Building a successful business is hard work in itself, but what if you didn’t have to worry about storage, logistics, or developing a product of your own to sell? Sounds great right? It is actually a real thing, and it’s called affiliate marketing.
Here is a quick list of what you’ll learn in this affiliate marketing tutorial:
- How affiliate marketing works.
- Why would you become an affiliate?
- The WRONG way to do affiliate marketing.
- The RIGHT way to do affiliate marketing.
- How to find the best affiliate offers for you.
- How to build a successful business with affiliate marketing.
So what is affiliate marketing?
Plain simple, Affiliate marketing is a marketing technique where a company sell their product(s) by signing up “affiliates” to promote it for them. The bare essence of affiliate marketing is about nurturing relationships where each part involved has something to offer that the other ones need.
Here’s what I mean:
Creating a product to sell can be both time consuming and expensive, so instead of creating one yourself, you can sign up as an affiliate publisher with a company that has a finished product to deliver already.
The affiliate promotes a product for the company and earn a commission for each sale they convert. The affiliate save time and money on product creation and logistics since everything are done by the company.
The Affiliate Program
The advertiser is the company with a product to sell. To spread the word about their product(s) they will need to pay for advertising, which can be extremely expensive if they don’t manage to convert ads into customers.
When advertising through an affiliate, the company only pay a comission for each sale that the affiliate converts, so they’re basically guaranteed more profit than expenses when utilizing this marketing technique.
The consumer is looking for a product to fulfill a need or desire they have, and since an affiliate isn’t a direct part of the company itself, they usually provide information about the product based on their own personal point of view.
The consumer are left with a better understanding of how the product works, and they are given an impression of how the company delivers even before they’ve visited their site.
The Invention of Affiliate Marketing
This business model was pretty much invented by Amazon.com (they actually have a patent for it).
Whenever you referred a customer to their site and that customer ended up buying something, Amazon would give you 2-20% commission depending on the product(s) they bought.
Today affiliate marketing has marked itself as a lucrative strategy both for independent marketers, as well as companies with advertising needs, and many well-known brands such as eBay, iTunes and Clickbank have affiliate programs.
Why Become an Affiliate?
If you want to start your own business, being an affiliate comes with many great advantages, including:
- Low start-up costs.
- Easy to set up and get started.
- Works from anywhere in the world.
- No need to create a product of your own.
- The vendor handles all the hard work and logistics.
- Works by itself, even when you’re sleeping!
When utilized correctly, affiliate marketing can be a great, if not the best online business model out there, but you have to know what you’re doing. The truth of the matter is, most affiliate marketers end up losing money just because they do it the wrong way.
“Hit and Run” Marketing
The majority of new affiliates start out with something you could call “hit and run” marketing. This is the model that you hear about the most and it works somewhat like this:
- Find affiliate offer to promote.
- Refer customers to a sales page.
- MAKE MONEY!
It might seem like a fantastic offer at first, but when it comes to point, this business model will hit back at you like a wrecking ball at some point, and here is why:
- You only get paid once per sale.
- The customer doesn’t belong to you.
- You have to keep spending money on traffic, or the revenue will stop.
- The advertiser may lower the payout.
- The advertiser may remove the offer completely.
- Google may slap your landing page.
- Competition may drive up advertising costs to which the campaign is no longer profitable.
You see, there’s a bunch of flaws that makes the “hit and run” marketing extremely vulnerable, and since you’ve literally sold your customer for a small one-time fee, you have no way at all to convert any repetitive sales.
Money in the long run
You see, the issue with this kind of marketing is that the customer doesn’t belong to you. When you make a sale, you get a commission for that sale, but the problem is that is all you get. From that point on, the customer belongs to the company that paid you the affiliate commission to refer them.
The company will then promote and sell additional products to the customer, but you won’t see a penny of it – even though you were the one who handed them the customer on a silver plate in the first place. Unfair right?
Successful businesses are built on repetitive sales by continuously contacting former customers (people that already trust you) with new business ideas, helpful tools, better deals, special offers etc.
How long do you think it’s possible to run a business by using a model that tells you to spend money on advertising to bring customers for someone else?
the big secret is that the big bucks isn’t in the first initial sales, it’s in the repetitive sales, the sales after the first sale.
There’s even affiliate programs paying out 100% commissions, just because they’re making a killing in the backend of the sale that they don’t share with the affiliate that refered the customer in the first place.
Think of it like this: A restaurant where noone wants to eat more than once will never survive in the long run…
The Affiliate Marketing Model That Works
The affiliate marketing business model that I use requires a bit more work from your part, but unlike the model we just talked about, it will help you make way more money in the long run.
Here’s how it works:
- Start a website in your niche.
- Find high quality* affiliate products in your niche.
- Create amazing content relevant to your niche.
- Send traffic to your content.
- Capture your content leads with email optins.
- Deploy an email autoresponder to build a relationship with your subscribers
- Recommend products and services to solve their** problems and needs.
The main difference between this business model and the “hit and run” model is that when doing this, you’re grabbing the customer as an audience of your own before giving them away to someone else. You’re building a customer base you can continuously contact with new offers etc. for repetitive sales.
* I can’t even describe how important it is to make sure that your affiliate offer delivers high quality services. You are putting your reputation on the line to promote a product to your customers (potential repetitive customers), and the second you promote a bad product the customer will start to mistrust you, leaving any potential future sales in dust.
** Also, people sign up for your list because they trust your expertise and believe you can help them with a problem or a question they have. They aren’t interested in bragging, constant self-promotion or having every product that pays you shoved in their face. Be sympathetic, give them something of true value and help them solve their problems and they will be forever grateful to you.
