Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by andrewtk
Hey there, welcome to my blog post all about how to start affiliate marketing with no audience.
Starting from scratch with zero audience might seem daunting, but it's certainly not impossible.
Every current successful affiliate marketer has been exactly where you are now, facing the exact same problem.
In this post, we'll unravel the key steps to kick-start your affiliate marketing journey, even if you're starting with absolutely zero followers.
Want to know how to start affiliate marketing with no audience?
Great! Let's dive in…
What Even Is Affiliate Marketing Anyway?
I'm pretty sure you already know this, in which case, go ahead and skip over to the next section.
But just in case you don't, here's a quick outline of what affiliate marketing is and how it works:
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy where businesses pay affiliates to drive customers to them via the affiliate's own marketing efforts.
Here's a Basic Outline of the Process:
- Join an Affiliate Program: Affiliates pick products or services they want to promote.
- Promote & Share: Using unique tracking links, affiliates promote these products on their platforms— a blog, social media, etc.
- Earn Commission: When someone makes a purchase via the affiliate's link, the affiliate earns a commission.
- Passive Income: Once set up, you can earn money even while you sleep.
- Work from Anywhere: All you need is the internet and a device.
- Low Entry Costs: No need for a massive investment. Start small and scale up.
Whether you have an existing audience for your affiliate marketing or not, there are two areas you have to get straight before anything else can happen:
- Finding and screening a great niche, and;
- Finding great offers to promote.
Finding Your Niche
In affiliate marketing, choosing the right niche is the foundation on which everything else will be built.
A well-chosen niche will set you up for success. A badly chosen niche will set you up for failure.
A well-chosen affiliate niche can narrow down your competition, helping you to target a specific audience with sniper-like precision.
For instance, instead of broadly targeting ‘fitness', you could delve into ‘keto diets for women over 40' or ‘eco-friendly yoga gear'.
By niching down, you can establish authority faster, and build loyal followers who trust your recommendations, leading to consistent and higher affiliate earnings.
Find Great Offers To Promote
Getting started in affiliate marketing requires another key step…
…finding the right offers to promote.
Here’s a basic roadmap to help guide you on your way to finding top offers:
Direct Affiliate Programs:
- Research Brands in Your Niche: Identify leading or emerging brands that align with your niche. For instance, if you're in the vegan skincare niche, list out popular vegan skincare brands.
- Visit Their Websites: Brands often have a dedicated “Affiliate Program” or “Partnership” section, usually in the website footer. This will provide details on how to join and the commission structures.
- Reach Out Directly: If you can't find an affiliate section, don't hesitate to email the brand. Many appreciate proactive affiliates and might have informal affiliate arrangements.
- What Are They?: Affiliate networks act as intermediaries between affiliates and merchant affiliate programs. They offer a centralized platform where affiliates can find multiple offers across different niches.
- Join Established Networks: Platforms like ClickBank, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, and Rakuten Advertising host a vast range of affiliate offers. Sign up and browse their marketplaces based on your niche.
- Research Offers: These networks provide vital stats like EPC (Earnings Per Click), conversion rates, and reviews. Study these to gauge the profitability and reliability of offers.
- Choose Evergreen or Trending Products: While evergreen products offer consistent sales, jumping on trends can give a short-term boost. Depending on your strategy, opt for one or blend both.
Factors to Consider:
- Commission Rates: While high commissions are tempting, ensure the product's quality matches your audience's needs.
- Product Reputation: Promote products with positive reviews and good standing. Remember, your recommendation is a reflection of your trustworthiness.
- Payment Terms: Check for payout frequency, minimum thresholds, and preferred payment methods.
Lastly, always be adaptive. Monitor the performance of your chosen offers and tweak your strategy if needed.
The right combination of direct affiliate programs and network offers can lead to well-balanced success in affiliate marketing.
Promoting Your Affiliate Links
Okay, sounds simple enough right?
Except…you don't have an audience!
In which case, there are two broad strategies you can adopt to promote your affiliate links:
- Start creating valuable content to attract your audience organically.
- Buy your audience.
Creating Valuable Content to Attract Your Audience Organically
- Create a website or blog and write informative articles about your niche. You can include affiliate links in your articles to promote relevant products and services.
- Create and publish video content on YouTube or other video sharing platforms. You can include affiliate links in the description of your videos or in the video itself.
- Start a podcast and interview experts in your niche. You can promote affiliate products and services during your podcast episodes.
- Write and publish an ebook or other digital product. You can include affiliate links in your product or you can promote affiliate products and services in your email marketing campaigns.
- Create and sell online courses. You can include affiliate links in your courses or you can promote affiliate products and services in your email marketing campaigns.
- Use social media to promote affiliate products and services. You can share affiliate links in your posts, in your bio, and in your direct messages
- Email marketing: Build an email list and send out regular emails to your subscribers with valuable content and affiliate offers.
- Partner with influencers in your niche. You can guest blog on their websites, do joint webinars, or create co-branded products.
Buying Your Audience
Let's take a brief look at each of these promotional methods:
#1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
- Search Engine Ads: Platforms like Google Ads or Bing Ads let affiliates create text-based ads that appear in search results. You bid on keywords relevant to your affiliate product, and you pay each time someone clicks your ad.
