Starting and Operating an Affiliate Marketing Business that Actually Gets Results

By now you’ve heard many great things about affiliate marketing and what it can do for you.

You’ve learned that not only will it make you earn good money, it can also potentially become a passive source of income.

This gives you not only a steady stream of income, but also more time for yourself and for your family.

Who doesn’t want that, right?

But before you believe all the hype that you see online such as those ads that tell you that you can earn $5,000 with affiliate marketing working only one or two hours a day, you need to know that this type of online business takes a lot of work, and that success does not happen overnight.

It’s important to know that affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme. It’s not something that will turn you into an instant millionaire, despite what many people are claiming.

So before you get started with this venture, it’s imperative that you learn how to set up an affiliate website that will not only get you into this type of business but will actually generate you the results that you are looking for.

First things first: what is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a highly cost-effective online business that almost anyone with the heart and patience can start.

The process is quite simple if you think about it.

You just have to set up your website, enroll in an affiliate network or program, get people to buy products using your links, and that’s it, you get to earn a commission from each sale that you make.

But of course, there are many things in between that you have to work on such as the following:

  • Drive traffic to your site
  • Build a following
  • Turn website visitors into customers
  • Establish your expertise and credibility
  • Earn your customers’ trust and loyalty

Does it really work?

In this type of online business, there are several roles that are involved:

  • The affiliate – This is you. You will be in charge of promoting another person’s or company’s product on your website as well as on other online platforms such as your social media sites, YouTube channel, blog, and so on. The main advantage is that you get a website that works 24/7 in raking in earnings. And you don’t even have to worry about things like product storage, handling and shipping, inventory, and other daily operations that ecommerce stores handle. Once a visitor to your website or any of your follower clicks on one of the affiliate links that you have in your content, and buys the product you are affiliated with, the transaction will be credited to you. This earns you a certain amount of commission.
  • The merchant – This is the person or company that owns the product. He/she takes care of everything else from product creation to processing orders to shipping and so on. He/she is also the one who determines the commission rate that will be given to affiliates like you. The advantage of having an affiliate program on the part of the merchant is that he/she gets to save time and effort spreading the word about the product, and raking in sales.
  • The customer – The customer is the lifeline of the affiliate marketing business, or any other business for that matter. Without the customer, the business will come crumbling down. After all, this is the person who will buy the product so that the merchant will have the capital to produce more, and the affiliate will get the commissions entitled to him/her.

How much capital is needed?

Another thing to love about affiliate marketing apart from all the convenience it can provide is the fact that you do not need that big of a capital to get started.

It’s one of the low cost online businesses that you can start with little capital.

Once you start earning commissions, this is the time when you can start expanding your business.

Here are the things that you need to spend for in the initial phase:

  • Domain name – The domain name refers to the name of your affiliate website. It is the URL that online users will type in the web browser to access your website. You will need about $10 to $15 to buy a brand new domain name. The cost depends on the TLD and the registrar. But it’s also possible to get free domain when you avail of web hosting. Free domain is sometimes bundled with certain web hosting packages.
  • Hosting – This will serve as the home of your website online. You’ll be glad to know that there are many choices when it comes to hosting providers. One of the best is Bluehost, which only charges you $2.95 per month with its most basic plan. This already includes free domain name so this means that you can save a lot of money using this.
  • Keyword research tool – Affiliate marketing experts know how important it is to invest on the right online tools. One of the tools that you will absolutely need is the keyword research tool. You can always use free tools available but if you want more accurate results, you need to find premium tools such as Jaaxy. This will not only help you generate the right keywords for your content but will also provide suggestions on topics, content, niches and so on. This helps you greatly in both your search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns.
  • Marketing strategies – There are many online marketing strategies that you can use for free. But there are also those that you need to pay for. For example, while you can promote freely on Facebook, and even create a page for your business for free, you will need to spend at least $1 a day should you decide to give Facebook ads a try. This is a highly effective marketing technique that will bring your business in front of thousands of potential customers. With email marketing, meanwhile, you can send email messages to your subscribers for free, without having to pay a dime, but if you want to automate the sending of these messages, you will have to avail an email marketing service like AWeber, which has packages that start at $19 per month.
  • Pay per click (PPC) advertising – Another important method for attracting the right customers to your affiliate website is with PPC advertising. This is the paid version of SEO. While SEO efforts will get you a higher ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs) to give you maximum exposure and to drive more traffic to you site. The best to use is Google’s very own PPC advertising. You will need to spend a minimum of $50 for a PPC campaign.  
  • Content marketing and graphic design – If you can produce your own content and create your own graphic design and images, then good for you. But if you do not have the time (or the patience) to do these tasks, then you will need to hire a freelancer who will do these for you. You can pay freelancers per hour or with fixed rate.
  • Copyright photos – You can use photos for your affiliate website for free by taking your own photos or using free photos from websites like Pexels and Pixabay. But if you want something better, you might want to purchase copyright photos from Shutterstock.
  • Online courses – While most of the basic information about affiliate marketing can be found online for free, there are advanced courses, ebooks, and other resources that you might want to avail and pay for. Prices vary widely. But just keep in mind that the cheaper option is not always the best choice. Check the users’ reviews on the educational material before paying for anything.  

How much can you earn?

It’s hard to tell actually.

Some affiliates only earn $50 each month, while three are those that earn up to $10,000.

