Affiliate marketing is the process of making money through selling the products of another. Think of yourself as a freelance sales associate, earning a commission through your affiliate sales. In recent years, affiliate marketing has become one of the more popular ways of making money online. However, making money through affiliate marketing is not as easy as it first appears. It can take a lot of time and effort working on different techniques and depending on your goals, your earning potential is in your own hands. While there are always key elements in making money online that are always necessary, such as website traffic, there are also some practical tips and techniques that you can follow to increase your potential affiliate marketing profits to greater heights.
Pick the Right Program
The first step starts with finding the right program and product to support. In many ways, picking the right product to sell is very similar to picking the right niche for your website. While you can certainly advertise any product you wish on your blog, I’ve found that its best to advertise products that you use yourself. Here on Riches Corner, when I discuss a product or place a banner ad, I stick to products that I use myself. So, when you read about how I invest my blogging income through Lending Club, I speak from personal experience. Even my banner ads are for products that I use myself and recommend. Through experience, I believe that it’s the best policy to stick to endorsing product that you use yourself. There’s a couple of reasons for this advice: When you use a product yourself, you can feel confident about encouraging others to use the product. The fact that you are endorsing a product that you yourself use lends a level of honesty to your affiliation that builds trust with your audience. For example, if you visit Riches Corner regularly, you will notice that my personal tendency is to look for the products that give the best value for the money. If it’s at all possible to use a product that provides a free service or trial, I recommend that product over one that is more expensive. Even though I don’t earn a commission when someone uses a free product, I believe that it’s more important to recommend something that provides more value to the user. My regular visitors will understand that I have this tendency to recommend products that allow them to “try before buying” and can trust that I won’t cheat them. There’s a lot of value in this kind of trust. Secondly, when you write about the product it will come from personal knowledge about the pros and cons of the item. Your personal experience is a valuable commodity. While other people may be selling the same product, you can give your own unique perspective about the product. From your own experience with the product, you can describe your own personal techniques on how to use the product. You can discuss why you personally like the product and how you find success with the product. For examples about how I write about my personal strategies with products that I use here on Riches Corner, take a look at my posts about running a job board or my investment strategy with Lending Club. I can actually show my readers with screenshots and images about the product:
Thirdly, by sticking to products and services that you use yourself, you are following the general advice of doing what you love. You’ve already carefully chosen the products that work best for you and that you enjoy using. It makes it that much easier to write about and recommend the product. Picking the right affiliate program is the first step towards increasing your potential as an affiliate marketer. As a final tip on this topic, if the product that you like doesn’t appear to advertise an affiliate program, don’t be afraid to contact them with an inquiry. You can indicate that you enjoy using their product and would like to recommend their product to your users. Then ask if they have a partnership or affiliate program that you can join. You may be pleasantly surprised by the response.
Learn More About Your Affiliate Program
Knowledge is power. In the case of an affiliate marketer, knowledge equates to profits. The more you know about the product, the more you have the ability to explain to your readers why they should purchase your product. I always find it important to visit the affiliate website and see what kinds of information they provide about the program and their product. I read up on the terms of the program and their frequently asked questions. I look for a program that is transparent about their terms. They should give me precise information about when and how they pay their affiliates. Also, I check to see if they have a dashboard that gives me analytics information. All of this is important for me to be able to track how the program performs. Also, it gives me a sense of security about the trustworthiness of the program when they provide more information. Often, a product may not list all the answers to the questions that you have. That’s ok because my next step would be to contact them with some of my questions. I want to see how responsive they are to answering questions. I find that the best products are the ones where their owners are responsive to my questions.
Content Sells Better than Advertising
When someone first hears about making money online, there is often the impression that all you need to do is place a few ads on your website and sit back to wait for the money. Over time, you’ll realize that this is not the best way to convert sales on your affiliate programs. Banner ads do have their uses when you sell ad space or use adsense. However, for the most part banner ads don’t tell people why they should purchase a product. And many people have trained themselves to be blind to those ads. You might get the occasional clickthrough and a couple of sales, but you’ll find that your rate of conversion is not as high as when you have actual content about the product. Content is the best way to tell your audience how and why they should use particular products. There are a variety of ways to create content that promotes your affiliate products. First off, you can simply write a review of a product. When you write a review, you give all the pros and cons of a product and tell your audience directly how you feel about the product. This is the most direct way to sell a product with your content. This is a method that you see all over the internet. Quite often you will see an entire website dedicated to reviewing and comparing products. Depending on your niche, this is a technique that you can use to sell your affiliate products. However, I recommend that you stay honest and keep to reviewing products that you use yourself. The second method of using content to sell is to write compelling content, such as an in depth tutorial. Within your tutorial you can touch on techniques that you use and how you employ a product or service when you use that technique. For example, if you have a site about dog training, you can write a lengthy tutorial about how you train your dog to do tricks using a dog whistle. You can tell your audience about the particular brand of dog whistle that you like and provide an affiliate link to that whistle. At the same time, you can discuss all the steps to how you use the whistle to teach the dog to roll over, sit, jump, etc… Perhaps you can even embed a youtube video of your dog doing the tricks that you taught him or her. This indirect method has a couple of advantages that I like. First off, it just doesn’t have the feeling of a sales pitch. This may just be a personal preference on my part, but I just don’t like reading a post that feels too commercialized. I don’t get the sense that I can trust that the person is recommending a product that can really help me as opposed to being out for a quick buck. Secondly, it has the advantage of creating good content at the same time. Good content will draw more readers and visitors to your site. This in turn gives you more potential to earn more when these readers follow your recommendations. Remember that there simply is no substitute for good content.
Create a Resource Page
Sometimes, people want to see a list of products that you recommend. Creating a good resource page of products that you use and recommend with a brief description is a good way to provide just such a list to your readers. A good resource page is something that is more than simply a collection of banner ads and affiliate links. You want to give a good rundown of your products. A brief description of how you use each and why you recommend the product. You don’t need to write a long blog post about the products here, although you can link back to a longer review that you’ve written about the product. The visitors to this page may not be looking for a long review. They are simply seeking some recommendations to consider. Write a short paragraph or two about the product to provide some information for your reader about your recommendation. In this section, you can also put a call to action if you like. Remember, readers visiting this section of your blog are looking for actual recommendations.
Making Use of Social Media
These days, social media is a large part of your online presence. People don’t simply create blogs anymore. They’ll have a blog, then they have the blog twitter page, the blog facebook page, blog google+ page, linkedIn page, StumbleUpon page, etc… You get the idea. And along with this growth of Social Media, there’s an abundance of materials about social media marketing techniques and the eventual spam that goes along with it. A lot of times, I see people on twitter or facebook simply spamming links to their affiliate product. While they may get some clickthroughs or sales, I don’t believe this is the best method for conversions. If you simply spam a link to a product, you may get thousands and thousands of clicks to the product with little or no conversions. (embarrassingly, I must admit that I know this because I’ve tried all of these methods…) If you want to use social media to sell products, I find that you will get better conversions if you refer people to an actual post or article that you wrote. Of course, you want to start by looking for some actual interest in the topic, rather than randomly spamming users. But then referring them to a blog post or review that you wrote about the product gives them more information. Again, your content is doing the heavy lifting.
Strategic Use of Ebooks
Writing an ebook has several advantages. First off, writing an ebook gives your reader a good way to pick up a cumulation of your body of work in one place. This gives them more of your material to read and builds up your authority on your topic of choice. Secondly, it’s a product that you can give away or sell that contains links back to your site and your products. Again this is a technique that employs your content to help you build up your sales. You can write your own ebook that contains affiliate links or sometimes your product of choice provides you an ebook in their sales materials that you can use with your own personal affiliate links. The good thing about ebooks is that they can be shared and passed around the internet. You can give it away and encourage others to share your book with others. Your other option is to submit your book to a site like amazon and they can promote your book for you. These sites are good for helping your promote your ebook. They help you do the marketing for your ebook, so you can concentrate on other things such as creating more content for your website.
Before I finish this post, I want to leave you with a few final thoughts about affiliate marketing.
- Keep track of your affiliate statistics. Either through your own analytics tools or the analytics tools of the affiliate program, it’s important to track the products sales performance. This way you know if you need to make adjustments to your strategy.
- Diversify. It’s always good to be on the lookout for new products or services that will be useful to you and your audience. This way you are always keeping up with the latest technology that will give more value to your readers as well as create more revenue streams for yourself.
- Always stay honest. Don’t go down the path of writing up fake reviews or promoting bad products. In the long run this will drive away your readers.
- Implement different strategies. Over time, you will create more and different kinds of content. Each kind of content that your create is a new way to give value to your readers as well as potentially help you in your affiliate marketing ventures. Some strategies may work better for you than others, but you won’t know until you try.
Affiliate marketing can be a rewarding and profitable venture. In terms of giving value to your readers, you are providing recommendations that can help them out in their endeavors at the same time as earning a profit for yourself. If you make your recommendations a win-win for both you and your readers, you can go far as a successful affiliate marketer. Good Luck!