These days everyone wants to be involved with affiliate marketing in one way or another, but not everyone fully understands its concept. With this being a pro version of the lesson I will try to cover everything from A to Z.
What Is Affiliate Marketing
The biggest, and perhaps the most important question that most beginner affiliates ask is “what is affiliate marketing“, and that’s not a bad thing, it shows that the person is interested in actually learning the basics, while others may try to start from the top, pretending to understand it all, but soon failing at it because they did not take the time to get the full understanding of what it is, and how it all actually works.
Some people, often the wannabe pros, are always trying to tell mentors like myself, not to go over the basics, but I say to them: “step aside”.
I totally get why they may feel that it is bad practice to try to write another “what is make money blogging, or what is ___ fill in the blank”, I get it, it’s starting to look like the market is saturated, and everyone keeps saying the same old thing, over and over again, but what needs to be kept in mind here is that new aspiring affiliate marketers are arriving everyday, therefore the basics are needed, so that the newcomers can have somewhere to start from.
I am not suggesting that every new affiliate go out and write the very same post that he or she seen on someone else’s blog, as you should know by now that I am against the old tacky copy and paste guru 2-step. I do however feel that everything should be covered, no matter the category one is in, he or she just needs to come up with a way to separate themselves from everyone else, and stand out among the crowd.
Now that that’s out of the way, let me get back to explaining what affiliate marketing is all about…
In its simplest form, affiliate marketing happens when someone known as an affiliate marketer, or a middle-person acts on behalf of a company, an individual, or otherwise – in the form of promoting either goods or services to a client, for capital gain.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work
Here is a quick scenario on how you as a middle-person would find a company, join their affiliate program, promote their products and get paid for it:
Let’s suppose that you know a few friends that are interested in buying a new iphone, but they want it at a reasonable price, and you happen to know just where they can get the iphone at a reasonable price, but you feel that you should be compensated for finding the phone at such a great deal, but yet, you do not want to charge your friends any money for your efforts, you would much rather charge the company a finders fee for bringing your friends over to buy their products.
Here are the steps to take for receiving your compensation:
1) Sign up for the company’s affiliate program. Visit the company’s website, look for a link that reads “affiliate program”, or just “affiliate” somewhere on the site (usually at the bottom of the page).
2) Fill out their form. Here you will have to answer questions like what market you’re in, how old are you, how much traffic does your website or blog get, what’s your social security number and so on.
3) Promote their products. Here is where you will choose which products to promote, in your case it’s an iphone, then you will use the company’s banners, text-links and other media to serve your clients. Products are usually promoted from your site and sold on the vendor’s site.
4) Get paid for it. Once you successfully make a sale, you will be paid by the company, via check, bank, or by other means. They will more than likely have a few payment options for you to choose from, just choose the one that’s right for you, and receive your money.
The History Of Affiliate Marketing
In order to understand the present, or perhaps the future of something, you have to first look into its past. When looking into the past of affiliate marketing, you have to pay close attention to specific elements that started it all.
Affiliate Marketing Offline
Affiliate marketing has obviously been around for quite some time, probably since the first days of humanity. This could possibly date back to as far as when the first 10 to 20 thousand people where around – possibly less than that. Because just as your favorite local stores of today, such as Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree, etc., sell products for other companies that may be thousands of miles away, for a sellers fee, which is an act of affiliate marketing; it is quite evident in theory that people in the early days grew and sold crops, some acted as vendors, and some acted as sellers.
Given what we’ve learned from the history books, growing crops was the biggest thing going on back then. Because not everyone was able to successfully grow crops, mainly due to soil shortage. Thus they had to purchase theirs from local sellers that carried crops for other vendors.
This tells us that people of today aren’t the first to pioneer the art of affiliate marketing, especially offline. This style of marketing obviously has been carried from decade to decade, from century to century and from millennium to millennium – all the way into the modern times that we now live in.
Affiliate Marketing Online
Unlike offline, online affiliate marketing would not come until some thousands of years later, after the internet was born of course.
The internet was a work in progress for decades and decades, its development comes from many different scientists, adding many different features that eventually all came together to launch the web as we know of it today.
The most common time-stamp for the creation of the internet would probably be set in the 1960’s, due to the creation of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), this technology used what is called packet switching, which was designed to allow multiple computers to communicate on one single network.
Thirty or so odd years later when the internet became extremely popular (around the 1990’s), the dot-com bubble had arrived, and business people started turning to the internet for business purposes, whether that was to advertise their business on the internet, or to start some sort of dotcom business for themselves.
Most of these dotcom businesses were based on digital marketing, which used digital technologies on the internet that involves search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), e-commerce marketing, etc.
