Since the late 1990s, affiliate marketing has been a buzzword on the internet. This potential money-maker is often the source when you hear about those incredible, if not common “I made a fortune $$$ blogging!” stories.
Yes, it’s nothing new, but affiliate marketing is still going strong. And you can make a serious living by focusing on a smart affiliate marketing strategy.
Intrigued? It’s time to learn more.
First up: What is affiliate marketing, exactly? How can you make money by becoming an affiliate?
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
If you’re unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, the concept is pretty simple:
- Promote products/services on your blog.
- Add special links to those products/services in your content.
- When your readers click those links (or purchase products after clicking those links), you get a cut of the profits from the merchant.
In other words, affiliate marketing is a lot like commissioned sales. The difference is you’re driving traffic and leads to the merchant/advertiser’s website through your blog posts.
If this sounds too good to be true, pay attention: This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and it WILL take effort to make money using this strategy.
Check out the major pros and cons to make sure this road is one you’re ready to walk down.
Affiliate Marketing Pros & Cons
These are the major pros and cons of affiliate marketing:
- It’s a great way to make passive income. While you’re off working at your full-time job, your affiliate links and blog posts will be working in the background. With the right combination of SEO and engaging, honest writing, you could be looking at a passive income cash cow.
- You don’t need marketing experience. You don’t need any marketing experience to become an affiliate, though a bit of SEO knowledge and writing chops never hurt.
- You can do it in your free time. With only a bit of time + money investment up front (setting up a website, getting set up with affiliate programs, and creating content with your affiliate links) you can start making money.
- You have zero control over the offers, products, or services. You don’t have to mess with products (creating, distributing, selling) but at the same time, you don’t have any control over what you’re promoting, either.
- It can be competitive. Affiliate marketing is relatively simple, so there will be plenty of other affiliates out there competing for clicks and leads – some of them with years of experience behind them.
- There are scams. Affiliate marketers need to be wary of scams and fraudulent affiliate programs.
Now that you know the pros and cons, if you’re still interested in affiliate marketing, it’s time to dig in and learn more.
Here are 11 information-packed affiliate marketing blogs to check out on the road to becoming an affiliate master.
11 Affiliate Marketing Blogs That Will Teach You Everything You Need to Know
Pat Flynn was just another casualty of the 2008 recession, but he was able to turn things around by transforming a website he built into a passive income stream.
On his blog, he shares his tools and techniques for earning passive income with affiliate marketing as well as strategies for effective online marketing (hints: provide value, earn trust, and only promote products you wholeheartedly stand behind).
2. John Chow
In the world of affiliate marketing, John Chow is a superstar. In two years, he was able to amp up his blogging income from nothing to $40,000/month.
Reading his advice and tips is a great idea if you want to supercharge your affiliate marketing.
For practical guides, case studies, and tips on both online and affiliate marketing, Matthew Woodward is your guy.
4. Luke Kling (Luke Peer Fly)
Luke Kling has been an affiliate marketer since 2004 and is one of the biggest industry names.
He’s the brain behind affLIFT (an affiliate marketing forum – highly recommended) and FPTraffic, a Facebook page management tool. His blog is dedicated to helping you reach your affiliate marketing goals.
5. Shawn Collins (Affiliate Marketing Blog)
Shawn Collins has been an affiliate marketer since 1997 and is another big industry name. He’s the co-founder of Affiliate Summit, a staple industry conference.
He’s also the host of a podcast, This Is Affiliate Marketing. His blog will keep you up to date on what’s happening in the affiliate marketing industry and includes notes on sessions from Affiliate Summit.
6. Missy Ward
Missy Ward is CEO and co-founder of Affiliate Summit. She has written a few books about making money through blogging, including “Make Money with Your WordPress Blog”.
Her free affiliate marketing resources include a free print publication and a YouTube channel and are a good place to start.
7. Charles Ngo
Charles Ngo is a successful affiliate marketer making seven-figures through his business acumen. On his blog, he shares tips and techniques for navigating the modern affiliate marketing landscape.
8. Zac Johnson
Zac Johnson has been in the industry for over 20 years and knows his stuff. Follow his blog to get inside tips, step-by-step guides to starting your own blog, and additional ways to grow your revenue.
Mobidea Academy is the learning branch of the Mobidea affiliate network. Follow the blog to stay in the loop on industry trends, get advice from top experts, and grow your skills.
10. I Am Attila
I Am Attila is a hands-on affiliate marketing blog offering step-by-step guidance, case studies, and more. He also goes deep into tools you can use to up your game.
This is a great blog to check out once you have some experience behind you.
Spencer Haws is a successful online entrepreneur who has earned success through building niche websites and affiliate marketing.
On his website, he offers case studies and guides for not only affiliate marketers, but anyone who wants to make money from a website.
