When people ask me what I do, I usually tell them I’m a blogger, and that I earn money through affiliate marketing. “Does it work? Can you really make money with affiliate marketing? Isn’t it some sort of scam?” are usually the next questions.
- It does.
- You can!
- It’s not – it’s a completely legal and ethical way to earn an income.
When you decide to start blogging to make money online from home, the choices and options can be dizzying. There are so many potential business models, so many ways to monetize. It can be downright overwhelming.
I’ve always felt that starting with affiliate marketing is the best choice for new bloggers and online marketers. It’s easy to learn, and the money making potential is there right from the start. It’s perfect for newbies or advanced bloggers, and it’s great for people who like to go at their own pace.
It also works no matter what kind of blog you have or what niche you want to be in – although, if you’re main goal is to make money, there are things you can do to make it more likely to get off to a good start.
If you’re one of the people who wondered “Affiliate marketing – does it work?” let’s go over a few of the criteria that can help you decide if it would be the best option for you.
1. No worries about creating your own product.
The idea of product creation can be intimidating to beginning bloggers. There’s so much to learn when it comes to creating your own product and being able to market and sell it.
Plus, with affiliate marketing, there’s no production costs. Nothing to build, nothing to create… All you’re doing is being the middle man.
That means you go into a niche with the mindset of being able to help people, instead of trying to sell things to them. Let’s take a look at how an affiliate marketer would be the primary go-between:
Let’s say you pick the gardening niche.
Your job as a product creator would be to actually create solutions for gardening problems or needs. That might be designing garden plans, planting schedules, gardening tools even – something that you can create and then sell to people.
But if you’re an affiliate, your job is much simpler – find people with gardening problems or needs and show them where they can buy solutions.
(Ahem… you’ll notice that’s exactly what I’ve done in this post. I’m answering a question people have and then showing them where to go for help to get started with affiliate marketing.)
One key to becoming a super affiliate is to build a list of subscribers using something like MailChimp or MadMimi. You’ll send regular newsletters or emails out to your subscribers, building trust with them.
You become the person they go to when they have a question.
So you can write about a problem you had with bugs in your tomatoes, and tell your readers “You have trouble with bugs in your tomatoes? I know a perfect solution, here’s how it worked for me, here’s the link to buy it”. You don’t have to solve their problem, instead you’re showing them where to find the solution.
Of course you can (and often, should) write about your experiences with it. That’s how you build rapport with your readers to gain their trust and increase sales.
As a product creator, on the other hand, you’re limited by time – you might be able to create and design one type of gardening tool, or design a planting guide, or some other type of gardening solution, and then that one thing is what you’ve got to sell until you’re able to create something else.
But as an affiliate marketer, you can instantly begin promoting from a catalog of hundreds of products with a wide range of solutions for your readers various problems. You’ll be profiting on all of them, not depending on just one income stream.
2. There is a zero-to-low start up cost involved.
Well that’s always nice! Whether you have a shoestring budget set aside or you’re working from nothing, affiliate marketing is a strategy that doesn’t ask much of you from the start.
The main investment you’ll be making will be time and effort, not cash. Of course for those who want to jump start their business, you can always do a little investing in things that cost money – like a keyword tool or paid themes and plugins – but even those things are relatively inexpensive and aren’t a necessity to get the ball rolling.
When you’re just getting started – and there are so many different business models to choose from – you may not be sure if you’ll enjoy (or profit from) some of them.
When you find a strategy that’s no or low cost like affiliate marketing, you have less financial risk. Some business models require a huge investment up front (I’m looking at you, LulaRoe!) – and then, not only are you wasting time and effort if it ends up being the wrong choice for you, but you’re out hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars.
3. You don’t even need a website.
There are actually ways to begin affiliate marketing right this second without spending a dime. For example, you can use a free platform like Blogger to start blogging about your niche topic – and refer your readers to items they may want to buy so that you get a commission.
