the complete guide to affiliate marketing for newbies

The Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Newbies

Passive income.

That’s the goal, right?

You are making money while you sleep.

For 99% of people, affiliate marketing is how they get started.

The idea is that you promote other people’s products, often through an affiliate network, earn a commission when people end up buying thanks to your marketing.

It is based on the sharing of revenues. If you have a product and want to sell more, you can offer promoters a financial incentive through an affiliate program. If you don’t have a product and want to make money, you can promote a product that you think has value and earn an income as an affiliate marketer.

I’ve talked a little bit about it before, but today I’d like to dive into what affiliate marketing is, what sides there are, and how to get started, so let’s dive into my affiliate marketing guide.

Definitions

The best definition of what affiliate marketing is can be read on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income :

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other (or companies’) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a share of the profit for every sale you make.

However, Wikipedia talks about four different parties involved: the merchant, the network, the publisher, and the customer.

Other definitions talk about three parties instead of 4.

I’ll explain all four parties in a second. But when it comes to the actual marketing, there are two sides of an affiliate equation: the product creator and the seller and the affiliate marketer.

So, affiliate marketing can be seen as the process of spreading product creation and product marketing across various parties, with each party receiving a share of the revenue based on their contribution.

It’s not just the promotion or just the product development that defines who you are as an affiliate marketer.

You can be both the creator and marketer and still take advantage of revenue sharing’s underlying idea.

Now let’s take a look at all parts of a successful affiliate marketing system.

The Trader: Sometimes, also known as the maker, seller, brand, seller, or seller. This is the party that makes the product. It could be a big company, like Dyson, that produces vacuum cleaners.

Or it could be an individual like Mariah Coz who sells online courses to female entrepreneurs.

From solo entrepreneurs to startups to large Fortune 500 companies, anyone could be the merchant tied to an affiliate marketing program. They don’t even have to be actively involved. They just need to have a product to sell.

The Affiliate: This person is sometimes also known as the publisher. Affiliates can also range from individuals to entire companies. An affiliate marketing company can produce a few hundred dollars in commissions or tens of millions of dollars every month.

It’s where marketing happens. A partner promotes one or more affiliate products and tries to convince potential customers of the value of the product from the seller so that they actually buy it.

This can be accomplished by running a review blog of the seller’s products

It could also be an entire site that focuses on finding cool products related to a particular topic and promoting those affiliate products.

This is why I Broke is one of the most popular affiliate networking sites)

The consumer: the customer or consumer completes the connected system. Without a sale, there are no commissions to hand out and no income to share.

The affiliate will attempt to promote the market on any channel they see fit, be it a social networkdigital billboards, or through a search engine that uses content marketing on a blog.

Whether the consumer knows they are part of an affiliate marketing system or not depends mainly on the affiliate company.

Some choose to let their consumers know, and more and more affiliate companies tend to be transparent about their marketing being financially incentivized, but others are not.

They let the tracking system work in the background, where the customer can simply follow the buying process, and the affiliate will eventually receive a commission.

The consumer usually does not pay a higher price to the affiliate marketer because the affiliate network’s costs are already included in the sales price.

The Network: Few consider the network portion of the affiliate marketing equation. However, I believe that an affiliate marketing guide should be about networking, as in many cases, a network acts as an intermediary between the affiliate and the seller.

While you could technically promote an online course and someone created a direct revenue share with them, a network like ClickBank or Commission Junction can handle payment and product delivery and make a more severe note about your affiliate marketing.

Sometimes, affiliates have to go through an affiliate network even to be able to promote the product. This happens, for example, if the merchant only manages his affiliate program on that network.

Therefore, the affiliate network serves as a database of many products, from which the affiliate marketer can choose which ones to promote.

Clickbank is an example of a network)

In the case of promoting consumer products, such as tools, books, toys, and household goods, by far, the largest partner network is Amazon. Their Amazon Associates affiliate program lets you promote any item sold on their platform.

Anyone can sign up and then generate a custom affiliate link to Amazon products. If someone makes purchases through your link, you will earn a small commission.

Once the basic terms have been clarified, let’s get an overview of how best to start setting up your affiliate marketing business.

Overview

As I mentioned, there are actually two sides of the affiliate marketing equation that you can choose from, assuming you’re not going to build an affiliate network like Commission Junction.

You can become a merchant and let others promote your product to give a commission from the sales they make.

Or you can become an affiliate marketer for one or more products that you want to promote and sell to consumers to make money.

While most people start taking the affiliate route, and it’s definitely the easier path to take, building enough traffic to earn meaningful income only from affiliate sales isn’t quick or easy.

That’s why I’ll walk you through the four necessary steps you can take to get started on both sides of the affiliate marketing industry.

