This affiliate marketing guide comes from both my experiences as a
publisher as well as working with an advertiser, hopefully giving you a
glimpse of both sides of the coin so that you can better understand
what you're getting into.
In my experience, this way of making money can be either one of the most
disappointing or rewarding of your online endeavors. My hope is that
this guide will show you how to avoid the first and achieve the second.
My first experience with affiliate marketing was
way back in 2000 when I set up a website for my online role
playing game based on the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. [yes,
I know I'm a geek] I
learned a lot from that experience, not the least of which was that I'm
a horrible game coordinator. At the time, my biggest learning curve was
working with HTML, because affiliate programs were still in their
infancy and it was up to you to create the right link using your
affiliate code. The only affiliate marketing guide I used then was geared towards how to create these hop links.
That first site ran an Amazon.com affiliate
program, of course, selling the books which the game was based on. I
read their entire affiliate marketing guide and implemention
was very hopeful that this would make me some money. However, I never
made a penny. It was then that I began to realize the secret of
affiliate marketing, which I would only fully understand when I saw the
numbers for affiliate programs from the advertiser's side nine years
What I eventually discovered is the key of this affiliate
marketing guide - the way to make money is to have a site which has a large volume
of traffic every month and which is pre-sold by you before clicking on any links.
Why an Affiliate Marketing Guide?
programs are a popular way for online companies and websites to
targeted advertising monies by having niche publishers do their
advertising for them. In exchange, they pay these publishers a
percentage of all the sales that the publisher generates. This tracking
is done by way of an 'affiliate code' which is placed in the URL that
links from the content to the products. However, just placing the code
isn't enough - this affiliate marketing guide will attempt to show you
how to change passive visitors and clickers into active purchasers.
Affiliate marketing guide terminology:
these are the companies who sell products or provide services which
they pay their affiliates to promote.
people who sign up as affiliates with companies and put the links in
- whatever is published online that contains the affiliate code. This
can be as small as a Tweet or as large as a website. Emails and
newsletters are also good mediums.
Hop Link -
Also called an 'affiliate link,' this is the URL
for the web address which contains your unique "affiliate code." Hop
links usually refer to links which store a cookie on the customer's
computer before redirecting them to the original URL. Using a hop link
is great for the publisher because they get a boost in the search
engines from you linking to them in this way.
code which is tracked by the Advertiser to identify which publisher
brought in the customer so that that advertiser can be paid for their
work. In most basic affiliate programs, affiliates simply add their
code to the end of a URL to create a trackable link to the product.
Each program, however, has links created in a unique way so you should
make sure to follow your program's guidelines.
a small piece of identifying information that is temporarily stored
on the customer's computer the first time they access a site through
your affiliate link. This 'tags' them as your customer for a period of
time, because not everyone purchases the first time they come to a
site. Affiliate programs will identify in their terms and conditions
how long they track a cookie for, common times are between 30 and 90
Getting Started -
the affiliate marketing
guide for Beginners
marketing requires a stable, high-volume traffic source to make any
money. Therefore, it's not a great way to get started
making money online - the
delay between starting and actually seeing income is enough to
discourage most folks. However, it can be a long-term cash cow that
will send you money for years to come. If you do it right. So read and
follow this affiliate marketing guide and don't expect overnight
That said, here's how to get
started - my step-by-step introductory affiliate marketing guide :
Step One: Get traffic
first step is vastly different from any other affiliate marketing guide I've
ever read. Yet, it's undeniably the most important step. Without
traffic, you'll never make a penny.
Facebook, MySpace, and other Social Media outlets.
Step Two: Find Products
Once you've got
some good traffic going, you'll probably already have an idea of what
types products your audience might need and want. Now all you need to
do is find the specific product you're going to promote and where
you're going to promote it for.
Create a list of all
the types of products that your customers might be interested in. Then,
for each product on that list, find an online source for it. Amazon.com
is a popular place, however their commissions rates aren't that high, so make
sure to check all your options.
Step Three - Affiliate Marketing guide to deciding on the Program for you
you've looked around at all the options out there, you've got to decide
which programs you want to participate in. And yes, you should probably
be a member of multiple affiliate programs. Here are 5 questions to ask
yourself when choosing an affiliate program:
What is the commission rate? Obviously here, higher is
they do their part to 'close' the sale of the product? Does their site make you want to buy the product? Once
your customers click your link, you want to make sure that they're
going to have a good experience.
