Can rookies make money online? Absolutely. You just need to do the following: pick out a niche, pick a marketing channel or method, set up your affiliate sales system or funnel, fine tune your methods by paying attention to the results you’re getting, and scale up. Set up correctly, affiliate marketing can help you earn money completely passively. You don’t have to actively work every day to earn a living thanks to the online assets you’ve built.
This guide gives you a complete overview of how to do affiliate marketing online CORRECTLY.
Affiliate marketing is all about selling other people’s product for a commission. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling informational products, physical products or even services. When you promote an affiliate link and somebody clicks on it to buy something, you get a commission.
How to start as an affiliate marketer
This is the part where most wannabee affiliate marketers screw up. They just look at how much money there is to be made. They look at affiliate products that are selling like hotcakes and they sign up and end up not making any money.
You have to follow the process below otherwise, you’re just wasting your time. You can make quite a bit of money with affiliate marketing. But you have to know what you’re doing. Follow these steps so you can increase your chances of success.
Pick the right niche that fits you
“Niche” refers to the category of services and products that you can be promoting. This is a subject matter category. Niche covers the whole set of problems or needs your target audiences have. Each niche has a different target audience.
How to pick the right affiliate niche
You can’t just go with what is “hot”. You can’t just sign up for an affiliate program because somebody you know is making a lot of money with that program. You have to follow the system below so you can pick the right niche.
Step #1: Pick a niche that you are personally interested in
Ask yourself this question. Would you promote this niche even if you’re not getting paid for it? Put in another way, would you promote this niche even if it will cost you money to promote it? If your answer is still yes, then you should put this niche on your selection list.
The two questions above indicate that you are truly interested in the niche. You’re not just thinking of promoting it because everybody else is making money off it. It has some sort of personal impact or interest in you.
Step #2: Determine if a niche is evergreen or just a fad
Now that you have a long list of niches that you’re personally interested in, the next step is to go to Google trends and figure out if there’s sustained or growing interest in those niches that you have listed.
If you notice that the interest tends to be cyclical or goes out of fashion in certain times of the year or is trending downwards, you should pick another niche. That niche is on its way out. People may be interested in it today or this year. But eventually, it will go out of fashion.
If you don’t believe me, do a search for fidget spinners. These were all the rage a few years ago. Now, they’re gone. People aren’t interested in them. Don’t get stuck promoting a niche that is on its way out.
Step #3: Filter your niche list based on the availability of its audience
Looking through your remaining niche list items, do a search for them on social media and on Google. If you notice that there are lots of forums, social media platforms talking about products and services related to that niche, keep it on your list.
On the other hand, if you can’t find a ready audience of people who are already talking about products and services related to that niche, you might want to think twice. I’m not saying that you should completely drop that niche from your list. But please understand that it’s going to be much harder for you to promote it.
Step #4: How to find less competitive niches
I’ve got some bad news for you. All affiliate niches have some competition. Somebody has beaten you to it. It doesn’t matter how new the niche is. Somebody is already there ahead of you.
Don’t be afraid of competition. Instead, focus on managing it. Using Google AdWords Keyword planner tool, look up keywords related to the niches left on your niche list. Enter these keywords into Google’s search box.
How many pages does Google report as competing for each keyword? Write down this information for each of your target niches.
Step #5: Look up the results of your niche keywords
In many cases, a niche keyword may pull up a huge number for competing web pages. It often turns out that these pages are not directly competing in your niche. Maybe they mentioned a related keyword. Maybe they’re focusing on related or indirect product.
Whatever form it takes, they’re not directly competing with you. Actually look through the results and ask yourself if they are competing in your niche. Are they trying to sell the same products that you’re thinking of selling? Are these pages promoting the types of services that you’re thinking of marketing?
If the answer is no, then keep those niches on your list. Filter everything else out.
Step #6: Figure out how other marketers are promoting your niche
This will take quite a bit of time. You’re gonna have to roll up your sleeves to do this part. Enter your target keywords into Google, Facebook and Twitter. You might also want to throw in Pinterest and YouTube while you’re at it.
