I remember back in 2012 when I got started.
I don’t even remember asking the question “How do I get started in Affiliate Marketing.”
I stumbled upon it.
You see at the time I was coaching business owners and real estate agents and they kept asking me for book recommendations. (Remember when we used to read books?)
So I created a web page, and on the page place links to books for sale on Amazon. As I was looking at my Amazon account, it asked me if I wanted to make some money off any purchases made from the products I promoted.
Sure I thought, I am not going to turn down a couple bucks.
Fast forward a couple months, and I got a notice from Amazon asking where they should send my money.
It was very funny, because the sale that occurred was not for the books I recommended, it was from someone that had purchased their textbooks for the next semester and had clicked on one of my links before going to Amazon.
I got paid and I was hooked. That is how I got started in Affiliate Marketing.
Let me show you how to start affiliate marketing in 2020.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Did you know that some companies will pay you a commission fee or a referral fee if you recommend their product of service?
They Do. Here is why…
Companies have a choice to make when they have a product or service to advertise. For years, companies spent money on advertising before they ever sold the product. This is very expensive for a company. With Affiliate Marketing, they do not pay for the promotion until AFTER they have the order in hand.
They allow you and me to promote the product before the sale and then pay us after they have the money in hand.
This allows the Company to conserve their cash upfront before the sale, and it will enable them to increase the promotion and traffic to bring added attention to their offering.
Companies in different industries have offered referral fees for years. If you think about it, homeowners have been doing this with Real Estate agents forever, because the agent doesn’t get paid until the home is sold.
With the advent of the internet, companies saw that they could take this referral model or deferred commission / deferred advertising cost and implement it on a full scale. Companies could leverage the technology of cookies and IP Addresses to implement tracking systems.
Thus, Affiliate Marketing, as we know it today, was born.
How does Affiliate Marketing Work?
The Company decides that they want part of their promotional strategy to be affiliate marketing.
The Company enlists others to act as their affiliates. They either run an affiliate program themselves or have an affiliate management company administer the program.
Individuals like you and I sign up for and are approved as an affiliate. Our affiliate agreement has terms and conditions that dictate how we can and can’t promote the product or service.
We are issued a unique affiliate link to include in our website and internet promotions.
When a prospect visits our website and clicks on the link and buys the product or service, we are given credit in the tracking system.
The Company or the affiliate management company pays us based upon your agreement amount.
Throughout this site, you will see me explain different aspects of each step that I just described. Yes, the devil is in the details, but this is enough for you to get going.
Sounds Fantastic, doesn’t it? You are probably asking yourself, what is the easiest and best way to become an affiliate and get paid?
You need a venue to attract potential customers to click on your links, and the best place for this to happen is a website in the form of a WordPress Blog.
The Key to Affiliate Marketing is the Value that You Add
I recently installed an irrigation system in my backyard. And I started my research online. I googled sprinkler systems and was taken to the company websites, RainBird, Orbit. I also got results for the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Add to the mix Amazon, and I have displayed a variety of products.
But none of them really answered my questions.
- What type of system do I need?
- I live in Florida, do I need specific sprinkler heads?
- Can I just run the system off of my hose, or do I need to connect to my water main?
- How do I connect to my water main?
- What is the difference between my main water and reclaimed water?
Seeing the display on Lowes or RainBird or Amazon of a Sprinkler head did me absolutely no good. They really provided little value to me.
This is where the affiliate marketing opportunity comes into play.
If someone took the time to answer my questions, create a blog post, or a series of blog posts, and directed me to the product that I needed, I was going to be very grateful.
And if I got the information I was looking for, did I care if the blog writer or website made some money from the sprinkler manufacturer or the stores.
I had a problem, and I was looking for someone to solve it for me. Honestly, I was looking for someone that had already done the research for me and could consult and advise me.
This is where you have an opportunity to shine.
You could have been the one that had the answers to my questions long before I asked them.
And you could have gotten paid for it and paid for the click of the link that turned into the sale and paid by advertisers that were looking to get their product in front of an audience.
The affiliate marketer that answered the questions for me provided value, and they got paid. No Value, no payment.
