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’s 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.
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.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
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.
In contrast to other types of advertising, affiliate marketing is purely performance-based. There are services such as Google AdSense that pay you any time someone clicks on an ad on your website. There are other forms of advertising (usually more direct with no intermediary) that will pay simply for the ad space, regardless of clicks or sales. Affiliate marketing techniques pay you based upon how many actual sales come from your website.
Affiliate marketing is a preferred 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 and recommend products to them that you believe in and solve a specific problem within that niche. The trust and authority that you have built up with your audience increases 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.
What Affiliate Marketing is NOT:
There are many in the online space that grow an email list, keep up with what digital products are being launched, and promote whatever is being launched that week to their list. 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.
Over time, you’ll get better at spotting these hucksters and learn to stay away from them.
Rules of Affiliate Marketing:
You’ve worked hard to build your audience. 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.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you look for products to promote to your audience:
- 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. 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.
- Don’t base your decisions solely on commissions paid. Violating this will set you on a fast track to also violating number one. 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.
- 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.
- Always stay within regulatory guidelines. This is a sticky topic. While 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 requirements. While it does say that the disclosure must be clear and prominent, it does not give recommended verbiage or specifications. Keeping in mind that I am NOT a lawyer and I am completely unqualified to give any 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. However, in something like a YouTube video, you should probably mention it in the description of each video that contains affiliate links, if not in the video itself.
What Do I Promote?
This answer 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, if your audience is woodworking, maybe you want to promote the best converting online woodworking course.
There is also the possibility of promoting physical products. For instance, if you have a recipe blog, maybe you want to promote some cooking utensils that compliment they type of cooking you discuss.
The possibilities are truly limitless.
Where Do I Find Products to Promote?
I am working out a detailed list of places to find affiliate products to promote, but you’ll have to wait till next week!