Affiliate marketing is a process where affiliates earn a commission by promoting a product or service made by another retailer or advertiser using an affiliate link. The affiliate partner is rewarded a payout for providing a specific result to the retailer or advertiser. Affiliate marketing is the process of earning commission from recommending a product or service offered by another business. As a business model, it’s highly profitable because the business pays you for every referred sale. Not all affiliate programs are the same though. Some will pay different percentages of commission, others will offer a fixed bonus, and some will offer free products or services in return. Affiliate marketing is an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services. The third-party publishers are affiliates, and the commission fee incentivizes them to find ways to promote the company.
Typically, the result is a sale. But some affiliate marketing programs can reward you for leads, free-trial users, clicks to a website, or getting downloads for an app.
Most affiliate programs are usually free to join, so you don’t have to worry about high startup costs. Done right, an effective affiliate marketing strategy can go from side hustle to profitable online business by netting you a healthy income.
Understanding Affiliate Marketing
The internet has increased the prominence of affiliate marketing. Amazon popularized the practice by creating an affiliate marketing program whereby websites and bloggers put links to the Amazon page for a reviewed or discussed product to receive advertising fees when a purchase is made. In this sense, affiliate marketing is essentially a pay-for-performance marketing program where the act of selling is outsourced across a vast network. Affiliate marketing predates the Internet, but in the world of digital marketing , analytics, and cookies made it a billion-dollar industry. A company running an affiliate marketing program can track the links that bring in leads and, through internal analytics, see how many convert to sales
Why is affiliate marketing a good business model?
An e- commerce merchant wanting to reach a wider base of internet users and shoppers may hire an affiliate. An affiliate could be the owner of multiple websites or email marketing lists; the more websites or email lists that an affiliate has, the wider its network. The hired affiliate then communicates and promotes the products offered on the e-commerce platform to their network. The affiliate does this by running banner ads, text ads, posting links on its websites, or sending emails to clientele. Firms use advertisements in the form of articles, videos, and images to draw an audience’s attention to a service or product.
Visitors who click the ads or links are redirected to the e-commerce site. If they purchase the product or service, the e-commerce merchant credits the affiliate’s account with the agreed-upon commission which could be 5% to 10% of the sales price.
• It’s low risk. Businesses only need to pay out when you make a successful referral (versus paying a fee for influencers). For affiliates, your costs can stay low (if there are any at all), so you only lose time if you don’t hit the right mark.
• It’s a win-win for everyone. The business benefits from the sales you bring in, and then rewards you in return. However, customers also benefit from having a trusted recommendation to satisfy their needs/wants.
• You can work from anywhere in the world. If you’ve ever dreamed of living the digital nomad life, affiliate marketing can help you call anywhere your workplace.
• You can build a passive income. Creating a library of quality content takes time. But after a while, you’ll find that content you’ve already created still generates affiliate commissions months, even years later.
There are many free platforms for creators to consider when starting out as affiliate marketers. Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, blogging, podcast. You can create an account for free on these platforms and start creating content right away.
Types of Affiliate Marketing
There are three main types of affiliate marketing: unattached affiliate marketing, related affiliate marketing, and involved affiliate marketing.
• Unattached Affiliate Marketing: This is an advertising model in which the affiliate has no connection to the product or service they are promoting. They have no known related skills or expertise and do not serve as an authority on or make claims about its use. This is the most uninvolved form of affiliate marketing. The lack of attachment to the potential customer and product absolves the affiliate from the duty to recommend or advise.
• Related Affiliate Marketing: As the name suggests, related affiliate marketing involves the promotion of products or services by an affiliate with some type of relationship to the offering. Generally, the connection is between the affiliate’s niche and the product or service. The affiliate has enough influence and expertise to generate traffic, and their level of authority makes them a trusted source. The affiliate, however, makes no claims about the use of the product or service.
• Involved Affiliate Marketing: This type of marketing establishes a deeper connection between the affiliate and the product or service they’re promoting. They have used or currently use the product and are confident that their positive experiences can be shared by others. Their experiences are the advertisements, and they serve as trusted sources of information. On the other hand, because they’re providing recommendations, their reputation may be compromised by any problems arising from the offering.
Beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing
1. Find a niche
The best way to succeed in affiliate marketing is by establishing yourself within a niche. A niche is the topic you’ll become an authority on. Some of the best niches include
• Hobbies: travel, photography, golfing, outdoors
• Money: bitcoin, personal finance, credit cards, investing
• Health: fitness, nutrition, vegan, weight loss, yoga
• Lifestyle: luxury, airlines, fashion, jewelry
• Home: baby products, dogs, plants, security
• Tech: web hosting, VPN, gaming, software
• Alternative: personal development, enhancement drugs, herbal remedies
The reason you need a niche is that if you recommend different types of products, people won’t see you as the expert they can trust. Whereas if you only recommend a specific type of product and create content about it, then people can see you have experience in that area.
It also helps you further down the line with search engine optimization (SEO) on social media and your affiliate website if you choose to build one later.
So how do you choose your niche?
You want to start with niches that have a high chance of profitability.
Keep in mind that affiliate marketing isn’t “get rich quick.” You’ll need to have at least some personal interest in your niche to keep you going.
Ask yourself the following questions to narrow down your options:
• Are you curious to learn more about your niche? Keeping up with trends and industry news in your area is super important in making sure you stay relevant for your audience.
• Do you already have experience or training in a specialized area? If you’re already knowledgeable on a subject, you can flatten your learning curve and get ahead more easily.
• Is it possible to create content without upfront investment? Some niches like technology or travel can involve a lot of upfront costs if you don’t already have the equipment or content to start with.
• Is it profitable? Ultimately, you want to make money. So if your niche is either too broad, so you end up with too much competition, or too narrow, so you don’t have enough people interested in it, you’ll risk not making a profit.
