Affiliate marketing has been around for a while now.
You see these kids and brands making hundreds of thousands, millions or even tens of millions of dollars with this type of business model.
I’m sure when you hear or see people talking about it on the web, a question ‘Is It Really Worth It?‘ strikes your mind.
Yes, a hundred percent! It definitely is.
As a matter of fact, one of the best ways to build a business with no investment in terms of cash.
So, let’s turn our way defining affiliate marketing in an easy and understandable way.
Here it is…
A type of marketing in which you promote other people’s, company’s or brand’s products/services that make you earn a certain percentage of money generally referred as a commission for each sale you make is known as affiliate marketing.
That’s actually an easy thing to understand.
Well, there is a person that I know who deploys everything when it comes to affiliate marketing.
He literally earns more than anything with this simple marketing model.
If you know him, I’m talking about Pat Flynn.
He’s built a really impressive business with this thing.
Just look at the screenshot of his earnings right below…
You know what?
It is possible for you as well.
In fact, everyone who starts with online marketing, initially make the first income with affiliate marketing.
If you don’t even know a single word about it, you don’t have to worry as I’m going to teach you each and everything in this one descriptive guide to kickstart.
We’re just starting out. Let’s dive right in!
Before anything else, I think it’s good to visit a small part of history with our time machine to comprehend the marketing model in a better way.
Let’s Discuss The History
The concept of affiliate marketing was first kept on the table by a dashing dude named William J. Tobin in 1989.
He set the original affiliate program for his own company PC Flowers and Gifts in the nineties.
By 1995, the company was joined by 2,600 affiliate marketers promoting its products. They’ve massively scaled their profit at that time.
On 22 January 1996, he also applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing.
That’s where it started.
Amazon In Rush
Amazon was a smart company. As soon as the notion commenced flowing in the air, it launched the first affiliate program as early as in 1996 for the general public to take advantage.
Their network – Amazon Associates, allowed people to partner with them, promote their products via links and earn commissions on a percentage-wise.
The structure and framework were so good that everyone liked it and soon it became a business model of most of the brands, service providers and companies.
You know that it’s still very popular.
Why Affiliate Marketing?
Initially, I’ll cover some of the points in written-word and then there’s an infographic, presenting major and relevant statistics.
Here are the top reasons why you should leverage affiliate marketing both as a marketer and a merchant.
- It is a highly cost-effective marketing option.
- There is no need to employ a vast sales staff for management.
- You have 100% control over your business (and life).
- It is the fastest way to become a millionaire if done strategically.
- It is easy to scale.
- No regular work required.
It’s time to inspect the infographic that I just mentioned…
You’ve seen the proof now.
Let’s jump right into the cool pool now…
A Run Through
Here are the topics that I’m going to walk you through in this guide. Although this guide is more of an affiliate’s guidance, I’ll warp up the merchant’s part as well.
Time to take a run through.
It is certainly important to tell you the significant terminologies so that you can understand the advanced areas which I’ll illustrate further.
There are not too many terms to remember.
Just a couple of them…
Affiliate – any person or an organization dedicated to promoting advertisers’ products.
Advertiser/merchant – a company or a person that offers services or products.
Affiliate Network – a network that allows an individual/organization to participate in various affiliate programs.
Affiliate Program/Associate Program – an arrangement in which an advertiser or merchant pays affiliates for every customer or lead they bring.
Offer URL – a URL where a user lands after he clicked the promotion/affiliate link.
Affiliate/Promotion Link – A special and unique link that contains an affiliate’s affiliate ID or username to track CTR, sales, and leads.
[CTR] Click Through Rate – it is a ratio of users clicking a URL or link out of the total users who viewed it. [Or, the total number of clicks on total impressions]
Impression – how many times users have viewed your link.
Lead – a person qualified to eventually turn into a customer for a business.
Conversion – Completion of the desired goal by a user like buying a product or giving an email address, etc.
Landing Page – a page where an affiliate drives traffic to.
Commission – the percentage of the money you make on a sale.
Publisher – [That’s you my friend!] publisher is an affiliate marketer.
Promotion – your referral to a targeted audience for conversion.
These are the basic ones you’ve got to know.
Without any further ado, time to get into the concepts…
How This Business Model Works
Have you ever used Uber for a taxi service?
