Affiliate marketing – you’ve likely heard of it before and perhaps you’ve even tried it.
But what is affiliate marketing really about, and how can you leverage it to live an enviable lifestyle that we all desire?
This is a question that many folks are searching for the answer to.
Yet, throughout this insanely detailed guide, I want to share with you how I take campaigns from $0 to $20,000+ per month and do it REAL QUICK.
If you want the ability to work on your laptop, from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, all while scaling an affiliate marketing campaign to the moon – keep reading, because you’ve come to the right place.
Okay, so let’s start from the top.
What IS Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is the process of marketing products & services that another company (or person) owns, and in return, you earn a commission from each transaction.
Let’s say that you find a product online that interests you, you can take that product, create a marketing campaign and earn a percentage of the sales that you generate.
In a nutshell, you get to generate income by taking someone else’s product or service, sharing, recommending and promoting it to a given audience.
So, do you have to pay for advertising to be an affiliate marketer?
Not necessarily, in fact, there are a large number of affiliate marketers that have grown their business organically by building a website, YouTube channel or blog to promote other people’s products or services.
However, if you want to build a strong affiliate marketing business – paid advertising is going to yield the quickest and strongest results.
The best part of being an affiliate is that you don’t have to take on the risk and financial liability that it takes to create a product. You need only generate sales to build your revenue.
Yes, it’s really that simple, however, there’s a little more to it than that when you want to generate 6 figure income months.
While your job as an affiliate marketer is to drive traffic to a product through trackable affiliate links, there is much more that you must know in order to become truly SUCCESSFUL at this.
Like anything in life, planning how to accomplish your goals in advance makes a HUGE difference to the overall outcome. If you lay out what you want to achieve, it will be a lot easier to meet, and ultimately, exceed your goals.
Now, with that being said, something I’ve noticed through years of driving MILLIONS of leads to products as an affiliate marketer is that it really boils down to two things. One of which we just covered and that’s having a plan. The second, and arguably the most important is your MINDSET.
Why a Winning Mindset is Needed in Affiliate Marketing
I’ve been doing Affiliate Marketing now since 2009 and have certainly picked some things up along the way. Having a winning mindset is going to keep you motivated, determined and most importantly it’s going to allow you to push through unforeseen boundaries and find out what’s really going to work for you.
If I could sum up affiliate marketing into one word that separates the winners from those that struggle to make this work … it would be “Testing”.
Testing, testing, testing, and a little bit more testing. Testing, along with the speed of implementation is what creates success in this industry.
Here’s an example, I was recently running a campaign in an energy-related niche and was breaking even for a few days. So, I took a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture.
What I did next COMPLETELY changed the outcome of this campaign from just breaking even to generating over $20,000 in a SINGLE day.
After being so close to making a profit with this campaign I knew I needed a solid strategy to turn things around.
I began to look at the conversions on my website, pleasantly surprised to find that I was getting a whopping 60% of people visiting my website go to the offer. That’s pretty darn impressive if I say so myself.
I decided that I needed to think about what is going on, and what changes could be made to see improvements. The people going to my website are EXTREMELY interested in what I have to sell, so that’s doesn’t need optimizing.
Instead, I decided to test a BUNCH of images and create some video ads of this product being used to make it more personal for the customer.
When I woke up the next morning my mind was blown.
Something as mundane as changing the VISUAL IMAGERY of my ads completely turned this campaign from just breaking even to generating 10’s of thousands of dollars in revenue.
Now, I’m going to be forthcoming here.
Not every ad or website I’ve made or created has been a massive success. In fact, there have been many times that I’ve spent money delivering ads to an audience and was unsuccessful in recouping my initial investment back.
It happens, but I didn’t close up shop and call it quits because one campaign didn’t work out for me.
Unfortunately, it’s all too common of an experience for many out there and they simply give up before the good got going.
Many times people begin to believe that because they spent a little bit of their time, money and effort on a single campaign and didn’t bring home a massive success story, that affiliate marketing doesn’t work. In all honesty, that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
While it’s true that we do not OWN the product or service we’re marketing, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat it like it’s our own.
Often times I find myself marketing someone’s product and notice some areas of improvements. Having a solid relationship with the product owner is a HUGE benefit that many will overlook. Again, this is going back to having that WINNING mindset.
Yes, I want to win, and in order to win, I need the product to win as well.
If I see an area that could use some tweaking to give the end-user a better experience, and I think it could turn things around for the both of us, you better BELIEVE I’m going to make a few suggestions. Whether or not they take action on my advice is a whole other story, but I least I gave it my all!
