I was initially reluctant to title this post Affiliate Marketing for Dummies, but then I remembered how useful the “for Dummies” books I’ve read were. When you think about it like that, it’s a pretty high bar. I’ll do my best to do it justice.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
In a previous post, we discussed the question, “What is Affiliate Marketing About?” I recommend you have a look at that if you’re looking to learn what affiliate marketing is about.
Briefly said, affiliate marketing is a very loose relationship where independent, freelance marketers assist businesses in marketing their products.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Once you have signed-up for an affiliate program, you will be given a special link known as your affiliate link. This link may lead people to a company’s site or to a specific product, and it contains special information that allows the company’s site to know that you were the one who sent that person to their site. If the person buys something, you are compensated according to the terms of the program you signed-up for.
Sharing Your Affiliate Link Directly
The simplest way for people to get your affiliate link is for you to share it directly with them. This method probably has the most immediate result, but it also has the highest risk and is the least effective long-term strategy for getting people to find and follow your affiliate link.
Sharing Your Affiliate Link on Social Networks
You could, for example, do searches on twitter, facebook, and other social channels looking for people who have problems that the product you’re promoting solves. As you find them, you would respond to their tweet or post suggesting that they consider the product you’re promoting and including your affiliate link.
It sounds simple enough, and it is. The problem with this approach is that a lot of social networks have been abused by affiliate marketers with low standards. Now, many social networks consider affiliate links to be spam and your won’t even be able to publish your response.
About the only way you can use a direct affiliate link on a social network is to put it in your profile as your website. If you don’t have a website, this may be one solution. However, you can usually only promote one link this way.
Isn’t it awesome when greedy people ruin a great opportunity for everyone else? That’s what has happened here.
Sharing Your Affiliate Link on Related Websites and Forums
If you ignore the social networks, what’s left? Websites and forums related to your product.
If you search for problems that your product solves, you will probably find websites focused on solving that problem. Some of them will let you leave a comment along with a website URL. Put your affiliate link in as your website URL.
Forums and other membership sites generally let you have a website listed on your profile. Many will also let you provide a signature – and that’s a much better option.
If you place your link on your profile, people have to go look at your profile before they will even have a chance to see your affiliate link. Placing the link in your signature however will make sure they have a chance to see it every time they read a thread you have started or replied to.
It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out which is better.
Sharing Your Affiliate Link on YouTube
The last way to share your affiliate link directly would be on YouTube. It’s not quite as simple as the above approaches, but the potential audience on YouTube is huge.
To share your link on YouTube, you have to create (or pay someone to create) a video. The video would be about a problem your product solves. In many cases, you might just do a screen recording and avoid showing your face (if you’re shy), but the information you provide should be solid and help people understand why the product you’re promoting is a solution for the problem being discussed.
Your link goes in the description, and you can also add it to the video using annotations. When someone watches your video, they have a chance to view the description and click your link.
Building a Website to Share Your Affiliate Links
The most flexible and powerful way to share your affiliate links is to create a website. A website gives you an opportunity to promote more programs too – depending on how highly focused the website is.
This approach is known as content marketing, and the way you pull it off is to write content to focus on various problems your product solves and offer the product you’re promoting as a solution to that problem. You could even promote related products with your own website, and most affiliate marketers do. Make sure the products are related though – you want to keep your website targeted.
Free Website Solutions
If cash is tight, you might choose to go with a free website. These typically give you a subdomain (yoursite.theirdomain.com) which means you wouldn’t even need to register a domain name. This can be a great way to start, but make sure the site you choose will not put ads on the site you build.
One of the best places to create a free website is SiteRubix. Their sites are powered by WordPress, and they never put ads on your site. If you don’t know how to setup a WordPress website, you might want to sign-up for a free account at Wealthy Affiliate instead. You’ll still get the free site, but you’ll also get free training to setup and market your site.
Paid Website Solutions
While a free SiteRubix website can definitely generate a lot of traffic, some people may give less immediate trust to a site on a subdomain than a top-level (.com, .org, .net) domain. Of course, people vote for trust with their pocket book, so getting people to accept your recommendations and actually buy may be easier with your own website.
How to Promote Your Website Pages That Contain Affiliate Links
Once you have your own website and are writing articles about problems that the product you’re promoting solves, you can share links to your own content. You might wind up with a lot of articles, in fact. Each of them a chance to catch someone’s attention.
You will probably find that – if you went with the paid website option – you can share links to your content on social media. Don’t abuse it, if you can – and don’t get too worried if you still can’t. It’s possible that Facebook in particular may require your site to have some authority before it lets you share links – which you get by creating more content.
Getting the Most Out of Your Affiliate Links
To maximize the value of your affiliate links, you really do want your own website – free or paid. While this is a great start, and will definitely increase the value of your affiliate links, there’s more you can do.
Learning to Write the Right Content
To really maximize the value of your website and affiliate links, you need to learn to write content that people are looking for. If nobody is looking for what you wrote, the only way you can get people to read it is by putting a link in front of them by hand. However, if the content you write targets things people are looking for the search engines will happily show your links when people search for it.
If too many people are searching for a specific topic, it might be hard to get your content on the first page. So, ideally, you want to write about things that people are searching for – but not too many people. You should also consider how many other people are writing about the same thing.
In short, this is where keyword research comes into play, and a tool like Jaaxy will do a tremendous job of helping you make sure you are targeting keywords people are searching for – that aren’t already saturated with competition.
Writing Content That Converts
Getting people to your site is the first hurdle you have to jump. There’s more to it though.
The next challenge you will face is getting people to actually read your content. Now, you don’t have to be an ace writer to pull this off, but there are definitely things to be learned that will increase the number of people who click on your links.
What you really want to improve your conversions is some real training. The best I could possibly recommend is Wealthy Affiliate.
They have a free keyword tool at Wealthy Affiliate too.
Wrapping it Up
We’ve covered quite a bit, but there’s so much more to affiliate marketing. To cover everything would take up an entire website and more. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about some of the pitfalls and paths though.
If you have questions or comments, please to leave them below – we really appreciate it. Also, if you found this article useful, I hope you’ll be kind enough to use the sharing links to share it with your own network.
Thanks, and happy affiliate marketing!