Make Money With Affiliate Marketing: A Guide for Beginners
It is often recommended to make money on the Internet with affiliate marketing. What is it and how does it even work? Here is a guide.
Especially beginners are often recommended to make money on the Internet with affiliate marketing. Not only can you build up a side income on the Internet as an affiliate, but it is even possible to develop the main income with it—but that takes time.
Learn everything you need to know in this guide if you want to earn more than just pocket money as an affiliate on the Internet. I'll show you all sides of this modern job—even the bad ones.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a type of sales method. Affiliate marketing includes an affiliate program, the operator of the affiliate program, a technical base, and affiliates who do the marketing part.
An affiliate sign up for an affiliate program, gets a so-called affiliate link to be able to track his advertising activities, and can send prospective customers to the provider via his affiliate link and earn commissions if he is successful.
- Provider – there is always a provider who has a product and is often the operator of an affiliate program and tries to increase his reach and attract more customers with the help of affiliates.
- Affiliate – the affiliate recommends products of a provider within the scope of an affiliate program and receives a commission in case of success. He often even gets commissions without having to sell anything.
- Affiliate programs – affiliate programs are the basic framework in affiliate marketing and allow a vendor and affiliates to work together—t is a technical foundation and a contract at the same time.
Let's go a little deeper so you can get a better understanding of how the whole system works and can ultimately be used to make money online.
What Are Affiliate Programs?
Affiliate programs form the basis of affiliate marketing. They enable cooperation between a provider and an affiliate. An affiliate program can be pictured as follows:
- A provider starts its affiliate program and invites affiliates to participate and recommend its products in exchange for a commission.
- An affiliate registers to the affiliate program, gets a special advertising link, and can use it to send prospective customers to the provider.
- An advertising platform is a strategy or method to attract prospects and send them to the provider. An advertising platform can be your own website, a newsletter, or even paid advertising.
The most difficult part is related to the advertising platform. The most important job of an affiliate is marketing—this is exactly how they make their money. The advertising platform is a critical part of a good marketing strategy.
You can find the best and most lucrative affiliate program, but if you fail at marketing, you won't make money!
What Is an Affiliate?
An affiliate in our context is something like a distributor who works as a self-employed worker for a company.
Affiliate is often brought together with the two terms “affiliate marketing” and “partner programs”. These are all related terms and have their origins in marketing and referring products for commission through affiliate programs.
What Does an Affiliate Do to Make Money?
Surely you are now wondering what an affiliate does to make money. Well, the answer is quite simple:
An affiliate works as a kind of middleman or recommender of a vendor's products.
It is not a normal employment relationship, but rather a job on a self-employed basis. Both the affiliate and the operator of the affiliate program can terminate the business relationship at any time. There are also no obligations—at least for the affiliate.
You have to imagine an affiliate like a recommender. He finds good products, signs up for an affiliate program, and recommends these products to anyone who might be interested.
Professional affiliates sometimes build complex sales systems to achieve hundreds or thousands of commissions per month. As you can see, there is a lot of potential in this business model if you run it professionally.
I, for example, am also one of the affiliates who use sales systems that almost automatically generate income.
Why Earn Money as an Affiliate?
Working as an affiliate on the Internet looks like an interesting opportunity to earn money. You have certain advantages and also disadvantages when you work as an affiliate, which we will look at next.
Pros of Being an Affiliate
Making money as an affiliate has some advantages:
- No startup capital – you don't have money to invest? No problem! Start your small affiliate business with zero initial capital and bring it to several thousand dollars per month.
- No obligations – you voluntarily participate in an affiliate program and use it to send prospects to the provider via your referral link. You don't have to do anything you don't want or don't like.
- No own products – creating your own products and marketing them successfully is extremely difficult—I know because I am a product creator and seller. This is a task for those who know the online business inside and out.
- No customer support – everyone knows or can well imagine how stressful customer support can be. Lucky for you that as an affiliate you don't have to deal with customers, that job is done by the seller/vendor.
