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What is Affiliate Marketing? A Beginners' Introduction

The internet has opened up more opportunities for people to make money than ever before and one of the best ways to make money online is through affiliate marketing.

If you’ve only just heard about affiliate marketing and are wondering what it is, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what affiliate marketing is and how it works.

The internet is now the world’s biggest marketplace and that means there are a lot of people across the world buying and selling things. In it’s most basic form, the aim of affiliate marketing is to match people to products in order to increase sales. The job of the affiliate can be broken down into:

  • Finding things to sell
  • Advertising
  • Selling products and collecting the commission

Of course, this is an oversimplification but it shows you the basic skeletal framework for what affiliates do. The hard part is adding flesh to the bones to generate enough sales to make a profit.

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Often, descriptions of Affiliate Marketing make it sound a lot easier than it really is. That’s because you just need to show people stuff and they buy it, right? Not quite. The truth is, people are actually very tricky to sell to and there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when promoting products. The first is that it costs money!

What a lot of people don’t realise when they see ads is that someone, somewhere is paying for them. Of course, there are ways to get organic traffic for free, but it can be a long hard battle and requires you to be passionate about providing useful, SEO driven information. What’s more, you’ll still have to pay for a website, hosting and quite a few tools if you want to get to the top. Don’t worry, we’ll cover those too.

Like any business, affiliates need capital when they start and you should never spend more than you can afford to lose. Affiliate Marketing is not a get rich quick scheme, so be prepared to play the long game. You will fail at first, but every failure is a lesson and gradually you’ll understand more and more about what makes customers buy.

Why is it hard to sell things?

You can get a lot of insight into how Affiliate Marketing works if you think about how you use the internet.

The chances are, the next time you click on an advert, you won’t buy the product being offered.

Think about how many ads/links you click on each and every day and how many of them actually convince you to buy something.

Not very many, right?

And that’s why affiliate marketing is difficult. Not only do you have to promote products, but you have to compete with millions of other people also selling products. On top of this, once a person visits your ad, you still have to convince them to buy what you’re selling!

Affiliate marketing isn’t easy! But, if you play the long game, it can be very profitable…

The trouble is there’s no tried and tested method that works for everyone, which is why no-one can teach you exactly what to do. However, we are going to introduce you to all of the parts that you need to get right in order to be successful. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll go into greater detail about all of the topics listed below and many more. For now, here is a quick overview of some of the key elements of affiliate marketing.

Some of the key steps in Affiliate Marketing

  • Join an Affiliate Network
  • Find a product that works for you and generates sales
  • Find a Traffic Source that suits your campaign
  • Budget your campaigns so you don’t run out of money
  • Create an audience profile and discover what your perfect customer looks like
  • Learn how to make content and ad banners
  • Split test your campaigns to uncover what works and what doesn’t
  • Network to ensure that you stay on top of trends

Don’t worry if you’re a beginner and have no idea where to start, that’s why we’re here. Everyone has to start somewhere. Affiliate marketing isn’t easy, but if you take it step-by-step, then it is manageable.

But…

Be warned! The only losers in affiliate marketing are the ones that give up. Once you’ve invested money the only way to get it back is to earn it!

How do you get people to buy stuff?

All campaigns involve Sales Funnels. These are used to break down how you get people from first viewing the product to eventually buying it. As an affiliate, the journey you take and the sales funnel you choose will be up to you!

There are hundreds of different routes to get people to buy products and you have to find the one which is right for you and your audience. For example, some of the most famous affiliates are YouTubers, however, for many of the most famous YouTubers, affiliate marketing is a by-product of their work. They generate amazing content and people take their advice because they are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do.

The YouTube sales funnel is the easiest to visualise. Let’s take a look at the world’s most famous YouTuber PewDiePie.

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Look at any one of PewDiePie’s videos and underneath you’ll see a list of links. You’ll notice if you watch his videos, that he’ll make references to them several times and tell people that they are there. This is his way of raising awareness and generating a call to action.

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Every time someone clicks on one of the links and buys the product advertised, PewDiePie gets paid a commission. Easy right? You guessed it! No! Because, while PewDiePie has over 81 million subscribers, he’s had to compete for the attention of 1.3 billion users watching 5 billion videos every single day.

Determining your sales funnel is easy, the hard part is mastering it!

We’re going to look in a lot more depth at how to generate a high converting sales funnel and what you can do to optimise it. Until then, consider the last thing you bought online. What steps did you have to take to buy it? Even if it’s something you were looking for, there would have been a reason you bought it from the site you did.

If you’re thinking to yourself “I just picked the first thing I saw” then that’s still important, because it means you probably relied on SEO and brand awareness. One of the keys to understanding how customers think is to understand how you think.

Are you impulsive or do you like to do a lot of research first? Either way, someone, somewhere is placing you into a sales funnel to ensure that they grab your attention and convince you to buy. Once you start to see that happening, you can use it to your advantage.

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Homework:

Below are 5 products to search for and ‘buy’. Don’t rush, instead, try to find the option you think is best and consider how you came to your decision. Why did you choose B and not A? Did B offer something the other didn’t? Did A seem less trustworthy? Maybe you just went for the first Google Ad at the top? All of these things matter as they enable you to determine how people think.

Shopping List:

  1. Lego Bugatti
  2. ‘Mac and Me’ DVD
  3. Sony Bravia TV
  4. An Online English Language Course
  5. A gift for your girlfriend/boyfriend

With the last two, consider the search terms you use. As an affiliate, if you want to get high-quality organic traffic, keywords matter, and knowing what people are likely to type will help you match your products to your customers.

Quick Tip

If you want to see how companies generate further interest via email, get yourself an account dedicated to spam. Then, every time a company asks you to register, give them that address. It will keep your primary inbox clean and give you constant inspiration for how to generate follow up emails.

Finished reading?
Then it’s time to make some money.

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