Affiliate Marketing: An Introduction To The What, Why & How Of It All

by | Affiliate Marketing, Lifestyle Business | 3 comments

In this post I am going to introduce you to the basics of Affiliate Marketing; what it is, why you should consider it as part of your lifestyle business and how it works to provide you with a source of income. In addition I thought I would share a few tips that I have picked up for choosing which affiliate programs to join and how to maximise your income without doing any additional work.

Now before I start, a quick warning, this post is not going to get into the real nitty gritty of affiliate marketing and cover any advanced techniques or tips, the idea for today is to give you a feel for how things work and let you decide whether or not it's something that you'd like to pursue for yourself.

Don't worry though, I have plenty of plans to dig deeper in future articles so check out the rest of the site to see what I've added since the writing of this article, or check back in the future as I have plans for plenty more where this came from.

Now, on to the show…

What exactly is Affiliate Marketing anyway?

Let's start with the basics shall we and look at how we define affiliate marketing, here's how wikipedia defines it:

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts.

Let's break that down a bit shall we:

  • Performance based: This means that the amount of income you make is based on how much business you generate for the company or owner of the product you are promoting. Usually you will receive a payment based on the sales you help the business to make, however you can also be paid for generating a lead or a person you refer performing a particular action.
  • Rewards one or more affiliates: In some instances it's possible that a business will pay you and someone else for generating a lead or sale, for example you may earn the bulk of the commission but have been introduced to the affiliate program by someone else who is also rewarded for you making a sale.
  • Visitor or customer: As mentioned earlier you can earn an affiliate commission for generating sales (customer), however it is also possible to be paid by a company for generating leads (visitor) as the business knows that these leads may purchase in the future so the company pays you up-front for the lead rather than for a sale in the future.
  • Affiliate's own marketing efforts: The benefit to a company paying an affiliate for sales they help generate is they usually save money on marketing costs as the affiliate does the work to attract new customers and help to sell them on the product or service they are promoting. It can actually be cheaper for a company to get new customers this way rather than advertising themselves.

To put it even more simply, you refer people to products and services that you recommend and if they buy you receive a commission.

Why should you consider affiliate marketing?

One of the difficulties people are faced with when thinking about starting their own lifestyle or online business is the idea that they have to come up with a product or service to sell to others and this can be very off-putting, especially if you don't think you have any particular skills that are marketable to the masses.

A big benefit of affiliate marketing is that you can research and find hundreds of companies/suppliers who have ready to go products that they are willing to pay you to promote for them. Find the right products and it's possible to make a considerably good living without having to create a single product of your own which can be great when you're just getting started.

Furthermore, once you have made a recommendation for a product and received your commission there is no ongoing support or engagement with customers required (although there are benefits of doing so in the long run) meaning that you don't have to be an expert in any of the products you promote.

Beyond that you don't have to worry about storing products to sell, you have the ability to promote to anyone, anywhere around the world and if you choose the right type of products there's the ability to generate an ongoing income from a single sale through recurring payment products (where the customer pays a monthly or ongoing fee to access their product).

All in all, affiliate marketing can be a great way to get started with your online or lifestyle business from home with little or no outlay. Of course there are some downsides to many affiliate programs in that none of the people you refer are your customers so future (new) sales may not provide you with income, you're relying on others to provide a great product and service and if the product/service owner discontinues their affiliate program or products you'll have to find other options.

Overall however, affiliate marketing, when done right can be great for a wide range of people provided it's done right… so let's talk about the How shall we?

How can you be successful with affiliate marketing?

