What is Affiliate Marketing?

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Learn Closely Guarded Affiliate Marketing Secrets

The title of this section is intended to be “tongue-in-cheek”, a joke actually. I can assure you there are no secret that exist with respect to Affiliate Marketing. There may be skills that you have not learned just yet, but here are very few if any Affiliate Marketing secrets.

By the end of this article you will have a thorough understanding of Affiliate Marketing, what it is and how you can become an affiliate marketer.  This is the foundation for creating a passive income.  If you are interested in a true laptop lifestyle, you will need to free yourself from anything that will strap you to a geographical location.

To understand the term, we simply need to look at the two words individually Affiliate and Marketing.

Dictionary.com lists eight definitions for the word Affiliate, but we will focus on just 4:

  1. to bring into close association or connection,
  2. to attach or unite on terms of fellowship; associate with,
  3. a business concern owned or controlled in whole or in part by another concern,
  4. a subsidiary.

In these definitions, you can see that an affiliate is someone who joins with another organization for a mutual benefit. So with respect to affiliate marketing, we can associate with another organization that is attempting to sell their products or services and assist them with that goal.

Merriam-Webster.com defines Marketing as:

  1. the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market,
  2. the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service

So, with these two definitions in mind we can formulate a fundamental meaning for affiliate marketing. We as affiliate marketers team up with other organizations and help them sell their products and services and in return they will give us a commission on each sale we make.

Why should You Consider Starting an Affiliate Marketing Business?

There are a dozen or more fantastic reasons for considering an Affiliate Marketing based business and we will explore five one of them.

But the primary reason for creating an association with another company as an affiliate is eliminating ANY need to create, own, store or warehouse a single product. In fact, as an affiliate you very likely will have no need to bill or collect money from your customers, have any real contact with customers or deal with customer complaints.  Everything I have listed above is typically the responsibility of the Affiliate Program (the other company).

Reason #1: No product of your own

As mentioned above, your only goal as an affiliate marketer is to attract customers, typically in the form of website visitors.  Visitors to your website will read valuable information regarding the product or service that you are selling and make a decision whether to buy or not.  Most often this done without your knowledge and without any interaction with you at all.

Reason #2: Work from anywhere with an Internet connectionKeypad shown as Work From Home symbol

Another common reason for becoming an affiliate marketer is the ability to work from anywhere there is an internet connection. So not only will you be able to work from home, but you would be able to run your business from anywhere in the world that has a connection to the internet.  Think Beach!

I’m not going to suggest that being an affiliate marketer will allow you to work 4 hours a week and make a million dollars, because I work very hard on my business.  But controlling your own business does allow you to benefit from you own hard work, unlike most 9 to 5’s jobs where someone else benefits from your hard work.

Reason #3: Very low start-up costs

Yet another reason for considering a business as an Affiliate Marketer is the low start-up cost. As I have mentioned in other posts, you can Start an Affiliate Marketing Business for FREE. However, if you would like to be a little more realistic and not have to spend months searching for every free answer you can find, you should expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $1500 per year to get started.

Reason #4: Affiliate marketing businesses are highly scalable

Additionally, a well-designed Affiliate Marketing Business is scalable. If you have grown your marketing business to a respectable monthly income of $100 to $500 per month, there is reason that you will not be able to “scale” that income to $5,000, $10,000 or even $30,000 or more, each and every month.

Reason #5: Affiliate marketing is a passive income

Lastly, Affiliate Marketing when done well will come very close to a Passive Income Source. If you are not familiar with passive income, please see our post on “Creating A Passive Income”.  As I mention in that article, passive income is often defined as a revenue source which requires a substantial investment of resources or money, but with time will continue to produce income with little or no continued effort.

And I will take this time to mention again, that I do not entirely agree with the later part of the above definition, but I can see where others would define passive income that way.

Are There Disadvantages to Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is very much a “leap of faith” type of business (I will explain what I mean by that), but all start up businesses are to some extent. The internet is like the ocean, there are billions of websites (over 1.8 billion actually).

So let’s imagine you opened a store on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Your only customers would be other boats that just happen to float by your store. The trick would be to get boats to sail past your store, which is hard to find, cause it’s in the middle of the ocean (over 40 million square miles if your in the Atlantic). So what’s my point?

Getting customers to find your website in the ocean of other websites, some of which are fighting for the same customers you are, can take time. And only those with some serious intestinal fortitude can work through the difficult times and keep the faith that it will all work out in the end. But those that do, WOW, what a reward they will receive.

Clock to show that Building and Online Business takes TimeDisadvantage #1: It takes time to build an Affilite Marketing Business

Another disadvantage to Affiliate Marketing is that you have very little, if any control over the actual product or what the company does with the product. Also, you’re likely not to have any control over the commissions paid or how the business that owns the product is run.

