If you’re genuinely interested in earning money online, affiliate marketing is just about the easiest way to get started. The simplicity lies in the fact that you don’t do any of the heavy lifting so to speak, such as creating a product and dealing with selling/shipping. Everything is already taken care of by the seller and you simply earn commission by recommending others’ products.
The negative connotation of affiliate marketing stems from the persistent gurus, scammers and bad practices within the field. But when done properly, it’s a proven system that works.
How is this for real?
Nearly every major company today has an affiliate program. Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, Target, Apple, Microsoft… the list goes on and on. Why would huge multi-billion dollar corporations offer affiliate programs if it didn’t work? Because it does!
Basically it’s a form of advertising for them. These companies want people to help promote their products, and are willing to pay a commission. The company gets a sale, the affiliate gets a commission, and the buyer is happy because they find what they’re looking for. Win-win-win!
Sound simple enough?
I can tell you first-hand it is a real thing that people make money with. I can also tell you there are both GOOD and BAD ways to do it.
Affiliate Marketing in a Nutshell
An important thing to mention about affiliate marketing is it’s a purely commission based advertising model. The merchant (say, Amazon.com) ONLY pays the affiliate (owner of third party website) if there’s a sale from the customer (YOU!).
There are 3 parts to the affiliate marketing model…
Merchant: A company like Amazon.com
Affiliate/Advertiser: the owner of third party site, mycoolsite.com (purely an example)
Customer: whoever clicks the link and buys the product or service, someone like you!
Here’s a flow chart to help you better understand how the process works
As an affiliate marketer, you’re not holding onto inventory and shipping it when sales are made or anything like that! You literally are not involved in the actual sale at all, and that is what makes this method so beginner friendly.
The merchant takes care of all the selling for you, you are just leading them to the product.
A large chunk of company sales come through affiliate sales, so many companies rely on their affiliates to help keep the company afloat. Even Amazon.com gets a lot of business from affiliate sales.
However, affiliate marketing is just a monetization method, there’s all sorts of ways you could do this. Some methods work, others don’t. And that’s why this is PERFORMANCE-BASED. You get paid if you get results (and most people who try don’t).
Would you like a hand getting started learning the ropes of affiliate marketing? Test out this training for $0 and no credit card (and even build your first website for free!)
The good side of affiliate marketing
Think about what you do when you want to buy something or find out information. You more than likely type your thoughts into a search engine like Google, Bing, or even Yahoo!
With a wealth of information available at our fingertips, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of it? Especially if you’re searching for a solution to a problem or considering buying a product or service.
What if you could help people solve their problems on their quest for information online, provide them valuable content they wanted to read, and earned their trust?
You encounter this online whether you realize it or not… Let’s look at some real examples of affiliate marketing
Example #1 – Beagle Training
Let’s say you just bought a Beagle puppy. You’ve never owned a dog before and you need some advice. It’s logical to assume you may turn to the internet for answers. You may search for things like…
How to train a beagle?
How to take care of a beagle?
Best food for beagles?
Let’s take a closer look at the Google search “how to train a beagle “above. Notice how the first result is a rich snippet for a site called “petlifetoday.com“.
If you were to visit the site and take a close look, you’d realize they are using affiliate marketing.
You’d also realize it’s a very in-depth site with tons of helpful content! The marketing is secondary and the content is primary.
However one thing that’s important to realize here is that this particular website is a HUGE authority blog about pets.
As a beginner, it’d be pretty hard to start a blog about pets in general and really break into the niche.
If you were serious about starting out in affiliate marketing, you would probably want to be specific and focus on caring for one particular type of pet, like dogs.
But even that is a HUGE niche!
You could focus on just ONE breed of dog. German Sheperds, Brittany Spaniels, Jack Russell Terriers, etc. After all, all dogs are different.
The narrower your focus with affiliate marketing, the more engaged your audience and the easier time you’ll have becoming an authority within your niche.
