In this modern landscape, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to earning a passive income, and affiliate marketing is one of the most appealing ways to do it—because who doesn’t want a steady stream of cash heading their way just for promoting products they truly believe in?
The only problem is, most people aren’t exactly sure how to break into the affiliate marketing scene, or how to achieve success once they’ve learned the basics. And so in this guide, I’ll cover all of this and more so you can start cashing in on your platforms through affiliate marketing and literally earning profits in your sleep.
So let’s go ahead and get started!
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting a company’s (or individual’s) product or service—and earning a commission—for every purchasing referral you send to that business (or individual).
The idea here is pretty much the same as being a salesman. Only the major differences lie in the freedom in products you’re able to promote and that this “selling” is all done online—usually through a website/blog or social media platforms.
Note: You can think affiliate marketing as being “an online salesman for your favorite products or services.
Many take advantage of this business model because it’s a really great way of offering products to your audience (and earning a revenue), if you don’t have any of your own or want to deal with the expenses that come along with creating them.
Benefits of Affiliate Marketing
So why is affiliate marketing such a lucrative industry to join? Well a couple of reasons include:
Low-Cost Business Opportunity
Have you always wanted to start your business but fall short of saving up the money to do so? Affiliate marketing offers a simple solution.
When compared with other business ventures, there are practically no barriers to start this one. You don’t need to have investors behind you or a lot of capital on your bank. All you need is Internet connectivity, electricity, and a way to promote the services or products you’re selling.
If you own a brick-and-mortar business, your customer base will be limited to buyers in your area. As an affiliate marketer, you can advertise what you’re selling to anyone who uses the Internet.
A Passion Project
Nothing is worse than not being interested in the work you do. Luckily, affiliate marketing is very versatile.
If you want to sell and promote something that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about, affiliate marketing can work for you. No matter if you are interested in selling and promoting guitars, car parts, or business software, there is a company out there who wants to pay you to do it!
Passive Stream of Income
Once you create and post product-promoting content, you can sit back and literally watch your revenue stream in. Because while affiliate marketing requires initial work up front, it turns largely passive after you’ve done all the heavy lifting.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
It’s actually a pretty simple and straightforward process.
Here’s how it goes:
First, you register to become an affiliate, for the business whose products you’d like to promote (most businesses do offer an affiliate program).
After successfully completing the application process, you’ll be given your own unique referral link. This link will help keep track of your referrals (through affiliate cookies) and help the business to reward you properly.
Let’s assume now, a customer goes through your link and buys the product or service you’re recommending. The affiliate cookie (attached to your link) will automatically let the business know to credit you for the sale!
Finally, depending on the business’s payout dates, you’ll get paid for the customer you sent to the business! This is done either through direct deposit or a check in the mail.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing in 5 Steps
So now that you have a better understanding of what affiliate marketing is, let’s get into how you can get started!
1. Choose a Platform
First things first, you need to decide on a platform where you will be promoting your affiliate offers. But which one should you choose?
Well a bunch work, really.
Here’s a great example of that!
During the time of creating this post, I was looking to buy a camera for my sister (as a birthday gift for her). And so me, being absolutely clueless on the subject, searched the web for help.
And after a little bit of browsing around, I stumbled upon DigitalCameraWorld.
It was an awesome website that helps photographers (and beginners like myself) find the best camera gear and tools. But most importantly (for our own specific reasons), it was a website that participated in affiliate marketing!
They featured a collection of tutorials, buying guides, and reviews—which included affiliate (referral) links—of products they recommended!
But it didn’t end here.
I continued to look around for more information and eventually landed on Youtube.
And sure enough, the channel I was on, (which similarly reviewed camera gear) also participated in affiliate marketing!
They included affiliate links to the products they recommended throughout their video—as well as for the equipment they use—in their description!
Instagram wasn’t left out either!
I came across this really cool page, CameraGearAddidcts, which referred me to an Amazon page, that featured all the gear and tools Kyle (founder of the page) recommended to his visitors.
So you see, there are many platforms you can leverage to promote your affiliate offers. And the choice is really yours where you want to begin!
Most usually do opt-in for the free options such as Youtube or Instagram (which are good choices as well). But I do personally recommend beginning with a website/blog. As it’s easily one of the best platforms to grow an audience and by far the best option, if you’re looking to generate passive income online.
Important Reminder: Remember that whatever platform you decide to go with, you’re not bound to it only. You can always take advantage of other channels (and should), just be sure to prioritize building one up first!
2. Choose a Niche
A niche is essentially a specialty; it’s a particular little nook within the market that you find especially interesting or meaningful. It’s important to hone in on a niche so you don’t spread yourself too thin, or appear flighty to your audience.
When looking for a niche, be sure to think about balancing passion and appeal. This means that you want to choose something that is both interesting to you, and interesting to your wider audience as a whole.
