Monday, September 7th, 2020

4 Steps to get Started in Affiliate Marketing







What is affiliate marketing?


Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting products or services of another person or company in exchange for a commission on the resulting sale. Affiliate marketers join the affiliate programs, find trustworthy affiliate products or services to promote, and share them with their audiences.


This is not a new concept. It’s essentially, getting a commission on a sale. Affiliate marketing is a quick way to offer products and services without having to create your own.


An affiliate, also known as the publisher, can be a single individual or a company.

So, what are the 4 Steps to get Started in Affiliate Marketing?


First, let’s cover a few of the technical aspects that run in the background with the merchant’s affiliate program software.


When an affiliate joins the merchant’s program, s/he is given a unique ID and a specific URL to use to promote the product. The affiliate then includes this link in blog posts or other marketing efforts and invites readers to click it for more information.


When someone clicks the link to visit the affiliate partner’s site, a cookie identifying the affiliate is placed on their computer. This cookie confirms the publisher is credited with the referral sale even if it happens days or weeks later.


Whenever a buyer completes the sale process, the merchant checks the sales record for a cookie identifying the source of the referral. If the merchant finds a cookie with an affiliate ID, the affiliate is credited with the sale.


The merchant makes reports available so that the affiliates can see their referrals (clicks) and sales. Then, at the end of each payment period the merchant pays the affiliate commission (i.e. revenue sharing).


This flow works the same for any kind of product you’re promoting and for any affiliate marketer.


Now, the 4 Steps to get Started in Affiliate Marketing.

The number one thing to remember is that you’re getting paid a commission in exchange for offering readers information on products / services they’re already thinking about buying.


By using your blog and the Internet in a systematic process, you are providing valuable advice to thousands of people to help them make a smarter decision.


Following are four steps to help you get started:


Step 1. Choose a Product to Promote as an Affiliate

As a principled blogger you will always face two constraints
when choosing products you want to promote:


a) You’re either limited to products you’ve used and like that have an affiliate program and are a good fit for your audience, or


b) You’re limited to products you can get access to for evaluation by buying them or getting a free sample or free trial.


Of these two options the first one is the most common way to get started with affiliate offers.


Option #1: Promote Products You already Use and Love


You become an affiliate for a product or service you’ve used and tested and feel good about recommending. It could be a course or an ebook or something else.


Make a list of courses, products, and services you have experience with and choose the one you would be excited to promote. Cross off any that are not a good fit.


Then, check to see if the merchant has an affiliate program. Some will not, although many do.


You can do an online search using a search engine such as Google for:


“affiliate program” + [product name], (i.e. “affiliate program” + Pinterest Marketing Course, or other product)


or email the merchant and ask.


Use a check list for your other products that includes the following:


>> You’ve previewed the product so you know its quality.
>> They have a solid refund policy that you trust they’ll honor.
>> They provide good customer support (and you’ve tested it).
>> You have a good story to share about your experience with the product.
>> The offer fits your audience’s needs and won’t abuse the trust you’ve built with them.


The affiliate products that meet all these requirements are your best income opportunities. You can add as many of these products as you like in the future.


Now, you’ve found your first product! Apply using the merchant’s process and start promoting.


This option may be enough to get you started if you’re new to affiliate marketing channels.


However, as a blogger you’ll also want to try option #2.


If you don’t already have a product that you love and is a good fit for your audience and that offers an affiliate program, you’ll have to explore this second option.


Option #2: Find Products through an Affiliate Network


This option requires investing time into research and money into buying products to try, even more than the first option. So, be very careful.


That’s because you have no prior knowledge so there’s less trust. Do your due diligence, to protect your reputation and the trust you’ve built with your readers.


When you work through a network, your business relationship is with that network, and you normally won’t know the merchant ahead of time and won’t build a relationship with them.


Popular and reliable networks include Clickbank, CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), the eBay Partner Network (EPN), ShareASale, and the Amazon Associates program.


Some networks will assign you an affiliate manager to show you the ropes.


Many new marketers begin by becoming an Amazon affiliate and then scaling to other types of more profitable affiliate offers.


Step 2. Get Set Up as an Affiliate


Whether you work through a network or directly with a merchant you have to apply, be approved, and provide specific information in order to be paid.


At the very least, you’ll need to furnish your personal/business contact information for tax and reporting purposes as well as your bank account where commissions will be deposited.


The merchant will provide you with a trackable affiliate link that you’ll use whenever you post about the product. It will have a long tag at the end with your affiliate ID.