- No stress – an affiliate's job is a vacation compared to the vendor's job! You must have almost no stress or no stress at all, and you can also take steps to avoid stressful situations.
- No dependence – you have no dependence. You work when you want, for how long you want, and can be very flexible in your job as an affiliate. If you don't like one program, you look for another one.
As you can see, you have quite a few advantages as an affiliate.
Cons of Being an Affiliate
On the other hand, as an affiliate you also have to live with some disadvantages:
- Long dry period – the starting phase of an affiliate is especially difficult because you have to learn all the strategies and also proper marketing to be able to earn money successfully.
- Elaborate base building – you have to build the complete base as an affiliate. This base is the engine of your marketing! It can be a website, paid advertising campaign, or any other platform that needs to be effortfully built.
- Basic knowledge in selling – you will have to learn to sell. Even if you are just promoting products, successful promotion is not possible if you don't know the basics of selling.
- No security – there is no security for anything. It may be that you make good money quickly as an affiliate, or it may be that it takes years for you to live from the earnings.
Don't be fooled by the promises of many bloggers and experts. Affiliate marketing is not a sprint, it's a marathon, just like any other business! I've walked the entire path on my own and know how long and exhausting it can be.
Is It Even Possible to Make Money as an Affiliate?
So you're hooked on affiliate marketing and want to know if it works and how much money you can make with it. First of all, you need to know that most affiliates are not very successful.
95% of all affiliates earn less than $100 per month and can't live from their earnings!
So forget right away about the quick and easy money that YouTube bloggers or affiliate experts promise to sell you an online course. Affiliate marketing is a tough job that you have to learn the right way, just like any other profession!
What Can You Earn With Affiliate Marketing?
The income of an affiliate depends on the level of each affiliate.
I can show you hundreds of screenshots with earnings, but at the end of the day, they just show some numbers that can't be achieved by just anyone—certainlynot within a few days or weeks.
That money can be earned with affiliate marketing is shown by my earnings at Digistore24.com, a platform for selling and recommending digital products:
My total income is 11,218 euros and it is increasing every day. I recommend digital products like online courses, software, and coaching with this platform. You can also get started quickly as an affiliate with Digistore24.
Keep in mind that I had to build my own marketing platforms to reach the income from above. You can't just create an account with an affiliate platform and achieve the same revenue in a short time.
It will take time.
How to Start With Affiliate Marketing?
To start making money with affiliate marketing, you need to work with affiliate programs. There are thousands of affiliate programs and there is more every day.
Since it is extremely time-consuming to work with such a large number of affiliate programs, just use affiliate networks. You create an account once in an affiliate network and after that, you can work with hundreds of affiliate programs with one account and earn money.
My current best affiliate networks are:
- AWIN – the largest affiliate network with currently over 14,000 active affiliate programs. There are affiliate programs for most major brands here. Every professional affiliate should have an account here.
- ADCELL – a large German affiliate network with currently almost 2,000 affiliate programs. All programs are neatly sorted into categories and the search function is very precise.
- Commission Junction (CJ) – also a large affiliate network with well over 2,000 active affiliate programs. When I want to promote a big brand (Google, Coca-Cola, etc.), I often search here first.
Register with one of the networks from above and you'll have a great selection of affiliate programs to work with. Note that you have to apply to each affiliate program individually to use them.
Online Marketing—How to Find Prospects and Customers on the Internet?
Online marketing is a job that every affiliate has to learn. It is about reaching prospective customers on the Internet and making them aware of a product. To achieve this, there are several ways and strategies that I will present to you in the following.
Paid Advertising—The Shortcut
About 30% of all affiliates take a shortcut and place paid advertising somewhere. Click advertising in search engines is very popular and you only pay money when someone clicks on the ad.
I can recommend advertising with Bing Ads because it is comparatively inexpensive on many topics/interests and you can start with as little as $10 in advertising credit.