Of course, you did.
Just pay attention to their business model. What do they actually do?
According to me: nothing much – just affiliate marketing!
Uber is the best example of an affiliate marketing company.
Let me explain how…
It is the biggest taxi company in the world with a valuation of over $75 Billion that doesn’t own a single taxi.
Then what do they barely do?
They connect the person who needs the service and the person who provides the service.
Just think about it. How freaking simple that is to be executed.
That’s what an affiliate marketer or affiliate does. He/she also connects people who require the services or products to the ones who offer the same and in between, ends up making a commission(s).
I mean it’s that basic thing to apprehend.
The best part about it is that it can be utilized by both affiliates like you and me, and also companies or businesses like Uber and Amazon. This is the beauty of this online business model.
How To Start As A Merchant
Starting as a merchant looks very time consuming and difficult to a lot of people but they don’t think about the rewards that a business gets when a ton of affiliates promote its products or services.
It’s super easy…yet a slow process to get started as a provider.
Here’s what you need to do to kickstart!
Step 1 – Research [about both interest and money] what is working and will work.
Step 2 – Create a product(s).
Step 3 – Attract affiliates to promote that product(s) and drive your business.
If you do this step thoroughly, the rest three steps become exponentially easy to deal with.
So, what do you have to research?
First of all, about your industry. Your industry matters a lot in it. If you’re in an industry that no one talks and cares about, your expectations are going to tank.
But how do you do the research then?
Here’s my simple process to make it happen efficiently…
Initially, navigate your way to Google trends and type in your industry or area of interest.
It could be anything – fitness, health, wealth or relationship.
Customize your results for being more specific. For example selecting the location, time period of the trend, category and so on and look at the trends.
If the graph is going down continuously for the past consistent months or years, you don’t want to do something about it.
In case the graph is considerable, you’re good to go! This means that the industry or topic you searched for is really hot.
Once you know that your industry is at the peak…
There are three more simple steps you need to take after it.
Here they are…
Go to a tool called Ubersuggest [It’s free].
Type in the URL of a big e-commerce website like Amazon.
Then scroll down to its top pages, and look at the product pages that are really popular in your industry and getting a ton of shares and traffic.
Take your time to judge and understand the product specifications deeply. Or if you can, buy a couple of them to test and have ideas.
This will give you some great notions to take into account for your own amazing creation.
This step comes from my mentor Dave, who makes millions of dollars with affiliate marketing and is a proven person who leads by example.
So, in this step, just walk to a tool called Buzzsumo and enter anything relevant to you for research.
It’ll tell you every piece of content that is popular and got a ton of social shares.
For sure, if something is getting loads of social shares, it should be popular. Hence, creating a product on something that is popular can really boost your business.
Why not consider making something about it, right?
Heck! You can even have product ideas form Quora.
Yeah, that’s completely right. You can!
This process may be simple but is still very effective as about 300 million people stumble upon Quora every month, and out of which 200 million are their active users.
That’s a good one.
I guess you’re excited about this easy-peasy operation now.
First, go to Quora and in the search bar, type in the industry you’re in.
*Don’t press enter when you do that.
When you do that, it’ll show up a bunch of different topics to follow.
Click on the topic you want to see about and you’ll see a section near the followers count indicating the most viewed writers in the topic (after you landed).
Smash that particular button for a reason (as shown below).
All you have to do is view the top writers and their answers. Read the answers that have the most views and engagement.
Believe it or not, this will fill your mind with a shitload of product ideas and enhancements.
The reason why I said and valued this is that it’s something already proven with high numbers of shares, views, and votes.
Those virtual symbols show that the concept or structure is highly effective plus trendy.
That’s how you do the research. But before we move on, I do have a bonus tip for you…
You can also look at Best Sellers in Amazon or go to Explore eBay to come up with more information.
There you have it…But just the scheme.
I know this is kinda crazy but you still, only have a plan you’re not sure about if people are going to buy.
[I’m not talking about physical products. This is about digital products. If you’re in physical products, don’t worry…it’s not for you.]
Let’s say you researched a lot and eventually made your mind to create a paid course about fat belly fix.
You can’t just say it in the air that people are going to buy it and it makes complete sense, right?