After all, one of the biggest goals of affiliate marketing is to earn an income, so you might be head over heels in love with a product, but if the niche doesn’t solve pain points for others, is a partnership really going to serve you?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Basically, a niche you’re considering for an affiliate marketing opportunity should be nestled within a growing market (because this means that people are interested in it and willing to spend money on it), and should be interesting or meaningful to you.
3. Find Products to Promote
At the end of the day, the only way you’ll be successful in affiliate marketing is by forging trust with your audience. This means that you should only recommend products that you genuinely believe will be helpful to them—if you’ve tried and enjoyed some of the products yourself, all the better!
Once you’ve gained trust from your audience, you might find that earning money through affiliate marketing gets easier and easier, so it’s tempting to throw out a promotion for a product that you’re iffy about because of lucrative commissions, but don’t take the bait.
Stay true to your gut feeling and stick to products that you truly believe in. That moral compass will never steer you wrong.
So now that you’ve selected your niche and narrowed down the options based on items you think will enhance your audience’s lifestyle, there are a few different types of products you can think about promoting.
These types of products include:
- Physical products: things like clothes, household goods, and cameras to give your sister as a birthday gift.
- Digital products: these are things like ebooks, photo editing presets, and subscriptions.
- Services: anything that a brand or individual performs for you is a service, so these run the gamut from haircuts to accounting.
Note: Don’t assume that just because a company doesn’t sell something tangible (a physical product) that they don’t have an affiliate program.
Now there are a few different ways that you can locate products to promote as an affiliate marketer. The first is to join affiliate networks. These networks are an intermediate that can connect you with brands looking for marketing partners.
Here are a couple of popular networks you can check out:
Your other option is to simply search a company’s website for any information about their affiliate program; this is a great way to go about it if you find a product within your niche of choice that you really believe in specifically. To help, we’ve actually put together a list of 70+ affiliate programs (from different niches) you can look to join.
4. Creating Content
To be a successful affiliate marketer, you need to find ways to add value to your audience while promoting your chosen products and services.
The best way to do this is by creating consistent, high-quality content. Sounds simple enough, right? While the concept isn’t that complicated, you should be prepared to dedicate a fair amount of time to content creation if you want to be successful with affiliate marketing.
The good news is there are many different types of content you can create in order to keep your audience engaged and add variety to your work.
- Product reviews: give your audience insight into your experience with a product you’re promoting.
- Comparisons: show your audience why you feel that a product or service you’re promoting is the better choice over a similar competitor.
- Tutorials: provide some instruction about how you think a product or service that you’re promoting can best be used to enhance your audience’s experience.
- Resource page: dedicate a page on your blog or website to the items you promote with some relevant details about each of them.
Remember, you can be affiliated with some of the most genuinely helpful and well-meaning products and services in the world, but if you don’t create content demonstrating their value to your audience, your affiliate marketing efforts will always fall flat.
5. Promoting Your Content
Promoting your content properly is one of the most important parts of being a successful affiliate marketer. Because let’s face it, if you can’t drive traffic to your content, you won’t be able to make any sales—which means no affiliate commissions. So it’s absolutely important that you put aside a good amount of time on promoting your content!
Now there are various you can go about this (assuming you went with creating a blog). This includes:
- Social media links: Convey the benefits of your products and services to audiences in concise messages on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Or simply use these platforms as a means to refer traffic to your content.
- Email List: If you have an established email list already, you can mention to your email community about a really cool product you believe in or have experience with.
- SEO: Take advantage of organic search results by creating an SEO-optimized website! If potential customers find the products you’re selling naturally, you won’t have to spend a dime to secure the sale.
These are just a few ways to promote your content and increase your sales. Different niches will benefit from various strategies, so feel free to experiment and learn which ones work best for the products you’re selling!
How Much Money Can You Make with Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is indeed a very lucrative business opportunity. It’s growing every day, and affiliate marketing spend in the U.S. alone is expected to reach $8.2 billion by 2022, according to Statista.
It’s not uncommon for low and intermediate-level affiliates to earn around $300 per day or more. Affiliate marketing veterans who have spent years perfecting their strategies can make more than $10,000 per day!
How much you earn will depend on factors like:
The niche you choose (fitness, software, travel, dating, loans, etc.)
How big your audience is
The ways you promote the products or services you’re selling (social media, emails, PPC campaigns, cross-channel campaigns, SEO)
The commission rates on the products you sell
How many partners you work with
The sky’s the limit when it comes to how much money you can make with affiliate marketing! As long as you put in the initial effort, you can turn it into a nice passive stream of income or even use the revenue to replace your day job.
There’s no doubt that affiliate marketing is a great way to earn some extra money, but the truth is that income isn’t the sole reason to explore this business model.
If you have an audience that you genuinely care about, then affiliate marketing is an opportunity to help them live happier, more comfortable lives by promoting products and services that they may never have found on their own.
Affiliate marketing might sound daunting, but it’s simpler than most people realize; get started for yourself, and you’re bound to feel great about the impact you’re having.