If you’ve got some writing chops and sales skills, you would do well as an affiliate marketer.
Affiliate marketing is essentially recommending someone else’s product and getting a commission every time you get the target market to take a desired form of action.
This could mean:
- Buying the product/service
- Visiting the merchant’s website
- Subscribing to a merchant’s newsletter
- Downloading lead magnets such as e-books, webinars, worksheets, etc.
Recommending things sounds easy to do, but how about when you’re trying to sell an offer to COMPLETE STRANGERS on the internet?!
Selling in real life where you can see, hear, and touch your prospect or customer may be relatively easy because you’ve already provided that human connection.
But when the only thing that’s connecting the merchant/seller, the affiliate marketer (you), and the prospective customer is a screen, that could be a real challenge.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to earn a passive income, but it also comes with a lot of effort especially when you’re starting.
I’m sharing a five-point checklist to help you effectively kickstart your affiliate marketing business:
1. Identify your niche
The best way to sell effectively is to have a single, airtight message so your target audience would know immediately what you’re offering.
In identifying a profitable niche, choose something that you enjoy and know a lot about.
It doesn’t matter if your chosen niche isn’t part of the Top Ten Profitable Niches of 202X.
Chances are, there are already multiple authorities of those profitable niches dominating the Google SERPs, and trying to get into that niche when you’re starting from scratch is going to be a tough uphill battle.
It’s okay if you’re not an expert as long as you know something that most people don’t. To determine your niche, do these:
- Narrow it down to the specifics as much as possible. This would help you in targeting a specific set of markets and fixing your branding style to cater to a clear set of audience. For example, you know something about the great subject on the topic of freelancing? Narrow it down to the topic of freelance writers on personal finance in (enter country here). Your offers could consist of free tools they would need, payment trackers, country-specific offers, etc.
- Do some SEO keyword research using tools like Ahrefs or Moz. Affiliate marketers get their money from knowing how to generate leads and increase traffic to their site. By targeting the correct and popular keywords, you’ll gain more exposure. The more exposure = the more potential sales.
2. Have a website that’s Search Engine Optimized
Having a catchy name that makes sense lets people remember you more (and search engines like that!)
This is helpful if you want to stand out from the crowd of other sites within the same niche clamoring for the attention of your target market.
In SEO, it’s usually best to try and include your target keyword or the closest related word in your website name, preferably with a well-known domain name extension (like “.com”., “.co”, etc.). This adds points to your SERPs ranking and affects people’s perception of your brand.
Aside from SEO reasons, it helps establish congruence between what the buyer is looking for and what you’re offering.
If you’re looking for sport shoe recommendations, you’d rather read from sites with sports-related words than random names, right?
Sites like “SportShoes.com” sound more authoritative and directly related to what you’re looking for compared to “OliverReviewsStuff.net”, for example.
Aside from choosing the best name, your website’s content should also be of good quality: your offers and info are strategically placed, the website is easy to navigate, design elements are pleasant to the eyes, and the whole site doesn’t take too long to load.
This makes site visitors enjoy hanging out in your site, decreasing the bounce rate.
The best part is, you don’t have to be a web developer to create such a website.
There are lots of sites out there that let you easily build a website with their ready-made, user-friendly templates for an affordable price.
3. Know your target market
Using data analytics can tremendously help you in shaping your offer to trigger your target market to take action.
Demographics (age, gender, nationality, educational attainment) and psychographics (personality and behavior) is a great combo to create a clear buyer profile where you’ll know what gets them to say yes.
For example, where does your buyer hang out? Do they like reading reviews or do they prefer to go to Instagram influencers for the latest trends? Or maybe they prefer infographics?
When you know that your target buyer is a 20-year-old middle-class American female who likes reading infographics she sees on Facebook, you can tailor your content to match what they want in a place they expect to see it.
Knowing your target market like this can also help you in increasing the social proof of your website.
When you can identify your target market’s pain points and design your offer in a way that lets them see it as a solution, you can be confident to ask for glowing feedback that you can post on your website for the others to see.
With the right data, you could also pitch relevant content ideas to websites or influencers that your target market follows.
Of course, just make sure those websites and influencers are not your competitors.
4. Sign up to the right affiliate networks
Some beginners think it’s best to become part of as many affiliate networks as possible.
But in reality, it’s better to just stick to 1 or 2 quality networks that boost your focus rather than spread it too thinly.
Look for these things when choosing an affiliate network to join:
- Verticals they specialize in – Do most of the merchants in that network have the same niche as you or not?
- Quality of merchants – Does this network have a screening process before approving which merchants can sell offers or do they allow anyone – including scammers – in their network?
- Type of support – Does the network charge a starting fee in exchange for valuable guidance, especially for beginner affiliate marketers? What’s their stance on fraudulent transactions? How responsive is their customer support?
- Cookie length – How long are their cookies good for?
- Average commission rate and payout – How much are the usual commission rates offered by the merchants and what’s the minimum payout amount?
5. Prepare essential tools
Affiliate marketing is easy once you’ve laid down the proper groundwork and trackers for consistent organization and content production.
To do that, especially if you’re doing everything by yourself, you need tools to automate some tasks and maximize your productivity.
- Data Analytics – Google Analytics is great for small businesses or for those with their website since it’s a free tool for tracking and extracting statistical data on your site visitors. But, it’s best to complement this with a conversion optimization tool to give a detailed idea of why your statistical data is the way it is.
- Email campaigns – You can prepare a series of email newsletters with links to your site or directly to your affiliate partners and schedule when they’ll get sent. Plus, you’ll be able to get data on the number of people who clicked on your email and your links versus those who didn’t, letting you know what to improve on.
- Content marketing – When putting content out there (articles, infographics, videos, etc.), it’s best to be strategic about it by knowing exactly what’s the latest, relevant, and quality topic with a high search demand. Knowing keyword research helps a lot!
- Graphic design – Drag-and-drop sites like Canva can help you make the visual elements for your site. This is especially helpful if you don’t have any Photoshop skills nor have the time to learn it.
- Trackers – You need to see how your affiliate links are earning, see whether the cookies have expired or not, and other metrics you need. Aside from affiliate link trackers, you also need to track your outreach campaigns made to increase your authority and popularity (websites you’ve contacted, contact details, progress status, etc.)
- Scheduling – Scheduling your posts works best if you’re producing a lot of content in multiple places (like your website and its social media pages) and want to publish them at a specific time frame that would get the most views and engagement.
Affiliate marketing is a combination of using the analytical and the creative side of your brain.
You need to know what attracts people based on actual data and have the tools to do something about it and organize everything as well.
If you master these essential skills, you’ll be on your way to earning huge amounts of passive income!