Can affiliate marketing make you as rich as the books and experts tell you? And what’s the secret?
If you’ve heard of affiliate marketing but aren’t exactly sure what it is or how to earn good money with it, this post is for you.
What It Isn’t
Despite what you may have read, this isn’t a super-easy way to make a boatload of cash while you drink beer and fall asleep in a hammock.
Eventually, you might be able to do that. But not at the start. First comes learning how to be an expert in generating affiliate sales. That’s important. If you try to skip that and move too early to the sleeping in the hammock part, you will fail.
What It Is
Affiliate marketing is like a salesperson getting a commission for products they sell in a store – and just like selling in an offline store, there’s a good and a bad way to do it.
A bad salesperson will be pushy and try to get you to buy more expensive items or things you don’t really need, just to inflate their commission.
A good salesperson will listen as you explain the features you want and then recommend a product that fits those needs. Customers respond much better to this type of approach because it’s not in-your-face selling – it’s helping someone make an informed buying decision.
Successful affiliate marketers approach their business in the same way. They help users choose a product or service by providing informative and honest reviews.
Different Types of Affiliate Marketing
Depending on how the merchant runs their program, you’ll be paid either by product sale or by sales lead.
Payments for leads are a one-off fixed-fee paid if the customer submits an inquiry. The actual amount varies depending on the product and industry, but it’s usually around $1 – $15 per lead.
Commissions on product sales can be fixed rate or a percentage. Again, the actual amount you earn depends on the vendor and the cost of the product.
With some types of business you can pick up a fee for a lead followed by a full commission if the lead turns into a customer. For example, one of the big web hosting companies offers $5 for a lead which becomes $100 if the prospect signs up.
How Are My Leads and Sales Tracked?
After joining an affiliate program, you’ll be able to access a control panel where you can generate a unique URL for linking to the merchant site. Users following that link will be tracked as being your referral and commissions will appear in the reports section of your control panel.
Commission reports are usually updated instantly or once a day for larger retailers. Payouts are usually once a month (Commission Junction, Amazon Associates) or every two weeks (ClickBank) but you’ll only be paid once the lock date has passed – the date after which the customer can no longer return the product or cancel the order.
Amazon, for example, pays monthly but one month in arrears. You’ll get paid in August for product sales you referred in June.
How to Choose the Best Program
Becoming a successful marketer starts with choosing products and services that closely fit the theme of your site. Stick with something that’s 100% related to the needs of your site visitors.
Take all the time you need to write a good review or walk-through of the product. Don’t be tempted to rush through this part because the quality of what you write now has a direct impact on how much money you’ll earn over the coming months as the page gets viewed.
In short, a crappy post will bring crappy results.
Videos & Walk-throughs
Video guides can be especially powerful because a good video is pretty close to actually seeing or using the product yourself.
Suppose you’re promoting a social media dashboard service like HootSuite. With a simple screencasting program you could make a video tutorial showing people how easy it is to set up and manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts in one place.
Maybe you want to promote an ebook about web marketing. Don’t write a post just regurgitating the table of contents. That’s not helping anyone. Talk about what a buyer can expect to learn in the book as well as what you got out of reading it. How did it help you? What mistakes did it help you correct? Is it a book for a beginner or someone more advanced?
The more helpful information you can add, the more likely it is the user will click through to the vendor site, buy and earn you a commission.
Add some variety by creating some Product X vs Product Y comparisons or a round-up post like 5 of the Best Social Media Books.
Include the Pros and Cons
Whatever format you choose, make sure you talk about the good points and the bad points. Even the greatest product going also has things that aren’t positive. If you don’t mention these, your post is going to seem like a sales pitch and not like a well thought-out, trustworthy review.
Does this seem like a lot of work?
These techniques are called pre-selling. You’re getting the visitor in the mood to buy before going to the vendor site. Top affiliate marketers are happy to do it because they know a good pre-sell page always converts more visitors to buyers than just sending visitors to the affiliate site “cold” and hoping for the best.
How to Write a Review That Sells
1. Briefly outline the product.
2. Describe each major feature and the benefit it brings. Mention the features, but write about the benefits. If you’re talking about a camera phone that has a Carl Zeiss lens, you’d point out it’s a great lens that makes pictures brighter, clearer and sharper.
3. Don’t be afraid to mention “small” things like whether a volume control is easy to find. Details are important when you’re not holding the product in your hand.
4. Wrap up with a summary covering the pros and cons and what your overall impression is.
5. Add your affiliate links. Good places are near the top when you first mention the product and at the end of the review. There are more details on linking strategies in our Amazon tutorial.
3 Affiliate Programs To Try
Probably the best network for beginners to start making money, includes Amazon.com and sister sites Audible.com and Amazon Supply.
If you’re serious about selling lots of product via Amazon check out the Easy Azon plugin for WordPress which makes adding affiliate links a lot less hassle.
One of biggest and best-known affiliate networks. Next to Amazon, this network works the best for me.
Share A Sale
Perhaps not as well known as Commission Junction but still with a good range of merchants and good little earner for me on other sites.
Peerfly is CPA (Cost Per Action) ad network – you get paid when visitors complete a lead generation form. Conversion rates are usually pretty high and Peerfly have offers for most types of niches.