How long do they track cookies? If
it's an industry with popular repeat business, you'll want cookies that
track the longer the better - forever is highly unusual, but 90 days is
a great time span while 30 is a bit short.
What kind of affiliate center do
they have? Most good affiliate programs will have extensive affiliate
centers where they'll have tools for creating links, an affiliate marketing guide to setup, banners and
promotional text, etc.
Do they have someone to help you? Larger companies
with good affiliate programs will almost always have someone you can
call, email or instant message if you're having problems, if you code
isn't working, if you didn't get your check, etc. This person is your
Affiliate Rep, and will be a valuable resource for you. They
frequently get paid based on how well you do, so they'll help you find
good products to promote, get your stuff up and running and make sure
everything in hunky-dorey.
Bonus Questions - find out how often and
how you'll get paid as well as what the minimum pay-out is. $100 minimum payout by check is standard.
Step Four - Get approved
to participate in the program
you've done step #1 well, and you've got some good traffic, then they
should be banging down your doors to get you into their program. While
it's not impossible to get into programs without established traffic,
it's harder and a waste of your (and the advertiser's) time.
applying - check your Alexa and Google stats and make sure they appear to
be accurate. Know what keywords you're showing up for in Google, how
people are finding you and why you'll be able to sell them on products.
Apply - fill out the application and include as much information as you can about
your site. If you get an email back from the company asking for more
information, respond immediately. Call them directly if it's faster and
during business hours.
Get approved. Each program will notify
you differently, sometimes instantaneously and sometimes taking up to a
week to get back to you. Once you're approved you're good to go!
Step Five - Promote
finally there - the cash cow is in sight! It all comes down to this
final moment (actually ongoing expanse of time) when you promote the
products you've decided to affiliate with. Heres a few affiliate marketing guide tips to creating success:
Do: Promote products
that will pay you well and which will help your visitors, products that
you would or you do use yourself.
Promote things unrelated to your visitor's interests and
needs just to
make a buck. You'll be seen as a sell-out schmuck and loose traffic
faster than water through a sieve.
Integrate your recommendations for products naturally with the rest of
ever sacrifice high-value content for the chance to make a buck from an
products as a way to add value or functionality to the things people
are already getting from your website.
that throwing up a link or two will make you thousands of dollars -
you've got to add something.
Step Six - Collect the
You've made money! Now all you need to
do get that money out of the hands of your affiliate program and into
your bank account. This can be easier said than done, unfortunately.
of all, make sure you know when your affiliate program will pay out.
I've seen and heard too many small affiliates calling at the
end of every
month trying to get a pay out below the minimum threshold. If you need
that $98 to make rent this month, don't count on being able to talk
your advertiser's affiliate program into sending it to you below the
From the advertiser's point of view, this is a pain
in the butt and not worth the money you're making them. But that's not the main reason. The vast
majority of the time, even if your publisher wants to send
you the money, they can't.
Most affiliate programs work using
an automated tracking, reporting and pay-out system that's integrated
with all aspects of the advertiser's business. They literally cannot go
in and manually cut you a check. Why? Because, frankly, you DON'T want them to be
able to tamper with these things. Think about it, do you want them to
be able to change the tracking manually? No, you want that sucker to be
Once you've met the publisher's minimum payout, you can
also set your own minimum payout or frequency most times. How you do
this is up to you, but here's a few things to remember:
your pay-out to the minimum amount might mean that you have a lot of
your pay-out to a revolving date (monthly, weekly, etc) can also have
pros and cons as well. If you've set it to monthly, you better believe that
your advertiser is making the interest on your $15,000 payout (hey, it
happens) from the 1st until they cut the check on the 30th (or whenever
your period ends).
If you're getting pay-outs on a daily or weekly
basis, you're going to have to check the mail frequently and plan on
lots of trips to the bank. However, if you're dealing with automatic
deposits, then this isn't such a big issue.
You may not be able
to choose some of these things. It's frequent that you'll get a monthly
payout automatically, but only if you meet a certain minimum by a
certain date. There may be no way to change this - so check into it and
plan to do big pushes right before your cut-off date if you need to
push over that minimum threshold.