What kind of results are you seeing? You should be able to see how your competitors are trying to market to your target audience members. Are they using a blog? Are they using promotional videos? Are they using question and answer pages on Quora?
Are they getting people to click on to a page where viewers are invited to enter their email address in exchange for some sort of free booklet or other freebie? What exactly is your competition doing to promote in your target niches?
Pick your battles wisely
Now that you have a fairly clear understanding of which niches have a decent amount of demand and which niches are already being talked about on the internet, the next step is to figure out what kind of promotional approach you’re going to take.
There is no one size fits all answer here. Forget about what you’ve read before. There are lots of affiliate marketing blueprints and “guru guides” out there. A lot of the stuff that they recommend probably won’t apply to you.
You know yourself better than anybody else. Knowing what you know about your target niche, how would you like to promote it?
Can you produce videos?
Can you blog? Can you write questions and answers?
Can you post to forums and respond to questions regarding your niche?
Do you have the time and interest level to do any of these?
Do you have the budget to promote a mailing list through paid ads?
Would you rather drive traffic to a landing page, collect emails and market to these individuals through your mailing list?
Only you would know the answer to these questions. Everybody’s different. A lot of gurus would try to twist your arm and trick you into using a promotional system that they think will work. Let me be clear. Just because something works for other people doesn’t necessarily mean that it would also work for you.
Focus on what your strengths are. Focus on what you have time for and what you are truly interested in.
Set up your affiliate promotions and sales system
To gain mastery over affiliate marketing, you must first try to do everything on your own. Figure out what’s involved and then use the shortcuts at the end of this section to get others to do your asset building work for you.
Similarly, if you don’t have any money but you have a lot of time, keep reading. I’m going to step you through the process of doing affiliate marketing all by yourself. Once you start earning, scale up by hiring others to build your assets for you.
Method #1: Blogging
One of the most common ways to earn passive income on the internet is through blogging. Think about it. You write a blog post, it gets indexed by Google whenever people find it on Google and click on your ad and buy something, you make money. How awesome is that?
You write once, but you can possibly make money many times over with that work. Compare that with your 9 to 5 job. If you don’t show up to work, you don’t get paid. If you don’t show up enough times, you get fired.
Which would you rather have? I thought so. Blogging, if done right, can help you generate passive affiliate income. Click below to access my indepth post on how to make money online through blogging.
Method #2: Make money building your own mailing list
A mailing list is simply a collection of emails that you send email to that contains information and included in this information and promotional links. When people reading your email click on those promotional links, they end up at the offer page.
If they buy something, you earn a commission. To make this happen, you have to get people on your mailing list in the first place. The best way to do this is to offer something of value to people so they can sign up to your list.
This is called a lead magnet. When they see the lead magnet and what it offers them, they can click the download link and they are asked for their email. They then enter their email address and they get an email with the download link.
This is where a lot of affiliate marketers screw up. They focus so much on giving away the freebie that they forgot to sell the value of their mailing list. Please understand that if you market your freebie the wrong way, the only reason somebody would join your mailing list is for that freebie.
They would view your emails as an annoyance. In fact, a lot of people who find themselves on mailing lists who regularly report those email updates as spam to Gmail and Yahoo mail. Pathetic.
How to do email affiliate marketing right
If you want to market to your mailing list correctly, you have to set it up the right way from the get go. You can’t just follow somebody’s online template and expect to succeed. It doesn’t work that way.
First of all, you have to know your audience. Where are your audience members hanging out? What kind of questions do they ask? What kind of solutions are they looking for?
This requires a little bit of time to get. You have to come up with lead magnets and email content that appeals to the needs of your target audience members. Otherwise, people are not going to download your lead magnet to get on your mailing list. Otherwise, people are just going to get annoyed when they receive your updates.
Once you have identified their problems, build your list around it
Once you have a clear idea of what people are looking for, ask yourself what is the most obvious and cheapest solutions to those problems? Research this information. Put it all together in your lead magnet.
