Understanding Affiliate Marketing Programs For Beginners in 2021

Have you ever convinced a friend to buy a product you loved? If so, then you have the skills to become an affiliate for your favorite brands! Getting paid to promote products you love is a great way to find another stream of income while helping other people find products and services that will benefit them.

This article will go into depth about the ways that beginners can get started with affiliate programs.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing programs allow individuals and creators to promote a business’ product in exchange for a commission on the items that are purchased through a personal link or coupon code. 

Affiliate marketing is a way for companies to easily market to small segments of their target audience, all while offering a stream of income for the influencer doing the marketing.

What Are Affiliate Programs?

Also called associate programs, affiliate programs are the arrangements between an online merchant and a person or website that they are giving a commission to in exchange for traffic (and hopefully, increased sales).

Affiliate Networks vs. Merchants

To understand affiliate marketing, you’ll need to clear up some definitions. Particularly, you’ll want to know the difference between affiliate networks and affiliate merchants.

Affiliate networks are the third-party middlemen between influencers and the companies and businesses that have affiliate programs. Signing up for an affiliate network can shorten the online search process and put you in contact with several businesses that align with your following or personal brand. Affiliate networks also help to ensure that the proper payments and online links are in order.

Affiliate marketing merchants are businesses that keep their affiliate programs in-house. In other words, with this type of arrangement, you would be working directly with a company – no mediator involved.

What to Look for in a Good Affiliate Program

Of course, you should always do in-depth research on any company you want to work with. Make sure that they align with your values and that you’re truly excited about the product or service they offer. The more you understand it and love it, the more your audience will, too.

Once you’ve found a business you want to partner with and you’re excited by the idea of being their affiliate, it’s time to take the next steps. How can you tell whether a specific program is going to be beneficial to you (and your bank account)?

The best affiliate marketing programs have a few things in common:

1. Ease of Use

Particularly when you’re new to affiliate marketing, you’ll want to choose affiliate programs that are simple to use. An interface that’s confusing or requires a lot of expertise on your end can lead to a frustrating partnership that requires much more work than you signed up for. 

Affiliate networks are often very helpful in finding those easy-to-use programs for affiliates.

2. Accessible Point of Contact

While you aren’t necessarily an employee, you will still be doing business with the company you’re promoting. Most of the time, affiliates are put in contact with an affiliate manager. This can be a bit hit or miss. You might get an all-star who can clear up any issues ASAP…or you might get someone who passes your problem down the line.

This is why it’s important to figure out what type of backup you’ll be receiving as an affiliate. If the company has a dedicated affiliate manager (or someone whose entire job is working with affiliates), then that’s a good sign.

Affiliate networks are also helpful in this arena since they have support teams that provide assistance alongside the affiliate manager.

3. Clearly Explained Commission Systems

Simply put, you want to make money for the work and effort you put into your affiliate marketing. Take a look at how much you’ll get paid – and when you’ll get paid. 

Most affiliate programs are “net 30,” meaning you’ll be paid whatever money you make on a sale thirty days later. But beware:  Some programs are net 60 or even net 90. This doesn’t mean they’re bad programs, but they can be bad for people who have bills to pay within the month.

Affiliate Marketing Examples: Types of Affiliate Products to Promote

There’s a plethora of products and services that you can promote right away as a beginner affiliate. Just about everyone seems to be an Audible affiliate or have been sponsored by Skillshare at some point. 

And that’s for a good reason:  There are books and lessons on nearly every subject. Even if someone has branded themselves for a niche market, they can still promote books on the subject and encourage people to try it out using their coupon code.

You can mimic this idea through the Amazon Associates Program (Bonus:  It’s incredibly easy to use). It’s one of the best affiliate programs for newbies and you can promote basically anything.

Commission Junction is an affiliate network that can set you up with large companies and brands you love, while ShareASale can help you find smaller companies that perfectly align with your values and niche.

You can promote digital products with ClickBank, or you can tap into the powerhouse of Etsy affiliate marketing (and promote some pretty great artists!). Additionally, Fiverr’s affiliate marketing program lets you advertise services and courses.

Tips to Help You Become a Successful Affiliate Marketer

Not sure where to jump in? Here’s a few tips:

1. Love the Product

As an affiliate marketer, your audience is going to be looking to you for advice on where to put their money. They won’t want products that you don’t love yourself. When you’re deciding on what to promote, look at the products and services you already love. If it’s something that’s easy to gush about, your audience will feel that energy through the screen.

2. Be the “Expert”

Picking a niche and building up your authority in that area will give your audience more proof that you know what you’re talking about. For example, if an influencer’s page is full of fitness tips and workout programs that lead to real results, you’ll be far more likely to trust them when they say a certain pre-workout powder is helping them crush their goals in the gym.

3. Choose Good Products

The best affiliate programs are ones you can count on to deliver. If you start promoting a product that doesn’t work or offers false promises, not only will people not buy the product…but you could also destroy your reputation. Make sure you’re researching your potential affiliate programs so you can be confident that the product is going to work for your audience.

4. Compare Products

When you decide on a product to showcase to your audience, the best way to make it sound great is to explain why it’s better than the closest competitors. Don’t just say “This is great!” when you could say “This is better than that…and here’s why.”

Where to Go from Here

Affiliate marketing allows you to connect your audience with products and services they love…while making a little extra dough on the side for yourself. It’s also a great way for small businesses and bloggers to form connections in the industry.

If you’re a small business, Print Bind Ship can help give you the boost you need when it comes to fulfilling orders for your own products and merchandise. Check out this $500 startup fulfillment voucher. It’s a great way to tap into another stream of revenue – without having to pay a huge upfront cost for your products.

Ready to move forward as an entrepreneur? Visit our online learning hub to discover how you can diversify your income through online business. Not sure where to start when it comes to growing your brand or business? Make a game plan during a free consultation with our experts. We’ll help you to plan your path to success as you achieve your financial goals.