We live in a time when everyone is thinking about starting their own business. Naturally, they are thinking about what products they should sell, how much work they will have to do every day to create those products and other technical factors that distributers have to deal with. But what if we told you that you could make money from a business – without actually running the business?
Enter affiliate marketing. This is a source of passive income – the kind that you’d make money from even if you step out for a bit. You just need to know how to set the road for it.
In This Article
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Steps for Starting an Affiliate Marketing Blog.
How Much Money Can You Make with Affiliate Marketing?
How to Promote the Right Product?
Types of Affiliate Products.
1. Physical Products.
2. Information Products.
3. Service Products.
Affiliate Marketing vs. Other Types of Blog Monetization.
How to Promote Affiliate Offers.
1. Through a Resource Page.
2. Through Product Reviews.
3. Through Tutorials.
4. Through Comparison Posts.
5. Through Email Series.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
As a beginner in terms of affiliate marketing, this is likely the top question that pops up in your head: What is affiliate marketing? Well, the answer to that question is rather simple. With affiliate marketing, you earn commissions each time you recommend a product to your readers or friends, and they buy the product as a result of your recommendation.
Here’s an example. You look for a product that you wish to promote and then search for an affiliate program for that particular product. You may also promote it if you find it on Amazon. Once you sign up for their affiliate program, you will receive a link. This way, the merchant can track the people that got to the product page through your link. If they end up buying the product, then you’ll get a commission.
In an article written for Forbes, R. L. Adams also tries to explain the concept of affiliate marketing:
“When you sell anything for anyone else, and you receive a commission for it, you’re marketing as an affiliate. You’re not just a salesperson working for that company. You’re independent and on your own. There are no thresholds that need to be met. But the more you sell, the more you earn. The beauty of affiliate marketing is that there are no limitations, and you can effectively earn money by marketing for many companies at one time. This offers a low-friction-to-market opportunity because you don’t need to create your own products or services to earn money selling anything in this format.” 
Affiliate marketing is the kind of marketing that earns you money even while you sleep. You create the content; you set the affiliate links, you go to sleep, and each time someone buys the product as per your recommendation, you earn a commission. The more recommendations you make, and the more products people buy because of you, the more you will earn. That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing – as long as your content remains popular, you will keep making money.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing can work in various ways, but the bottom line is that someone will track your sale by clicking your unique tracking link. How does one do that? You May ask? Well, the most common way to track is through cookies.
When one clicks an affiliate link, a very small file referred to as a “cookie” is stored onto the user’s computer. If they buy that particular product, the merchant will be able to see those cookies and will know that they were referred to by the affiliate marketer – you. There are also other tracking methods available (for example, email or IP), but cookies are by far the most popular.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, this is where it might get a bit tricky. The theory is simple, but as Steve Olenski of CMO Network mentioned in an article for Forbes, it’s not all daisies and rainbows. The start might be tough, and not many might make it through to the end. However, as long as you get in the wind flow, things should start going your way, and you’ll be able to earn more commissions.
“An affiliate marketing program is a lot of work, and in most situations, there’s a lot of competition. So, you’re not going to be bringing in money immediately. Business owners and entrepreneurs suppose that all you need to do is set up a site, choose an affiliate to associate with, and then just let it run its course. But according to Three Ladders Marketing, only 0.6% of affiliate marketers surveyed have been in the game since 2013. That means that affiliate marketing takes time and effort to build and make money.” 
For affiliate marketing to work, you need to show quite a bit of determination in the beginning. Since it works with referral links, you must build somewhat of a reputation. The more people know about you and trust your content, the likelier they will be to buy a specific product based on the advice that you gave them.
Steps for Starting an Affiliate Marketing Blog
Everyone needs to start somewhere, and with affiliate marketing, it generally begins with a blog. This blog will have to be “honed” correctly, and you can do this as long as you follow the right steps. For starters, here is a summary of what you will have to do; we’ll dig more into this later on.
Create a blog or a website. You must be able to post your content somewhere.
Determine what industry you want to work with. Try to narrow down your niche as much as possible.
