Affiliate marketing involves earning a commission by promoting a product or service made by another retailer or advertiser. It is a monetization model where an affiliate partner, which is you, is rewarded a payout for providing a specific result to the retailer or advertiser.
Typically, the result is a sale. But some programs can reward you for leads, free-trial users, clicks to a website, or getting downloads for an app.
Affiliate programs are usually free to join, so you don’t have to worry about high startup costs. Done well, this performance-based opportunity can go from side hustle to profitable online business idea by netting you a healthy income.
What’s an affiliate marketer?
An affiliate marketer is an individual who promotes other brands’ products and services in exchange for a commission. Pretty much anyone can become an affiliate marketer—it’s simply a matter of finding an affiliate program for which you meet the minimum requirements. Affiliate marketers earn money every time someone converts via their referral.
Is affiliate marketing worth it?
There’s no doubt affiliate marketing is worth it, given its growth in popularity. Statista estimates the affiliate marketing industry will reach $8.2 billion by 2022, up from $5.4 billion in 2017. It’s also a low- to no-cost business venture you can profit from immensely.
While industry growth is a good indication of success, entrepreneurs also take this referral marketing route for a few other reasons.
It’s easy to execute
Your side of the equation simply involves handling the digital marketing side of building and selling a product. You don’t have to worry about the harder tasks, like developing, supporting, or fulfilling the offer.
It’s low risk
Since there’s no cost to join affiliate programs, you can take advantage of how to make money with affiliate marketing for an established product or service without any upfront investment. Affiliate marketing also can generate relatively passive income through commission—the ideal money-making scenario. Though initially you’ll have to invest time creating traffic sources, your affiliate links can continue to deliver a steady paycheck.
It’s easy to scale
Successful affiliate marketing offers the potential to significantly scale your earnings without hiring extra help. You can introduce new products to your current audience and build campaigns for additional products while your existing work continues to generate revenue in the background.
Before you get too excited, know that great affiliate marketing is built on trust. While seemingly there are an endless number of products or services to promote, it’s best to only highlight those you personally use or would recommend. Even when a product interests you or fits within an existing hobby, becoming a great marketer for that product takes a lot of work.
How we can help
Choosing your first affiliate program
As you brainstorm products or browse through affiliate platforms, the most important criteria to keep in mind is that the product should be aligned with your audience, or the audience you hope to build. Ask yourself, is it something your target audience would find valuable? Does it fit with your area of expertise?
A food blogger probably wouldn’t promote beauty products, for example. A wide range of other products, such as cookware, meal kits, gourmet ingredients, or even aprons, would make more sense.
Also make sure the product or service you’re promoting is a fit for the platform you’re promoting it on. For example, home decor and clothing are well suited to image-heavy platforms like Instagram. However, if you’re promoting more in-depth purchases, like software, your conversion rates may be higher on longer-form platforms, like a blog or YouTube.
Promoting your affiliate offer
As we mentioned earlier, affiliate marketing revenue eventually can become a form of passive income, but you still have to do some heavy lifting upfront. The success of your program will depend on the quality of your review.
To create a good review, it’s best to get personal. Share your experience in your blog, social media post, or video. If you’re writing a personal review, give a candid opinion based on your experience with and knowledge of the product. The more open you are, the more authentic you will be. People will be more comfortable following your advice if they feel they can trust you.
Trust is a key factor in your affiliate marketing efforts, because people need to trust you enough to act on your recommendations. The level of trust you’ll need to make affiliate sales depends on your industry and the products you’re recommending—for example, it takes more trust to be an effective affiliate for a $1,000 course than it does for a $20 t-shirt.
Find relevant search terms
If you’re promoting an offer through a blog post, Full Stack Marketing will do the research which keywords someone might use in a search engine to find an answer to a related problem. Google Ads Keyword Planner is a good tool that can help. We also have tools that would be price prohibitive to the small business.
Consider your angle
Depending on your offer, figure out how much energy you should invest in instructional or tutorial content, which is often a natural lead-in to someone trying a product for themselves.
For example, you could record a video of yourself using and getting the most out of a physical product or showing off the benefits of a digital product, like software. Unboxing posts are popular, so if you receive the product in the mail, document your experience opening it up.
Set your distribution strategy
Once you’ve written your promotional content, share it on your website or social media platforms. If you have a subscriber list, you can create an email marketing campaign. And be sure to have an affiliate marketing hub on your website with a Resources page where you share a quick list of all of the tools you use and love.
Try offering a bonus
Sometimes marketers promote their affiliate programs by offering bonuses to anyone who purchases the offer. For example, you could give a free ebook you wrote to any follower who makes a purchase. Promotions like this encourage customers to buy by sweetening the deal. They’re especially persuasive if the bonus you offer is something you normally sell, because then shoppers can see its actual dollar value right on your site.
Keep things legal and above board
Don’t forget to disclose to followers that your post contains affiliate links. For one thing, it’s required by the FTC. But explaining the reason for your affiliation also can help you connect with your audience.