Affiliate marketing is often considered one of the easiest and simplest ways to make money online.
It’s due primarily to the fact that with this type of online business, you do not have to create your own products to sell.
Instead, you earn a commission promoting and selling the product of another person or company through an affiliate program.
In this process, an affiliate will post valuable content in his/her blog or website, and insert affiliate links within the content.
Each time a customer to buys a product using one of these links, the affiliate earns a certain amount of commission, which has been pre-determined by the merchant in the affiliate program.
The whole process seems simple enough, right?
Or so you’d like to think.
But of course, to get to the point where you’ll be able to convince your customers to purchase your affiliate products, there are many things that you have to go through and accomplish.
One of these is becoming a trusted affiliate.
It’s important for anyone starting in this business to know how the mind of a typical online consumer works.
A typical online buyer would only buy from people or companies that they know and trust.
It would be a huge challenge to get any product sold if you are unable to earn the trust of your target customers.
But how do you become a trusted affiliate if you are a nobody?
You’re nothing like those influencers in your niche whose words everyone believes, and whose recommendations everyone follows.
There is a sure fire way to make the transition from a nobody to a trusted affiliate.
Here are the important steps that you must follow:
Step # 1 – Expand your knowledge
There are two things that you have to prove to your customers before they will start believing in you.
One is that you are an expert in the niche. This means that you know your way around enough to give advice and tips.
And the other is that you are someone who can be trusted. In other words, you are not the type who will cheat on your target audience.
So let’s start with establishing your expertise.
Before you can get anywhere near the “expert” status, you must first work to expand your knowledge.
Even if you’ve chosen to work in a niche that you are knowledgeable about, there are still so many things that you need to learn.
Here are the easiest ways to expand your knowledge:
Heed advice from the experts
Search around your niche and for sure, you are going to find plenty experts who are ready to share their knowledge to those who are interested and willing to learn.
Check the blogs of the top experts in your niche and take the time to learn from their strategies, tips, advice, and experiences.
They’ve been in the industry long enough to know what methods work, what models are viable, and what mistakes will cost you a lot in your affiliate marketing business.
It would be great if you can connect with these experts and build a relationship with them.
Soon enough, if you work hard enough and you persevere, you can become one of them.
Make sure that when you’ve become an expert yourself, you will also extend help and assistance to the newbies who need it.
Enroll in online courses
You’ll be surprised to find out that there are hundreds of online courses available on almost every topic you can imagine.
These online courses range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
It would be a smart move to enroll in an online course that will help you expand your knowledge about your niche.
The great thing about this is that these courses are easy to use. In fact, you can take the online course anywhere as long as you have a device (laptop or smart phone) and an internet connection. There are online courses that you can also download so you can view them even when you’re offline.
Just make sure that you check the course outline as well as the customer reviews first before enrolling with any online course to ensure that you are getting the best value for your money.
Read books, ebooks and tutorials
Aside from online courses, there are also plenty books, ebooks, tutorials and guides that will definitely help you learn more about whatever niche you’ve chosen to get into.
Some of these are completely free of charge, and even downloadable so you can view or read them while you’re offline.
There are those that you will need to pay for. If you choose premium content that you need to pay for, don’t sign up with anything without reading reviews about it first.
You may also want to consider registering with membership sites in your niche so you can learn more about more specific topics.
The point of all these is to never stop learning. The internet makes it possible to gain all types of information about all types of topics.
Participate in online forums
It’s not just the one-way educational materials that you should make use of, but also interactive platforms where you can learn from both experts and beginners like you.
Online forums are a great way to pick up all sorts of strategies, tips and advice.
You can even learn a huge deal from other beginners who have made costly mistakes in their own businesses on the same niche as yours.
Many of them will be willing to share their stories and experiences to help out other newbies avoid making the same mistakes.
But of course, you don’t have to believe everything you hear and read in online forums. You must filter out real information and learn to distinguish between fluff and value.
