When we do any kind of research into the online business world, we inevitably come across the phrase ‘affiliate marketing’. It doesn’t matter if we’re a blogger who’s looking to see faster growth or a content creator wanting to make a bigger paycheck.
Either way, learning about affiliate marketing means stepping into the world of partnership and possibilities. Affiliate marketing is all about building bridges with advertisers and product sellers. By working together, we direct potential customers to their sites and products. Then we split the profits.
It’s an incredible way to network and produce some income on the side. So let’s get started!
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Let’s start by breaking things down into their simplest terms. An affiliate is a person or business who connected to a larger organization. And marketing is the act of professionally selling or promoting products or services.
Let’s put it all together now. Affiliate marketers work with companies to drive traffic to their websites. And it usually breaks down into the following sequence:
- The blogger/content creator/publisher partners with a business
- Then they advertise that business to their audience through affiliate links
- Their audience uses that link to buy the business’s product or service
- The blogger/content creator/publisher gets paid a percentage of each purchase
Affiliate marketing is a win-win for online creators and businesses. We are driving traffic to the business. And the business is paying us every time someone clicks on our link and makes a purchase.
That is the essence of affiliate marketing. However, there are different ways we can profit from using affiliate links. More on that later.
Can We Really Make Money in Our Sleep?
Making money “in your sleep” is often the reason people become interested in affiliate marketing. But is it possible? The short answer is yes! We can earn passive income through affiliate marketing. Passive income is income that’s not in direct exchange for a service we provide. If we can drive enough traffic to our partner company’s website, our profits can be substantial.
But the long answer, however, is… not overnight. (See what I did there?) Making money with affiliate marketing takes time. And a lot of other factors can influence our success. Traffic, audience demographics, and brand similarities play a big role.
As an example, let’s say we’ve been running a blog for the last two years. But we still don’t have a significant amount of traffic yet. If this is that case, we may struggle to profit from affiliate marketing. We just won’t be able to drive enough traffic to our affiliate’s website.
On the other hand, let’s say our online business generates consistently high traffic. Then we will be able to direct more potential customers to our affiliates. This increases the odds that one of those visits will convert into a purchase.
If we focus on directing our low-income, student audience to high-end retailers, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Though students may need or be interested in those products, they won’t be able to afford them. Depending on their purchases to bring in commission will be an uphill battle.
However, we could direct them to a business that offers affordable studying materials. Or to a low-cost subscription to a student-tips magazine. Those partnerships may prove to be more lucrative. Knowing who our audience is and who we’re directing them toward matters. Match those two pieces of the puzzle, and we may be able to start earning money in our sleep.
Similarities Matter Too
Additionally, companies that are similarly aligned will have more success. A beauty blogger who works as an affiliate marketer for a clothing or makeup company may profit well. Someone whose business isn’t as closely linked to that of their affiliates probably won’t make as many commissions.
How to Learn Affiliate Marketing
Now that we’ve learned all about how affiliate marketing works, we’re ready to step into the ring. The first thing we’ll need to do is start a blog or create some other kind of online presence if we haven’t already. If we hit a roadblock or find we’re struggling to grow our online business, companies like Legendary Marketer can help.
As an affiliate marketer, we’ll need a place to house affiliate links. What are those? An affiliate link is a unique link that a partnering company provides that only we get to use. We place that link on our website, and the company can track how many individual users visited their site through that particular link.
So if I’m not producing content online and have nowhere to put affiliate links, that needs to be my first step.
Once we’ve done that and have grown a solid following, we can try to make money with affiliate marketing. But how?
Consider the Niche
First, we need to consider our niche. This is the topic or area of interest we built our online brand around. It could be beauty secrets for twenty-somethings or lifestyle tips for new moms under 30. Maybe it’s a blog about horseriding in Montana or a place for budding writers to find inspiration.
No matter what, our niche is the backbone of our online presence. It will determine who and how we market to affiliate companies.
For instance, if we’re the Montana horseriding blogger, we aren’t going to look for affiliates in the beauty and lifestyle market. If we are in the beauty or lifestyle market, we may need to revisit what makes our niche specific. If our target audience is new moms under 30, we aren’t going to look for companies that target moms over 30 or moms with three kids.
And that brings me to my next point.
Consider Target Audiences
As time goes on, we’ll have a good sense of who our audience is. Especially if we’re at the point where we are ready to learn affiliate marketing and learn how to make money through it.
We’ve spent time with them over the past few years. We’ve read their comments and messages. We’ve heard them share their stories and their own tips. We’ve gotten feedback about what they like and dislike.
This is all great information that we can use as we research companies to partner with. What do our new moms need most? Ethical, biodegradable diaper options? Earth-friendly baby shampoos? What about the horseriding enthusiasts in Montana? Do they need saddle recommendations? Affordable cleaning supplies? Connections to nearby veterinarians?