Take for instance, one of the most known dotcom businesses from those times (the 90’s), is amazon.com, created by Jeff Benzos.
while Benzos wasn’t the first to pioneer an online business at the time, he was however one of the few people that survived after the big dot-com bubble burst, and he is held highly today as the king of affiliate marketing, just read anyone’s blog that’s in his same category, and you’ll see a mention of him somewhere on there.
Can Anyone Become An Affiliate
Yes, becoming an affiliate is really simple and easy to do. In fact, once you have completed the 4 steps we discussed earlier in the quick scenario, you are officially an affiliate marketer. Even if you don’t complete all 4 steps you can still proclaim yourself as an affiliate just by reaching step 3. While you haven’t technically sold anything, you still have a product to sell, therefore, you’re still considered as an affiliate.
It’s really just that simple, you don’t have to go through some $5000 course that a super guru is offering, you don’t have to complete any available college courses or anything, all you need to do is just take those 3 steps as mentioned above. After that, you can call up your family and friends, and wholeheartedly tell them that you are officially an affiliate marketer.
While that may be all there is to becoming an affiliate marketer, it gets a bit more complicating when you start to talk about making money online as an affiliate. This is where 100’s, 1000’s, and even millions of people have failed.
Your success will depend solely upon your patients, because no business, task or otherwise blossom’s without giving it at least a little time for growth.
Be careful with the type of affiliate you become. Just as there are different types of Bloggers, which you can learn more about here: how to start a blog, there are different types of affiliate marketers, let’s take a look at the many different types now…
There are different types of affiliate marketers that exist today, some are who they say they are, and some are simply out to trick you in some kind of way.
Different Types Of Affiliates
- Lost Affiliate – this is a wannabe pro affiliate that’s really a beginner, they think they’re now pros because they took a few other lost affiliates courses, and don’t understand that they’re being lead by people that know absolutely nothing about how affiliate marketing works.
- Dinosaur Affiliate – these are the groups from the late 90’s and early 2000’s, while some people have evolved and moved on, there are some that just can’t help but reminisce about the good ole days when it was not so much about being 100% accurate, and the money flowed like honey… I’m talking about millions – this is true.
- Fraud Affiliate – everyone knows what these vampires are up to, if you haven’t read a good blog on how to spot these savages then you definitely should. I have a whole entire section dedicated to them and their schemes, we talk about how to spot them, how to avoid them and how to get rid of them all together. See: Scams & Reviews.
- Starter Affiliate – these are the interns, they’re not out to cause anyone any harm, they are just in need of direction. This group has to be snatched up quickly by legitimate affiliates, and here’s why… being that they don’t know and fully understand affiliate marketing, gives way for the untrustworthy gurus to slide in and sell them some get rich quick idea, they’re likely to cross over to the other side and possibly be lost forever.
- Nextwave Affiliate – and finally, you have the legendary nextwave affiliate, this group is out to do it all in a greener, more professional, more futuristic way – they are using accurate information that helps their visitors solve their problems, they are showing starter affiliates the way down the right path, they are giving lots of aspiring affiliates a reason to believe again. And much more.
Why Do So Many Affiliates Fail?
Most of the new affiliates fail because they’ve either heard or purchased one of those “get rich overnight” products from a so-called guru that happens to be stuck in the early 2000’s times of affiliate marketing, back when it was easy for them to trick the uninformed and desperate wannabes. I should know, I was one of the wannabes that got burned, not just once, but multiple times.
What most of these beginners don’t understand is that, these gurus are only showing them “tricks” that will get them by for like a month or two, but lately that hasn’t even been the case, due to large companies and search engines cracking down on that “get to the first page of Google, or the get a pagerank of (5) in 3 months epidemic”, and this is great news for people like you, because while the gurus are being rejected for their phony marketing tactics, you can be doing it all honestly, which will later pay off in ways you could have never imagined.
Reaasons For Affiliate Failure:
- Overly spending money.
- Trying to reach first page of Google too soon.
- Trying to get a pagerank (PR) 5 in the first 3 months.
- Spending way too much time on SEO.
- Choosing the wrong affiliate marketing platforms.
- Trying to sell products they know nothing about.
- Trying to automate everything.
Let’s See Each Failure:
Overly spending money. The term “the more you pay, the better something is” is not always true, sometimes spending money isn’t even required. New affiliates are always over spending, buying this person’s product, that person’s product, buying upsells, etc., all recommended to them by the guru. This is not necessary at all.
Trying to reach first page of Google too soon. Every smart marketer knows that it takes time and calculated strategy to organically reach the first page of Google. Anything other than this is going to get a site either deindexed or banned. Always practice green affiliate marketing.
