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What would you say if I told you that you could get paid from someone else’s work? Sounds kinda crazy, right? Well, it is possible. In this episode, I’m gonna tell you how.
Hey, I’m Jason Wyatt and I’m here to help you on your journey TO your journey. My goal is to help you build a completely mobile income, so you can enjoy a location, independent lifestyle.
Today I want to talk to you about one of the best strategies to monetize your efforts online. It’s one that you may be using already, but you may actually be using incorrectly, or may you be able to improve drastically. It’s also a method you’ve heard me use several times already if you’ve listened to all my previous episodes.
It’s also a method that is especially relevant to us full-time travelers because it checks all the boxes.
- No inventory to hold
- Nothing to ship
- And in this case, there’s not even anything to create!
Of course, what I’m talking about is affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is a strategy that has existed since the dawn of time. There has always been that guy getting a commission for referring a sale, long before the days of the internet.
In today’s world it just looks a little different. This difference makes it much easier though. Instead of relying on the customer to mention your name when making their purchase in order to get credit for the commission that was rightfully yours, now the customer simply clicks on a personalized link that tracks their journey through the sales process. If a sale is made, you get credit.
You may have heard someone before recommend something and then say, “tell them I sent you and they’ll hook you up.” Or something to that effect. Well, in all likelihood, they are getting some kind of commission for that sale.
The wife and I were recently in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, as we are fairly often. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. She likes all the shopping and I like the quiet that is produced when she’s gone shopping!
Anyway, I digress… The last time we were there, she tricked me into shopping… I mean we were out in town and we stopped at a shoe store. She found a pair of shoes she liked, but they were really expensive. She actually found them much cheaper online while we were right there in the store.
She asked the salesman if he could price match, or at least give some kind of discount to incentivize her to make the purchase right then and there. The salesman told her that they were unable to give discounts of any kind. The store actually had no functionality in the computer or any other ability to do it.
Well, she continued shopping a bit and when it came time for her to leave, he reminded her of those shoes she loved. In her mind, she was thinking “heck no. I’ll just buy them online,” but what came out of her mouth was, “I think I’m gonna hold off. I’ll be back tomorrow to grab them.” Can you guess what he said?
He actually told her, “when you come back, mention my name and they’ll give you a discount.”
Now he had told us the exact opposite not 5 minutes before, so he was obviously lying through his teeth. The reality was that if his name was mentioned at checkout, he would get the commission for it.
This type of arrangement isn’t only used for in-house salesmen who at least in this case are fairly obviously commission-only, but it also extends to non-employees as well.
Have you ever been told by a car salesman that you just purchased from that if you refer him another sale, he’ll give you $100? This is a VERY common practice. And if you’re trying to get that $100, what are you gonna say? You’re gonna say, “ask for so and so and tell them I sent you. They’ll fix ya right up and give you a great deal!”
Now this situation is a bit more like being an affiliate because affiliates are not employees of the business they are referring customers to. But the fundamentals are the same. Refer a sale, get a commission.
Of course, these are also two examples of the wrong way to do it. In the first example, the guy straight up lied to us and that proved how unethical his sales tactics were immediately.
In the second scenario, there are two ways to do it. You could be trying to hunt down that free $100 for referring a car sale, or you could be genuinely helping a friend.
Can you guess which one of these is the right motivation?
If you feel that you truly got a good deal and were taken care of by that car dealership or salesman, there is absolutely nothing wrong with recommending them to a friend who happens to be looking to buy a car and collecting your $100.
The difference here is that one situation is self-centered and the other is in the interest of helping someone. If your intentions are genuine and you have the opportunity to get paid while helping someone, why not, right?
This episode will explore what exactly Affiliate Marketing is, how to get started, what to promote, and how to do it the right way.
Affiliate marketing is a strategy everyone should include in their online business, even if it’s not the primary source of revenue. You will eventually find yourself recommending SOMETHING to your audience. You might as well get paid to do it! So regardless of what your primary business model is, this affiliate marketing is something you should be paying attention to.