It’s fairly common in the online affiliate marketing community for people to downplay the potential of an offer just because they couldn’t get it to work. All the while they only tried a handful of things. Remember, test, test, test and test some more.
It’s factors like this that give affiliate marketing a bad reputation. But is this bad reputation truly deserved?
I’d like to think otherwise.
The Right Way vs. The Wrong Way to Do Affiliate Marketing.
In my opinion, there are winners and then there are those that just don’t work as hard as they should.
Either that, or perhaps they don’t see the bigger picture.
There is a right way to make this work, and then there is the wrong way. But no worries, I’m here to share with you the key ingredients it takes to create a successful affiliate marketing business.
As we just discussed, it’s all too common for people to become easily discouraged, and give up before they get a taste of what this industry is truly about.
And that is just simply the wrong way to go about it. It’s like a small piece of my heart dries up, crumbles and falls off every time I hear this.
I genuinely want people to succeed.
Think of it this way, there could be an AMAZING product out there someone has created that could change the world for the better, but the creator of this product or service just might not have the slightest clue of its potential or even how to market it, or even who it’s ideal consumer would be.
This is very very very common in, not only the world of affiliate marketing, but the world of business as we know it.
Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture here for a second. Bear with me as I explain this in a hypothetical scenario:
Say there’s this awesome guy named Dan. Dan is the man. Dan created a unique product that the world has never seen before. This product is cheap for him to make, and he can make large quantities of it relatively quickly; and most importantly, let’s say that this particular product could save someone’s life.
Now let’s assume Dan’s product is a unique gasoline canister that somehow, someway has been rendered impossible to be set it on fire. Dan knows he has a unique product and begins making a small production to sell it to the world. Dan even went as far as creating his own website to sell these products on.
Okay, now we will fast forward a little bit, Dan starts selling his awesome new product to his firefighter friend’s because he knows all firefighters are safety conscious and will appreciate his product. Like any good business, Dan’s product begins to spread by word of mouth and starts taking off.
The BAM! Dan hits a brick wall. Sales slow down and it isn’t the massive success he had hoped for. He thought for sure this product would have spread like WILDFIRE (pun intended) but hasn’t the slightest clue why it isn’t selling as it should.
Dan, on a whim reaches out to an affiliate marketing friend and asks if they will market his product online and in return he’ll pay them a percentage of his sales. Dan and his friend work out a compensation agreement and the affiliate marketer works their magic.
This affiliate marketing does some research and finds out that SURVIVALISTS are the BEST audience to market this product to and not firefighters. This item starts gaining more and more traction and people start tweeting about it, sharing it, and talking about it with their survivalist friends.
Dan’s product is a dream come true and his affiliate friend banks a generous income.
Not every product that comes to market is going to be a groundbreaking or insanely cool gadget that the world needs. In fact, if it was, I think that would kind of suck all the fun out of it if you ask me.
Also, not every product that you market is going to that of an entrepreneurial friend. The majority of the offers we’ll run are found through an affiliate marketing network or affiliate program.
Still, if you can source a UNIQUE offer to run, that is low competition & free of any other affiliates…. You’re doing alright!
The bigger picture here that you need to be aware of, is the lifecycle of a product or service. Every day it seems there are new offers from companies looking for affiliate marketers to drive sales to their website.
And trust me, there’s a LOT of them out there to choose from. Some of them are good, few are great, but most are not.
Again, test, test, test and test some more to see which offers work best for you.
As an affiliate marketer, it’s our job to take MASSIVE action and implement a solid marketing campaign. We need to get their product in front of the RIGHT audience as quickly, cheaply and effectively as possible.
So do I need a hidden gem to be successful? Well, I’m glad you asked.
In a word, no.
While the hidden gems are always to be searched for, we need to ensure a steady stream of cash flow. After all, we’re all here to make money, right?
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had a decent amount of campaigns I spent money on that didn’t take off like I would have wanted to, or that I couldn’t quite make my initial investment back.
Well, there’s a little bit more that you should know. And it has to do with doing affiliate marketing THE RIGHT WAY.
There’s a fun little saying I always tell my team when we are creating and testing new campaigns.
The saying goes “TOFU, MOFU, BOFU”. I know I know. If you hadn’t heard this before you’re probably wondering what I am talking about.
TOFU stands for Top of Funnel, MOFU; Middle of Funnel, BOFU; Bottom of Funnel.
