What is Affiliate Marketing and How to Get Started?

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online. It’s an easy and low-cost way to promote products you love and get paid for doing it. You don’t need any previous experience or special skills and, best of all, no inventory to manage.

The entire idea is pretty simple. You earn commissions by promoting other people’s products or services. Usually, this is done through your blog, website, or social media platforms.

There are plenty of free tools out there that will help you get started with affiliate marketing without having to spend anything upfront. You can also utilize automation, security, and online business management tools like we have at OPMC.

Let’s get into the details, so you have a better understanding of the entire process.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a unique form of online marketing that allows you to make money by promoting other people’s products or services. In other words, you become an affiliate and promote someone else’s offering in exchange for a cut (referral) from every sale you make.

For example, if you have a flyfishing business and earn 5% of the sales price from any product you promote. When someone purchases a flyfishing product from your recent blog post or social media post, they click on a custom link you were given by the company you are promoting. That link tracks your specific account and any purchases made through your promotional activities.

Are there Different Types of Affiliate Marketers?

Affiliate marketing can be broken down into two distinct categories. The first type of affiliate marketer focuses on a specific niche and promotes products in that niche. 

For example, someone who has experience with cooking would focus their efforts on promoting cooking-related products like cookbooks or kitchen gadgets.

The second type of affiliate marketer promotes a wide range of different products across many various industries and niches. You may have seen these types of affiliate marketers before. They usually advertise their websites as “resource pages” for consumers who are looking for information about what to buy next. 

A common example would be ConsumerSearch, which offers unbiased reviews and product comparisons across hundreds of different categories such as computers, cell phones, and more.

How to Get Started?

Step 1: Pick Your Niche and Platform

First off, you’ll want to choose a niche and platform. It’s crucial to pick one that aligns with your interests and goals.

  • Niches: Consider any topic that interests you—especially where there are already large audiences looking for information about it online (e.g., cooking). If you don’t know where to start, try searching for keywords related to the topic on Google Trends or Wikipedia’s “most viewed articles” list. Or if there are specific questions people ask related to a niche topic (for example: “How do I start my own blog?”), then consider those queries as well when selecting one from among these suggestions.
  • Platforms: Many options are available depending on how much time/money/skill set is required before launching your site(s). Some examples include hosting a blog on Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and WordPress.

Step 2: Find Your Affiliate Products to Promote

Now that you know the basics of affiliate marketing, it’s time to choose your products. Another website with a similar audience with high conversion rates is the best place to look for ideas. For example, if your readers are interested in travel and adventure, a company selling travel gear like luggage or backpacks would be an ideal fit for promotion.

You can also search for products by looking at data from sites like Amazon and eBay and seeing which ones get the most views and sales. If there’s something that interests them but doesn’t get many views or sales on these sites, then it may not be worth doing an affiliate marketing campaign around.

Most of the energy you’ll put into your affiliate business will be around researching and uncovering new ideas and products to promote.

Step 3: Define the Audience You’ll Be Targeting

Once you’ve chosen your niche, it’s time to figure out who will be buying from you.

To find your target audience, use Google Analytics and social media to get a good sense of who’s visiting your website. You can also check out Alexa Rank for more information about what kinds of people are visiting your site.

You should also create an audience persona: an imaginary representation of the typical customer based on their demographics and interests, behaviour, location, language(s) spoken, as well as other details like job type/title or industry division. This will help shape all aspects of your affiliate marketing strategy.

Step 4: Choose an Affiliate Program

Now that you have your audience and a website, it’s time to choose an affiliate program. There are many different types of affiliate programs available. Some run on a CPA (cost per acquisition) basis, others pay on a CPC (cost per click) basis, and some pay based on sales and referrals.

The most important thing when choosing an affiliate program is finding one that is relevant to your audience and easy to integrate into your content. Most bloggers will only want to work with reputable programs with good customer support.

Step 5: Build Your Sales Funnel

A “sales funnel” is a metaphor used in the marketing world to describe the process of converting potential customers who are unaware of your product or service into paying clients. 

The idea is to create an organized system for converting new visitors into leads and then turning those leads into buyers by having steps of contact they slide through with your online presence.

Most sales funnels start by:

  1. Client sees targeted social media ads.
  2. Client clicks on the ad, sending them to a landing page offering a promotional free item.
  3. They either log their email or click on the affiliate link to purchase/learn more.
  4. Use an email marketing strategy to engage with the client in the future.
  5. Adjust the sales funnel based on client feedback.

Step 6: Automate

Once you have a good idea of how to scale your business, you should consider automating it.

This is an area where we at OPMC excel. We have a wide range of custom plugins, extensions, and apps that work with the major ecommerce platforms. These improve your operations by streamlining and automating critical tasks so you can focus your efforts on content creation and research.

These tools allow you to set up automated tasks so that when a lead arrives at the checkout page on your website, they’re automatically signed up for an email list. Or when a new sale is made through Facebook Ads or Pinterest Pins, an automatic follow-up sequence is sent out to maximize conversions and sales.

Step 7: Market, Rinse, and Repeat

Marketing is a continuous process, not a one-time thing. It’s important to understand that marketing isn’t just about promotion—it’s about building relationships with your audience and building trust. 

If you want to see success in the long run, you need to be active on social media and other platforms where people can find you. You should start engaging with them through comments or questions, so they know that there is someone behind the brand who cares about what they think.

Get Started Right Now

There’s no doubt that affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online, but it requires dedication and patience. You will succeed in this venture if you are willing to put in the work and learn as you go. It may take a little time, but the opportunities are only limited by your imagination and dedication to research.

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