Finally, you need to make sure
you know how you're getting paid. Some affiliate programs charge for
cutting and mailing checks, especially if they're below a certain
threshold. Other affiliate programs won't do direct deposit, transfer
or PayPal unless you're a large producer who needs pay-outs frequently.
Seven - Be the Golden Goose Here's a secret that I've never seen found in an Affiliate Marketing Guide: Online businesses frequently make up to and
over 50% of their income from affiliate programs. These earnings are in
turn generated mostly by a top 1-10% of their affiliates.
in this range can make 5-6 figures monthly from their sales. You want
to be in this bracket.
Why? Because when your percent of each
sale (usually 10-25%) is netting you $10,000+ per month, you can be sure
that you're making that company at least 4 times that.
You're the Goose
that lays the golden eggs.
Just like the story, they'll do
whatever it takes to keep you from the giants. When you're a top producer, you'll be
able to negotiate a higher percentage of each sale, payouts on your
terms and in your way, cookies that last longer, help with your
advertising, optimizing or website creation, and any variety of other
You can't negotiate these things when you're making less
than 5 figures a month with most companies. It's just not worth their
manpower. Some really big companies will need to see you in the 6-7
figure range before you'll be this valuable to them. The key, though,
is to be the Golden Goose.
How to actually make money
Affiliate Marketing Guide
2.0 - Online Sales
Now that you've gotten the basics down of affiliate marketing, here's the affiliate marketing guide to making GOOD money:
the intro affiliate marketing guide, I stressed how
important it is to have traffic. Once you've got some traffic, you'll
need some basic marketing techniques to get the click-through and sale. While
online sales rests on the same principles as all sales, the actual
practice is very different.
The basic principles for sales
follow a standard pattern, referred to as the sales cycle. There's lots
of books about this but here's the run down for purposes of this
affiliate marketing guide: It is:
Establish trust, create awareness of need, provide something that fills
that need, continue the relationship after the sale.
Ready for the next level? Here's the advanced edition of the
affiliate marketing guide:
Step One: Establish Trust
trust is the hardest part of the sales cycle when dealing online.
That's why it's at the very heart of this affiliate marketing guide.
Online users are savvy and wary of anything that might be a
scam to part them from their money. Affiliate programs thrive online
because they create trust for stores and brands in unique ways that
advertisements (banners, links, buttons, etc.) cannot.
As you generate
traffic, you'll be creating an atmosphere of trust with your viewers.
You'll know that they trust you if they come back. If most of your
clicks/traffic/followers drop off after the first time they meet you,
you're doing something wrong.
You can generate trust by:
Answering the question they're asking when they find your
site. Don't charge them for this.
ever recommend products that you believe in, not just something to make you a few bucks.
Be open and honest about any draw-backs to the
things you promote online. Unlike traditional sales, online customers specifically search for critical reviews of
the products they're considering purchasing. If you don't offer this
from the get-go when you're recommending something, they'll quickly find it somewhere else.
Share actual experiences. You own are great, but having
someone who bought said product because you recommended it give a
review will often tip the scale. Of course, you could take this affiliate marketing guide tip to the next level and do both!
Step Two: Create
Awareness of Need
are that the traffic you're getting isn't coming to you because they
need to buy something. Thats what affiliate marketing guide books often
fail to understand, they foccus on selling the PRODUCT. If visitors
know what they need, they'll go directly
to the source and bypass your site all together. They're coming to you
because they're either looking for free information or because they're
unsure of what they need.
Create awareness of need by giving
them what they're looking for when they come to your site and then
showing how buying the product you're recommending will satisfy them
even more. This deserves an example, because it's frequently the
hardest thing to grasp for affiliates (and therefore the most often
reason why affiliates fail).
You run a site where you review
books about architecture because that's your passion. Your affiliate
program is with the giant, Amazon. Let's face it, people aren't coming
to your site because they're looking for a specific book or even a
review of a specific book. They're coming to your site because they
want to learn more about the topic that the books you review cover. So,
if you're reviewing or talking about are about Neoclassic Architecture,
people like/follow/visit/friend you because you provide good
information on Neoclassic Architecture. One of your most popular topics
might be "Neoclassic Architecture definition." You better make sure
that you have that definition, with examples and illustrations, on your
Here's how to use this affiliate marketing guide to turn this definition into a sale:
To promote your particular product, on your
definition page you should talk about why Neoclassic Architecture is so
hard to define (it's not, but work with me) and how 3 books define it
differently. Give a brief synopsis of each book and why it's
definition is authoritative and what it adds to the conversation. If
you want, you can (and probably should) link to a deeper page about
each book individually where the in depth review is located. Then, on
that page, you'll have your book review and sales.
