Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to make money online.
And it’s not hard to see why, it presents an incredible opportunity for anyone willing to learn and take consistent action.
Becoming a successful affiliate however, involves learning how to find affiliate products that are actually worth promoting, and avoiding the time wasters.
The concepts I’m about to share with you could mean the difference between struggling to make a few bucks, and making a considerable profit each and every month.
For the same amount of effort.
What Is An Affiliate Product?
An affiliate product is a product you can promote and earn commissions on, without needing any inventory or having to sell anything yourself. You just promote the product, and let the vendor do the rest.
When someone buys through your affiliate link, you make money. It’s that simple.
All of this is tracked automatically with ‘cookies’ that are placed on a person’s web browser after they click on your affiliate link. Depending on the individual affiliate program, these cookies can last for as little as 24 hours, or years into the future.
Anyways, let’s move onto the good stuff…
How To Find Awesome Affiliate Products To Promote
When most people come into affiliate marketing, they choose products to promote based on what they ‘think’ will make them money, and then they try to figure out how to get traffic.
This is completely backwards, and why many fail.
Making the final decision on which product you are going to spend your time and/ or money promoting is actually the last step of the process. Really? Yes.
Here’s the right approach…
Step 1: Brainstorm Niche Ideas
This is the first step to creating a profitable affiliate marketing business.
You need to start with the actual people who are buying these products before you can ever hope to sell them anything. This is your niche. These are the folks you want to help, and who’s problems you want to solve with your product.
Anyways, I’m a big believer in choosing a niche you are either passionate about, or at least interested in.
Why? There are two main reasons for this- value and persistence.
Value: The more interested you are in your chosen niche, the more time and energy you will happily spend learning about it. The better you understand your niche, the better you can solve their problems and the more value you can add as a result.
Persistence: If you are interested in what you are doing, you are much more likely to stay committed right up until you are actually making money. Too many people look for the “quick fix” to making money with affiliate marketing, and quit long before seeing results. Believe it or not, the single most important factor in getting results is persistence. When you are interested in something, it’s not a chore to do research, write content, launch campaigns, analyze data and work to improve your business.
With that in mind, the first step to brainstorming niche ideas is by visiting Amazon. It’s not the only way, but it’s what I do, and it works. They have millions of products, categorically mapped out within their menus.
Take some time to look at their products, but not because you are wanting to promote them specifically. This is a brainstorming exercise to come up with niche ideas.
Think of products you’ve bought yourself or would like to buy. Think of problems you’ve had or people you know have had, and what products solved them. There’s no magic formula for this, but anyone can come up with ideas.
It’s knowing if they are worth pursuing that’s the more difficult part.
You need to align your interest/ passion with a real opportunity or you’ll make nothing. You can be passionate until you’re blue int he face, and find the coolest looking products online. But if you want to earn profits, you need to follow the next step very closely.
Step 2: Research Your Niche
In order to ‘validate’ your product ideas, you need to do some research.
If you skip this step in “search for the money” you are going to have a very long, frustrating road ahead. I promise you this.
The foundation of ANY affiliate marketing business is researching your niche. Most people think it’s about what they promote or ‘getting lots of traffic’ when in actual fact it is about building an audience.
You need to learn about, and build an audience of people, who know, like and trust you if you are every going to sell anything. When you do this, not only do you have people you can promote relevant products to as an affiliate, but you have a group of people who are ready to buy the products you promote.
I published an article that walks you through the process of choosing a profitable niche which is well worth going through. Take the ideas you came up with in step 1 and read the above article to learn how to find the opportunity within those ideas, and to see if they are worth pursuing.
Ninja Tip: Check out the forums your niche participates in, the Facebook groups, comments they leave on blogs, find successful niche websites that already target this audience and see what they are doing. The more you learn about them, the better.
Step 3: Find The Right Product For Your Business
Once you’ve got a niche idea in mind, and you’ve done some homework on the opportunity within that space, it is now time to choose a product to promote.
There are millions of products to promote, and thousands of affiliate programs you can join for free. With so many good options and worthwhile offers, it’s hard knowing which one to settle on. Unfortunately, there’s no “secret” to finding that “perfect product” to promote.
I wish I could tell you otherwise, but this is reality.
But there are principals and guidelines that can lead you to choosing the right product. The key is finding a product or service that solves your audience’s unique problem and is something they are willing to buy, and a product you will make a consistent income promoting.
In other words, it’s a two way street.
You need to find a product that genuinely solves the needs of your audience, while also solving your need. In this case, making money and growing your business.
With that being said, let’s delve into the different types of products you can promote. There may be millions of options, but there are types of products that differ greatly and can make a huge difference to your bottom line.
Types Of Affiliate Products
Rather than looking for the top selling affiliate products and the ones that convert the best, it pays to know the very real differences between them.
You cab promote the highest converting product of all time, but if you don’t understand the following differences, you could still be making peanuts.
Low Ticket Products
On one hand, you will (generally) be able to market to a larger audience when it comes to lower price products and they are much more likely to buy given that the risk factor is lower.