Knowing our audience and being able to answer these questions will set us up well for the next step in our affiliate marketing journey.
Commit to the Research
We want to make sure we’re partnering with the right companies, so do some research. It can be tempting to grab at the first offer or option that comes along. Try to resist doing that.
We also need to consider what logistics are involved. How are we going to get paid? Do we want to be paid every time someone clicks on your affiliate link? Or every time a purchase is made by someone who clicked on it? Are we in a place to negotiate those terms?
We have to take stock of the options. When we do that, we’ll know what to expect when we start reaching out to potential partners.
Create a Strategy
Once we’ve done that, we should write out our strategy. What do we want to get out of affiliate marketing? What are our goals? What kind of contract are we willing to agree to?
There are a few different ways to make money through affiliate marketing. We can agree to a PPC (pay-per-click) contract. This is where we make money when our blog’s visitors click on the affiliate link.
There’s also PPL (pay-per-lead) marketing. Here we aim to have our blog’s visitors leave their contact information on an affiliate website. PPL marketing works well if we’re directing users to a subscription-based service or product.
Or we can commit to a PPS (pay-per-sale) contract where we make money once a purchase has been made.
These are a few of the most common types. We need to know which compensation strategy works best for our business and our niche.
Find the Right Partners
Okay, we’ve made it to one of the more challenging steps: finding the right partners. It’s not impossible. All we need to do is start off with something easy.
Which products or services are we already using and promoting to our audiences? Are we a writing company that swears by Scrivener religiously? Have we turned our followers onto MAC cosmetics and gotten great feedback from them? We can use these companies as a starting point.
But in doing so, we need to be realistic about the size of the companies. If our online presence isn’t large enough to appeal to a company with the size and popularity of MAC, then we need to consider a smaller company. If our readers already use Scrivener for the most part, then we may need to think about other options.
Develop a Pitch
Our pitch is what we’ll send to companies that we want to partner with. No one should ever write the first draft and send it in cold. And we should never only write about why THEY would benefit from partnering with US.
We have to consider why we’re reaching out to this company. Do their products or services match our brand goals to a T? Are we passionate about the same things they’re passionate about? Have we used and promoted their products in the past?
We’ll mention these things in our pitch. We’ll paint a concise picture of how a marketing partnership could benefit us both. And we’ll remember to be professional and polite and offer our contact information for further conversations.
Agree to Terms
This may be the most exciting step yet! We’ve built our business and seen it grow. We’ve done our research and developed a strategy. We’ve pitched our brand to a company, and they’ve agreed to step onboard. Yes!
The next most important step for us to consider is the terms of our contract. We need to be sure we are absolutely clear about what the company is offering. We’ve got to know what our goals are for our business. And we can’t settle for less than what we’re worth. If we’ve built a significant online presence, then we shouldn’t shy away from driving the negotiations.
Affiliate marketing isn’t just a buy-and-sell relationship. It’s a partnership. Both sides should feel strongly that they are benefitting from the arrangement.
Looking for More? Join an Affiliate Marketing Network
Affiliate marketing networks can act as third-party hosts. They can connect us with companies that provide related products or services. These are worth looking into if we start struggling to find companies to connect with or want some help finding even more.
Some very large companies even have their own affiliate marketing networks that we can plug into. Amazon and eBay are two such companies. Just be aware that sometimes the network company may take a percentage of the commission as an administrative fee. We’ve got to always read the fine print. It’s also okay to ask questions if things seem confusing.
The Affiliate Marketing Checklist
I’ve thrown a lot out there. There are a ton of things to consider as we step into affiliate marketing. To keep it simple and straightforward, here’s a checklist of all the steps we just went over together.
1. Get Online. Grow a Presence
It could be a blog; it could be a YouTube channel. All that matters is having a platform that meets our business goals.
2. Get Specific With The Niche
Knowing the ins and outs of our niche is key. Narrow it down to its most essential values.
3. Create Customer Profiles
Who visits our blog? What do they love? What do they need?
4. Research Options
What kinds of affiliate partnerships will work best for us?
5. Create a Strategy
What are our ultimate goals? What kind of compensation strategies are we interested in? Does PPC, PPS, PPL or something else make the most sense for our business?
6. Find Partners
Starting with who we already know is a great step. Then we go from there.
7. Create a Pitch
Remember: be concise, clear, and professional.
8. Agree to the Terms
Know when to push and when to say ‘yes!’
A Great Way to Grow a Business
When we take the time to learn affiliate marketing, we take the next step in strengthening our online business. For more about creating passive income through affiliate marketing, check out our website.