Step # 2 – Establish your expertise
Once you have spent a significant amount of time and effort expanding your knowledge, you can start establishing your expertise in the niche.
This doesn’t mean however that you should stop learning. You should never do so. There’s always something new to learn in your niche that you must be ready to take on new knowledge and information at all times.
So you can start proving to your online audience that you are the go-to person in the niche, here are the methods that you should definitely include in your plan:
Post valuable content
In your affiliate blog or website, you should make it a point to post content that is nothing short of valuable.
For you to do this, you need to research about your target audience to get to know their needs, wants, preferences, problems, issues, struggles and pain points.
Knowing all these information about your target audience helps ensure that you are able to create content that will be practical and useful for them.
Focus your content on topics that will resolve their problems and make their lives easier.
This will show your audience that you know exactly what you’re talking about, and that you are worthy of being considered a true expert.
Answer questions in online forums
In the previous step, we’ve discussed how important it is to join online forums for the purpose of learning and expanding one’s knowledge.
Now it’s your time to impart the knowledge that you’ve learned to those who need new information.
Go through the online forums to look for questions that are relevant to your niche and affiliate products.
Answer these questions. But don’t just answer for the sake of answering.
Provide the best quality answer that your fellow members will learn a lot from. This will show them that you have expertise in this area, and that they should consult you more often for any other questions or concerns that they have.
You can also apply this technique on question and answer websites like Quora. See to it that you provide a comprehensive answer so that you will be given a top spot in the thread.
Provide tips and advice
Another technique to use is to provide tips and advice whenever appropriate.
We have to emphasize “appropriate” because you don’t want to give off the impression that you are a know-it-all who is fond of giving unsolicited advice.
You want people to see that you are ready to share tips and advice but only when people ask for it.
You don’t want giving advice to people who would turn out to be even more knowledgeable on the topic at hand.
Assist anyone who needs help
Be ready to assist and provide help to anyone who needs it.
Go out of your way to provide genuine help to people on social media, online forums and other online platforms where you will interact with your target audience.
This will effectively establish your expertise in the niche where you belong.
Step # 3 – Be honest and transparent at all times
As mentioned earlier, establishing one’s expertise is just one part of becoming a trusted affiliate.
The other half is about establishing your credibility, proving to your target customers that you are someone who is worthy of being trusted.
One of the ways to achieve this is to practice honesty and transparency at all times.
You know all too well how hard it is to earn a person’s trust. If a person finds out that you are lying or misleading him/her, you’ll immediately lose this trust, and the person will never have confidence in you again.
Below, you will find the ways on how to become an honest and transparent affiliate:
Write affiliate disclosure
An affiliate disclosure is a statement that informs your audience that you are working as an affiliate.
This is not only an ethical practice but a requirement under the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You need to follow this mandate to avoid being penalized.
Here’s an example of an affiliate disclosure:
“This article contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy the products using these links, I will earn a commission, but at no extra cost to you.”
Post your affiliate disclosure in areas of your blog or website that can easily be seen. You should post it at the beginning of each post that includes affiliate links.
It’s also important to let your audience know that your affiliate commissions will not cost them anything.
Avoid misleading your customers
Some affiliates tend to mislead their customers just to get them to buy the affiliate products they are promoting.
Of course, this is never a good idea.
Once your customer finds out, he/she will immediately stop trusting you. Worse, he/she may even spread the word about how you misled him/her into thinking something just to get him/her to spend money on your products.
Obviously, this is not good for your online reputation.
Never lie to your customers
Worse than misleading your customers is blatantly lying to them.
This is a common practice among affiliates who are after nothing but to money.
This may get you one-time sales that will put money in your pockets, but this will inevitably destroy your reputation, and ruin your chances for long-term success.
Even seemingly harmless white lies are never a good idea.
For example, a customer asks you if the product has a minor feature that doesn’t have anything to do with the product’s primary function.
