By definition, according to Wikipedia, “Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.”
What’s Affiliate Marketing and How Does It Work?
Basically, affiliate marketing is when you promote someone else’s products, and earn commissions on the sales.
Did you know that some of the best information on affiliate marketing can be found on Pinterest?
Most people think of Pinterest as the go-to site for trending DIY tutorials, food recipes, clothing, hair styles, beauty products, and home décor, but it’s also a great resource for business information including finance and marketing.
I decided to do some research, and I found some very helpful and informational pins that I’ve compiled into a board on my Pinterest business page that you can check out here: Affiliate Marketing Board
How to Start in Affiliate Marketing
There are a few different ways that you can start affiliate marketing:
Niche website – What is a niche? It’s a narrowed down topic of a subject of interest. For example: if you are interested in fashion, you could narrow your niche to women’s accessories, children’s shoes, or outdoor wear.
*** Most trainings will teach you to “niche down” for the best success, for the obvious reason of reaching a more targeted audience, but there’s a great space for lifestyle bloggers who are creating large incomes out there as well. Do what feels right for you! ***
No website – Just post trending product links on your social media accounts. The advantage is capitalizing on hot products. The disadvantage is that there is no passive income, and you gamble on your audience seeing your post. You also have to know which platforms allow affiliate links, and which do not. (this changes over time, so see the platform’s guidelines for the most current rules of engagement! For example: Pinterest used to allow affiliate links, then disallowed them for a while, then decided to allow them again)
Is One Method Better Than the Other?
Well, all methods are great methods for marketing products or services through affiliate marketing, and are able to produce an income. But, let’s consider the long-term viability of each:
Affiliate Marketing through Websites
Whether you decide to create a general lifestyle blog or a specific niche website, the strong advantage of utilizing a site is that you own it, and the Internet isn’t going anywhere.
A website that you build, grow, and maintain, remains online as long as you continue to pay your domain and hosting fees. As you add more and more content over time, your site establishes some credibility with both search engines and readers. Thus, you are able to retain a long-term source of passive income through your affiliate links.
Affiliate Marketing through Social Media Platforms
First off, while the Internet is likely to endure, as is your own personal website, there is no telling how long a social platform will last. You have control over your own website’s content and growth over time, but you have no control over the rules of a social media platform, it’s lifespan, or it’s termination.
If you use social media at all, I’m sure you’ve seen, or even purchased, something that is promoted through a direct affiliate link. Using this method, you could create a sizable income stream. But what happens if that is your only income stream and that social media platform goes away, or decides not to allow affiliate links anymore? You’d lose your source of income, and stop making money…. Ahhh!
The old saying “Don’t place all of your eggs in one basket” applies to making money online. Social media platforms are wonderful for affiliate marketing the latest trends, but even more so for marketing your long-term brand!
So, if you choose to use direct affiliate links with no site, do so with caution, and do your homework.
I highly recommend starting a Blog first. Then, you’ll want to learn how to Create a Business Profile and/or Page on your social media platforms of choice, and market YOU.
The Winning Combination of Link Placement
Every affiliate uses social media to some extent to make sales. It’s where all the customers are!
The best path is to optimize your earning potential, while safeguarding your income stream in the event that you lose a marketing source, meaning BUILD YOUR BLOG FIRST, then post your content (which contains your affiliate links) on social media.
However, currently, the most popular social media platforms for using affiliate links without a website are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Each has specific rules for placement, such as Instagram will allow a direct affiliate link in your profile but not in a post. Facebook will allow direct placement in a post, but not an Ad promotion.
I can not stress enough that these rules change, so you must read each platform’s guidelines, and stay up to date with them if you are trying to use affiliate links without a site or blog.
The preferred method is this:
Affiliate Link –> Your Blog Post –> Social Media Platform
As opposed to the direct method of:
Affiliate Link –> Social Media Platform
Know that if you do not follow the rules, you risk being suspended or banned from the platform.
How to Find Affiliate Products and Programs
First, start by searching for items you favor that are related to your niche.
- Visit websites of products you like and scroll to the bottom of the homepage to see if they have an Affiliate or Referral Program.
- Do a Google search of any product followed by ‘affiliate program’ to see what’s available, such as
‘blender affiliate program’, ‘coffee affiliate program’, or ‘vitamin affiliate program’.
They are everywhere, and they’re free to join!
Here are a few of the most popular affiliate programs:
1. Amazon Associates
Amazon has BILLIONS of products to promote, as well as tools and training to teach you how to monetize your site. Sign up and start adding affiliate links and banners to your content immediately.
Clickbank offers thousands of products to promote, across a broad range of categories including Home, Health, Fitness, Business, Food, Games, and ‘As Seen on TV’ products. They have excellent resources and training material for newbie affiliates. Sign up and start browsing the marketplace for products to promote.
