Affiliate Marketing 101 – The 5 Step Guide for Beginners

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Long gone are the days when marketing was purely about TV and newspaper advertisements. The world is evolving at a faster pace than usual, and so is the marketing industry. There are endless opportunities in the majestic world of digital marketing, and somewhere beyond the highlands of social media ads and email marketing is the hidden gem of affiliate marketing. Why is affiliate marketing important, you ask? Simply because once you learn about the basics of affiliate marketing, what it is, and how to master it, you’ll be making affiliate money in no time. That’s right, the return is mind-blowing, and some people make thousands or even millions of dollars each year. But wait, that’s not the best part. They make all of that money without spending any of their own! Are you intrigued yet? You should be! Let’s take a closer look at what affiliate marketing is, how affiliate marketing works, and the five steps you can take to becoming an affiliate marketer yourself!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

What is affiliate marketing?

To make the definition of affiliate marketing a bit clearer, let’s first start by defining an affiliate. The general term of an affiliate refers to a person connected to another person or organization one way or the other. Now, affiliate marketing is a type of marketing whereby an affiliate of a company puts in an effort to bring in more customers and visitors and gets rewarded for each customer this affiliate brings in. The reward is typically a percentage of the sale made or whichever metric that the affiliate and the company agree on. In simple terms, it’s the commission earned on a sale. Affiliate marketing is a great and easy way to make loads of money without having to create your products or services to sell. You just feed off of other companies’ products and services, shhh don’t tell them! Affiliate marketing is also known as performance marketing and is only deemed successful if you convert your visitors into buying customers.

Affiliate Marketing Glossary

If you want to become an affiliate marketer, there is a list of terms you need to be knowledgeable and understanding of.

Attribution: the process of identifying which affiliates are successfully converting visitors into buyers.

Ad Blocker: a type of web browser technology that prevents the tracking of affiliate clicks and conversions.

Affiliate Network: a middleman between the affiliate and the company that helps facilitate the commerce.

Copy: a written piece of text that promotes products and pushes people to buy.

Commission: the income an affiliate makes from generating a conversion.

Click-through Rate: the percentage or rate of affiliate link clicks per number of web page impressions.

Cookies: the stored information on a web browser that affiliate marketers can use to track affiliate link clicks and potential conversions.

Landing Page: the webpage that affiliates refer traffic via affiliate links.

Merchant: the business selling a product.

Offer: the promotion of a product.

Pixel: a tiny square of color in the form of an image that tracks when conversions occur.

Of course, these are only some of the main terms that any person working in affiliate marketing should understand and be aware of to work as an affiliate marketer successfully.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

Picture this; you work in affiliate marketing; you join a merchant’s program and receive a unique ID and a specific URL to use when promoting the company’s product. You include this link in your blog post and invite readers to click on it to find out more. A reader of the blog clicks on your link, and a cookie identifying the source of referral becomes present on the blog reader’s computer. The merchant checks for a cookie that identifies the referral source, and if this merchant finds a cookie with your affiliate ID, you get paid. That’s pretty much the short, easy version of how affiliate marketing works. It’s quite general, and there are way more technical details that go into the process of affiliate marketing, but at least you now have a broad idea of how it all works and how you end up making money off of it. This process works no matter what type of product you’re selling or how experienced or established you are as an affiliate marketer.

The 5 Steps to Start Affiliate Marketing

To become a successful affiliate marketer, the key point you need to focus on is adding value to the products and services you’re promoting and selling to your customers. The thing is that people are already aware of the different product alternatives and are already purchasing them on their own, so what kind of added value can you give that will push them to buy the products you’re trying to sell. Here’s how to do that!

1- Choose Your Niche

Before getting all excited about making money right away, take some time to plan out and study your affiliate marketing strategy, and that starts with choosing your niche. But, what exactly is a niche? Not to worry, we got you. Your niche should be a topic of focus or a particular field of work that you exist in. Is it fashion? Is it finance? Is it cooking? Choose a niche or industry you are knowledgeable about and feel comfortable spending time and effort writing about. Always remember the golden rule of selling to potential customers; it’s never about you or what you offer. It’s about what your visitors and potential customers want, what their problems are, and how your products or services hold the solution to all of their problems. Keep this idea in mind when promoting your products in the niche you choose to sell in. One of the main problems people make when starting off with affiliate marketing is that they go in with the mindset of ‘I’m doing this to get rich and make money,’ which is a good starting point, but never allow this mindset to consume you and blind you from understanding your customers’ needs, pain points, and problems. After all, these people will only buy from you if you offer your products in a manner that attracts them and makes them confident in your solutions to their problems. So, instead of writing topics that interest you as an affiliate marketer, choose topics and industries to write about that interest your target audience and encourage them to make a purchase.

2- Start Your Blog

Once you clearly set and identify your niche, the next step is to go ahead and create your blog. Yes, there are other platforms you can use and websites you can build for your affiliate marketing work, but here’s why blogs are the best choice for affiliate marketing. While it is possible for you to make money using other platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, you don’t really own these platforms and cannot write content, advertise, and promote whatever it is you want freely. Add to that that whenever these channels decide that they don’t like your content or posts, your business will pretty much be off the grid from there. Alternatively, creating your own blog will allow you to have full control over it.

3- Write Your Content

Content is king; let’s just start from there. Ever heard of SEO? Yeah, that’s going to be your blog’s best friend. Since the core of your business is your blog, you want to create content to post relevant content continuously and periodically with trending keywords to rank higher on search engines; i.e., improve your blog’s SEO. FOCUS ON SEO, FOCUS ON SEO, FOCUS ON SEO. There really isn’t any other way to stress on the importance of SEO for your blog. Now, start organizing your blogs and choosing topics based on relevant keywords that will attract your target audience to your blog articles. Buy a keyword research tool like Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest to stick with as it can really improve the quality of your work and guide you with your content and topics.

4- Build Your Audience

Building your audience is where all the fun takes place! Organic search, otherwise known as SEO, is the most common method you can use in affiliate marketing to build your audience and generate leads that convert into buying customers. Of course, there are other options for audience building, such as email marketing, social media advertising, paid advertising, SEM, etc. The point of building your audience is getting people that are likely to read your blogs and buy your promoted products and services to constantly be visiting your blog and reading your content.

5- Join Affiliate Programs

Now you may be thinking to yourself, ‘after going through all this trouble, when am I finally going to get paid?’. Hey, we get it. After all, the end goal of this is to make money, isn’t it? Well, it might be, but you should also focus on nurturing leads and learning how to convert these visitors into buyers. If you think you’re ready for the next step, start looking for affiliate marketing programs that you can sign up for and join. To find these affiliate programs, just google it! Yes, we went there. Google (brand name) affiliate or something similar of that sort to find affiliate programs of brands that suit your niche and go well with it. A lot of merchants choose not to advertise their affiliate programs, in which case you will have to contact them directly and ask if they are interested in an affiliate marketing partner. If these merchants don’t have an existing affiliate marketing program, you can even propose creating one by providing them with all of the benefits that will come with it.

Embark on Your Affiliate Marketing Journey!

Affiliate Marketing Journey

So, you think you’re ready to start doing affiliate marketing? It might be a bit overwhelming at first, and it sure does take a lot of learning and mistakes till you fully master the process of affiliate marketing, but hopefully, you’ll see that the results are definitely worth the time, effort, and money invested in affiliate marketing! These are just the basic fundamentals you need to get started with affiliate marketing, but there are many more details that go into the whole process, so be sure to educate yourself, read, and practice as much as you possibly can to get it right. Good luck!

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