Next, use your lead magnet to upsell the affiliate product that you are selling. For example, if people are looking for online traffic, you can give away a book that shows them how to get traffic for free from Instagram.
The book steps them through each step of the process. It’s very detailed, it has a lot of screen shots and it’s very helpful. But here’s the problem. As useful as your book may be, people want a shortcut. People want a lot of traffic from Instagram without having to actually put in the time on Instagram.
This is where you upsell your affiliate product. This is also where your email updates come in. When you send out your email updates because they downloaded their Instagram marketing book, what do you think you’ll be talking about?
Here’s a hint. Do not talk about the affiliate product that you are promoting. Your recipients would think that your updates are just spam. Instead, talk about little tweaks and hacks that would enable them to do each step of the Instagram marketing process much more efficiently.
In other words, they have to get some sort of value from each update. People are joining your update not because they want to put money in your pockets, but because they’re trying to solve some sort of problem.
Get that clear. Get that idea through your head. People are always asking “What’s in it for me? How can you help me?” Accordingly, each and every one of your updates must help the recipients with the particular steps you outlined in your book.
This way, the book is supplemented by the updates. The updates are not going to be viewed as garbage by the people who signed up for your list. If they’re really serious about following your tips, then they’re probably using the book.
When your update comes, they see the value because each of your updates helps them with different parts of the process.
How do you make money with each email list update?
With each update, however, you provide a link to a shortcut. For example, you can talk about how to get more people to notice their Instagram profile in an update. You can offer a quick tweak or some simple hack. It’s very useful. People can take action on it right now.
But at the bottom of your email, you give them a call to action regarding a special piece of software that will enable them to automate some, most if not all, of the Instagram marketing process covered by your emails and by your booklet.
How do you think people will react? People are always looking for a shortcut. People are always looking for a way to save time and money. At the very least, since you are talking to them about helping them with their problem by giving them an answer, they will open your email.
They would have an open mind about what you have to say. And after they’ve read your contributed hack, they can see the call to action to an easier solution. Those who are stumped or those who actually need the service immediately would click.
And if you’re promoting the right product, you would get a commission. You would get a sale.
The bottom line with email marketing
Email marketing is not about legally spamming your list members. If that is your attitude, you are playing this game to fail. You have to deliver solid value to your email list members. This means creating a relationship with them.
Think of yourself as a helpful neighbor or a kind friend trying to help a friend through a difficult problem. Don’t think of yourself as a sales person. Don’t assume that you are some sort of telemarketer. If you do, you’re going to fail.
You’re going to have to help people in a very clear way for them to see that you truly care. And once they are convinced that you truly care, then they would want to know what you know. Put simply, that’s the point in time they would want to pay attention to what you are recommending.
This is where the sales links come in. Ideally, you should only start including promotional links in your email updates after you have given very helpful advice, hacks and tweaks.
Maybe after you have helped people with very important steps four to five times, then you would start talking about a much easier way to solve their problem.
Email marketing is all about long-term relationships
What if I told you that some email list marketers earn north of $25 for every list member? You might think that that’s nothing to brag about. $25 is not really that much money. What if we’re talking about a mailing list that has 10,000 or 5,000 members. Now we’re talking about real money.
The great thing about building a mailing list is that you are investing in a relationship. When people sign up for your mailing list, they’re basically giving you the permission to have a relationship with them.
As long as you talk about things that they signed up to your mailing list for, the relationship remains alive. Value that relationship. Don’t disrespect it or cheapen it by sending unrelated offers or sending them junk information.
These people are looking for solutions. Send them those solutions and eventually, you can convert those people. They might not buy immediately. You might even have to send dozens of emails before they buy their first product from you.
But as long as people stay on your mailing list and actually open your emails, each and every one of those email openers is a potential sale. This is why a lot of email list marketers make over six figures every year. They know the value of the relationship that contained in their email lists.
