Affiliate programs have proven to be a consistent way to make money online for many marketers. Those that are successful have the knowledge and experience that beginners lack. This is not to say the affiliate marketing beginners cannot make money as well but they have a learning curve that slows down their money-making abilities.
It is easy for beginners to learn bad habits when it comes to affiliate marketing. There is plenty of advice and instructions online but not all of it is ethical or effective. We have identified the following tips that beginners can use to jumpstart their affiliate marketing experience and quickly reap the rewards.
Tip #1: Educate Yourself on Affiliate Marketing
Really – stop what you are doing and learn everything you can about affiliate marketing. What should you expect? What are the potential obstacles to success? Any pitfalls you should be aware of? Make sure you fully understand what affiliate marketing is and what it is not. You do not get paid simply for advertising the affiliate – you get paid when someone buys through you. Do you know how to track your leads? Simply adding an affiliate ad to your website may get you a few hits a month which may or may not result in revenue. It certainly will not become a major money producer for you.
Tip #2: Understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Quality traffic to your site is absolutely essential to your affiliate marketing plan. There are two primary ways to get that traffic – organically or by paying for it. The majority of traffic is organic and comes from search engines. You can increase the amount of traffic you get by using SEO and SEM tactics. One of the reasons you need to understand SEO is because search engines routinely change their algorithms which are used to generate search results. A site that is dedicated solely to affiliate marketing and has little original content can be penalized by search engines. This means your website may not be included on search engine results pages (SERPs). It is best to understand SEO and SEM before launching an affiliate marketing plan.
Tip #3: Be Very Selective in What You Market
This is where lots of beginners get into trouble. You make the mistake of assuming the product that has the highest commission is the best one to market. This is flawed logic for several reasons. If nobody buys the product, the high commission is of little value. And if the market is already saturated with affiliate marketers for that product, it will be difficult to get a market share. Competition is fierce online. You should select a product that interests you and complements your primary business if you are adding it to your existing website. Look for products that have high conversion rates – these usually range between 3% and 5%. Determine the demand for the product. And examine the affiliate tools and supports offered by the affiliate to assist you.
Tip #4: Identify Target Audience
Who buys your product? Having a clear sense of your target market will save you a lot of time and money. If your product is primarily bought by women, advertising on publisher sites that target men is a waste of effort. You need to be able to attract quality traffic who will actually buy what you are promoting. Without this traffic, you are just another website. If you are adding affiliate marketing to your current business, hopefully you have identified a product that your current customers will want to buy.
Tip #5: Conduct Keyword Research and Analysis
Any time you plan to market online, you need to consider the best keywords for your approach. This has to do with SEO. Keywords are how users are going to find your site. You should know about keyword research if you followed Tip #2. The keywords you use should be those that will drive your target audience to your site. There are many tools you can use to find the best keywords for your affiliate marketing strategy. One of the most common is Google AdWords keyword tool. Be sure to consider all keywords including long tail keywords. Develop and prioritize your keyword list and then test then to see which perform better for you.
Tip #6: Create Quality Content
Another critical aspect of SEO is having fresh content that promotes your affiliate product. In addition to your website content, you can write marketing articles, or create instructional videos. Remember that search engine users are looking for information. So give them what they want. Develop an inventory of content that uses your identified keywords. All content must be unique. Duplicate content can hurt your efforts of attracting traffic because search engines rank sites that have duplicate content lower on SERPs. You should provide new content on a regular basis so you can create more backlinks and get ranked higher. One of the best ways to do this is to include a blog on your website. Blog articles will be included on SERPs and your readers can share postings through social media.
Tip #7: Use Your Website and Other Resources
Another great tip for beginners is that you don’t have to rely solely on your own website. There are several ways you can promote your affiliate product. Since you are not actually selling anything yourself, you do not technically need a website. You can include your affiliate product link in marketing articles, blog posts, and forum postings. And don’t forget your social media posts. Of course having your own website is best but you certainly don’t need to do all your promoting there – spread the wealth around by using these other opportunities as well. You may even find that one is particularly successful over the others.
Tip #8: Establish Measurable Goals
As with any type of online marketing, you need to set goals so you can achieve your desired outcomes. A hit or miss marketing plan will not be productive and you could lose money. It is always a good idea to create long-term and short-term goals. Goals should be measurable otherwise you won’t know if you have effectively met them or not. And goals are the foundation of your monitoring system which you should use to make changes as needed to any aspect of your affiliate marketing plan.
Tip #9: Consistent Daily Action is a Must
Affiliate marketing is not really passive income. It requires daily action – typically the same action each and every day. Establish a routine that you can stick to – try to begin your day at the same time. Many affiliate marketers work at home and this can create a relaxed atmosphere that interferes with the job. When you begin your day, identify the goal you plan to work on. Your daily actions should focus on moving your business forward. If you are spending most of your time on non-essentials, you will soon find yourself struggling.
Tip #10: Develop Good Time Management Skills
This goes hand in hand with the previous tip. Time management requires you to detail your daily tasks so you actually complete what needs to get done each and every day. Finish those first before you focus on new tasks. This includes responding to emails – save those for later in the day since it can take hours to get through them all. Don’t waste your time looking for new products or affiliate tools. Set aside a specific time every week to address those activities. And stick to your schedule!
Tip #11: Decide What Needs to Be Outsourced
There simply is not enough time in the day to do everything yourself. Review your marketing tasks and see what you can outsource. It is not uncommon for affiliate marketers to allocate up to 50% of their affiliate income on outsourcing activities. By doing this, you can increase your affiliate revenue and take on additional affiliate marketing programs. You may need to hire people to manage your growing affiliate campaigns or you can outsource those functions as well. Be careful who you outsource to – you want a reputable company who can assist with all aspects of affiliate marketing.
Tip #12: Create Ongoing Learning Schedule
Affiliate marketing requires continuous learning if you want to be competitive. It is not a one shot process. Subscribe to alerts from affiliate marketing experts to learn best practices as well as new approaches that others are having success with. Watch videos and read whitepapers on the subject. Participate in social network groups that focus on affiliate marketing. Check out Google+ Hangouts that provide ongoing learning experiences. Take what you learn and apply it to your own marketing strategy to improve outcomes. Expanding your knowledge basis can only benefit you if you put what you learn to good use.
Don’t be one of the affiliate marketers that fail because you didn’t do your homework. If affiliate marketing was simple or guaranteed, everyone would be doing it. It takes knowledge and commitment to make it work. If you are serious about this as a revenue generator, be willing to put the time in to become an expert affiliate marketer.