What is Affiliate Marketing?

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Is It A Passive Income Dream Come True?

We’ve all read about making money at home while in your underwear.  Regardless if the underwear thing is a passion of yours or not, who wouldn’t want monthly checks coming in with very little effort?

One way that you’ve heard about creating passive income (or you wouldn’t be reading this blog) is affiliate marketing.  I’m here to share with you what you need to know to get started on your affiliate journey.

Let’s begin…

First, let’s dispel the myth perpetuated in the opening paragraph.  It does take effort and work to get a process in place, the connections made, the targeted audience attracted, and all the computer work that’s behind the scenes done – before you bring in those checks.  

But the key is, what happens AFTER the work is done.  That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing.  For once the process is in place (as long as you chose a viable product to advertise), then you can sit back and watch your bank account balance grow.

And better yet…

…it’s a repeatable process!  

Get one affiliate marketing product out the door, then repeat with any number of other offers just waiting for you to market.

Sound good?

If so, read on and I’ll walk through the process needed to create your passive income stream.

Open Affiliate Program Account

The first thing you’ll want to do is choose what affiliate program you wish to market.  You’ll find people telling you to affiliate products and services you are passionate about, while others tell you to go after those that have the best affiliate offer (i.e., the best payout).

A suggestion:  to begin with try and cover both bases.  There are a variety of ways to affiliate a product, one of them being writing blogs about the product on your website.  If that is something you choose to do (either now or in the future), it is easier to write about something that interests you.  On the other hand, you don’t want to start and get frustrated by a low payout.  

Here’s one site (you can google and find many others) that lists the best high-paying affiliate sites for beginners:  https://www.adamenfroy.com/best-high-paying-affiliate-programs

A good affiliate program (company paying a commission to sell its products and services) has:

    • A decent payout worth spending your time on. A baseline I always use is, $20 or above for single payment and $10 or above for recurring commission.
    • Quilty “swipe files” so that you have plenty of materials to create your advertisements. (More about that later.)
    • Good reviews from other affiliate marketers.  The easiest way to check for that is simply to google the company and include the word reviews in your Google search.

Once you’ve chosen a site you feel comfortable with, go to that marketer’s website and look for the page that lists their program.  I often find it at the bottom of their homepage.  Sometimes it’s obvious and they call it, “Affiliate Program” and sometimes they like to be cute and call it, “Make Money With Us.”  But if you use a site like the link above, you’ll know they have an affiliate connection – you just might have to be creative to find it.

Obtain Affiliate Code, Link, and Swipe Files

In order to have sales track back to you so you get credit for a purchase, you must fill out the information they ask from you (every company’s request will be a little different).  After that, you will receive three things:

  1. Affiliate Code – this code will be your personalized connection to the company you’ve chosen to affiliate with.  All the transactions that occur off your efforts will be associated with this code as sales come to the company, giving you credit for the sales.
  1. Affiliate Link – is an URL link that people will click that transfers them to the website that is selling an item they found interesting.  For example, let’s say you hooked up with Instant Pot.  You would tell them you’d like to be an affiliate marketer for their products.  In addition to assigning you your code, they will also send you an URL link. 

Two of the most common ways to market their products is to write a blog (that includes their URL link) about the great products Instant Pot sells, or to place a visual ad post on your page (or both).  When a visitor on your page clicks anywhere on the ad, they’ll be taken to the Instant Pot sales page.  Here’s an example of one of the Instant Pot ads:

  1. Swipe files – don’t be nervous about having to create such a professional-looking ad as pictured above.  When you’ve given the company all the information they have requested and have become an affiliate marketer for them, they will also send you what is called, “swipe files.”  These are digital creations from the company you can simply download and place as ads.  

The company’s swipe files will probably include full banner ads (as shown above), their logo, pictures of their products, text information, and other marketing materials.  Remember, the more traffic you drive for them, the more sales they will make.  They WANT you to be successful!

Post Affiliate Ads on Your Website

Now comes the fun part!!  You get to talk about the product.  As mentioned earlier, if you wish to blog about the item(s) for sale on your website, it’s easier to write if you have an interest in the product.  If you are simply placing banner ads on your website, then your personal interest isn’t as important.

Be sure to confirm all the affiliate links (your code and your URL) are working properly.  One way to do this is, if you are advertising an item of personal interest to your friends, encourage them to purchase it off your website.  Knowing when someone is purchasing the product from your affiliate site and watching to make sure that you get credited for the sales is the best way to assure that all the tracking is working.  Once you see a purchase has been made, you know you are good to go!

However, that obviously won’t work in every situation. Typically, you will be given a dashboard so you can track your affiliate purchases.  Once your blog and/or advertisements are up and running, you will be able to watch the dashboard to assure that sales are getting credited.  If not, the first thing to check are your links.  You can click through the purchase process to assure everything is landing correctly.  If it all seems to be hooked up and working well, then check your ad copy to see if it’s appealing for sales.  After that, check to see if you’re driving the correct traffic to your ads.  More details regarding traffic below.

Drive Traffic To Your Website

As with any website on the internet, people don’t typically land on a site if they don’t know about it or are directed to it off of the first couple pages of Google.  So, the question becomes, how to get people to know about your site so they see your ads?