Become a trader in 4 steps

If you want to become a merchant in an affiliate program and then make money by letting affiliates sell your product, there are four easy, but not easy, steps you can take.

First, you must have a product idea. I’ll show you a few ways you can generate those ideas based on what’s already popular in the next section.

Second, you have to validate your idea. You can just go ahead and build your vision. But what if people don’t even want to? An idea is only useful if people really want it to come to life.

Third, you have actually to make the product. Since making a physical product usually involves vast investments and risks, I’ll just show you ways to create digital products. These are the best places to get started as they usually only require your time and little or no money.

Even once your product has been created and released, you still need to find partners to promote your work, and this is where affiliate networks can help.

Let’s go!

Step 1: Come up with a great product idea

People always say it’s hard to come up with an idea. But… Ideas are simple.

But when you think your idea has to be super original and born of your brain’s sheer genius, that’s tough.

If you want to make money with an affiliate marketing company, you cannot be romantically attached to your idea.

Instead, just look at what products and services are already out there and consider how you can improve them by delivering something that solves those products’ problems.

You can, of course, always choose a topic you are interested in or involved in.

Imagine that for a second. You are a housewife or a father with whom you are at home.

You may want to make a product that makes household chores easier. For example, you can find a vacuum source to get ideas.

This is the first Google result, a robot vacuum cleaner review site :

Perfect!

Just by looking at the individual reviews, you can immediately see what’s terrible about these robots and what you can potentially improve.

No virtual walls telling the robot where to go and where not to go is a common problem, listed in 6 out of 10 reviews of the top products!

The lack of remote control was also a common ‘deception’.

However, the virtual wall came again and again and again.

Therefore, a great idea could be to develop a virtual wall that works for all vacuum robots.

I imagine you could sell anyone who owns a vacuum source, a system that acts as a virtual wall, so their robot only cleans a predefined space.

That is a valid idea!

This works for everything. Let me show you.

Another way you can research is to use a tool called Buzzsumo, which shows you what’s popular, based on social stocks.

Even if you’re building sandcastles, you can immediately see what content has been popular recently.

If you go on YouTube and search for ‘build a sandcastle,’ you will find thousands of results.

People really want to know how to build cool sandcastles. What could you do?

Record a series of videos showing people step by step how to build five very specific, epic sandcastles.

Or, you can list all the tools you need to build epic sandcastles.

You might even some forms or stencils can imagine that people can use to build sandcastles epic easier.

The question is… will people pay for it?

Step 2: Validate your idea

In order not to make a great set of sandcastle videos that no one wants to buy, you have to validate your idea first.

How do you do that?

Simple: you ask others to pay you for it.

How do you find these people? Easy.

Take the URL of one of the sandcastle posts on Buzzsumo and plug it into a tool called Topsy.

Topsy will then show you a list of all the people who tweeted the link.

You can then tell them directly about your idea by pressing the answer button …

Make sure you ask them if they would buy your idea – not until they like it.

Everyone will say they like something just to be nice.

If they respond with a yes, you have to answer a question right away to buy.

Saying they spend money is not the same as spending the money.

When people are interested in your product, give them a chance to buy. You can just use PayPal and say you’re going to build it when you get a certain number of orders.

Once you cross your threshold and make people really want it, you can start making the product.

Step 3: Making the product

There are a ton of steps to making a product, and this is not an entrepreneurial guide, but I want to point out some good starters.

I will only give you resources for starting digital products as I don’t want you to waste valuable time and money creating a physical product on your first try. 🙂

Online courses:

ebooks:

Podcast / Audio:

These are good starting points. Creating digital products is a lot easier because it just takes time and sometimes a bit of financial investment, but usually nothing more than a service charge or a one-time price for the software.

Once you have created the product and delivered it to your first buyers, it is time to open the affiliate network.

Step 4: Find partner partners.

The technical part is the easy thing here.

Tools like Gumroad or Digital Product Delivery make it easy to set up affiliate program partners and collect commissions.

The hard part is finding partners who actually have an audience interested in what you have for sale.

Let’s stick with the sandcastle guide example.

Do you think there is anyone selling something that is remotely related?

Actually, it is.

When you enter ‘learn to build sandcastles’ in a search engine, several sites will appear that sell educational materials about it.

Like Sand Sculpt USA, which offers lessons in sandcastle building …

or SandCastle classe

s, which offer a course on the same topic.

Contacting them and getting them involved in a joint sale would be an easy pitch as it is a perfect fit.

The more niches your product is, the easier it will be to pitch to fellow merchants.

You can simply email them, introduce yourself and your product, and ask them to collaborate on a sale, sharing the proceeds.

