What is Affiliate Marketing?

Sometimes also known as internet marketing or partner programs. There is actually a lot of names for this sort of marketing, but these are the most common names for this sort of business. 

It sounds quite complicated but it's really very easy to understand. There are lot's of things that goes with it, but in the end it's a very basic concept. So, what's it all about?

In simple terms, it's when you sell someone else's product for a commission

It's a program where the merchant gives you the permission to sell their products and in turn you get a commission on the sale. 

This is quite a nice model and is used extensively just about anywhere in the world. Let's look at the benefits of affiliate marketing.
  • Low start up cost 
You probably already have a computer with an internet connection. This is all you need to start internet marketing. You don't need a ware house or physical shop. You can market and sell from you computer. 
  • No employees
You don't have to worry about payrolls, tax, employee benefits or anything associates with running a physical business. This is the merchants problem. He has to manufacture and produce the goods. You just sell it or help him sell the product.
  • No stock or shipping worries
You don't need to keep physical stock or worry about shipping the products. You only point the customers to the merchants website and they take care of the rest. 
  • World wide customer base
How cool is this. You can sell to just about anybody out there. You are not bound to certain demographics. Just remember that certain merchants only sell in certain countries. Because of this they might decline your application to become a affiliate marketer of their products.
  • High income potential
With affiliate marketing you are not bound to a salary or fixed income. If you do well, you can make a lot of money. There is also a downside to this. If you don't do well, then you won't earn much money. It all depends on your approach to this business. 
  • Work from home and earn while you sleep
This is perhaps the best reason why you should get involved with affiliate marketing. Once you have setup your methods to sell the products, then it's all up to the process . By this I mean, that you don't have to worry about the orders, stock, shipping or payment. All this is done by the merchant. So, you don't have to be in front of your computer the whole time. Everything happens electronically.
  • Sell whatever you want.
You can sell physical products or digital products or just about anything that is offered out there. If I can give you some advise here, try to sell stuff that you know about. You can easily write great write ups about stuff that you know about. Remember one thing here, people won't just buy the stuff on your webpage because it's there. They need to know if it's a good product. What are the features and what can you do with it. You have to convince your customers that this is the best product based on your experiences.  You must be seen as an expert in the field. 

There are many more reasons why affiliate marketing is the way to go, but these are the more important ones. 

So, how do I go about getting started?

First of all, you need to register as an affiliate with the company that you want to sell the products for. You will get an unique id that's bound to your credentials. This ensures that you get a commission when somebody clicks on the link and generates a sale.

You then setup your website with affiliate links to the merchants products. This ensures that if a sell is generated, you get the commission.

As simple as that. Well, you actually need someone to click on the link so a sale is generated. You also don't need a website, although this helps. 

You could maybe print flyer's with a direct link to the merchants website. If someone takes the flyer and are interested, he or she would start his computer up and follow the link you provided on the flyer. If they buy the product, then a sale is generated and you earn a commission.

To give you an example. I have a website on computers. There is one section where I talk about virtualization. I know this topic very well so I wrote about the benefits and what virtualization can do for you. I then have links to other pages that explains how this technology works. 

I then placed adverts of a product called vmware on my site. I have registered as an affiliate with a company called onenetworkdirect. They specialize in affiliate marketing. They actually have hundreds of products that you can sell. They handle the affiliate part of big companies so the companies don't need to worry about it. 

Below is a picture of what this would look like on my website:

Click image to enlarge
If you look at the right of the webpage you will see that I placed the vmware affiliate banner with a link to the product. This is typically what the link would look like: http://send.onenetworkdirect.net/z/34069/CD149637/.  My affiliate id is embedded in this link. If someone likes what they see and they click the banner, they will be taken to the merchants website and to the product I'm advertising. If they buy the product, I will get a commission.
These are called affiliate networks. They sort of act as a middle man between the merchants and internet marketers. They take care of all the administration associated with affiliate marketing. The cool thing is that they have multiple products that you can choose from and market on your website or flyer.

Everything is in one place. You don't have to search for products. 

The company can concentrate on producing better products. There are other companies that does the same. Some examples are Commission Junction or CJ, Google, ClickBank and Amazon to mention a few. There are a lot of these networks out there. 

I use clickbank, onenetworkdirect and Google a lot. They are stable and you always get your commissions on time.

Remember that you don't have to just sell other peoples stuff. They can sell your stuff as well. If you have a product you can also become a merchant and then other people can sell your product for a commission.

I used to make music and initially I just did it for fun. Then I came across a website called cdbaby.com. You submit your music to their website and they sell and distribute it to various publisher such as iTunes, for example. When someone buys your song or album, they get a commission and you get the rest.

This way you get other people to help you sell your product. Another great website to sell your stuff with affiliate marketing is, clickbank. With clickbank you can submit your product and specify the amount of commission people can earn when they sell your product.

