You’ve probably heard the hype about affiliate marketing. The internet says it’s a quick and easy way for people to make money online. Is that true?
Well, frankly, the internet’s full of B.S.
As someone who uses affiliate marketing effectively, I want to pull back the curtain and share the reality of how it works. This post starts a four-part series about affiliate marketing, whether it’s right for your business, and how to get started. Today, we’ll cover the basics and the reality of joining in the affiliate game.
I Can Just Sit Back and Make Money?
As an affiliate marketer, you promote a product through an arrangement with the creator. In return, you get paid when they make a sale. The compensation varies depending on the deal you’ve worked out.
You can find a ton of courses online about how to get involved, but most of them are all hype.
Promoting a product you didn’t create and getting a percentage of its sales sounds great, right? Sure—as long as you have enough people to sell that product to.
Affiliate marketing boils down to your ability to get other people’s offers in front of an audience who wants to buy them. You have two options: (1) Drive traffic to the creator’s offers with paid advertisements, like Social Media Ads or SEM, or (2) build an audience.
Affiliate marketing works as a great tool when you already have a strategy in place. You either need the ability to drive traffic at will and gain profit based on the percentage you make from the sales, or you need to have an audience already interested in the products you promote.
The reality: both options take time and work. They necessitate daily work because you have to build trust with your following. You have to develop a process for a successful stream of income. You have to spend time thinking about how to present valuable offers to your audience.
By the way, if you want to hear this in podcast form, simply follow this link.
Why Affiliate Marketing Strategies Fail
Affiliate programs may be part of individual companies, products, various countries, or big sites, like Amazon. You sign up as an affiliate, include links in your content, and get paid a percentage every time someone clicks and buys through your site.
I attempted affiliate marketing years ago as a side gig to my full-time job as a restaurant manager. I went through an online course with a daily video and a task. It taught me to identify a market and a niche. I created a website with a blog and started working in the niche around taking online surveys. The survey companies often had affiliate programs, and I included links to surveys in my articles. Whenever someone clicked on one of my links, I got paid a few cents.
Based on the course, my goals included building the site, doing SEO, and building traffic that generated income over time. Eventually I had $100 a month coming in from this website—but I couldn’t grow it past that. Creating more sites like this would have taken time and energy I didn’t have. I put the idea to the side.
Years later, when I gained an audience through my online business, I brought affiliate marketing back into my business model. This time, the effort saw success because of the audience I had already built.
Below, I’m sharing four things I learned about generating income through affiliate marketing.
If you want my strategy on how to build an audience, how to figure out if a business idea will work, and how to get it off the ground, check out my FREE guide.
4 Ideas to Get Started in Affiliate Marketing
If you want to get involved with affiliate marketing, it takes more than setting up and sitting back. Here are three important ideas to keep in mind:
- Watch Out for the Risks
I mentioned including links in your content to promote affiliate offers. But watch out! Big businesses, like Amazon, sometimes change the percentages they pay affiliates—without notice. If you depend on that revenue, and it suddenly reduces, you need to have a back-up plan for income. This kind of risk is common in affiliate programs.
A better idea—think about the income you receive from affiliate marketing as one layer of your business. Then, if the amount of revenue changes, you won’t be left high and dry.
- Look into Affiliate Networks
Affiliate networks like ClickBank, WarriorPlus, and JVZoo sell products from creators. Network members pay a pool of influencing affiliates an upfront percentage to promote these products to their list of followers. The percentages for these networks are often much higher than other affiliate programs. Sometimes between 50% and 100% of the initial sale goes directly into the affiliate marketer’s pocket!
If you can build an audience around a topic these networks serve, you have the opportunity to bring plenty of purchasable products to your audience. In this case, you could make a decent amount of income.
- Think through How to Make Money
Affiliate programs offer several kinds of payouts. Cost-per-action and cost-per-lead often pay very low rates and need volume to be profitable.
Another option: percentage of sale. In my business, I pay affiliates 50% on the front end, plus a percentage of any other items that people buy through their funnel. This kind of offer can make good money for the affiliate, and that’s why you want to look for good funnels. (I’ll explain more about that in another post!)
- Build an Audience
If you want to get into affiliate marketing, start by building an audience. This can be through social media, YouTube, a podcast, or an email list. You could start a Facebook group around a topic, an Instagram page, or an informational video series. The bigger your audience gets, the more your customer list grows.
Many people on the internet trumpet on about how lucrative and easy affiliate marketing is, but the method only works when you’ve put in the work to build an audience. It takes time to grow a community and to build trust. In this way, you’ll be able to add layers of income to the work you’re already doing.
In the next few weeks, we’ll talk about tactics and strategies I’ve learned and used to bring in this kind of extra income. For more secrets the so-called “gurus” won’t tell you about making money online, check out my podcast: