What is affiliate marketing and how does it work for beginners?
This article is in my series of the how, why, what, do and can series, which in this case is about affiliate marketing for beginners. Let’s take a look at a few questions about what affiliate marketing is and how it works. So let’s begin with the question “What is affiliate marketing and how does it work for beginners?“
This article includes a what, a how, a why, a which, a do and a can, as follows:
- WHAT: What is affiliate marketing and how does it work for beginners?
- HOW: How do I start affiliate marketing as a beginner?
- WHY: Why affiliate marketing is the best?
- WHICH: Which affiliate marketing is best?
- DO: Do I need a website to be an affiliate marketer?
- CAN: Can affiliate marketing make you rich?
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link Find out more how this works in this affiliate marketing for beginners article here.
What is affiliate marketing and how does it work for beginners?
Affiliate marketing is the process or system where a person (which in this case is you) earns a commission from promoting other people’s (or company’s) products and services.
Affiliate marketing is very similar to a process or system that companies like Booking.com and Uber.com employ. For example, Booking.com own no hotels, but they are probably the biggest hotel company in the world. They make their money as the ‘middle-man‘.
Booking.com (or the affiliate marketer) sit between the hotel owner (in this case the affiliate product or service) and the person (or customer who buys the product or service). The beauty about this system from a customer’s perspective is they pay no more nor no less for the hotel than they would otherwise. Which is the same with affiliate marketing that you’re looking to get yourself into.
Let’s say the hotel room is $100 for the night. The customer pays Booking.com $100 for their night’s stay. This $100 is then split; $15 to Booking.com and $85 to the hotel owner (or some similar split depending on the hotel’s deal with Booking.com. The $15 in this case represents the affiliate commission.
Which means that if large companies like Booking.com can make millions, if not billions in affiliate commissions, you stand a good chance yourself of make some money. But I suggest you start off small and work your way up.
How do I start affiliate marketing as a beginner?
As with starting anything new, there’s always a steep learning curve. Affiliate marketing is no different, and if you are a newbie to this online business, it’s not easy to know where to begin. So let’s take a look at the 7 key steps involved.
These are the 7-steps in the affiliate marketing process or system, as follows:
- Choose a good niche: A niche is a specialised selection of products or services, for example: Property Investing, Trading Stocks, Mindset, relationships etc.
- Find a product or service: Within your chosen niche, find a product or service you like and perhaps one that you have even used yourself (but not necessarily) and find out whether they offer an affiliate program.
- Sign up to their affiliate program: In order to receive your affiliate links, and ultimately receive your affiliate commission for your chosen product or service, you’ll need to sign up to their affiliate program.
- Decide how you’re going to promote your affiliate links: Deciding between having a website or not is the main decision for this step. You need traffic or visitors to sell to and to do this, you’ll need either a website or other means to promote the product or service. Either by using content marketing and your own website or blog, or if you prefer not to have your own website, to use social media like Facebook Twitter or YouTube to promote your affiliate links instead.
- Generate traffic: Traffic or website visitors is what will lead to sales of your promoted products or services. These visitors, or traffic, are the people or customers who will see your affiliate products. If you’re intent on content marketing (i.e. having your own website or blog), you’ll need to create good content, so the search engines rank your posts in the search results, which means customers will find your posts and articles. If however, you choose the social media route, these sites already have ready made traffic. For this you then need to decide whether to build your social media presence and traffic organically. Alternatively, you can make the decision to pay for traffic, for example by using Facebook Ads.
- Promote your affiliate links: Begin promoting your affiliate links to others (i.e. the traffic or visitors you’ve generated), and each time someone clicks on your specific affiliate link, you’ll earn a commission (or money/cash) for each sale that’s made as a result of your referral.
- Rinse and repeat: Once you’ve set up your money-making affiliate system, go back to point 2 above and start again; always building on your niche. Once your first niche is working, there’s nothing stopping you from starting up in another niche too; and so on.