Choosing a niche is a fine balance, and it can take some time and practice to hit the right spot, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see success right away.
2. Decide on an affiliate program
Once you’ve decided on a niche, the next step is choosing what affiliate program(s) to join. It makes sense to choose a program or affiliate products that align with your niche.
There are two ways of finding suitable affiliate programs within your niche: direct and through marketplaces. If you’re already aware of brands in your niche that have affiliate marketing programs, you can approach them directly and sign up for them. Most affiliate programs are usually free to sign up for.
1. Jumia affiliate program
2. Konga affiliate program
3. Pay Porte affiliate program
4. Web4Africa affiliate program
5. Wakanow affiliate program
6. Vconnect affiliate program
7. Bet9ja affiliate program
8. Dealday affiliate program
The other option is to join an affiliate program marketplace or network where you can browse thousands of programs and sign up to them through the marketplace.
While these are all reputable options, some things to consider when choosing an affiliate program include not just its reputation, but also its commission rate and earnings per click (EPC) rate. A program might have a low commission rate but a high EPC, which means it can still be a worthwhile program to join.
3. Choose a traffic source
At this point, you’ll need to start thinking about your traffic source.
People often make the mistake of thinking you must become a blogger with a dedicated website which costs money. Though it is helpful to have one later when you feel able to reinvest in your business and scale upward, it’s not essential.
You can start generating affiliate income using other free traffic sources, such as social media platforms, YouTube, and forum-based sites like Reddit and Quora. Let’s look at a few advantages and disadvantages of each channel:
• Pros: The largest social media platform around. You can reach a big audience.
• Cons: Less attractive to younger audiences. Bad organic reach.
• Pros: Highly visual, excellent for showcasing products and services. Strong emphasis on video content like Reels and Stories.
• Cons: Lower organic reach for feed posts.
• Pros: Great for search engine optimization. Global audience of over two billion people.
• Cons: A lot of competition in most niches. Videos need to be professional and high quality.
• Pros: Short video clips that don’t require a “professional” look and feel. More personal and authentic experiences. Trends start on TikTok.
• Cons: Links in descriptions are not clickable.
• Pros: Excellent organic reach. Established platform for professionals.
• Cons: Predominantly for career oriented audiences.
• Pros: Excellent reach of younger audience. Higher reach.
•Cons: limit on word usage and creativity.
You might be thinking, “But I don’t have a social media following! How will I make money?” If you don’t have a following, now is your chance to start building one. That being said, you don’t need a huge following to make money—you just need to reach the right audience.
Lots of affiliate marketers make their income entirely through social media. A great example would be diary kortyEo a YouTube channel (among other social media accounts) that creates YouTube videos about people’s stories.
4. Develop content to gain trust
No matter which platform(s) you decide to use for affiliate marketing efforts, the next step is to start creating content that builds trust with your target audience. In 2022, internet users worldwide spent, on average, 150 minutes per day on social media. What keeps us online for over two hours a day? Great content.
Building a content library takes time, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and create a content calendar or strategy. Your calendar can include outlines of what type of content you’ll publish on any given day, such as:
• Product reviews
• How tos
• Tips and tricks
When coming up with your content strategy, also keep in mind a keyword strategy, especially for Instagram SEO (if you choose Instagram as your platform). After all, even high-quality content can get lost in the noise if you don’t optimize it for search results.
You can figure out which keywords to use with a little research. Using Instagram as an example, try searching for your competitors’ pages. See what posts are their most popular ones and pay attention to the post title, description, and tags they’ve used.
And of course, don’t forget to include links to your affiliate products or services, and add a disclaimer that explains they are affiliated.
5. Grow an audience
While you’re creating content on your platform of choice, it’s also a good idea to start building an email list or SMS list. There are two main reasons for doing this:
• You own your contact list, so you don’t need to rely on social media platforms to interact with your audience. All of the major platforms have hiccups now and then, so when they go down you can always contact your audience via email.
• While some affiliate programs don’t allow you to include affiliate links in your emails, you can still email links to content you create that contain affiliate links— you send traffic to any of your content.
Using your email list is a great opportunity to add even more value to your audience—further building authority in your niche subject. Some ideas to help you get started with content for your email list include:
• Industry reports or news
• Links to new blog posts
• Interview roundups or summaries
• Behind the scenes of your life or business
• Promotional deals (every once in a while)
• Free digital downloads
When it comes to building an email list for free, there are plenty of email marketing software providers that offer free plans, including Mailchimp , and Mailerlite is worth shopping around to see which one suits you best.
Once you build trust with an audience, you can start promoting high- ticket affiliate programs. These programs offer opportunities to make up to five figures per sale. But you often need to have an established niche and influence to encourage people to buy more expensive products.
6. Communicate with your audience
The last tip for growing your affiliate marketing business is engaging with your audience. Generating conversation not only helps your followers or subscribers feel heard but also works in your favor for social media algorithms.
When people interact with your content, it’s generally a signal for algorithms to say that your stuff is worth boosting and showing to more people who might be interested.
On TikTok for example, when you like and respond to comments on your videos, those comments will have a special badge that says “Liked by creator,” which stands out against other comments.
These interactions are important, as they tell your audience that you do read and appreciate their thoughts. As a result, they’re more likely to interact with your future content and maybe even encourage others to do so, too.
Responding to your audience also lets you find out what they might want from you in terms of future content, a win-win situation.
Affiliate marketing doesn’t have to come with upfront investment. Taking the steps outlined in this guide can be a relatively risk-free way of starting your journey. The only cost is your time and effort.
So start thinking about what niche you could start building, working up to a passive income and work from anywhere you want (or engage in as a side hustle outside of your main income)