We have all seen advertising and infomercials telling us we can get rich while we’re asleep. A quick Google search for the term yields all kinds of results and ideas to help us start living the dream.
Unfortunately, this article isn’t going to claim to make you rich, but, it will show you how affiliate marketing can provide an additional revenue stream to your regular business model. If you want some inspiration, check out Rosalind Gardner who reportedly makes an income of circa $500k per annum.
According to Statista, businesses are spending more than ever on affiliate marketing and will continue to do so in the early part of the 2020s. It is an excellent income stream, as well as being cost effective when comparing to other digital marketing activities.
This introduction discusses affiliate marketing is to help you decide whether it is a viable option for your business to earn additional revenue.
An affiliate marketer is someone who promotes a company’s products. Through your website, blog, email list, or social media, you advertise a product with a unique link, known as a cookie, that ensures you get a commission if the lead goes on the convert. A conversion could be a click, form submission, or purchase.
There is no limit to the number of companies you can work with and promote products on their behalf. However, picking a niche that relates to your existing business is advisable to optimise the potential of affiliate sales. Promoting products that you use makes it easier to be passionate and share expert knowledge of them.
It can take a long time to build up all your promotions and links. For many affiliate marketers, the earnings can be tiny at the start, or even nothing. However, if you put in the hard work to get set up, it will pay dividends in the end. If you have a well-established business model already, it might happen slightly faster. However, new blogs can take months to start making a reasonable passive income, for example.
We spoke about Rosalind Gardner earlier, but there are plenty of others who report earning considerable amounts after grafting for a few years.
Once somebody clicks the link that the company (sometimes called the advertiser or merchant), a cookie gets stored on their device. A cookie is a small file that will help the advertiser associate the lead back to your link later. Once a visitor clicks on the cookie, it will have a duration associated with it. For example, if they leave the computer and come back later, it will still count as your lead. The period can vary by merchant.
Typically, there are three types of payment arrangement offered by advertisers. Other models do exist, but they are usually specific to certain industries.
The advertiser will pay the affiliate whenever they send a lead through who ends up making a purchase. The commission could be fixed or on a percentage per sale basis. The format will depend on the type and value of the products you are selling.
This type of arrangement is far more beneficial to the affiliate. The commission will be earned for every lead that clicks through to the advertiser site. They don’t need to purchase anything. While the commission levels will be less than a pay-per-sale scheme, it takes some of the pressure off forcing leads to transact.
A pay-per-lead arrangement would pay affiliates for sending through leads who complete a form such as a subscription or registration. The advertiser is interested in collecting leads, rather than sales at this stage of their strategy.
You may find you are stronger at promoting within a certain type of scheme. It is worthwhile having a mix of arrangements in your portfolio to assess which produces the best income for you.
When joining an affiliate program, you can either use an in-house process or join a marketplace such as Amazon Associates or ShareASale, to name a couple of the most popular. These marketplaces place will provide you with product merchants who want to promote their products. For example, upon signing up with Amazon, you might see a screen like below to select what products you want to start advertising.
Hundreds of affiliate programs exist, but it is essential to be vigilant when choosing the right one for you. Amongst all the high earners, some have had horror stories whereby the merchant never pays them a commission for example. The signs of a rogue scheme could be the promise of high commissions at day one without a reputation to back that up.
Amazon is a good starting point when looking to add to an existing business model. With a vast range of products and an excellent reputation, it may be easier to engage your customer base through the advertising.
Affiliate marketing doesn’t require you to have an in-depth technical knowledge of everything digital, although it would certainly help. If you already run a business website, you may already understand search engine optimisation and website design which can help when launching an affiliate campaign.
Picking a product niche
The first step is to find a product that you have a genuine interest in promoting and make that your niche. It is far easier to try and sell the idea to other people if you as passionate about it. Don’t make the mistake of signing up to products purely because of the lure of high commission levels.
Promotions for your chosen product need to be genuinely helpful to pick up traffic. Customers expect to have an experience when going through a purchase and it is worth putting the effort into your advertising. Ensure you work with products that will add due credibility to your business and where you can offer useful advice.
Blogs, webinars, social media
Once you have a product, think of all the channels where you can promote it. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as sticking a few banners on your existing site and hoping people click on them. Content rich blogs and social feeds should promote the products in line with your other marketing campaigns.
There would be less value promoting products aimed at an older demographic via Instagram as 75% of users are aged 18 to 24.
We have mentioned YouTube video but webinars and live streaming on sites like Facebook can engage people with your chosen product. In a world post Covid-19, people are consuming a lot more video with tutorials and guides being amongst the most popular.
Having a blog and YouTube channel for product reviews and guides is a must. This is where you will get organic traffic without having to pay for advertising.
The key takeaway here is that affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme, but a great way to supplement existing business income. There is a lot of work to be done in selecting platforms, products and merchants. You will need to spend time on using different channels and types of media, working out how to get the best from it. What works for one affiliate might not necessarily work for everyone.
It is possible to can earn an excellent residual income from affiliate marketing. Finding products that compliment your business, can both elevate your reputation and revenue.