It sounds too good to be true, but a lot of people have found success with making money online and all while they’re asleep or out on vacation.
Not everyone is quite as lucky, but if you put in some time and a bit of work, it is completely achievable. Bloggers like Pat Flynn are living example of how powerful this method can be.
It’s called affiliate marketing, and its ability to generate passive income is one of its many appeals.
With affiliate marketing, you can build a passive income stream that pays you over time. You can literally do nothing yet get paid in one-time or recurring commissions.
If you’re still a bit confused, then let’s start with the basics of affiliate marketing.
- What is affiliate marketing?
- Pros and cons of affiliate marketing
- How to promote affiliate marketing products/services
- Choosing an affiliate program
- Creating your affiliate marketing strategy
- Choose a platform (blog, YouTube, social media)
- Choose affiliate products to promote
- Create content around those products (product review, top 10 lists, how to
- Drive traffic to affiliate content
- How to use email marketing to boost affiliate sales
- Building a landing page to collect emails
- Setting up email automation
- How to track affiliate links
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is simply a system where you — an affiliate — refer or recommend a product or service to your audience. When a person buys that product or service through you, you get a commission. Commissions can be a one-time payment or a recurring monthly or annual subscription.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn passive income while promoting products that you are already using.
It’s a perfect method to make money online especially if you’re just starting out. You don’t need a lot of money upfront to get started. You don’t need to create a product. Best of all, most affiliate programs are free to join.
Do note that affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme and you do have to put in some time, effort, and a bit of money to be a successful affiliate.
Pros and cons of affiliate marketing
While affiliate marketing is a great money-making method, it has its own caveats. Here’s what to consider when deciding whether or not this business model is for you.
- Doesn’t require you to create a product/service
- Doesn’t need a lot of money to get started
- Most affiliate programs are free to join
- Lots of niches to choose from
- Can become a passive and profitable source of income over time
- Takes some time to get results
- You need time to create content to promote affiliate products
There are no cons of affiliate marketing when you’re honest and willing to put effort.
How to promote affiliate marketing products/services
The first step of your affiliate marketing journey is choosing a platform where you can promote your affiliate products. You can have more than just one platform, but the more platforms, the more you need time to work on each one.
Niche website or blog
A niche website or blog is a site with content that is super-focused on a topic or subtopic. It is a great way to get started with affiliate marketing. A blog is perfect for promoting products that are related to a particular niche.
For example, if you have a blog about fishing, then you can write a list post on the top 10 fishing gears and link to affiliate products on some (or all) of the items on the list.
Regularly posting content on your blog is important to find success as an affiliate. If you don’t want to use paid traffic, then be sure to optimize your site for SEO to get organic traffic from search results.
Not a great blogger but can talk on camera (or behind it)? Get a YouTube channel started.
YouTube is not just a video streaming site. It’s the world’s second biggest search engine next to Google. People go to YouTube to learn how to do something, or just know more about something. It’s great for giving free content that is helpful.
The second best thing about YouTube is it’s 100% free.
That being said, if you want to deliver quality videos, you do have to invest on a camera if you plan to show your face, a microphone, and screen recording software.
If you don’t have any of these at the moment, that’s fine. Don’t let it be an excuse not to start a YouTube channel. Start with what you have and upgrade when you are able.
The most important thing when starting a YouTube channel is to create content that is relevant and gives great value to your audience. Build trust and authority in your chosen topic, be generous with your content, and you’re sure to attract thankful and loyal subscribers who won’t hesitate to buy from you.
If you haven’t heard about Quora yet, it’s a site where people can ask any question and anyone can answer. Top internet marketers like Neil Patel have proven Quora’s potential when driving traffic to a site.
So how exactly can Quora help you as an affiliate?
You search for niche keywords like how to catch a fish, or best fishing gears (as an example), and provide answers to questions that appear in that keyword.
Write your answers well. Look at other answers and add more information that was not mentioned in them. In short, write better answers.
Quora does not allow affiliate links in their site, so you can not do this — your content can be removed and your account suspended.
What you can do is to link to a blog post or a YouTube video as additional information when answering a question. If you have a YouTube video, you can embed the video on the answer itself.
Quora is great because you can find people who have questions about a certain topic and speak directly to them by answering their questions. If they click on the link in your answers, they are more likely to buy from you because they are likely to be interested in your affiliate offer.
Choosing an affiliate program
Most affiliate programs are free to join. However, it doesn’t mean you have to join all of them.
