You’ve probably heard the term ‘affiliate marketing’ thrown around many times in the world of online entrepreneurship – but what on earth does it mean?
An affiliate marketer is, essentially, a representative of company. By signing up to an affiliate program, a marketer is sent a number of website links. These links can then be placed onto the marketers online platform (whether that be a blog, social media account, YouTube channel etc.).
Every time a person then clicks and follows this link, the affiliate marketer will receive a payment from the respective company.
You’ll receive money as an affiliate simply for having people click on a link. If you have a large audience, the money you receive could eventually build up to equal millions of pounds a year.
And the best part? This way of earning is almost completely passive. You won’t need to keep putting in hours of work once the links are up to earn money like you would with a normal day job. You’ll simply have money paid straight to your bank account for other people visiting your site and following your links.
One huge mistake most wanna-be affiliate marketers make is assuming that they need to have some huge website with years of work put into it to make any money at all.
Thankfully, this isn’t true. In most cases, building an affiliate marketing site takes little more than a few hours, let alone six or seven years. Many people run multiple affiliate websites, some only basic, 5-page sites with little maintenance involved. These tiny sites often turn over upwards of £100 a month.
Larger sites with a little more work put into them can generate thousands per month. Using a number of larger sites with several smaller ones could generate you tens of thousands of pounds every single month.
A mistake most newbie affiliate marketers make is turning all of their immediate attention to Clickbank. For those of you that aren’t aware, Clickbank is an online system that allows marketers to browse a bank of millions of products. Once a product is found that fits their platform, affiliate links can be taken from the site and added to their platform. All billing, taxes and fees are covered by Clickbank making it an easy way of finding appropriate companies to market for.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m in no way claiming that Clickbank isn’t a valuable resource for affiliates. Clickbank is an invaluable resource for affiliate marketers, however is much more profitable for those with significantly more experience.
Due to its ease of use and accessibility, Clickbank is an excellent option for just about every single newbie out there – and there are an awful lot. Because of this, the site lacks value for the inexperienced affiliate as, without a sound knowledge of the marketing world, newbies are instantly at a huge disadvantage as there is simply so much competition.
Instead of using Clickbank, today we’ll be focusing on Amazon.
Amazon Associates (Affiliates)
Amazon, being perhaps the top dog in all global online retailing, is an excellent option for the newbie affiliate.
Amazon offers their own affiliate programme for all of the products they sell, giving you near infinite choice when using their scheme.
Below are some advantages of being an Amazon affiliate:
- Amazon offers tens of thousands of products, all of which you can become an affiliate for.
- There are always new products to promote.
- Amazon is an established, reputable platform and so people are much more keen to make purchases with the as opposed to other, less-renowned sites.
- Amazon’s niches are all fairly uncompetitive.
- With Amazon’s excellent sales recommendations, people typically end up spending far more than they initially intended to. All sales made through your link will earn you commissions.
- You don’t need to manufacture or sell your own products – you’ll be earning money simply by providing a link to somebody else’s.
Just as a side note – yes, you would earn significantly more money if you were to sell your own products online. However, being an affiliate rather than a direct salesperson requires far less maintenance and can run in the background whilst you get on doing other things.
An Amazon affiliate site can even be created and left entirely to run on its own, requiring you to do absolutely nothing to maintain it in the future. This is because Amazon’s niches are very low competition and so you won’t be battling with other affiliates all of the time to try and get the most sales & not be overrun by their content.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Let’s get you started.
Finding a Product
Before you do anything, even before creating your website, you’ll need to decide on the products/types of products you’ll be marketing. This is often the trickiest step so we’ll break it down into some real simple steps so as not to overcomplicate things.
In order to setup a profitable Amazon affiliate platform, you should always promote products in a 90/10 way.
What I mean by this is that 90% of your products should be high-end, £100 or more. These are the products that’ll be generating most of your income as they’ll be paying more commission.
