To Make Money Online From Affiliate Marketing In Your Niche, Build Your Strengths. Enrol With Good Affiliate Networks With Product Sellers Of Repute.
Some of the best money that bloggers make – even from their early days – comes from Affiliate Marketing. You include subtle sales pitches or product recommendations as you write your blog posts, and add links to these products. The product sellers will pay you an affiliate commission for referring customers to their sites.
It sounds simple, right? But there are some caveats to this business. Unless your site is really good, with a lot of traffic, subscribers, and blog posts, many serious product sellers won’t want you as an affiliate. Other disheartening issues in this business include being cheated of your commission by some horrible marketers, and some “affiliate link thieves” who may try to steal your money.
Notwithstanding all this, there are hundreds and thousands of bloggers who have made piles of cash – in millions – promoting a few but highly reputed products, at high commissions, and by doing a fabulous Affiliate Marketing job. You should aim to learn from the best, and indeed, there are many great examples of affiliate marketers who follow best practices to earn without any risks.
At Solohacks Academy, we are great believers in Affiliate Marketing. We think selling other people’s products (without having to create your own), and to earn handsome commissions, is a great way to learn how to sell your own knowledge products later. So get your toes wet in Affiliate Marketing – but, as the wise ones say, hasten slowly.
1. What is Affiliate Marketing and how does it work?
The diagram below explains the process of Affiliate Marketing fully:
- As you will notice above, you find your niche of expertise or passion and start blogging to attract readers. You then aim to convert readers into mailing list subscribers. You do this conversion by offering them some free downloadable products they could covet – in return for giving you their email addresses.
- You thus gradually build both traffic and subscribers and beef yourself up as a dominant authority in your niche. Then, start looking for some two or three related products in your niche that could be attractive to your audiences. See that the products are fairly high-priced, offer good affiliate commissions, and will accept you as an affiliate given your traffic and subscriber base.
- Enrol yourself with the Affiliate Networks of repute that handle the affiliate marketing program for the product seller, and then go through the product and its marketing materials thoroughly to understand it. Understand how long the affiliate cookie works (i.e. for how long after a reader clicks your link you will still be eligible for the commission from the sale). Buy and use the product if needed.
- Write blog posts related to the product – may be direct reviews of the product or articles on topics where the product can be mentioned. When you mention the product or recommend it, use the coded special links the seller gives you to link to the seller’s website. these coded links will tell the seller that the reader is coming from you and if he buys the commission goes to you.
- In many cases, the seller may not only pay you commissions for sending him consumers who may buy, but he may also pay you for sending him second-or-third-tier affiliates recommended by you. If you thus help to increase the seller’s enrolled affiliates, you could get extra commissions as percentages from the sales you referee affiliates make.
- One other attraction is that some courses or memberships may offer monthly subscription plans for consumers, which also then allows you to earn affiliate commissions every month for as long as the member is still enrolled with the seller.
- If you are an affiliate for many products, you may not be able to track how you are doing and how much you are owed from various sellers. There are tools and plugins that help you keep track, so use them.
2. Build trust and authority and then recommend products in your niche
People trust your recommendations only when they like your blogging and begin to see you as a consistently reliable “go-to authority” in your niche. That’s when they start trusting your product recommendations as well.
So, always, as the first rule, look for affiliate products to market that are related to your niche and will be attractive to your target audiences – and build your authority and subscriber base of loyal readers before you begin recommending products to them.
3. Affiliate programs pay handsomely, if they are digital products
Commissions usually begin at around 5% of the product price, but they can go all the way even up to 75% (as I have seen in the case of some very expensive courses). One course I know sells at $999 and offers a 65% commission – which is about $650 per sale you help make! That’s attractive, isn’t it? These kinds of high commissions prevail when the products are digital, because things like ebooks, courses or membership programs, or consulting services online are of little or no cost to the creators. So they can afford to pay high commissions to attract sales.
Aside from getting commissions for referring customers who actually purchase the product, some sellers also pay for your help in completing part of the process of the sale. For example, they may pay you for every click on your link by a prospective customer, which gets the consumer up to their site. Also if you’ve been a high-referral affiliate you may get additional rewards and bonuses.
Commission payments are all part of the marketing and sales strategy of different sellers, so read the fine print they put out about how their programs work.
4. What should you worry about – the potential for disputes
As with all types of contracts, affiliate programs may also have their downsides. In some cases, a seller may wrongly attribute the commission to another affiliate, if a customer has clicked your affiliate link as well as the link of another affiliate. Or sometimes, you may not correctly get the commission percentage due to you from a second-tier affiliate’s sales, if that affiliate was one referred by you into the program.
Mistakes like this occur all the time, but they can be ironed out. What you have to be alert to is that mistakes are par for the course, and it’s better to anticipate them, rather than be caught unawares by them, if you stay negligent about your commission tracking. Make sure there is a good dispute redressal mechanism which the seller spells out clearly in his Affiliate Agreement, and then adheres to.
5. Ethical issues that arise in Affiliate Marketing and their answers
There are two issues that regularly crop up when people aim to do Affiliate Marketing:
Are you allowed to take up competitive products for Affiliate Marketing?
I have seldom seen affiliate products that insist you should not handle the affiliate marketing of competitors. It is well understood in the industry that if you are in a particular niche, and writing a lot about it, you will invariably write about many products that are useful to your readers – even if those products overlap as competitors.
You may favor recommending one of the products that gives you more commissions, but there’s no exclusivity rule, in general, in Affiliate Marketing. In rare cases, some extremely pricey products may insist on exclusivity, but it’s your choice to make if you want to get tied down.
