Learn about affiliate marketing’s ins and outs and how you can start using it yourself.
An affiliate marketer is a publisher that promotes a merchant’s products or services in exchange for a cut of any purchases or website traffic that results. It is frequently seen as a crucial element of contemporary digital marketing.
Businesses find affiliate marketing appealing because it enables them to achieve their marketing objectives, and affiliates gain from it because it provides a way for them to generate passive revenue.
Building a platform and an online following take time, but affiliate marketing may be lucrative.
Learn more about affiliate marketing and how it operates in this post, and discover specific methods to become an affiliate marketer.
What is affiliate marketing?
An affiliate, such as a blogger or YouTuber, promotes a company’s products or services in order to help it achieve its sales or marketing objectives. Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing marketing strategy. In exchange, affiliates receive a cut of any sales or clientele attracted as a consequence of their marketing initiatives.
A company might collaborate with an affiliate for a few reasons:
- Increasing sales, web traffic, and brand awareness
- Connecting with a specific affiliate audience (e.g. a shoe company that partners with a fitness blog to target fitness-minded readers)
Although revenue-sharing as a marketing strategy is not new, the term “affiliate marketing” today usually refers to online digital marketing, in which affiliates connect to a company’s product or service online in exchange for a cut of purchases or website traffic. According to some experts, affiliate marketing will cost $500 to $1 Million per Month worldwide in 2022.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Four key individuals who each play a distinct role in the marketing process are involved in affiliate marketing:
- The person or organisation that advertises the merchant’s goods or services is referred to as the affiliate (or “publisher”).
- The merchant is the person or business that sells the good or service that was advertised by the affiliate.
- An intermediary between an affiliate and a merchant’s affiliate programme is the affiliate network. Although it is not technically required, an affiliate network is a popular avenue for partnerships between affiliates and merchants.
- The buyer is the person who makes a transaction using an affiliate. In order to reach the affiliate’s audience and gain customers, merchants and affiliates work together.
Typically, an affiliate network facilitates the partnership between the affiliate and the merchant and may also recommend more merchants who match the affiliate’s profile. For instance, a network might provide an affiliate who evaluates telephones a selection of tech items.
On occasion, direct outreach by an affiliate may result in a merchant and affiliate connecting naturally. To promote their goods in front of the affiliate’s audience, a merchant that makes cake pans might collaborate with an affiliate who writes about baking, for example.
Affiliate marketing examples
Even if you weren’t aware of it, you have probably encountered examples of affiliate marketing before.
The reason for this is straightforward: the best affiliate marketing often works best when it’s combined with valuable, high-quality content that users will genuinely love reading. Affiliates who have built trust with their audience by promoting high-quality products they believe in are more likely to convert readers, despite the temptation to promote things to make sales and drive traffic for merchants. To put it another way, quality sells.
Affiliate marketing examples that are frequently used include:
- Websites covering general topics that occasionally include affiliate links in blog posts or articles, such as in this list of Kitchen Essentials compiled by the cooking-focused website Kitchn.
- YouTube videos that include affiliate links in the description, such as the one attached to MKBHD’s “My Every Day Tech 2022” video.
- Dedicated review websites that cover products that appeal to a targeted readership, such as Gear Patrol and Wirecutter.
Affiliate Marketing Salary
Affiliate income is highly variable and can often fluctuate from year to year. Furthermore, it can take time for an affiliate marketer to build up an online audience and begin to make a profit.
On the high end of the spectrum, Zip Recruiter lists the average salary for an affiliate marketer in the United States at $154,983 . On the lower end, Payscale says the average annual income for an affiliate marketer is $53,167 . Glassdoor, meanwhile, puts the average affiliate marketer’s salary somewhere in the middle at $69,073 .
How To Start Affiliate Marketing: Step by Step
If you want to generate passive income and are prepared to put in the work to grow your online following, becoming an affiliate marketer can be a suitable choice. The methods below could aid you in starting your path to becoming an affiliate marketer if this opportunity appeals to you.
