Affiliate marketing holds a world of financial promise. A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of results, all telling you that if you start an affiliate marketing business, you can quit your day job, sip margaritas on the beach, and magically see thousands of dollars pour into your bank account with little to no effort on your part.
Is that realistic?
If you are willing to build the proper foundation, you can absolutely make money with affiliate marketing.
In this article, you’ll learn exactly how to make money through affiliate marketing. First, you need to understand what this type of marketing is. The concept is simple—affiliate marketers promote other company’s products or services and earn a commission for doing it.
Each affiliate marketer has a unique link that enables sellers to track which affiliate is responsible for each sale, allowing them to pay the commission to the right person.
If you’re completely new to affiliate marketing, take a moment to read through this affiliate marketing beginners guide to get a more detailed explanation of the industry.
How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing has been around for decades, and since the internet made its way into people’s homes, it’s now a practical online business that anyone can launch. The amount of income you earn from affiliate marketing depends on a few factors, including the item’s selling price and the payment terms offered by the affiliate network you join.
Each payment structure has pros and cons:
- Pay per Click (PPC) payments are usually the lowest of the group, but if you can send a significant amount of traffic to the seller’s site, you can easily earn a passive income with affiliate marketing.
- Pay per Sale (PPS) and Pay per Lead (PPL) often have much higher payouts. However, the traffic needs to be high quality because you only earn if a sale is made or the customer is convinced enough by the product’s value to give away their information.
Before you get too many dollar signs clouding your eyes, lets jump into the steps you should take to set yourself up for affiliate marketing success.
1. Find Your Niche
First things first—you need to choose which products or services you want to promote. It’s tempting, and a rookie mistake, to think that you should promote many products. It’s far smarter to focus on niche products. When narrowing down your options, consider these three things:
- Is this a product you really believe in? You’ll have to sell it, so this is important!
- How much competition will you face when trying to promote this niche product?
- How much commission can you earn per transaction?
The real estate market, for example, offers some of the highest commissions around, sometimes up to 50%. A niche segment for this industry could be million-dollar apartments for sale in Chicago.
Finance is another good example. In this vertical sits a range of products, including banking and credit card offers, insurance, retail coupons, home and auto financing, and more. Commissions can range from a few dollars to more than $100 per lead.
If you want to promote products that are a bit ‘lighter’ in nature, look no further than dating sites and apps. Dating is an evergreen niche with billions of potential customers looking for love. When choosing this area, think about who your site visitors are and pick dating products that are most suited to them. Some dating sites cater to everyone, like Cupid Media, which pays a substantial 75% commission per sale, while a product such as Silver Singles targets the 50+ crowd.
2. Choose Attractive Affiliate Products to Promote
While you’ll want to choose your niche with care, it’s equally important to select the right products within that group. Go for high ticket items. Promoting them takes the same amount of work as less expensive ones and you’ll earn a much bigger commission. Plus, many big-ticket items include opportunities for up-sells.
For example, suppose you’re promoting a $100 e-book for entrepreneurs and the company also offers a coaching program that ties to it. In that case, the same audience is relevant, and many will be interested in more opportunities around that topic. You can earn a commission on both sales at the same time.
Explore the products available through different affiliate networks and then join one or two. If you sign up with multiple affiliate networks, you’ll end up wasting too much time on the administrative side of the business, and your goal is to sell and make money.
The most popular affiliate networks include:
3. Create Quality Content to Promote Affiliate Links
Content, both written and video, is still king, so you need to generate a lot of it to bring traffic to your links. However, it’s not just about volume; it’s also about keyword research and quality content. Start with Google’s Keyword Planner to learn the search terms your audience uses.
You can check sites like Quora to see what kinds of questions people are asking and develop your blog content around that. Ensure your content is high-quality and don’t over stuff it with links and keywords or Google’s algorithm will penalize you, undoing all of your hard work. Remember that you want to be a trusted source so offer valuable information before your sales pitch.
4. Use Several Traffic Sources
The highest-paid affiliate marketers know that more traffic translates to more potential conversions and higher profits.
In addition to your blog, advertising is a sure-fire way to generate traffic, but it also pays to think outside your owned channels.
Consider writing guest posts, adding content to Quuu Promote, or hosting a webinar.
Seek out co-marketing opportunities where promotion organically aligns nicely with someone else’s without competing. That way, you both benefit and can split the workload.
5. Attract Targeted Traffic
Not all traffic is created equal. There’s no point in wasting your time or advertising budget on users who aren’t going to convert.
Native or social media ads can bring you the right audience; however, it takes time to build a dedicated Facebook group or Instagram following. To kick things off at a higher speed, especially in the beginning, invest in paid channels.
Take the content from your blog and promote it through Taboola to expand your reach and discover new audiences.
Invest in Google Ads. It’s the dominant search engine and offers a diverse range of ad formats to run campaigns in search results, Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps and more.
6. Test, Measure and Track
It’s critical to test different platforms and channels to see which ones deliver the best return on investment (ROI). Data is your friend, so carefully track the performance of your ad campaigns and content.
Once you see what’s working, start optimizing those channels while seeking out new opportunities. You’ll only find out if a different ad placement or set of keywords could bring even more traffic by testing it.
7. Be Patient
Keep in mind that making money through affiliate marketing takes time. You need to develop an understanding of your audience, build up your content, and give your ad campaigns enough time to bring results.
While you’re not going to become a millionaire overnight, you will reap the financial rewards if you put in the work.
Before you dive into the affiliate marketing world, there are a few more things to keep in mind. You’re recommending products or services to people who don’t know you, many of whom are already skeptical before they even land on your content.
Build trust by being authentic and transparent. If you’re writing a product review, don’t completely skip the negatives or people will see right through your sales pitch. If you’re in the US, stay out of trouble and follow the FTC guidelines by adding the appropriate disclaimer.
Now that you have a road map, you can start to earn money through affiliate marketing. While there’s no magic button to press, roll up your sleeves, dig in and turn that dream of sitting on the beach while making money into a reality.