The affiliate marketing industry is a fast-growing industry. With a value of about $12 billion (opens in new tab), it has proven to be the top way to make huge money online. It's a type of marketing where businesses reward their clients or customers for each product they sell or for new customers they bring to the company. Businesses spending on affiliate marketing hit a total of $8.2 billion in 2022 according to Statista (opens in new tab).
You might have come across affiliate marketing and you might probably haven't realized it. If you have bought a product recommended by a friend, then you have come across affiliate marketing, and if you have recommended a product to a friend then you are an affiliate marketer. Sounds great Right? The affiliate marketing industry is a growing industry, however for many beginners, it can be a tedious workload, but not to worry I will guide you on how to start affiliate marketing, you will understand how to make money online through affiliate marketing.
Definition of affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is an act of promoting other brands' products and services. It's a type of performance-based marketing where customers are rewarded for the promotion of a product, for referral, or for selling a product. The affiliate earns a commission from the products sold or for the referral. Affiliate marketing is solely focused on generating leads and sales for businesses while providing their affiliate commission or another form of payment, to pay them for lead generation or sales made.
Although affiliate marketing has been around for several years or decades, it became an industry during the invention of the Internet. When traced back to the 1980s William J. Tobin was the first to create the first affiliate program for his company PC Flowers and Gifts. This company paid businesses who linked to their products. Since then affiliate marketing continued to evolve, and now it's a very profitable industry.
How does affiliate marketing work
Let's look at this scenario; you signed up to work for a company as an affiliate marketer, the merchant supplies you with products, which can be physical products or digital products and you are expected to make sales and also bring people to the company (referral). For each product you sell you are expected to make a commission of 30% and for each person you refer to you are entitled to a 40% commission. Your job is to make sales and earn commissions.
Depending on the kind of product you are selling, you will need to choose a specific audience to focus on; Assuming you are advertising makeup products, your target audience should be mainly women aged 17 and above.
Nowadays most men also apply makeup but your focus on them can be minimal and you can put maximum focus on the women. You can decide to market or advertise the product on social media platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.), on a blog, website, or podcast. You are to persuade and convince them of the benefits of the products or services and how they can benefit them.
Convince them to make a purchase, each time anyone purchases through your unique affiliate link, you receive a portion of the revenue made which is also called a commission.
Affiliate marketing is a billion-dollar industry, where an affiliate who could be an owner of multiple websites or email lists is hired to promote a product or service on social media platforms by running ads, posting links, or on a website by running banner ads, writing a review on the products or by sending emails to clients. Visitors who click on those links, and banner ads will be redirected to the products page to make a purchase, and if they made a purchase, you will get your commission which can be 10%-50% but the list commission you can get as an affiliate marketer is 5%.
Affiliate marketing is like a microphone on the rooftop that merchants use to announce or make their products known to the public. Affiliate marketing follows a path and it has several components which we will be looking at.
Merchant: this is the person that manufactures, or creates the products. A merchant can be an individual or an organization.
Affiliate Network: This can be seen as an organization containing a database of products and services for the affiliate marketer to promote products. For example, Amazon which is a leading affiliate Network connects merchants with affiliates. They have a program called Amazon Associates Program, this program allows people to promote or sell a product using generated affiliate links and in return, they earn a commission.
In the affiliate Associates Program, the merchant provides the affiliate marketer with a promo code or an affiliate link. The affiliate promotes the merchant's products either on social media platforms or on their websites. With the affiliate link provided the merchant can track each sale made from that affiliate link.
Affiliate Marketer: This is a person that promotes the product. They can also be called publishers. These people join an affiliate network and sign up to be an affiliate. The affiliate program provides them with a unique code that they will use to promote products and services to their target audience. When a customer clicks on their link or banner ads and makes a purchase, they get rewarded for each sale they made.
Consumers: They can also be called buyers. They are the ones that purchase the products and services promoted by affiliate marketers. Without them, affiliate marketing cannot be successful. Affiliate marketing becomes successful when a product can be sold.
For a consumer to buy your products and services, you must convince them that the product will benefit them, and also show them how it can benefit them. However when marketing to any consumers try to find out their needs and how to meet those needs, also make sure you have a target audience, that will make the job smoother and less stressful because you already have a defined audience.
Benefits of affiliate marketing
Here are some of the benefits of affiliate marketing to an industry and an individual. First I will be discussing the benefits of being an affiliate marketer and then the benefits of affiliate marketing to an organization.
