The short answer is yes, you can make money with an internet affiliate program.
But it’s not as simple picking a high converting offer either. Like any business, you need to learn and develop your skills to go from ‘hopeful’ to actually making real money.
Here’s what you need to know before diving in…
The 411 On Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a business model that allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies products and services.
As an affiliate, your job is simply to connect buyers with existing companies. When someone buys a product through your affiliate link, or performs a pre-agreed action, you earn a commission.
Here’s a basic overview of the process:
Customer => Affiliate => Merchant
The affiliate program makes this process happen. It’s the ‘behind the scenes’ framework.
In some cases, the affiliate program and the merchant are one and the same. In most cases, there’s a third party affiliate program that connects the merchant with the affiliate and makes the process work seamlessly.
Why does it work?
The merchant is happy to pay the affiliate a commission because they are only paying for results. Whether it’s a lead or an actual sale has taken place, they only pay for the desired action.
The affiliate does not need to create her/ his own product and deal with the ins and outs of running a typical online business. Yet, the profit potential is equally as high, if not higher. Needless to say, it’s a very popular online business model.
There are countless affiliate programs, marketing methods, traffic sources, and products you can promote online. The opportunity to profit online from affiliate marketing is practically endless.
When you are just starting out though, it can seem like a monumental task just making your first sale. In the following section, I’ll give you some insight into how ‘this stuff works’ to help you make sense of it all.
What Is An Affiliate Program?
An affiliate program is a more or less a program that connects a merchant with an affiliate.
As mentioned earlier, this can be a third party company (AKA an affiliate network) or a merchant run affiliate program.
For example, Amazon runs their own affiliate program so it looks like this:
Affiliate => Amazon
Amazon processes the payment and pays the affiliate directly in this case. On the other hand, affiliate networks like ClickBank act as a kind of intermediary:
Affiliate => ClickBank => Merchant
ClickBank processes the customer payment and pays both the vendor and affiliate what they are rightfully owed for each transaction.
In any case, the affiliate is provided with a unique affiliate link which is then used to promote the offer and keep track of all the sales the affiliate makes.
Finding An Awesome Affiliate Program
Finding an affiliate program that suits your niche is pretty straightforward.
If you can’t find something on the major networks like Amazon or ClickBank, there are many alternative affiliate networks to choose from.
One easy way to find one is to ‘Google’ your “niche + affiliate program” which should give you tons of results.
Once you find a program, joining the affiliate program is simple and free in most cases.
Some affiliate programs are harder to join than others though. As in, they require some level of experience or the use of certain marketing methods among other things. But there are many affiliate programs that are super easy to join so don’t stress!
Also worth noting, some affiliate programs are not free. For example, many multi-tier affiliate programs (mlm) require some kind of fee to join and some high ticket programs require you to buy whatever you want to promote.
Types of Affiliate Programs To Consider
Not all affiliate programs are created equal so it’s important to know how they differ.
For example, Amazon sells physical products and pays affiliates up to 10% commissions. On the other hand, ClickBank and JV Zoo sell digital products and pay out 50% or higher commissions.
Physical products often pay lower commissions than digital products and services.
This doesn’t mean one is always better than the other though. It comes down to a number of overall factors. The price of the product itself and whether it’s a one time payment or recurring commission also matters.
Apart from the amount of the commission, there are also different ways you can earn them.
For example, some programs pay a percentage of the actual sale, while others pay just for getting people to take a specific action. Such as signing up to an email list or filling out a form.
You don’t need to know everything to make a solid income online though. To the contrary! The best thing is to focus on ONE method and master it well. Whether it’s promoting Amazon products or subscription programs that pay you recurring commissions.
Find something that works for you and your strategy, and get to work.
Affiliate Marketing Strategies To Bank On
There are many different ways you can go about the process of affiliate marketing.
Rather than go through each individual strategy (and turn this into a novel) I’ll show you four common types of affiliate marketing methods to give you some insight.
This is about building an audience in a given niche by publishing useful and relevant content for free.
The niche you choose can be practically anything as long as there is potential to profit and it meets your income goals. Some niches are obviously more popular and lucrative than others.
How does it work?
If you have a YouTube channel for example, you would create useful video content that people within your niche find helpful. If you have a website, you publish useful content in a similar way, only in written format. Simple.
In either case, your goal is to build your audience and recommend products you know they will find valuable. Done correctly, a percentage of your audience will take action and will purchase products through your affiliate links.
Social Media Marketing
This is about building a social following on an appropriate social platform for your niche. Some affiliates use a Facebook page or group, while others prefer Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
There are many social channels an affiliate can leverage successfully. It comes down to where your audience (niche) is most likely to be spending time and what makes sense.