You have to validate your product idea. This is generally known as demand validation.
It simply means changing your guesses about the performance of your product into facts and reality.
Interesting…how do you do that?
To do this, you can also use Buzzsumo, but as it costs $99 a month, I’ve found a pretty impressive alternative: Social Animal.
Not only in my opinion, but hundreds of brands already use this talented tool and admire its performance.
Going on with the process, you just put in the keyword like ‘fat belly’ and hit the search button in the tool.
It’ll tell how many social shares did the content get in the time period you select [you can even sort the engagement reports according to different platforms], the length of the content, published and shared content, and whatnot.
[I’m not going to tell all its features. You can try it yourself.]
That said, after looking at the reports, click on the ‘View Shares‘ option and you’ll see everyone who shared that article.
To carry or with the process, you have to reach out to them and ask whether they’re going to buy a product that ensures belly fix within 20 or whatever days at ‘X’ price (you don’t necessarily need to include the price).
You can’t just message anyone randomly. I recommend you analyze the profiles first.
Like if a person already has six-pack abs, why will he/she buy it? So, just be specific before you hit someone up.
If you don’t know how to ask, here’s an example.
You must be thinking wherefrom would you get the link if you haven’t even created the product.
Don’t worry, you can add a random link to make it easier.
To test whether the person is actually interested to buy or not.
Let me explain…
If you don’t add the link to the actual product and the person is precisely engrossed in purchasing the course or product from you, he/she will himself/herself hit up and notify that the link doesn’t go to a landing page.
A person not willing to spend money (not interested in buying) will never bother to ask you about the unspecific link or even click to it.
This will give you an idea of the product being on-demand or not.
Not too shabby, right?
That’s how the process called ‘demand validation‘ works.
If you want the more in-depth source to learn demand validation, here is the definitive guide from Hubspot blog.
Now that you have an understanding of what is the most popular thing in your industry (in terms of both physical and digital), and what it looks like…you decide to create a money-magnetic product.
Let’s go about doing it real quick.
Creation Of Product
Creating your product is the most exciting part of the game. It’s because you are already aware of the chances that you’re going to do good with it.
There are two types of products that could be created.
Do you know physical products tend to have higher conversion rates than digital products?
If you don’t, I just told you.
So, when it comes to creating a physical product, there are 3 things you need to keep in mind.
Who wants to buy a product that has a shitty design?
The answer is – No One!
So, the solution to this problem is to have a great design for your product. You can have some graphic designs first and then ask people what they like the most.
It’s like surveying them about your designs. Once you have some satisfactory responses, you can start the work.
My advice is to use SurveyMonkey. You can survey people using this tool just for a few bucks and get bold beliefs.
When you have the best design to work out, it’s time to create a sample product to check the functionality and flexibility.
This is super important to do as it may change your perceptions about things drastically and reduce the overall manufacturing cost of the future.
For a case, if you decided to use copper for the design of your product…but when you test it out, you find plastic working better than it at cheaper rates.
What’s going to happen?
You’ll switch to plastic and save money.
Hence, it helps you financially and enhances the roads of ‘what next?’.
This could also assist you out in elaborating your product more efficiently to your potential customers.
Finally, the step you’ll have to take is manufacture.
You’re not a manufacturer…how do you do that?
Luckily, you don’t really have to do that yourself. Neither your staff has to.
There too many companies that can help you do this with zero stress on your mind.
Just for reference, a company named GENIMEX does it.
There are several other brands dedicated to it.
You just have to check them out.
Although physical products have more conversion rates, in my opinion, one good quality digital product sold is equal to 3 physical ones.
You read it right!
That’s how profitable selling digital products is.
Okay, some of you must be wondering what exactly am I referring to?
I’m speaking about software programs and online courses in general.
It’s cool because there is a possibility of getting recurring payments through monthly subscriptions.
There is nothing specific to tell you about creating a digital product.
You can create a tool, a course, an e-book, and more.
Here are the 6 most popular and profitable digital products that you can sell online.
The question is…how do you launch a digital product?
Here’s a video from Gillian Perkins that explains it all.
Or here are some guides to create digital products category wise.
