Affiliate marketing success sounds easy – promote someone else’s product and take a commission.
And in theory that’s all there is.
Of course, like near enough everything in life, it’s not quite as simple but the less unnecessary obstacles you put in your own way, the easier it will be to achieve success with affiliate marketing.
Start by choosing a niche
A niche is just a short-hand way of saying “an easily defined sub-section of a larger market”.
Almost every product – even mass market ones – fit into a niche.
For instance, Coca Cola is in the fizzy drinks (soda) section of the refreshment market.
That’s still a large niche area and most successful affiliate marketers drill down further in their quest for a niche.
It’s generally suggested that you choose your niche within one of these large areas online:
- Make money
- Health/self help
Those are usually “evergreen” niches which means they’re always in vogue.
Sure, the methods inside the niches will change. For instance, finding a partner is no longer confined to classified adverts in the back pages of newspapers.
But the principle stays the same – in this instance, putting two people together who are potentially a match for each other.
But each of those big markets is way too big for a beginner to get anywhere with affiliate marketing unless they are extremely lucky.
So you need to drill down.
For instance, in relationships you can sub-section (niche) them down into permanent or transient (one night stands in old fashioned terms). You could also narrow them down by geographic area, the sex of the person you’re targeting, the kind of person they’re looking for (age groups and other preferences) and many other options.
The same logic goes for the make money niche – quick buck, slow but steady, fads, online or offline, low or high capital, etc.
And you should be able to run through lots of different health areas in your mind to do the same kind of drill-down.
Of course there’s crossover between niches – making money often depends on mindset which falls into the self help arena; relationships can be affected by your confidence; and so on.
But as a general rule picking a definable niche is a good place to start.
And if your target market is “everyone” then that’s too big!
Check availability of affiliate products
Amazon is a good place to start looking.
Whilst it doesn’t pay much to affiliates, it will give you a quick snapshot of how many products are available.
If the Amazon results come back in their thousands, you probably haven’t drilled down far enough.
If there’s only one or two results then you’ve gone to the other extreme and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have a big enough target market to earn decent cash as an affiliate.
That’s not always true – sometimes you can hit lucky – but it’s a good place to start.
Once you’ve checked Amazon it’s worth looking elsewhere for higher margin products to sell as an affiliate marketer.
For instance, if there’s demand for digital products in your niche then it’s not unheard of to be able to get anything from 25% of the retail price right the way up to 100% (because some marketers are happy to reward you for introducing a paying customer to them).
And if the product you sell pays a recurring commission (like the autoresponder I personally promote) then that’s even better.
As a successful affiliate marketer it’s your job to introduce paying customers.
Offline you’d be called a commission only salesman because affiliate marketers only get paid when a sale is made.
OK, that’s not totally true.
There are some programs available where you get paid per lead – introducing a potential customer – but that’s a different ball game and generally relies on large amounts of traffic to compensate for the relatively low amount you’re paid for each lead you introduce.
Once you’re happy with your niche then it’s onto the technical stuff…
Get a domain name and some hosting, install WordPress or similar
A domain name is your site’s name on the internet.
Most of us (even geeks) are better at remembering names than the series of random numbers that is the real address of websites.
Sure, you probably don’t type many domain names directly into your browser – chances are that you use a search engine to find the sites for you – but it’s still worth getting a fairly memorable domain name.
You can track those down yourself or use somewhere like Fiverr to pay someone to find them for you.
Hosting is normally a monthly fee and it’s where your website lives on the internet. You point your domain name to your hosting, give things time to spread around the internet and then your site is ready to be built.
WordPress is the easiest way to build your site – it’s free and there’s almost certainly a simple installation option at your website host.
You can tweak it to your precise needs using “plugins” that extend the functionality.
Start creating content
This is where your affiliate marketing starts to take shape.
Content can be written – much like this post – or images or audios or videos or a combination of all those.
The essential part is that you create relevant content that strikes a chord with your target market.
That’s where the research you did initially becomes important.
And it’s also where you should have some kind of enthusiasm for your chosen niche.
There’s no point in creating content on a subject that bores you to tears.
That will come across in what you create and it won’t resonate with your potential market.
It’s much better to create content where you’re enthusiastic.
You’ll find it easier to create and your target audience will relate to it.
If you can describe your journey – quite easy with health and relationships, maybe less easy with make money at first – then you’ll attract like minded people.
Then drip some relevant affiliate links into the content you’ve created.
Much like I’ve done on this page – I’ve put in some links either to affiliate products or to my own products.
Maybe you’ve clicked on one or more of them.
And – if you’ve done that – maybe you’ve bought one or more of the products I’ve suggested.
That’s exactly the same as you’ll be doing with the content you create on your own website.
Don’t be the pushy salesman.
Be the trusted friend who understands the problem and who’s researched the market and found a product that just might be a good fit for your site visitor.
That’s the secret to success with affiliate marketing: introducing the right products to the right people and giving them an opportunity to buy something if they want to.
After that, it’s a numbers game
You won’t convert 100% of your site visitors into buyers – that doesn’t happen in any market.
But your aim is to convert some of them.
Maybe it’s 1 in 100.
Maybe it’s nearer 1 in 25.
The better you’ve done your research and the better you’ve created your content, the better those numbers will be.
The more you drill down on each piece of content you create, the better your chance of being found in the search engines – if there are “only” a few thousand results for any particular topic then you’re more likely to be found than if there are hundreds of thousands or even millions of results.
You won’t know the precise numbers before you create the content.
And you won’t know – maybe for weeks or even months – whether you’ll get any visitors to a specific piece of content you’ve created.
But that’s OK.
Because you should be creating more content rather than constantly pressing refresh on your stats page!
Set aside an hour a day to do this if you can. Less if you can’t spare a whole hour, more if you can spend more time.
Over time, you’ll see your content build up and gradually more people will find it.
And, also over time, you’ll start to make the occasional sale from the affiliate products you promote.
Probably not enough to guarantee your financial retirement overnight – that’s a nice thought but it only happens in movies and sales pitches – but gradually enough to make you more comfortable financially.
And if you’d like help getting from where you are now to where you’d like to be, check out my affiliate marketing roadmap here.
It’s a full guide to being a successful affiliate marketer and will help you to get the most from your affiliate marketing without hitting too many road blocks.