If your first reaction to the title of this article was “Affiliate what!?” then read on. The first thing that you need to know is that the same Internet that you use every day to check your email, and your High School sweetheart’s Facebook page to see how his bald patch is coming along, can be used as a means to earn a full time income. I am about to tell you about a corner of the internet where people are making a good living from being affiliates
Don’t worry it is not the name of some weird mind control cult! An affiliate is simply someone who employs various methods to assist an online business to sell a product or service and receives a commission for doing so. Although there are some crucial differences affiliates can be compared to the traveling salesmen of old.
Just like them affiliates act as marketers on behalf of those with goods or services to sell. In return they get paid a percentage of any sales that is made. Some of the biggest internet businesses, including some household brands, rely on affiliates to ‘bring people to their door’. There is however, one crucial difference between modern affiliates and the old style ‘knights of the highway’. Affiliates do not have to lug suitcases of samples halfway across the country to do their job.
In fact they can even do it in their pj’s if they really want to! Affiliate marketing is therefore the perfect work-from-home opportunity. How big an opportunity? Well, for some people it brings in a little extra income. For others affiliate marketing is a full time career, providing a full time income (and then some!)
Perhaps the last piece of the puzzle that should be completed before we look at specific ways in which you can make money from affiliate marketing is to very briefly explain something of the inner workings of the process. In the old days the travelling salesmen submitted the names of people that he marketed to the company selling the products. He was then paid commission in line with the sales generated.
On the Internet you very often haven’t the faintest idea who you have marketed to, another system had to be found. The name of that system is the affiliate link. When you sign up as an affiliate with a company they will give you a link with your unique Affiliate ID embedded in it. When someone click on that link and is sent to the company’s website it is as good as if they’re saying “Pete Woods(or whoever else) sent me here to buy something”. Clever, don’t you think?
So how can you make money from affiliate marketing? “Let me count the ways”...
• Your own piece of Internet real estate
One of the best ways to make money from affiliate marketing is to have your own website on which you promote products. If the thought of running your own website makes you break out in a cold sweat... Relax! It’s nowhere near as difficult or expensive as you think it is.
• Blog, blog, blogging on heaven’s door
If you think blogging is just a way of keeping an internet diary you’re sadly mistaken. Many people are making a decent living simply by blogging. You can use your blog as a way to subtly promote affiliate products or as a space to display ads paid for by other affiliate marketers.
• Unleash the writer in you
On the Internet content is king. As an affiliate marketer you can set yourself up as a provider of content and promote your affiliate products at the same time. One of the most popular ways of doing this is by writing short articles that are then submitted to article directories. These articles usually include space for a signature that can contain links back to your website or even your affiliate products (policies on this vary). Many webmasters go to the articles directories for content. If they pick your article it can still make you a profit, years after it was written.
• The money is in the list!
This is a very common saying among affiliate marketers. It simply means that one of the best ways to make money on the Internet is to assemble an opt-in email list. If you build a good relationship with the members of the list through sending them relevant and reliable information on a regular basis they will respond very favorably to your product recommendations.
• No man is an island...
We are in the age of Web 2.0 which simply means that the web is becoming much more interactive. You are therefore likely to have much more ‘virtual’ individual contact with other Internet users than was possible in the past. The smart affiliate marketer can use these contacts to sensitively promote products and services. You can do this by posting on membership forums or by being active on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
• Forget everything you think you know about Google
Most people think that Google is the world’s biggest search engine. It is that, but it is also something else, an absolutely humongous advertising agency. Google makes it money through placing context sensitive ads with every set of search results that is delivered. Affiliate marketers can use this system (Google AdSense) to buy advertising for their affiliate products. This is done through a system called ‘Pay per Click’ (PPC) which is obviously not free (unlike some of the other methods mentioned above) but can be highly profitable.
All of the methods up to now focused on money making methods where you are the affiliate earning commission from someone else. There is obviously also another, and potentially even more lucrative, side to this coin. This is where you use affiliates to work on your behalf. There are quite a number of ways to do this. Allow me to, very briefly, mention three:
• Set up a virtual shop
The market for digital products is huge. An excellent way to make money is to create an information product (like an e-book) or a piece of software that can successfully address the needs of a specific group of Internet users. You can then enlist the help of an army of affiliates to market your product in return for a certain percentage of the sale price. There are even virtual marketplaces (the biggest is called Clickbank) that can help you to sell your products and can also link you up with some eager affiliates!
• Ever been called coach?
If you are particularly adept at a certain skill or have advanced knowledge about an in-demand subject you can make a pretty penny by making your skills and knowledge available to others. One of the best ways to do this is to set up a membership site where people pay a monthly subscription to drink at the fount of your knowledge! You can, again, pay affiliates a commission to bring all the keen learners right to your virtual door.
• Establish your own ‘knowledge empire’.
It is possible to buy the ‘resell rights’ to some of the most successful information products on the Internet. There are different levels of resell rights but you will, at the very least, receive the right to sell the product from your own website and for your own account.
This means that you can create your own ‘knowledge store’ selling a variety of products that you own the rights to. If you do this, it is quite likely that affiliates will play a huge role in your success. Everything I’ve said may seem very strange and new to you. You may even feel your head spinning a little by now. However, trust me when I say that what you’ve just read might just have been your first little glimpse into a world where “Affiliate Marketing” is not just some weird term but the way you followed to the life you’ve always wanted.