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What Is Affiliate Marketing?: A Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing

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Affiliate marketing is a passive way that people can earn commissions simply by marketing someone else’s products and/or services. The “affiliate” is the person acting as the marketing agent and salesman for the original merchant. For their efforts, they are paid a commission every time someone clicks a link or makes a purchase. It’s a little more complex than that, but we’ll break it all down in this guide to help you understand what this strategy is and why it might benefit you. 

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

As we mentioned, affiliate marketing is an income opportunity that allows people to earn money each time they make a sale by marketing a specific product or service. For example, if you are an affiliate for a company that sells coffee and someone makes a purchase by using your link to reach the site, you will earn a commission on their purchase. Some companies even pay for click-throughs, not just sales, and you’ll have several platforms and programs available to choose from. 

Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

There are several pros and cons to consider with affiliate marketing, the obvious pro being that you can make money selling someone else’s stuff. That means all you do is post the links, share the content, or otherwise market for the company and when someone interacts with them through your efforts, you get paid. 

These programs are typically free to start and it can be tricky to track referrals properly to ensure that you get the credit that you are due. This can easily become an issue that ruins your credibility and hurts your success with affiliate marketing. Make sure that if you consider this option, you choose reputable platforms and companies to work with. When you choose great programs and companies, you’ll be able to benefit from this passive income option. 

Bear in mind, also, of course, that because this is such a lucrative option when done right, there is a lot of competition among the affiliate marketers out there. 

Why Be an Affiliate Marketer?

If you’re still not sure, here are three reasons that you should consider becoming an affiliate marketer. 

1. Passive income

Once you get everything set up, this program essentially runs itself. Furthermore, if your campaigns are good and your marketing is on point, all you have to do is wait for the money to roll in. It’s a great choice for those who are willing to invest effort now for the passive earnings down the road. 

2. Cost-effective

Affiliate marketing is cost-effective because most of the programs are free for marketers to sign up and use. After all, the company is getting someone else to advertise for them, so why would they want to charge for that? You can earn more because you have fewer expenses, and you can get started sooner because there’s no upfront investment. 

3. Work from home

Affiliate marketing allows you to work from home, or anywhere you can access the Internet. All you need to do is manage and monitor your campaigns once they are in place, allowing you to stay home with the kids, just get out of the office, or even save the hassle of commuting. 

4. Convenient and flexible.

Being an affiliate marketer gives you freedom and flexibility in your work schedule. You can work as much (or as little) as you want, and do it from anywhere. Plus, you can pick and choose the programs you work with so that you get what you want out of the process.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

The process involves three different parties, who are all involved in the customer journey and invested in the ultimate outcome:

  1. Seller and product creators
  2. The affiliate or advertiser
  3. The consumer

Each of these plays an important role and will have specific duties in the affiliate marketing program, as discussed below. 

1. Seller and product creators

The seller and product creators are the ones benefiting from the low-cost marketing. Even though they pay affiliates, it costs them far less than traditional marketing campaigns and gives them a much broader reach as a result. These people are responsible for providing the products to the affiliate or advertiser. 

2. The affiliate or advertiser

The affiliate is the one who will market the products or services to the general public. They will be responsible for managing their campaigns and following the specific requirements of the affiliate programs to which they belong. Their role is to act as the middleman between the company and the consumer. 

3. The Consumer

The consumer is the one that is responsible for making the purchase. They can reach a merchant or brand by directly visiting the site, or through an affiliate link or advertisement. Often, consumers are not aware that they are clicking on affiliate links, making it easier to gain their trust because of the association with the product or service.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

There are several types of affiliate marketing and marketers out there. They each have their own roles and marketing methods, as you’ll see below. 

Webmasters or site owners:

These are people who build their own websites to use for affiliate marketing. Advertisers are then able to reach out to them for promotional partnerships. These relationships work best when the website has a topic that’s related to the product or service, such as insurance referrals on an insurance education website. 

SEO or PPC Affiliates:

SEO and PPC campaigns can be run by people as a tool for affiliate marketing. These are campaigns that use SEO, social media advertising, AdWords, and the like, to direct people toward affiliate products and services. 

Content Sites:

Websites, blogs, and review portals are becoming the best places for affiliate marketing. These sites use reviews of products and services, “best of” lists, and other posts to convince visitors to choose a specific product or service, thereby earning their commission. 

Newsletter or Emails: 

As long as you follow all of the guidelines for CAN-SPAM compliance, you can use email marketing to send people special offers and market affiliate links to earn commissions. This is not as popular, but it is an option. 

Coupon Sites:

As online shopping becomes more popular, people are constantly searching for better deals and coupons. Using coupon sites allows affiliate marketers to offer a discount to those customers and convert them to the merchant through their affiliate links. 

Social Media:

If someone has a prominent following on social media, they can use it as an affiliate marketing platform. Known as influencers, these people are becoming increasingly popular in the world of marketing and branding. 

Review Sites: 

There are dedicated review sites that review products and services by niche, industry, audience, and other categories. When visitors come to the site, they can read the reviews and be directed to the brand website via the affiliate link, which generates the commission.  

Incentivized Traffic:

This is where a merchant offers an incentive of some kind, such as cashback or a virtual coupon when people take a requested action. For example, you could post an affiliate link that gives people a 10% discount on their next purchase when they use your link to shop now.  

Shopping Services:

These are sites that provide services to boost specific brand purchases. These can be anything from price comparison sites to metasearch engines, review portals, and even aggregators. 

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

There are several different ways that affiliate marketers can get paid. The exact details depend on the program or the seller offering it. Some may offer all of the choices while others may only have one or two.  

1. Pay per sale.

Some programs will pay the affiliate marketer a percentage of each sale when the transaction occurs through their links or marketing efforts. This is generally the largest commission that can be earned since a sale is ultimately what companies want. 

2. Pay per lead.

Affiliate marketers can also get paid per lead that they generate, even if they haven’t made a purchase. Some companies are willing to pay a small commission for leads so that they don’t have to do the work themselves. 

3. Pay per click.

The smallest commission, usually, is the pay-per-click commission. While you can get paid just for getting people to click through to the website, it’s going to take a lot more time to generate significant income with something like this. 

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

Getting started is all about taking the time to know what you want, testing the products and services before you agree to promote them, and choosing the type(s) of marketing you’re going to use to promote your various campaigns. 

Choose your niche

Take the time to think about what niche you want to work in. Do you want to stick to a specific product or industry or are there a few that you’re considering?

Choose your product

What kind of products do you want to sell or promote? There are thousands of options, including everything from electronics to financial services, and it will be up to you to choose your best option(s).

Research and Sign Up for Affiliate Programs

Once you figure out what you want to do, you’ll be able to research and sign up for the right programs. Of course, you can also do this in tandem with thinking about what niche and product or service you want to work in. Check out how the programs work, how much and how they pay, and other details so that you can compare to choose the best. 

Build a blog or website

Now it’s time to build a blog or website that you can use as part of your affiliate marketing program. It will be up to you to decide what type of site to use, but you should make sure that it maximizes your abilities to market your affiliate products or services. 

Start promoting affiliate products

After creating a site or blog, you’ll be able to start working on your various marketing campaigns for your affiliate programs. Promotion is the only way to get paid, so now it’s time to get to work. 

Where to Go From Here

Of course, you don’t have to do it all alone. Affiliate marketing is about building relationships and using those relationships to get what you need. At Print Bind Ship, we have a team of experts that can help you get more out of your affiliate marketing, no matter what products or services you choose. Contact us now for a 15-minute consultation to discuss how a partnership with Print Bind Ship could benefit you.

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