But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start off with the basics.
Let’s start off giving a definition to this thing.
Affiliate marketing is a method of monetizing your blog, YouTube channel, podcast or other content creation method by recommending certain products, and then earning a commission if someone in your audience makes a purchase based upon your recommendation.
Unlike other types of advertising, affiliate marketing is purely sales performance-based.
For instance, there are services such as Google AdSense that pay you any time someone clicks on an ad on your website. In this case, you get paid for the click, regardless if there is a sale or not.
There are other forms of more direct advertising that will pay simply for the ad space, regardless of clicks or sales.
Instead of getting paid for clicks, or for simply putting a banner on your website for a certain time, affiliate marketing pays you based upon how many actual sales come from your website.
See, in online affiliate marketing, there’s no need to ask the customer to mention your name. Each affiliate gets their own unique identifying link. This link will put a cookie on the user’s computer to mark them as being referred by that affiliate. Clicking on an affiliate link doesn’t change the price a customer pays for a product, but if the customer does make a purchase, the affiliate will get a percentage of that purchase as a reward for referring the sale.
Affiliate marketing can be a much more effective method of monetization, especially for businesses with smaller audiences. That’s because with click-based advertising, the amount of money you get paid per click is minuscule. It takes many, many clicks to produce a significant income.
With the ad-space rental model, you have to have an impressively-sized audience before buying an ad in your content is even attractive to a business.
But with affiliate marketing, you build an audience in a specific niche then recommend tools and products to them that you believe in and solve a specific problem within that niche.
The key is to build plenty of trust and authority you’re your audience and then operate with integrity so as to not put that trust into jeopardy. It may become tempting to promote some random thing because of the potential payout, but long-term integrity is much more valuable than a short-term payday.
Building up this level of trust will increase the chances that a sale is actually made. Since the payouts on affiliate commissions are much higher than pay-per-click advertising, the end result is often a higher income for the content producer.
The end result is higher revenue, maximizing the potential of a smaller audience.
What Affiliate Marketing is NOT:
Now that we’ve defined what Affiliate marketing IS, let’s look at what it’s NOT.
And I’m fully aware that I’m about to piss a lot of people off, but I’m only speaking the truth. If you get upset at what I’m about to say, you really need to reevaluate your business model.
There are many in the online space that grow an email list, keep up with what digital products are being launched, and promote whatever they may find that is being launched that week to their list. Usually this is done by picking whatever offer has the biggest potential of high earnings. Lots of people earn very large incomes this way.
But this is not affiliate marketing. Promoting new, unproven products that you haven’t used yourself to your audience until you milk them dry is borderline criminal. This happens very frequently in the internet marketing space. It’s a very dangerous method. These are the people you will see complaining that PayPal has frozen their account or that their email service provider has shut them down.
What makes it worse is that they see nothing wrong with it, justifying everything they are doing as legit. They convince themselves they are helping others, but I believe that somewhere deep down there’s gotta be a voice telling them what they are doing is immoral.
Over time, you’ll most likely get better at spotting these guys and learn to stay away from them. Most often, they are the guys teaching you to make money online by teaching others how to make money online by teaching others how to make money online. Well, you get the picture.
Rules of Affiliate Marketing:
So, let’s imagine you are at the point that you’ve worked hard to build your audience and now have somewhat of a following. Recommending a bad product for the wrong reasons is a sure-fire way to burn it all to the ground in the quickest way possible.
Obviously, you can’t be perfect. Mistakes will be made on your part, as well as the fact that ever audience will have its Karens that you will have to deal with (no offense, Karen).
But here are a few things to keep in mind and standards to strive for as you look for products to promote to your audience:
- First, don’t promote anything you don’t have any experience with.This is by far the most important thing to keep in mind. Promoting things that you don’t personally have any experience with could quickly come back to bite you in the rear. And while this doesn’t mean it has to be something you use daily, it does mean that you should at least try the product out and know what it’s all about. It’s even better when you know enough about the product to help your audience out if they have any issues with it.
