Earn cash online. It’s an interesting prospect, isn’t it? It’s equal parts promise and dare: there’s money out there for you to earn, just by using the internet. But if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, right? You’d have to be crazy to try it. Right?
Wrong! You don’t have to be crazy to try affiliate marketing. All you need is ambition and a bit of patience. That’s what really sets affiliate marketing apart from the get-rich-quick schemes swirling around online: it lets you earn an honest living. You won’t make millions, and money won’t roll in overnight.
That’s not to say you won’t make a great profit from it! More and more people are turning to affiliate marketing to earn a steady income. But like any job—and that’s what affiliate marketing is, a more interesting kind of job—it takes time and effort. It can be better than just a job if you do it right, but in affiliate marketing, like anywhere else, you have to put in the time before you see the profits roll in.
So how do you get started? You start with guides like this one, reading up on how affiliate marketing works, and seeing just how affiliate marketing can benefit you.
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But really, what is it?
This is the basic definition: affiliate marketing is when you, a blogger/reviewer/person with an online presence, promotes a product (a person’s or a company’s), on your own website. When someone who reads your blog buys something you recommend, you get a commission. Easy!
What makes affiliate marketing different from just being a sales job is your level of personal investment. We’re not talking financially—we mean how passionate you are. The most successful affiliate marketers out there built up an e-audience by writing about topics they love and promoting products or services that they would actually use.
It all comes down to honesty. Honesty is the cornerstone of affiliate marketing. No gimmicks. No scams. Just you, talking about something you love, mentioning products you like, and getting a portion of the profit if your recommendation leads to a sale.
How do I start?
Step 1 is finding a pen. You’re about to make some lists.
- Find your topic
First, make a list of the things you’re interested in. Start with your hobbies, games you love, or interesting experiences you’ve had. It’s not enough just to like something. Remember, you’re basically starting a part-time job where you’re going to talk about this topic non-stop. You won’t make a profit right away, so it needs to be something you’re happy to talk about for free, at least for a while.
The next step is a bit harder. You need to find out if there’s a market out there for your topic. Do some research to see if there are websites out there similar to yours. Do they work with affiliate partners? If so, how many? More partners could mean a more popular—and more lucrative—website.
But, if your search returns page after page of websites similar to the one you want to build, and only one or two of them are working with partners, then it’s back to the drawing board. Your topic has to be interesting for you and for an audience. Affiliate programs won’t work in niches where there’s no money to be made. You need to make sure your niche is both interesting and profitable to really start making affiliate marketing work for you.
- Build your website
This is equal parts building up your own brand and scoping out the competition. Just like you need to see which topics are doing well, it helps to get a feel for which websites are successful. Again, a higher number of affiliate marketers could mean a successful site, but that’s only the half of it.
What works for the blogger behind Website A could be vastly different from the approach taken by the blogger from Website B, and both could be the complete wrong fit for you and your niche. But that’s why you need to put in the time and do the research. (We told you it wouldn’t be quick.) Seeing what other websites are doing will help you narrow down how you want to structure your site.
Then comes the building process. There are a lot of affiliate marketers out there who offer website templates for you to start with. For people just starting out with affiliate marketing, there’s usually a free template program to work with. For people with a bit more experience, there are paid options, and these come with more complex features.
You can fine-tune your site with a bit of html knowledge, as the templates can look a little generic. Once you get a feel for what kind of website you want to build and know how to build it, you’re ready to hit the ground running!
- Pick your products
The last step involves just a bit more research. This time, look at the affiliate companies you want to work with. See what products and services they’re selling. Look for any overlap between what they want to sell and your topics of interest. Sometimes these will match up beautifully, and other times you’ll need to put some thought into what kind of promotions you want to make.
It helps to promote products you’ve personally used. Not only does this add to your authenticity as a promoter, but it also protects your reputation. Make sure you endorse products you won’t mind being associated with whenever someone Googles your name.
What are you waiting for?
Now that you know how affiliate marketing works, what’s stopping you? If you’re looking for a new way to earn income that’s based on the things you love, this could be just the field for you. Get your list of topics together and start your research. You won’t get rich overnight and you’ll need to put in the legwork, but what fulfilling career didn’t take a little time to get underway? Take that first step in your journey today!