1. Pick your niche.
Affiliate marketers are valuable to merchants because they can reach specific audiences composed of potential customers. The more detailed your niche, the more likely you can build an affiliate platform that meets the demands of an underserved audience with original content. At the same time, you will also want to pick a niche with a sizeable audience share.
Affiliate marketing in action
OutdoorGearLab reviews outdoor equipment used for sports, camping, hiking, climbing, and travel. The site offers their readers value by testing, reviewing, and promoting equipment that outdoor enthusiasts like them would find useful. As a result of serving this niche audience, OutdoorGearLab has become one of the most successful outdoor product review sites.
Ideally, the niche you pick for your affiliate marketing efforts should be something that not only interests you but also offers value to a sizeable, underserved audience. As you are brainstorming ideas, it can be helpful to conduct research with Google Trends to see if there is increasing or correlating interest in the topic.
In this exploratory phase, some questions you might ask yourself include:
- What is a topic, hobby, or field that is of particular interest to me that’s not currently being served?
- How can I add a new angle or perspective to a topic with a lot of competition?
- What kind of content would I like to make to best serve this niche and my skill set?
2. Pick a platform that matches your niche.
Once you have decided on the topic, audience, and products that your affiliate marketing platform will cover, you will want to decide on what that platform will actually be.
While creating a dedicated review website, such as OutdoorGearLab, is a popular approach, you can also do affiliate marketing on social media platforms like Instagram. The exact platform you decide to use will ultimately depend on the exact nature of your undertaking. In some cases, you might find that using a mix of platforms will best help your affiliate marketing endeavors.
Some common approaches and platforms include:
- A dedicated product review website specifically oriented around offering readers products
- A website or blog covering a specific topic that includes affiliate marketing in articles or posts about that topic
- Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube.
3. Join an affiliate marketing network.
Affiliate networks connect affiliates and merchants. While it’s not always necessary to join an affiliate network, you will likely find that doing so will streamline the relationship-building process with merchants and improve income opportunities.
The type of affiliate network or marketing program you join will depend on the type of products your audience is interested in. In fact, there are many different types of affiliate marketing networks and programs offering a range of products and services from industry to industry. To optimize your chances of success, make sure to do research on the networks and programs that best fit your target product and audience.
Some examples of popular affiliate networks and programs include:
- Amazon Associates
- Etsy Affiliates
- eBay Partner Network
- Coursera Affiliate Program
4. Expand your network.
Creating a successful affiliate marketing platform takes time and dedication. To increase your overall audience size, though, it is helpful to use a mix of digital marketing tactics.
Examples of popular digital marketing strategies include:
While it would be beneficial to use any one of these approaches to increase your audience size, it would likely be most impactful to use a strategic mix of them. For instance, you might find that a combination of timely email blasts and SEO content will improve your marketing efforts more than either one on its own.
5. Be consistent and master your skills.
In addition to taking time and dedication, affiliate marketing also employs a wide range of skills, including marketing, writing, communication, presentation, videography, and editing. The exact mix of skills that you employ in your marketing pursuit will likely depend on the platform, audience, and approach that you decide to take.
For example, if you are running a YouTube channel that reviews collectible toys, then you will likely need a combination of video production, presentation, and social media marketing skills. However, if you are instead running a website that only features written reviews of collectible toys, then you will likely need to focus on expanding your writing, communication, and digital marketing skills.
In many cases, you might find that you even use all of these skills—and maybe even some more—as you work to drive traffic, produce eye-catching content, and increase affiliate sales.
Affiliate marketing has the possibility to provide a passive income stream for those who create compelling content and put in the time and effort to grow their audience. Start building your marketing skill set with Digital Marketing from the GUARDIANSOFIT, or get job ready by completing the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate or the Google Digital Marketing and E-commerce Professional Certificate