You tell your customer that you think it does but you’re not sure.
But the truth is, you know that the minor feature does not exist. You make the small lie since you think it won’t matter anyway as it is only a minor feature.
What you don’t know is that this minor feature turns out to be important for your customer.
When he/she finds out that you lied, the customer will never buy from your website again.
Write unbiased product reviews
Bias is another element that’s sure to ruin your credibility.
If you are like most affiliates, then for sure, you are going to make use of product reviews as part of your content marketing strategy.
But for this content type to work effectively for you, it’s a must to write it without any bias.
Write not only the advantages but also the drawbacks of the product that you are affiliated with. This way, your customers can make an informed buying decision.
The same is true for product comparison posts.
Do not write the content favoring your affiliate products just to sway your customers into buying the products that you will earn a commission from, even if there is a better choice for them.
Step # 4 – Use ethical and trust-building methods
In affiliate marketing, there is hardly any gray area.
Customers are quick to brand you as either a trustworthy affiliate or a scammer.
If you are not careful, and you make the mistake of engaging in any unethical practice, even if it’s not on purpose, you are going to instantly lose the trust of your target audience and ruin your online reputation.
So this does not happen to you, make sure that you keep in mind the following pointers:
No to black hat SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an integral part of any affiliate marketing business. This refers to a set of techniques that will help your site or blog get a higher ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO is an important source of organic traffic to your site. The higher your search engine ranking is, the more exposure and traffic you’ll get for your site, the more sales and profits you’ll make.
There are two types of SEO techniques that you should know about: black hat and white hat.
Black hat SEO refers to techniques that may give you a temporary boost in the search engine ranking but are not allowed by search engines like Google. This will result in your website or blog getting penalized.
Just one example of a common black hat SEO technique is keyword stuffing. In this method, a post is stuffed with too many keywords.
White hat SEO is what you should practice for your affiliate marketing site if you are targeting long-term success.
No to hard selling techniques
Hard selling used to work for salesmen in the past.
But today’s online industry is built upon trust and loyalty which is why, these techniques no longer work.
It may give you one-time sales especially if your customer doesn’t want any confrontation and would like to avoid further discussion. But this doesn’t help with trust building and maintaining a positive reputation.
Never resort to hard selling techniques. Your customers will not appreciate feeling forced or pressure into buying your affiliate products.
No to multiple image fraud
Multiple image fraud is a common technique by scheming affiliates in which they stack small images together so that when a customer clicks on one affiliate image link, he/she inevitably clicks the others as well.
This may enable you to earn more from your affiliate marketing business but this has a significant negative impact on your business in the long run.
No to any form of scam
Multiple image fraud is just one of the many possible scams that you can get into in affiliate marketing to cheat your customers and earn more money from them.
There are many other techniques that may tempt you when you’re desperate to make more money.
Do not rely on any cheating methods. You want to do affiliate marketing the ethical way so that the success you’ll achieve with it will last longer.
If you are unsure about any method, double check to verify first if it is legitimate. If not, move on and find a new strategy that will work for you.
Step # 5 – Become omni-present
Maintaining an active presence in the online world can be a challenge for any business owner with lots of tasks on his/her hands.
But this is doable if you know the right strategies and online tools to use.
Below, you will find the techniques on how to remain active and visible online at all times.
Set up an account across all major social media platforms
Don’t just be seen on Facebook and Twitter.
Take advantage of the other social media sites as well. Make use of Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google Plus among others.
The more social media sites that you use, the more exposure you’ll get, and the easier it is for people to familiarize with your online business.
Build a following for each of these social networks. Maintain active presence in each one. Contribute valuable content on a regular basis to capture the attention of your target audience.
If you are having a hard time maintaining an active presence online, you can try hiring a social media or a digital marketing manager to help you carry out the tasks necessary.
Making the transition from a nobody to a trusted affiliate should not be too much of a difficult task if you follow all the steps discussed in this article.