Pro tip: Affiliate conversions of 50% or higher are very common with digital products because you have no replication costs. Don’t be greedy here. Split the pot evenly, and everyone wins.

Googling the ‘toy review blog’ also yields a lot of results, where people write toy reviews.

In addition, many YouTube channels view specific categories of toys. If you find one that rates toys for children, they are likely suitable for your affiliate product.

Just try to find a person to work with and start your first affiliate promotion. You can adjust commissions and details later. The important thing is to get started.

However, you can also embark on the journey on the other side of the fence and become an affiliate yourself.

4 Steps to Becoming an Online Affiliate Marketer

As well as becoming a salesperson, you can also take four steps to start your journey as an affiliate marketer.

First, you need to start reviewing products in your niche. You can do this on a YouTube channel, on a blog, or even with live streams on Periscope.

Second, you need to collect emails so that you can connect with your audience at any time and not have to hope that they see your content.

Third, you can use joint venture webinars to make a lot of sales in a short amount of time, while simultaneously increasing your email list and creating new content.

Finally, once your affiliate marketing business starts to make money, you can scale your growth with pay per click advertising.

Step 1: Assess products in your niche

It’s easier to get started as a partner because you skip the ideas ‘Have an idea’ and ‘Create ideas’ to become a salesperson.

You already use and love many products, so all you need to do to get started is talk about them publicly.

Start by checking out the partners in step 4 to become a salesperson because that’s what you are trying to get started in this step.

Every product works.

Really.

Take a look at this guy watching Hot Wheels tracks and cars :

More than 300,000 Hot Wheels subscribers? I’m sure whatever your niche is less specific.

If you like to read, check out the books :

Note: A special kind of assessment that usually works very well is the comparison with a direct competitor.

You will soon find enough people who are already doing this. Just search for “best hair straightener,” and have a look:

This blog reviews flat irons for hair straightening (for women). How specific is a blog that?

She can relate to the product as she has to straighten her own hair. And when she does her research well, the blog does not only score high in search engines but also helps women find the best tool for the job.

Whatever you judge, make sure you do the same.

If your reviews aren’t really helpful, people will immediately notice that you just want to make a quick buck.

As Pat Flynn points out in his affiliate marketing guide, affiliate marketing involved is by far the most profitable because you can actually relate to the product, rather than just promoting something that could make you a lot of money.

If you don’t even know the product, how can you credibly promote it?

Note: This is a bit different for consumer products than for online courses or books created by individuals. If you’ve known a person for a long time and trust them and know that their job is great, that’s another thing.

When you write reviews on your blog, you can use an affiliate link to link to your promoting products.

You can recognize them on other blogs by the long “/ ref …” tail at the end of the regular link.

This is usually the first step to create commissions.

Sign up with Amazon Associates, and you can then proceed with your own affiliate link for any product on Amazon.

Simply go to the product page and click on “Short link to this page.” You get a link that gives you a commission when people buy through it.

However, if you only rely on people using the affiliate links in your reviews, it means you need a lot of traffic actually to make serious money.

But if you find a way to directly contact your target audience, you can market them whenever you want, not just when they come to your website.

This is where step 2 comes in.

Step 2: Build an email list with your prospects on it.

Email is still one of the best marketing channels today, so don’t miss out.

I’ll show you three super easy ways to collect email addresses from your website visitors.

Number 1: Hello Bar

Hello, the bar makes a call to action on top of your website. When someone visits your website, they see this bar at the top.

You can offer them an ebook (perhaps bundle the top three product reviews) or a dedicated evaluation video.

Once they click on your Hello Bar, you can redirect people to the page to enter their email in exchange for the content.

Number 2: Exit Gate

You can also use the Hello Bar to create an exit port. This pop-up will be placed across the screen when visitors are about to leave your website.

It is triggered by their mouse moving to the top part of the browser.

I use it to get more Facebook likes on Quick Sprout:

But you can also redirect people to your main magnet and get their email address this way.

Number 3: Sidebar Widget

Many blogs make their sidebar completely cluttered.

(too many things here to do)

Do not do it.

If you give your visitors 20 things to do, they are unlikely to do anything at all.

Just one call to action in your sidebar. Again, it should offer people something in exchange for their email address.

We are giving away the ‘Double Your Traffic’ course on Quick Sprout, and it has worked well.

Since you are compiling email addresses around a particular topic like how to find the best hair straightener, juice maker, mini-oven, etc., you don’t need many of them to make the email list worth your time.

Even with less than 500 people on your list, you can create significant sales.

Make sure to keep your audience engaged by sending them regular updates, ideally once a week.

Don’t make it all sales. Let them know if you have a new review.

For example, I email every post we post on Quick Sprout with a straightforward description of what it’s about:

Send them a specific call to action every now and then to buy a product. Maybe you just found a new favorite in the last review and really love it.

