Affiliate Marketing for Dummies is the perfect guide for beginners, who have no prior knowledge or experience in affiliate marketing.
But before we dive into this topic, let’s have a look at the different ways in which we can monetize our website.
We can start making money online by:
- Selling products – physical products (clothes, books, mobile phones) or digital products (eBooks, software, online courses)
- Selling services – offering services to your visitors (translating services, copywriting, web design)
- Selling memberships or subscriptions – offering access to downloadable resources, courses, software, etc.
- Ad revenue – placing Ads on your site (Google AdSense or similar) or selling advertising space (sell private Ads to advertisers)
- Sponsored posts – when another business asks us to write about their product or service
- Website flipping – buying and selling websites in order to make a profit
- Affiliate marketing – something we are going to talk about today
So if you are new to affiliate marketing, get ready to start learning right now.
#1. What is Affiliate Marketing?
According to Entrepreneur encyclopedia affiliate marketing is:
A way for a company to sell its products by signing up individuals or companies (“affiliates”) who market the company’s products for a commission
There are 2 main parties in affiliate marketing:
The Merchant – the company that creates the actual products/services and the affiliate program
The Affiliate – the person that displays the company’s products and services on their website through affiliate links
In this guide, we are going to talk about becoming an affiliate and promoting other people’s products and services for a commission. Let’s have a look at how affiliate marketing works in more detail.
#2. How Affiliate Marketing Works
Understanding how affiliate marketing works is really not that complicated. In order to make things more simple, I have created the diagram below:
The process of affiliate marketing can be explained in 8 simple steps:
Step 1: First of all, you need to have a website or blog in order to join an affiliate program and become an affiliate. Once you have joined a program relevant to your niche, you will be given an affiliate ID and access to promo materials that can be displayed on your site. Anything ranging from product links to Ad banners or widgets.
Step 2: Now that you have joined an affiliate program, it is time to add affiliate links to your website. Make sure to add links relevant to your niche. Content that converts well with affiliate marketing includes product reviews, comparison posts, “how to” posts, etc.
Step 3: If your site has already got a decent following, chances are your visitors will click on one of your affiliate links. If not, make sure to drive traffic to your site – keyword research and on-page SEO are a good place to start.
Step 4: Once your affiliate link gets clicked on, your visitor will get redirected to the merchant’s website. Now he is browsing the site via your affiliate link.
Step 5: After careful consideration and research, the visitor decides to buy a product or subscribe to a service on the merchant’s website. He is happy to complete the sales transaction and pays for his purchase.
Step 6: The merchant checks the sales transaction to determine how the sale was made. In our case, he makes sure the sale came through our affiliate link.
Step 7: The merchant approves the sales transaction. You will usually get notified via email.
Step 8: The merchant pays us the commission. Depending on different affiliate programs, you need to reach a minimum payout threshold, anywhere between $50 to $100. Payments are also usually made on certain days of the month. When you sign up to an affiliate program, all these details will be disclosed.
If your site is new, it takes at least 6 to12 months before you can expect to make some decent money from affiliate marketing. In order to succeed, make sure to have engaging and honest content backed up with best SEO practices. I always like to remind people that making money online (whether through blogging, Ad revenue, affiliate marketing, selling products or services) is hard work. But it is definitely super rewarding once you get to see your first results. Now let’s find out if affiliate marketing is something you should pursue.
#3. Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is not everyone. Although it does not require a lot of effort to become an affiliate, it definitely takes a lot of work and determination to create a website and write content that will convert those affiliate links into sales. Let’s discuss some advantages and disadvantages of affiliate marketing.
Advantages of Affiliate Marketing:
- Easy to start. No need to create an actual product or service.
- No prior experience required. Just your desire to succeed. Plus you can find loads of free step-by-step guides about everything – from creating a website to driving traffic to your website.
- Low investment costs. All you need is a website. And creating a website and buying a domain and web hosting is pretty straightforward.
