t expect to get out more than you put in. Affiliate marketing is performance related. This means you don’t get paid unless you can successfully sell products and services online. If you don’t know what you are doing it can take years to do this. You can’t be a dabbler and expect to earn the big money. The big earnings are created over years of hard work. Don’t expect to achieve this with only a small amount of input.

6 What Are The Best Things About Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing offers an incredible amount of flexibility and freedom. You can work an affiliate business from anywhere in the world providing you have a laptop and an internet connection. You can choose your own hours and build it up around existing work. Many people come into affiliate marketing because it offers this kind of flexibility. They can choose their priorities in life: spend more time with family, choose your working hours, travel and work abroad. No more commuting to work or working long hours for a boss you don’t like.

Affiliate marketing also offers incredible scalability. A business which is local is always limited to the people who can travel to that business. An online business can be global. Using digital products in conjunction with a global reach, you can scale using tools and software to reach thousands of people through digital technology. By using automation much of the work involved with an online business can be pre-built. By building automation into the business model, you can focus your activities on reaching a larger audience through content creation and paid advertising.

7 Why Am I Struggling With My Affiliate Business?

A lot of people struggle with their affiliate businesses.This can be for a number of reasons. Firstly building up an affiliate business takes time. You need to dedicate a lot of time to an affiliate business in the first place. Only when you reach a ‘tipping point’ do you really start to see your progress. Many affiliates simply don’t realise how much work is involved. They underestimate how much time they need to dedicate to their online business to make it work.
Paid advertising can allow you to grow your affiliate business quickly. But it costs money and you need the right products too. You can’t advertise small value items with paid advertising. You won’t generate enough profit to cover your advertising costs. You need a range of products and an email list to advertise through.
Content marketing takes much longer to work, depending on your chosen area of business. If you find an untapped niche to market your blog in, you can make some fast progress. However, with a competitive niche you will struggle to get noticed above all the other content which you will have to compete with. There’s several reasons why you might struggle. The main one is lack of knowledge. Get the right education first and your affiliate business will move much faster.

8 What’s The Best Affiliate Model To Use?

There are many different affiliate models, all offering something different to suit the individual. Some affiliates target search traffic and aim to get their content found on Google. Some create their own products and sell them directly to customers. However, having a range of products which you can sell over and over to existing customers is a great model for long term success. Selling a single item online is limited. It means you can only make one commission from each sale. By choosing membership products to promote which also offer back end sales and a built in sales team, you can benefit from monthly commissions and up-sell commissions for the lifetime of any given customer. Selling membership products is definitely a game changer when it come to affiliate marketing because you make an income from each customer, rather than a single commission. But a good model to choose is one in which you have a passion for and can keep doing for the long term. Choosing products which you have no interest in is a short sighted plan. Think about what you would like to do online to generate an income. If you choose to go with your passion, your business will last much longer, and be more successful.

9 Can I Just Sell My Own Products?

Many affiliates create their own products to sell online. However, when you are starting out it is a good idea to learn the basics of marketing first. That way you can start earning more quickly from your affiliate business. I spent a long time creating my own products when I first discovered affiliate marketing. But I didn’t sell anything because of a couple of reasons. Firstly I didn’t research whether my products would have a big enough demand. Secondly I didn’t know how to market them. By joining a program which teaches you how to market products first, you can start making money more quickly. Don’t waste time creating products if you don’t know how to sell them. Marketing is a much more important skill for making money online. Once you know this skill, you can then apply it later when marketing your own products and services. Also your own products will be limited in range. By using an existing product range, you can benefit from products which are already selling. You can choose a program which offers high ticket commission, monthly memberships, back end sales and a built in sales team. Building your own products which offers all of these things not a possibility for most people when starting out.

10 What’s The Point Of Affiliate Marketing?

Some people struggle with the concept of affiliate marketing.They think it sounds too ‘salesy’. When I understood affiliate marketing I immediately found it appealing simply because I needed a flexible way to work around my contract work. I had to drop what I was doing at a moments notice if the phone went. This meant other jobs were awkward to juggle around. No-one wants to employ a ‘flaky’ employee. I wanted to work from my laptop and affiliate marketing gave me that opportunity. For many people this is the reason why they choose affiliate marketing. They can earn an income from their laptop, choose their working hours and not have a boss or place of employment. You don’t have to sell directly to anyone or even talk to a customer. There is no stock to hold. Added to this, the scalability of affiliate marketing which lets you scale up to a global audience and deliver products on autopilot, makes it the best flexible business of the future.