There are even people who have created large followings on social media like YouTube or Instagram, and do all their affiliate marketing there!
That said, my experienced opinion is that it’s always best if you can go with your own domain and paid hosting. The biggest reason for this is that when you buy and pay for something, IT’S YOURS. Free platforms have their own rules, and if they don’t like what you’re doing, or if they change their rules, the following you have there can disappear.
When you have your own site, no one can take it from you.
You can find great deals on domains – this is your “www.myblog.com”; you need to pay to register it in order to use it. Just do a Google search for a coupon code for your favorite domain registrar like GoDaddy.
Search for something like “Godaddy coupon” with the month and year that you’re searching. Sometimes this can knock the price down from over $10 to just a dollar or two!
Once you have your domain, it’s time to find hosting. Hosting is the physical site of your blog – like a giant computer that holds all the files so that people from all around the world can access it. You can get great deals on hosting through companies like SiteGround.
If you’re worried about building a website, don’t be! Most reputable hosts have a one-click WordPress installation, so it’s easy to start.
You don’t even need sales experience to become a great affiliate. Remember, your job is not selling to the reader, but to simply show them where to find solutions to their problem.
4. Diversity for maximum profitability.
Here’s one of the BEST parts of being an affiliate marketer: Diversity.
You aren’t stuck with one product, one store or even one niche. You can have a blog that links to a variety of items from a variety of vendors – and once you get going, you can widen your niche or even branch out with a new site and a new niche.
You get to determine:
· Whether it’s easy to compete in that niche.
· How much you can potentially earn.
· Whether or not you find it satisfying.
All three of those are very important factors for your online success as an affiliate. Some niches will be harder to break into than others, so as an affiliate, you can test the waters to see how easy it is to dominate before you buy a domain and pour your heart and soul into it.
Potential earnings will be of concern to you. If the traffic’s coming, but it’s hard to convert the visitors into buyers, then you might want to refine your target audience.
Personal satisfaction is what this career path is all about! Online marketing in general is about being your own boss – not having to pursue tasks and topics that don’t fulfill you.
As an affiliate marketer, you can dabble in many niches all at once – getting a feel for what satisfies you. You’re going to hear a lot of advice about keyword volume and competition – but it’s important to pay attention to which niches make you feel like getting up out of bed early just so you can get engaged with your audience!
5. It’s easy for newbies to master quickly.
One of the best benefits of affiliate marketing is just how easy it is to do and get started making money. While it’s definitely not a “get rich quick” type of thing, it is possible to start earning money from the first month if you do it right. Product creation is intimidating for many people because it involves so many behind-the-scenes elements – including many technical skills you need to know.
But as an affiliate, you’ll need to learn some pretty simple basics like:
Blogging is simple when you use WordPress. You’re basically going to pick a name and URL for your blog and start publishing posts. It’s good to learn what people want in terms of blogging.
One of the biggest factors is personality. They want you to share insight, opinions and advice with them. Blogs are a great place to review products and share your results and they rank well in search engines.
· Video Reviews
If you’re comfortable with video, then you will want to start using YouTube and maybe embedding those onto your blog. In your videos, you can talk about the niche problems and solutions that you advise them to purchase through your links.
· Social Marketing
Social marketing is all about sharing. You’ll be using sites like Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and Pinterest to share your blog posts and links to good products that you think will help your niche audience.
6. You Don’t Need to Worry About Customer Service
One of the most time consuming tasks when selling online is handling emails and requests from customers. They may have download issues, need clarification about the product, or want other help.
As an affiliate, none of that is your responsibility – it’s the job of the product vendor. It’s their responsibility to handle the customer once you send them there. That means you can continue working on what matters most – converting new customers.
So, yeah – I’m a big fan of affiliate marketing! I think that any blogger – even if their plan is to eventually monetize differently – should learn and know it as a supplemental income. Affiliate marketing is right for just about everybody.