And the more people that you assist, the more value that you provide, the more that you will get paid.
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
Let me share with you the steps I took to get started in Affiliate Marketing. Steps that I have repeated multiple times to create multiple streams of income.
Step One – Niche Selection
I research the areas that I want to provide value in. This area of expertise is referred to as a niche.
Step Two – Affiliate Program Research
I research if there are companies with affiliate programs that offer products or services in this niche area.
Step Three – Decision Point
If they do, I proceed to Step Four; if not, I repeat steps One and Two until I find a winner.
Step Four – Blog Creation
I Create a WordPress Blog that will be laser-focused on the niche area that I will provide value in
Step Five – Seed Content of 11 Post
I create 11 blog posts that provide product reviews, answer specific questions, or give tutorials for products or services in my niche area. I start to establish my value proposition.
Step Six – Affiliate Program Registrations
I register for affiliate programs with these companies, either directly or through affiliate management companies or Amazon. My post will show them I am serious and will favorably represent their companies.
Step Seven – 66 More Post / Content
I continue to create content similar to the post created in Step Five until I have 77 posts, and then I keep going.
Notice I didn’t mention anything about Keywords, or Google or Search Engine Optimization.
My focus is on providing VALUE.
If I do this the right way and if this is the foundation for my affiliate marketing, then I have a fighting chance.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Keywords, Google, Facebook, Instagram, they all have their place in this equation.
The Art, Science, and Secret of Affiliate Marketing
Every piece of content that we are creating has two audiences.
- The Person Reading it (or Hearing it, or Watching it)
- The Platform where the content is published.
This site is 100% focused on providing you the Treasure Map that reveals the Art, Science, & Secrets of Affiliate and Internet Marketing.
There are no shortcuts.
Does Affiliate Marketing Only Work With Blogging?
No. Blogging stands the test of time, and it targets the biggest audience on the web via Search Engines like Google or others by casting the widest net.
Other platforms are great for Affiliate marketing. Yet, in most cases, they all need a website or webpage to place the link.
And this site talks about how to leverage tools like YouTube, Podcasting, Facebook, Funnels, and Email Marketing to help you provide the maximum value to potential customers.
The best ways to provide value on your site
- Provide Answers to Questions
- Provide How-to Guides
- Provide Comprehensive Reviews
- Provide Comparisons to other Products
- Provide Information on Complementary Items or Accessories.
- Document Actual Experiences – Hands-On
Provide Answers to Questions
As you saw from my example above regarding the sprinkler system, I had more questions than answers. A good site that is geared towards providing value would not only answer the questions that I had but would even answer some questions that I didn’t even know that I had.
These answers may not have all been found in one post. They could have been presented in a series of linked posts. They could have been a post that included a video answering frequently asked questions. It could have been involved in a free email offer for a guide that would be sent to me.
An excellent site would do all of the above.
Answering these questions and providing the resources necessary to make an informed decision is invaluable.
Provide How-to Guides
The site may have answered my questions, but if it didn’t show me How to use the product or service, I would still be left with questions.
How-To Guides and Tutorials are very effective at removing doubt from a consumer’s mind. They also can continue to provide valuable information after the purchase is made.
Not only did this site answer my questions, but they have provided me with a step by step guide that I can use after I get the product. Some consumers will not get a product without seeing how it works. This is why late-night infomercials have had success.
The best example is a step by step guide. I have taken the time to provide value by creating a number of these guides for Domain Name Registration, Web Hosting, Site Setup, and others. The List could go on and on.
Provide Comprehensive Reviews
Another method of providing value is through the use of product reviews.
Does the sprinkler system that I am considering work the way that they say it does? Does the 12-foot sprinkler head actually spray 12 feet, or is it more like 10? Was there anything about the product that you liked or disliked?
Here is where the product review is benefited by your site is in a specific area of expertise or Niche.
I remember going to one of the big-box electronics stores a few weeks ago. I wanted some information on cameras.
The initial employee that was assisting me knew where the camera department was located, but beyond that, they were not of much use. (When I read online in Facebook Groups or Reddit Post from wanna be Affiliate Marketers, I posted a link on my site, but no one has bought anything, I think of this associate at the big box store, no value was provided)
Once I was directed to the department, a true professional assisted me.