Should you make a disclosure to your readers each time you use affiliate links in your articles?
Again, some blogger-marketers think a full disclosure adds to your credibility and authenticity. They think readers will feel somehow cheated if they think you are recommending products for pecuniary benefit, instead of making your recommendation from impartial evaluation. Some others don’t think this “disclosure” is necessary at all. Since there is no additional cost to the reader if you get a commission from the seller, your affiliate earnings are your own business.
I usually follow a middle path. I don’t put a disclosure notice on every post and page of my site where I have affiliate links. Instead, I have an all-embracing “Disclosure Policy Statement” at the bottom of my site that explains how I may, from time to time, make product recommendations with responsibility, whether or not I get paid for them. You can read and copy my Disclosure Notice, if you wish.
6. Enrolling with the networks after qualifying for their joining criteria
There are several product sites where marketers prefer to host their own in-house affiliate programs. This is where you need to enrol, get approved and then manage your account with the product seller through a dashboard. This method is often cumbersome both for the seller and the affiliate, because managing every click and payout of an affiliate’s account is not simple job, even with the best tools.
That’s why we now have several dedicated Affiliate Network Platforms that handle all the hard work and backend for both sellers and the affiliates. Here are some of the top Affiliate Networks to check out:
- ShareASale: They have more than 4,000 programs and let you earn commissions on a wide range of products, including some very big brands. Their interface can be a bit unwieldy but they make up for it by offering to give you training to use their system.
- CJ Affiliate: They used to be known earlier as Commission Junction, and they are among the largest and oldest Affiliate Marketing Networks. But they can be strict on approval process, and also take you off their rolls if you have sold nothing in 6 months.
- Rakuten Advertising: They have a very well-established site, but their sign-up process is a tad tiresome. You have to get approved by every single seller there, to start recommending their products.
- Avangate Affiliate Network:They’ve been ranked #1 WorldWide Affiliate Network for several successive years. They also have one of the longest cookie durations on the market (120 days) and even allow affiliates to create coupons.
- ClickBank: They have by far the largest collection of digital products, but that’s what you also have to beware of. Not all the products they deal in are of high quality.
7. Picking the right products to promote and assessing your promotional strategy
When I pick products to do Affiliate Marketing with, I have found three principles that stand me in good stead:
Pick products with high prices and high commissions – it helps separate good brands from poor ones
It really helps me when I look for high-priced recognized branded products to market, and not just because they also pay high commissions. The positive rub-off of these products on my own brand is terrific. Plus, setting your sights high also weeds out the dubious brands or the also-rans. You want to be seen promoting something that does a lot of good to your own image and standing. Just simply looking at commission rates isn’t the way. But if high product prices are a yardstick of quality, you can’t go wrong. They invariably also pay good commissions.
Pick products that answer a definite and important pain-point for target audiences
No matter how high-priced a product is, or how much commission you can get from it, if a product doesn’t resonate with your target audiences, it’s a no-good pick for you. You need to pick products that answer some dire or compelling pain-points of your target audiences. They may have already felt the need, or you could make them conscious of their needs, for such a product of great value to them. But the potential for a need should exist with your target audiences, which the affiliate product you pick should be able to solve.
Pick products that require detailed selling and demos – so you can shine above other affiliates
The best example I can think of about how to differentiate yourself in promoting an affiliate product is Pat Flynn of SmartPassive Income. Early into his website building days, he stumbled on an emailing platform called ConvertKit. It cost quite a bit, and paid fabulous commissions, of course … and it did make things easy for entrepreneurs who wanted to do “passive email marketing” on autopilot. It was right up Pat Flynn’s street.
But then, what he did with the affiliate promotion of the product is what sets him apart. In my book, he is one of the greatest affiliate marketers around. He sold innovatively. While other affiliates were regurgitating marketing copy given by the product seller, Pat took the initiative to run excellent demos of how to use the product, how to gain from it, how to automate it … and he even runs multiple webinars and courses on the use of the product.
Pat Flynn’s course on ConvertKit usage itself costs quite a bit. He has been endlessly marketing this product and has still not run out of ideas. And needless to say, he owes many of the millions of dollars he has earned to this one product’s affiliate commissions.
That’s what all affiliates should want too. We should have scope to be very outstanding in our promotion of the affiliate product – to cream its commissions spectacularly and ceaselessly.
8. Keeping track of sales, commissions, and other admin issues with the right tools
When you are affiliate marketing several products from different affiliate networks or seller sites, managing your earnings and other admin issues can become quite a chore. That’s when you may find tools like Post Affiliate Pro or the TrakAff Affiliate Tracking Platform useful. Be careful, because there are not low-priced tools ($60-$90 per month), but for the money you pay, they help you with dozens of tasks you never thought important.
They help you with develop your own linking styles, keep track of all your affiliate tracking codes, and manage your direct commissions. They help you to track earnings from direct sales of affiliate products, or with earnings from tiered affiliate programs. They help you further, with fraud prevention and protection, and with getting paid in multiple currencies. They also help you track your own blog articles to analyze which ones are working best to earn affiliate incomes. You can set them up to keep track of special incentives, bonuses, or rewards you are due from sellers. And what’s more, they alert you to product price fluctuations or changes sellers make, which could help you also alter your promotional strategy. In other words, they keep you on the ball, all the time, and alert to every chance to earn more.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
This post is part of a series that elaborates on “How To Make Money Online Without Investment For High Profit“.
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