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Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

Internet marketing is an umbrella term that includes many technologies, tactics, channels, and revenue streams. There is no shortage of ways to utilize internet marketing to your advantage and it would be impossible to cover every effective strategy in the always-evolving online landscape. Today, we’re going to turn our focus to affiliate marketing – one of the most misunderstood forms of internet marketing.

Too much is made of the internet “moving at the speed of light.” Anyone researching internet marketing is bound to find one warning repeated over and over again: the internet moves so quickly that in order to be successful you must be one step ahead of the latest tools and best practices. It’s true that being an early adopter can help you become very successful in the short term, but it’s also highly risky. It’s much more rewarding in the long-term to provide a product that is consistent, stable and practical. In other words: slow and steady wins the race.

This is especially true when it comes to affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is one of the cornerstones of internet marketing and it is largely built on trust. The best affiliate marketers are seen as authorities within their niche.

As a whole, affiliate marketing is an enormous network which helps businesses reach their target audiences and points consumers to the products that best suit their needs. In this regard, affiliate marketing has a lot in common with, and is closely linked to, search engine optimization (SEO).

Simply put, affiliate marketing involves two parties: the business and the affiliate. The business is selling some kind of product and the affiliate is promoting that product. It’s a form of commission-based salesmanship, with the affiliate rewarded based on their performance. Every time the affiliate helps to generate a sale, the business pays them a share of the sale. This graphic explains the relationship between Brands, Affiliates, and Ad Platforms.

Affiliate Marketing - How Does It Work?

While ad platforms used to play a very large role in affiliate marketing, more and more affiliates are finding ways to earn commissions that bypass these platforms altogether.

One way for affiliates to promote products is by creating a customer-facing service, for example a blog that reviews books, a series of videos explaining how to build furniture, or a website documenting the latest fashion trends. In the first example, the affiliate can provide links to buy the books from Amazon, in the second, the affiliate can provide a list of all the tools used in the video and link to buy them from Home Depot, and in the third, the affiliate can direct people to Revolve. Each of these companies has a healthy affiliate program and there are many other programs and networks to choose from.

The key to success in affiliate marketing is to provide an organic and high-value context in which to drive traffic to your partner(s) – consumers aren’t going to follow a link unless you give them a good reason to. First, you need to attract people to your site, which is going to require good SEO in order to rank higher in Google. Then, you need high quality content to keep people reading and keep them coming back. The more value and usefulness your content offers to your readers, the more business you’ll generate.

Affiliate Marketing Facts

  1. Affiliate marketing is one of the cornerstones of digital marketing

Affiliate marketing is a broad network used by every major online retailer. It’s a widely accepted form of digital marketing and a huge part of any retailer’s consumer outreach strategy. Affiliates act as an arms-length sales and marketing force, organically directing consumers to the products they want and need, and helping businesses to grow their customer-base.

  1. Affiliates DO sell a product

Affiliates are more than just a part of a business’ sales funnel – they provide a very valuable product of their own: good content. Affiliates are thought leaders and tastemakers that answer the questions consumers are actually asking. Whether customers want to know more about a specific product, want to keep up with the latest trends, or are getting into a new hobby, affiliate marketers are often the people they turn to for more information. The most successful affiliates are the ones who offer the most valuable (and most well-written) information to consumers in their niche.

  1. You CAN make money

Many people portray affiliate marketing as passive income, but that’s a little misleading. Starting an affiliate marketing site takes a lot of work – don’t expect there to be anything “passive” about it during your first six months. Affiliate marketing, like SEO, is built on trust. It takes time for consumers to trust you as a resource and it takes time for Google to trust you. Generate good content and network with other sites in your niche for at least six months before you expect to see a significant return on investment. Be patient: by your second year you could be making $10,000/month.

  1. You DON’T have to focus on a specific niche

What holds many people back is a desire to do something totally unique, waiting to find that hyper-specific niche that will make them one-of-a-kind. But there are two problems with this: first, for a very specific niche, you have to truly be an expert to regularly produce good content; and second, if nobody’s done it before, there’s a good chance that’s because there’s no money in it. By choosing a broad niche (such as fashion or home renovation), you can target a wider audience and tap into a wealth of existing information and resources.

Anyone can be an affiliate. If you already have a blog or website (and lack the time or the ability to create a whole site dedicated to affiliate marketing) you can still work with businesses in your industry by linking to products that you use yourself or that you think your visitors would enjoy, or just by including a banner ad on your homepage.

Did you know that Payza has its own Referral Program? Test out your affiliate marketing skills by helping people sign up for their free Payza Account. Once they reach a certain amount of transactions, you’ll earn $5 USD for your first 10 referrals, and $10 USD for every referral after that!

Join the millions of businesses and individuals around the world that use affiliate marketing to supplement your income, and if you have any questions about getting started, ask us in the comments below.