If you haven’t heard of Affiliate Marketing, you need to drop what you’re doing and read this post. Affiliate Marketing has been around for years, but still remains a very viable way to earn good money. There’s story after story of people who have made money in affiliate marketing. I’m not talking chump change either – this is the real deal.
Yes, you read that correctly. This is insane money for a side hustle. If I haven’t gotten your attention yet, I’m not sure what will.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is a pre-defined relationship between you and a brand or online retailer – where you get commission when sales are generated that originated at your site. Basically, if you send people their way, and they buy, you make money. There’s affiliate programs for most major brands and retailers. Amazon is a well-known affiliate program, but there is also CJ Affiliate – which is a marketplace of sorts, where you can meet with brands and join their respective affiliate programs, and begin earning money with them too.
If you’re wondering how the nuts and bolts of this works, let me explain. First, you sign up for the affiliate program either through a marketplace (such as CJ Affiliate), or directly through the retailer/service provider (such as Amazon). There’s an approval process for most programs, and the requirements do vary, but at a basic level, you have to have some amount of traffic to your site currently. It doesn’t have to be a lot for many programs, while others are more strict on this requirement. Either way, once you sign up, you generate custom links to their products that you want to promote, and you use those links on your site. When a customer uses one of your affiliate links, it will track you on the retailers site, so they know that the sale came from you. Then, you get paid.
Why I love Affiliate Marketing
There’s a lot to love about Affiliate programs. Here’s a few of my top reasons:
It’s really easy. Sign up for the program, use a custom link on your site, and earn.
Honest Way To Earn
Sales and Marketing generally evoke a vision of slimy salespeople, and Nigerian scammers trying to take your money (but they’ll pay you $10M, don’t worry), but I actually think affiliates allow you to sell more honestly. I am absolutely rigid on my criteria for an affiliate: it must be a legitimately awesome product. If it’s not awesome – I won’t use an affiliate on it. Why? This is my brand. I have put too much time and effort into SHD, to devalue it by offering subpar recommendations of products.
No Risk To Customers/Your Audience
Affiliate links don’t cost your customers anything. They don’t lose discounts, or have to check out at a third party or any craziness – it’s mostly transparent to them.
With so many affiliate programs out there, you can only link to the products/services that you like. You don’t need to shoehorn a product that doesn’t fit with your site or brand; you’re able to be selective.
Write an article, review, build a site – whatever – and start making money on your affiliate links while you sleep. That’s the best kind of money!
How To Get Started In Affiliate Marketing
There’s a million ways to go about this, but before we get to the actual affiliate-specific information, I think I should make something clear: you need an audience! With no audience and a heavy focus on affiliates, in my opinion, you make your site provide very little value. That’s not the case for everyone, of course – if you’re a new site, with great content, signing up for affiliate programs early probably makes sense. On that note..
Focus on great content. Not Selling.
You should listen to me. You know why? Because I know sales. I work with customers to identify gaps in their technology practices, and work to remediate them – which sometimes, yes, can involve a purchase of either hardware or consulting hours. That being said, if anyone would tell you to sell, it would be me. I’m not. Why? Because while high pressure, high volume sales might work for some, it’s not a solid long-term approach. Customers these days in any industry need to see value before purchasing. I do realize that in this case, your audience isn’t buying from you, but you still need to provide great content to entice them to click your links and buy. Why?
To Develop Trust With Your Audience.
Trust is massive. I think it’s very possibly the most important quality of a person, and definitely the most important trait in the business world. If people don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you. Period. If you’re able to develop trust through providing quality content that they enjoy, teaches them something, or makes their lives easier, they’ll be more trusting, and as a result – use your links to buy products you recommend.
Sign Up For Programs
To begin, you need to sign up with affiliate programs. A couple of options are Amazon, CJ Affiliate, and Clickbank, to name a few. Many brands also have individual affiliate programs, so if you’re not sure, try a google search with the name of the brand and “affiliate program” added to the end. I recommend keeping a spreadsheet when you sign up for affiliate programs so you can keep it all straight.
With CJ and Clickbank, you can sign up with multiple advertisers – so, for example, you could advertise 5, 10, or 15 different products through CJ Affiliate, and get paid in one place.
Get Links & Cash
Once you’ve signed up, each affiliate program is different generally speaking, so they’ll have their own way to generate links and/or ads. You’ll need to gather your ads and place them on your site, then reap the rewards. It is worth noting that affiliate programs take time to build up steam. Many success stories around affiliate marketing came after a healthy period of time passed where they worked hard at it – so be prepared for that. If you can tough it out, though, it can be a fully viable side income option.