He answered my questions. He provided a review of the product that fit my needs. He showed me a comparison to the other products, and he even offered his own review based upon his hand on experience. And to seal the deal, he said, “wait a moment, let me show you some pictures I took on this camera last week,” as he went to get his portfolio.
The 2nd associate was a professional and provided value.
Affiliate Marketers that follow this model are successful.
Provide Comparisons to other Products
Another Method of post would be to create product comparisons. These guides provide great value to your readers and turn them into customers.
Product Comparisons fit when you have two or more products of services that are available that solve the same problem or provide an answer to the same question.
Back to the sprinkler system example. I ended up picking a brand because of a product comparison article that had one key data point. The system I picked offered an app with wi-fi capabilities to fit in with my home automation system. The other one did not.
Again, both products had a page on Amazon, and Amazon has a feature where you can check the box and show the product side by side, but the wi-fi information was not in the Amazon comparison screen. I found it out on a blog. Upon further review, this feature was barely mentioned as a bullet point on the manufacturer’s site.
If the affiliate marketer that built the blog that I visited had strictly copied and pasted the List of the bullet points provided by the Company, he would not have provided added value.
Because he or she took the time to make a true product comparison, they were able to highlight the difference and educate my decision.
Provide Information on Complementary Items or Accessories.
Another type of content post that I don’t see enough of from Affiliate Marketers is the Complementary Items.
Back in my days designing Internet Commerce software, one of my tasks for over a year was designing the logic behind the product upsell program. Amazon and sites like it now have a section called “People Also Bought,” but back in the day, this did not exist.
A good product comparison or review that directs the prospect to another pay that displays other complementary products or services is golden.
Many times this is not done by the website for selfish reasons. They want to hurry up and get you passed off via the affiliate link.
This is a mistake and an opportunity that is being left on the table. Don’t fall into the same trap.
Document Actual Experiences – Hands-On
You can create a post that follows the journey. From showing how you ordered the product to documenting your excitement of getting it and unboxing the product to actually using it.
Have you ever gotten a new product, been all excited, used it for a couple of weeks and then wondered:
- What the hell was the designer thinking and
- Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?
This is where your hands-on experience can be beneficial to your readers.
Affiliate Marketing, when done correctly, is not just posting a bunch of links on your website and sitting back and collecting checks.
Again, using these types of posts, you can provide value and set yourself and your website apart from the pack.
Your readers will appreciate it, and so will Google and the search engines.
You will be known as the Authority in the subject area, thus increasing the amount of traffic and readers that these services send to you.
All without having to spend money on advertising or paid traffic.
More Value = More Money.
I know by now that you are thinking, Robert, just tell me where the Treasure is buried.
Sorry, I don’t care what the talking heads and self-appointed gurus tell you… IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY.
The Key you need is on one Island, and the Shovel you need is on another, and the Food and Water to keep you going as you sail to the Treasure is on another Island.
You see, the funny thing is that there is a big difference between being a Privateer and a Pirate. Beware of the Pirates that are trying to sell you a bill of goods and instant results.
How can you become an Affiliate Marketer?
Within the Niche (area of expertise) that you selected above, is there a product that you use yourself within that area?
How about any services?
If so, let’s see if they have an affiliate program.
For this example, I am going to start with product promotion. I am going to search Google for Flip Flop Affiliate Programs.
There are three paths that I can now take to start promoting flip flops.
- I can sign up as an Amazon Associate and promote the products that they sell.
- I can associate with one of the Affiliate management Companies like CJ.com or Shareasale.com and apply to companies that carry Flip Flops.
- I can work with companies that have their own affiliate program.
I want to make sure that I am signing up for products that I will actually promote, and that will make sense to my target audience. If I am looking for Flip Flops, I am not really going to be interested in Winter Boots.
Now, complementary products like hats and swimwear and beachwear would be items that I can consider promoting. Therefore I should also look to associate with affiliate programs with these other products as well.