Benefits of being an affiliate marketer:
Affiliate Marketing programs are easy to join, and most of them are also free to sign up for. You just need to go over to the affiliate program and fill out the form with the necessary details needed and boom! you have successfully signed up for an affiliate marketer. However, make sure you read the terms and conditions of the affiliate marketing program before accepting it; you won't like to be suspended for violating a rule or regulations. The terms and service section should thoroughly be studied as they contain rules and regulations of the affiliate marketing program for example, Amazon Associates affiliate marketing program terms and conditions state that,
“To participate in the associate's program and receive commission you must comply with the affiliate agreement to participate, you must provide us with any information needed to verify your compliance with this agreement, and if you violate this agreement or terms and conditions of any other Amazon marketing program we reserve the right permanently cease payment of any or all commission payable to you.”
If you ignore these conditions, you are at risk of not being paid your commission income, so be careful.
No or Little Experience Needed
You don't need to have any experience in affiliate marketing to get started. It's easy to start and adapt to the system. Most affiliate marketing comes with a guide to how you can work as an affiliate marketer in their organization and earn money. They will provide you with the step-by-step process you need to understand the products and what has been requested or required of you as an affiliate.
You can earn commissions through the products and services sold. You learn by doing and also become an expert by learning from your mistakes. Affiliate marketing doesn't need any requirements to get started, it doesn't need any degree whatsoever to get started, just a click on the signup button and enter the necessary details is all you need to start making your money. Sounds good right?
For someone that doesn't like the everyday hassle and stress of waking up early in the morning to go to work, running around in the office to get jobs done, being yelled at by your boss, etc. affiliate marketing is just the perfect job for you.
One thing I love about affiliate marketing is the freedom you have as an employee, is like running your own business, no need to get up early in the morning so as to avoid traffic, you do everything in your house, and you owe and run this business, you can decide which company you chose to work for i.e promote their products and services and who not do work for. You can decide to switch between brands if you think that it's hard promoting an affiliate offer from a brand.
You have the right to choose when to work, how to work, and for whom to work. You can decide to be either a part-time affiliate marketer, a full-time affiliate marketer, or a freelancer the ball is in your court. Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways of earning money in the comfort of your home. All you need to kickstart is a laptop, PC, Smartphone, and an internet connection. Also, the amount of time you spend promoting a product depends totally on the type of product you are promoting and also how many companies you are working for.
Huge Income Stream
Working as an affiliate marketer is a lucrative business. With affiliate marketing being a multi-billion dollar industry it's highly beneficial to join this Industry, according to Glassdoor you can make up to $66,029 per year as an affiliate marketer. Whether you take this as a side hustle or as your full-time job, you can still make a huge stream of income, and also the amount of money you make depends on the niche you are promoting (beauty products, home appliances, etc.), and the commission allocated to each product.
Benefits Of Affiliate Marketing to an Organization:
As a business owner, using affiliate marketing is very beneficial for the promotion of your brand and products. It's easy to start at low-cost and it also has a great impact on your ROI (Return On Investment). Affiliate marketing for an organization leads to higher ROI and you have nothing to complain about. With affiliate marketing, you are sure to earn more and make more sales and also leads.
Many brands are using affiliate marketing as a means of online advertisement. For example, Amazon, a very popular e-commerce site, has bought into affiliate marketing to make sales. They employ affiliate marketers to promote their products and services depending on the niche the affiliate chooses, they pay the affiliate commission income for each sale they make.
Increase in Traffic
Need higher traffic to your e-commerce site, then dive into affiliate marketing. They are the true leader when it comes to traffic generation. As affiliates are bringing in consumers using the promo code or affiliate link you gave them to make purchases, you can also experience a great increase in the number of website visits, and your website will greatly benefit from this. Of course, more website visits mean higher sales and increased ROI. Sounds awesome right? All you need to kickstart is a group of affiliate marketers to make the magic happen.
This would have been on the top list, but it found its way to the third list. Brand recognition is one huge benefit of affiliate marketing to an organization. You can't have high traffic without brand recognition. Employing this marketing strategy is an effective way to build, and improve your brand recognition.
Affiliates are the ones spreading the good news about your brand, both physically and digitally. They are there to preach the good news of your brand to people, to their target audience, and convince them to make a purchase. If they successfully make a purchase and experience the goodness and find your products to be valuable, they will likely come back again for more purchases, and this time around, they might come with their friends.
You see the circle, your brand is getting recognized and acknowledged. You can also build your brand recognition through word-of-mouth advertising and also encourage customers' feedback and reviews.
Common misconceptions about affiliate marketing
There have been so many misconceptions about affiliate marketing and we will be looking into them in this section and also I will be dispelling some of these misconceptions about affiliate marketing.
1. Expensive to start
This is one of the top misconceptions on my list because it's one of the biggest misconceptions on the internet. Most people believe that affiliate marketing is expensive to start, and may not be affordable to some people. In reality, this misconception is quite the opposite. If you have been reading through this article, you would have noticed where I indicated that affiliate marketing is easy to start at a lower cost. Although without any financial investment, it will be difficult because you will need to create a website, but trust me affiliate marketing is less costly to a startup than other forms of marketing.