This however is a symptom of not needing to create, own, store or warehouse a product. This disadvantage is easily overcome, in my opinion, by not putting all of your eggs in one basket. Become an Affiliate Marketer for numerous products or services and a single failure will not be as painful.

Disadvantage #1: Lack of control of actual product

High competition can be another challenge when trying to sell a popular product or service. Any high commission or desirable program will have plenty of competition, you can be sure of that. I personally do not worry about competition.

Disadvantage #2: High Competition

Customer belongs to the merchant. Your stats will let you know how many sales were made of what product, but in most cases, you’ll have no information about who made the purchase, which makes it difficult to market for re-sales.

How to Become a Successful Affiliate Marketer

Personally, I believe you are in the right place to learn to become a successful Affiliate Marketer.

So you have already taken the first step. And each subsequent step is going to be laid out for you in the pages of this website. But I will summarize some of the more critical steps toward entering the game of affiliate marketing.

Do your research – Not all Affiliate Programs are the same. Not all Affiliate Programs are ethical and frankly some are just plain scams. So learn to spot the good ones and we will help with that, of course.

As you search for an Affiliate Program that fits your niche, remember that some of the more popular Affiliate Programs may not allow you to sell their product (YET!).  I have seen many Newbies get discouraged when a program rejects their application.  Do Not Let This be You!

Those programs will be begging you to sell their product when you have established yourself and generated a decent amount of daily traffic for your website.

As the bullet point describes, “Do Your Research“, search for high converting and high commission programs that fit within the topic of your specific niche.

Build a website – Here again, our “large” target audience is the internet. So the best way to get to people on the Internet is with a website.  The main page of MOZ.com reminds us that over 5,000,000,00 (5 billion) searches are performed everyday.  What percentage of that 5B is looking for what you are selling?  Claim your stake!

This really isn’t rocket science, if you follow the steps that are laid out within this website you could have a website up and running in a matter of minutes.  And I will personally help you every step of the way, and if that’s not enough I will introduce you to hundreds of “like minded people” that are ready, willing and able to help you as well.

Select a niche – Decide what which specific group of customers you will want to target. This will help you to narrow the field of Affiliate Programs to those that your target audience will be interested in.  Selecting a niche can be tricky for some Newbies, I must admit, but I will tell you that you should not get stuck on this step.  You will learn much more about selecting a niche later and I promise you your first choice will not be your last, so pick one and move on…

This does not need to be difficult, GO HERE to get some niche website ideas.

Create Content – Content, content, content and more content… Helpful, honest and informative content that solves your customers problems.  If you can solve a problem for people, you will be successful in this business. It does not matter, which problem you solve or how small of a problem you solve, just solve it for a lot of people.

HINT: It often helps to think of problems that you have on a daily basis and if you are problem-free, then ask you family, friends or neighbors what types of problems they would like to have solved.

You will be amazed at the list of challenges that you alone face each day without really giving them a thought.  And once you have a list if solvable problems, then you will simply need to pick one that interests you and you have your niche.

Select a variety of affiliate programs – There are, quite honestly, thousands of affiliate programs to choose from. Of course you will want to choose programs that make sense for your niche, but regardless of the niche you have chosen, there are programs out there for you.

Don’t rely on a single Affiliate Program. Enroll in several that are closely related to your niche and sprinkle them throughout your website.  You may also wan to include a more generic Ads Program to your website, like Google Adsense, so you can get a little advertising income along with your affiliate sales.

Market the heck out of your website – There are two basic components to creating a marketing business: Things to sell and People to buy those things.  So your next step is to bring in the customers / visitors.  You have already created a lot of valuable content for your website, so now you need to provide that information to the world and I will show you how to generate traffic for your website through search engine optimization.

Now you can start to see how all of this ties together to create an affiliate marketing business.   Trust me, I understand that it is not crystal clear at this point, but we have a foundation of knowledge and we will build upon that foundation until we have created your business.

Start an email list – Email lists are essential for a successful Affiliate Marketer and we will discuss email lists in much greater detail soon.  For now, understand that once you have identified a potential customer, it is in your best interest to keep that person’s contact information available for future sales.

What Are Your Next Steps to Becoming an Affiliate Marketer?

I hope I have answer the question of “What is Affiliate Marketing?” adequately, but even so you may want to know where to go next?  As always I suggest that you have a look at the training on Wealthy Affiliate, it is a great place to start your business.

Wealthy Affiliate, My Number One Recommendation

Also feel free to comment on the information you have read in this article.  And if you have a specific comment or question you can post it below, I will do my best to respond promptly.

Lastly, if you would like to contact me directly, feel free to go to my Contact Me Page.

Thank you for reading and enjoy your stay. 

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