I'll attempt to answer all questions you have about affiliate marketing in this article.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
I've seen lots of people asking this question - I'm going to answer this question in layman terms here, so everyone can understand.
Affiliate marketing is where you'll be promoting other people's products and services to potential customers and get paid commission whenever someone purchases the products and services you recommend.
Is Affiliate Marketing Legitimate Or Is It A Sham?
Of course affiliate marketing is 100% legitimate.
Lots of people have managed to generate millions of dollars from affiliate marketing every year and you can do the same as well. ;)
It is definitely not a sham...
What Are The Advantages Of Affiliate Marketing?
Some of the advantages of affiliate marketing include:
No need to bother about inventory
No need for you to have a warehouse to store products. It is done by the merchants.
No need to set up payment processing
No need for you to set up payment processing as well - as it is also done by the merchant. All you need is to sent potential customers to the merchant's website, and everything else will be taken care of.
You can make lots of money from affiliate marketing
Take digital books for example - most of these merchants pay out up to 75% for a sale of a digital book - for example, if you manage to refer a sale for a digital book worth $40, you'll receive a commission of $30 - it's as simple as that.
You can sell to anybody around the world
There's no boundaries on the Internet - your website or promotion will be seen by everyone around the world - this means that you have a chance to sell to anybody around the world! This is unlike a physical business, where you can only (in most cases) sell to people within the country where the business is located.
What Is The Difference Between Affiliate Marketing & Multi Level Marketing (MLM)?
In affiliate marketing, the amount of money you will make will depend on the amount of sales you make - and the merchant will pay you a certain amount of commission based on every sale. There are no downlines in affiliate marketing - you work directly work the merchant.
However, for Multi Level Marketing, the amount of money you'll eventually make will depend on the money you make as well as the money your downlines make. The more number of downlines you have and the more money they make, the more money you'll make in turn. It is impossible for you to profit a lot from Multi Level Marketing if do not have a good downline. I personally am not into Multi Level Marketing so I can't comment any further.
Affiliate Marketing - How Quickly Can One Start Making Money?
My answer to this question is - it all depends on how much time and effort you want to put into it.
You need to follow the right steps and strategies - there are many people out there who claim that they can help you make millions of dollars overnight - most of these are scams, so please do not believe them.
It is possible though to make millions of dollars over a period of time - you need to first establish yourself on the Internet community as someone people can look to for answers on a certain subject/topic - and once you've built that trust with people, you can be sure that the community will buy whatever product/service you promote (and that's when you'll see millions of dollars coming in)
Does Anyone Really Make Any Money On The Internet Or Is It Just A Dream?
To be honest with you - when I was first introduced to this Internet Marketing business in late 2006, I, too, was also very skeptical as to whether this whole thing is genuine or is it nothing but scam.
After some persuasion, I decided to try it out and I was lucky enough to learn from the right Internet Marketing gurus (I was also scammed by some) who taught me the right techniques and strategies to profit from Internet Marketing as an affiliate marketer.
What Can I Sell To Make Money As An Affiliate?
You can choose to sell either physical products (e.g. televisions, cameras, books, computers, etc.) or digital products (e.g. digital books, MP3s, etc.).
If you are interested in selling physical products, you may wish to sign up as an affiliate for Amazon (where you can promote anything on the Amazon website and get a commission of about 4% - 8% per sale), or an an affiliate in Commission Junction, Performics (In Commission Junction and Performics, you can find many companies where you can promote products for - such as Sony, HP, etc.)
If you are interested in selling digital products, you can sign up as an affiliate for Clickbank where you can sell digital books on any topics such as business, health and fitness, personal development, marketing, etc.
In addition, you can also make money by giving out free memberships to people, free products (like free game consoles, free gift cards, free ringtones, etc.) or when someone requests for a free financial quotation, etc. - Here are some of the networks you may want to sign up - MaxBounty, ClickBooth, CPA Empire.
How & When Will I Receive My Payment?
Most of the affiliate networks (such as ClickBank, Commission Junction, Performics) issue out payments by check, and most of them issue out payments once every month. However, there are some (like ClickBank) that issues out payment every fortnightly.
Once you've received the checks, you can just bank them in your country's local bank the same way you bank in normal checks. However, the checks might take a little bit longer to clear - between a week to approximately a month, depending on the bank - my suggestion is to check with them directly.
Is There Any Way To Track The Number Of Sales I Generate As An Affiliate?
Yes, all affiliate programs will have an option for you to see how many sales you've generated as an affiliate, as well as how much you've made over a period of time - such as in a single day, in a week, in a month, or in a year.
You'll also know when payments are being sent out.
How Do I Get Started With Affiliate Marketing?
Ask yourself these questions - "what am I interested in?", "What do I like to do in my spare time?" - For example, you love playing golf during the weekends, and you have an affiliation for it, then that's what you should start off with - selling golf products as an affiliate.
Still continuing with the example of golf, you can either sell digital books on how to improve your golf swing, or you can sell golf clubs, golf balls, etc.