As we create and implement our marketing campaigns, we begin to get customers into our ecosystem through a “funnel”. There can be a seemingly endless amount of complexity to creating a funnel, but in all honesty – KEEP IT SIMPLE.
When someone clicks our advertisement, they opt-in to the top of the funnel. We may ask them a few questions or present them with an article to read and give them options based on their interests.
Maybe we have a few offers for them to choose from, or perhaps we want to prequalify them before sending them to an offer. Maybe this customer will click away as my offer wasn’t of interest to them.
Now, for someone that has stayed for a bit and clicked around on my website, I’ll often ask them for their email address or another form of communication to reach back out to them if they’d like. This usually happens at the MOFU stage.
BOFU is where we want to have the customer take action. Reach for their wallet, dig out their credit card and purchase/sign up for whatever it is we have to offer.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now… not every customer made it to the BOFU stage. We lost a decent amount of people along the way as we progressed down this funnel. And that’s perfectly okay because we really only want those that are interested enough to buy or sign up for our affiliate offer.
The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you get an INSANE amount of data and customer contact information each time someone visits your website.
Going back to the example of a campaign that just wasn’t quite as profitable as I had hoped. It would behoove me to reach back out to the customers that were interested enough to give me their information but for some reason didn’t complete the purchase.
In fact, it would be negligent of me to not follow back up with them.
After all, I have spent my time and hard-earned money acquiring these customers, I’m certainly going to reach back out to them to see if there is anything else I can do.
It would be irresponsible of me not to build a rapport and instill trust with my newly acquired customers. Let them know there’s a real person there looking out for their best interest. Perhaps give them a few other options to choose from, or educate them on the subject.
This, my friends, is the beauty and power of doing it THE RIGHT WAY.
Building an automated back end that follows up with the customer each time they opt-in to the funnel is the right way to do affiliate marketing.
The Nuts and Bolts of Affiliate Marketing.
Affiliate Marketing is one of, if not the most, diverse ways to generate an income online in 2020. There are so many industries, niches, and categories to choose from.
What makes affiliate marketing so appealing is that there are always new and exciting offers coming to the market for us to promote.
You see, with new products and offers constantly coming to market, you don’t have to invest your time, money, energy or resources in creating them – because, guess what? Someone else out there is constantly creating and innovating new offers that need serving to your audiences.
So, if you’re and like me, and you use the internet from time to time, it’s likely you’ve been involved in an affiliate marketing campaign and perhaps you might not have even realized it! Ever gone to a website article and click on a link or to a product or service that is being talked about?
Well, chances are that the owner of that website earns a commission based on any sales made through that link.
It’s true, we’re surrounded by affiliate marketing every day. It’s now YOUR turn to take advantage of it.
Okay okay, but I am Cut Out for Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is a great choice for anyone who wants to work from home. You just need a laptop, a winning mindset, and a sense of urgency.
Wait, you didn’t mention anything about needing money for paid advertising…?
Ah, good catch! And the truth is, you technically don’t need to buy ads to be an affiliate marketer. You can indeed do affiliate marketing through organic traffic. However, doing so will not yield the quickest and most stable results. Organic traffic takes time and certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Whereas with paid advertising, you can create an ad and BOOM you‘ll start receiving traffic to your website.
I always tell people when they ask me if they should be an affiliate marketer – Affiliate marketing can be an amazing avenue for generating money online ESPECIALLY if you are not ready to create your own product or service.
Instead, you get to serve your own audience that you build, create and manage while recommending products you believe would be helpful to them.
In addition to not having to manage your own products and services, there are a TON of useful marketing methods you’ll learn. Learning and growing a diversified skillset will certainly give you a leg up as an online entrepreneur that hasn’t done any affiliate marketing.
You’ll not only how to market products and services to potential customers, but you’ll learn how to create copy that converts. You’ll gain an understanding of things like search engine optimization (SEO), paid search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing on various email service providers (ESPs), content creation & marketing to name a few.
There’s are a handful of unconventional methods to promote the product as well, such as doing product reviews or even unboxing reveals.
Examples of Affiliate Marketing?
Okay, by now you’ve heard me mention a couple of different ways that you can do affiliate marketing. But what do these methods really consist of? And which one is best to get started in?
These are great questions! But, unfortunately, there is no cookie-cutter answer or one size fits all approach. It’s going to depend on you, your goals and your career objectives.
I will share with you some recommendations & resources that I’ve used over the years.