The amount that you will earn depends primarily on the following factors:

  • Your SEO ranking – The higher your ranking in the SERPs is, the easier it is for your affiliate customers to find you.
  • Your PPC campaign – If you run an effective PPC campaign, it would certainly do great things for your website and sales.
  • Number of affiliate links and products you promote in your content – The more posts you have on your website that contain affiliate links and products, the more chances you will have to secure a sale and make a commission.
  • Number of affiliate websites you have – Once you have your initial website set up, you can set up a few others to multiple your income stream.
  • Niche – Choosing the right niche is paramount to the success of any affiliate marketer. Remember that there are some niches that are more profitable than others. But of course, you can’t base your decision based on profitability alone as you also have to take into account your expertise and interests.
  • Marketing strategies – Obviously, the more effective your marketing strategies are, the more sales that you will be able to make with your affiliate website.

Now that you know what factors will affect your earnings as an affiliate, you can then employ the necessary tips and strategies to operate a profitable affiliate website.

Becoming a Successful Affiliate

There’s no single route to achieving affiliate marketing success. Each affiliate has his/her own unique path to take, starting from the niche down to the marketing and traffic generating strategies.

But basically, here are steps to follow:

Step # 1 – Plan, plan and plan

Planning is always the first step in any online business. Even if your affiliate marketing business does not have any physical location, you should still treat it like a fully functional business.

You need to plan everything from day one—from the niche you want to work on to the strategies that you will make use of to get ahead of the competition, to the affiliate programs that you will sign up for.

There are many online tools that you can use during this stage. One of these is the Google Keyword Planner. Next, you will have to test all your ideas. The great thing about this online business is that you don’t have to build yet a website to find out if your ideas will work. What you can do is to join several affiliate networks, browse through the possible products to promote, and do your research if these products will sell. Once you’ve done ample research, this is the time that you can finalize the niche that you will get into.

Step # 2 – Build your affiliate website

There are many things that you have to decide about when building your affiliate website. These include the following:

  • Web hosting and domain name – These two have already been mentioned earlier. Making the right choice on this step is necessary since the domain name is what users will type to find your website. If you make a mistake in the domain name, this can result in disastrous consequences that will break your business. The web hosting, meanwhile, has a huge impact on the performance of the website. Remember that an affiliate site’s bounce rate is largely affected by how fast and efficient a website performs.
  • Content management system (CMS) – Hands down, setting up your website with WordPress is always the best idea. It’s the most efficient, flexible, secure and affordable option that you have online today. It also has countless premium themes and plugins that you can choose to make it more effective. No wonder it is what currently powers up more than 30 percent of all websites and blogs today.
  • Layout and design – Of course, you need to make sure that your website has a professional design that will attract and engage your customers. If the website is designed poorly, or if the navigation is confusing, your website visitors will leave right away without reading your content or buying any product from you.

Step # 3 – Sign up with the right affiliate networks

Since affiliate marketing has been around since the 1990s, you can expect that there are now many affiliate programs and networks that you can find online today. But you have to know that these programs are not created equally.

When making a choice, be sure to consider these top factors:

  • Your niche and products – Some affiliate networks specialize on certain products and niches. For example, if you sign up with Clickbank, you will see that it has more digital educational materials available. So if you want to promote fashion accessories, you might be better off joining Amazon Associates.
  • Commission rate – There are many factors affecting the commission rate. But you should always consider this as this is what will help determine your potential earnings from the affiliate program. Aside from the commission rate, you also need to find out the average sale made by the program. Even if a product gives a high commission rate of 50 percent, if it only sells one product per month, then you still won’t be earning as much as you’d expect.
  • Cookie life – This refers to the timeframe by which the affiliate will be credited for the sale. For example, if the cookie life lasts for 30 days, it means that any sale made within 30 days will earn you a commission. It is therefore best to for affiliate networks with the longest cookie life. The longer the cookie life is, the better.

Step # 4 – Create content strategy

It’s imperative to plan your content strategy as this is will be the heart of your affiliate website.

This is what will attract visitors to go to your site.

This is what will keep them engaged ideally long enough for them to turn into customers.

This is what will establish your credibility and expertise in the niche.

The more valuable and extensively written the content is, the easier it is for you to achieve all these objectives.

It’s important to infuse value in every post that you upload. It’s also essential that you diversify your content so that your readers will not get bored with the same thing over and over. Make use of different formats such as the following:

  • Product reviews
  • Product comparisons
  • How to guides
  • Tutorials

You also need to incorporate the following elements:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Charts and graphs
  • Other forms of media

Of course, you can’t forget about the part where your credibility will be at stake. It’s a must to produce content that is honest, transparent and unbiased. This is to make sure that your content will be more credible and trustworthy.

Finally, you need to optimize your content with SEO.

Without SEO, it would be very hard to find your affiliate website.

Make sure that you do SEO the right way, which includes the following:

  • Keyword research and usage
  • Internal links
  • External links
  • Backlinks
  • Website optimization (speed and performance)

Step # 5 – Use highly effective traffic generating techniques

To generate traffic to your affiliate website, here are the tried and tested techniques that you cannot afford to overlook:

  • Email marketing – Done the right way, email marketing will definitely increase the number of people visiting your blog. Make use of an efficient marketing service like AWeber or MailChimp to automate sending of valuable email messages to your subscribers.
  • Social media marketing – The power of social media is just too intense for you to ignore it. Create an account in the top social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Grow your online presence using both free and paid strategies. See to it that you regularly update all your sites.
  • Guest blogging – Posting a guest article on high authority sites as well as inviting influencers and bloggers to post on your website can certainly help generate more traffic and interest to your affiliate website.
  • Build an online community – Whether it’s a social media group or an online forum, there are many benefits to building an online community that is related to the niche you are promoting. Just make sure that your primary purpose is to help your audience instead of making a sale.

So far, you’ve seen the initial steps on how to get started with affiliate marketing business. These are the steps that you need to undertake in order to get on with this on the right foot.