Most people don’t realize it, but affiliate marketing is one of the biggest types of digital marketing on the web. Have you ever Googled for information on a particular item you were considering purchasing and ended up on a website offering an insightful review? Or maybe you went on YouTube to watch an unboxing video of that product? Well, you most likely were on an affiliate marketer’s website or video.
If you are reading this blog, it is also likely that you are wondering if affiliate marketing has something to offer you. Most people get their start in affiliate marketing after having built a sizable following from a blog or social media presence, and then began exploring ways to monetize what they’ve already created. But you can start from scratch with the intent of creating an income stream from affiliate marketing – just know there are a few caveats which we’ll discuss below.
What Exactly is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when a company pays commissions to individuals for promoting and generating sales for their products and services. The key difference between affiliate marketing and other types of digital marketing is that the affiliate marketer only gets paid that commission when there is an actual sale.
Affiliate marketing, when done correctly, is a “soft sell” where the affiliate provides useful information relating to, or even critiquing, a product or service. But it can also be where an affiliate produces fun, educational, and/or entertaining content in which a product or service is simply a small part of the narrative.
How Do Affiliate Marketers Collect Money?
The commissions an affiliate earns are usually generated when a visitor to the affiliate’s website (usually a blog) or social platform clicks a special identifying link taking them to a sales page. If a purchase is made, the affiliate’s commission is calculated and applied to his or her account.
The commissions can vary anywhere from a portion of a percentage point of the sale to as high as thirty or even fifty percent or more. Affiliates are usually paid on a monthly basis with the funds deposited directly into their account.
Affiliate Marketing Pros
The greatest advantage of affiliate marketing is that the affiliate can earn money in his or her sleep. Because a blog or video can continue to make money long after it has gone live, this means that as more content is produced, the more potential income can be made without a significant increase in daily workload.
Affiliate Marketing Cons
So far affiliate marketing may sound incredible and you are itching to get started. But keep in mind that producing content that generates high traffic and is also a good vehicle for affiliate links is extremely difficult.
One reason is due to the technical aspects involved. If you are a blogger, then you not only have to be a great writer who produces compelling content, but also have a firm grasp on search engine optimization and basic web development to make sure links are correctly displayed and that your website meets all the criteria required by the affiliate network or partner. Those making videos need to not only have a mastery of shooting and editing video, but also of getting views, just as those on social media must have a knack for not only getting followers, but engaging with them in a way that can produce sales.
Another major reason beginners fail has to do with tenacity. The reality is that after a lot of hard work, the income stream can be just a trickle for a very, very long time. As the beginner affiliate marketer gains more experience and creates more and more content, this can slowly change into something substantial. However, not many make it through those beginning stages.
Do You Need a Website to Begin Affiliate Marketing?
For the blogger, a quality website (or websites!) is the very foundation of a successful affiliate marketing career. But even the most eye-catching website can be meaningless if it does not have a good technical foundation and is not properly optimized for search. Affiliate blogging relies most heavily on search engine optimization (SEO). Hire a professional if you have any doubts about your ability in that realm.
For the vlogger or social media influencer who wants to tap into affiliate marketing, having a website is still highly recommended. Not only does it offer you an additional stream of affiliate income away from YouTube, Facebook, and other social platforms, but it also offers you ownership over your business. Social platforms are constantly changing their terms of service, so having an income stream coming from a website you own assures that you have a solid foundation from which to change direction or strategies should you need to.
Another thing to consider is that many affiliate networks severely limit how and where affiliate links are placed on third-party social platforms and encourage you to have your own website as the basis of your affiliate business. They also will often inspect your website before giving you access to their program or network. If your website doesn’t meet up to their standards, you will have to make whatever changes are needed before you can even begin to start your affiliate marketing journey.
The Advantages of Hiring a Tech Partner for Affiliate Marketing
If you are pretty confident in your ability to prolifically produce compelling, SEO-friendly content, then hiring a technical partner to make sure you have a good technical foundation for your affiliate business is a good idea. A good tech partner can also help you stay on track and even change course easily when there are external changes in the affiliate landscape.
For already established affiliate marketers, a tech partner can often tweak what you have already built and often increase your traffic and revenue considerably. As more people turn to the web for income, the competition for traffic grows and making money gets harder. Having some professionals waiting in the wings to help when things get tough can keep your affiliate business profitable.
If you need help getting started with an affiliate marketing business or want to increase the affiliate revenue of your existing web presence, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team of digital marketing experts can help you find the success you’re looking for.