Affiliate marketing isn’t terribly complicated. But we’ll give you the extra simplified definition here:
First, you partner with a company who offers an affiliate program. Once you sign up, you are required to give them a kidney. No, not really. Rather, the company provides you with a special link. This lets them know when someone who lands on their site was referred by you. If that person then buys anything, you receive a commission from the website.
It’s the old “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” But if you’ve been scratched, then you know not all back scratchers are created equal. And neither are all backs.
That being said, affiliates earn more in commissions for digital products - typically 40% of their price - than they do for physical products. That’s a pretty juicy commission. And, of course, high ticket items allow affiliates to earn higher valued commissions. Duh.
You’ll also find that some companies pay more than others. So you’ll want to hunt around to find the one (or ones) that are the best fit for you.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
We’re going to assume that you already have a blog, website, email list or some other online presence. And that you have followers or supporters or customers because you’re either a content whiz, or you hired a professional writer/blogger to provide content for your site. Either way, well done.
Now, let’s say that your online presence involves dogs in some way. Maybe you’re a dog behaviorist with a vast array of followers trying to manage their unruly dogs. Perhaps, instead, you have a popular website that focuses exclusively on art with dogs. (Or even better, by dogs.)
You start thinking that you could use a few extra bucks. Doggie needs a new pair of shoes or two. So you become an affiliate with a company that offers a product or service that’s relevant to your dog-loving visitors. It could be someone offering dog therapy services. Or art supplies. For dogs.
Anyhow, you recommend this product or service to your followers. You may do this by:
- writing a fascinating post about it
- talking about it on social media (#awesomedogshoes)
- mentioning it in a newsletter
- placing a button or banner ad somewhere on your site
Whatever the case, you include the special link provided by the affiliate company. This link has a special number that is unique to you. It’s otherwise known as your affiliate ID.
When someone uses your affiliate link to make a purchase, you earn a commission. You receive payment of your accumulated earnings either after a specified period of time, or when your earnings reach a certain threshold.
How to Become An Affiliate Marketer
You need only join an affiliate program. Some are really easy to join, while others require you to apply. And then there are those that are by invitation only. Because they think they’re so special. Which honestly, they might be. It depends on what you need from an affiliate program.
Start by considering what kinds of things you like to talk about and/or use. For example, if your dog blog has a page devoted to reviewing wacky accessories for your dog, you might check your favorite pet supply website to see if they offer these products. Cruise around the site to look for a link that says “Affiliates,” “Affiliate Program,” or “Referral Program.” Then follow the links.
You can also do a more direct search. If you’re going for a big wig website, you could type in “Chewy Affiliate program,” for instance. On the other hand, you might knowall about a website committed to nothing but Day-Glo Dog Coats. (Anything’s possible on the internet.) So try typing in “Day-Glo Dog Coats Affiliate program.” And if your first search doesn’t turn up anything, that doesn’t automatically indicate a lack of a program. Sometimes there are slight variances in word usage or terms, so keep on trying.
Another thing you’ll want to do is check out the affiliate products others in your niche are using. Study their sites and read their content. Is there anything interesting in their sidebar? To whom are they linking? Check blogs and website in similar niches too - such as the cat lover, ferret lover and hamster lover websites. There’s bound to be some overlap. And if you see a product or service mentioned on those sites that you can promote too (ethically, of course), seek out affiliate information for them as well.
You could also join an affiliate network. You may have no choice in this one, since a lot of companies offer their affiliate program through an affiliate network you’ll be required to join right after you give them one of your kidneys. (Again, not really.) Even if you have a staunch history of being a non-joiner, don’t immediately dodge this. An affiliate network is ultimately going to give you access to a lot more products. Especially if you can find a high-paying one.
Is Affiliate Marketing Right for You?
As we said above, this is the simplified version of what affiliate marketing is. In most cases, you’re not just going to sit back and watch the gold coins accumulate in yourScrooge McDuck money room. There are other aspects you’ll need to consider before you decide to take the plunge.
When all is said and done though, you’ll find that you have the potential to make a good chunk of money if you get connected with the right company and know how to promote their product or service like marketing pros.