Note with paid advertising that you can't directly advertise the affiliate link!
You have to create a small website, for example, a free one at WordPress.com or Tumblr.com, publish a professional offer text for your affiliate product there, and promote this site with the paid advertising.
Today most advertising platforms don't like affiliates, especially not beginners. Beginners simply make too many mistakes and it's just not worth it for the advertising platforms to work with such affiliates.
Website or Blog—The Safest Way
Usually, as an affiliate you want to have a sustainable and stable income, exactly for this purpose either a niche site, affiliate website, or blog is created.
- Niche site – a website that deals exclusively with one specific topic and does not deviate from this topic. All content is related to this one core topic and the website covers most or all of the topic at some point.
- Affiliate website – a website that focuses on marketing products. Content is published to introduce a product and sell/recommend it. I always mix such websites 50% with informative and useful content.
- Blog – find a topic and create a website around it. The content is usually personally created and relates to the author's experience. For example, today I mix the format of blogs and niche sites—an ideal combination!
I run all types of such websites and for me the niche sites that deal with a specific topic work best. A good example of a niche site of mine is Perfekte-Bewerbung-schreiben.com.
You have to first decide on a topic and publish as many articles on your website as possible, matching this topic. These articles will attract visitors via search engines and you can monetize these visitors very well with affiliate programs.
Free Strategies—Fast and Effective
The internet is a great marketing platform if you think about it. On most websites you can visit on the internet there is a way to advertise for free—but you have to be creative and of course, you have to spend time.
- Forums & Communities – get involved in forums and other community websites and you will always find opportunities to advertise a product.
- Comments on blogs – there are still many blogs that allow comments. Contribute to topics and recommend good products directly in the comment, but don't be too aggressive in promoting or it won't work because your comments will end up in the trash.
- Guest posts – find websites that appeal exactly to your target audience and publish guest posts on them. In the posts, you can recommend any product several times.
Of course, even the free strategies are not free, because your time always has value. However, you don't have to spend money to attract prospects and therefore earn money with affiliate marketing.
Which Products to Recommend as an Affiliate?
As an affiliate, you will always wonder what products you can recommend. Since there are millions of products that you could recommend almost immediately, the choice is huge.
But which products are most worthwhile? Here are some tips you should consider when choosing products:
- Selling price – you don't want to recommend physical products that cost less than $50. With a commission level of 3% to 10% on the cart value, you're just not going to make enough money on low-priced products.
- Digital products – many products I recommend today are digital. It's not uncommon for me to get a 50% commission per referral, and I can make good money even with low-cost products.
- Bestsellers – products that are considered bestsellers simply sell the best. There is a reason why products become best sellers. Recommending such products as an affiliate is very smart! You can find current bestsellers here.
- High quality – don't recommend crap! Any experienced internet user can tell when they're been fooled and sold junk products. You don't want to be the person making money with bad products.
Before you recommend a product, get to know it first. If it's a product you can touch, it's best to test it yourself, or at least read through other buyers' customer reviews on the product, Amazon is a good place to start for product research:
You need to know what a product's strengths are to successfully promote it in large numbers. Many affiliates simply know the products too poorly and therefore fail to sell them successfully.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to earn money with a modern internet job. Thousands of affiliates already work full-time on the Internet and have been able to replace a traditional job with affiliate marketing.
But the road to get there is a long one ...
It took me years to be able to live from my Internet income. Before that, I was an industrial worker and built up an online business on the Internet after work, largely based on affiliate marketing and digital products.
The same law of success applies to affiliate marketing as to any other professional career:
Either learn it right or don't start in the first place!
Successful affiliate marketing must be learned.
It's not enough to watch a few videos and read a handful of blog articles to get off to a successful start—you need to go through the full program.
Vitali works as a German self-employed internet marketer since 2007. Today, he generates a large part of his internet income with the help of affiliate marketing and websites—this is his topic on AffiliateDestiny.com.