[The Penny Hoarder] This Math Teacher Found a Way to Make $1 Million/Year. Here’s How He Did It
[The Podcast Host] How To Start a Podcast: Every Single Step
[CreativeLive Blog] How to Make Money Podcasting and Build Your Personal Brand
Let’s turn our handle towards finding affiliate marketers to promote our products.
Attract Affiliates For Your Product
This is where the actual work is required to put in. No one’s going to sell your product if you don’t influence people to come to you.
But you know what?
If you have an amazing product and follow the realistic strategies, you’ll touch the sky.
Here are the cheesy steps…
Start an Affiliate Program
Nothing can work if you don’t have an affiliate program. It’s a bit of hard work but being a person to run a program is the best thing in online marketing.
I’ve seen so many people generating six-figures (some of them with seven-figures) with their programs.
For doing that, all you need is a great course or product [which we’ve already discussed] and a program.
Hang on, how do you set up an affiliate program?
Back in the day, it was super hard and complicated to do but now it’s not.
You can create your own within a few steps with various software kits like Post Affiliate Pro.
Make Your Program Visible
Mention your affiliate program at the bottom of your website.
Also, have various posts that reveal and advertise it.
You can have a separate page that explains everything about your system. This will boost the reach.
Promote Your Program On Social
You can leverage social media marketing in this. As there are a ton of people sitting on these social sites, you can create regular high-quality content and describe the pros of your affiliate program.
On the flip side, you can buy ads on there too. If you do that with a nice creative, there are more than many chances of you and your program getting popular.
Offer Competitive Commissions
If you want to make the majority of the money on each sale, you’re not wise in the industry of marketing.
I don’t have an ideal percentage or figure of commissions for you…but still, spy people within your industry and look at what they’re are offering.
Let’s say another person in your industry offers 20% recurring commissions.
You can increase it by 27-30% for your affiliates. After all, your partners are your real wealth/strength.
[It was just an example.]
Have an Inclusive Affiliate Program
I hope you’re not confused with the sentence.
Genuinely, this is my all-time favorite one.
What this basically means is that you have an affiliate program within an online course.
I’ve seen a lot of successful online marketers doing this.
For a sweet instance, if you have a course that teaches making money online, you can literally teach people about your affiliate program to make money.
That way, you keep on earning both from the courses and the program. That’s a kind of smart idea.
The more of it you can check out navigating right here.
This is the whole journey of commencing as a merchant. Now, it’s time to pay some attention to becoming an affiliate marketer.
How To Start As An Affiliate
Becoming an affiliate marketer is the easiest and non-technical thing to do. Everybody can become an affiliate and start making money right away.
Ah, how to become then?
For doing so, there are three steps to be taken.
Let’s go all-in without wasting any time.
Find A Niche
People who are really interested in making money never promote a niche that’s not popular.
What I indirectly want to say is that affiliate marketing is all about proven tactics.
You should only spend time on things that are already proven while starting out.
Right below are the best three niches that work really well in this field presently.
The Health Niche
The Wealth Niche
The Relationship Niche
Want the proof?
Here it is…
You can simply see the trends shopping wise and grasp that these are the top three niches.
By the way, the relationship niche has the highest shopping rate from what I see above.
Bonus tip: Fashion works great too.
So, first of all, find a niche that makes the most money and also which you’re interested in.
Find The Right Products
Here again, we’ve come back to the two categories we discussed above: physical and digital.
Starting with physical.
Finding A Physical Product
I haven’t seen anything better than Amazon in terms of physical products.
You know this as well, right?
I’ll show you how to find a great selling product using Amazon differently.
This is how it’s done…
Go ahead and sign up for a tool called AMZScout and add an extension to your browser.
Best of all, you can start with it for free!
I know it’s an FBA tool but just hold on and I’m going to break everything down.
Once you are all set with it, the next step you have to take is – move to Amazon and search for a product like ‘Casino watch’ or anything.
When you do that, you’ll see an icon on the bottom in the left side. Click on it for judging the analytics.
You’ll see data as shown below.
Good to go!
There is a ton of information in the report. You don’t have to get overwhelmed.
Firstly, look at the bar showing trends, sales, competition, and ‘niche score’.
What I want you to look at is the average number of sales per month, average price and the niche score in general.
