But is Affiliate Marketing right for you?
Is it something that you should investigate and pursue further if you truly want to monetize your site or content? As a way of an answer and to get you thinking about affiliate marketing; I would like to offer some of my own experiences as a full-time online affiliate marketer. I would also like to give you some marketing tips and a few pit-falls you should try to avoid.
Truth be told, I didn't plan to become an affiliate marketer. It just happened, mostly by accident, as I was struggling to promote my first site on Internet marketing some 10 years ago now. My original plan was to re-sell some software products with hopes of making my fortune on this new thing called the Internet.
Well, to make a long story short, most things don't quite turn out as we originally plan. Instead of selling my own products, I became much more interested in studying "how to market online" and examining "how marketing systems worked" than actually selling my own stuff. I was much more fascinated in the "nuts & bolts" or "marketing tools" behind these online marketing systems than earning a few pennies.
I was particularly captivated by a new search engine called Google. Yes, there are many marketers around who have been studying Google since it first started. And I believe it was Google and its AdSense Program in particular that sort of legitimized the "whole idea of making money online" for me. I turned my attention to other ways of monetizing my sites, especially with affiliate programs. And the rest as they say is history...
But enough about me, what about you?
Do you have a website? Are you interested in earning extra revenue from your site? Are you trying to earn a full-time income online? More importantly:
Is Affiliate Marketing Right for you?
First, you have to realize Affiliate Marketing is when you promote and sell affiliate products from your site or sites. Actually, selling is not quite the right word because you DON'T actually sell anything from your site. You merely refer or send customers/interested buyers to the affiliate sites you're promoting via your affiliate links.
Believe me, sometimes this concept is very hard to explain to close family and friends. But what do you sell online? You don't have anything to sell? How can you make money?
To repeat, with affiliate marketing you don't sell anything directly online... you send clients and customers to online companies or merchants where they buy stuff and since they're coming from your site's affiliate links you get credit for the sale.
I don't directly sell Dell Computers on my sites, I merely send prospective customers to Dell where they can buy Dell products and since they came from my affiliate links I get credit, plus a small commission in return if they buy something. Same goes for Amazon or hundreds of the other companies and products I promote with my sites.
Now Affiliate Marketing Fits Me to a Tee! Here's why...
- You don't handle any sales transactions
- You don't handle any delivery of products
- You don't have to deal with customer complaints or run customer support
- You don't have to manage employees or operate a business
- You don't need an office, stock, or any physical products
With Affiliate Marketing all the selling and business operations are done by the company you're promoting. This saves you from a lot of head-aches and problems that arise from running your own company or developing your own products. It's all done for you.
Furthermore, online Affiliate Marketing does have some great advantages:
- Your sites and affiliate links are working for you 24/7, 365 days of the year. You earn sales/commissions while you're sleeping, eating, watching TV or doing anything we humans do!
- You earn money even when you're on Vacation. This happened to me last year when I went to Florida to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. Unfortunately, a band member died so I didn't get to see Springsteen but I did make more than enough online to pay for my whole trip WHILE I was in Orlando. It was also the first time, I didn't have access to my computer or sites for more than a few days, but they still made me money.
- Once you get your affiliate links set-up, they will continue to earn you revenue automatically. All your online marketing can be automated and run from your home office or from anywhere you choose.
- Keep in mind, your content and sites keep building and growing. Work you did writing that great article two years ago is still bringing in affiliate sales today.
- Plus, with Affiliate Marketing, all your marketing materials (banners, sales copy, videos, ads, links...) are all provided for you by the Affiliate Network or Company.
- There's little stress with affiliate marketing mainly because you're your own boss and you can work at home. No office politics or all that foolishness. No commuting. In addition, there is very little capital investment, for a few hundred dollars or much less, you can have a site up and running on the web.
However, Affiliate Marketing does have some real disadvantages:
- You can often earn much more if you develop and sell your own products. You're not really getting the highest return on your site's content by selling other people's stuff. The profit margin can be much, much higher if you sell your own products.
- There is also the issue of lost commissions and theft of sales, you can never be sure you're getting credit for all your traffic and referrals. In most cases you're not.
- Many times there's stiff competition from other affiliates selling the same stuff and using the same marketing materials... although many top affiliates create their own marketing materials so they stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Since I am a full-time online affiliate marketer the benefits far outweighs the few downers associated with this great lifestyle. Mainly because it is just that: a lifestyle rather than a job. I never think of it as a job or working. Maybe, that's because I am my own master, I can work from home and set my own hours. I can take time off, I can go on vacations or I can live anywhere in the world where there's Internet Access and these days that's just about anywhere. The sense of freedom is truly intoxicating to say the least.
If you do find Affiliate Marketing is something that you would like to pursue, even part-time if not full-time, here are some of my best tips for increasing your affiliate income and sales:
- Focus your marketing efforts and attention on programs and products which give you recurring or residual income. Make one sale and get paid for years to come.
- Develop your own sites and marketing materials so that you stand out from the other affiliate marketers. Create your own unique selling position even if you're not technically selling the products. Give extra bonuses if they buy from your links or site.
- Build your own list of customers who are interested in the products you're promoting. Grow your own list, as well as that of the affiliate company you're promoting. You will always have these subscribers and you can promote other similar products to them.
- Concentrate on targeting "long tail keywords" with your content and sites; these multi-worded keyword phrases are easy to rank high for and usually have better conversion rates.
- Cloak your affiliate links to cut down on affiliate theft. For example, ClickBank has a simple HTML code that will hide your link. Use it.
- Internet users and especially shoppers want simple helpful information to make their buying decisions easier. Provide them with valuable information they can use in their task and they will reward you with a sale. Also giving away coupons and online discounts will increase your sales and commissions.
- Use the major affiliate networks like Commission Junction, LinkShare, ClickBank, Amazon, Shareasale... I have found these networks very simple to use and very effective. Plus, their checks never bounce!
- Keep a close eye on your monthly sales, with many of the companies if you go over $25,000 or $50,000 in sales for the month, you get extra bonus incentives. I have found these can dramatically increase your monthly income so watch your sales stats closely.
If you do find that Affiliate Marketing is right for you, chances are almost 100% certain that you will never regret it. Affiliate marketing offers one of the least stressful ways of earning a living on the planet and the lifestyle can't be beat. Anyone can change their lives with affiliate marketing. I did and you can too!