Trying to get a pagerank (PR) 5 in the first 3 months. Thinking a site is going to rank at a PR 5 or even a 3 for that matter, in the first three months is just improper thinking. No site that practices legitimate tactics is going to be ranked this highly, this quickly. And if I may add, Google is pulling the plug on page ranking (thanks to the gurus), so there is really no need to focus on being ranked anymore. And if someone is trying to charge you money for getting your site ranked high on Google, then they are simply running a scam on you. Avoid this kind of behavior at all costs.
Spending way too much time on SEO. Sure SEO is a great way to get a huge audience, but people seem to think that their site is all about SEO and nothing else, so they spend more time and even more money with professionals on the SEO of their site. Your site is made up of far more elements than just SEO. You still have to focus on creating quality content, keeping hackers away, stopping spam, increasing speed and so forth.
Choosing the wrong affiliate marketing platforms. A lot of people seem to think that choosing the wrong affiliate marketing platform has nothing to do with their success, but it actually does. If you sign up with an affiliate network that only contains weak or fraudulent products, then you may find yourself on the blacklist as a marketer. Be sure to check out any network before signing up and committing to anything.
Trying to sell products they know nothing about. Selling products that you nor any of your peers have no knowledge of is absolutely ridiculous. It’s sort of a nail in the coffin for any affiliate that’s just starting out. If you don’t know anything about a product you shouldn’t promote it. It’s really as simple as that.
Trying to automate everything. Affiliate marketing cannot be automated. Let me say that again to make sure you heard it, affiliate marketing, just like blogging, can not and should not be automated. Stop listening to these idiots out here that are telling you to automate everything, while some parts of it can and probably should be automated, however, the whole process of affiliate marketing cannot be. Stop looking for shortcuts, there aren’t really any, even by automating a few parts of the process will take some type of effort, so thinking that there’s an effortless approach is just thinking how everyone used to think in the early 2000’s: 2001 – 2007, it’s a new day, it’s time to think in a different way.
Dont’s In Affiliate Marketing
Here are some of the things you should never do:
- Don’t promote any products without first having a website or blog up.
- Don’t promote products you know nothing about.
- Don’t use PLR (Private Label Rights) products.
- Don’t sign up with networks until you research them first.
- Don’t promote any products because of a quick buck.
- Don’t promote products that’s unrelated to your niche.
- Don’t rush your site being ranked by Google.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Keep things simple and honest.
If you want to avoid the dead end road that all of the other affiliates are running into, I have a few pointers for you, the list below will go over the things you should do.
Do’s In Affiliate Marketing
Here are some of the things you should do:
- Do put up a blog or website that’s dedicated to your passion.
- Do promote products that you’re familiar with.
- Do keep your site active and updated.
- Do thoroughly research a network before joining.
- Do provide visitors with as much help as you possibly can.
- Do give Google and your content time to happen.
- Do stay away from spammy fraudulent products.
- Do produce as much great content as possible.
Will It Work For You?
Affiliate marketing can be for everyone and anyone, but if you are someone that’s a bit naive and in it only for the sole purpose of making a quick buck, then it will not work for you.
It will work for you however if you practice green marketing techniques and not follow the crowd of fraud affiliates. Moreover, don’t even ask the question of will it work for you, instead think about how you’re going to make it work for you.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- It’s about the customer all of the time.
- Always deliver and over deliver to your customers.
- Only promote products you know a lot about.
- Only work for vendors & companies you know and trust.
- You have to be versatile.
As you advance in your career you will start to notice that you have to become involved more and more with everyday activities such as website security, data backup and the usage of different tools.
1). Website Security – you will have to secure your site weekly, daily, or maybe even hourly. This will of course depend on how active your site is.
2). Data Backup – backing up your website or blog’s data, which includes posts, pages, comments, etc., will become a huge part of your task.
3). Tools – you will be utilizing more tools than just the ones for SEO purposes. You will also have to start using tools for speed, maintenance, etc.
Let’s Get Started
You have now come to the point where you are ready to start a blog, or a website of your own, become an affiliate of a product, or many products, and make yourself some money.
Why do I feel like you’re ready for this step
Maybe it’s because you have now learned all that you needed to learn about the topic. And I think that you’re ready to start you journey.
Let’s look back at all of the knowledge you’ve now acquired:
- What affiliate marketing is.
- How it works.
- The history of it all.
- How to become an affiliate.
- The Dont’s – things you should not do.
- The Do’s – things you should do.
- Why others fail.
- If it’s right for you.