Research the products that are part of your niche and see which ones you want (or can) review.
Find an Amazon affiliate program and sign up for it.
Find separate affiliate marketing programs for the products that you wish to review.
Start creating your content. It can be anything from reviews, tutorials, or emails that might attract the readers to interact with the product you are trying to advertise.
Optimize the website using SEO to make it easier to find. Keep an eye on the Google ranking as you post content.
Creating an affiliate blog is an entire process. Therefore, once you start posting, you’ll have to stick to a schedule. Otherwise, the affiliate programs won’t work, and you might just end up fading behind on the next pages of Google. Since no one ever really goes past the first page, this is where you should be.
How Much Money Can You Make with Affiliate Marketing?
As a person interested in affiliate marketing, the million-dollar question would be somewhere along the lines of “how much money can you actually make from affiliate marketing?” Does this line of business-making have any potential? Can you make a good dollar out of this? In an article written by Rebecca Lake for Investopedia, apparently, you can:
“The affiliate marketing industry is growing steadily. Statista reported that spending on affiliate marketing in the U.S. was predicted to reach $8.2 billion by 2022. That’s up considerably from $5.4 billion in 2017 and $1.6 billion in 2010. Another study from VigLink offers a closer look at just how much income affiliate marketers are making. According to the survey, 9% of publishers produced more than $50,000 in affiliate income in 2016. The majority of merchants—65%—said they were making between 5% and 20% of their annual revenue from affiliate marketing. The survey also showed a link between experience and revenues. Among the merchants with the most revenue, 60% had been involved in affiliate marketing for five years or more.” 
This also depends on the person and their level of commitment. The amount of money you make could vary from zero to thousands or even millions of dollars. Digital nomad and financial analyst Michelle Schroeder-Gardner makes more than $50,000 only trough affiliate marketing every month, her income is going higher with every passing year. Before long, the chances are that she will be earning millions.
The money you earn will relate directly to the type of products that you promote, your website traffic, and other marketing skills like how you use SEO to improve your content.
How to Promote the Right Product?
The beauty of being an affiliate marketer is that you can choose pretty much any product that can be bought online. The chances are that there will surely be an affiliate program that will give you a finder’s fee whenever you refer to a product and sale. At the same time, even if there is nothing stopping you from promoting whatever you want, this doesn’t mean you have to do precisely that.
As Stephanie Burns mentions in an article that she has written for Forbes, a common mistake that entrepreneurs do is not researching the market enough. No matter if you are advertising your product or someone else’s, the principle is just the same, and you must be able to narrow it down.
“Never create an offer in a vacuum. Know who you’re speaking to, their pain points, fears, and desires, and then create something that can be a solution to their problem. This is foundational in knowing what to bring to the market,” says Hartke. “Market research is one of the keys to knowing what problem you solve, and if you don’t solve a problem, you won’t be in business very long. Survey your audience, hop on the phone with your current clients, ask them what they need, and engage with your prospects to learn more about how you can be of service. Even though that vision for your life is about you, your business is about them.” 
If you wish to become a successful affiliate, you always need to have one question in mind: how relevant is this to your audience? Let’s say that your blog is on fitness and healthy life; in this case, advertising makeup products might not be the smartest thing.
People are coming to your website to find out how to get in shape, so they are more likely to click on a link for dumbbells than they are on one for eye shadow. Sure, there might be some that could be interested, but the majority couldn’t care less. They might be interested in looking good, sure, but that’s not what they probably search on your page.
To be a successful affiliate marketer, you must be able to give your audience exactly what they want. After all, you make your money from the number of clicks you get, so focus on high-rated products that you are sure your audience might want to click on. If you’re going to advertise a product, you need to be sure that the product will be anticipated – that you build up to it. R. L. Adams touches once more on this in his article, The Definitive Guide to Affiliate Marketing:
“This is important in the framework of not just affiliate marketing, but in marketing anything online, especially when the products are your own and you’re not just receiving a commission for selling them. Clearly, you need to build emotion around the entire process. In other words, you need to create an emotional attachment to every stage of the sales funnel.” 
