'How to make money online', 'start earning real money on the internet', 'stop working for someone else, be your own boss'... It sounds familiar, doesn't it? But what is all this? Frauds, shady tactics, or else valid methods? We're about to see into viable practices, for sure. One of these practices is affiliate marketing, and for today it's considered to be one of the most efficient and lucrative ways to earn money online. We bet it really works when approaching it wisely. To make it certain, let's gain insight into this field and its action mechanism.
What is affiliate marketing?
It's nothing more than a way to earn money by promoting other people's or brand's products and services. You hunt up a product you like to endorse and start its promotion with the help of special affiliate links, placing them on your website, blog, social media, etc. And when following this link, a customer purchases this product, you get your profit – commission on each sale. Thus, such a simple promotion is becoming a game of three players. A product owner (a merchant or an advertiser) who is willing to share the income generated from sales, an affiliate marketer (publisher or affiliate) who is hoping to 'make money out of thin air', and a consumer who is expected to buy a product.
On one hand, it may seem easy – just wringing money out of thin air, but on the other hand – where to find product owners, where to find an audience to promote to, how to initiate a campaign, and so forth.
If you're a newbie, it's worth visiting or even joining various affiliate communities, forums, groups, and chats. Attending affiliate conferences wouldn't go amiss as well. In these communities, affiliate marketers share their experience and provide some useful insights into how to step into this field. You might get answers to some questions and recommendations on what vertical to work with, how to choose appropriate offers, what ad networks to deal with, etc. Additionally, you can learn by their experience and avoid a lot of mistakes. Check out these forums, perhaps, you'll find some useful info there.
One more player
Now when you've learned nuts and bolts, the question 'how to bring everything together and get started' is arising.
And that's where affiliate networks get into a game. They play a crucial role in affiliate marketing, for they act as a linking element, an intermediary between advertiser and publisher. They work well for both parties, advertisers can establish and post their programs on affiliate networks, whereas publishers can choose from the wide range of programs and start to promote the most suitable one.
Getting their commission from merchants, the networks establish effective cooperation between main game players, providing advertisers with a flow of targeted requests and publishers with payment assurance. Furthermore, the networks undertake some technical tasks like ad and landing creation, referral setting, statistics maintenance, etc. They supply publishers with all necessary materials, promotional texts, creatives, and provide constant support, offering insights into profitable programs, niches, traffic sources, GEOs, etc.
There a lot of affiliate networks out there today, and they can differ from one another. Some specialize only in certain verticals, for instance, gambling and games, or health and wellness. Some might be focused on specific regions like the US and Europe, while they don't have more international connections. Some can offer only one or several ad formats to work with, whereas others can provide all possible ones.
Your selection should be based on your goals, intends, and feedback from your peers, as well as their experience. You should keep a good look-out for your competitors, find out and analyze which networks they choose. A large number of your rivals, running their programs on certain networks can be a strong incentive to join them.
Once you've recruited into an affiliate network, you get access to a vast number of offers to choose from. Affiliate offers can be divided into groups or verticals, such as dating, finance, gambling, Nutra, eCommerce, mobile, etc. Before rushing at one or another offer, you should make up your mind about what vertical you are going to work with. Some verticals perform better than others, and your main goal here is to find out the most promising one. You can draw on your own interests or experience and promote something you're familiar with. Certainly, it will simplify your efforts, but will it bring profit? It depends...
One of the options is to turn to evergreen niches that have already proved themselves to be high-converting ones on the market like dating, gaming, eCommerce.
However, choosing the most lucrative vertical and offers is all about researching, testing, and analyzing. You need to constantly conduct market monitoring, you can ask the network's managers to give you some info on popular niches and offers that perform well. You can join several networks and compare offers within a chosen vertical. Skim through the offers' description to learn about how much you would earn for a single conversion, as well as about a conversion limit and conversion flow. You should get as much information as possible from the network's managers in terms of GEOs, traffic sources, use cases, etc. For example, each offer has its geography, you should find out it and target a converting region.
Keep in mind that some offers can be seasonal. It might seem weird to promote insect repellents in winter, for instance.
Having come up with a niche and selected an offer, you must be eager to learn where to get traffic to your offer. You can drive traffic through a variety of channels, so-called traffic sources. Every source has its own features, such as a targeted audience, ad formats (text, image, and video ads), targeting capabilities, bans (on casino advertising, for example), etc.
The main traffic sources are search engines, social media, teaser advertising, ad networks, websites, blogs, etc. Some of them are free, some are paid. Thus, for example, promotion on your own blog or website can be regarded as a free method, however, you need to invest your money and effort in its maintenance, creation of high-quality content and SEO optimization, otherwise, all your work will go down the drain. When it comes to paid methods, social media offer various advertising tools to create targeted campaigns, using different ad formats. And as to ad networks, they can offer a lot of different ad formats such as native ads, popunders, clickunders, etc.
When choosing the most suitable traffic source, you should identify the target audience for the product, the right place and time to run your campaign.
It's worth conducting tests before using all your marketing budget on a selected source. For instance, you can set up the same pilot campaign on several channels and see where it performs better.
When it comes to campaign launching
Now when you get all the necessary knowledge about the affiliate process, it's high time to launch a campaign. Wait a minute, we swept one important item under the rug! You should have catchy creatives. That is, you need to generate attractive ads with vivid text, high-quality images, or videos. Keep in mind that your ads have to draw attention and call to action.
Don't forget to set up targeting appropriately. Some services enable you to target not only according to GEO but also according to age, education level, interest areas, etc.
Once you've launched your campaign, you should start tracking it. It will help you understand which traffic sources work well.
Make it easier
As you can see, affiliate marketing is about hard work, including constant researching, tracking, analyzing, and learning. On the surface, establishing this business process may seem challenging, but still, it's possible, and there are plenty of additional tools and services to assist you in this uphill struggle. As previously noted, your main instrument is an appropriate affiliate network. For example, you can choose from ClickBank, Amazon Associates, Rakuten, these are usually recommended to beginners.
If you're toiling at creating a website, blog, or, landing page, then such services as Tilda could be very helpful.
To analyze your campaign performance you can use special trackers, like Keitaro or Voluum.
You can also use some tools to stay up to date with the latest trends and competitors' activities, for example, Publer may be used for these purposes.
What can we expect?
Affiliate marketing is a mechanism that can really work and bring profit. Income in the field much depends on efforts. It can vary from zero to $1K or even $100K per day. No one will give you the exact numbers. However, according to average statistics, affiliates are divided into beginners with zero income, low-level marketers with $300 per day income, intermediate affiliates, earning up to $3,000 per day, and 'gurus of affiliate marketing', making more than $10,000 a day.
Affiliate marketing like any business requires not only hard work but also investments. Be it website creation and its maintenance, testing several approaches, or composing creatives, it costs money, and you'll need to have a minimum $500 start-up budget.
You should keep in mind that you might bear the losses at the beginning of your journey. But don't give up at this point, keep on going!