An affiliate program you choose must be:
- In line with your blog’s topic/niche
- Something that you yourself have used or are currently using
- Profitable commission structure (at least 30% commission)
- Great if it’s recurring
- Something that most people would need for a long time
- Relevant to your audience
Different affiliate marketplaces
Affiliate marketplaces are websites where you can find a large selection of affiliate programs. When you register for an affiliate marketplace, you can promote all products inside that marketplace.
Some popular affiliate marketplaces are:
- Commission Junction
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partner Network
These sites are free to join. However, some products in sites like Shareasale, Commission Junction, and Flexoffers require an application which they can either approve or decline. If this happens, there’s not much you can do but move on and find another product.
Single-product affiliate programs
If you ever used an online app or service, chances are there’s an affiliate program for it. The best product to promote would be something that you are already using.
Here are some great affiliate programs that most people are already using or would need if they want to start a business online.
Email marketing service
More on affiliate programs:
- Affiliate programs that pay recurring commissions
- 25 best WordPress affiliate programs to make money online
- Affilitizer: best chrome extension for affiliate marketers
Creating your affiliate marketing strategy
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to plan a strategy. Affiliate marketing is getting more competitive these days and people will not just click on an affiliate link let alone buy from you if they don’t know who you are.
You need to have an online presence, great content, and a killer traffic-generating strategy.
Here’s an outline of what you can do to build a successful affiliate marketing campaign.
As I mentioned earlier, you can have more than one platform or just one. The important thing is it should be something you enjoy and are willing to work on for a consistent period of time.
Choose affiliate products to promote
Promoting an affiliate product should be relevant to your niche, helps your audience with a problem, and is worth promoting (high commissions).
Create content around those products (product review, top 10 lists, how to
Provide a solution to a problem, a quick fix, a detailed review or a tutorial — anything that gives your audience value. When you do this regularly, you gain traffic, you find a perfect audience, and you will get commissions off of that audience/traffic.
Drive traffic to affiliate content
There are many ways to get traffic to your content. But remember that content with affiliate links should be handled with care especially when promoting via paid advertising.
For paid traffic, you can use:
Google Ads – run campaigns based on your niche’s keywords
Facebook Ads – run ads to a defined audience and use Facebook Pixel to track conversion
How to use email marketing to boost affiliate sales
I’ve mentioned the obvious ways to get traffic to your content that can potentially lead to a sale.
However, I can not talk about affiliate marketing without mentioning email marketing. These two go together like milk and cookies.
Building an email list is one of the best ways to get sales yet most beginner affiliates make the mistake of neglecting this method early on.
You might not get a sale when people subscribe to your email list, but they’re there and they will continue to be there as long as you send them helpful emails.
So how do you get people on your list? These days, no one subscribes for a newsletter. Create a lead magnet instead. A lead magnet is a freebie that a person gets in exchange for subscribing to your email list.
Check out our thorough guide to start an email list now.
Building a landing page to collect emails
We’ve mentioned that marketers use landing pages when advertising on Google and Facebook.
If you’re not using ads, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a landing page.
Landing pages are made to lead the visitor into a single call-to-action. There are no navigation links, no sidebars, and no other content in a landing page other than the offer and a button that says “Subscribe”, “Add to Cart”, or “Buy Now.”
Landing pages are great for building an email list that converts to sales over time. This means you might not close a sale right away, but you can keep sending offers to your list in the future and eventually make a sale.
This is why a lead is more valuable than a one-time sale, and landing pages are fantastic for collecting leads.
Setting up email automation
Building an email list is just half the work. The other half is creating the content — the emails themselves.
So what do you write in your emails? It can be a tip, a link to your latest blog post or video, and an affiliate offer. The key is to not sell something all the time.
You are building a relationship with your audience. Deliver content that is designed to help them solve a problem one step at a time. Then you can recommend an affiliate product within one or two of those steps.
Another aspect of affiliate marketing that is often overlooked is tracking. Tracking your links is done for a number of reasons, but mostly because you need to know which sources of traffic led to a sale.
You can use link tracking software like ThirstyAffiliates, bit.ly, or PrettyLinks. All these have the ability to not just track your links but shorten and/or cloak your long affiliate links and make them look nicer.
Now that you know what affiliate marketing is, then you know what it’s not.
It is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time to gain traction even when using paid traffic.
It is not “set it and forget it” as others say it is. You still need to check on your content and update it accordingly. You need to track your links and adjust your strategy based on analytics.
Affiliate marketing is a low-cost, high-gain method of making money online, but there is a lot of work that goes behind it.
To be truly successful and achieve the level of having passive income, you need to first give something of value to your audience. The key is to build trust so people want to buy what you are promoting/selling over and over again.
Remember that affiliate marketing only works when done correctly. Hopefully, this blog post showed you how to do that.