- Next, don’t base your decisions solely on commissions paid.Violating this rule of thumb will set you on a fast track to also violating number one, which will eventually result in a loss of your audience’s trust. Of course, commission percentage will sometimes be the deciding factor between two similar products that you have no real preference between. But promoting something based solely on the fact that it offers a large commission percentage is a mistake that could cost you your integrity and in turn, your business.
- Also, always keep your audience’s best interest in mind. Your job is to guide your audience in your particular field. If someone makes a purchase upon your recommendation and that product ends up being junk, it will damage your reputation. Always recommend quality products that fits with what your audience needs or makes their life easier. If you are following rules #1 & 2, this should come naturally.
- Lastly, always stay within regulatory guidelines.This is a sticky topic. It’s meant to prevent people from arbitrarily promoting things and convincing their audience they are impartial when they are really getting paid for the promotion. The FTC does have regulations saying that you must disclose when you are affiliated with a product and earn commissions, it’s not exactly clear on the requirements of such a disclosure. It does say that the disclosure must be clear and prominent, but it does not give recommended verbiage or specifications of where the notice needs to be. Keeping in mind that I am NOT a lawyer and I am completely unqualified to give any legal advice on this topic; this is the way I see it. If it’s a blog article, you’re probably fine with a link displayed prominently in the footer that links to a blanket affiliate disclaimer page that would cover everything on the site. However, in something like a YouTube video that may be watched separately from any overall brand you may have, you should probably mention it in the description of each video that contains affiliate links, if not in the video itself. But then again, I’m no lawyer, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t stay at a Holliday Inn Express last night.
Alright, Jason. But what Should I Promote?
Your next question is probably what should I promote and where can I find it? And that’s a reasonable question.
So first let’s talk about the two main types of products out there. Those are physical and digital. Either one or both can be a huge benefit to your audience.
Everybody understands a physical product, right? It’s something real that you can hold in your hand. It’s something you might buy from Amazon.
A digital product is quite different though. It’s not something you can hold in your hand. It lives on a computer or other device. Some examples of digital products might be:
- Software, so yes Microsoft has a digital product business
- Ebooks or other forms of digital information
- Online courses. Most of these are a series of videos
- Spreadsheets and other tools that are used by other programs.
- Templates- you see a lot of birthday party invitation templates and stuff like that on etsy nowadays.
Digital products are anything someone may purchase but it stays on their computer. These can be even more beneficial to your audience than physical products, depending on who your audience is.
Which you would promote will vary based upon your business model and your audience. You could be teaching hobbies online and looking for a way for your audience to dive deeper. In this case, let’s say your audience is woodworking, maybe you want to promote the best converting online woodworking course. That would be a digital product.
But, if you have a recipe blog, maybe you want to promote some cooking utensils that complement the type of cooking you discuss. That of course would be a physical product.
If you are teaching crochet techniques, a physical product you could promote is some kind of fancy crochet needle, but you could also promote digital products like eBooks that show different crochet patterns. There is nothing saying you can’t promote both at the same time! It’s whatever your audience can benefit from.
The possibilities are truly limitless, and please don’t hate me because of my excruciatingly limited knowledge of the wonderful world of crochet.
That’s great Jason, but where do I find these products that I can promote?
Well, I’m glad you asked, because I just so happened to have a few places to recommend for you! Purely by coincidence, I assure you…
First, let’s talk about Amazon. They are the 800 lb gorilla in affiliate marketing. Heck, they’re the 800 lb gorilla of the internet. Everybody you see online is trying to get a piece of that amazon gold. Everybody’s in the Amazon Associate program.