Many of the tools I am going to share with you are tools that I use, believe in, and recommend to my audience. Some of the links below are going to be affiliate links that when clicked will take you to the companies landing page via a tracking link unique to me.
Then, if you purchase from any of these links, I will earn a small commission based on a predetermined commission rate.
The first tool I recommend (which I am not an affiliate) and is literally the driving force behind my entire affiliate marketing business is Facebook. Facebook’s powerful tracking software is easy to install on your website and allows us to create LASER targeted marketing campaigns that our audience wants to see.
They have a really resourceful and in-depth guide available on their website that you can check out here: https://www.facebook.com/business/marketing/facebook
Another tool that is a daily driver in my operation is a nifty little tool called Unbounce. Unbounce is extremely useful for quickly and effectively creating new websites, and split testing between them to see which one performs the best.
Through Unbounce, I can create landing pages, email opt-in forms, funnels, and even sticky bars to capture leads and information of my customers.
Next, is a tool called HotJar that allows us to track exactly how users interact with our website. It allows me to track where customers click on my website through a heatmap visualization tool.
Or, if I’m feeling fancy, I can record user sessions on my site and see how they scroll through and interact with different aspects.
I’ve actually learned a LOT by using a tool like this. One example is, I had an image on my site of a lady looking forward. I noticed everyone was clicking on her face through the heat mapping tool.
Using the Unbounce split testing tool, I split tested another version of my site with an image of that same person but instead of looking forward, they were looking at the Call To Action. The results were insane! Everyone stopped clicking on the persons face and began clicking on the Call To Action, ultimately leading to more conversions and money in my pocket.
As you can see, many of these tools are just a piece of the puzzle to the bigger picture. Do you need every one of them to be successful? No, not at all. But as you grow and scale your business there are tools out there that can certainly justify the cost a hundred times over.
The final tool that I highly recommend and also use every day is Drip.com Drip is an email service provider (ESP) that allows us to stay connected with our customers through email automation. Once a customer gives me their email address on my website, it goes directly into my email marketing campaign and sends them an email automatically via an autoresponder.
From there, I can build a rapport with my customer database and provide value, insight and additional products I think they’d enjoy.
What are the Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing?
As with anything in life, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. I would like to share some insight I’ve learned over the years and give you enough guidance to navigate the affiliate marketing world in a smart and business savvy way. Here are the main pros and cons of affiliate marketing.
- Little to no barrier to entry. Affiliate marketing is so easy to get started in today’s world and has very little start costs to do so. With tools like Unbounce or Clickfunnels you no longer need to code an entire website. You can have a site up in a day. Many affiliate marketing networks are FREE to join and offer tons of guidance.
- No Inventory, returns or shipping and receiving. You don’t have to manage any inventory or have a warehouse to house it. There’s no shipping, stocking or creating of any products.
- Low risk. If a particular product doesn’t convert, you’re not going to go out of business. There are plenty of others to choose from.
- Passive Income. There’s potential that this could be a passive income source. Meaning that you have a website that people frequent on a constant basis and is on autopilot with just a little maintenance here and there.
- Laptop Lifestyle. There’s the freedom of being able to work anywhere in the world from your laptop as long as there is an internet connection.
- No get rich quick method. It can take a while to become familiar with testing, building and implementing new campaigns. Remember, the name of the game is to be quick, effective and test, test, test.
- Market saturation. Audiences, offers, and products may become oversaturated over time. If something is working, chances are other marketers are going to catch on and try to get a piece of the pie for themselves.
- Competition. With such a low barrier to entry, it seems that everyone and their mother does affiliate marketing. This means you could be competing for a particular audience to acquire customers.
- Highjackers. There’s always someone looking for a shortcut. This is can also be known as “linkjacking”. Linkjacking is when someone takes your affiliate link and runs the offer themselves resulting in fewer commissions for you.
- Offers Change. Not every offer is created equally. You may find what appears to be identical offers on different affiliate networks at different commission payouts and seem to perform differently. There’s no real way to know which is best, you’re going to have to simply test and find out for yourself.
Affiliate Marketing Tips, Tricks, and Hacks.
By now, we know that having a solid game plan is essential to making this work. I’d like to share with you the foundations that I’ve laid to help you as you get started.
Network, Network, Network.
I thought you said test, test, test?
Yes, testing is important, however, through networking comes more opportunities to test.
