Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate some additional income. You can become an affiliate marketer and recommend other brands, or you can start an affiliate program to start promoting your own existing brand. This complete guide will walk you through how to become an affiliate marketer who promotes other brands. We’ll go over how to start making money in , online marketing tips to help you succeed, and tricks to help you earn more money. Smart entrepreneurs running a thriving business know there’s always more they can do to make that business grow. One way of taking things to the next level is by finding an alternate stream of income.
Table of Contents
- What is Affiliate Marketing?
- Types of Affiliate Marketers
- Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?
- Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing
- Choosing a Platform and Method for Affiliate Marketing
- Choosing a Niche for Your Affiliate Marketing Business
- Finding Products and Brands to Promote
- Creating Content that Sells
- Building an Email List
- Driving Traffic to Your Affiliate Links
- Getting Paid as an Affiliate Marketer
- Examples of Successful Affiliate Marketing Programs
- Should You Become an Affiliate Marketer?
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based online marketing strategy where a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. Affiliate programs work by allowing individuals (affiliates) to promote and sell products or services of a company in exchange for a commission on each sale.
Types of Affiliate Marketers
Affiliates always carry a bit of mystery—you never know if the person has ever used the product or if they are just promoting it for the money. Both cases still exist today. It wasn’t until 2009 when renowned affiliate marketer Pat Flynn broke down the different types of affiliate marketers into three groups. Understanding these types of affiliate marketing can show you the different ways people in this space, regardless of your moral compass.
Unattached Affiliate Marketing
The first type of affiliate marketing is referred to as “unattached,” or when you have no authority in the niche of the product you’re advertising, i.e., There’s no connection between you and the customer. This often involves running with the affiliate link and hoping people will click it, buy the product, and earn a commission. Unattached affiliate marketing is attractive because you don’t need to do any legwork. Affiliate marketing businesses rely on reputation and trust with a target audience online. Some affiliate marketers don’t have the time or desire to build those relationships, so this type of marketing is their best option.
Related Affiliate Marketing
Related affiliate marketing is the practice of promoting products and services you don’t use but that are related to your niche. An affiliate marketer in this case has an audience, whether it’s through blogging, , TikTok, or another channel. A related affiliate marketer also has influence, which makes them a trusted source for recommending products, even if they’ve never used them before. While related affiliate marketing can generate more affiliate income, it comes with the risk of promoting something you’ve never tried before. It could be the worst product or service ever, and you wouldn’t even know. It only takes one bad recommendation to lose the trust of your audience. If you don’t have trust and transparency, it’ll be hard to build a sustainable affiliate marketing business.
Involved Affiliate Marketing
Involved affiliate marketing refers to only recommending products and services the affiliate marketer has used and truly believes in. In this type of marketing, an affiliate marketer uses his or her influence to promote products and services that followers may actually need, instead of paying to get clicks on a banner ad. It takes more time to build this type of credibility with an audience, but it’s necessary for building a sustainable business. Elise explains that the involved approach makes advertising much easier for affiliate marketing partners: “You don’t have to hide behind expensive PPC ads and hope for clicks and sales. An organic Instagram Story or blog post about your experience with a product will go a long way.” Elise prefers this method because it’s honest and is “the only genuine way to become a trusted source on any topic.”
Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?
Yes, affiliate marketing is worth it, given its growth in popularity. Statista estimates the affiliate marketing industry was worth , up from $5.4 billion in 2017. It’s also a you can profit from immensely. But before diving in, consider the pros and cons of entering the affiliate marketing world. While industry growth is a good indication of success, entrepreneurs also take this route for a few other reasons. Your side of the equation involves simply handling the digital marketing side of building and selling a product. You don’t have to worry about the harder tasks, like developing, supporting, or fulfilling the offer. Since there’s no cost to join affiliate programs, you can start making money with an established affiliate product or service without any upfront investment. Affiliate marketing can also generate relatively through commission—the ideal money-making scenario. Though initially you’ll have to invest time creating traffic sources, your affiliate link can continue to deliver a steady paycheck. Successful affiliate marketing offers the potential to significantly scale your earnings without hiring extra help.
Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing
Before you get too excited, know that great affiliate marketing is built on trust. While seemingly there are an endless number of products or services to promote, it’s best to only highlight those you personally use or would recommend. Even when a product interests you or fits within an existing hobby, becoming a great affiliate marketer for that product takes a lot of work. Affiliate marketing also has a few disadvantages compared to other types of marketing campaigns. Before jumping in, let’s look at a few challenges you’ll face on your journey to affiliate marketing success.
