Affiliate marketing….probably the first make money online model that everyone encounters on their quest to earn big money from home in their pajamas!
Most articles you read and videos you watch on affiliate marketing will say “It’s oh so easy – just place an affiliate link here and here, and someone will buy…”
“Any newbie can be an Amazon or Clickbank affiliate in no time and your computer will start spitting out money.”
Yeah that’s right. It’s so easy…
No its not.
If all this resonates with you, then you are familiar with the lies these morons preaching the “Laptop Lifestyle” have lead us to believe.
If you take their advice, at best you’re going to make is 20 bucks.
In fact, the only money these guys are making, is from selling you this crumby information.
Saying all this, I actually believe that affiliate marketing is the best model for those starting out. It’s also the same model I’m using 9 years after I first heard about it from these morons. – and boy, did I lose a lot of money and time listening to them. I’m lucky I’ve still got all my hair after the frustration I went through.
In this blog post I’m going to show you exactly what affiliate marketing is, how it works, why I think it’s the best way to make money online especially if you’re a beginner, and where I recommend you start out.
But first. Let’s start right at the beginning and understand why we need affiliate marketers and what their job is.
Maybe you’ve been in a situation like this?
“I need a new TV. It needs to have this, this and this. Be compatible with that, that and that…and be huge enough to be impress my friends”
“I’m going to Honolulu next vacation and I need to stay at a 5 star hotel at the best price, with these, these and these facilitates, and have this, this and this in the hotel complex”
You haven’t got time to research every TV or hotel on the internet so what do you do?
You head over to Google and read reviews and watch YouTube videos. Reviews produced by affiliates
The affiliate marketer’s job is to link a customer to a product in order to receive a commission – Whether it’s a Hawaiian holiday, the latest television or an eBook showing you “How to make Potato Guns” or “How to grow Runner Beans into amusing shapes to impress your friends”
An affiliate marketer should be totally ethical and should not to be in the game to only recommend the most expensive products so they receive the largest commissions.
That’s basically it.
Sounds like something that might interest you? Then read on to learn how it all hangs to together.
Sorry I made the bit up about the Runner Beans, probably because I’ve been bingeing on Monty Python in the last few weeks..
Anyway, let’s carry on.
Affiliate marketing is all around us …
Practically any consumer object you can think of can be sold as an affiliate.
What about all those commercials on television offering to compare the best mortgage deals for us so they get a nice juicy commission if we click and take out a mortgage?
And all those online companies that offer to find us the best hotel in Honolulu.
So how does a company know who the affiliate is who sent their customer?
This is done by means of an affiliate link. Every company who has an affiliate program has an ability to generate an affiliate link that uniquely identifies its affiliates.
Some companies exist like shareasale.com who provide the affiliate program for small companies who don’t have the resources to manage their own affiliate programs.
So how do you get an affiliate link?
Some companies that have affiliate programs are very strict about who they take as their affiliates. This is because they don’t want their brand tarnished in anyway by shady sales tactics. Therefore you might find yourself being asked questions like: –
What is your primary traffic generating channel?
How much money have you made in sales in the last 12 months?
Do you have a website or blog?
Other companies, just require you to create an account and you’re off the races.
Once your account has been created and you are signed in, it’s a simple process to obtain a link for a product that is coded to you. You can then embed this link into your advertising.
A have an example of this later.
Cookies, obviously not the chocolate variety, are little pieces of code which are dropped onto your computer whenever you visit a website which uses them.
How can you see your cookies? They are retained by your browser and look something like this.
As you can see, on my browser I have a few Amazon cookies because I just did some shopping on Amazon.
Cookie lifetime answers the question regarding who gets the commission if a customer clicks on links from multiple affiliate before they finally purchase.
The cookie lifetime depends on the company. Some companies have a very short cookie lifetime. Amazon’s is only 24 hours. Other companies code their affiliates for 3 days, other months, and some for life.
For example if someone clicked on my link to buy a camera through Amazon, and then clicked on your link 6 hours later and purchased, I would get the sale. If they had clicked on your link more than 24 hours later, then you would get the sale.
I’m a member of some high ticket affiliate companies where if someone purchase through my link, everything they buy forever more will earn me a commission. More on those later.
Before we move on I just want to touch on cookie tracking.
If you’ve ever visited a website to look for a new pair of sunglasses for example and you wonder why an advert for their company seems to be following you around the internet, it’s because of cookie tracking. It’s incredibly effective because it gives the ability for advertisers to try and sell to people who they know are interested in the product.
Example time – Finally!
The Amazon Affiliate Program
Amazon is a great place for newbie affiliate marketers because everyone has heard of them. This is exactly why those lovely Laptop Lifestyle folks like to give Amazon as an example to newbies.