I broadcast my email list a few times a month with exclusive content, industry news, special offers, new blog articles etc. and I also encourage them to reply to me with any thoughts or questions they may have. This way I’m building a mutual relationship with my subscribers that we all can benefit from.
How to Find the Best Affiliate Programs for You
Okey, so you know how to manage your affiliate marketing campaigns, but how do you find someone to pay you for your efforts in the first place? First of all, you need to find out what your audience are looking for.
Paint a picture of your average customer. What do they do for a living? What do they want? What do they need? What sort of struggles do they have in their everyday life? What sort of product would make their life easier? Find out what they need and promote affiliate products according to that.
For example, if you’re starting to get a hold of whatever niche you’re marketing, there’s probably a bunch of tools that you use yourself already. These are most likely tools you use because you find them valuable.
That’s a great Starting Point
Promoting products that you actually use yourself is insanely much easier than promoting products you’re not familiar with, and it will skyrocket your customer credibility.
Think of it like this: People visiting your site have a need for something, and they’re looking for help to fulfill that need. What better place to find answers than from someone who have already fulfilled that same need for themselves?
For example, I was getting ripped off again and again while trying out ways to make some money to support my family, but then I came across the Wealthy Affiliate University that offers tools and training for online entrepreneurs. I’ve now been a happy member and customer there for more than a year and don’t hesitate to recommend it to others looking to learn how to build a business online.
(PS: They have a free trial if you want to try it out)
Back to the case, if you haven’t tried the product already, do it! Be a customer of yourself and see if the affiliate program delivers as promised. Is it worth the investment? Are they reliable? How’s their customer service? etc. Trying the product is a small price to pay to make sure your customers are happy and your reputation is safe.
Once you’ve tried the product and know how it works and how a customer will experience it, it’s insanely much easier to answer any queries, write detailed reviews and recommend the product with proven records based on your own experiences. It’ll be much easier to build trust since you actually know what you’re talking about, and the customers will love it!
Doing some research about the product to see what others think about it might also be a good idea. Even though you think a product seems perfect at first site, it might prove to have a bad reputation due to hidden errors, bad history etc. Find out everything you can about the product to make sure it’s good enough to promote to your loyal customers.
(Note: Adding a Resources page can be a great way to highlight the tools that you use and recommend.)
Once you’ve figured out what your target audience need it’s time to locate the products to promote.
Perhaps the most basic way to find… well, anything… but it’s still a simple and effective way to find affiliate programs to promote. Simply search for: “your niche” + “Affiliate program” and see what you can find.
For example, let’s say you’re in the niche of “photography”. You could try to search for “photography affiliate programs”Or “camera affiliate programs” and see what pops up.
Amazon in-demand Products
Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world, and they even have a special feature that lets you see what are their current top seller in any given category. This will give you an indication of what your niche audience wants, and could light up some good ideas for what kind of products to promote at your own site.
You can also see what new items are most wished for in each category, showing mainly what people want to see but that aren’t yet available on the market.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, having a resource page listing all your tools and affiliate products can be a great way to highlight them on your site and help drive more leads, but did you know you can actually use competitors resource pages to find affiliate products of your own?
Locate your competitors and see if anyone has a page called “resources”, “tools”, “my toolkit” etc. You can also do a quick google search with “your niche” + “resources/tools/toolkit” etc. Check out what tools your competitors use and why they use them, then see if they can be of any help to yourself and your audience. If the tool have an affiliate program, then you simply sign up as an affiliate and promote it to your own audience.
The cool part is, even though you just “stole” an affiliate product from one of your competitors, you also became a customer of them by buying their affiliate product, so they won’t mind. In fact, they might even email you and thank you for it, opening for a chance to connect with someone already established in your niche, and perhaps even future business relationships.
Searching Brand Networks
Established brands are pretty much always connected with an affiliate network. So if you’re looking to affiliate for a big brand, you’ll likely find one for you at one of these networks (if the brand has an affiliate program that is).
Note: Manually browsing through networks takes insane time. Here’s a great tool that I personally use to help:
Jaaxy Affiliate Research Feature
Jaaxy gathers information from several major affiliate networks (including the ones we just talked about) and sort them into keywords and categories for you.
Simply search for a keyword related to your niche and Jaaxy will list the most relevant affiliate offers for that keyword, including information such as the affiliate program name and website, Alexa rank, what network they’re from and commission percentage.
Here’s a walkthrough video for those who might be interested:
There’s thousands of affiliate programs that wants you to promote their products. Being able to connect with every single one in a matter of seconds will both save you a ridiculous amount of time, and perhaps even connect you with a future business partner that you might not had found by yourself.
For more information see my full Jaaxy review.
All in all, affiliate marketing is a great way to build connections with valuable resources for mutual benefits, and can be a great way to monetize your online business as long as it’s done the right way.
- Do thorough research to find a high quality affiliate program in your niche.
- Be your own customer first to control the quality of what you’re offering to your customers.
- Promote only products that stand up to your high standards and your audience will find helpful.
- Gather an email list to make sure you don’t lose the customer before handing them over to someone else.
- Keep sending valuable tips, news and offers to your loyal subscribers for potential repetitive sales.
As long as you follow those tips and recipe I’m sure you won’t have any problem building a successful online business with this business model.
Did you enjoy this post? Did it answer your questions, or do you have anything to add? Please don’t hesitate handing me a comment below, or share it with your friends.