affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is without doubt one of the quickest ways to get started in online marketing.

It's easy to see why this relatively new industry has grown at the exponential rate that is has, and why so many people now want to learn affiliate marketing skills.

An affiliate marketer doesn't have to come up with their own product idea, or worry about procurement and logistics.

And the producer of the product or service also gets a great deal because it’s a “pay per performance” arrangement.

As the product owner, you only pay when the affiliate marketer brings you a lead, or a sale. You determine what triggers a pay-out and how much that pay-out is.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

My favourite affiliate marketing definition is this:

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make. Pat Flynn

I think you'll struggle to find a better affiliate marketing definition than that.

Sometimes there are 3 parties involved:

Product Owner/Seller  Affiliate Marketer ⇒ Customer

And sometimes there are 4:

Product Owner/Seller  Affiliate Network ⇒ Affiliate Marketer ⇒ Customer

In the first option noted above, the product owner hosts and manages their own affiliate program. The affiliate marketer then applies to sign up to that specific affiliate program directly with the product owner.

In the second, the product owner distributes through an affiliate network and the affiliate marketer applies to market their products through the affiliate network.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

how affiliate marketing works diagram illustrating a six stage process

How Affiliate Marketing Works


To put it very basically, an affiliate network hosts the affiliate programs of many different product owners, allowing the affiliate marketer to use the network like an affiliate program supermarket.

Affiliate networks take a commission as they are not only bringing the parties to the arrangement together but will also be managing the payment of future commissions etc.

Some of the better known networks include the following 5:

What Does An Affiliate Marketer Actually Do?

An affiliate marketer promotes one or multiple products and/or services, and works to attract interested potential customers who may, or may not, go on to make purchases.

If a purchase is made as a result of a customer clicking through to an offer via the affiliate marketers link, the affiliate marketer will be due a commission from the seller.

Is Affiliate Marketing A Passive Business Model?

It is absolutely possible for this business model to eventually generate passive income for you, once the hard work has been put in at the start.

And it's like everything else in this life…the more effort you put in, the more success you will enjoy, and conversely, neglect will undoubtedly show up in your results before too long.

In broad outline, there are 8 steps to follow:

  1. Choose a potential niche
  2. Check for a decent amount of keywords around the niche, both short-tail and long-tail
  3. Check there are good products/services in that niche that you can genuinely recommend (and that will be profitable)
  4. Research your niche for indications of it being a good buyer’s market without excessive competition
  5. Build a high-quality website around your niche, the days of throwing up trash micro-sites are long gone
  6. Attract targeted visitors to your website (organically and/or through PPC ads)
  7. Build an email list from the visitors to your website
  8. Make affiliate sales either directly off your website or with follow-ups to your email list (earning an income)

If you are truly serious about making an ongoing income from affiliate marketing, I would strongly suggest that you follow the guidelines below from day one:

  1. Only recommend products/services that you know and understand well — do not promote stuff that you cannot genuinely recommend.
  2. Simply recommend products/services based on your experience – try to avoid telling people to make a purchase.

Try and keep this at the front of your mind:

Are your recommendations likely to help people?

If the answer is yes, then it's all good.

If not, find another niche where what you can offer to potential product buyers will be helpful.

Let's take a closer look at the critical first step…

Choosing A Niche

Undoubtedly one of the most important steps when starting out is finding and deciding on the right niche for you.

crowd of people at airport

What will your site be about?

Who will it be for?

The first three steps noted further above are all about selecting and qualifying a niche that is right for you.

Get this part wrong and you will have nothing to sell and no market to sell to.

Start by thinking about what interests you!

What do you like doing? What excites you, or at leat interests you?

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying your chosen niche has to be a passion. It absolutely doesn't.

But it does need to be something you find interesting enough to build a website about. If you come up with a potential niche idea but the thought of spending hours researching and producing content about it bores you, it's probably not the niche for you.

Anyway, possible niches…

…these could be absolutely anything…and I really do mean anything, try this lot on for size:

how to become an actor, how to be a better DJ, muscle building, great fitness in middle-age, best vacuum cleaners, cake decorating, home schooling, virtual worker advice, career change, being a better public speaker, best home robots, home fitness equipment, alternative energy advice, learn to play the guitar, self-sufficiency, wilderness survival, best home coffee machines etc.

You get the picture.

Let your mind wonder, and when you think you've got an idea for your first niche, start your research.