Affiliate Marketing Is a Huge Opportunity
But only if you know what you’re doing. That means jumping in and expecting money to fall on your lap is foolhardy.
Just like any other type of industry, you can’t dive into the deep end without first getting your feet wet.
Study up on what affiliate marketing is about via these top blogs, then figure out if it’s a doable option for increasing your income.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Your First Affiliate Marketing Campaign
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A newly-created project should manage significant issues to survive the first year of operating. The key target to hit, especially in a highly-competitive market environment, is finding product-market fitting. Affiliate marketing is giving a variety of instruments to reach that goal. And even more: It engages potential customers, who can become a core audience — and some can even become brand ambassadors in the future.
Here are some bulletproof tactics of how to launch a new brand, service or app using affiliate marketing channels.
Why affiliate marketing can be an effective strategy channel to use
An affiliate partnership is based on a сost per acquisition model (CPA). The advertisement provides results in the form of sales and target actions, which gives direct profits. Worth noting, the affiliate marketing advantages are:
- The absence of reckless risk-taking investments.
- Promotion is taking place only among the relevant audience.
- The wide range of different niches to be efficiently used.
But the main thing is that the budget spent is under your control. The basic operating principle of affiliate marketing is you get what you pay for.
According to Publift, 86% of audiences are suffering from ad blindness, meaning they simply do not see the ads. To get confidence that the budget won’t be wasted on irrelevant clicks (cost per click) or views (cost per view), the affiliate partners’ reward depends on the success of the promo campaign.
Having all these advantages of affiliate-based tactics, it’s time to roll out our very first affiliate marketing campaign step by step.
Step 1: Creating an in-house affiliate program or joining a travel affiliate network
Building your affiliate program is not a cheap exercise. However, big brands like Expedia or Booking.com could do that. So looking for a proper travel affiliate marketing network would be a more realistic option. Their framework and experience combined with the right tools should help you as well. The cooperation with external CPA platforms (i.e. Travelpayouts, CJ, AWIN, Partnerize or others) seems more manageable, especially for the newcomers.
Step 2: Propose a suitable affiliate offer
It must be based on an analysis of competitors and companies’ ROI models. The proposal should include commission rate, cookies lifetime and payout policy.
The cookies’ duration is the length of time when a customer and an affiliate are associated together. It starts from a client’s click on the link and may last from one session up to a year. If it has expired, the partner won’t receive a commission from a purchase.
Also consider determining a payout policy: a variety of actions, which are taken into account as target ones and being paid. Pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-action (PPA) and pay-per-impression (PPI) models are concentrated on different aims — the number of clicks, lead generation and sales guarantee, respectively.
3. Get a list of top-notch affiliates
The subscribers and followers of a partner should be your final target audience. For example, if you have a coupon service, the potential users’ audience from your partners should be interested in travel deals, coupons and discounts. Keep on the influencers with high-quality content. It’s okay if they’re local bloggers with fewer than 5,000 subscribers, compared to the more popular ones with 1 million or more subscribers.
The figures for the blogger subscribers are not as important as the quality of the audience — the major thing is how many sales a partner can attract. The affiliates with a low traffic volume can also become a great source for your actual sales among the loyal and active audience.
4. Sharing your brand’s values with partners
The affiliates will recommend your service to their audience, so they should be aware of your brand values. A simple solution is to create a promo or landing page to share with potential partners. On this page, you can provide product features, strengths, tips, etc. Go even further, and create a media kit with a detailed description. But remember, not all the affiliates are willing to go through a 30-page document. So be sure to create a summary that includes all the basics.
5. Analyze the efficiency of the campaign
Usually, at the launch of an affiliate campaign, it’s enough to provide partners with affiliate links. By using them, an affiliate would provide and drive traffic to your site or link for app download. Efficient cooperation can also encourage other ways to contact the audience in the future as well. It could be such effective formats as search forms, banners or APIs. While affiliate partners attract their audience, your task is to analyze the quality of incoming traffic.
The essential point of the first stage is to inspect the affiliate campaign’s effectiveness (to improve it for the future). The initial traffic flow and sales will indicate further actions to be done. For example, you can try reaching partners with different target audiences or using additional tools to attract a new audience yourself. You could also try changing program conditions or pushing extra promotions. Traffic analysis is an everlasting process for the affiliate program optimization, as well as the identification of anomalies and possible violations on the partner’s part.
Affiliate marketing is not a one-shot game. So be prepared for different experiments with advertising formats and channels. Perhaps, you would figure out that social media promotion is a better way than traffic from travel blogs or vice versa.
This process demands flexibility, constant self-improvement and deep analysis of audience behavior. Don’t panic if the first results of the campaign don’t match your expectations. Launching an affiliate program is just the beginning of a long journey. Affiliate marketing is, in our humble experience, the most cost-effective marketing channel worth taking a chance on.
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