Why Affiliate Marketing Is the Best Way to Start an Online Business

If you’ve educated yourself enough with the information available to us via the internet, then you should have realized by now that your pursuit of a career in the corporate ladder is futile at best. Basically, the idea is to start as an intern, then a regular employee, then move up to a supervisory and/or managerial position and finally up to the executive levels of the corporate business that you’re in. Personally, I have nothing against this kind of aspiration as I too once dreamt of such things myself; however, the toll it takes to get to EXACTLY where you want to be could at least take 30 years; 20 if you’re exceptionally good at it.

The problem is we all can’t be exceptional and aside from the fierce competition in play, you’ll also have to face the insurmountable amount of bureaucracy, racism, favoritism, gender inequalities and other negative things in order to literally move up the ladder. The trade-off is not an ideal payoff even from an optimistically assessed standpoint. Therefore I would advocate that you start your own business and the cheapest way to do it is by building an affiliate marketing blog or website.

Defining Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an easy income-generating business method where you take the role of the promoter and help the manufacturers and sellers connect with the end consumers. It should be clear that whether you take a passive or active role in this business, you are by no means the originator or creator of the products/services you promote. But you will get a small portion of the sales as compensation nevertheless. It’s basically a 3-way relationship between you, the seller and the customer.

What Affiliate Marketing is NOT

If you get an unsolicited email inviting you to join an affiliate network and it’s asking for an upfront payment, then you definitely have to scrutinize them and find out whether or not they’re scam or legit. Go to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and find out about the company, if you can’t find any, then go to affiliate marketing forums and discussion boards. They would know a lot about these scam sites as news spreads fast in social media and forums. Another thing to look for is if these people are selling you unrelated products or something that you will never be able to use, like the $350 “Secrets to Affiliate Marketing Success” book or some other catchy titles; although a few are genuine but they don’t charge you that high.

The truth is you can learn basic affiliate marketing from top ranking websites and blogs. In fact, they can teach you more useful information than all those specialized books and DVDs that other people are selling. Becoming an affiliate is free when you sign up to affiliate marketing programs and the only thing that will really cost you money is web hosting, which is around $70 – $100 a year for your affiliate marketing blog. A few other expenses may include a unique website/blog logo (optional), your electric bill; hire a blog writer (optional because you can write the blogs yourself) and probably paid advertising to promote your website or blog (optional).

Types of Affiliate Marketing

What’s interesting about affiliate marketing is that you can earn commissions in more ways than most people think. Allow me to explain the 3 different types of affiliate marketing and how you can earn through them.

1. Unattached Affiliate Marketing – This type of affiliate marketing will not require too much work from you, you don’t even have to setup an affiliate marketing blog like those for Amazon Affiliate Programs. This is more like a PPC marketing (pay-per-click) where you just show affiliate ads on sites that allow this kind of marketing and then get a commission for each click through that web users make on the ads.

2. Related Affiliate Marketing – This type of marketing is where you are required to have some level of involvement and this is where you create an affiliate marketing blog or website and always show affiliate links on almost all of your website/blog pages. You also earn a commission for each time a web user clicks through the affiliate links.

3. Involved Affiliate Marketing – This kind of marketing may require you to actually use the products/services before you write a review about them and you should be able to write a more comprehensive and honest reviews.

You can choose from these 3 types of affiliate marketing methods, but most affiliate marketing programs uses the Type 2 affiliate marketing, which has some level of involvement and online presence from your end.

Putting the Cogs and Wheels Together

Now that you have an idea of what affiliate marketing is all about and what its common pitfalls are, you are ready to start your journey to financial freedom and a wealthy lifestyle! Affiliate marketing is just like any other type of business and you’ll have to plan a strategy months or even years ahead before you begin, so I will give you the basic strategy of how to become an affiliate marketer, signing up for affiliate programs, setting up your affiliate marketing blog and all the other important details about it.