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Method #3: Buying traffic
This affiliate marketing method is pretty straightforward. You buy traffic from places like Facebook, Google and elsewhere because you don’t want to hassle with generating traffic yourself. If you’re blogging to pull traffic from Google search results, often times you have to wait months. It’s not uncommon for bloggers to wait 6 months to a full year before any sizable organic traffic hits their blog.
That’s a long wait time. It’s no surprise that a lot of bloggers quit too early. They either sell their blog or they just stop updating their blog and their blog dies. That’s too bad.
Similarly, a lot of people promote on social media using videos and viral pictures. Unfortunately, a lot of this content doesn’t go viral. Maybe it would get 20 shares and then it would stop.
The worst part to social media (especially Twitter) is the fact that thousands of pieces of new content appear on those timelines or Twitter feeds. You’re cracking out this post, chances are very few people would see it.
Even if it does go viral and you get a lot of likes or shares, that doesn’t automatically mean that people are actually going to look at your content, look at the link and then click through.
It is no wonder that a lot of affiliate marketers buy traffic. This is going to be a big commitment because you’re going to shell out money. You’re going to have to actually invest in your online affiliate marketing business.
This is not something that you can take lightly.
My warning about paying for affiliate promotions traffic
Pay close attention to this warning. You’re going to be spending your hard earned money on paid traffic from Facebook, Google or some other source, remember that just because you are paying for traffic doesn’t meant that that traffic will convert
You have to know how to properly advertise on Facebook and Google AdWords to get a positive return on investment.
The advantages of paid ads for affiliate marketing
The biggest advantage of paying for traffic is the fact that you get traffic instantly. You don’t have to wait 6 to 9 months for organic traffic to hit your blog. You don’t have to roll the dice sharing your content on so many different Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags or building your YouTube channel in the hopes that people would share, view and click through your stuff.
You get traffic immediately. It’s like turning on a light switch.
Another key advantage of paid affiliate promotion traffic is targeting. If you’re promoting on Facebook, you can target who will view your ads. Facebook has a very powerful ad targeting system called look alike audiences.
If you placed a Facebook pixel on your website or blog, Facebook will profile the people who have visited your blog in the past and try to find other Facebook users that fit that profile. The idea is people who like the same things will respond the same way to certain advertising.
Similarly, if people found themselves on your email landing page, you can buy retargeting or remarketing ads on Facebook or Google AdWords. When people are reading blogs or websites that run Google ads, they can see your ad.
These are people who visited your website before. It’s as if these ads are reminding them to go back to your website. The same goes with Facebook. That’s how powerful the Google tag and Facebook pixel can be.
The drawback to paid affiliate marketing ads
The biggest and most obvious drawback is that it will cost you money. I’m not just talking about money that you have to shell out to run the campaign. I’m also talking about the money that you have to spend until you figure out what to do.
This is the most painful part. You have to pay for your learning curve. If you insist on doing your own Facebook ad or Google AdWords marketing campaigns, get ready to pay a lot of money. Unless you’re some sort of online marketing genius who can figure out the right keyword targets as well as the right audience profiles and the right ad creatives to lock in high ROI rates, you’re going to have to pay for your educational process.
Speaking for myself, I spent a little less than a $100 on Facebook until I figured out what works on that ad platform. Now, I don’t pay any more than one penny per website click. It takes a long time to get there.
The solution to expensive paid affiliate marketing traffic costs
One quick solution is to set up cheap ad campaigns. We’re talking about $5 or $10. You can quickly tell after a few days whether your ad campaign is working out. If it’s not getting a lot of clicks, kill that campaign and start a new one.
I know this sounds like you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall. But eventually, something will stick. Once you figure out something that works, the next step is to create more of what works. In my case, I ran ads of people talking and people typing.
The typing ads didn’t get too many clicks. I noticed that one of the ads where people are talking got a lot of clicks. So I reverse engineered that picture and the ad copy and made different variations. To cut a long story short, now I’m getting a lot of clicks for very little money.