To make the entire process more comfortable for you, here are some questions that you might want to ask yourself when deciding whether this is the right product for you or not:
- Is the affiliate commission rate any good for this product?
- Would I be using this product myself?
- Would the majority of my readers be interested in buying this product?
- How easy is the buying process for this product?
If your answer was “yes” to all of these questions (or at least the first three), then you probably hit the jackpot, and you found a product that is worth advertising on your website or blog.
If you don’t have a product worthy of promoting yet, you should make a list of products that you believe your audience needs. The sky is the limit, so to speak, so think of as many of these products as possible.
Keep in mind that complementary products work as well, as long as there is a link between them. For example, if you are writing about travel, then you can add products such as luggage, backpacks, headphones, or even travel-friendly clothing.
Types of Affiliate Products
You have a vague idea of the niche that you want to be in, and maybe some products that you are interested in. At this point, you might want to start thinking about the type of products that you want to provide. Here, you have physical products, you have information products, and you have services. All of these types of products have their advantages and drawbacks, along with different requirements regarding marketing.
Physical products are perhaps some of the easiest things to advertise, and we have one big reason for that: Amazon. Since Amazon features the largest affiliate program globally, most people sign up for it, giving them access to all the products there. And even though there were certain changes to the affiliate program, this doesn’t stop marketers from signing up for it. After all, who doesn’t like to do their shopping on Amazon?
This is something that is further touched upon by Louie Ortiz, the CEO of Monbi.com:
“I don’t think there’s anyone that hasn’t ever used Amazon. The platform got so big that it now operates in the majority of countries and continents worldwide. We have Amazon in the United States, and we have it in Australia, United Kingdom, Spain – and to top things, we have a world full of people that have so much to do, they prefer to do their shopping online. And where do we go when we want to shop? We go to Amazon, of course, because we have a variety. This is why it makes sense to collaborate with Amazon, even with the commissions lowered – because that’s where people are going to be buying from probably.”
The commissions on these physical products can vary from category to category. Smaller and cheaper options might get a low 4% commission, whereas luxury items can reach as high as 10%. Generally speaking, you won’t be going anywhere past 10% with Amazon – unless the product is excellent.
But how do you start? That’s simple. Fortunately for you, everyone can handle Amazon affiliate marketing and earn advertising fees, mostly because Amazon made everything easily available for you. If you want to learn how to start affiliate marketing for free, this is a good step for you.
To advertise products, you may also try out affiliate programs for a specific company. Flexoffers would also be a very good place to start, as many companies work with this affiliate marketing network. You can build relationships even with the bigger companies and come across opportunities that would have otherwise been quite difficult to find.
Bear in mind that if you are in it for the long haul and you have a rather specialized niche, then there are probably better places than Amazon for you to start. The problem with Amazon is that it only gives you a 24-hour cookie. This should seem enough – but at the same time, you need to consider that there are companies that offer 3-month or more cookies.
Don’t you understand why that matters to you? Well, let’s say that you have recommended an Amazon product. If someone clicks on your link and buys that particular product within 24 hours, then you get the commission. But let’s say the potential buyer is convinced but is low on cash and has to wait a couple of days before they buy the product from Amazon. You convinced them, and they are buying the product you recommended, but since they went past that 24-hour cookie period, you will not be receiving your commission.
That being said, other affiliate companies have up to 90-day cookies – which can be quite convenient. Let’s say that you join an affiliate program for a certain brand or line of products that has a 30-day cookie. If someone clicks your link and then purchases anything over the next 30 days, you will receive a commission. This is very convenient, mostly because many people have to wait for their paycheck to make a purchase. It’s much easier to make sales this way.
Pro tip: if you already know your niche and wish to promote a physical product, you may type the product name or niche in your search engine and finish the phrase with “affiliate program.” This will give you a good idea of the options that are out there for you.
One more product type you can do affiliate marketing for is the information product – in other words, content created by marketers and bloggers who want to teach you how to do something. These products have no actual physical shape but have great informational value.
