What is Affiliate Marketing?

This website is based on affiliate marketing and some links on this site point to affiliate offers. I am compensated if you purchase through any of the affiliates links on this site.

Affiliate marketing, also known as performance marketing, is the act of promoting other company’s products and services for a commission. The nice thing about affiliate marketing is you don’t handle inventory or shipping of the products you promote. Merchants love affiliate marketing because it provides them with a commission-only sales team.

Below are five things to know when learning about affiliate marketing.

1 ) Online Platforms

You will need a platform to start as an affiliate marketer. WordPress is a popular choice for creating websites. Learning WordPress will require some effort, but there are many training options and tools available to get started.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube are also used for affiliate marketing. If you have a large following on social media, you can incorporate affiliate links in your posts or videos.

Email is another platform where products can be promoted. Growing an email list (list building) is highly recommended because you are in control of your list. You can email at any time with no additional costs.

2 ) Affiliate Networks

As an affiliate, you can work directly with a merchant or establish relationships with many merchants through an affiliate network.

Since most affiliate programs have an application process, affiliate networks are the best way to get started. It’s easier to get approved in a network rather than establishing a direct relationship with a merchant.

Popular affiliate networks are Commission Junction, Linkshare, and Clickbank. They act as a middleman between the affiliate and merchant. Affiliate links and banners (creatives) are provided for use on your platform, and when clicked, your visitors are sent to the merchant. Affiliate networks usually pay commissions once a month on behalf of their merchants.

3 ) Content

Once you decide what product or service you want to promote, you should add some relevant and useful information (content) to your platform. This information can include a combination of articles, videos, images, infographics and more.

It is important to show that you have expertise in your topic (niche). Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” because, well, content is king. Put in great effort when preparing useful content for your audience.

4 ) Traffic

Visitors to your platform are collectively known as traffic. The idea is to get a lot of traffic and send that traffic to the merchant. When someone clicks on your affiliate link, a tracker (cookie) is issued to follow that person to the merchant’s website and a commission is earned for each purchase.

Paid Traffic
If you have the money, paid traffic is the quickest way to get started. With pay-per-click (PPC) traffic, you bid on search terms (keywords) related to your product. The highest bidder is placed at the top of the list of ads and usually gets the most clicks. Different ads should be tested for different keywords to find profitable combinations.

Your budget controls your traffic. Some keywords cost more than others. You may lose money up front, but once you find a winning campaign, you can increase your budget and multiply your profits.

Popular paid ad networks are Adwords and Bing Ads. Get trained first, because it’s easy to lose a lot of money very quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing,

‘Free’ Traffic
In contrast to paid, free traffic from search engines such as Google and Yahoo is a different category. This approach is called search engine optimization (SEO).

You don’t have to spend money on ads but it takes weeks, months and sometimes years to get a steady flow of traffic. So ‘free’ is not really free.

Other websites linking to your site (backlinks), and the right keywords in your content, will increase your SEO (organic) traffic. It takes patience and hard work, but if done properly, it is worth the effort.

5 ) Conversions

A conversion is a sale. The number of sales per 100 clicks is the conversion rate (CR). If you send 50 clicks to Acme Company and get 6 sales, your CR is 12%.

As you gain more experience you will find ways to increase your conversion rate to maximize profits. Sometimes the smallest little tweak to your ad or content can have a great effect on CR.

In addition to conversion rate (CR), other metrics you should know are clickthrough rate (CTR), earnings per click (EPC), and return on investment (ROI).

The five sections above give a general overview of affiliate marketing. Many aspects of affiliate marketing are not covered. Review the links below for detailed explanations of important topics.

In-depth Learning:
How to Learn WordPress for Free in a Week (or Less)
Free online tools for Affiliate Marketers