Not to mention, the more specific your blog topic, the easier it is for Google to understand your website and rank you.
Example #2 – Clothing for tall women
Ok, so this is actually the first affiliate marketing site I ever made! But it helps show the point that you can use affiliate marketing with any niche you want.
Say you’re looking for a particular kind of clothing, you may look in Google.
You’ll notice a site called “thetallgirlsguidetofashion.com”, this site shows up and provides some quality sources for where you can find these
Or let’s look at another query:
This might seem like a super specific search query, and it is. However, it gets searched quite often.
If you could provide lots and lost of content on your website about very specific questions or addressing problems related to your niche, you will be seen as helpful and people finding your site will be interested in your content and what you have to say.
Through this process, they could go on to buy products through your links, or maybe sign up for an email list, or follow you on social media.
But this website isn’t just a list of places to shop, in entirety, it’s actually a comprehensive resource for shopping when you’re a tall gal.
Like I said, this particular website is my own. Being a tall girl myself I knew the problems we all had trying to find clothing. And I took advantage of my knowledge to help girls in the same boat.
And I think it demonstrates that you can use affiliate marketing in ANY niche you want.
This is how affiliate marketing works. If you can capture people in a buyer friendly phase where they’re looking for reviews or information about something, or looking for a solution to a problem, you have a good chance of grabbing their attention and converting them as long as you are helpful and provide solid recommendations.
Growing your following, building a brand and business
Aside from just focusing on Google searches, you can also leverage the traffic you get from search engines and turn them into returning subscribers (and customers) through an email list, or your social media platforms.
This helps diversify your traffic sources and earn you more money in the long run.
Why the “bad” reputation of affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing gets a bad rep for many reasons. First off, there’s a ton of spammy affiliate marketing sites. These are sites which are what search engines refer to as bridge pages – pages set up with the sole intention of getting the visitor to the merchant’s site and providing no added value. These are deceptive sites that are set up very similar to large sale sites like Amazon, but if you actually try to buy something from within the site you’ll just be redirected to another site.
Look at this website, chickensouprecipes.org:
This is a deceptive bridge page… it has no purpose other than to trick people into clicking the ads. At first glance it looks like there are real listed recipes, but there is NO content on the site, it is entirely ad space. When you use the search feature you are only brought up with more advertisements. It used to be really easy to get pages like this to rank…but Google has come a LONG way in blocking spam like this.
Search engines don’t like this. If you try to build a website like this, you will not rank. If you try to build a business around deceptive tactics you will not be successful.
Scams and “gurus”
Here’s the thing about affiliate marketing – the idea behind it is seemingly simple. You literally sign up, grab affiliate links, and earn commissions when people purchase through your links.
There are many programs that take advantage of this and claim you can copy and paste your way to earning millions online. I can’t tell you how many ads I’ve seen for products like this.
Or how many times have you been reading the comments section somewhere online, and come across the spam posters who tell you to “click here” for their system to earn them $1,000/day from home.
Most of these programs will just take your money and set you up for failure. You’ll find a large number of people promoting such programs because the commissions are generally very high – at 50% – 75%.
With all the junk floating around, it’s hard for people who are honestly searching for a way to make it online find the right program or information.
Remember that for affiliate marketing to work, you need to provide value and think of “helping” rather than “selling”
The reality is that affiliate marketing is not as simple as just copying and pasting a few links. Have you ever saw a spammy link somewhere online, and signed up for whatever they were promoting? Probably not, because that method doesn’t really work.
Effective online marketing comes with a complete understanding of one’s audience. When you can effectively capture the attention of your audience, give them a unique perspective, and really speak to their inner needs and desires, then you will be able to gain trust and make sales. When you focus on helping your audience rather than just trying to make a sale, that is when you will be successful.
Unfortunately there will always be those willing to exploit legitimate systems, but you just have to fight for the side of good!
Get started out learning how to actually make money with affiliate marketing here. It’s 100% free to test it out. No credit card. No experience required.