In theory, you could sell many lower priced items, and make a good income this way. However, the same amount of effort (arguably) goes into promoting lower priced products online as it it does for higher priced products.
So, why sell 100 ‘nic nacs’ for $5 a pop and make $500, when you could sell 10 higher priced products at $50 a pop and end up with the same overall commissions?
That is the important concept to consider, but there is more to it than this.
High Ticket Products
High ticket commissions are… well, high. But your audience is naturally not as big, and the level of perceived risk is high when they are contemplating making a purchase.
Meaning, people are not as willing to jump onto your website and shell out $5,000 because you published a great review!
The importance of building close relationships with your audience dramatically increases as does the need for an air tight sales funnel. But more on that shortly.
To summarize low ticket vs high ticket products… it’s important to consider the relationship between the commission itself, and the volume of sales you can make overall.
One Sale vs Recurring Commissions
Promoting products that pay you a commission one time can absolutely work, many affiliates make a good income this way. High or low priced products, if you make enough sales on a consistent basis you can theoretically promote one time commission products successfully without doing anything else.
On the other hand, recurring commissions are awesome.
You are putting in the same amount of effort as selling something one time, but you continue to get paid over, and over again. Potentially, for years into the future.
Aweber is one example of a great recurring commission product to promote. Depending on which niche you are in of course. It’s a great tool, something almost every internet marketer needs, and the payouts are nice. You can earn 30% commissions on whatever your referrals spend in a given month. The base product is $19 per month, which means $5.70 per month for as long as that person remains a customer. The bigger their email list builds up to be, the more they pay, and the more you earn.
I promote a program called Wealthy Affiliate which pays me $8 upfront per Premium referral and $23.50 recurring commissions for those who stay on past the first month. It’s an awesome platform to help people learn affiliate marketing, and a lucrative affiliate program.
The concept here is to think about your goals and your audience, and if it makes sense, look for a good recurring commission product to promote.
Digital vs Physical Products
Another thing to consider is whether you want to promote physical or digital products.
When it comes to physical products, the commission rates are typically well under the 15% mark. With digital products however, the commission percentages can range up to 75% or higher depending on the product and affiliate network.
It’s difficult to say which is ‘better’ though, since you can make decent money either way.
Depending on the product, niche, and your audience, refunds can be higher for digital info products which is worth considering. There are a lot of low quality digital info products out there, and it’s way easier for people to get a refund. Instead of having to repackage and ship an item back, all they need to do is hit the ‘request a refund’ button.
The solution? Promote good quality products and (preferably) use them yourself first so you know they are good value products.
Why Having a ‘Sales Funnel’ Matters
Many budding affiliates send cold traffic (people you’ve built no relationship with) straight to a sales page in the hope it will convert well enough for them to ‘cash in’.
Good luck with that.
There’s a reason why vendors on affiliate networks like Warrior Plus are happy to give their affiliates a 100% commission on the $5-$20 odd products they promote. This is not where they make their money. The real money is made through upselling and future promotions they run through their email list. They have a sales funnel in place.
My point being, you need a sales funnel. Even a very basic one like this:
website traffic => relevant content => detailed review => sales page
This allows you to build trust, credibility and ‘warm’ your traffic into the sale.
Note: It’s well worth including an email optin as part of your sales funnel, but for the sake of not turning this already long post into an eBook, just know it’s well worth it.
In the case of high ticket affiliate products, a well planned sales funnel is absolutely critical.
Attempting to sell a $5k product to a website visitor is extremely difficult at best. This is why marketers who do this successfully, promote a low ticket ‘front end’ product first, which the goal of making a series of progressively higher commissions over time.
For example, the first product could be $49, the second product $500, then $3,000, and so on. It is not uncommon for some high ticket products to sell for between $10-$30k.
There are a number of ‘ready made systems’ that have this kind of funnel in place. Some legit, some not so legit. I won’t get into naming these, but it comes down to whether the products represent good value for money, and how ethical the marketing is when deciding if it’s legit or not. I will say, make sure you know what you are getting into, and that you are comfortable promoting it as your reputation matters a lot online.
Either way, the concept of a high ticket sales funnel works and it can be used ethically to promote good products. Even without joining a ‘system’ yourself. The concept is to give people as much value as possible across multiple tiers of pricing. It works because it’s WAY easier to generate sales from customers you have already had a positive experience with, rather than constantly look for new customers.
It’s a smart model. But it’s not the only way to create a full time online income either.
How Many Products Should You Promote?
Some affiliates are very successful at promoting just ONE product, while other affiliates run multiple campaigns and promote many different products.
I think it’s better to focus on, and master ONE thing first. Then scale out. This ‘one thing’ could mean focussing on one product to promote, one niche, or one style of marketing.
Some focus on one marketing style, content marketing with a website. But they promote every product they review in a natural way. For example, it could be an Amazon review site comparing longboards with each review offering value, and a ‘non salesy’ link to where they can buy from Amazon. This can absolutely work without you looking or being spammy.