If the average sales are above 800 on average in your location, it’s a great number. Also, make sure that the average price is also above $40 or something close.
Why would you promote a product that earns you just a few bucks for such an uphill-climbing work?
The next thing to look at is the niche score and niche trends.
Select the ‘niche history‘ option and it’ll tell you the inclinations like shown below.
If the performance of your topic is considerable and scaling, you should take it into an account.
In case it is not good, try searching for something else.
But at the same time, your niche score should be highly low (just in the tool).
Yeah, I know what I’m talking about. It should be very low.
The reason behind this is – it’s good for affiliates.
The lower the niche score, the wider the niche is. This means that the niche is really popular and a lot of products have been selling in the niche.
In simple language, people are buying ‘Casio watches’ (or watches) in my location.
Now, you tell me…
Isn’t it a piece of good news for an affiliate if loads of people are buying the same product?
For sure it is. But which product to promote?
Let me help you find it.
AMZScout also shows you the top products below the ‘average price bar‘. You have to choose the top 5 products based on their sales and performance.
Pretty good. I’ve shown you the top 5 products in terms of sales but the performance part is missing.
To analyze the graph of each product, you need to click on the listing and then the show more text. You’ll see an option called ‘Product History’ below product score.
There you go! Just check it out.
If the product is constantly standing out, good for you.
Choose that as your favorite product as it’ll bring you a ton of money.
I’ve chosen the watch that ranked #1.
The next thing to do is get an affiliate link for this product now.
How do you go about it?
Just log in [If don’t have an account, sign up] to your Amazon Associates central, search the product and generate the link.
It’s that easy! Let’s go and promote the product…
No, you’ll need to wait a while because now I’m going to be discovering the right digital product before that.
Finding A Digital Product
Good news: Finding a digital product is not as hard as a physical.
The query is: What type of digital products are there that sell?
My answer: Everything that’s famous.
Still, to make it clear, products like software programs, e-books, online courses, and audios are common and renowned that affiliates do with.
Clickbank is the best place to find and sell digital products.
All you need to do is sign up as an affiliate and start browsing products.
Once you’re registered, log in to your account and click on ‘Marketplace’ at the top.
Now there are two things:
Number 1 – You find the most popular products
Number 2 – You find high performing products that you like
Don’t worry. I’m not going to skip anything.
Primarily, the most popular product.
Once you’re in the Marketplace, hit the search button without typing anything.
When you do that…
It’ll tell you all the most popular products that are being promoted by other affiliates who are earning commissions from.
No matter what product you promote among these popular ones, you’re going to earn for sure as it’s already proven by the system.
Now, let’s quickly learn how to find products that you like.
Head over to Marketplace again and scroll a bit, You’ll see a section on the left denoting categories.
Select the category you’re most interested in [Keep the top three niches in mind though].
For reference, I’ve picked ‘Health and Fitness’.
To find the best product, there is an option called ‘Sort results by‘ above the product results.
Select ‘Gravity’ from the drop-down list and it’ll give you all the results according to the highest gravity score.
Want to know the meaning of gravity?
Gravity means the number of other affiliates like you promoting and earning commissions from a vendor’s product.
That’s it. Nothing much complicated.
You have top products in your niche now. As said in the earlier part…you can choose any product from the list as they all are proven products and will definitely boost your bank account.
The last step in the process is to generate hoplink (affiliate link) for promotion.
It’s pretty easy to do.
Thump the ‘promote‘ button of the product you want to earn money with and then generate the link by clicking the button – Generate Hoplinks.
You’re all done with it.
This is the time to do the hardest thing: Promotion
Promote Your Products
All the methods that I’m going to give you will require work.
There’s no unrealistic way that I’ll give you and encounter useless excitement.
Promoting things in affiliate marketing is easier said than done.
Ah, but don’t get too serious…my strategies work forever…no matter what happens.
The simple answer is – creation of content when you have no money and advertising when having money.
Initially, I’ll explain to you the top variations of content that work.
A) Video Content
B) Audio Content
C) Written Words
Here’s a break down of each category.
Video content is the most successful way to promote both your digital and physical products.
You see these people saying: “You can get it on Amazon by clicking the link in the description.” on Youtube, Facebook or any other site.
Guess what these links are?
For sure, affiliate links.
