What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online. It’s also one of the easiest ways for newbies to get started with their own businesses. If you’re looking for a way to change your life, take control of your finances or just earn some extra cash on the side, affiliate marketing might be right up your alley!

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate marketing can be defined as a strategy where you earn commissions by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products or services. Usually, this means placing links to their offers on your website and when someone clicks the link and purchases the product, service or subscription, you will then receive a commission for that sale.

The cost to the consumer is the same as if they’d made the purchase without going through an affiliate link, so they’re not being charged any extra. Really, the company, product or service you are promoting is simply rewarding you with a commission to say “thank you” for basically helping their products reach a wider audience.

The benefits of affiliate marketing

The benefits of affiliate marketing are that you don’t need to have your own product before you can start earning money online. This means there is no upfront investment needed or product creation involved.

To get yourself started, the main tools you will need to invest in are a website/blog, and maybe some traffic if you’re not wanting to go down the lengthier route of gaining organic traffic, and an email list (more about the importance of an email list later).

Your website, blog posts and emails are great places for you to feature your reviews and links to the products that you want to promote.

Why start an affiliate marketing blog?

Creating a blog for your affiliate marketing business can be one of the parts of your business building toolkit. It can help give you a “presence” online.

Think about your chosen niche and write articles centred around that theme. You can introduce your reader to your niche, give them helpful tips, provide product reviews and, through this process, you can guide them towards the products you want to sell.

If you are not comfortable with writing, then consider hiring someone to write content and do SEO (search engine optimisation) on your behalf. There are many freelance writers out there who can help you get set up with everything from design, and writing, to SEO. Check out the services offered on sites such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer.

You can also use PLR content (private label rights). This is where the content has already been created by someone else, and they basically sell it for you to use either as is, or re-purpose for your own personal style. You can choose individual articles or sometimes buying a “bundle” is a more cost-effective option. Two companies I have used are PLRforBlogs and PLRme.

If you’re completely new to the world of affiliate marketing and want to learn more, then I highly recommend that you take a look at Wealthy Affiliate’s programme. There are different membership levels, and you can check it out for a short time for free. Here at Wealthy Affiliate, there are two training courses that will help you get started from scratch.

Training courses here at WA

There are two main training courses at Wealthy Affiliate. One course is centred around the niche of affiliate marketing and it’s a great avenue for you to be able to promote the Wealthy Affiliate affiliate programme! And the second course is geared more towards your personal niche choice, whether that be gardening, health, beauty, whatever – your choice. And they help you identify profitable niches.

Both courses will take you through from A – Z, and you get free websites and hosting, tech support, weekly training classes on all sorts of subjects to help you grow your business. Added to which, there’s a whole library of additional training modules, created by the Wealthy Affiliate founders and team, also the more experienced member community. So you’ll never be short of training tips and topics!

There’s a great community of supportive like-minded fellow entrepreneurs of all different abilities and backgrounds who you can engage with and seek help along the way. Definitely worth having a look at.

Tip: You can gain a great deal of leverage with a piece of content if you repurpose it. So, you can have one article that is written for an email newsletter or a blog post and then turn it around and create another piece of content from the same material (same topic) but in a different format to use on your Facebook page, Pinterest boards, LinkedIn summary for example. You’ll find this strategy will really help you build your personal brand.

Why choose a niche for your blog or business?

Some people would say that, ideally, you need to identify a niche that you are passionate about so your blog or business will be successful and that you really have to “niche down” (fine-tune and hone in) on your chosen subject area. However, many successful blogs and affiliate marketing businesses have been built without the focus being so much on a keen interest or one singular topic.

Examples of a niched-down subject could be, say, a particular type of product. For instance, if you want to review and promote stand-up desks then your site would be solely for promoting these products. As your site evolves along the way you might come across sideline products that dovetail nicely alongside, which is fine as they can be promoted under one roof, and bring you extra avenues of income.

If you’re struggling to find what particular niche you want to start in, you could consider creating a “lifestyle” niche, and in lots of ways this can open up your potential to create many sub-niches under that umbrella. Personally, I like the idea of a lifestyle niche, because it can evolve as I learn more, grow and change over time, so it can adapt with me.

Another idea could be that you simply write about your own personal journey as you start creating and then building your business online. If you blog about your own experiences, what you learn, what you like and don’t like, the struggles you’ve had, the successes you’ve had, etc, then you can share all this and attract an audience who are looking to start their own businesses and need a guiding hand along the way. Through this type of niche, you can talk about the products and tools you use and recommend.

Tips: Create a call to action (CTA) that you place in your articles or email newsletters. Give your readers an incentive for reading more of your article (eg, sign up for my newsletter) or tell them what they should do next (visit my website now for more helpful tips).

CTA’s can also be in the form of hyperlinks that are placed within your content. For instance, you could refer to another article that you’ve written, say, about “5 Digital Product Ideas For Your Blog” and hyperlink the actual article so that your reader will be taken to it when they click on the link.  And you can use this same method to take your reader to a particular product you want to promote, eg, “This is a great business-building toolkit, that gives you everything you need to start your own online business.” – just like I’ve done right there! =)

When you hyperlink remember to set the link so that it opens up on a new page. So when the new link opens the original article is still there to be seen and continued being read.

Create an email list

This is the most important step of all. You need to start building a subscriber base of people who’ve shown interest in what you have to say and, in turn, what you have to offer.

If you send people directly to the sales link of the affiliate product you’re promoting then you’re basically “leaving money on the table”, so the saying goes. When customers purchase the product, the vendor will be capturing their contact details. Even though your reader may purchase the product and you make a commission, if you haven’t also captured their contact details, your sale could just be a one-off.

Meanwhile the vendor will be able to keep in contact with your purchaser and continue to promote other products, whereas you won’t have that same ability.

So please, please, direct your reader to an affiliate link that is routed via a capture page of your own. This is where your reader will be asked to submit their information (first name and email address is normally sufficient) before they are then taken to the product you’re promoting. And from then on, you can also keep in contact with your reader / potential customer in the future.

Tip: Once someone has submitted their contact information and they’ve given you permission to email them in the future, always make sure that each of your emails features an opt-out/unsubscribe link. Our mailboxes get so full to overloaded these days, and interests change along the way, so make sure that your subscriber has the chance to easily opt-out of hearing from you if they wish.

And don’t take it personally, opting out happens. Plus you don’t want to be wasting your emails going into junk boxes, unread or marked as spam by the subscriber, as this will hurt your email deliverability rate.

Hope that helps

I hope the above gives you a bit more insight into the world of affiliate marketing. In short, here is my advice:

Make sure you have a “place” where people can find you. You need to be visible and accessible for your followers or potential customers to come across you. Whether you choose to have a website or blog is up to you, though please make sure you build an email list.

So, you might ask, how can you build an email list if you don’t have a website from which to promote your niche? That’s a good question and many might say that you definitely do need a website. However, there are ways to create an online business based on traffic and email list alone (along with the product(s) you’re promoting, of course). So before I sign off, I’ll let you into one of those little secrets, and say “Just check this out…!”

I wish you every success.

Bye for now!

Lesley

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