Here are three basic ways that people will get to your website:

  1. You have an established website already generating high traffic.  For example, let’s say your website and your passion is growing orchids.  That’s a highly specialized niche – and a topic that interests many people.  Let’s also say you have an email list and newsletter you send out educating people about the exciting world of orchids.  If so, you have an established audience and have built a level of trust and expertise in your niche,  (providing you know what you are talking about in the world of orchids). 

If this is the case, then a good product for you to affiliate market would be anything to do with houseplants.  You can assume if people are zealous about orchids, they probably have an interest in a slightly broader or related topic.  Mention your affiliate product in an email blast and cover it in your newsletter. In addition, you will want to place an ad on your orchid website and mention the product in your next blog post.

Be sure you mention you are an affiliate and will receive money from any purchase – this is a FTC (Federal Trade Commission) requirement.

  1. While the above scenario is an affiliate marketer’s dream come true, this is not the case for most of us.  And, if you affiliate market many products, you can’t be an expert in everything.  So, what do you do in this situation?

The steps are basically the same as outlined in the orchid example, although you may not have the depth of credibility as if you were advertising as described above.  You will still want to send out emails and newsletters mentioning your affiliate product (providing you have an email list and newsletter established) as well as writing about it in a blog and placing a banner ad.

But without the established audience, how to get people to your website to even see your ad?  Enter the magic of SEO.  SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of positioning your web pages to be more readily found by search engines that will then place you higher on a Google page when someone googles a topic you mention on your website.

I could write a huge, detailed article all about SEO, but I’ll leave that for another time.  In the meantime, here’s a comprehensive article that covers the topic exceedingly well:  https://www.wordstream.com/seo

The basic concept is to use words and phrases that people specifically use in their searches.  A perfect example…you are advertising for one of the new food delivery sites.  You get creative and want to sell it as an “online grocery store.”  

A quick check with Google Keyword Planner, however, tells you that “supermarket” is searched for many more times than “grocery store.”  While your idea of a grocery store may fit the style of ad you are creating, what does it matter if most people will never see it?  Therefore, stick with a supermarket and make the ad work using the word searched more often.

In addition to the Google Keyword Planner, there is a wide variety of other free tools (one of them being offered by the company I mentioned in the above link).

As an affiliate marketer, the rule of thumb is to use words in your blog, newsletters, ads, etc., that are the words people actually search.  

  1. Lastly, you may want to use paid ads to drive traffic to your website to read about the affiliate product you are selling.  Or even create a separate landing sales page that is dedicated solely to the product.  You can compose a short web page that describes the awesomeness of your product.  This can be especially beneficial if:
  • Your product needs a little more explanation to make the sale,  
  • The product is more expensive, 
  • Or the product is extremely new.

Go back to the Instant Pot example.  This product has been out for years and has a great following.  It really doesn’t need much of an introduction.  (On the other hand, you could build a full sales page that would include recipes, Instant Pot “tips and tricks,” etc. – all this would be helpful to increase sales. But per our example, being well known and at a reasonable cost, it doesn’t need a detailed buildup.  But as often is the case, the better job you do, the more money you make.)  

Compare that to selling the newest version of virtual reality goggles.  (Personally, I still don’t know how those things work!)  While you can purchase these for around $20 at Walmart, the high-end models go as high as $799+.  Imagine the educating and  convincing you’ll have to do to create the interest and desire for someone to spend that much money on an item that they can get at a fraction of the cost.  Enter a detailed sales page.

Visitors Are Taken To Affiliate Site

This is where you want to be – visitors are now able to make their purchases.

Remember when I mentioned you can sit back and watch your bank account balance grow.  We are almost there!  

You have…

…found an affiliate product to sell,

…received the code, URL link, and swipe files needed to link up with the company,

….positioned the product to sell off of your website or dedicated sales page,

…and have driven traffic to your site, so the desired audience sees the product.

Are you done?  Not yet.  As with any sales or business transaction, you need to monitor and adjust as needed.  Watch your dashboard, send out additional emails, tweak your written blog copy to see if you can get more traction, decide to opt for using some paid traffic (if you didn’t start out with paying for Google or Facebook ads).  

Use your imagination and be creative to get the word out in as many ways as possible.  

After you’ve created, posted, monitored and adjusted, it’s decision time.  You have three options:

  1. Decide that your ad strategy is going well and is set to run with minor adjustments. 
  2. If your ad strategy is not going well, probably best to make some changes.

Or

  1. If your ad strategy is not going well, you may want to cut your affiliate connection and search for another company/product to affiliate.
Sales Are Credited To Your Account

It’s now PayDay!  But you can’t get too anxious.  Often when you purchase something, you have a 30-day-money-back guarantee – or some type of guarantee.  Well, if your affiliate product falls into that category,  you typically have to wait 30 days for the guarantee to run out before you get your affiliate payout.  

Some of the best affiliate programs are the membership programs.  For example, you affiliate an application program (like an email program where there is a monthly fee) often there is a recurring payout.  A visitor sees the ad on your website for the email program you are connected with, they click on the link, and then buy the email program that requires a monthly subscription payment to run their emails.  For every month they pay their membership to the email program, you will receive your monthly affiliate payment.  This situation could go on for years to come.

I hope I’ve provided you with some thoughts and inspirations to get going on creating your own affiliate connections.  Affiliate marketing is something you can do on a limited basis that supports your own personal interests, or it could grow to become an unbelievable revenue stream.

As with many things in life, the more effort you put into becoming an affiliate marketer, the more money you are apt to receive.  And you can even do it in your underwear!

Best of luck on your journey. 

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