A further point to make is that even if you decide to use content marketing to promote your affiliate links and products, you can use social media as well to support your affiliate business as well.
Why affiliate marketing is the best?
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money online and to monetise your blog or website if you have one. One of the best things about affiliate marketing is you don’t have to sell products or services of your own. Which means there’s no customer services require by you, there’s no need to employ staff or rent expensive premises.
All of the above is handled by the affiliate company providing the service or making the product. Joining affiliate programs gets you exclusive access to new content and special deals for your niche audience. Which means the customers or visitors you attract and refer on to the company providing the service or making the products, keeps these customers happy, whilst you earn more money in affiliate commissions. And everyone is happy!
However, with this point, make sure that the company you choose is a reputable business and has good customer service. That way your reputation isn’t tarnished by the referrals you make in return for your affiliate commission.
Which affiliate marketing is best?
Which affiliate marketing is best is very much a matter of opinion. So in my opinion it is content marketing, whereby you have a website or a blog and write articles to help people. Within these articles you can include affiliate links, which people will click on, and you make an income from this.
However, if your question about which affiliate marketing is best is referring to the best affiliate marketing websites or affiliate programs for finding affiliate products to promote, let’s take a look at a few.
These are a few of the best affiliate marketing programs to join:
- Awin: Awin is the world’s largest affiliate network.
- CJ Affiliate (or previously Commission Junction): An affiliate program linking affiliate products with affiliate marketers since 1998.
- Amazon Associates: Amazon offers one of the largest affiliate programs in the world. You simply place links on your website or blog to to products sold on Amazon, and as a result of any sales made from your referrals Amazon will pay you an affiliate commission in return.
- ShareASale: Another very large affiliate program with thousands of vendors with products to sell.
- JVZoo: JVZoo is a fast-growing affiliate marketing company that was set up in around 2013.
- Clickbank: Clickbank is very easy to work with and a good place for beginners to start.
Do I need a website to be an affiliate marketer?
As explained in the above steps of how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner, in step four I talked about deciding on how you’re going to promote your affiliate links. The main two options I talked about (but bear in mind there are other options) is choosing whether to have a website or not.
But in answer to the question “do I need a website to be an affiliate marketer“, is no you don’t necessarily need a website. This is because you can quite easily use social media websites like Facebook and YouTube for your traffic sources instead. This way you don’t need to set up and run your own website if you don’t want to.
Can affiliate marketing make you rich?
The truth about affiliate marketing is that it can definitely make you rich. There are many very rich affiliate marketers around like John Chow and Pat Flynn. With that said, you should begin with the idea that you can make money with affiliate marketing. But by applying the right mindset and work ethic, there is a chance that YES, affiliate marketing will make you rich!
However, in the beginning, I suggest you look at the affiliate marketing as a business where you can make some extra cash on the side as a side hustle. Only then do you look to turn your small internet business into a full-time income working from home.
Don’t do affiliate marketing just for the money!
May I begin just say; please don’t do affiliate marketing to ‘make you rich‘, i.e. just for the money. This is because doing anything just for the money is no fun. My last multi-million dollar business was purchased for this reason and it was no fun whatsoever. I learned the lesson and in the end it was an expensive lesson of hundreds of thousands of dollars! Which is why I use the saying: “If you think paying for training to get educated is expensive, try making mistakes instead, and then you’ll discover which costs the most!”
Do affiliate marketing because you enjoy it and get the right affiliate marketing training. I appreciate at this point you don’t know whether or not you’re going to enjoy this online business, but if you like the idea of writing then start your own blog and do content affiliate marketing.
My main online business is content affiliate marketing, although I do also use social media too. But the reason I do content marketing is because I love writing. This came about after I wrote my first novel (and for those who are interest it’s Nothing Left But Fear under a pseudonym Adrian Russell, this novel I wrote when I was going through Cancer), which is how I found my love of writing.
There are no conventional universities that offer affiliate marketing training, but ClickBank do provide training as do others, which are explained in this article here: What universities offer affiliate marketing programs (6 college alternatives).
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