The other 10% should be lower-end. These are the products that you’ll be hoping to sell frequently – the more products you sell, the higher your overall commissions will be. If you sell upwards of, say, 20 products week as opposed to 5 then your commission percentage per item will be higher due to your ability to sell more frequently. Essentially you become a more valuable affiliate marketer and thus are paid more highly.
The following criteria should be followed when looking for high-end products to sell:
- Products should be £100 or more.
- They should have at least 10 product reviews (to ensure that the product is popular and still being sold).
- They should have a rating of at least three stars – promoting inadequate products will only complicate the process.
- The product should also have at least four or five other, similar products that you can promote. This way you’ll have a number of products to market rather than just one.
Some products to avoid when marketing:
- High-end watches
Simply because everybody chooses these niches when starting out and they’ve become incredibly oversaturated. If you’re trying to make money out of a niche that everybody’s already milked for all its worth you’ll simply be undermined by competition and struggle to attract any customers.
It’s always best to explore more obscure, less-mainstream niches. Rather than selling something generic like luxury watches, instead explore the fashion industry by delving into more specific areas such as men’s boots or blazers. These products still offer a lot of value and thus high returns on commission, however they’re less commonly exploited and thus have much more profit available.
But how do I know the product is high in demand?
It’s all well and good going about affiliate market with high-demand in mind, but how on earth can you gauge an accurate idea of which products will sell and which will flop?
Using an invaluable little tool known as keyword research.
Google Adwords is a programme used by online business to put paid advertisements onto the web. Google AdWords also offers an excellent tool for businesses and bloggers alike to find out which words are searched for most commonly every month.
Say we decided to go with men’s blazers for our first affiliate site and find a ‘Navy Tweed Textured Blazer’. To decide whether this specific blazer would be appropriate for marketing, we’d head on over to Google AdWords’s Keyword Planner and punch in words like ‘tweed blazer’, ‘navy textured blazer’ and even ‘navy tweed textured blazer’.
Once you hit enter, the tool will give you a list of values and charts telling you the exact amount of searches your keywords are getting monthly.
Say your result came back as 3,500 – this would men that, per month, ‘navy tweed textured blazer’ has been searched for 3,500 times in total.
When conducting your own research on products, you want to try and find a product that is getting above 4,000 monthly searches. The product should also have four or five other similar products (in this scenario that may be tweed blazers in varying colours, or other navy textured blazers) that also attract above 4,000 searches.
Below are some important things to keep in mind when conducting keyword research:
- Although Google AdWords is an excellent tool (considering Google is the most popular search engine out there), don’t be afraid to use others. There are a number of tools out there that work just as well (better if you use them all together) if not better than AdWords. These include Ubersuggest, Keyword Keg, Bing Ads (which works almost in exactly the same way as AdWords but for Bing) and Keyword Shitter – yes, really. Try a number of these platforms together to paint a picture of the entire web’s activity rather than users of Google alone.
- Long tail keywords should be used as much as possible. These are keyword phrases that exceed just one word – ‘mens tweed blazers’ as opposed to just ‘blazers’, for example. The trouble with using single keywords is that they’re incredibly difficult to rank in search engines for. Just imagine how many pages out there have the word ‘blazer’ in them – Wikipedia probably has a page, same with an Amazon ad as well as a tonne of other clothing companies. Trying to rank for singular keywords is so difficult as there are so many sites out there already doing so. Long-tail keywords are much more specific and give you a higher chance of ranking highly in search engines.
- Don’t get too hung up on monthly searches. Although it may seem like keyword research results are the bee-all and end-all of SEO, there are other factors to take into account. Keywords labelled as low competition with high monthly searches may be so because they offer no value and are difficult to monetise. You need to conduct research outside of just keyword tools to get an accurate idea of what sells and what doesn’t.
Creating Your Website
With all this information about choosing a product you’re probably wondering where on earth you’re going to sell it. The most effective platform for doing this is by creating a website. Whether a blog or just a standard informative site, websites are the best creative space for you to market products and grow your audience.
