Most people's understanding of "affiliate marketing" starts and ends with the Amazon Associates program, one of the biggest in the world.
For the entrepreneur, the challenge with Amazon Associates is building enough traffic to generate substantial revenue. For the newbie, the traffic hurdle is almost unsurmountable. But don't despair! You can create a successful affiliate marketing business, if you do so strategically.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when a publisher or company gives you a cut of each sale they make when you promote them on their site. There are lots of different affiliate opportunities, from courses to web hosting to books, tapes and DVDs. More on affiliate marketing.
Let the affiliate marketer beware
Affiliate marketing are sometimes touted as "get rich quick schemes" by shady sites offering pyramid schemes that promise quick cash for little effort. Make no mistake -- successful affiliate marketers put in a lot of effort toward building an audience and quality content that will bring in sustainable passive income. Expect to do a lot of legwork up front -- but if you play your cards right you can build a solid source of revenue over time
The key to successful affiliate marketing
So you've committed to building an affiliate business. Your success as an affiliate marketer is tied to these questions:
- Can you find products or services to offer that offer you a great commission rate?
- Can you find a niche market that is likely to buy what you are offering?
- Are you able to build content and traffic around these products?
How to find a favorable commission rate
Amazon's commission rate is pennies each dollar of merchandise that you sell. What many people don't know is that there are affiliate opportunities out there that pay commission rates that are much more favorable, from $20-$100. Browse Commission Junction, Share-a-Sale and Ejunkie for opportunities and their general commission rate.
Target a niche
If you're just starting out, a niche market is the obvious way to go. Look for a market that has a clearly defined need and willing audience. Then, find affiliate opportunities that dovetail with that niche market.
Create an effective website
Once you have a great product you believe and a target market, you'll need to stock a site with quality content that will help drive traffic and affiliate sales. This article has some great tips on the nitty gritty of creating your own website. Once you have your website set up, you'll want to optimized it for conversions and sales. Learn about the four qualities of an effective website.
Build an audience through trust
The most successful affiliate marketers build compelling content first, and affiliate revenue later. Chris Brogan has said: "when there’s an opportunity to bring something of value to your community and make some money for your efforts, then you’re looking at what I think of as a great opportunity."
To build a successful affiliate program, it helps to care about the products you are selling, and to offer legitimate value beyond just a quick sale. While you can build an affiliate business around any type of product, it helps if you actually use the product and endorse it personally.
Make sure you understand disclosure
A couple of years ago, the FCC introduced new rules that covered the increasingly professionalizing world of bloggers. Now you must disclose when you have a financial interest in a product or service you feature on your blog. This goes for sponsored posts, but more importantly, affiliate links.
Many affiliate marketers, including Copyblogger Media and Chris Brogan, attempt to use this to their advantage. How? They use the disclosure as an opportunity to talk about how much they personally love the product they are selling.