There are tons of great forums on the internet filled with resources and people to network with. I highly recommend joining different marketing communities out there. If you have a question, chances are someone else has had it and asked it. Get out there, get involved, and ask questions.
Once you have created a solid foundation for yourself, there are also tons of events to attend worldwide. I recommend scoping out a few that are of interest and attending some. This is an EXCELLENT way to meet people at your level and those where you’d like to be.
Instill Trust within Your Customers.
Yep, I said it again. I mean, after all, would you want to do business with someone you didn’t trust? Yeah me neither!
Here are a few insights I use to build trust with my customers before they ever buy from me.
Give, give, give, ask. Or as Gary Vee would say, Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook. Call it what you will, but the majority of customers that visit your website for the very first time aren’t going to purchase from you. That’s just a proven fact.
Luckily we can stay in front of them by retargeting them through email or targeted ad campaigns.
It’s said that a customer needs to see something 7 times before they begin to trust it. One way to speed this up is to avoid giving a sales pitch every time you communicate with your customers. Provide value, answer frequently asked questions, educate them on the topic at hand.
Once you’ve warmed them up given all you’ve got, THEN you can ask for the sale again.
As more and more people go online to shop and find products to purchase, they still need that human interaction. It’s just human nature.
While it’s physically impossible to be there on your website to help them out, make it clear that support is easily accessible to your customers.
While you don’t have to have 24/7 around the clock live customer support, it’s reassuring to potential customers that there is somewhere they can go to ask questions and a human will get back to them. Often times, people that are on the fence with buying just need a human to let them know they’re there.
This is something that is so often overlooked and under-utilized in the industry. The more trust you can instill in a customer, the more likely they are to buy from you time and time again.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You don’t want to be bogged down with hundreds or even thousands of support tickets. Truth be told, I don’t either. But from my experience the questions I receive are so simple to answer. At the end of the day, they just want to know if a human is at the other end to talk to.
In addition to allowing customers to ask for support, you also need to be transparent that your links are affiliate links.
Well for starters the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that if you are being compensated by promoting a product or service from another company, you need to do disclose it.
But more than just covering your butt from the FTC, people truly appreciate transparency. If you’re being honest with your customers that you’ll receive some compensation, and they buy from you knowing that, there’s a sense of pride and giving back. They’ve trusted your website and marketing enough to make the purchase and help a fellow human out.
Would you buy this product?
Before I start any marketing campaign, I ask myself, “Is this something I’d buy for myself or someone I know?”
Typically, people don’t buy things they know nothing about. It’s a great practice to know as much about the product or service before marketing it to your audience.
So often I see marketers simply pushing a product just to earn a commission. This is a BIG mistake. Yes, we’re here to make a profit, but we’re also here to recommend useful products that our audience would enjoy.
Why is it so important to know the product? Well, a couple reasons. First is that the more you know about it, the better you can market to your audience.
Secondly, you want a product that is reliable.
99% of customers don’t know that you’re an affiliate marketer. So, if they buy a product through your website and the product is cheaply made, or has some other issues that customers don’t like. They’re going to come back to where they initially saw the product and demand answers.
How can I get to know a product well? Quite simply, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Use it, buy it, get to know it. Go through your website like a normal customer would. What was the experience like? Is it something you’d enjoy if you were to buy this product?
If you really don’t know the product all too well, don’t promote it. The better you know your audience, and the better you know what you’re marketing to them, the better off you’ll be owning and operating an affiliate marketing business.
Track Your Affiliate Links
Perhaps the most important thing you NEED to do is keep track of your affiliate links. Knowing where they’re being posted, how often someone clicks them, and what your conversion rates are will make things so much easier as you scale.
In the beginning, a simple spreadsheet will do. In fact, a simple spreadsheet will do for quite a while.
You’ll be able to see how many people are clicking on your links in various places such as your affiliate marketing platforms, your website and of course your affiliate network or affiliate program.
How many sales did you get from a video ad, podcast, blog post, webinar or YouTube interview? Truth is, unless you’re tracking it you just won’t know.
If a spreadsheet isn’t up to par, you can use services like Voluum or for a cheaper alternative, you can use a WordPress plugin such as Pretty Links.
I hope you have gained some valuable knowledge from this affiliate marketing guide, I know that there has been a lot of information to process. I recommend reading through twice to ensure that the information sticks with you.
If you are interested in learning more about affiliate or digital marketing, browse through the rest of our blog for more guides. If that isn’t enough, you can sign up to our newsletter to receive free marketing training that you won’t find anywhere else.