Let’s Start with Amazon
In April of 2020, Amazon cut the commission percentage that is paid out to affiliates in several areas. That being said, they are still a good affiliate marketing option because of three reasons:
- People know the brand.
- When you send people to Amazon, they are more likely to buy. (not just the item you promoted, but others as well that you will get paid for.)
- They have the most products.
Once you are registered with the system and approved as an affiliate, you can search for products to promote.
Another avenue would be to join an affiliate management company like Commission Junction (CJ.com) or Shareasale. They portals allow you to register with different companies in your niche area and select links to place on your site.
Using the Flip Flop example, I am an affiliate for Happy Feet via CJ.com.
They provide banner style links like this one that I can display on my site:
If you click on this link, you will be taken to a section on the Happy Feet site that displays Flip Flops and Sandals.
I also have the ability to select individual products and create a link to the specific product page. Here is the link that will accomplish this:
Now that I have a product from Happy Feet, I am going to look at the product description and pick out some key areas that I can use for my post creation.
Here are some examples:
- Orthotic – What Makes them Orthotic and how do they compare to others on the market?
- Natural Latex. How are others made? What are the benefits of Latex? Easier Cleaning? Don’t Smell after wearing?
- Massage Flip Flops vs. Regular – What is the benefit? Could you tell a difference?
- Where can I wear them? Dog walking, gardening, errands? How does this tie in with the massage and orthotics?
- Perfect if you suffer from Leg Cramps, Plantar Fasciitis, etc. – How is it beneficial, and what are these conditions?
So I could do a review on this product and include it in a comparison post for Best Flip Flops for wearers with Plantar Fasciitis.
And the information about sizing. You could do an entire post on sizing charts and variances from brand to brand and country to country.
It may seem like alot of work, but this information is not doing to become outdated anytime soon. It will be what we call, Evergreen.
I am sure you could find more, and so would I once I had purchased the product and tried it for a while.
Although Amazon offers a lower commission rate, I could write about one of the products sold on their Platform and then provide comparisons or complementary products that are offered on other sites that would ultimately pay me more, yet still, provide value to the shopper.
You will start to see affiliate marketers provide choices on their sites that will show two or three places that the shopper can buy from.
Company Direct Affiliations
One way to find these is to enter the company name followed by the word affiliate program in to Google. This will show you if the company has a program and take you to the signup page.
Sometimes these links will direct you back to CJ or Shareasale, so don’t be surprised. They have made the choice to allow these companies to manage their program.
Amazon operates with a 24-hour cookie. What does this mean? It means that if a shopper clicks on your link and buys anything from Amazon within 24 hours of clicking your link, you will get credit. If they don’t act until 25 hours later, you will not get the commission.
Some other sites have 7 days, 14 days, or 45-day cookies called Sticky Cookies. This is spelled out in the program details within the affiliate terms and conditions.
Just keep this in mind. This may make you think twice about selecting to promote certain products or companies.
Some Niches have more information products or services available as opposed to physical products.
Information Products and Services for Affiliate Marketing
This is particularly true of Software Services.
A number of companies offer Software as a Service or SaaS subscriptions.
As an affiliate marketer, promoting these products can actually lead to you getting paid multiple times.
- When the shopper first signs up
- And each month as they keep their subscription.
One of the best-known examples of this type of product/service is ClickFunnels.
ClickFunnels is a SaaS that pays out an initial signup commission and a monthly commission as long as the user remains a subscriber of the system.
Because the system is $97 per month and offers a higher commission rate than the physical products that I highlighted before, some affiliate marketers select their Niche in the ultra-competitive area of Funnel Marketing.
Information Products and Services have, in many cases, developed sales funnels themselves, that aid in your conversion. Unlike the physical product, some of the information about the product is given directly to the consumer by the Company. That being said, the same types of content post apply to information products, services, and software.
Some of these services will require you to have a track record of success before they approve you for being an affiliate.
Unlike ShareaSale, or CJ, or Amazon, you will not find the information products and services applications bundled and managed in one place. Most of them are operated individually by the companies themselves, so you will need to do more research in order to find them and apply them.
They will also have payment thresholds that you must reach before you get a payout of your commissions, so keep this in mind.
