What is affiliate marketing and how do I get started?

Don’t find much joy in waking to your alarm every morning, dragging yourself out of bed, getting ready and heading off to work for 8+ hours at a job that has you teetering on the quitting precipice on the best of days?

Understandable.

If the daily grind of a regular workday is anything but the right fit for you day in, day out, you might want to think about moving in a different direction. But what are your options?

You could head off to acrobat or clown college and get into #circuslife. Or maybe head out to the Arabian desert in search of the Cave of Wonders to get your hands on a genie’s lamp. Perhaps even buy a DeLorean, fit it with a flux capacitor and head back in time to pick up a copy of the Gray’s Sports Almanac.

Or you could continue to exist in actual reality and think about getting into affiliate marketing!

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Investopedia defines affiliate marketing as “… an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services.”

Put simply, as an affiliate marketer it’s your job to effectively promote someone else’s products or services through your own channels (website, blog, social profile, etc.). By doing this, you earn money for each of the agreed-upon actions that eventuate due to your marketing efforts.

For example, let’s say there’s a brand that sells gym equipment. You have a passion for working out, so you become an affiliate for them and create a website that reviews their gym gear and links to the specific products on their site.

You work hard on your SEO, your site ranks well and you’re bringing in substantial traffic. In turn, your visitors are clicking through to the gym equipment brand and buying the products you’ve reviewed. And for every one of those purchases, you’re receiving a percentage of the sale price.

There are three key parts that make affiliate marketing work:

The brand/seller

The brand/seller

This might be a major global brand, a more localised online retailer or anything that’s found in between. They may be selling a range of different physical products like electronics or clothing, or a single service such as a tutorial that explains a particular subject in detail.

Whatever they’re selling, the bottom line is that they have something they want to sell. And it may not even necessarily be the brand itself; they may have reached out to an advertiser who then manages the affiliate marketing program for the brand you end up dealing with.

The affiliate or your publishers

Also known as publishers, affiliates aren’t always just one person looking to make a decent amount of cash without having to be part of the rat race. There are quite a few large companies that focus on affiliate marketing and can rake in millions every single month.

But we’re not here to discuss the companies, are we?! As an affiliate, it’s up to you to determine which products you want to promote and do your utmost to convince your audience to buy so you end up with the commission in your bank account.

The consumer or your target audience

At the end of the day, if consumers aren’t actually buying the products being advertised through affiliate marketing, there’s no point in doing it in the first place. As such, consumers are the driving force behind affiliate marketing and continue to click through from social posts, websites, blogs and the like to keep the affiliate wheels in motion.

More often than not, the price of the commission isn’t actually added to the final product price but is, in fact, included. This means consumers aren’t paying higher prices for any products they’re buying through affiliate marketing.

What are the types of payment for affiliate marketers?

What are the types of payment for affiliate marketers?

As an affiliate, once you’ve achieved the minimum level of commission amount with your network, they’ll send through your payment. This might be in the form of a Paypal or bank transfer, or possibly even via cheque.

And it’s not just through sales that you’ll see commission either. Indeed, the most common program as part of an affiliate marketing structure is being paid an agreed-upon percentage when your referral leads to an advertiser’s product being sold and the transaction is fully completed.

But there are also a couple of other ways you can get paid, too.

First, on a pay-per-lead basis. Instead of the end result being a finalised sale, it’s your job to convince your audience to visit the advertiser’s website and complete a particular action. This might be making an online enquiry, downloading trial software or an eBook, signing up to a newsletter or something else.

There’s also the potential of being paid to increase the number of click-throughs to the advertiser’s website. In this scenario, you need to successfully drive as many people to their site as possible through your marketing and promotional efforts, for which you’ll be paid according to the increase in web traffic.

How to get started in affiliate marketing

Okay, now you’ve got more of a background as to what affiliate marketing is and how it works, and you’re interested in taking the next steps – so what are they?

Decide on a specific niche

Decide on a specific niche

You might think it’s a good idea to approach affiliate marketing in a ‘throw things at the wall and see what sticks’ manner, but this couldn’t be further from the correct way. Trying to speak to lots of different audiences about lots of different things all by yourself can burn you out easily, and this can lead to you wasting your time.

Instead, opt for one particular niche market, as this will make everything much easier in the long run. There are a few questions you can ask yourself:

●  What topics do I have an interest in?

●  Is my potential niche still popular and searched for?

●  Are there a lot of competitors already in the market?

●  Do affiliate programs exist that support the niche I’m thinking about pursuing?

