Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways of making money online. Successful affiliate marketers are not any different from entrepreneurs selling products or services. So, what exactly is affiliate marketing? In the simplest terms, it works like commission-based sales. A company commissions people to sell its products, and they get a percentage of the sale in return. You can think of it like a real estate listing where the agent promotes homes on behalf of clients in exchange for a percentage of the sales price when the property is sold. Many of the biggest retailers in the world have an affiliate marketing program, including Wal-Mart, Amazon, Best Buy, Yahoo! and Sears.
If you were an affiliate marketer, what would you do?
You would first identify an affiliate program. Then, if you don't already have a website or blog, create one. The final step is to promote the affiliate product on your site/blog. Here's the step-by-step process:
- Purchase a domain name, set up a free blog using Blogger or WordPress, and host it using cost-effective services like GoDaddy or HostGator.
- Determine the product or service niche that interests you, that you would find comfortable promoting, and feel encouraged to continue learning about. A few of the hottest affiliate marketing programs include Clickbank, Commission Junction, E-junkie, Google AdSense and PayDotCom.
- Research affiliate programs around the products/services you have short-listed. Join online forums and communities where you can get all the inside information on affiliate programs. Some of the leading forums include AbestWeb, Affilorama, WickedFire and AffiliateFix.
- Once you have zeroed in on the affiliate program, you have to now make your website/blog a traffic magnet. There are two aspects you want to focus on : creating high-quality, relevant content, and building authority through link-building and social media strategies.
- You can brand your site as a useful resource center for articles, tips and how-to's on the product/service you're promoting. Add affiliate links within the articles and/or banner ads that take readers to the seller's website.
- You can create a review site where you help visitors (potential customers) with purchase decisions. You can add a link or banner ad (taking readers to the merchant site) for every product you review.
- Invest time in keyword research and use a keyword analysis tool like SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty Tool to find profitable keywords to insert into your site content.
- Build links to your site by contributing articles to authoritative blogs in your niche, through article marketing, social sharing and creating a site map.
- To increase social shares and odds of virality on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, create interesting info-graphics and blog posts. You can also consider creating a YouTube account and uploading review videos, infomercials or other creative visual communications, and include your affiliate link in your video description.
Many people may buy your affiliate products only after you've contacted them for the third or fourth time. Therefore, nurturing leads and moving them along the conversion funnel is essential, something you can achieve with an email marketing campaign. Create an opt-in form on your website where people can provide their email in exchange for signing up for your newsletter.
5. Enhance and refine your affiliate marketing efforts to boost your monthly earnings from affiliate sales. Some online forums that serve as meeting points for experienced and newbie marketers alike include Warrior Forum and Digital Point, along with those mentioned in point 3 above. Monitor and optimize your site/blog to build a bigger audience that keeps coming back for more.