You can do the same. You have to come up with a system of reducing your ad costs. This is why a lot of your ad costs will be upfront. This is the point in the process where you’re throwing good money after bad trying to figure out something that works.
But once you get the hang of it, things will be cheaper from that point on.
Method #4: Use completely free ways to do affiliate marketing
If the discussion above involving blogging, outsourcing, email marketing, viral content production or paid affiliate promotions ads scared you off or made you feel uneasy, I’ve got some good news for you.
You can promote your affiliate marketing links completely free. Here’s just a short list of how you can make money off affiliate marketing programs without having to spend any money.
Warning: Just because you’re not spending any money doesn’t mean that these methods are cost free. You’re still going to have to spend time and effort researching them and implementing them. Remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Promote your affiliate links on your email signature
If you’re on Gmail, create a signature for every email you send out. In the signature line, use an eye catching title that appeals to people’s emotions or curiosity. Link that headline to your affiliate promotions link.
This is a good method for people who send or receive a lot of emails every single day. Eventually, somebody who received your email would actually be interested in what you have to sell and eventually, you might generate sales.
What I like about this free way of promoting your affiliate link is that you only need to set it and forget it. You don’t obsess about making money through your link. You just set it up and forget it.
When you email people or they respond to you, you end up marketing to them. At the end of every month, you check you affiliate stats and if you made some money, great. If you didn’t, well there’s always next month.
The best part to all of this is it’s passive. You end up promoting while doing your thing and communicating with co-workers, classmates or friends and family.
Sell through your Forum signatures
If you’re a member of forums, it’s a good idea to check if they allow for signatures. If they do, check their rules if they allow for direct affiliate links. If they do, that’s awesome. If not, buy your own domain and redirect it to a page where people could click out of to go to the affiliate product page that you are promoting.
Regardless of how you do it, when you get active on forums, your signature is always going to appear. Again, just like with your email signature, don’t expect a lot of money overnight. This grows in value the more active you are on forums.
Warning: You have to watch your posts
You can’t just post for the sake of showing your signature line. You’re going to get banned if you do that. You also have to contribute actual value to the forums that you are participating in otherwise people would see that the only reason you’re there is to promote your affiliate products or services through your link.
The key is credibility. How do you establish credibility? Desire to help people. It’s that simple. Help people. Give them what they’re looking for. Direct them to the right information. When you do this, people are more likely to click on your signature because they se that you are authoritative and credible. You are a member of the community in good standing.
Sell through your Facebook profile
I know a lot of people will have a problem with this. After all, when you go to a Facebook group and you click on somebody’s profile picture, you usually either go to their Facebook public timeline or you go to their Facebook group profile.
Still, if you post really helpful information and you really go out of your way to help people and share information that you didn’t write which adds value to their lives, people will look up to you. It’s like Facebook groups and Facebook page comment sections are no different from any other kind of public gathering place.
If you go to a public meeting, there will always be people there spouting off, talking about stuff that they don’t know. Other people ignore these people.
However, there are others who are sharing very important information that people can actually benefit from. These are the individuals that people look up to. They are credible. They become pillars of the community.
This is how you establish credibility. Just show up to these Facebook groups and share what you know, interact with people, encourage them, be positive. And before you know it, people will start being interested in you.
So when they click your name, they can end up on your personal public wall. What do you put on that wall? You put helpful information that people can click on that would lead to your affiliate link.
It could be a blog post. It could be a simple article that you posted with your affiliate links or it could be a promotional article that is actually helpful posted by the company that you’re promoting.
There are many ways to skin this cat. But the bottom line is simple. If you are credible on the Facebook groups and communities you’ve joined, people would want to know more about you. The best part to all of this s that they have already filtered themselves.
These are not curiosity seekers. These are not people who just randomly clicked on your profile. Instead, most of these people would only bother to click through your personal page because they’ve seen your previous posts.
They know that you care about the community. They know that you have something important to say. Again, this is absolutely free. But it does take quite a bit of time. If you’re serious about doing things this way, invest at least an hour everyday on your Facebook groups.
