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How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Mason Lindblad

Affiliate Marketing has been around almost as long as online blogs have, as a great way for bloggers to make money and for companies to make more sales. For those looking to make money online, affiliate marketing is an attractive opportunity, but everyone has questions that need to be answered. In this guide, we’ll be covering the basics of affiliate marketing and how it works.

Step 0: Build a Platform

Before even thinking about getting started with affiliate marketing, you need to decide what platform you want to create content for, and what kind of content you’re going to create. You might even want to take the time to grow and build trust with an audience before trying to promote affiliate links. Many affiliate marketers create a blog about a specific topic they know they can write about, such as cryptocurrency, cooking, or cars. It’s important to build an audience that will actually click on your affiliate links. That requires building an audience to start with, and then building enough trust with that audience that they will be willing to click on your links. This takes time, and may be the most difficult part of affiliate marketing.

Step 1: Choose a Product or Service

Before making money, you need to decide what products you want to promote. This is something you will be promoting for a long time, so you need to feel passionately about it, or at least know enough about it to speak authoritatively on the topic. You’ll be writing blogs on this topic and actively recommending it to people. Maybe you already picked one, in Step 0, in which case it should be fairly easy to find programs that fit your website. Consider checking if a product you use often in your daily life has an affiliate program. If you’re not sure yet, you can just move on to the next step…

Step 2: Sign Up for an Affiliate Network

At some point, you will probably sign up for an affiliate network. Many affiliate marketing programs operate through a third-party network so they don’t have to spend any resources on it. The networks handle the payouts and the tracking information, and sometimes provide dedicated affiliate managers to help out affiliate marketers. Even if you don’t have an affiliate program in mind, signing up for a network can be a great idea. You can try out different programs without signing up for a whole new network. The Amazon network may be a great starting point because you can make commission on any product on Amazon. To learn more about this, read our article about how to pick an affiliate marketing network.

Step 3: Share Your Information

You will need to share some personal information with an affiliate network or affiliate program in order to get started and get paid. Beyond your basic contact info, you will also need a tax ID number or social security number (for individuals) for tax and reporting purposes. You may also need to submit your website for approval. Some programs allow anyone in, but some require that your website have a certain traffic level and/or be related to their products in some way (such as a guitar store only wanting affiliates whose websites discuss music or instruments). In turn, you will receive an affiliate link that has tracking features, so that sales can be attributed to you.

Step 4: Start Promoting

Now that you’re all set up with one or more affiliate programs, you can start promoting them on your website! The links and banners provided to you are the key to making money as an affiliate marketer. You can now start recommending products. And you should make sure that your recommendations can be trusted, in a few easy ways. Rather than just slapping up a banner that may or may not relate to your content, you can talk about products and services that have to do with your blog. And you can include them in your blogs, or on a dedicated resources page, rather than throwing up things that look like ads. The more relevant to your readers, the better. You need to create content that is valuable, relevant, and is better than all of the other content about the same topic!

Step 5: Audit for Legal Requirements

As an affiliate marketer, there are several legal things you need to be sure of. First of all, your website needs to contain a disclaimer that explains that you may receive a commission from the affiliate links on your website. Honesty is the best quality here, both for legal reason and just to be a good denizen of the internet. This can be something you include in every post, in the footer of your website, or on a dedicated page. To learn more about this topic, read our article about legal tips for affiliate marketers.

Step 6: Keep on Keeping On

Now that your website is set up and your affiliate links are running (and hopefully getting clicks), you mostly need to continue doing more of the same. Keep writing blogs, keep using affiliate links, and make sure that you’re tracking your results. Every affiliate program provides some sort of tracking data, and it’s important to keep an eye on that data. Compare it to your website traffic to see what kind of conversion rates you’re getting, and find ways to optimize the amount of sales you can refer. It’s a constant game of improving and trying to get better at being an affiliate marketer!

If you followed these steps, you should be well on your way to being a successful affiliate marketer! Growing an audience, creating valuable content, and being your own salesperson are all challenging, but with the potential for a lot of reward. Good luck out there in the wide world of affiliate marketing!