2. It's too late to now
You might probably be wondering, “Affiliate marketing is becoming too popular nowadays on the internet. Maybe there isn't a chance for me to join, it's too late.” Well, you are mistaken, there's more than enough chance for you in affiliate marketing. This misconception has made some businesses drop the idea of affiliate marketing but in reality, it's quite the opposite.
The best time to start affiliate marketing is Now! Yes, there is a lot of work to do, but the effort is worth it. Don't look at the competition going on, and the number of affiliate marketing programs on the internet today, you should know that as the day goes by, there are more emerging companies on the internet and they will also be promoting their products, so the best time to start is now.
You will need to create a website, create a social media profile or page for your brand and then start posting links, promo codes, and banner ads.
3. Talk about the advertiser
There has also been a misconception that affiliate marketing is all about the advertiser, but that's only half the truth. Imagine if you have a great advertiser but a poor quality product, the reputation of your brand is at a big risk. Affiliate marketing isn't all about how great your advertiser is, or his/her fan base, it's also about the quality of your products and services.
It's great to have a good advertiser, and also high-quality products.
4. Technical skills needed
I can't remove this misconception from my list. This is a very common misconception going on. You might have probably heard someone say “Affiliate marketing requires technical know-how.” With the basic skill you have, you can start affiliate marketing simply by promoting links on your social media platforms, and gradually you learn how to create a blog.
You take the baby steps, you don't need to have strong technical skills to start affiliate marketing.
5. Fast stream of income
Don't be deceived to think that affiliate marketing is one of those make-money-quick schemes, No! It's not. However a little percentage of this misconception is true but that's if you already have a well-established audience, a website with high traffic, and a large email list. But for starters, I don't think you can earn money quickly from this marketing strategy.
Yes! Affiliate marketing will make you a lot of money, but it takes time and effort. Also as an affiliate marketer, it might take a month or less to start earning from affiliate marketing, but all the same affiliate marketing is worth the effort.
6. Goes hand in hand with advertising
Affiliate marketing isn't the same as advertising, it is more than just advertising.
Affiliate marketing requires communication and trust before it can be successful. In affiliate marketing, you recommend to your buyers the products that have been tested and tried either by you or someone else and proven to be true but in advertising, it's the opposite, you don't need to test the products.
There are many more misconceptions on the internet but don't let them get in your way.
Why should you start affiliate marketing?
Don't know where to start? Then don't worry, in this section, we will be looking at reasons why you should start affiliate marketing.
1. It's cheap
You aren't surprised, are you? The reason why I picked this to be on my top list is that, like I said earlier affiliate marketing is cheap and not as expensive as other marketing strategies. There are no start-up fees, you don't need to have a warehouse, or store to get started. All you need is to sign up for an affiliate program, your laptop or smartphone, and an internet connection.
Although some sites require you to pay before joining their affiliate marketing program, some sites offer free affiliate marketing programs.
Affiliate marketing programs are free only if you might spend some money to create a site and produce high-quality content on the site, which is optional, you can decide to focus on promotion on your social media platforms.
There's nothing that feels better than having your independence while working. Being your boss, and deciding your work hours. Affiliate marketing can give you the Independence you desire, you can work anyway, and anytime. You can also choose your own work hours, and work wherever you like at your own time, pace, and comfort as long as there's an internet connection you're good to go.
Nothing feels as good as knowing that whether you work every day or not, there are always streams of income trickling down.
3. Low entry barrier
You don't have to worry about your educational background, work experience, and skill acquisition. You can be an affiliate marketer just by signing up and filling out the forms provided. The low entry barrier makes it easier and hassle-free to be an affiliate marketer. You don't have to worry about having any degree or work experience.
You don't need to submit any CV/Resume, you don't need to attend any interview, all you need is just your smartphone, laptop, and an internet connection.
4. Can be a side hustle
You can be working as a full-time affiliate marketer or as a part-time affiliate marketer. If you already have a well-paying job, affiliate marketing can be a side hustle for you. You can still be making a handful of money as a part-time affiliate marketer regardless of your work hours.
It might not be that easy at the beginning as a part-time affiliate marketer, but with time, and consistency you will start earning enough, afterwards you can decide to either quit your current job and focus more on affiliate marketing or to still retain both.
5. Passive income
Once you have started, and established your affiliate marketing business, you can start making some money online.
With little effort, you can make passive income even on a product recommended months ago. You don't have to start going about posting on your social media platforms, or website every day, once you have already set up your profile and website, you are sure to make sales and earn money even while at sleep.
6. Great for competitors
There are people who love competition, if you are one of them then affiliate marketing is definitely for you. As more and more people tend to dive into this marketing strategy, you can also follow suit. You can compete with others in the same niche as you, to see who gets the best performance, to know whose site gets more traffic and whose products attract more buyers.
