The hardest part about being an affiliate marketer is getting started. When you think about starting your own online business it’s a daunting task, so many people actually don’t ever go through with it.
It is definitely a risk to try your hand at affiliate marketing, but with a little bit of guidance—and this handy checklist—you can be better prepared as you begin affiliate marketing.
Before you dive into this, though, know that there is no right or wrong way to do things. Just because it’s worked one way doesn’t mean that it won’t work another way, or that there’s only one tried and true way to do things. But in our experience, there are a few things that can definitely help and make a big difference in the long run, especially for beginner affiliate marketers.
1. Determine Your Niche
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the stronger your focus on the products and/or services you promote, the higher probability of actually making an income. Here are some examples of not-so-focused affiliate marketing businesses:
- Kids’ toys
With these types of broad subjects, it’s going to be hard for you to rank up near the top with SEO and get found by consumers. These all encompass everything and anything in the topic, meaning that visitors to your affiliate site will have to comb through a lot of clutter that simply doesn’t apply to them.
Take the travel category, for example. Someone may have found your site through a Facebook ad for hiking shoes, and this person may be an avid hiker. However, a travel site may also include expensive AirBnB listings or rolling suitcases—something that a hiker doesn’t really desire. This person will take a look at your site and feel like it’s not 100% for them, so they’ll close the tab and never visit again.
Instead, try to narrow down a subject by considering specific age groups, locations, or specific needs of a demographic. Using the aforementioned subjects, you could narrow them down in a few different ways.
- Travel for baby boomers. By honing in on an age group that has specific needs and interests (and is quite a large part of society as well), you can garner more interest from your audience.
- Cameras and gear for professionals. Cameras have been around for centuries, and people will continue to want to upgrade theirs and their equipment. By focusing on people who photograph for a living, you are catering to a higher-priced sector of the market.
- Kids’ toys that are chemical free. Green living is huge, and many parents want to ensure that the toys they give their kids are safe for their health.
- Baking pastries. From muffin tins to parchment paper, you’ll have more specific products to share. When bakers are looking for new items to buy, they’ll have an endless supply of information on your site.
- Clothing and accessories for people in Canada. This geographic location has specific needs that places like Florida or Bali don’t.
2. Determine How To Promote Links
Although a website is the usual route that people take when are beginner affiliate marketers, there are a few more options out there that you might not realize.
- Emails. Start up your own email list that people can join for recommendations.
- Social media, like Facebook or Twitter, for example.
- YouTube videos. YouTube descriptions are an excellent place to put links.
- Advertisements. Pay for ads that pop up on other sites or on social media.
- Blog posts. Purchase a domain name and get content out there!
To determine how you should promote links, consider what you’re promoting and who your target audience is. Knowing their age, interests, and geographic location can help you determine the best approach. For example, Twitter is a poor choice for something geared towards an audience that is 50+, but Facebook is much better suited for them. And last, consider your strengths. If you’re an amazing writer, you could benefit from the traditional blog route, and email marketing might help you flourish even more.
3. Sign Up For The Right Programs
If you’ve done your work so far, then this shouldn’t be too hard. Take some time to research the best affiliate programs and networks in your niche. Honestly, half the battle is determining the focus of your efforts, so if you’ve done that you shouldn’t have too hard of a time pinpointing the best programs for you.
Still, there are a lot. If you’re feeling overwhelmed when comparing the programs, make sure to consider a few important factors:
- The payout threshold. This is the point at which you accumulate money and get a paycheck. If it’s incredibly high, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—it just means that it might be a while until you really see anything come out of it. At that point, you’ll need to ask yourself if you’ll feel all that motivated after not receiving commissions or if you’ll be able to power through.
- The cookie length. This is how long after someone uses your link that they can buy the product or service and you’ll still receive a commission. Longer cookies don’t equal better, necessarily; instead, it depends on your audience. If your audience includes young twenty-somethings who like to shop around and a cookie length is only an hour, that could be a bad situation all around.
- Customer service. Take a look at the site (or sites) and see what customer reviews are like. This is your reputation on the line, so you don’t want to be stuck recommending poorly made products. This not only means that consumers will lose their trust in you, but that they’ll be making returns—which means less money in your pocket.
Remember that it’s about quality, not quantity. It’s far better to take part in two affiliate programs that fit your niche perfectly than try to get twenty going strong.