You can do it too by making video content [product reviews or teaching people about something] and providing real value to people.
I searched for ‘Best DSLR under $600’ on YouTube and clicked the first video. In the description, there are affiliate links to Amazon.
You can see below…
This was an example of a physical product. You can do this with digital too.
I’m again searching for something like this: “How to build a sales funnel” on YouTube itself.
This is the description of the first video I clicked.
Again, it is not only limited to YouTube. You can even do it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms.
Audio content is getting really popular now. The reason is that you can consume audio even when you’re taking your dog for a walk.
All you need to do is start a podcast.
Then, you can record episodes about various topics and at last, include an affiliate link to what’s relevant as shown below.
The last form of content is text-based content. Let’s discuss that too.
It is one of the oldest methods used in affiliate marketing. You can literally start a blog in a popular niche, create written content, and eventually add affiliate links to it.
Or another cool way of doing this is writing reviews of products. One of my friends who runs TakeFunnels is killing it. You can too!
Getting further, I searched for ‘best hosting’ and stumbled upon an article with a list of top 10.
There were affiliate links in there.
Written content is again a better way to do it.
This means audio, video, and text play forever.
These three forms are sustainable too!
Advertising Your Products
As said, if you don’t want to create content, you’ll have to advertise which costs money.
The first thing you can do is leverage Search Engine Marketing.
I’ve Googled the phrase ‘top web hosting usa‘.
You can see that the results I’ve pointed are advertisements.
When I clicked on the first result, it gave me a list of hosting companies with their website URLs. [Actually, affiliate links.]
This is how Search Engine Marketing could be utilized for promoting affiliate links.
It’s one way of advertising.
Another way could be using Facebook Ads.
Running Facebook ads by targeting the right audience wins the whole game.
Paid advertising benefits a lot when it comes to promoting affiliate products.
The more creative you are with your ads, the better you’re going to do [But you can’t do without a bridge page/landing page because Facebook doesn’t like affiliate links].
Here’s a video on how you can advertise affiliate products on Facebook and make money.
This is how you become an affiliate marketer and start practicing it.
The scope of growth and scaling is really really high in this business model.
You should try this business model. It’s not only about the strategies and steps I’ve covered. There are endless opportunities you can utilize and get results.
By the way, if you’re serious with starting, check out this guide where I’ve covered why beginners fail and how to fix that.
Future Of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing can be lucrative but if executed properly both by merchants and affiliates, it brings out massive growth and profit.
A lot of people say that it will be the future of online marketing. I honestly don’t have an unsure prediction but I’m sure that it’s going to be in the game.
Brands, companies, and vendors will have to restructure their commission structure and be smarter with the framework.
Publishers will continue to earn profits from it with different content channels.
Advertising may change but creativity won’t stop expanding. Affiliate marketing is a model that will be necessary for every big and small company in the future for sure.
We’ve seen how profitable affiliate marketing is and how vigorously brands and companies are using it.
Let’s take a quick recap of what I taught in the guide.
We first learned the basic terms that everybody needs to know as an affiliate or a merchant.
Then we learned how to get started with it as a merchant and an affiliate.
Steps to becoming a merchant
- The research
- Creating your product
- Attracting affiliate to promote it
Steps to becoming an affiliate
- Find a niche
- Find a winning product
- Start Promoting
You can do unlimited sales with affiliate marketing. It’s the greatest way to kickstart your online presence.
When are you going to start affiliate marketing? Will you start as a merchant or an affiliate? Which methods of promotion are you going to use?
[FAQs] Frequently Asked Questions
A type of marketing in which you promote other people’s, company’s or brand’s products/services to earn a certain percentage of commission on each sale made.
There are two ways in which you can start. You can start as a merchant and have affiliates promoting your products or you can start as an affiliate and promote products.
Yes, it works really well if done the right way. It takes some time if you start it with no money.
According to reports, 12% of the affiliate marketers earn over $70,000 and 35% earn $20.000+ a year, respectively. Though, I know people making between $500,000 to $3,000,000 a month. It depends on how good you’re at it.
Brands will restructure their affiliate programs and commission systems. It’ll be very competitive with the time, which is a piece of good news for publishers as they’ll be offered high commissions.
You Might Also Want To Read: