Affiliate Marketing — Getting Started
In its most basic form, affiliate marketing is marketing products and services that are created, owned, and managed by other people. You become an affiliate of the person, people or company in control of the product and accept their commission rate and then you sell the product using your own networking abilities and marketing tactics.
There have been offline versions of affiliate businesses for years. If you broaden the concept, it can extend back to the old-fashioned door-to-door sales of cosmetics, household brushes, and aluminum siding to provide just a few examples.
It didn’t take long for the concept of affiliate marketing to burst forth on the internet. When Tim Berners-Lee developed the information management system that was the underlying structure of the world wide web (WWW) in 1989, a whole new way of communication emerged.
Over the first few years of the WWW, innovative entrepreneurs saw huge potential in being able to transport their information around the world via the internet. One of the first online affiliates appeared in 1994. Guess what it was – a hard core erotica site. Well, sex sells. Shortly after this affiliate launched its program, a record business set up its affiliate site. Then in 1996 Amazon set up its book-selling associate program.
What is Affiliate Marketing Today, in 2011?
Affiliate marketing has become a huge business model moving beyond the early days of sex, books, and rock and roll. Businesses that were once mom and pop stores opened up their online store fronts and their lives changed. A whole new world opened up for people who had passions for particular hobbies, pets, topics, and special expertise.
Now they can share their interests with the world using reviews and links and information on everything from training your parrot to improving your golf swing to getting out of debt to raising pure bred puppies. There is a massive move towards products review sites that sell physical products and for many people this is an incredible service.
If you are interested in coffee makers, for instance, you can check online for reviews of coffee makers that offer advice, comments of people who use them, the specifications of the various models and best of all, links to some of the best deals online. The person providing the website with the reviews is an affiliate marketer and makes a commission on all sales made through his or her link.
It is even possible to become an affiliate for laboratory equipment through companies such as Amazon. Some lab equipment sells for upwards of $50,000. The commission on that would be a tidy sum. Even at 4 percent, the commission would be $2,000.
Some Affiliate Marketing Clarification
Before looking into how affiliate marketing works and where to find programs that best fit your requirements, there is one essential aspect that needs to be mentioned. One of the steps that many newbie marketers takes is to study the field of affiliate marketing. In doing this, you quickly see that the marketing niche is a huge one with a steady stream of buyers. Suddenly you find yourself in the field of marketing information because it is so easy to find products to market and you are immersed in that field while you are studying it.
This is like going to college to study accounting because you love working with figures but falling in love with teaching and suddenly decide to become a teacher. It can be the dream choice or it can turn out to be not your real dream.
You also see that there is a massive range of information available on marketing wares online and soon learn that you can become an affiliate for marketing experts. There is nothing wrong with this decision at all. However, if you have your own expertise or interests, you might have started looking into being an affiliate with the notion of promoting products and services in your field and now you have been drawn into the marketing world because you have learned so much from it and see the possibilities.
This is just a side note to let you know that there is more to choose from in the online affiliate business world than the field of marketing marketing materials.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
The basics are like this: you sign up to be an affiliate for a product or service and agree to the terms of the provider’s regulations. The deal usually involves the commission percentage, the pay-out period, the waiting period for the first payment, and advertising tools and rules. Check the rules for each affiliate venture you join – some programs don’t want you showing other products on the same website. Once you check out the rules, then you can start your marketing.
Here is an idea of how it can work. You love Boston Terriers. You find products online that are ideal for a pampered pup such as a fancy bed, special toys, and a great leash for walking the darling dog. You become an affiliate and install the code on your site so that you get credit for items purchased through your site. Then you can add in links to books, ebooks, and videos on the Boston terrier bred.
What Commission Rate Should You Accept as an Online Affiliate?
The commission rate can vary from a small percentage of 3 or 4 percent on high volume or high cost items to 75 percent on digital products (like clickbank). There are some general guidelines such as looking for at least a 50 percent commission on digital products. There is not a great deal of cost in producing and delivering digital items so the producer’s overhead is fairly low.
For hard goods, a lower commission is acceptable because of the overhead involved. However, the enduring sellers of hard goods tend to have huge volumes of traffic and higher ticket items. You can choose to sell a $900 piece of camcorder equipment for a 4 percent commission or $36 dollars or a digital ebook for $77 and make a $38.50 commission. Your choice depends on which will attract more buyers and that will further depend on how you market your affiliate products and services.
As for when you get paid, there is a myth that has arisen and it comes straight from the advertising about making thousands of dollars online in a week. Most commissions are paid out on a regular basis, either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly and there is usually a hold-back for a month on the payments because sometimes people return their items. It is just easier for businesses to wait to pay you until your sold item stays sold and your commission is free and clear.
