How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business
Starting your affiliate marketing business can seem quite daunting, and more than a bit confusing, when you first start to approach it.
Maybe you see an ad online or a friend is doing it, or like me you were researching something quite different when you stumbled into it, but whatever, you’re going to wonder if it really can be a “job.”
Woah there, cowboy!
Yeah, it can. Eventually.
Because that’s the attractive image about it: the promise of riches, made from your front room, or better yet sitting by the pool, laptop perched on your lap, as you conduct your business from your latest sunshine home-away-from-home.
Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?
But it’s also true you can get great big muscles from just a few simple exercises, a few times a week, in the gym. But as one famous bodybuilder said, everyone wants big muscles, but no one wants to lift big weights.
It’s pretty much the same thing with affiliate marketing. It is both simultaneously easier and harder than you think.
And like the gym, you need the right training.
The place I recommend for that is Wealthy Affiliate. They’ve been around for well over a decade, and they know what they’re doing. It’s a community cum training centre. They’re not selling you anything but all the knowledge and tools you’ll need. I’m a sceptical old dog, and I stuck around after my free trial period.. but well, you can read about that here. I won’t repeat myself.
To get your online business running, practically, you’re going to need a website, a focused niche you’re knowledgeable about, to sign-up to an affiliate broker that supplies products in that niche, and then keyword planning and content.
Some of those words probably have you scratching your head.
Getting a website these days is easy. There’s full hosting packages that include domain names and all the software you need. You don’t need a professional to get you set up, you can literally do it in a few mouse clicks. All the installation, security and backups are taken care of for you.
Niche? What’s that?
Niche is one of those words that sound’s technical at first but it really just means the subject of your website i.e. dieting/fat loss, muscle building, finance, beauty etc. The main focus of what it discusses in other words.
That can really be anything, and because just about everything comes with saleable products to accompany it, you can base an affiliate marketing business around it.
“Business” is again, another word that can appear frightening, as in “I don’t know anything about business!” You may have never owned a shop or a brokerage, or have contacts in the niche you want to market, but you don’t need that sort of experience!
It’s not a “business” in that sort of sense. It’s more a business in the sense of selling glasses of lemonade in a stall on your lawn.
And you don’t even make the lemonade, or even provide the cups. You just have a sign in large letters, telling the world how great the lemonade is and how it measures up to other lemonades. Then at the bottom of that sign you give directions to where people can find it. If people want to know more, all you ask is that they take a ticket saying you recommended them. If they then buy from the seller of that lemonade, the seller gives you a percentage of the sale: a commission.
Google is your directory
If your stall is your website. The internet is the directory and map for how people find you. People who have an interest in lemonade will consult the directory, and it will provide a list of addresses for businesses that deal in, or are linked to, that lemonade. It will favour those businesses that have the most well worn paths leading to them, listing them higher and nearer the beginning of the directory. The directory is not ordered alphabetically, but by popularity.
So how do you get found in that directory, when as a newcomer, with no path, you’ll be placed at the end.
You get found because lemonade, as any niche, is a broad topic. People may well just do the simple broad search, but more likely, they will have a specific question to ask along with it. Like “What is the best lemonade” or “which lemonade contains least calories” or “where can I find lemonade flavoured with lime.” And so on. It is these more specific questions that your business will use to place itself in the directory.
You do that by way of implementing keywords.
The Google map will then give directions to your business for people to find out more from you.
Google is watching
The more people who take directions to your business, the more worn your path gets, and Google notes this. Google does this because they want to know how well they’re performing in their service of providing good directions that lead to correct answers for their directory readers. If their directions aren’t good, people will use another directory.
Google determines how good you were at answering the enquiry by noting how long the person spent at your stall getting information, if they left any feedback at the stall, and if they recommended it to anyone else.
That’s the basics of it, anyway. How long they spent is the duration of the visit on your site, if any additional pieces of information were read (other posts), feedback is commenting on your post, and recommending elsewhere is providing a link to your site in another discussion (page) somewhere on the web.
Backlinks a go-go
That recommendation is a backlink. That’s another word you’ll see thrown around a lot in affiliate marketing. It just means you got a recommendation somewhere else.
And like recommendations, some have more weight than others. Like, if your neighbour says your advice on lemonade is good during a conversation on that topic, that’s great. But if Gordon Ramsay said it on television, that’s fantastic! The small blog or website (in terms of people using/visiting it) is the neighbour recommending you at a party. The ‘big’ site is one everyone knows, the go to place for info, that gets lots of viewers and has a large and regular audience, and has the biggest sign post to it and the four lane express highway leading to its door – that’s the television mention.
Of course to get more visitors and those mentions, you need to provide great advice. You can’t just grunt and point to the lemonade vendor you like, even if it’s the greatest lemonade you ever tasted. You have to say it is, and maybe back that up by displaying some knowledge of why it’s better than than other brands, that people who know lemonade, might’ve heard of.
That there, is your content.
That’s all there is to it
So that’s your primer. Is it oversimplified? Yes. Is there really much more to it than doing that to get it set up? Nope.
You will initially open a small site with a couple pages, and your first post.
Then you’ll make another post a day or so later. And other. And another.
Then you’ll go back and make some changes to your info page, and maybe to the layout of your site.
And then you’ll add some more posts. Some of these will contain affiliate links to the product(s) you recommend.
Over time, as you add more information, your site will grow in size and offerings. More people will visit because the more offerings you have, the more chance you’ll have of people finding one that’s an answer to a question they’re looking for. Then they might take look at more of what you have to say if they like it.
So you slowly build out your business. What was a lemonade stall making pocket change, gets more visitors, thus more customers and so you need another table. Then maybe you need an office. And so on as your “authority” grows.
But it’s all in the virtual world, though, so those things are added by perception more than design.
But “everything is energy” so you need to put some in.
Post and they will come
As your site grows, as you attract more visitors and they become regulars, as your advice is sought, you send more people to the products you recommend, and you receive more commissions. In time you will be receiving the sort of payouts for those commissions that very much put you in the realm of what you’d think of as a “business”. Business enough to make it a full time job.
None of that however will happen overnight, or by the end of the week over even the end of the month. We’re not talking years, but it will take months before you start seeing money start to flicker, and more time again to nurture that flicker up into a fire.
It can be done though, and many have. It just takes discipline and patience.
Find out more about that process here, and leave any questions or feedback in Comments below.