And for good reason too. It’s easy. Everybody already shops on Amazon and if you can get your affiliate cookie onto their computer, you will make a commission off of anything they buy from Amazon within the next 24 hours, regardless if it’s a product you referred them to or not.
That sounds pretty lucrative, huh? Sounds like easy money. And it really was for a while. But Amazon no longer needs us to bring them traffic. Because of that, they have lowered their commission rates on several occasions, most recently within the last couple months.
Because of this, I’ll give you the same advice as I have given when it comes to social media and other things. Don’t rely on one platform. When you rely on one platform for your income and they choose to change the rules or even shut you down completely, you no longer have a business.
But the Amazon Associate program begs another stronger piece of advice. Try NOT to use them. There are other platforms you can find products that offer much higher commissions. I’m not saying don’t use them at all. If your audience is going to get the best price on the best product with the best service from Amazon, by all means, send them there.
But I would encourage you to find items of similar quality from vendors with similar levels of customer service to recommend. And believe it or not, it is possible to find cheaper prices from these vendors than you may find on Amazon. That’s because many times on Amazon you are buying from a third-party seller who is having to pay a lot of fees for the right to sell on Amazon. If you can find a vendor selling it directly, they may actually have a cheaper price because of the lack of fees. This helps them compete with Amazon.
So where do you find these vendors? Well, the first and easiest way is if you already know of a website you want to recommend, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the home page and look for a link that says Affiliates, or Affiliate Program, or something to that effect.
Most of the time you will have to apply and be approved, but it’s usually an easy process that you shouldn’t have a problem with.
So, what happens if you don’t have a vendor or a website in mind already? Let’s say you’re building up a following of people that want to better their golf game, but you don’t know where to find the best set of clubs at the best price.
Or it may be that you don’t even have an ideas of what you could promote. Maybe you need to monetize what you’re doing, but you don’t have any ideas right now.
Well, there’s good news. There are affiliate networks that you can join that offer a marketplace type environment that you can browse through. You may even start off looking for the perfect set of clubs to recommend and find the perfect online course to help your followers improve their swing.
Let’s go over a few of these and discuss the good, the bad, and the horrible.
You’ll be able to find a lot of stuff on these marketplaces and each one of them will offer different commission structures. You’ll find that the bigger names usually offer less commission, so you may want to find an up-and-coming company that offers good service and products and help them grow.
The way they work is you join the marketplace, search for a vendor, then apply to be an affiliate for that vendor. At that point you’ll be given access to your unique links.
Here are some of the marketplaces and some of the bigger named vendors you may find there.
Rakuten Advertising (Linkshare)
Impact: (more software/online services)
1 800 got junk
4 wheel parts
Bj’s wholesale club
Adam & Eve
Those are the four bigger ones I recommend, especially for physical products, but they all offer some digital stuff too, in varying quantities.
I also want to talk about some places that focus on mainly digital products.
First, I want to mention ClickBank. While CB does offer a few physical products here and there, they are mostly geared toward digital products. If you’re specifically looking for a digital product to promote, ClickBank is a good place to start.
They do have an approval process for the products they allow on the marketplace that serves to set a higher bar for the products they allow, but you still have to vet the product you are going to promote. There is still plenty of junk on ClickBank, just much less than other affiliate marketplaces who focus on digital.
A quick search for “knitting” brought up several results including a course called Kitting for Profit and something called Knitting Bible Study, which is some kind of Bible study for knitting groups.
ClickBank is also the home of what I understand is one of the best-selling online courses in history. It’s a woodworking course by some guy named Ted who you’ve probably never heard of before.
So, if you were building an audience in one of these hobby niches, but you didn’t have your own product to offer to your audience, you could research one of these products on Clickbank to see if they were appropriate for your audience.
Of course, it’s not just hobby niches either. You can find a lot of stuff on ClickBank to fit almost any niche. And to make it even better, digital products usually pay MUCH higher commissions than physical products. Since there is minimal cost of goods sold and no inventory to keep, they are able to provide 50% commissions instead of the 5-10% you may find with physical products.