Before you can actually create an Amazon Associates account you’ll need a site up and running. If you don’t have anywhere to actually put your links then you won’t be sent any to use. Having everything in place first is key to your affiliate success and attracting attention from businesses.
Choosing your domain name
You may have heard the term ‘domain’ thrown around the web, but what exactly is a domain and why is it relevant?
Simply put, a domain is just the name of your website. Some examples of domain names are:
Domain names can vary in how they end – the suffixes added to the site’s name can be different depending on the site. This is just the ‘.com’, ‘.org’, ‘.info’ etc. that succeeds the site name.
Choosing an representative and unique domain name is key to the success of your website.
Using a concise, punchy title that’ll stick in people’s minds will likely be much more successful than a title filled with random numbers and letters. What I mean here is that mensblazers.com would be a much better choice than, say, bestblazers_4men12.com. The first one not only looks more professional but is much easier to remember than the latter.
Things to remember when choosing a domain name:
- Use as few words as you can for effectiveness and memorability. Shorter titles are far easier to remember than lengthy, clunky ones.
- Always be unique. Many decent site titles are hard to find simply as they’ve already been taken. However choosing something quirky and original will come across as better & more professional to viewers and they’ll be more likely to tell people about your site Making up your own words can work too so long as they’re relevant to your site’s topic.
- Choose a fitting suffix (.com, .org etc.). It would be unwise to choose a .mil or .net address for an affiliate site when .com and .info are far more appropriate. Don’t choose an unfitting suffix just to save money as you’ll likely hinder your long-term profits in doing so. .com is always a safe option to go with.
Where can you buy a domain?
There are a tonne of domain-hosting sites around and you’ll likely be spoilt for choice. Some may provide different features and services to others for higher prices so be sure to search around for the best deal you can get for your site. Below are listed some of the most reputable and well-used domain hosting sites.
Just as a side note – sticking with a fairly cheap hosting site is absolutely fine if this is your first blog. You can always upgrade your plan if you find it lacks what you need later down the line when you have a larger following of say, over 20,000 monthly visitors.
Affiliate website software
Once you’ve purchased a domain and have it up and ready to go, you’ll need to find a software to actually create your affiliate site with.
Without software, you simply can’t run a site unless you’re genius with HTML and know the web inside and out – which you probably don’t if you’re just starting out.
WordPress is an incredibly easy to use and largely free blogging software that takes care of all the tricky HTML processing for you. Many domain hosters such as BlueHost and GoDaddy also allow you to get started with WordPress from their sites – simply log into your domain hosting account and locate the ‘install wordpress’ icon. Then, choose ‘do it yourself’ and ‘check domain’ before accepting their terms and conditions.
After that your site will be all up and ready to go. It may appear fairly blank and boring at first but don’t worry – it’s all ready for you to get to work and add your own creative touch to.
Creating your WordPress site
In the world of WordPress, ‘themes’ are used to describe the design of your site. Themes can be downloaded directly through WordPress – some are free and some aren’t. If you’re running WordPress through an external domain host then you’ll be free to download themes on the web and customise your site as you wish. Running your site directly through WordPress and having them host your domain (aka running through WordPress.com rather than WordPress.org) will come with some restrictions and you won’t be as free to customise your site without paying.
To host through WordPress.org, simply purchase your domain from a webhost first and then install WordPress through that host. The alternative to this is getting started with WordPress from the get-go and purchasing your domain through their server. This will also require you to pay annual fees that, at the lower end, don’t give you a huge amount of site-creating freedom.
If you’re struggling to keep up here, I’d highly recommend conducting some research into the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Many make the mistake of forking out a load of cash on annual fees for WordPress memberships and then realise that they’re actually far more restricted than they’d hoped to be. Search around and know what you’re doing before making any payments.
Anyway, back to the point. Your theme will dictate what the majority of your site looks like so be sure to choose a representative theme that looks great. You can always change your theme and customise it to suit your preferences later so don’t get too hung up on your initial design.