Alright, let’s now begin, as you will be building your very own affiliate marketing site from scratch, which is the best way to do anything – getting that hands on approach and building it from the ground up, so that it is something you can be proud of.
1. Running On Passion
Decide whatever it is that you are most passionate about, If say, dog walking was the first thing that popped into your head, then there’s no need for you to try and continue to figure out whatever it is you’re most passionate about, because dog walking is it. I’m sure that you’re passionate about more than just this one thing, but your first thought is almost always your best one.
I know that in the past you were told to research a product first, and then do some keyword research to try to find a keyword that is low in competition, and if not, keep searching… this of course is putting the carriage before the horse, thus the reason everyone continues to fail as affiliate marketers.
Never start a blog or website like this, let your passion drive you. It will be passion that will keep you excited about your new found career, without any passion you just become another cold heartless marketer that’s soon to be forced to shut down shop due to everyday people spotting your inconsiderateness and turning away from you.
2. Finding The Right Keywords
Keyword research is not always an easy task, sure it’s simple for the professional marketers to find a few great keywords for their site, but if you are new to the whole “find a keyword” thing, then this part can become a bit time consuming.
But don’t worry, I’m going to show you the fastest and free-est way to do this. Start by using the greatest keyword tool on the web… “keyword planner” brought to you by Google.
Step by step instructions:
#1 Visit Google’s Keyword Planner.
#2 Click on the first boxed link.
#3 Type in your niche type (fly fishing).
#4 Scroll down and click Get ideas.
#5 Search for relative keywords to use.
#6 Use each relative keyword on your site.
3. Domain Registration & Web Hosting
While you can get your domain name and web hosting from two different companies, it is best to get it from the same vendor, especially if you don’t completely understand how name servers work. It will probably be less of a hassle and much cheaper to get both from the same company.
What Is Domain Registration
When you have come up with the perfect name you’d like to call your website or blog, you would then visit a domain registrar and have the name registered to you, namecheap is a domain registrar.
Domain registration is not free, you will have to pay for this service but the average domain cost is usually around just $10.69, which is really cheap. Be sure to note that this is registration cost for just 1 year, you can decide to register it longer, but it will of course cost you more money.
Domain names can be registered anywhere from 1 to 9 years at a time. The longer you want the name registered to you, the more it’ll cost.
What Is Web Hosting
Once your domain name is registered with one of the many domain registrars out there, you can also go ahead and get your domain name hosted by the same company, as most domain registrars today also offer web hosting, acting as both a domain registrar and a web hosting service provider.
For instance, Hostgator acts as both a domain registrar and web hosting provider. You could first register your preferred domain name, then get a hosting plan for it.
Web hosting plans usually cost around $10 monthly or just under $100 annually if there’s a discount special running at the time of your registering.
4. Plug In WordPress
CMS platforms, better known as content management systems have become a huge part of the web, when it comes to things like creating websites and blogs, using a CMS is the best way to create it.
And the main CMS that is used today by more than 70 million people is no other than WordPress itself.
What Is WordPress
As I mentioned above, WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to create a blog or make a website on your own. You can then do whatever it is you’d like to do with the site, because it will be yours.
There are two versions of WordPress, both versions are free to use, the only difference is that one version is for people that use a free hosting plan (WordPress.com), and the other version is for those that have chosen to use a paid hosting plan (WordPress.org), which means that they’re paying to host their own site.
How To Plug In WordPress
The first thing you need to do is log in to your web hosting account, if you purchased your domain name and hosting from the same provider as I suggested, then you now have an email from your host of choice, that contains all of the login information that you need in order to sign into your account.
Follow theses steps:
- Get your login information from your email.
- Log into your cPanel account if you’re using this.
- Find the WordPress icon and click it.
- Enter your name, website address, etc.
- Click the Install WordPress button and you’re done.
- Login to WordPress and browse around a bit.
5. Affiliate Networks
This is the part where you make money with your blog or website. All you have to do is find the right product on an affiliate network and that’s it. You just promote said product and collect your funds.
What Is An Affiliate Network
An affiliate network is a platform that contains digital and tangible products within its system. Affiliates such as yourself can sign up to and promote almost any product that the network may have available. However, sometimes product owners (vendors) may require certain prerequisites before allowing you to promote any of their products.
It is always safer and better to join the free networks such as Clickbank, opposed to joining any of the “paid to join networks”, this way, if you don’t make any money by promoting anyone’s product, at least you don’t lose out on any of your own hard-earned money.
Choosing A Network
Not every network is created equal, some networks were created just to con people in some way.
Here is how to choose a good network:
- Always research the network.
- Ask friends and fellow nextwave affiliates about it.
- Research their products.
- Research their vendors.
