What is that separates the affiliate marketing millionaires from those who struggle to make a few hundred dollars a month? Some may argue they have greater resources, more money to invest in marketing and long-established websites. I believe that understanding your niche and the market you operate in is the real key to success. If you can become an authority in your niche you don’t need to worry about SEO and traffic as you will naturally attract loyal followers.
There’s a crucial difference between an ‘expert’ and an ‘authority’ when it comes to affiliate marketing. Anyone can become an expert on a subject by reading books and publications to build knowledge. An authority takes it to the next level, and their word can become law. An authority in a niche commands great respect and admiration, and audiences follow their advice without question.
I believe it really helps if you have a genuine interest in your niche. Spending hours reading about something you find boring can be a real chore. You can of course outsource content creation and other aspects of your affiliate marketing business, but you’ll still have to get involved and develop some knowledge of the niche you’re working in.
Understand Your Audience
One of the first steps towards becoming an authority is in a niche is understanding your audience. What are their specific interests? What problems do they have? What products and services are they likely to buy?
For example, my main affiliate marketing business started out in the photography niche. This is a huge subject, and I needed to focus on specific areas where I could develop expertise and build a reputation as an expert. I identified issues relating to people upgrading from a basic digital camera to a digital SLR ,and this became the area I set out to become an authority in. I realized that photographers struggled with the additional controls and options a digital SLR offered, and I now promote books and courses to help them with this.
In your early days as an affiliate marketer you have to find where your audience hangs out. By searching forums, blogs and social media you can see what they’re talking about and being to develop knowledge of your chosen niche. Eventually your goal should be to become the person posting in forums and commenting on blogs, but initially these are valuable sources of information.
Who Are The Current Authorities?
An obvious place to start on the journey of becoming an authority in your niche is to look at those who already regarded as one. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, and you can learn a lot by following the gurus and champions who already have thousands of loyal followers.
Amazon is often a good place to start when it comes to researching authorities. Researching popular books on a subject will often reveal the names you should be following. For example, Scott Kelby and Michael Freeman are two of the most popular authors of photography books. I started following blogs and social media accounts of these guys a couple of years ago, and they constantly give me ideas for my affiliate marketing business.
Following current authorities will guide you to the best ways of reaching your market, as well as helping with ideas for products to promote. For example, if a leading authority in your niche has thousands of Twitter followers and a popular Facebook page you know these are effective ways of reaching your market.
Once you know what works in a niche you can develop your own style and approach. Is there a specific area you can focus on and develop a reputation in? For example, I realized that there wasn’t an authority commenting on black and white photography techniques, so this is an area I’ve focussed on. You may be able to differentiate yourself by using new methods and platforms to reach your audience. For example, I’ve been experimenting with the social media service Snapchat.
Becoming An Authority
It goes without saying that you need to know a lot about your niche to become an authority, but what else is important? You need to be highly visible and have a constant presence in the places people in your niche spend their time. For example, you should be seen commenting on popular blogs. You’ll need to be seen to add value to become an authority, so don’t make comments like ‘Nice post, I agree with what you say.’ Don’t be afraid to challenge what people are saying and be controversial as this can get you noticed. It’s no secret that I prefer Nikon cameras to Canon, and I often generate debate commenting on what I see as the shortcomings of some Canon models.
Creating memorable content is another effective way of establishing yourself as an authority. As well as posting articles, consider giving away ebooks and guides in your niche. I’ve heard the argument that you should sell good content rather than give it away, but I believe you get the returns in the long run. A guide to choosing digital camera lenses I started giving away a couple of years ago has attracted thousands of visitors to my website. Photographers come to me for advice about buying all sorts of equipment because of the free advice I offered about lenses.
Creating a brand is ultimately what you need to do to become an authority. Having a logo or picture of yourself to share is a simple way to start this process. If you don’t have a memorable name, consider working under a different one to establish your brand. Think of a unique way to present yourself to your market and become recognizable. Creating a series of videos or starting a podcast are ways to build your name and reputation.
Using what marketers call ‘social proof’ is a really powerful way of building a name in something as a trustworthy expert. Testimonials from customers can help with this. Let people know how many followers you have on Twitter, and make it clear that other people are interested in what you have to say.