If you’re completely new to affiliate marketing, then this one’s for you. If you have no idea what an affiliate network is, how affiliates make money, or honestly even what affiliate marketing is, then this guide will take you through the valuable basics you need to know.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a form of sales. In this process, you earn a commission for promoting products or services you like, making money for the clicks or sales that occur. For many people, this is a nice way to be involved in business without having to invent a new product themselves or create a service. Instead, it’s possible to recommend items you use and love regularly and make an income from it.



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Sounds Easy. Sign Me Up!

Most people do think that affiliate marketing sounds easy, and it certainly can be a nice form of passive income—eventually. Ah, that is the real caveat. It is possible to make significant income from affiliate marketing, but it definitely won’t happen overnight.

Affiliate marketing is often viewed as a “get rich quick” opportunity, and when people get involved and realize it’s actually not that simple, they stop. This is certainly not a way to make thousands in your first month. A career as an affiliate marketer is one where you’re in it for the long haul.

Some common misconceptions about affiliate marketing are that:

  • It’s easy and you can make hundreds of dollars by just promoting a few links on a site.
  • It’s for people in their 20s or 30s.
  • It’s not a real business.

Affiliate marketing requires hard work, dedication, and tech-savviness. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can make money eventually, and in fact you might even find that it becomes your sole income after a couple of years. And although many affiliate marketers fall into the generation of the internet, anyone—young and old—is able to start as an affiliate marketer.



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How To Get Started

So if the thought of a little elbow grease doesn’t scare you off and you consider yourself pretty good with computers, then you have potential to make it as an affiliate marketer. The next step is figuring out your niche.

Niche marketing involves finding smaller sectors of the market and focusing on products and services that are geared towards this group. So, for example, technology is a rather broad market. While you might find success simply promoting any and all electronics, you’ll likely find that selling is easier when you hone in on a smaller audience of people interested in buying electronics. You could focus on new dads who are trying to find a good work/life balance or people who are in the film industry. Already, just by deciding on something more specific, you can pick out certain products that would and wouldn’t fit that audience. It makes deciding on what to sell way easier, and your audience will be more inclined to buy products that they feel were catered to them.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to make your site. The main goal here is making it easy to navigate and easy on the eyes. If people visit your site and instantly feel overwhelmed by the images, colors, and text, they’ll never visit again. If, however, you present your information in a clean and orderly way that is easy to get through, you’ll have much happier readers.

While most affiliate marketers use a website to sell products and services, some don’t. Other options include:

  • Sending emails
  • YouTube
  • Social media
  • Forums



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Promote Links And Establish Your Reputation

The next big step is getting those links out there and starting to make a name for yourself. How you promote links will have a direct impact on your sales, and rarely to people succeed with affiliate marketing by just throwing up some links on a website. Why? Because people want to take recommendations from people they trust, not some random stranger.

This means that part of your job is getting people to trust you. This means:

  • Generating useful content. Publish blog posts that offer advice and tips for your audience and don’t relate to the products or services you want to sell.
  • Making good recommendations. Don’t just advertise something because you’ll get a good sale from it; instead, only recommend high-quality things that people will get use out of.
  • Writing guest posts. This legitimizes you in your industry.
  • Appearing on social media. Consumers like to buy from someone real, and if you can give them a taste of your personality, they’ll be more inclined to take your suggestions.

At the same time, you’ll also be promoting your affiliate links. There are countless ways to do this, including:

  • On your site, sprinkled throughout posts with a related topic.
  • On your site, as a feature in a post (like a product review).
  • Banner ads.
  • Sending newsletter campaigns.
  • YouTube descriptions.
  • Promoting things through social media.
  • Participating in related topic forums.



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Finding Success

Remember: the most successful affiliate marketers did not make thousands in one month. Succeeding as an affiliate will look different for everyone, and while it’s helpful to look at others and model your work after them, it’s also good to think outside the box. Here are three tips that will help you along the way:

  • Always assess and reassess. Once you’ve posted an affiliate link, remember to track its progress. This will give you insight into your audience’s buying habits and you can then leverage that link and use that information for future use.
  • Join the right affiliate networks. You don’t need to be part of every affiliate network under the sun to make money. A few well-chosen ones in your industry will be a much better fit.
  • Try new things. Think of the first person who ever did a product review on YouTube—they must have felt kind of weird, but now things like that are one of the most popular ways to sell products as an affiliate! It’s better to be adventurous and give something different a try than never know how it would have worked out.