- Be sure the type of products you sell are available.
- Find out if it’s a free or paid network.
Types Of Products
There are hundreds, if not thousands of different types of products available within each network.
Here are a few product categories:
- Interior Design
- Race Car Driving
- Dating & Relationships
- Beauty Creams
- Sports Jackets
- Suits & Ties
- Jogging Gear
There will be 1 or more products per category, readily available to you for promoting, all you have to now do is choose the product that’s right for you.
Choosing A Product
What should you sell? When choosing a product to sell on your site, you have to make sure the product you will be selling is relative to the type of niche you are in.
So if your niche is about politics, then you would want to find a product that’s in the political category.
The old way of affiliate marketing, which is still practiced today, is to keep promoting the newer products, meaning every time a new product comes out you are to drop the previous product and start promoting the newer one.
This is not a very good idea, it’s actually ridiculous, because it means you have to switch products almost every month, and maybe even every two weeks. Not to mention that not all new products are green products (legitimate products), some are toxic – pure poisoness garbage.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with your product of choice, as this is to be looked at as a marriage, not a date. So if you are with the type of product that is here with you today, but gone tomorrow, then this is the wrong type of product to promote, you need a more stable, longer lasting type of product, one that can stand the test of time.
How to know if a product is long-lasting?
Try these methods:
– You have to first understand the product creator, is he/she on the list of scammers, is this their second product, is it their first, etc.
– Find out if the product is an ebook, or a training course, or a software, etc., and how in depth is the material – is the ebook only 29 pages, or is it 129 pages long, is the training course packed with 100’s of hours of training videos and text, etc.
– Try the product out for yourself, either buy it or see if the creator offers a sample of it. Many honest product creators, such as nextwave affiliates will offer a test drive.
Once your product is chosen and linked to your site you can start making money with it.
For in depth information, here is how to make money blogging.
How Is Affiliate Marketing Changing?
Things are changing in many ways, for instance, it used to be all about who had the flashiest banners on their sites, with all of these pictures of cash sparkling, this made customers quickly click on that banner, but not today… today customers are a whole lot smarter, so smart in fact, that if you show this sort of behavior they immediately leave your site.
Why? Because they’ve already been there and done that, and they’re not about to do it again. Can you blame them? Banners like that make customers not trust you, in their minds, everyone that represents those banners are cons.
The message of the customer is clear: It is becoming less and less of a fraud affiliates game.
Affiliates have to change with the times, as it becomes harder and harder for fraud affiliates to trick a customer, it will become easier and easier for them to scare that customer right over to you, because you will be practicing what I like to call “Green Affiliate Marketing”, which means you’re helping to get rid of the toxins (fraud affiliates and their marketing tactics) that poisons our world as affiliate marketers.
There once was a time when I personally thought affiliate marketing was going to become extinct, because everywhere you turned you heard nothing but bad things about it, so many people had been scammed out of there money by some con that was promising quick riches that he didn’t even have. It had gotten so bad that it was covered on the news. People were warned to just stay away.
But no more… while a few of the cons are still around today trying to slither their way back into the business, it is our jobs as the newer generation of affiliates to see to it that they stay in their holes, by continuing to dominate them any and every time they put out their toxic products.
Here is a glance at their ideas versus ours.
- Recruiting more lost and fraudulent affiliates.
- Selling products they know nothing about.
- Start a blog or website, build it thin (Pages: About, Contact, Blog, Make Money Online) and focus on (1) long-tail keyword.
- Live by the “set it & forget it” code.
- Recruiting and educating starter affiliates.
- Selling products we know and love.
- Start a blog or website, build it thick (Pages: About, Contact, Blog, Make Money Online, Make Money Blogging, SEO, Affiliate Marketing, How To Start A Blog and be successful, etc.) and focus on more than (1) keyword.
- Never set it & forget it, always nurture it & grow it.
As you can see, when it comes to their way versus our way of doing things, it’s really a no-brainer as to which way is the best way to go.
What Is The Future Of Affiliate Marketing?
The future holds great things for trustworthy affiliates that are practicing clean marketing techniques and satisfying their buyers.
However, the future doesn’t look too bright for all of the scam affiliates out there, as more and more buyers are catching on to their sleazy sales pitches, and awful products – bad future for them, promising future for the rest of us.
Other great things you’ll see are:
- A bigger audience
- Greener Products
- Stronger Affiliate to Customer relationships
- More Purchases via Mobile
- Safer checkout gateways
- Faster checkout gateways
- Less Fraud Affiliates
- More Nextwave Affiliates
These are only a few of the wonderful things to come, I predict there to be a whole lot more of great things happening as we all progress toward the future.