Affiliate marketing for beginners

If the phrase 'affiliate marketing' sounds like Greek to you, this is the guide you've been waiting for. Andrew Slack, MD of MoreNiche.com gives a simple, easy-to-understand overview of the affiliate marketing industry, with ten handy tips to get you started. You could generate big returns from this online marketing strategy.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a way of making money by referring people to purchase items online. More and more companies are starting to use this form of marketing to reward affiliates for generating website visitors to their business. Affiliates are only paid when sales are completed so it's an extremely cost-effective tool.

PC World, for example, pay a 5% commission for every visitor an affiliate recommends who makes a purchase. While it's a small commission, the affiliate is able to benefit from PC World's brand awareness which can often result in sales being generated on a regular basis.

Commissions range from as low as 1% with established retailers, right up to 75% on some digital products. The health and beauty market is one of the most affiliate heavy, with average commissions around 30%.

How do I become an affiliate?

Becoming an affiliate is very simple and although each program may have their own criteria for approval, they are normally free to join and have no pre-requisites.

The best way to find suitable brands to promote is by simply using a search engine using: '[Brand] + Affiliate Program'. Some companies run in-house affiliate programs, however this is a very specialist area. Therefore, most companies opt to employ an 'affiliate network' which has already built a large base of affiliates and gained years of experience in running successful programs for clients.

You need to generate regular content and reviews around a certain topic. Typically the more content and research you generate the greater the likelihood of you generating significant sales, which is why I'd always recommend marketing something that interests you.

Top 10 tips on making money as an affiliate

1.    Choose the correct niche - This is one of the biggest determining factors of whether you'll succeed in making money online.

If you enjoy camping, for example, then start off by looking at Millets or Blacks and you'll have hundreds of products to choose from. However, if you try and market something you don't enjoy just to make money then it's possible you'll get bored and give up.

2.    Find the correct affiliate program - When comparing affiliate programs in your selected niche, you should consider more than just the amount of commission you'll earn.

The two most important elements we believe make a successful affiliate campaign include:

Communication:

Can you speak to the affiliate manager in charge of the campaign? A good affiliate program will have a dedicated affiliate manager who should be very accessible and responsible for helping you make money.

Desire:

Do the products or services you are considering promoting really stand out? Will they convert visitors into sales? Would you purchase it yourself? 

If you answer no to either of these questions it might not be a product for you.

3.    Find a mentor - When first starting out there's a steep learning curve. You need to answer questions like, How to make a website? Which products should you promote? How can you get visitors to your website?  Once the visitors are on your site, how do you convert them to sales?

I'd always recommend finding an affiliate network which offers a personal mentor, assigned to help you make money. MoreNiche currently runs a 14-day course which we think can turn anyone from a beginner into a fully functioning affiliate.

4.    Join a community - In addition to a mentor you should also consider joining a community of likeminded individuals. Here you can ask questions and get lots of unique feedback. Some leading affiliate forums include, Affiliates4U, ABestWeb and WickedFire.

5.    Get a free blog - Use a free blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger to create a site for free which can start to make you money. They're completely free, can be setup in minutes and are extremely easy to use.

6.    Stay Focused - It's very easy to get drawn into promoting lots of different products on the same site which, from a visitor's point of view, can be confusing. I'd recommend sticking to one topic on each of your websites.

Ensure you provide plenty of information about each product which will make the consumer feel knowledgeable enough to purchase after reading your site. It's essential you become a master of your niche and understand it inside out.

7. Don't spend money - The aim of affiliate marketing is to make money, but it's also very easy to spend money, which makes it harder to see a return. I'd suggest concentrating on free traffic generation while you find your feet, rather than spending money on Pay Per Click advertising.

When you become more experienced and knowledgeable you might want to think about buying new web addresses and paying for additional traffic generation.

8.      Content is king - Until you have cash, content is your king. The more articles, product reviews, visitor feedback and information you can publish on your website (or blog), the greater the chance you have of attracting visitors to your website. 

Search engines like to show fresh content so I'd recommend adding new pages to your website at least every few days. Make sure they're easily found by your visitors though a good side navigation or sitemap.

9.      This is not a get rich quick scheme - You shouldn't expect to put up a website tonight and wake up in the morning with your first cheque; affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme and does involve work.

I've seen affiliates from all walks of life, based all around the world and with completely different skill sets, but the one thing they all have in common is dedication to their sites.

10.  Enjoy it - Affiliate marketing should be enjoyable and you have the flexibility to work when you want, where you want, and on whatever niche you want.

A large percentage of affiliates earn money running sites as a hobby alongside their full-time job and many have been able to add significant second income streams by doing so.

Go about it the right way and you can learn a lot about the internet, your chosen niche and consumer behaviour. By joining a community and working with a mentor there's also the chance to meet new people along the way, whilst making some money.

Find out more about MoreNiche.com

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