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Affiliate Marketing: What is It and How Do I Do It

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Affiliate marketing is the act of promoting a product, service and/or website with the intention of receiving a commission when your referrals make a purchase or complete any other action (register, sign up for a newsletter, or sometimes just even click on a link) beneficial to the owner of the product or site. Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn additional income without having to give up your primaryvocation. While you may be able to quit your job sometime in the future after having mastered the art of affiliate marketing, it’s probably not something you’re going to want to do right away.

Finding Products or Services

You may be wondering what types of products or services are available for affiliate marketing. The answer is simple: practically everything. Not all websites offer affiliate marketing programs, but there are an abundance of websites in every niche that do. Take some time to think about your passions and what types of products you would like to sell, and go from there.

There are a few ways to find affiliate marketing opportunities. One way is to visit popular sites like CJ.com, Amazon or Clickbank, which already have a long list of products for which you are able to earn commissions. You can also visit various sites in your target niche. If a company offers an affiliate marketing program, there will generally be a link at the bottom of the page entitled, ‘Affiliate Marketing Program,’ or ‘Affiliate Marketers,’ or some relevant variation. You could visit each individual site or do a search for companies in your chosen niche that offer affiliate marketing programs.

Process of Affiliate Marketing

When you sign up for an affiliate marketing program, you are given a unique link that you are able to promote. When your referrals click the link, it will bring them to the website hosting the product you are promoting, and that website’s cookies will track your referrals’ activity. Different affiliate programs offer different pay structures. Some ‘pay out only at certain thresholds and some pay monthly or semi-monthly – regardless of balance. When you join the affiliate marketing program, you will provide your bank account or PayPal information so the money you earned can be deposited into your account when it’s time.

Affiliate Marketing Basic Tools

Ideally, as an affiliate marketer, you should at least have a blog. A blog is a great way to generate content online and build a list of readers who trust you and enjoy what you have to say. On your blog, you will have the opportunityto showcase the product(s) you’re promoting, and there are a variety of ways to do it. You can create banners on your blog or you can mention your product specifically in a blog and insert your link by hyper-linking one or more keywords.

A website isn’t a bad idea, but it’s way more involved than a blog and may take more of your time and resources than you have available or want to invest. It may be something that you want to consider later once you start generating revenue.

Another reason why a website may not be the best idea, in the beginning, is because you probably don’t have any traffic or faithful readers yet. One of the biggest mistakes that fledgling affiliate marketers make is starting to refer products right away. That can’t be your goal in the beginning. When you first start your blog, your goal is simply to provide relevant and accurate information that’s easy to read and has a tone that will appeal to your target audience.

Once your blog startsto generate traffic and you’ve developed a reader base, it will be time to start listing products. People tend to feel more at ease if they feel like they’re being offered the information they need without an agenda, so if they were satisfied with your information on their first visit, it’s very possible they will return to your blog in the future.

Write with SEO in Mind and Keep Your Blog Active

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it refers to the way your blog or website looks to search engines the way your blog or website looks to search engines. Choose only one or two primary keywords for each post and include some LSI keywords and keyword strings, as well. LSI standsfor List Service Index, and they are keywords and keyword strings that are relevant to your product or niche and support your primary keyword(s). Make sure your primary keyword is in the first sentence, the last sentence, and at least a couple times throughout the body of your blog.

Search engines will also be looking for regularly updated content, so make sure to post consistently. You may also consider linking to other sitesthat have a lot of readers. When your blog is linked to existing content that is already indexed in search engines, your online relevance increases and your odds of being found through organic searches increase right along with it.

Promoting Your Blog

Having a blog is only the first step. If nobody knows it exists, you won’t ever be able to refer anything to anybody, so you will need to take consistent steps to promote your blog.

There are a lot of marketing techniques available online, and perhaps the best marketing venues can be found in social media. It’s also a great habit to read blogs that are relevant or complementary to your niche and leave comments (preferably with a link back to your own blog, if possible). This habit has three benefits: Building a professional network with other bloggers, building backlinks to your blog on the web, and showcasing your knowledge on various topics so prospective readers are interested in hearing more of what you have to say.

Keep Your Expectations Realistic

This is probably the most important rule to affiliate marketing – especially for beginners. It’s easy to give up if you’re expecting too much in the early days of your affiliate marketing career. Give yourself some time to build a reader base, and take some time each day to get educated on small, productive steps you can take to boost your presence online.

There are never any guarantees with affiliate marketing, but one thing is for certain: If you don’t do anything at all, you definitely won’t get anywhere. You may not get 100 readers overnight or even in a week or month, but if you stay consistent and remain open and willing to learn more each day, it’s quite possible that you will find success.

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