You can update your audience on your mood, the reasons for it, and recommend that they switch to that product as well.

But there’s more. Once you have a few contacts on your email list, you can do this.

Step 3: Educate your audience with live webinars

Webinars are great.

Imagine you want to buy a new refrigerator.

Why do you want to buy a refrigerator more:

  1. Read a review on a blog
  2. See a live presentation of a fridge in action

Number 2, of course!

Using a tool, such as LeadPages, you can create a simple landing page for people to sign up for your webinar.

(I also use LeadPages for my webinars)

Promote your webinar on social media a week in advance and get people to sign up.

Then you can very easily host a Google hangout, which is entirely free to live stream your webinar to your audience.

Webinars are great for connecting with your audience one by one, showing them the product you are promoting life, and answering any questions you may have.

You can:

  • present the features of the product
  • show different use cases of the product
  • talk about its pros and cons
  • tell people your personal history with the product
  • help your audience get the most out of it

And much more.

Tip: Learning how to work with a webinar with a Google Hangout takes less than 10 minutes. Evidence? This video explains it well.

Imagine how fired your audience will get when they see all the cool things your product will make them do.

Referring to your affiliate link and sharing at the end of the webinar is a soft sell and comes naturally because you’ve just spent an hour talking about the product.

It won’t feel compelled, and your consumers can still take their time deciding whether actually to buy it.

Pro tip: Can you get your salesperson to give you a special deal for your audience? If you promise to get their product in front of a few hundred people, they are often happy to give you a discount or special bundle to incentivize people further to buy.

Step 4: Grow your business with PPC advertising.

Once your affiliate marketing business starts to take off, you can start thinking about paid advertising.

I’m not going to show you how to do it here, since I recently published a guide on both Facebook Ads and Google Ads, but remember: only do this if you have a way to make money back.

Conversions are all that matters here.

You can use PPC advertising to:

  • let people sign up for your webinar
  • grow your email list
  • more sales

For example, if you teach Google “leadpages,” you can see that LeadPages themselves are promoting this keyword, showing Google ads, and promoting their weekly live webinar.

So, keywords related to learning about your product or topic would be a good start.

You can also target your competition. For example, there is an Unbounce ad just below the LeadPages ad.

These guys also offer a landing page creation software, so it’s easy to get in front of someone else’s audience.

Now you can try to target people who are just trying to find a review of your product, but it is probably better to improve your SEO.

The percentage of people who buy directly from your link right after reading a review is naturally low, so imagine paying these amounts. Depending on the product price, you will only get a few dollars or even cents per sale, so the margin you can spend on advertising isn’t considerable.

In most cases, you will be promoting your login attempts to your email list.

By the way, it’s the best way to get people to sign up for a webinar with ads.

(what a webinar Facebook ad might look like )

You win in 3 ways:

  1. They are in your email list, and you can contact them again at any time
  2. There is a chance that they will attend your live webinar and purchase the product
  3. You can put them on an autoresponder email thread encouraging them to buy

For example, John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur On Fire often conducts webinars and posts them directly to his homepage.

Once you sign up for the webinar, he’ll also send you a series of automated emails.

In those emails, he offers you other courses and free tools, such as a webinar course, in which you learn how to do webinars to make sales.

If you sign up for this, you will receive ten email lessons for a few days, and at the end, will invite you to purchase a more comprehensive webinar course.

After you have already learned a lot about webinars, you will be introduced to its more thorough and detailed course that will teach you even more.

He even shows you a behind-the-scenes look at the track so you can get a sneak peek.

Once he knows how many people will eventually buy the full course of the auto-responder series, he can easily calculate how much he can spend on ads to get people to sign up for the webinar or webinar course.

So with this strategy, you have several opportunities to get your consumers to buy your product.

They have a chance to buy after the autoresponder series, on the webinar, and from future emails.

When your sales start from those many sources and start to grow, you can really blow up your business with paid advertising just by driving traffic to the sales mechanisms that are already working.

Conclusion

Time to recap. So there are two ways to get started with affiliate marketing.

You can become a merchant or an affiliate.

The four steps to becoming a seller are:

  1. Come up with a good product idea.
  2. Validate that idea by getting people to prepay you for the product.
  3. Making that product.
  4. Finding partners, probably through an affiliate network, to work with who will promote your product.

The more common and slightly easier route is becoming an affiliate. There are also four steps you can follow:

  1. Start reviewing products in your niche
  2. Create an email list
  3. Using live webinars to inform and sell your audience
  4. Expand your affiliate business with PPC advertising

Affiliate marketing is a great way to get started with online marketing.

The only question is which side are you going to take?