There are various reasons why these types of products are a great option to promote. First things first, they tend to be higher-priced – which means that if you’re getting commissions for it, they will be higher. They also have the advantage of personality behind them, which makes them quite easy to sell.
When people are looking for information products, they do so because they want to learn something. Granted, we have the Internet nowadays where you can find anything, but let’s say that you are looking for information on how to make origami. Or maybe you are looking for information on Greek History. There is plenty of data on the Internet, but it is quite scattered (and possibly impersonal).
However, when you read this information from a book, you will not have to spend endless hours – mostly because all the information is there. It will also have a more personal feeling to it, as authors have a way of incorporating their own personality into the book.
The only challenge here is finding the person you are providing affiliate marketing for – that’s because authors are generally very protective about the people who are doing their marketing. They won’t easily give the green light to affiliate marketing for beginners unless they know for a fact that they are very good at what they do, on top of being trustworthy.
Moreover, there is no central place that you can go to in order to find an affiliate – as you do with Amazon. With information products, you will have to discuss with the content creator or check whether they have an affiliate page. This might take a bit of work, but since the percentage is negotiable, you might receive a higher split of the sales. These commissions range at around 30-40%, as it cost less to create the product.
“When you are looking for an information product to promote, you might want to search for higher-priced products made by people that seem to know how to do their marketing. Why may you ask? That is because practically, you will be sending your viewers to their page, and they will convert every sale. Your work there is minimal, mainly because they already have a certain level of trust with their customers. Even if you send someone there that has never heard about that product, they will immediately see the marketer/blogger knows what they are doing – therefore, making that purchase and earning you a commission.”
To make things even better, you might want to promote products that you have personally used. Let’s say that you’ve found and bought a course that you found very useful. The product seems to be very successful, and it’s also in your niche to top things. You’re probably going to recommend it to people anyway – so, if that’s the case, why not get paid for it? Check whether they have an affiliate program or not and then spread to the world about how remarkable they are.
The third product type that you can promote is services. Let’s say that you are already an affiliate. The chances are that you will need a website to start advertising other companies and steer people in their direction.
You will need a theme, hosting, maybe some email software, and so on – and unless you are a pro in computer technology, you will need to hire someone’s services to set you up. And if you like those services, you could easily recommend them and earn a commission out of them (if the company has an affiliate program set in place, of course).
It can be quite easy to make a sale out of services, mostly because if you used them before and liked them, the chances are that other people will like them as well.
The advantage of these services is that you can also get recurring commissions. Let’s say that there are certain services that you use pretty much all the time. Each time you make a referral about them, you are making some extra commissions. It’s not like using a physical product just once and then recommending it – a service can be used multiple times.
Commissions for services generally range somewhere between 15% and 30%, depending on the service that you are advertising. As a piece of advice, you might want to look for popular services, as this can bring you a much higher commission.
Affiliate Marketing vs. Other Types of Blog Monetization
Here is another good question that may have crossed your mind: why bother with affiliate marketing when you have other methods of blog monetization available? You can just make some good money out of banner ads or advertising, can’t you?
Well, that would have made sense – if you did this several years ago. Granted, many blogs would make money by using ads, and each ad click would earn them a special commission – something that is particularly rewarding if you have an accessible website.
However, that was before more and more people started using ad blockers. In an attempt to get explicit content without being bothered by ads, users are installing browser extensions such as AdBlock. Besides being rather unsightly, you need quite a bit of traffic on your website for those ads to work.
That being said, if you join the lines of affiliate marketing companies, you should be able to make more money than you would with ads. While you can make up to $100 a month for every ad placed on your website, this only happens if you have more than 1,000 visitors coming to your website every day. Plus, there are specific fees that you may have to pay for maintaining those ads – and if you are only starting, you might have to pay back more than you could afford. As Forbes council member Karina TamaRutigliano states in an article, it is a cost-effective way to generate passive income without actually bothering about any startup money:
“As an affiliate marketer, your role is to link up the seller and the customer — the seller takes care of the post-sale activity, not you. It is a low-cost/no-cost startup, so you don’t need a stash of cash or take out a business loan. Ultimately, you decide your own paycheck based on how much or how little you want to work, and you can work independently from home. If you already have a strong following on social media and on your website, all you have to do is find affiliates to work with who have products that are related to your content and set up the promotion and payment.” 