Did you see
where the creation of need happened there? If not, let's look at it
closer. It happened when you talked about the difficulty with defining
Neoclassic Architecture. You subtly hint that because it's a difficult
topic to understand in-depth on a website, reading a full book about it
would be helpful to someone who wants to really grasp it.
need because it makes the reader feel that their initial query, while
fulfilled, now is a deeper desire to know more. Then you follow this
affiliate marketing guide one step further - you sell them on your
review page about how good the book is. When they click through to
read about each of the books you review, and decide which one will
further expand their understanding, they then click through to buy.
Step Three: Provide
Something that Fills the Need
you've created a need beyond whatever got your visitor to your site,
you better be prepared to fulfill it. If you're not, they'll rush back
to the search engines and you'll end up loosing them.
Listen up! Here's the KEY to making
money from this affiliate marketing guide:
Make sure the products you promote fulfill the created need EXACTLY.
really that simple. Once you've created the deeper need, visitors will
be ready to think about buying. If you've followed this affiliate
marketing guide, you've done that already. Don't take them somewhere
mediocre product or a product that only fulfills part of the need.
You'll loose not only the sale, but the trust you worked to develop.
and this is my experience, don't take them to a general 'store' page.
Unless you're shipping products directly yourself (in which case you're
not an affiliate) having a 'store' page isn't how you're going to
convert visitors. Sure, you might create an affiliate store or list of
products you recommend which you link to from your sidebar, but don't
expect first-time buyers to start there. Instead, link to a deep
product so all they have to do is click "buy."
Step Four: Continue the
Relationship After the Sale
is very difficult to do with most affiliate programs, but it can mean
the difference between being a $100/month affiliate and being a
$10,000/month affiliate. You MUST create a way to follow-up with people
who buy from your affiliate program after the sale.
many ways to do this, however email newsletter follow-up is the easiest
and most effective. The exactly how to set up a newsletter is beyond
the spectrum of this affiliate marketing guide, but is pretty self
explanatory. The hard part of this approach is talking your
publisher into getting you the email address of people who buy from
you. Sometimes it will be easy to do, sometimes it will be almost
impossible to do. Some affiliate programs even have email functionality
built into them because publishers realize the importance of ongoing
relationships with clients, but this is not yet the norm. If you're
generating significant traffic and income, work with your affiliate
representative at the advertising company to get this in place.
you're just starting out, you'll need to do a work-around to maintain a
relationship with these clients. The work-around is simple - treat
every visitor as if they were already a customer. By this, I mean set
up an email marketing campaign where you capture email subscriptions
from all visitors and promote all products in rotation through email
and through your primary marketing model(s). Adding something that
regularly updates and changes, such as a blog, RSS feed, twitter
account or rotating home page will enable you to promote different
products at different times. Use this as you would a follow-up email
The advantages to this approach are two-fold. First of
all, following up with customers will encourage them to buy more
products from you and build ongoing trust. Second of all, if your
visitor isn't a customer yet, it increases the chances that they will
become one. Sales studies have shown that most people buy after they've
been exposed to a product 5 times. So keep it coming!
10 mistakes I made
personally that you should avoid
created this website because I've made so many mistakes from cobbling
information together on how to make money online that I want others to
be able to do it without having to make all my mistakes for themselves.
Therefore, here are ten mistakes that I made which you, avid reader of this affiliate marketing guide, should also avoid:
Don't commit to an affiliate program before you have
traffic specific to a niche.
Don't create content for the sole purpose of pushing your
Don't put affiliate codes on every single link on your
Don't waste money using affiliate codes with AdSense.
Don't forget to test every single affiliate link you put up
to ensure it works.
Don't put up a link to one product/service/etc. and never
test another one for better conversion.
Don't set an auto-delete or auto-archive filter for
newsletters and promos from your affiliate programs.
Don't let creating a solid working relationship with your
affiliate rep. slip through the cracks.
Don't ignore your mailing list.
Don't treat your affiliate marketing program as anything
less than a business and expect to make money.