I’m not talking about your Facebook timeline and chatting with your friends. I’m talking about just working the groups. This will pay off because your investment is your reputation.
Sell by Answering questions on Quora.com
Quora is a question and answer platform where people posts answers to questions posted by other Quora members. The great thing about Quora is that it is just like a forum or a Facebook group. The more credible you are, the more of a reputation you build for yourself and before you know it, people are more likely to click on your profile and check out what you’re all about.
When they click on your profile, that’s when you can upsell them or direct them to your affiliate promotional link.
You can also promote your affiliate link in your answers. I don’t recommend doing this too frequently. I would say that 90% of your posts must not have any outbound link to an affiliate product or service. 90% of your posts must build your credibility .90% of your posts must communicate to everybody interested in a particular topic that you know what you’re talking about.
The best way to promote on Quora is to focus on a very narrow subject matter and just be the overall genius resource in that topic. If people wanted to know more, they click on your profile and that’s when you can upsell them to your promotional link.
Again, just like with promoting on Facebook groups, people who find themselves on your personal profile are not curiosity seekers. These are not people who just found themselves there because they randomly clicked somewhere. No!
These are people who are actually interested in a subject category. They think that you are an expert or a guru in it. So they want to know more about you and what you recommend. In other words, these are precisely the kind of people that are most likely to buy your affiliate product.
The final word on free affiliate promotion links
At the end of the day, if you invest enough time, effort and energy in becoming the most credible “expert” in your niche, people would seek you out. These are people who are truly interested in finding a solution. These are people who have been drawn by your expertise and knowledge.
In other words, these are people who are more likely to convert.
Use shortcuts to help you get a head start or save time with affiliate marketing
Now that you have decided on a particular proportional model to promote your affiliate links with, set it up. Here’s the good news. You don’t have to do it alone. You could outsource a large chunk of the work.
You don’t have to be some sort of jack of all trades to make money with affiliate marketing. If you’re not a graphics designer, then don’t waste your time trying to use Photoshop to create your own graphics. If you’re not a coder, there’s absolutely no need for you to fool around with HTML, PHP and CSS so you can get your mailing list to work.
If you’re not a writer, you don’t have to write your own blog posts. You don’t have to waste time researching, outlining and composing affiliate marketing articles. If you don’t like emailing people, you don’t have to write your emails and wrack your brains coming up with catchy email subject lines that your readers would want to click on and open.
Here’s the secret
You can outsource almost everything related to affiliate marketing. The best part to all of this is you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg. You just have to figure out which method you are most interested in.
I can’t answer this for you because you are the only person on this planet that knows yourself the best. Looking at all the options above, which affiliate marketing model do you think you would continue to be interested in for a very long time?
Once you have selected the model, you can then outsource it using the following resources.
If you need graphics for paid banner ads or for banners on your blogs, click here to shop for low cost yet high quality graphics professionals
If you want a landing page for your mailing list, go here to find an experienced and tried and proven specialist to set one up for you.
If you are looking to set up a mailing list and you want a very powerful email management system to manage your list on autopilot, sign up to what I’ve used-Aweber Email System.
If you are looking for qualified writers that can produce blog posts or articles that would promote your affiliate links, hire your freelance writer from renowned online content development agency Ozki – Click Here. If you’d like to hire a fulltime writer to blog for you for dirt cheap, hire one from YourFullTimeWriter.Com
If you’re looking for a project manager or assistant that would help you put your affiliate marketing sideline business together, hire someone who would work for only $30 per day at the service I’ve used in the past, Cognoplus.
If you’re looking for people to post questions and answers all over the internet to drive traffic to your mailing list, your blog posts or to your direct affiliate link, hire your Virtual Assistant (VA) through this VA staffing service.
The resources that I have shared with you are obviously not free. You have to invest money in your sideline business to take advantage of those outsourced services.
If you have any questions about any of the topics I’ve talked about in this article, contact me through the contact page. Also, leave a comment. I answer all questions in the comments. Please feel free to share this article with your friends and family.