Answering each of these questions truthfully will help you make an informed decision about which niche you should go with. And while it’d be a huge bonus to end up choosing one that you’re fully passionate about, that’s not always going to be the tree that bears the most fruit.

Conduct market research

Conduct market research

Once you’ve chosen your niche, it’s time to get your head down and do a good amount of research. Without knowing what products or services consumers are actually interested in and happy to spend money on, you’re going in completely blind.

One of the best ways for you to find out some of the most in-demand products or services in your niche is by using Google Trends. It’s a completely free tool that shows you the rate at which users are searching for a particular term on Google. If it’s a consistently searched term over several years, you’ve got a good chance to make money off it through affiliate marketing.

Perform competitor analysis

Perform competitor analysis

Before you made a firm decision as to which niche you’re going with, you found out that there weren’t too many people working with it already. Sure, a little competition never hurts. But if the market’s already flooded with affiliate marketers promoting exactly the same thing, there’s little point in becoming another drop in the proverbial ocean.

So your niche does have a few players, but not too many that it makes the task too close to impossible. And that means you need to find out what they’re doing. You can conduct this research simply by visiting their marketing channels and browsing through or with competitor analysis tools such as the ones included with Ahrefs and SEMRush.

Once you have a better understanding of their methodology, you can take any aspects you like and integrate them into your approach.

Find the right affiliate program

Find the right affiliate program

Once you’ve got your niche, completed all of your research and have in-depth analyses of all of your competitors, it’s time to find the right affiliate marketing program.

These programs are sites that essentially act as the middleman between brands and affiliates, and while there are a few out there, they’re most definitely not all built the same.

When searching for yours, here are some things to look out for:

●  What the commission structure looks like

●  How and when payments are made

●  Which brands use the program

●  Whether there’s any support provided for affiliates through the site

When you have a shortlist of programs, we also recommend doing some research on each. You should be able to do some digging on Google and read current and past affiliate marketers’ reviews of each to help guide you in the right direction.

Choose your marketing channels

Choose your marketing channels
Image source: Antlii / Shutterstock.com

As stated earlier, there are a lot of different ways for you to drive consumers through to make product purchases.

Still, the most popular approach to affiliate marketing is to create a website. This might be a reviews website for all kinds of different products within the niche of your choice, or a brand-specific rundown of each and every product that particular brand releases.

If you choose to go down the website road, to maximise your profits it’s absolutely vital that you implement quality SEO practices. This will lead to substantially higher traffic to your site, which provides a ton more opportunities to point them to where you want them to go and make purchases.

You also have the option to start up a standalone newsletter or social media profile(s) where you can run marketing campaigns to drive click-throughs. However, this is a little more hands-on and time-consuming than going with a website.

If you really want to see results, your approach should be multifaceted and include a website, SEO, paid Google ads, social media marketing, email marketing and more. And if you’re keen to set that up but don’t have the skillset or time, no worries – First Page Australia can take care of everything!

The benefits of being an affiliate marketer

The benefits of being an affiliate marketer

As you can probably already imagine, there are a lot of different – and seriously awesome – advantages of getting into affiliate marketing. To make things clear and help you better understand all of these real benefits, here are just a few of the stand-out reasons why it might be the perfect time for you to make the move into this highly lucrative industry.

Minimal startup costs involved

One of the best things about starting in affiliate marketing is that the start-up costs are seriously low. Unlike most other types of businesses out there, you really don’t need a heck of a lot to begin except a computer and internet connection.

Learn while you earn

You don’t need to be 100% across every aspect of content creation and marketing right off the bat, either. There’s a bit of trial and error involved, and through this (mixed with a bit of time) you can hone your skills and learn as you go – while potentially still making money.

Work flexibility

Instead of the normal 9-5, you can work whenever you want. So for example if you’re a bit of a night owl, you’re free to wake up late and get cracking when you’re most productive later in the day.

Or if you’re doing drop-offs and pick-ups and after-school activities, there’s never going to be a problem with you working around all of that.

It’s a totally flexible working solution that even makes you money while you’re asleep!

Got a question about affiliate marketing?

If you’d like to learn more about affiliate marketing, give the team at First Page Australia a call today on 1300 479 226.

Not only can we answer any questions you might have about becoming an affiliate marketer, we also offer a full range of digital marketing services. From top-notch SEO and Google ads to social media management and marketing, online reputation repair and so much more, we’re the SEO agency that is here to help you see success with best SEO in Melbourne.

So get in touch with us today. You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain!

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