Don't rush this part, but equally don't make the mistake of looking for the “perfect niche” and end up spending all of your time on this part, without ever getting your site up and running.

Ideally, you'd want to promote products that you've used and benefited from yourself, and as long as there is an affiliate program available for them, you can do exactly that.

If choosing the right niche is like building the engine of your car, the next phase is all about the putting in the chassis and frame.

Build A Website

Your website is going to be the gateway to your business and will be your chance to make a great first impression.

My preferred route is to use the Schema theme for WordPress by MyThemeShop because these guys know how to turn out speed optimised, SEO ready, responsive themes.

I get all my hosting done with WPX Hosting where I only moved to in June 2018. Can't quite believe I didn't move sooner, never any downtime, unbelievably fast and customer support that's is pretty much unbeatable.

Whichever theme and hosting provider you choose, you have to make sure that your website is fast and mobile friendly, if it isn't either of these things you will be on the back foot when trying to rank in search.

Do not get bogged down spending weeks and weeks building out your website before launching it.

Get a few pages of outstanding quality, core content up, and get it launched. You can then continue building out your site with additional quality content related to your initial core pages.

Attracting Targeted Traffic

Being able to find and attract targeted internet traffic is the lifeblood of an affiliate marketer.

Do not focus only on volume, focus on targeting

If you can repeatedly attract well targeted people to your website and have them sign-up to offers then you are well on target to achieving online success.

In fact, many people would say that if you can do this part, you are an affiliate marketer.

Finding targeted visitors is crucial.

People are relentlessly searching for all sorts of things on Google, YouTube and on all of the social media platforms.

You need to get in front of them when they are searching, with quality content that is of interest and that will potentially help them in their decision making process.

Make Sales And Earn An Income

The global industry is now a multi-billion dollar industry and is getting ever stronger.

Spending online continues to rise as each year and many affiliates are continuing to see explosive growth in their businesses.

You can claim your share of this amazing industry.

Learn the skills, find your niche, choose your preferred affiliate program and provide great value to your target audience.

And never forget that people can tell when you're sincere about wanting to help them, just as easily as they can tell when someone's just trying to make a quick buck out of them.

The Future Of The Industry

In 2015, Rakuten Affiliate Network commissioned a study on the affiliate marketing industry.

The results forecast that U.S. affiliate marketing spending will increase by 10% per annum between 2015 and 2020, to $6.82 billion.

The study results also reported three key factors that will drive this growth:

1. Consumers Hunt for Content

Consumers are becoming ever more savvy in how they buy online.

They expect to be able to find high quality content online to help guide them in their decision making process.

This is huge for affiliate marketing and confirms that the days when just putting up a micro-site offering no real value are well behind us and with no signs off making a return.

The study expects that retailers will increasingly partner with content affiliates (bloggers and authority site owners) to help educate customers and to drive purchases.

Savvy consumers have come to expect a higher standard of native content resulting in a rise of investment toward influencer marketing programs and affiliate marketing in particular. Melissa Feemster of Rakuten Affiliate Network

2. Increasingly Sophisticated Methods of Attribution

First-click and last-click attribution doesn’t provide enough insight into the impact that affiliate marketing has throughout the full consumer purchase journey.

To pull a direct quote from the study:

Many advertisers risk overlooking the blog post that made consumers aware of available products or services, the article that laid out the options available among different competitors, or other content that helped the customer choose the accessories for their recent purchase.

Product owners that only focus on first-click or last-click attribution will fail to properly identify what is really influencing sales.

3. Value of Expertise

The study notes that affiliates tend to market themselves to product owners by emphasizing traffic volumes and site quality.

But retailers place high value on product and industry expertise when deciding which affiliates to work with.

If an advertiser wants to appeal to a niche market, then a publisher with lower traffic but deeper penetration into that niche market will be much more attractive to an advertiser. Melissa Feemster of Rakuten Affiliate Network

If you want longevity in your affiliate marketing business…

…either help solve peoples problems…

…or fuel their passions.

I really hope you've found this article useful.

I know it's super basic…but that's the point.

Maybe, hopefully, you now know just a little bit more about what affiliate marketing is, as well as how to become an affiliate marketer.

Are You Thirsty For More?

Great. I was hoping you would be.

Why don't you take a read of my recent post about where you can get the very best affiliate marketing training right now

…simply in my opinion of course.

But no matter what you do – please don't leave it any longer, get started in this amazing business today because it's all set to keep on booming.


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