ShareASale offers thousands of products in 40+ categories including Home, Business, Fashion, Beauty, Auto, Music, and more. Definitely one of the most popular programs among affiliates. Browse their merchants and you’re likely to find something here to promote on your blog. Sign up and start sharing!
4. Rakuten (formerly Linkshare)
Do you know how to say it? RACK-uh-ten. Recent commercials have spread the name, but they’re not new to the affiliate world. Rakuten leads bloggers to some of the largest commission payouts in affiliate marketing. Sign up and take advantage of their training and tools to kick start your earnings.
5. CJ Affiliates (Commission Junction)
Founded in 1998, CJ’s the most experienced and largest network out there. If you’re looking for a specific brand or product type, chances are it’s here. Sign up and start searching through thousands of vendors.
What Do You Do Once You’ve Signed Up To All These Programs?
Getting signed up to the affiliate programs is just the first step. Then, you need to know how to use the affiliate links to make money. Each program has their own training pages to help you succeed. Clickbank, for example, offers these tips.
Basically, you search through the vendors, find products related to your niche, copy the unique affiliate link which contains your affiliate ID (how you receive commissions), and paste it into your post. That’s it!
How Many Programs Do You Need To Sign Up To?
There’s no magic number. It depends on who has the products that you seek. You will likely be affiliated with several different companies and networks, and that’s great! The more programs you join, the more products you’ll have to promote.
Be advised that each program has a set number of days in which you need to make a set number of sales to remain an active affiliate. If you fail to make the sales, your account will deactivate. No worries, you can always reapply, but try to avoid this from happening by first:
- growing your blog with lots of quality content
- getting traffic to your blog through whitehat SEO techniques and social marketing
Some affiliate programs require that you have a growing site with traffic before accepting you into the program. (This is actually good. If you have no traffic, you will have no sales, and you will be wasting the active days of affiliate membership! Number one goal when you start your blog: Content! Number two: Traffic! Number three: Affiliate links!)
Where to Place your Affiliate Links
Using a Website:
[ If you don’t have a website, but want one to start affiliate marketing with long-term results, then take a look at SiteRubix, as it offers a FREE website to get started. ]
You want to create a post which details the product or service you are promoting. Your post should contain keywords in the title, the first paragraph, and again somewhere in the body.
The post should be informative for your reader, and not look like a sales page. Your affiliate links can be strategically placed where you describe the item or service you’re promoting. A couple of links is plenty. DO NOT stuff links all over your post or Google will not like you, and you want Google to like you.
Be sure to disclose your affiliate relationship. You can see our affiliate disclosure statement at the top of this article, and every article we write, as well as our full Affiliate Disclosure page.
Here’s an example of a review that I did for Wealthy Affiliate. As you can see, my affiliate links are only placed in the use of the product title. Any other links are internal, meaning they lead to other educational information on my website.
Without a Website:
If you’re affiliate marketing without a website, then you are writing very short catchy descriptions that accompany your link on your social media post. Whatever the rules of using affiliate links on the platform may be, you need to make sure you disclose the affiliate link. This can be as easy as using #affiliate in your post.
TIPS For Successful Affiliate Marketing
1. Choose Quality Products
Promote high quality products that you are passionate about, have bought, or would consider buying. Be honest in your ads and reviews, as people become buyers when they see quality and value. Highlight the positives of a product, and why people like it. Refrain from using negative ad campaigns such as “Is ABC a Scam?” because vendors and programs dislike that approach. For more info, see this advice from Clickbank.
2. Consider Link Placement
How and where you place your affiliate links will affect your success in sales. Include images and use keywords in your product descriptions. Don’t forget to test your link once you place it. A dead link is no good to you, or your customer, and non-working links can result in visitors leaving your ad or your site all together. Also, remember that you may need to adjust your placement. If you aren’t seeing any sales, try a different marketing approach. (ie: change your placement, change your wording, change your image, change your target audience, etc)
3. FOLLOW THE RULES
All programs, as well as social media platforms and sites that allow affiliate links and content promotion, have their own rules to follow, and will suspend or terminate your account if you violate any of their terms and conditions. So, read every individual company’s guidelines to ensure you are within the scope of allowed engagement.
4. DON’T SPAM
Just don’t. Nobody likes it. You won’t gain trust. You may lose connections. Don’t Spam!
Summary of The Affiliate Marketing Process
- Research and apply to Affiliate Marketing Programs
- Find niche products to promote on posts already on your blog
- Find related products you would like to promote and write reviews for your blog to contain the links
- Share your informational post or review post on social media platforms and content sites
- Receive commissions on the products any time someone makes a purchase through your link (the purchase does NOT have to be of the product you promoted or reviewed!)
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