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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2019)

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a means by which websites, products and service providers reward people for spreading the word, and getting people to take actions. An ‘action’ can be a purchase, email signup, or even a click. Been around as long as people have been spending money online, and it’s not going anywhere.

Let me give you a couple of examples for reference. You may be an affiliate for Amazon.co.uk. In that case, when you recommend your favourite book from the website using a special link, if someone was to make a purchase by clicking it, you will earn a 5% commission from it. If you let people know the benefits of online rebates, and recommend that they sign up to TopCashback, you will earn a referral bonus.

It’s a very diverse field, with all kinds of different businesses engaging new customers, users and prospects through affiliate marketing. It’s your job as an affiliate marketer to drive people over to them. This can be done as an influencer, as an industry authority, an anonymous publication, or various other ways to get the word out there. Whatever works (and is acceptable to the advertiser) you can be as creative as you like to get people to take an action via your platform.

What’s So Good About Affiliate Marketing?

Diversity

You can never get bored with affiliate marketing, because there are so many different ways to go about it. There’s an infinite number of industries you can push the message for. There are so many types of people you can try to convince to take action. You can jump from one thing to the next easily, pick and choose when you want to build campaigns, and so on. 

Low Barrier to Entry

You can do it for free or relatively low costs. The thing that most affiliate marketers are most likely to spend money on is website hosting, but you don’t even necessarily have to do this. You’re selling, but you don’t hold any inventory, nor do you need to worry about the stock.

Creativity

I run businesses that require all sorts of creative disciplines, and affiliate marketing is one of the ones that pushes me to draw inspiration from the most far-ranging sources. While you can do well by copying, you’re more likely to tap into the best opportunities by bringing something new to the table.  

How Do You Get Started with Affiliate Marketing?

There are three main things that you need to figure out before you get rolling with any affiliate marketing pursuits.

  1. How much money are you willing to invest?
  2. What topics do you know a lot about?
  3. What digital marketing skills do you already have?

The first one is easy, as you know what your pockets are saying. If you can afford to spend £50 with a chance to make a few hundred, carry on. The second one needs a little more thought. Have a think about the things you’re interested in, whether it’s fashion, football or travelling, and try to focus your attention on one of those. The next requires you to be realistic about the skills you already have. I’m talking about copywriting, video creation, graphic design, email marketing, PPC, social media, and those kinds of disciplines. Just have an awareness of where your skills are and/or what you’re going to improve in the near future.

The next step is to have a look around some of the popular affiliate networks, and have a look at the websites and services that you can become an affiliate for. It’s helpful to use that specialist interest from before as the foundation, because you will get overwhelmed with the options otherwise. There are just so many things that you could promote, so you need to decide what you will dedicate your time to. I’m telling you now that you can’t juggle them all.

Some of my favourite affiliate networks include:

  • Awin
  • CJ
  • Max Bounty
  • JVZoo
  • ClickBank

The next step is to get a strategy together. It’s your time to figure out how you’re going to push the message out there, who that audience is, and how to get them to take that action.

What’s My Experience with Affiliate Marketing?

I started affiliate marketing relatively late in my first decade of making money online, and it’s the thing that I’m the most annoyed about not doing sooner. I don’t know if it was hiding in the underworld or if I saw it and thought it was too hard, but it evaded me for the longest time. I was introduced to it by SEOs, who told tales about their rich friends that caught the wave early and made millions through it. By the time I could explore affiliate marketing, I had built up all types of skills (like SEO) that would help me make money within a few weeks of starting.

The side of affiliate marketing that appeals to me most are subscription-based offers. There’s nothing like it. You can promote a product or service that requires a monthly membership. When someone signs up for it through your referral, you can continue to earn commission from them for months and potentially years into the future. It’s all completely passive income that you don’t need to do to maintain; it just keeps coming.

I’m currently making hundreds per month from subscription-based affiliate offers like this. If I put in more time to recruit additional sign ups, I can easily get cross the £1,000 mark. That kind of security – knowing that a big sum of money will hit my bank account every month- is priceless. And it’s not even difficult to do. All you have to do is find a service (with an affiliate programme) that you really benefit from, tell as many people as you can about it, and make sure that they follow through.

Besides the subscriptions, the single-commission offers are just as lucrative. It may be more difficult to generate consistent funds through these but if you have any understanding of SEO, email marketing or PPC, you will figure out a way to keep that cash coming in. I’ve chosen to minimise the amount of paid-for campaigns I take part in, but I can see why a full-time affiliate marketer may have more than just web hosting expenses.  

Most of my success has come from promoting things I have real experience with, and feel comfortable talking about for many months. The one-off opportunities where I see a gap in the market get boring fast, regardless of whether I’m making profit by promoting them. I’ll say that I’ve done significantly better doing affiliate marketing on websites, rather than ad revenue. It’s forced me to become a much better copywriter.

Summary

One of the most reliable ways to make money online, with new opportunities constantly around the corner. It’s one of those things that you can grow with; you will improve as time goes on to make it work. If you manage to make hundreds from it, you can make thousands from it.

I’m convinced that everyone can make at least some money as an affiliate marketer. In its simplest form, you don’t even need to spend anymoney to get started with it. If you put in a little effort – by creating awebsite, YouTube channel or other traffic source – you dramatically increasethe chances that you’ll be able to drive commissions within a few weeks ofstarting.

Chiino

27 / Nottingham, UK. Trying these things since 2007. Writing about these things since 2014. Doing this full-time since 2018.