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Affiliate Marketing in 2021: How to Find High-Paying Programs and Start Your Affiliate Business
Smart ecommerce entrepreneurs running a thriving business know there’s always more they can do to make that business grow. One way of taking things to the next level is by finding an alternate stream of income.
That doesn’t mean starting a second business, but finding ways to complement and grow the business you have by offering more value to your customers and followers.
If you aren’t participating in affiliate marketing, it’s time to consider taking advantage of this lucrative revenue stream.
This complete guide will walk you through how to start an affiliate marketing business, with online marketing tips and tricks to grow.
Find your first affiliate program 🎯
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing involves earning a commission by promoting a product or service made by another retailer or advertiser. It is a monetization model where an affiliate partner, which is you, is rewarded a payout for providing a specific result to the retailer or advertiser.
Typically, the result is a sale. But some programs can reward you for leads, free-trial users, clicks to a website, or getting downloads for an app.
Affiliate programs are usually free to join, so you don’t have to worry about high startup costs. Done well, this performance-based opportunity can go from side hustle to profitable online business idea by netting you a healthy income.
Is affiliate marketing worth it?
There’s no doubt affiliate marketing is worth it, given its growth in popularity. Statista estimates the affiliate marketing industry will reach $8.2 billion by 2022, up from $5.4 billion in 2017. It’s also a low- to no-cost business venture you can profit from immensely.
While industry growth is a good indication of success, entrepreneurs also take this referral marketing route for a few other reasons.
It’s easy to execute
Your side of the equation simply involves handling the digital marketing side of building and selling a product. You don’t have to worry about the harder tasks, like developing, supporting, or fulfilling the offer.
It’s low risk
Since there’s no cost to join affiliate programs, you can start making money with an established affiliate product or service without any upfront investment. Affiliate marketing also can generate relatively passive income through commission—the ideal money-making scenario. Though initially you’ll have to invest time creating traffic sources, your affiliate links can continue to deliver a steady paycheck.
It’s easy to scale
Successful affiliate marketing offers the potential to significantly scale your earnings without hiring extra help. You can introduce new products to your current audience and build campaigns for additional products while your existing work continues to generate revenue in the background.
Before you get too excited, know that great affiliate marketing is built on trust. While seemingly there are an endless number of products or services to promote, it’s best to only highlight those you personally use or would recommend. Even when a product interests you or fits within an existing hobby, becoming a great marketer for that product takes a lot of work.
How affiliate marketing works
Affiliate marketing involves referring a product or service by sharing it on a blog, social media platform, podcast, or website. The affiliate earns a commission each time someone makes a purchase through the unique link associated with their recommendation.
- You show an ad or a link for Store Z on your website, blog, or social network.
- A customer clicks your unique link.
- The customer makes a purchase in Store Z.
- The affiliate network records the transaction.
- The purchase is confirmed by Store Z.
- You get paid a commission.
Commission rates vary depending on the company and the offer. On the low end, you’ll earn about 5% of the sale but, with some arrangements, you can earn as much as 50%, usually when promoting a class or event. There are also affiliate marketing programs that provide a flat rate per sale instead of a percentage.
How to start affiliate marketing
Not too difficult, right? Just like running your own small business, becoming a successful affiliate takes dedication and discipline. Use the following step-by-step guide to start your affiliate marketing business.
Pick your platform and method
The first step is figuring out the platform you want to build your audience around. Every affiliate marketer has a different approach and platform. There are many affiliate marketing ideas you can choose from based on different methods:
- Niche topic and review sites. These are sites that review products for a specific audience or compare a line of products against their competitors. This method requires you to create content related to the review space and post regularly to draw in an audience.
- Digital content. Digital content creators include bloggers, YouTubers, or social media influencers. They create niche content that resonates with a target audience. The goal is to organically introduce niche products their audience will enjoy. This increases the chances they’ll buy and you’ll earn an affiliate commission.
- Courses, events, workshops. If you’re an educator, you can integrate affiliate partnership offers into your events.
No matter which route you take, authenticity and audience building are the two most crucial elements for affiliate marketing.
If you cannot authentically connect with your audience, chances are you won’t have success in converting them into affiliate sales.