- Be a member of multiple affiliate programs and promote several products/services on one site. This means more commissions and bigger earnings.
- Possibility to create a steady passive income stream once your website starts getting decent traffic. However, when your site does get a lot of visitors, never take it for granted and always remember to update your site with new useful content on a weekly basis.
Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing:
- Super competitive industry. Some may even say it is oversaturated. You need to have better content and more traffic than your competitors in order to succeed.
- Time-consuming. It takes a lot of effort to generate decent traffic to your website.
- Promoting third party products and services you have no control over. The merchant always makes more money than the affiliate. They dictate the rules of the game.
- Beware of scams. There are many programs out there that will promise you crazy commissions. Be careful with handing over personal information and always do research before becoming an affiliate.
I definitely think that affiliate marketing is ideal for someone who has a small budget but has the ambition to succeed. When you make your very first commission, you finally realize that this is something that actually works!
#4. How Much Can You Earn with Affiliate Marketing
Your earnings with affiliate marketing depend on many factors. Some websites can earn ten of thousands of dollars in commission while others will never witness a sale. According to VigLink survey:
9% generated more than $50,000 in affiliate income in 2016. The majority, 65%, said they were making between 5% and 20% of their annual revenue from affiliate programs. The survey also showed a link between timeframe and revenues. Among the publishers with the largest revenues, 60% had been utilizing affiliate-marketing strategies for five years or more.
On average, affiliate marketing takes about 12 months to start seeing real success. But trust me, you can make your first sale much quicker if you do thorough research and write high-quality content. But the thing with affiliate marketing is, you never know how much income you are going to make. Earnings always fluctuate. One month you might only make $500 and the next one you can make $2,000.
How much you earn depends on many factors:
- consumers’ changing behavior
- market/industry changes
- time of the year (you will usually see more sales during the summer and Christmas periods)
- constant Google updates with algorithms and as a consequence, your site’s Google ranking can drop
- new competitors emerging every day
- and lots and lots of other external things.
Even though affiliate marketing in a way is a sort of passive income stream, never ever abandon your profitable sites. Always make sure to update your website, post new content, keep up-to-date with news and trends, follow experts and top influencers in the industry, make sure your site’s speed is on point, etc. Trust me, the online world never sits still. It is constantly changing.
#5. Best Affiliate Marketing Programs
When it comes to choosing an affiliate marketing program, there are hundreds to choose from. Depending on what niche your site focuses on, you can pick from retail affiliate programs or travel affiliate programs. Let’s have a look at the best affiliate marketing programs on the market.
Retail Affiliate Programs
Commission: typically 1% to 10% of each sale (depending on product category)
Cookie duration: 24 hours
Amazon Associates is the affiliate program of Amazon. Although the commissions aren’t very high, it is known for having high conversion rates. On top of that, Amazon pretty much sells everything, so whatever niche your site focuses on, you will find something to promote or link to.
In order to join Amazon Associates, you must have an established account or group on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Twitch.tv with at least 500 followers/likes.
Commission: between 50% to 70% of eBay revenue (do not confuse with an item’s sale price)
Cookie duration: 24 hours
The eBay Partner Network is one of the biggest affiliate programs along with Amazon Associates. It has a wide range of products and generally high conversion rates. For each sale, you get between 50%-70% of eBay’s commissions. Ebay’s commission fee is 10% for each sold item. So obviously you are better off promoting more expensive products, like designer clothes or electronics.
It takes less than 5 minutes to join their affiliate program. It also doesn’t require exclusivity, so you are free to promote any other affiliate programs on your website.
Web Hosting Affiliate Programs
Commission: $65 for each qualified sign-up
Cookie duration: 90 days
Bluehost is one of the best web hosting services for WordPress websites. They offer hosting plans starting as low as $2.75 per month.
Their affiliate program is super easy to use and there is no waiting period to get approved. All you need to do is register, provide your website URL and tax form. Then you are set to go. Just add a range of banners and links to your site and start earning $65 for each referral.