While it may sound easy to jump into the world of affiliate marketing it's important that you take the time to approach it in the right manner if you're going to be successful and generate a significant income this way. You can increase your chances by following a few basic rules and dramatically increase your income if you find the right program, here are a few things to consider:

  • Know what you are promoting: The best way you will know if the products you are promoting are worth it are to be a customer yourself or at the very least get a hold of the product/service and test it. If you are going to recommend something to another person and they make a decision to buy based off of this, you want to be sure that it's worth their while as ultimately it's your reputation on the line. DO NOT base your decisions only on how much money you could potentially make, you're better off finding a quality product that pays you less but provides exceptional value and be able to make future recommendations to people who trust you than burn a bunch of bridges for a quick buck.
  • Build an audience: A great way to engage with potential customers is to provide them with the type of content that they are interested in without necessarily trying to sell them on a particular product or solution. If you can provide people with helpful, relevant and useful content that they see is not just coming from a place of trying to make a profit then they are more likely to engage with you and take note of your recommendations in the future. Provide exceptional value, support, tips and build a community around you and your brand and the financial rewards will come in the future.
  • Monitor, test and tweak: If you are providing links to recommended products through a variety of methods then it's vital that you understand what is working and what isn't and this can only be achieved by having a firm grip on how each different offer is performing for you and where the ‘best' traffic is coming from. It's not enough to know that an offer is converting, you need to know what activities are working for you and which ones aren't, stop focusing on the things that aren't working and learn from that ones that are and you will ultimately save yourself effort and money in the long run.
  • Consider recurring income: What could be better than being paid 50% of a $47 product for each customer that you refer? How about being paid 50% of $47 every month for the same amount of effort? It doesn't take any additional effort on your part to refer an interested person to a product that consists of a one-off sale than it does to refer someone to a product or service that has an ongoing payment plan (assuming that it is a useful and valuable product or service), so why wouldn't you consider this option. There are a number of services that require ongoing investment such as hosting, consulting, mentoring etc, so keep an eye out for products or services to promote that can put money into your pocket on an ongoing basis.
  • Disclose your affiliation: Not only does this ensure that you are being honest with potential customers and your audience it ensures that you are complying with various regulatory requirements (depending on the country you are in or promoting to). At the end of the day whether or not you are benefiting from making a recommendation should not influence the decision making of the person you are referring if it is a quality product that they can benefit from. If you only point people at offers for poor quality products that you have never used yourself or have not had any success with, then your customers knowing you are only doing it to make a quick buck will definitely have a negative impact on your success.

These are a just a few things you should keep in mind when working as an affiliate marketer and there are others which I will cover in more depth in future articles such as the product funnel, the tools or platform that is provided and the investment being made by the product or services developer, but for now these are a good place to start.

In conclusion

Affiliate marketing is a great way to get started down the path of having your own online or lifestyle business, however it's important to come at it from the correct perspective. Focus on providing value and support to your audience and the income will follow, concentrate only on the financial aspects, promote the wrong products and burn your bridges and you will find it difficult to build a sustainable, successful business that you can be proud of.

Ultimately the choice is up to you. My intention is to provide you with the information and tools that allows you to make an educated decision and in future posts we will get into more detailed and analytical discussions that can impact how successful you can truly be, but for now I hope you have enjoyed this post and if you have any comments feel free to chime in below.

If you're interested in learning more about a business system that I wholeheartedly recommend then check out the link below or subscribe via the box on the right near the top of the page and I will introduce you to two people who have been very successful online and are looking to work with new people in the future… I'll leave that up to you.

Oh and of course, if you found this post to be really useful then please share using the links on the left hand side of the page so that others you know can also find out more about affiliate marketing and decide if it'd be a good fit for them.

Until next time…

Stefan is an experienced digital consultant who has spent 20+ years delivering customer centric solutions for blue chip companies. He is now focused on inspiring and supporting people who want to escape the rat race and create their own lifestyle business.

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3 Comments

  1. Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor

    Not really in to affiliate marketing but enjoyed this post and for a beginner it contains a lot of great information. Definitely food for thought

    Reply
  2. Davina

    This was a very informative post Stefan. I think it's always important to know what you're promoting (as you mentioned several times in your article). It's easy to get blinded by income, only to have your reputation trashed because you recommended poor products and services to your audience. Thanks for the info.

    Reply
  3. Sandy

    Thanks for the detailed and informative post Stefan. This is my belief, ‘When you take good care of the interests of your customers, they will take good care of yours.' Thanks for the great post once again.

    Reply

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