With affiliate marketing, you’d be able to make much more money as opposed to selling someone your ad space. Depending on the commission percentage that you get, you can make several times more money than you would make with normal sponsored ads.
Plus, aside from the financial benefit, this can help build up your reputation. You may also get quite a bit of free time on your hands – and while you may do that with ads as well, it is much easier to do so with affiliate links. These links are more personal, and the viewer is more likely to trust your word on it.
And let’s face it, how many times have you come across a website and clicked those sponsored ads? The chances are that you went straight past them. No actual context surrounded them – they were just some ads that were popping up on the page, visually bothering your attempt to read the content.
Here is where affiliate links come in before you even realize it. Say that you are reading some content about a topic that interests you, and then the writer refers you to a product you might find useful. The chances are that you will click that link to see whether it can help you with your problem or not. The referral won’t be barging into your visuals, and the addition of content might make you at least curious.
How to Promote Affiliate Offers
You now have a good idea of what affiliate marketing is and what you want to promote – which brings us to the next question. How do you do that? You may have the best product to refer to, but unless you know the most efficient methods to do so, it is all for nothing. Here is how you can promote affiliate marketing:
1.Through a Resource Page
When you are writing content, you must ensure that you use all the right tools to make everything look beautiful and readable. You might be using software; you might have handled certain informational products to help you create the page or used other resources to help you come up with your content. In that case, you can promote any affiliate offers through a resource page. Putting all your tools on the same page will make your content useful, but shareable.
2.Through Product Reviews
If there is something that people generally trust, it’s a review. In most cases, you can get all of the necessary information from the product description – but it’s one thing to hear about it from the seller and another thing to hear about it from the user. If a user has come to your page looking for a product review, then the chances are that they already have half a mind to buy that product. As they read your content, they will know that the product is excellent and will more than likely proceed to buy it through your link.
When you are reviewing a product, make sure that the headline is clear (the product name, for example), the links are placed visibly, it has a story of how you (or someone else) used the product and a definite recommendation. This way, you will increase trust, and the reader will be more likely to follow through your advice.
Tutorials might take a bit of time to get done – but if you do them correctly, you can reap quite a lot of benefits. You can create a video, a text, or any “how to” kind of content where you teach people how to do things. The key here is that while you make it a step-by-step process, you also add that particular product or service as one of the main components for success. For example, if you are making a tutorial on how to make a website, you may also mention some tools that you found useful in the process.
4.Through Comparison Posts
Comparison posts also give you excellent opportunities for affiliate marketing. Let’s say that people are looking for a phone but aren’t sure whether they should go for the new Samsung or the new iPhone. They will be looking for comparison posts do determine which is more appropriate. There, you will put affiliate links to those products – and once your reader has made up their mind, they will be able to access the product immediately. And since you referred them, you’ll be the one getting a commission.
5.Through Email Series
This might be one of the most thorough, but simultaneously, one of the most efficient ways to do affiliate marketing: do an email series. If you have quite a sizable email list of at least 1,000 people, you should take advantage of it and promote it via email. Bear in mind that this works better if you promote an information product with quite high commissions.
For email affiliate marketing to be successful, you might want to go with a product that you have tried and tested yourself. If you didn’t, make sure that it has a good story or that you have a perfect reason for promoting it. The email strategy works when people trust your opinion as truthful and “non-spammy,” so to speak.
Affiliate marketing might take a bit of effort and planning – and obviously, you are required to provide content regularly. At the same time, it will give you more flexibility and free time, as you can earn commissions even when you are not working.
Just make sure that you choose the right strategy (or strategies, if you’re determined enough), and before you know it, you should be making money while taking your afternoon nap. Hopefully, our guide on affiliate marketing for beginners 2020 came to good use.