For example, Instagram is a visual platform so trying to build a following within the ‘home security’ niche might prove difficult. Whereas it’s perfect for the ‘health and wellness’ or ‘personal development’ niches.
Like any method, it’s all about learning, taking action, making mistakes and fine tuning your efforts to get results.
Pay Per Click Advertising
This includes pretty much any form of marketing where you pay for traffic.
Paying for traffic is much more about the sales funnel and tracking conversion rates than it is about building an audience. You can setup a campaign and begin sending traffic to it immediately, so the work is more about the funnel itself.
While potentially very lucrative, beginners can quickly lose money this way so it pays to learn before throwing cash at traffic.
For most affiliate marketing endeavors, building an email list is worthwhile.
The basic idea is to setup a ‘capture page’ that collect emails in return for something of value, like an ebook or video course. You can send people to your capture page from your YouTube channel, website, social media account or straight from ads you run.
The good thing about this is you have the chance to market to those on your email list for years to come, based on a single effort.
You don’t need an email list, but in some cases, you are leaving money on the table not doing so.
The Two Main Traffic Sources You Need To Know
This is where many newbie affiliates come unstuck.
They find an offer and get super excited about how much money they can make. But they have no idea how to generate a steady flow of targeted traffic to the offer, in a profitable way.
Getting the right people in front of the right offer is essential to making money as an affiliate. So this matters a LOT.
Cool. But how do you get traffic? There are two main traffic sources: free and paid.
Free traffic can be just as high-quality traffic source as paid, even higher.
But it takes time to build. Many people give up on this without giving it a good enough chance, but building the right kind of traffic can pay off in spades.
You can do this with a website by ranking content in search engines, a YouTube channel, or by building a social following on sites like Facebook or Instagram. Among many other sources.
This kind of traffic is practically instant, but that doesn’t mean your profits are instant.
Since you are paying for each and every visitor, understanding the entire sales funnel process and having an air-tight tracking system in place becomes far more important. Get this wrong and you will lose a lot of money, very quickly.
Traffic sources such as Facebook ads, Google Adwords, Bing, and YouTube are worth considering. But there are many.
Some affiliates send out promotional emails to other marketers’ email lists, this is called solo ads. I’m not a huge fan of this but it can work.
Which channel you go with really depends on your offer and overall strategy.
How Much Money Can You Make As An Affiliate?
There really is no limit to how much money you can make as an affiliate.
It really depends on how much effort you put in, and how consistent you are. Once you get the process dialed in and you are steaming along nicely, it’s a matter of doing more of what works and less of what sucks.
You can scale by growing your free organic traffic, which means publishing more helpful content. If you use paid traffic, you could increase your ad spend. Not to mention, you can outsource tasks to put your time where it counts most.
Like anything, you shouldn’t expect to begin making piles of cash quickly though.
This is a very common misconception that is made many times worse by internet gurus who lead people to believe they can make money quickly and easily. It’s ridiculous and has caused many to be extremely skeptical of affiliate marketing altogether.
It is true that you can make passive income as an affiliate. Yes, you can go to sleep and wake up to commissions.
I know this first hand because I’ve gone entire weeks doing almost nothing on my business, yet continued to see good profits. In fact, my profits have actually increased during slack times like this! Crazy but true.
But here’s the thing…. it doesn’t start that way!
You need to learn the fundamentals first and develop your skills, before getting to that point. You start out by busting your ass and earning almost nothing. But success builds with consistent effort.
Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing As a Beginner
There are many ways to get started as an affiliate, so it’s worth picking ONE method and rolling with it. Spreading your focus too widely is a sure way to cripple your attempts to get started as an affiliate.
I personally learned how to do affiliate marketing with a website. I followed a proven process and (while it did take time and a lot of effort) I got results that changed my life.
Anyways, here’s the process in a nutshell:
- Choose a niche you are interested in (with profit potential)
- Build a simple website (this is very easy when you go about it correctly)
- Grow your free organic traffic through Google, Yahoo and Bing
- Earn commissions promoting relevant products on your site
You can do affiliate marketing without a website too. But as I explain in my beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing, it’s well worth setting up a website.
You get a chance to learn the skill of affiliate marketing without risking $100’s or even $1,000’s on traffic, and without sacrificing profit potential.
The platform I recommend to learn this method is called Wealthy Affiliate. It’s free to join and it works. Plain and simple.
You absolutely can make money with most good affiliate programs.
You do need to educate yourself, take massive action, and give yourself the time you need to succeed though. Just like with any real business.
There’s no ‘secret’ or special trick to becoming a successful affiliate and making a good income in the process. It’s a matter of learning what works and putting in the effort.