Next, you'll need to find a merchant in the golf niche that has an affiliate program so that whenever somebody you referred to purchases something from the merchant's website, you'll be paid a certain amount of commission.
How you can find merchants in the golf niche that has an affiliate program is very easy - just head over to Google and type in the following:
[your area of interest] affiliate program - using the example of golf, you'll type the following into the Google search:
golf affiliate program
Google will return a list of websites with merchants that offer an affiliate program. Visit those sites one buy one and sign up for their affiliate program. Normally, you do not need to pay to sign up for their affiliate program.
Once the merchant approves you to be their affiliate, they will give you a unique link (known as your affiliate link), which you'll have to give to your potential customers to visit to purchase products/services that you're promoting (the reason is because you'll only be paid commissions if your potential customers purchase the products/services through your affiliate link)
That's how you can get started with affiliate marketing.
Affiliate Product Marketing - Do I Choose The Product First Or Niche?
I would say you should look for your niche first. There's no point in choosing the most profitable product to promote but you know nuts about that product - it will be very difficult for you to be able to convince potential customers for that particular product to buy from you as well.
Affiliate Marketing On A Zero Budget - Is It Possible?
Absolutely. Let me show you how.
First of all, it's free to sign up to become an affiliate for the merchants. Next, you can make use of a free blogging website such as Blogger to set up your website to promote products for the merchant.
Once you're done with your blog, you need to drive traffic to it (no traffic = no sales) You can make use of free traffic generation methods such as MySpace, FaceBook, Friendster, etc. to drive traffic to your website.
You can also drive traffic by placing advertisements on free advertisement sites like usfreeads, or write articles around the product/s that you're promoting and submit them to the various article directories - such as EzineArticles, Article Dashboard.
By using the methods above you'll be able to receive tonnes of traffic to your website, and get some sales.
So there you have it! A nutshell of how you can do affiliate marketing on a zero budget. ;)
How Do I Drive Traffic To My Website?
There are many ways to drive traffic to your website - both paid and free.
Let me go into the paid methods first - you can advertise your websites on the various search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN. For these paid search advertising, you'll have to pay whenever someone clicks on your advertisement to go into your website.
Next, for free advertising, there's lots of ways for you to drive traffic to your website (I'm going to list some of them here):
1. Write articles and submit them to the various article directories - in the author's byline, include a link to your website.
2. Participate in forums in the area where you're promoting products in (for example, if you're promoting golf products, then you should visit golf forums). Some of these forums will allow you to put a forum signature - which is a link that'll appear at the end of all your forum posts - include a link to your website there.
3. Sign up for social networking websites - such as MySpace, FaceBook, Friendster, etc. and connect with people in your niche area.
4. Post a free advertisement in free advertising networks such as usfreeads.
How Can I Market Affiliate Products Without A Website?
You can make you of advertising sites such as usfreeads, or you can pay to advertise on the various search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.
Is It Possible I Use Only Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing In Affiliate Marketing And Succeed With It?
Yes, you can use Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing alone in affiliate marketing (I've done this before and made quite a lot of money from it).
However, you need to be equipped with the right skills in order to be able to create profitable campaigns.
Which Is More Profitable? Affiliate Marketing Or Google Adsense?
Here's my answer - both can be very profitable - if you do them right. I won't go into Google Adsense here but in essence, as a newbie, you should pick one (either affiliate marketing or Google Adsense) and focus on it.
Should I Use Landing Pages / Squeeze Pages With Affiliate Marketing?
First and foremost, for those of you who do not know what a landing page / squeeze page is, it's basically a page that is used for the purpose of collecting your potential customers' first name and email address in exchange for something - it could be a free report, free email training course, free audio program, etc. It has the intention of eventually leading the potential customers to the products/services you're promoting.
As to whether or not you should use a landing/squeeze page with affiliate marketing will depend on your marketing effort - some of them build one to build his/her list so as to be able to sell to them in future (as the saying goes "the money is in your list"). But remember this - do NOT build a list and just send them emails to ask them to buy the products/services you are promoting - it's probably going to turn them off. You have to give them VALUE, such that they'll open up your email when they see them in their inbox instead of sending them to the thrash can.
There are people who did not use a squeeze/landing page - they would just send potential customers directly to the product sales page.
So it all depends on what your marketing strategy is - my advice is, try both of them out, and see which one works for you better.
What Is URL Masking In Affiliate Marketing?
URL Masking is basically hiding your affiliate URL and make it shorter. Let me give you an example - if you are promoting a ClickBank product, your affiliate link will look something like this:
Does the above link look very long and bulky?
One look at the URL people will know you're trying to sell them something as an affiliate.
Here's where URL masking comes in - to hide your affiliate id as well as to make your link shorter.
You can make use of free services such as TinyURL or PinURL.
What these sites does is that they'll turn your long URL into a short one - such as http://www.pinurl.com/1ab - isn't this URL much shorter and easier to remember? Also, your affiliate id is hidden from people.