Time and Patience
Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It requires time and patience to grow an audience and gain influence. You’ll want to test different channels to see which connect best with your audience. Research the most relevant and credible products to promote. Spend time blogging, publishing free content on social media, hosting virtual events, and doing other lead-generating activities on your marketing channels.
There’s no boss handing you a weekly paycheck as an affiliate marketer. Affiliate programs work on a commission basis, whether you’re paid by lead, click, or sale. Companies use a temporary browser cookie to track people’s actions from your content. When a desired action is taken by someone, you receive the payout. Affiliates must obey the rules set by a company for their program. You need to follow their guidelines for what you say and how you present their product or service. Competitors must follow the same recommendations, so you have to get creative to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Affiliate marketing income spans a large spectrum. There are some affiliate marketers that will make a few hundred bucks per month and others that make six figures a year. The larger your following, the more money you can make as an affiliate marketer. Compensation software company Payscale reports that the average annual salary of an affiliate marketer is , based on over 7,000 salary profiles, with many affiliate marketers earning significantly more. But how do affiliates actually get paid? When you choose an affiliate program to promote, you’ll notice there are different payment models. Companies also call it a price model, payout model, conversion type, or another variation. Regardless of the name, the payment model tells you what goals you will get paid for.
Examples of Successful Affiliate Marketing Programs
Looking at some of the companies that participate in affiliate marketing will provide you with inspiration—as well as proof that this is a legit and high-paying revenue stream.
Shopify Affiliate Program
Shopify Affiliate Program is a network of entrepreneurs, educators, influencers, and creators who send referrals to Shopify. It’s free to sign up for the program, you only need to apply. Once approved, affiliate partners get a unique affiliate link to share with their audience. They earn affiliate income each time someone signs up using their link. On average, Shopify Affiliates earn $58 for each referral who signs up for a paid Shopify plan.
Amazon Associates Program
One of the most common examples is Amazon Associates, known as Amazon Affiliates. In fact, Amazon Affiliates currently has the biggest (45.81%), followed by CJ Affiliate (8.14%), and Rakuten Affiliate Network (7.85%). Amazon Affiliates offers different products across many different categories. It’s a great way to get into . Creators, publishers, and bloggers can use an Amazon affiliate link to direct their audience to product recommendations. From the link referral, you can earn money on qualifying purchases.
Water Bottle Retailer LARQ
Water bottle retailer LARQ used affiliate marketing to build a million-dollar brand. Rather than take the traditional affiliate route, it used Instagram influencers to build awareness for the launch of its keystone product, the LARQ WB-1 bottle. The brand continues to work with influencer accounts, ranging from those with 100,000 followers and up. It works with around 300 creators per month to create content that markets and sells the bottle at scale.
Swimwear Brand Frankies Bikinis
Swimwear brand Frankies Bikinis refers to its affiliates as ambassadors, hashtagged #Frankiesgirls. It uses ShareASale, RewardStyle, and Skimlinks to manage its program. The brand encourages active women with strong social presences to apply. Commissions are paid in cash, and the brand offers an updated list of active promos for ambassadors to use.
Juice Beauty Affiliate Program
Juice Beauty is a skin care brand based in California that offers an affiliate program via Rakuten. Affiliates earn 6% commission on all sales, and have access to special deals and discounts. Juice Beauty doesn’t charge any application or membership fees to its affiliates.
Urikar Affiliate Program
Retailer Urikar offers a high-ticket affiliate program with average commissions of $1,460, according to data from ShareASale. It sells fitness and wellness products like massage guns, indoor and outdoor workout equipment, and accessories. Urikar offers a 10% commission on all sales, which can add up quickly if you are a fitness influencer with a big following. Its most popular product, an AI-powered muscle massager, retails for $139.99, which means you’ll earn $13.99 for each sale. Urikar’s program also provides your own dedicated account manager and affiliate dashboard to track conversions and sales.
Should You Become an Affiliate Marketer?
Earning money with affiliate marketing programs can be a rewarding way to add a new revenue stream for little or no money in upfront investment. Affiliate marketing takes time, but by putting in the hours to find the right affiliate network and dial in your strategy, you can build an affiliate system that generates passive income for years to come.