Steps to become an affiliate marketer:

1. Decide what niche topic you want to use for your blog or website. It’s better to write reviews or general information about products/services that you’re passionate about, because you will write better articles for them compared to those that you don’t like. For instance, if you’re mad about crochet or kids bicycles, then that is the niche you should pick for your blog! Affiliate programs have a huge inventory of items for sale and they do include crochets and bicycles for a fact. If you’re more of the business-minded individual and you think you can write just about on anything, then by all means pick the niche that’s most profitable among the lot.

2. Create your website and purchase a cheap but reliable web hosting. You don’t need a web designer to build a website or a blog. You can use WordPress, Weebly, Web.com, Blogger, eHost and others to do that. Using their user-friendly “click & drag” features you can create your blog/website in 5 – 10 minutes!

3. Learn basic SEO and use it on your blog or website. Search engine optimization or SEO is a very good marketing strategy to allow your website to be known throughout the entire internet or at least the majority of it. If your website is easier to find in search engines, then it is more convenient for people to visit it, and more visitors means more money for you.

4. Learn social media marketing to extend your presence online. In reality social media marketing or SMM is also a part of the grand scheme of SEO and without it, your SEO campaign would not be as successful as you’d expect it to be. There are literally billions of people hanging around the web on a daily basis and much of them are in social media sites. It would be a logical choice to get visitors there for your website and increase your income potential.

5. Learn about paid advertising and consider it deeply on whether you need to use it or not. Paid ads help because they target the right kind of people who are already looking for products that you promote. Meaning there is a good chance that they will buy. Wouldn’t you want them to buy products through your affiliate links? I would!

6. Start filling up your website with content. In case you plan to write boring and unimpressive blogs and articles, then I’d advise you to no longer continue in your pursuit of creating an affiliate marketing blog, because I promise you people will not want to read your blogs or visit your site. Write articles that will impress you first. This will let you know whether or not people will want to read about what you have to say. If you can find an extremely critical person to judge your writing, then that would be better as it will help you greatly improve on your writing style. Reader engagement is absolute in affiliate marketing. It will determine your income capacity, so do your best in writing content for your site above all else.

How you earn in affiliate marketing:

• The manufacturer/seller signs a partnership deal with the affiliate network or program and in turn, when you sign up with the affiliate network as an affiliate, the partner affiliate network will give you a small percentage share on every item you helped sold.

• You’ll need to embed or display affiliate links on your website or affiliate marketing blog about the products you’re promoting. The purpose of these links is to guide your blog readers to the seller’s webpage (which is usually in the affiliate network’s site) so that they can make purchases of the items they like.

• The percentage commission on each sale range from 1% – 10% (some give more than 10% but rarely) and this is how you generate income. For example, a web user happens by your blog about coffee machines and he/she read your blog review or informative article. The reader was impressed by your blog and decided to click on the affiliate link, then make a purchase of 1 coffee machine worth $350. If the affiliate network allowed 7% of that amount to be your commission, therefore your income for that sale alone will be $24.50.

• You may notice that $24.50 is a small amount and not enough to convince you to become an affiliate; however, if you were able to bring 10,000 visitors to your blog in the span of 30 days and about 4,382 people bought coffee machines for themselves, then your income for that particular month should be $107,359! If you’re able to bring as much visitors to your website on a regular basis, then you can bet that your monthly income should be around these numbers. Now you can appreciate the value that SEO and SMM can do for your affiliate marketing business.

How Much can you Make?

The straight answer to this question is… there is NO LIMIT to how much you can earn. The website called Pickmyshaver.com around October or November 2013 and then 8 months later its regular monthly income became $8,446! If it had continued as is it would earn over $50,000 a month by now, except that it was purchased in Flippa by an anonymous buyer for $60,100 around June 2014. That’s just 1 website and I’m pretty sure on your best day you can manage 2 – 3 sites for affiliate marketing.

At this point I will let you use your imagination as to how much you can earn; or is it how hard you desire to earn. It’s entirely up to you. I am confident that this article should help you get started in creating your own affiliate marketing blog and earn not just money, but your freedom from the everyday worries of life. Once you start earning over $8,000 a month, then you can buy more time to spend it with the people that matters to you most – your family. I wish you all the best and don’t forget to drop a comment below and tell me how affiliate marketing has changed your life like it has changed mine.