Other affiliates might focus on having one website, and promoting one product they genuinely believe in. But they may promote a handful of other products they know are worthwhile on the same site.
Either way can work and there are many variations of these examples. The important concept here, is to work out what is best for your audience and the niche you are in.
On one hand, you don’t want to come across as someone that only cares about promoting anything and everything for a quick buck. This is not going to help you build a profitable longterm business. On the other hand, you want to give people options if they don’t like or need the main product you promote.
It’s common sense, experience, and knowing your audience.
Should You Worry About Competition?
Some marketers say you should avoid competition at all costs and only get into untapped niches, while others say the exact opposite and recommend the ‘small slice of a large pie’ approach. I think there is merit in both approaches.
On one hand, it can be well worth going after low competition niches since there are practically limitless opportunities to make money when you know how. Find a low competition niche, capitalize on it, repeat. This can be a good option, but it also requires you to run (potentially) many websites or campaigns to earn a substantial amount of money.
On the other hand, it is possible to tap into some of the absolute highest of high competition niches successful. The good thing about this approach is you can focus on one main niche or even one website to generate a full-time income. Just because it’s full of competition, doesn’t mean there’s not boatloads of untapped potential within that space. The drawback to this is, it can take a mammoth effort and a good amount of time to get anywhere when you are first starting out.
At the end of the day, if there’s competition, money is being made.
Try not to let the concept of competition scare you off when choosing products to promote. Money can be made in just about any niche, low or high competition.
Good Affiliate Programs To Join
There are many affiliate programs to join, but some are better than others and there are pros and cons to consider.
Here are five affiliate programs worth considering…
Amazon Associates: Good for promoting physical products, it’s easy to get accepted and people are much less apprehensive about buying through Amazon. The commissions often aren’t very high, so it’s more about volume. Also, the tracking cookies only last for 24 hours with Amazon, which sucks. But you can earn commissions on anything that person buys while they are on Amazon during this time, not so sucky.
Share A Sale: This is a great affiliate network with many offers available from companies people know and trust. This includes both physical and digital products.
CJ Affiliate: This is probably the most respected affiliate network online, they work with many big name companies. This allows you to get paid on generating leads as well as making product sales across a range of verticals. It can be difficult to get accepted into a particular affiliate program though given the level of quality they expect.
ClickBank: Good for promoting digital information products in any niche, easy to get accepted and the commission rates are very high. As high as 75% in fact. There are a number of low quality products allowed on the platform though, which brings it down a notch. But it is still a great way to go and they do have lots of great products to promote.
JV Zoo: Similar to ClickBank, but exclusively focussed on the ‘make money’ niche. It is easy to get accepted, but you also need approval from the individual vendors in some cases which makes it difficult for newbies. This is a higher quality, higher ticket network than Warrior Plus, which is a platform that (I believe) is mostly full of overhyped junk.
If none of these work for you, try running a Google search for “product X affiliate program” and see what comes up.
Chances are, there’s an independent affiliate program you can join. Be careful though, as you want to make sure you are dealing with a company that is going to track your leads/ sales and actually pay you what you are owed.
Simple Ways To Identify Product Opportunities
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for products to promote as an affiliate, and there’s nothing you are really interested in other than ‘marketing’ in general, it’s worth knowing how to spot the trends.
Market Trends: Getting ahead of the competition within any given niche can pay off, you just need to know how to find it. For some niches, this may be getting involved in popular forums, regular reading of company blogs or keeping up to date with industry news and events. The more you know about your niche, the more you will know about what is happening, and what’s about to happen. You can use this information to your advantage when brainstorming affiliate product ideas.
Search Trends: One of the ways I gauge the popularity of a product, niche, or topic in general, is with Google Trends. This gives you a free and easy way to see what people are searching for, in what countries and what trends are coming and going.
Product Trends: Being ‘Earths biggest selection’, Amazon can be a very effective way to come up with niche ideas, and also see how well the products within each niche are selling. By gauging the number of customer reviews a product has, checking the ratings, and looking through the reviews, you can uncover opportunities and determine what’s worth selling.
An effective way to validate your ideas and trends is by doing proper keyword research.
This is a super important when gauging the interest surrounding a niche, competition, and the potential to get organic traffic. Since one of the most important jobs an affiliate has is generating traffic, this is well worth doing.
If you’ve made it this far, well done! This was definitely one of my longer articles, but I really wanted to cover the bases on this topic as it’s something I get a lot of questions about.
Is there a secret to finding ‘perfect affiliate products’ to promote? I don’t think so, no.
But there are some fundamental concepts worth understanding, some of which are timeless, that can help you choose the right products to promote for your business.
Ultimately, your goal is to give your audience the best value possible, while maximizing your profits. The end result can be a profitable, ethical and longterm business you are proud of.
The truth is, most people fail to make money online.
Because despite the wealth of opportunity that currently exists, there's too many fake "gurus" selling bunk programs that over promise and under deliver. It's a wild west.
The good news is, it IS possible for the average person to create a successful business online. I know because I've done it myself. Here's how I went from zero to $8K plus per month online.