They mostly sell digital products such as programs and eBooks. Digital products are easy to manage cause they don't have to keep physical stock in a ware house. You can make your product available immediately as well. Clickbank is one of the most popular affiliate networks out there. 

There are hundreds of websites out there that claims to be experts in clickbank and how they can show you to make lots of money using clickbank. Most of the times you have to pay for this information, of course. 

I must say that clickbank does offer a lot of products. Be careful though, there are lots of bad products as well. Be sure what you choose. Do a search on Google and you'll see what I mean.

Wow, this sounds to good to be true, what's the catch?

So, I explained how easy it is to start with affiliate marketing and how you can make lots of money selling other peoples stuff. 

You register as an affiliate, get your affiliate id, post links on your website or flyer's and make money. 

The problem is you actually need people to be interested in your website and products you sell. You can have the best website out there but if no one visits, then you won't get any sales. 

Don't think that when you create your website people will just flock to your site in their drones and start buying or clicking. If it were that easy, then everybody would be doing it. You need to earn your potential clients trust. 

You need to create a website with lots of relevant content. You need to show them that you know what you are talking about. You must show that you know more about the product than most other websites do. This is the hard part and this takes time. 

If you want to know how to get people to visit your site, then go to my page on creating a website. There I show you how to create a website that will give you a head start in generating traffic. I also talk about structure and keywords and how to use them. But please remember, it does take time but doing the basics right could save you time as well.

Let me just quickly talk about keywords and how they can help generate traffic. Keywords are words that people search for in search engines such as Google to get what they are looking for. Google also keeps a database of these searches. You can access this database if you go to Google's adwords.google.com website.

There is a free version and a version that you can access if you register with Google adwords. Registration is free and this gives you access to other tools in the adwords arsenal. When you are on the adwords website, go to "Tools and Analysis --> Keyword Tool". Use this tool to get ideas about keywords.

Let's say your website is about computers. You should use as much keywords about computers as you can. The keywords must be relevant to what your website is all about. 

What's the use if your website is about computers but your content is about cars or dating sites or something else? People will get the impression that you don't know what you are talking about and rather go to another website.

Your affiliate links should also be about what your site or page is about. If your website is about computers, then your affiliate products should also be about computers or at least be, computer related. I have sometimes come across computer websites where there are links to online gambling or dating sites. This is a big no, no. 

Stick to what you know or do research on stuff that you don't know. Remember one thing, everybody is like you. When you want to buy something, you will do research and read reviews about the product. You will visit various websites on the topic and you will base your decision on what people write about it.

If they write nonsense then you will click away and try another site. You want to read the best possible review or gather the most relevant information before you decide to buy. This is where your website can beat others. 

That brings me to another point. Sell something that you have at least bought and used yourself. If you go to clickbank you will see that there's hundreds of products you can sell. Don't make the mistake of just putting links on your website to these products. People want to know if it's worth it. They will not spend money on just anything that's out there.

See yourself in their shoes. Will you just go to sites and start buying everything you see.? Probably not. You want to know what the product is worth. People want solutions to their problems. 

Let's say your computer is running slow. You might try to find the problem yourself. If you don't succeed, then you will probably turn to the internet to solve the problem. So you type some search keywords in Google about slow running computer. You will get thousands of results, if not millions. 

Some of these links might take you to a website where the owner promotes an eBook on how to troubleshoot slow computers. If he writes a good report then you will buy the product. If he only says that here's a link to some eBook that will make your computer faster, you will probably not buy it. 

Your approach should be the same. Get the potential buyer interested in the product. Write a review about the product. Show potential buyers how this product saved you a lot of time and effort and what the features are. This will give the client the impression that you have used the product and you know how it works.

You could even supply an email address or feed back form if they want to contact you for more information. Build and work on the relationship. This is what sell's not a website full of affiliate links to a bunch of products the author has no idea of. 

What I'm trying to say here is that you should find your niche and concentrate on it. You can only be successful in affiliate marketing if you concentrate on what you know. 

A great resource on affiliate marketing is an eBook by Rosalind Gardner. She wrote a great eBook on the subject called the Super Affiliate Handbook. I learn a lot from this book and got a lot of tips from this. After reading the book I released just how many mistakes I made trying to master affiliate marketing. I have also written a short review on the eBook if you are interested.

If you are exited about internet marketing and you think this is just the thing for you, then I strongly suggest you buy the book. It's easy to understand and is not expensive. Rosalind goes into a lot of detail and gives some real working examples. The Super Affiliate Handbook is indeed, super. 

I want to close by saying that affiliate or internet marketing is a really great way to make some extra money. It takes some time but it's worth the effort in the end. People have made lot's of money from affiliate marketing. For some, this is their job. They provide for themselves by doing affiliate marketing.

Struggeling to make affilate marketing work? Why not give Rosalind Gardners book, "The Super Affiliate Handbook" a try. 

It's packed with usefull marketing info and is an easy to follow, step by step guide to affilate marketing.

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