Adult sites are still among the leading affiliate sites where you usually get a flat fee for attracting new members to the site. Gambling sites are also popular with affiliates. However, and this might offer more appeal to some new to marketing online, the retail world is a fast growing affiliate marketing business. You can sell everything from wrist bands to shoes to refrigerators.
Finding Your Passion – Vital To Affiliate Success
There is a recognized wisdom in the internet marketing world that you are more apt to have long-lasting success in a niche that appeals to you and that fits in with your personality, ethics, and interests. Part of the reason for this is that an aspect of your marketing plan involves being active in realms where your market lives. Back to the terrier web site example, if you are a dog lover, you likely visit forums and blogs where other dog lovers discuss dogs and their personalities and behaviors and habits.
Being able to participate in these discussions in a meaningful way gets your name and site out and about with people who might be interested in knowing more about Boston terriers. All you need to do is include information in your signature file about your site and you will attract visitors who might become buyers. You can easily build up credibility because you will sound as if you know your stuff, because you really do.
If you do not have any real interest in dogs, this can be tedious and your depth of understanding and knowledge will not sustain you in this field. It can become exhausting to fake interest and deep knowledge in a topic that bores you.
Where Do You Find Affiliate Marketing Opportunities?
The big question is – where do you find the opportunities to sell things that provide a decent commission structure?
The easiest way to dig into the range of products and services available for your affiliate business is to go to your favorite search engine and type in the name of the niche that appeals to you and the word ‘affiliate’. You will find sites that cater to your chosen niche that have an affiliate program where you can join and sell their products.
There are also sites such as Commission Junction that make arrangements with companies to link them to affiliates and you can join these sites as an affiliate and pick and choose from the range of products that they offer. In most of these dedicated affiliates companies you apply and wait for approval. They are usually quite strict about the quality of the site you have and the methods you use to promote as an affiliate.
One thing you can do is look at sites you usually visit because they interest you and see if there is any link for affiliates. Typically these are at the bottom of the page in the footer. Click on the link and take a look at what they have to offer. You can start with this natural niche and keep on building on it until your site becomes a central spot for finding the goods and services that a certain hungry market wants.
One final word, do not feel that you have to limit yourself to one single niche. Some people have dozens of niches and often they all have a central theme. For instance, the Boston terrier site could be a part of a conglomeration of sites each of which caters to a different type of dog. You might have a health site that is part of series of niches you have that all deal with health from a different angle or focusing on a specific disorder or cure.
Best Affiliate Marketing Networks
Everyone is looking for the best ways to make money online, obviously the quickest and fastest way to legitimiately profit online. Affiliate marketing can definitely prove to be the engine for consistent income through affiliate networks. The key is finding the best affiliate network programs and products that fit your style and potential website traffic visitors.
We will discuss the following online strategies and show you how we directly apply marketing tips online.
Affiliate marketing is a simple way for regular people to make money, even if they have no technical skill or talents of any kind. As an affiliate marketer, all you have to do is find a product or service that you believe in, and then enroll in any existing program that will agree to give you a percentage of sales for every prospect that you drive to a purchase. But if it was as easy as pie, everyone would be doing it, right? Not necessarily. See, many people are intimidated by the World Wide Web. That’s where free affiliate marketing coaching comes in to play. Here’s what you should look for in a coach (and their advice):
1) Proven track record
An affiliate marketing coach can offer free advice all day long, but it’s worthless if he doesn’t have the track record to prove his success. Good coaches will be able to point you toward earnings statements and show you his most successful campaigns. Once the credibility is established, it’s easier to move on to some of the more advanced techniques.
2) Ability to explain
It’s not enough to simply show you how much money a campaign generated. It’s also important that a coach can show you the practical tactics he used to earn. This is easy to do. Whether it be social networking sites, guest blogs, or forum posts, he should be able to explain to you in simple terms how he did what he did, and how you can apply it to help with the campaign that you are working on.
3) A nose for opportunity
Not all affiliate marketing campaigns are effective. After all, some products or services are just not what they seem to be. However, you can avoid the bad ones and promote only the good ones if you have a nose for opportunity. As you do business with an affiliate marketing coach, make sure to ask them what it is about a promotion that draws them in. Ninety nine percent of the time, marketing coaches will share that they actually believe in the product or service. Don’t try to promote something you’re unfamiliar with. Instead stick with your passions, and the rest will fall into place.
By looking for the three qualities mentioned above, you are certain to find an affiliate marketing coach, who is able to give you the advice and the tips that you need to set your offer apart from the others that are out there.
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