Here’s what some typical affiliate text links look like:


LINK THAT DIRECT’S TO THE MERCHANT’S HOME PAGE


https://merchantsite.com/dap/a/?a=1199



LINK TO ANOTHER PAGE ON THE MERCHANT’S SITE


https://merchantsite.com/dap/a/?a=1199&p=merchantsite.com/page.html


You’ll usually get some tips and useful marketing resources that could include:


a) An affiliate guide as well as instructions on how to use the platform and summary of policies such as payouts.

b) Online marketing tools like banners and sidebar graphics.

c) Sample email/webpage swipe copy.

d) Ongoing communications from the merchant about promotions, new products, etc.


You’ll get a link for each product you promote, if you use a network like Amazon.


Do check your specific network’s help and support pages for more information.


For your global audience you can check out geniuslink for tracking overseas sales through Amazon, iTunes, and Microsoft Store.


No matter which method you use, expect to invest money and time into researching the best products for your audience.


Step 3. Start Promoting Your Affiliate Offers


In the end, your hard work of finding and evaluating products only pays off when someone takes your advice and makes a purchase.


So, you need to place your recommendation in front of your audience in a trustworthy manner.


Don’t make the affiliate-marketer mistake of haphazardly slapping some banners on your blog that link to affiliate products and think that’s all you have to do.


Your recommendations should line up with your blog categories and topics, not some random products that are probably of no use to your readers.


Example:


If your blog’s focus is travel related, don’t use affiliate links advertising educational products or some other unrelated merchandise.


Here are a couple of options:


Option #1: Create a Resource Page on Your Blog


You can create your own resource page on which you can promote lots of different products, and they’ll all be organized in one place for easy reference for different readers according to their needs. It can also contain explanations regarding the usefulness of the products.


The page is not just a sales pitch but educational, with quality content. It should be well optimized for SEO so it will also rank well in Google search results and get organic traffic that also leads to good conversion rates.


Option #2: Create and Promote Custom Content


The following strategies are for those who are already sending traffic to your latest content by emailing your list regularly (at least two to four times per month) about what’s new.


A) Write Reviews


You can write in depth reviews of products, books, courses, or software products you promote as an affiliate.


Your reviews can focus on one product or comparisons between two products side by side.


Comparing two products in this way builds more trust, but is distracting due to multiple recommendations.


For multiple product reviews you can set up a “one-stop shop” for your niche by creating a site containing only reviews and affiliate offers.


B) Write Authoritative Content on a Related Topic


Write an authoritative comprehensive post that educates your audience and do a “soft sell” for your products.


For example, set up a guide for writing blog posts and include your affiliate links to your hosting providers.


Make sure your topic, whatever it is, is evergreen content – information that will be useful for years.


Create blog posts, infographics, videos, and more. Just do not create a sales page. You want to focus on building trust and authority.


Pay particular attention to SEO. Be sure to optimize for the right keywords and build links to your content to get a constant flow of traffic from Google.


C) Create Valuable Bonus Content


Check your affiliate agreement to see if you’re allowed to create bonus content. If so, create content, especially for your readers, to help them get even more value from the affiliate product.


People love bonuses! Creating them is fairly quick and easy, and they will help you stand out from other bloggers promoting the same product.


Some example bonuses are:


Step-by-step checklists.
Quick-start guides.
Video overviews or demos.
Complementary or discounted services (e.g., coaching calls).


Step 4. Follow Legal Requirements and Best Practice


In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that you let people know you’ll earn a commission.


But even if it isn’t required by law where you’re located, it is recommended. It’s just good business.


People will appreciate your transparency and honesty and want to support you and help you for improving their lives.


So, wherever you share a link – in blog posts, on web pages or in emails – let readers know you may make a small commission if they make a purchase through you.


Also, create a disclaimer page on your website.


There, you have it, the bottom line on affiliate marketing.


Your dream of making passive income is a completely achievable reality, although it’s not as simple as pushing a magic button. With a little knowledge and persistence you can do it and eventually turn it into an online business.


Affiliate marketing is one of the best business models for making an income from home, once you’ve gained a respectable following.


It’s very easy to get started. Just follow the steps covered in this post.


Find the one big thing everyone in your audience needs to reach their goals and start there.


Choose a great product you believe in. Share your success with it.


Deliver plenty of valuable content to educate your audience, without being too salesy.


Nurture the trust your audience places in you.


Be upfront, honest, transparent, and most of all, patient.



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