Commission: $50 to $100+ for each sale (depending on the number of sales per month)
Cookie duration: 90 days
SiteGround Affiliate Program is another great web hosting service you can promote on your website. Their commissions are super generous and you can make over $100 for each sale after you surpass 21 sales per month.
In addition, it is one of the few programs that has no minimum payout amount and you also get paid on a weekly basis. So why not check it out.
Travel Affiliate Programs
Commission: 50% of revenue
Cookie duration: 30 days
Skyscanner is one of the leading comparison sites for travel purposes. If you want to find cheap flights, car rentals, hotels, then you must use Skyscanner.
Their affiliate program works on a very generous 50% revenue share model. For example: if Skyscanner earns $20 revenue from a customer booking that came through your affiliate link, you will make a $10 commission. They have a range of different banners, widgets and other promotional materials for their affiliates.
Commission: between 4% to 7% for each booking (depending on the number of completed bookings per month)
Cookie duration: 24 hours
Agoda is one of the best tools for finding and booking the top deals on accommodation or flights. Their affiliate program has a progressive commission plan, starting at 4%.
What I love about Agoda Partners is its multilingual approach to its affiliates. Their promotional material comes in 38 languages which gives anyone an opportunity to join their program.
#6. How to Become an Affiliate (Amazon Associates example)
If you are struggling to pick an affiliate program, I strongly suggest starting with Amazon Associates. Let’s have a look at how to become an affiliate in this step-by-step guide.
Get Started With Amazon Associates: Your Step-By-Step Guide
Step 1: Got to Amazon Associates website and click “Join Now”
Step 2: “Create your Amazon account” or “Sign-in” if you already have an account
Step 3: Fill in your personal information in the “Account Information” section
Step 4: “Enter Your Website(s)” URL and click “Add”.
“Enter Your Mobile App URL(s)” (if you have one) and click “Add”.
Step 5: Enter your information in the “Profile” section
Step 6: “Enter Telephone Number”, click “Call Me Now” to generate the PIN, after which you will receive a call. Receive the call and enter your PIN.
Agree to the terms and conditions of the Associates Program and click “Finish”
Step 7: Congrats! Now you have your unique Associate ID and can start using Associates Central
#7. Advice from Industry Experts
I have gathered some advice and tips from online marketing experts and I would like to share them with you today.
Neil Patel on “How to get the most out of your affiliate marketing”:
1. Get to know your audience.
2. Do your research on affiliate products.
3. Try different affiliate programs.
4. Be transparent about your affiliation.
5. Above all, be patient.
1. Promoting a product that doesn’t make sense for your audience.
2. Not keeping an eye on the quality of your audience’s experience.
3. Not being honest about a product or promotion.
4. Earning all of your income from affiliate marketing.
Gael Breton from Authority Hacker on “17 Affiliate Marketing Tips That Still Work In 2019”:
1. Own Your Audience
2. Always Have A Backup Offer
3. Track Your Links
4. Use Retargeting
5. Use Lead Magnets To Segment Your Audience
6. Link To Relevant Offers On Thank You Pages
7. Follow-Up More Than Once About Targeted Products
8. Show Your Face And Personality
9. Show Real World Use Of The Product
10. Bridge Features And Benefits
11. Add Some Salt On The Wounds
12. Create Videos
13. Offer To Answer Questions
14. Offer Alternatives
15. Offer Bonuses
16. Get Special Deals & Add Scarcity (Giveaway Combo)
17. Save Your Discounts For The Exit-Pop
Let’s wrap it up
Affiliate marketing is something that involves time, effort and dedication in order to see results. If you want to be successful, the first thing you have to focus on is having a website that people trust. If your audience trusts your judgment, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. Remember, only promote products and services you have actually used and are satisfied with. Be honest, be approachable and you will see success.
I hope you enjoyed reading my “Affiliate Marketing for Dummies Guide”.
Got any comments or questions? Please leave them in the comment section below.