- Display Ads: These are visual ads (like banners) that appear on websites participating in advertising networks. They can be targeted based on user behaviour, interests, or site content.
#2. Social Media Advertising:
- Facebook & Instagram Ads: With detailed targeting options, you can display ads to specific demographics, geographies, interests, or behaviours. Carousel ads, story ads, or video ads can be used to showcase affiliate products.
- Twitter Promoted Tweets: Essentially, you're paying to get your tweet on the top of your target audience's feed, thereby increasing visibility and clicks.
- Pinterest Promoted Pins: These are regular pins that you pay to appear at the top of search results or in users' feeds, ensuring more visibility.
#3. Native Advertising:
- Platforms like Taboola or Outbrain let you display ads that match the look and feel of the website they're on, making the ads less intrusive and more engaging.
#4. Solo Ads:
- These involve purchasing a slot in an established email list where the list owner sends your promotional message. It's essential to ensure the list's subscribers match your target audience.
#5. Influencer Partnerships:
- Identify influencers whose audience aligns with your product. They can create genuine content—like posts, stories, or videos—promoting the offer, reaching a vast audience quickly.
- If users visit your site or interact with your ad but don't convert, retargeting lets you show them ads again on different platforms, reminding them of the offer and increasing the chances of conversion.
#7. Sponsored Blog Posts:
- Find bloggers relevant to your niche and pay them to write about the affiliate product. This not only embeds your affiliate link but also offers valuable content to readers, increasing trust.
#8. YouTube Ads:
- There are different formats like in-stream ads (played before or during another video) or discovery ads (appear alongside related YouTube videos). They're useful for visual or demonstration-heavy products.
#9. Affiliate Ad Networks:
- Networks like RevContent or Adsterra host various ad formats (like widgets or interstitial ads) that can be displayed across multiple websites, increasing the reach of your affiliate offer.
When adopting these strategies, remember to focus on user experience.
Intrusive ads can deter potential customers.
It's also essential to keep refining your strategy based on analytics to ensure you're getting the best bang for your buck.
The Importance of Split Testing in PPC Campaigns
Why Split Testing Matters:
- Optimization: Every audience is unique, and their reactions to different ad elements can be unpredictable. Split testing, also known as A/B testing, helps determine what resonates most with your audience.
- Increase ROI: By understanding which ad performs better, you can allocate more budget to it, maximizing returns and minimizing wasted spend.
- Insights: It provides invaluable insights into audience preferences and behaviour, informing not just ad strategies but broader marketing initiatives.
- Continuous Improvement: Digital marketing landscapes evolve. What works today might not work tomorrow. Regular split testing ensures you're always at the top of your game.
How to Conduct Split Testing:
- Define Your Goal: Be clear about what you want to achieve – higher click-through rates (CTR), better conversion rates, lower cost per conversion, etc.
- Choose One Variable at a Time: While it might be tempting to change multiple elements, testing one variable at a time (e.g., headline, image, call-to-action) provides clarity on what specifically influenced performance.
- Create Variations: Develop two versions of the ad – the control version (A) and the variation (B). The control is your current best-performing ad, and the variation contains the element you're testing.
- Equal Conditions: Ensure both versions run under the same conditions. This means the same audience, the same bid strategy, and at the same time.
- Analyze the Data: After a significant amount of data has been gathered, analyze the results. Tools integrated into platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads Manager can help you determine the statistical significance of your results.
- Implement & Iterate: If version B outperforms A, make B your new control, and test a new variation against it. This continuous cycle helps in constantly refining your ads.
- Consider External Factors: Keep in mind external factors that could affect results, like seasonality, day of the week, or even current events. These factors might skew results, so it's essential to consider them in your analysis.
Split testing is a dynamic tool. It's not a one-time event but a continuous process of learning and refining.
By dedicating time and resources to split testing, you're ensuring your PPC campaigns remain agile, relevant, and high-performing.
Affiliate Courses That Cover Paid Advertising
There are a number of good courses that teach paid affiliate marketing strategies.
Here are a few examples:
- Google Skillshop: Google Ads Certifications: This course provides comprehensive training on how to effectively use Google Ads. By understanding how to target the right keywords, craft compelling ad copy, and optimize bids, affiliates can maximize their chances of creating profitable campaigns. On top of all this, it's totally free.
- Alex Fedotoff: Facebook Ads Training: Cutting-edge strategies tailored for mastering Facebook's advertising platform. The training provides insights into creating high-converting ad campaigns, targeting and retargeting the right audience segments, and scaling ads effectively. It's quite pricey though.
- Perry Marshall: Google and Facebook Ads: A dual-platform approach, teaching marketers to capitalize on the strengths of both Google and Facebook advertising. This course is beneficial as it provides a holistic view of how to synergize search intent-driven campaigns on Google with the behaviorally targeted opportunities on Facebook.
When choosing any course, it's important to consider your experience level and your budget.
The above courses are totally focused on paid advertising, they do not cover building an audience organically
If growing your site organically is more your thing, you may want to go with a better-rounded affiliate training program.
How To Start Affiliate Marketing With No Audience – Wrapping It Up!
Pretty much every affiliate started out with absolutely zero audience.
So don't think it can't be done, because it absolutely can.
Go ahead and get started.
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