Amazon have massive brand awareness. So if you sent someone to Amazon.com to buy your camera, they would feel very safe making a purchase.
Amazon of course knows this and they are so big they don’t have to care about us affiliates. Which brings both advantages and a disadvantages to us.
- Massive brand awareness. Customers feel safe purchasing through Amazon.
- If someone purchases using your affiliate link to buy a camera, you will also receive a commission for anything else they buy for up to 24 hours.
- It’s free to join.
- Cookie lifetime. 24 hours is very short. This makes is very likely if a potential customer goes through your link and delays their purchase for a few days.
- Affiliate commissions are very low 3-5%
With this being said I highly recommend the Amazon affiliate program (known as Amazon Associates).
I am a member. It doesn’t make me much money, but I use it recommend books to my readers.
The Amazon blog review model
Many affiliates including me go the route of writing articles to rank in Google. You can use this model for most affiliate programs online
Let’s break this model down.
Recently I bought my new Dell Latitude Laptop. I purchased it because my old laptop was taking forever to render my videos
First I jumped onto Google and typed in dell latitude 7480 review
These guys came up as the first result
As you can see, this site specializes in reviewing laptops.
As you can also see by the number of reads I’ve highlighted, these guys get a lot of eyeballs on their site. If you go to the site you can see that they promote Amazon products.
Let’s now assume we are interested in promoting laptops.
To be successful, we are going to have to take these guys head on.
Ranking in Google is a battle. So if we are going to take this website on, we need to assess its strength.
First impressions tell us it’s very strong. There are lots of views and lots of people interacting, judging by the quantity of comments. Google loves to see lots of commenting going on, and they will reward you handsomely if your blog gets a lot of comments.
So let’s now see how big notebookreview.com is and take a look at the content which has propelled them to the top of the rankings.
We have some weapons we can use.
Most websites built on the WordPress platform have what is called a sitemap. This is an xml file that tracks all the pages and posts written, and almost invites the Google Bot to crawl over the blog and index it. When a site is indexed by Google it means it will add the blog post to its huge database, and thus make it searchable to you and me.
This very sitemap file gives us the means to snoop on the website and to ascertain if it’s a site we want to go to war with.
Let’s take a look now http://www.notebookreview.com/sitemap.xml
Is it worth reverse engineering and taking this site into battle?
Well …clicking the link above reveals a ton of posts written over years. So you will have a major long term battle on your hands if you want to beat these guys!
There are other factors with how well a blog post ranks which are out of scope of this article such as Page Rank and Backlinks.
You should not even think of taking this site on…
The Amazon Video Marketing model
If you hate writing then this might be the affiliate marketing model for you.
Let’s take my example of my Dell Notebook again and head to YouTube.
Take this guy. He does video reviews of notebooks. He covers all the technical details, the advantage and disadvantages and finally invites you to click through his Amazon like to find out more
Let me now introduce you to the Hosting niche …
Hosting is something I’m really into it. It is a huge market, and its open to those of us that don’t want to do techie reviews, but would rather use our own interests.
Stick with me here.
So how the heck can we use this model to work for us?
What you need to do is flip this model over and instead of thinking about what you can sell on Amazon or elsewhere, think about what makes you passionate and go from there. Then I will show you some sites that have used this approach to sell one of my favourite affiliate products – web hosting.
The theory is that if you love bee keeping, you are going to be far more interested in blogging about bee keeping than notebooks and then you’ll build a blog, a community and encourage them buy your products including books from Amazon and encourage them to build their own blog, for which you get a nice juicy hosting commission.
Web hosting is only going to get bigger and bigger as the internet grows. Every new company that starts will need a website, and millions of people will want their own website.
Here are some examples of people who have taken their interest and used it to sell hosting, and lucky for us, they tell us how much money they make per month.
Food was the passion for these guys, but they don’t make most of their money selling recipes. They make a ton of money from hosting commissions. They inspire other foodies to set up their own food blogs
This blog is about budgeting and stretching people’s money. But how do they make their money – hosting.
Smartpassiveincome.com – Pat Flynn who runs this blog teaches affiliate marketing. Again he makes most of his money from promoting Bluehost.
So If you are passionate about Bee Keeping or Lego, or keeping chickens, this model can work for you very successfully.
This is the future for my business and its what I encourage you to do to. As i write, this YouTube video is 4 weeks old and he has 145,906 views.
If 1% of the people who view this video purchased then he would make a cool $80K. Not bad. And this video is going to be around a long time.
There is a way to improve of on this 1% to turn it into 5%. And that is by creating a mailing list and encouraging your viewers to join it.
But that’s a subject for another article.