Just like you can get addicted to playing your favorite but competitive game, trust me affiliate marketing can be addictive too.
Players involved in affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing involves three players, each collaborating to promote a product and services.
– The merchant or the brand
– The Affiliate or publisher
– Affiliate Network
– The Consumer
The merchant or the brand is the first person in affiliate marketing, they offer the products and services to affiliate marketers. They are the ones who create and own the products or services, they provide the affiliate with the goods they need according to their niche. They also offer the affiliate the necessary support and resources they need to effectively promote the products.
The Affiliate: Also known as the publisher, they are one of the key players involved in affiliate marketing. You can see affiliates as those who work with an affiliate network program to promote goods and services and earn commission-based income.
As an affiliate, your job is to convince customers to buy the products and tell them about their value and their benefits.
Affiliate Network: This connects the merchant with the affiliate. Without an affiliate network like Amazon Associates affiliate program, there won't be a connection between merchant and affiliate, and when there's no connection, there won't be anything like affiliate marketing.
The Consumer: Without the Consumer affiliate marketing will not be a successful one. They are the one that buys the product.
Types of affiliate marketing
There are three main types of affiliate marketing. They include Unattached, related, and involved. We will be looking at each of them.
Unattached Affiliate Marketing
This is the most uninvolved form of marketing. Here the affiliate does not know the products or services, they don't possess any skills needed to promote the products.
This type of affiliate marketing is like pay-per-click, the affiliate has no presence or authority on the niche they are promoting, and all they do is put affiliate links through Google AdWords, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, etc. This type of affiliate marketing needs time to build a reputation and trust from customers. It might seem attractive because there's no authority needed, but it might be hard to gain the trust of customers. It focuses mainly on income rather than the customers you're serving.
Related Affiliate Marketing
Here the affiliate has the audience needed to drive traffic and generate sales. In this type of affiliate marketing, the affiliate has a connection with the niche and knows the niche products. They don't need to use the product or make claims of using the product but they have knowledge of the product's niche.
For instance, a YouTube influencer or lifestyle blogger may promote skincare products that they haven't used or even enlargement products they haven't used, simply because they have an audience interested in skincare and enlargement products.
Involved Affiliate Marketing
In Involved affiliate marketing, it involves the affiliate having a connection with the products. You can see them as the opposite of related affiliate marketing, unlike related affiliate marketing which doesn't use the product before marketing an Involved affiliate marketing program involves the affiliate having a first-hand experience of the product before recommending it to their audience.
They talk about their experience with the product and also discuss the advantages, and disadvantages of the products to the audience. It takes more time to build trust and credibility from your audience but your ROI tends to be high.
Finding the right affiliate program
There are many ways to find affiliate programs. You can find them by searching for affiliate programs on Google
Although some companies use different terms for affiliate marketing, Amazon uses the term Affiliate associates program. And many others.
To be able to find the right affiliate marketing program first is to search for them. Like I said earlier, you can search for an affiliate marketing program on Google, or your friends can recommend some affiliate programs to you.
Once you have found an affiliate marketing program, you'll need to check the company's website, and also ensure that the Company has a good reputation, because this will also boost your reputation and marketing efforts.
If the company has a poor reputation, and a poor quality product, it will negatively affect its reputation, and trying to market the product will only make it fail faster. To know what customers think of a product or brand before marketing to them, you can check out the review site on Google, their Business page, forums, and Google reviews. You can also check your social media platforms, if you notice high levels of engagement from their customers, positive reviews and feedback, low product return rate, and positive rating then you can trust the brand.
When you are done checking out the company's profile and reputation, then you can consider picking a product. I advise you to pick a product you know or have used before or maybe one that you can easily market. Know what your audience wants and what sits well with them then go for that kind of product. Choose a high-quality product, you can use it before marketing it to your audience, you can also read customer reviews and testimonials. This will enable you to be able to answer questions effectively on it, and also clearly explain the advantages and disadvantages of the product. The more you know about the products and services, the easier it will be for you to sell them effectively thereby leading to high ROI.
As I said earlier, promote products your audience is familiar with and fits your niche. Also, you can earn higher commissions as an affiliate marketer if you choose programs that offer competitive commission rates.
Here are some affiliate programs you can consider;
Amazon Associates affiliate program (opens in new tab)
Click Bank (opens in new tab)
eBay partner network (opens in new tab)
GiddyUp (opens in new tab)
Impact (opens in new tab)
Commission Junction (CJ) (opens in new tab)
Rakuten Affiliate (opens in new tab)
We'll update this guide each month over the next six months to provide a fully comprehensive guide to starting affiliate marketing, so do check back regularly for more help and tips as we publish them.
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