I would say that 50% commissions on a one time fee and a 20% commission on ongoing payments is fairly standard in the world of digital products.
ClickBank even has a great course on how to be an affiliate marketer. No one knows better how to succeed with their platform than the platform itself, right? It’s called ClickBank University and you can find that over at https://tourfree.me/CBU and yes, that’s my affiliate link! I think you’ll be impressed with what they offer and all the different techniques they teach on how to get eyeballs on your affiliate offers.
And now to cover the other two platforms.
You can hear the excitement in my voice, huh?
These both focus almost exclusively on digital products.
They are Warrior Plus and JVZoo.
Unfortunately, there is good reason I’m not overly joyed about these. That’s because these two platforms have little to no standards as to what they accept into their marketplace.
As you can imagine, this attracts the dredges of society. I mean, JVZoo products have caused so many problems that Facebook has blocked their links from being shared anywhere on their platform. I don’t think they’ve quite caught up with Warrior plus yet, but I don’t doubt they likely
And it gets worse. Both of these platforms have a special program to promote what they consider as the best of the best on the platform. It’s called deal of the day or product of the day. In both cases on Warrior Plus and JVZoo, I often see the deal or product of the day being absolute junk.
Just be careful, especially if you are researching things in the affiliate marketing niche. These places are loaded with that stuff, but remember earlier when I was talking about the people who just email the crap out of their list and justify it to themselves that they are providing a service when they are really just spamming people, yeah you will find those guys on Warrior Plus and JVZoo.
So, I think I’ve spent enough time establishing the fact that the people running these platforms don’t have the best set of ethics, but that doesn’t mean that everyone selling there is only selling garbage. There are some good products on these platforms scattered here and there.
You may even hear me recommend one at some time. I’m not saying avoid them like the plague, but I wouldn’t recommend a newbie buy or promote offers from these platforms. That’s because the odds are not in your favor of you actually finding one of those quality vendors that I’m referring to.
Before you decide to promote one of these products, you should have plenty of experience with the vendor. I would say at least a year. By that point, you should know whether or not the person is trustworthy and produces quality products.
I think the biggest benefit these platforms have is how easy they are for newbies to use as vendors. I actually would recommend someone use these platforms as vendors to sell their own products long before I recommended them for promotion.
Well, I hope you got a lot of ideas out of this episode. I’m sure I’ve pissed a lot of people off discussing some of the things I have, but those aren’t the kind of people I want listening to my show anyway. I have a commitment to provide you the most complete and honest information I can and if it pisses someone off, oh well.
Like I said in the first episode, this is a no sugar zone. There ain’t no sugar coating here, baby!
So, let me list those affiliate marketplaces again real quick:
- Rakuten at tourfree.me/rak
- ShareASale tourfree.me/sas
- Impact impact.com
- Commission Junction at cj.com
- Clickbank https://tourfree.me/CBU
Now, when you go to these sites and start looking around for something to promote, you’re going to run into a bunch of terms, abbreviations, and statistics that you’ve never heard of before. If I tried to explain all of that stuff in a podcast it would be like listening to Ferris Beuller’s teacher all day.
So instead, I’ve created a PDF that you can refer to when you’re unsure of something. I think that would be more useful anyway. And this thing may not have all of the terms you may see on it, but it has the most important.
The link to pick up that resource is tourfree.me/007. And I think that might be what I do from here on out. If I have a resource for you, I’ll just make the link tourfree.me/ whatever episode it is. Of course, you’ll also be able to find all of the links I just gave you in the show notes.
Please take a minute out of your busy week this week to rate and review the podcast. It really does help other people find the show, and that’s what all of this is really about is helping other people!
And if you like the show, tell a friend. If you don’t like the show, tell an enemy. Just tell somebody, alright?
That’s all for now. I’m Jason Wyatt and I’ll see you on the road.