Affiliate Marketing: Basic Questions Answered

affiliate marketingWe’ve all dreamed of making money in our sleep and have also received those ‘You-can’t-be-serious’ looks for this mission impossible. In fact, if you talk about this in front of your friends, they’ll probably think you are living in a fool’s paradise. How is it possible to make money without toiling away for 9-10 hours in a 6×6 cubicle with a boss shouting obscenities at you?

Astonishingly (for them) and thankfully (for you), this isn’t a far-fetched notion anymore. The solution lies in AFFILIATE MARKETING.

What is it?

Simply put, affiliate marketing is an Internet-based business model that allows you to earn money by promoting other people’s products on your website or blog. You don’t sell anything directly; instead, you earn a commission for every customer, referral or sale you bring in for them.

What’s so great about it?

No matter how you look at it, this form of marketing creates a win-win situation for all parties involved. Companies are able to reach a wider audience which they might not have been able to tap into otherwise. Customers are happy to take your recommendation because you’ve managed to build a name for yourself in the industry, adding credibility to their purchase.

And you? You get to enjoy the following benefits:

1. Low start-up costs: If you already have a blog or a website, your cost of joining and promoting an affiliate program is almost nil. All the promotional material is already provided by the company you are partnering with and you are spared the outlay of funds traditionally associated with setting up a business.

2. Hassle-free earning: No longer will you have to deal with an overbearing boss, tiresome colleagues or dirty office politics. You are the master of your own time and you can work whenever you want. You decide the pace of the business depending on how much you would like to earn. Life becomes a lot more flexible and you don’t have to restrict yourself to a regular 9 to 5 routine.

3. No expert knowledge needed: You don’t have to be a subject matter expert to promote a certain product. For instance, if you are selling an anti-aging cream, you don’t need a degree in Cosmetology. As long as you are eager to learn and have robust marketing skills, you’ll do just fine.

4. Source of passive income: You don’t have to give up your day job to become an affiliate marketer. It could be a great way to supplement your current income and once your blog takes off, you will be able to earn without having to put a lot of effort into it.

How do I sign up?

Start by doing a search online for an affiliate network that offers products within your niche. Once you shortlist a few that look promising, sign up and get your unique affiliate id.

After that, all you do is display the company’s link, banner or ad on your blog or website and each time a reader clicks on it and buys from the ‘parent’ site, you get a commission on the sale. It’s as easy as that!

Where do I find these affiliate programs?

Broadly speaking, there are three different ways in which you can scout for affiliate programs.

1. Affiliate marketplaces: Sites like Commission Junction and Clickbank have thousands of products spread across almost every niche imaginable. While not all of them will prove to be worth your while, you can choose a few that look promising.

2. Official website: If you like a specific product and consider it a good option, check out its website for an official affiliate marketing program. You’ll usually find a link saying ‘Become a partner’ or ‘Join affiliate program’ or something like that in the footer, giving out details of the program.

3. Ecommerce sites: Big eCommerce sites like Amazon, Walmart, and iTunes run their own affiliate programs. You can sign up with them, promote their products and earn a commission on every sale you send their way.

How do I choose an affiliate program?

Most people want to go in for affiliate programs that are the most popular and bring in the most money. While we don’t blame you for keeping the financial angle in mind when making a decision, there’s one more thing you need to consider — your readers.

If you are an already established blogger and have some sort of internet presence, it’s very important to ask yourself these questions

  • What is my audience interested in?
  • What products are related to the niche I am dealing in?
  • What problems can I solve by promoting XYZ product?
  • What products have I used that I could personally recommend to my readers?

For instance, let’s say you come across a fabulous affiliate program that pays really good commission for selling a weight loss product. One small glitch — your blog revolves around gadgets and technology. The people who come to your site aren’t looking for weight management tips and you are going to have a hard time convincing them to buy a weight loss pill from you. Stick to products in your niche rather than simply chasing commissions. You’ll be more successful in your effort.

How many products can I sell?

The short answer to that would be “As many as you want”. There are no hard and fast rules here and you certainly don’t have to limit yourself to just a handful. You can sign up with as many programs you like and promote multiple products on your website, as long it doesn’t end up like a shoddy product catalog or look too cluttered.

At this juncture you are probably wondering how much money you can make from affiliate marketing. To be honest, this is not a get rich quick scheme and, contrary to what you may have heard, you have to work hard to take the business places.

As a model, it has huge potential, but your earnings will depend on your marketing skills, how dedicated you are to promoting the program, and the amount of traffic coming to your site. If you are able to cover these three bases, your long-pending dream of earning money while you sleep will come true.