How much can you make?
Amazon – Shoes – 4%
CJ – Happy Feet 8%
Clickfunnels – 20% – 40%
Seeing this, you might be tempted to only promote Information Products and Services, and there would be pros and cons for doing that.
Here is my advice. Are you technically proficient enough to produce the content types that I listed above about a software package, or do you have trouble logging into your own Facebook account?
If your passion is Gardening, or the outdoors, or travel or camping, stick to what you know and provide value and let your passions show.
And, within all of those areas I just listed, there are Information products and services available.
For example, Campers can use a product called RV Trip Wizard to plan their trips. This program is a software service that campers subscribe to, and the Company has a great affiliate program.
Advanced Affiliate Marketing
Steps Eight thru Eleven
Step Eight – Create Unique Offer
Create a unique offering that you will give to someone in exchange for their email address/contact information. (This is referred to as building a list)
Step Nine – Launch a Landing Page / Funnel
Create a Landing Page that you direct your readers to offer them a unique offering.
Step Ten – Follow up via Email
Deliver the Unique Offering via email and follow up on a consistent basis.
Step Eleven – Monetize your Emails
Include Affiliate Links within the emails or offer your own product or services within the messages.
When I moved from Virginia to Florida, I had been selling real estate for nearly 15 years. Over the years, I continued to collect names and emails from potential clients and past buyers and sellers. I had a list.
Because I was no longer living in Virginia, it would have been impossible for me to directly assist buyers and sellers. As soon as I moved, I would have been out of business, except for one thing. I had a LIST.
For the next two years, even after I had moved to Florida, I kept a referral license active in Virginia and emailed the names on the list consistently. I had a partnership arrangement with a team of agents in Virginia that would work with the Buyers and Sellers that expressed an interest in working with me.
Doing so made me over six figures in commission referrals over those first two years. Had I not had a list, I would have been out of business. At the end of the 2nd year, I introduced the team to my List and sold the List to the team for them to use going forward.
The money was not in being a real estate agent in the end. The money was in the List.
This can apply to Affiliate Marketing as well. The best time to start a list is after you have completed your 77 articles in Step Seven.
At this point, you will have a foundation of credibility in your area of expertise and will be able to provide further value through your unique offer and the messages you send to the List.
Developing a unique offer, in the form of a cheat sheet or audio or video or PDF that they can’t get anywhere else on your website, will create a compelling offer that your site visitors will want to get their hands on.
Trying to get their information before you have proven your expertise will populate your List with numbers, but they will not be convinced yet that you are someone that they should listen to.
Waiting will solidify you standing and will increase your chances of getting conversions and actions out of the members of your List.
People continued to contact me because I have racked up years of a track record of delivering tangible results.
This same model will work for you.
“The man who chases two rabbits catches neither.”
Conclusion – How to Start Affiliate Marketing
At first, you will need to focus on building your content for both audiences—your Visitors and Google. Despite what anyone will say, you can not start a new website and post content and have it show up immediately.
You also don’t plant a seed in the garden and dig it up every week to see if it has grown. You keep Gardening and planting and watering. The same is true with creating content with Affiliate Marketing links. Google will find them, give it time.
If you shift your focus away to now writing emails for your list, you will find yourself chasing two rabbits and never catching either one.
I have sat in your seat. I have watched video after video after video trying to find a shortcut. I have read so many blogs. I have a bookshelf so full of products and presentations from gurus that the shelves are warped from the weight.
And every time I come back to the Treasure Map analogy. You need to find the keys and clues in a particular order to find the Treasure.
Don’t Rush the process. Dedicate the next 77 days to build a content creation habit. Find a safe port that takes care of you and gives you advice that you can understand and that is logical. Don’t act on emotions trying to shortcut the system. Be true to yourself.
Calm Seas Never Make a Good Sailor
If you are serious about becoming an Affiliate Marketer or if you found anything that I said useful to you on your journey, please leave a comment or let me know over on my Facebook page. You can also send me a message on Instagram or Twitter.
Now, there is a beach calling my name for the rest of the day. I am going to kick up my flip flops and check my earnings for the day.