To choose your theme, head on over to [your domain name]/wp-admin. and log into your account.
Stay calm. I know there are an awful lot of buttons and side headings on the WordPress dashboard but don’t let these scare you – it’s not as complicated as it looks I promise.
Head on over to the ‘appearance’ side heading on the left and select ‘themes’. At the top of the screen, click on ‘add new’ to add a new theme.
You can browse through WordPress’s free themes until you find one you like or you can use their filtering feature to whittle down those that are more suited to you.
Once you’ve found one you like, go ahead and hit install and activate and you’re good to go!
Customising your website
Although your theme is the underlying layout of your site’s design it can also be customised an awful lot to suit your preferences.
Go ahead and hit ‘customise’ in the themes section of your site’s dashboard (on the left-hand site). You’ll then be able to edit your site’s design as much as you wish (providing you’ve gone with WordPress.org), changing its colour schemes, fonts, and imagery to suit your requirements.
Unfortunately WordPress.com has a number of restrictions and you won’t even be able to fully control your colour scheme unless you pay a fairly decent sum of money up front for annual fees. With .org, you’ll only be paying the fees your domain host asks for and these are usually a little less than WordPress’s fees. I’d highly recommend starting out with WordPress.com’s free system to decide if this is for you before going ahead and paying any fees. You can always export your site to a different domain if you so wish – just get a feel for the website-designing process before fully committing to anything.
I’d advise spending a few hours tweaking your design to see what works and looks best – what is likely to attract people to view your site and tickle their fancy, so to speak..
Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion too, adjusting your layout to adapt to constructive criticisms. WordPress allows you to add feedback pages to your website if you so wish, as well is implementing comment sections for visitors to leave their opinion and allowing you to get an idea of what people like/dislike about the site.
So, you’ve found your product and similar products that you’ve deemed are appropriate to market as an affiliate. Now what?
Now you need to give people a reason to go to your site and make a purchase through your links over anybody else’s.
The way we’ll be doing this is by writing relatively short articles of around 400 words or more – nothing over half an hour’s work here per article.
Thankfully, much of the information you’ll require for your product-centred articles is already given to you in Amazon’s product descriptions – you’ll just need to summarize this information into your own words.
Your articles should ideally include all of the following information:
Who: Who is your article targeting? In the example of the tweed blazer, your articles will perhaps be geared towards a more middle-class, male audience that frequently attend formal occasions and thus require formal attire. Your article will essentially be a review with a link to follow and you should be aiming to confirm to this audience that the product is an excellent investment and that they should go ahead and buy it.
What: What is the product? What does buying it provide the customer with? You want to give a detailed description here that leaves the reader convince that they should buy the product. Be positive in your writing and portray the good qualities of the product as best you can.
Why: Why should your site visitor go ahead and buy this product over any other? Perhaps it’s much easier to use than other products, maybe it’s made out of far higher-quality, durable material or is the perfect complement to any outfit. Leave your reader with no reason not to go ahead and buy the product – convince them that this is absolutely the one of them and answer any questions they may have in advance.
When you’ve written your first article, continue with the others but set them to go public at a later date. Perhaps you to choose to publicise 6 article over a one-month period, one every 5 days. This way, you’ll constantly be sending out new unique content without you having to keep writing articles to post.
At the end of the article, recommend that the reader buys the product through Amazon and give them a link to the product. If they choose to make a purchase, you’ll be paid directly in commissions.
Attracting People to Your Affiliate Site
Perhaps the best way to boost your site’s ranking in the Google search results is by building backlinks.
A backlinks is simply a link from another person’s site to yours. In Google’s eyes, the more links a site has to it the more reputable it likely is, and therefore the higher it should rank in a search engine.
Therefore, your main aim when increasing the traffic your site attracts is building up lots of backlinks.
It’s important to exercise some caution when building backlinks. If you go ahead and build hundred within your first month of setting up a site, Google will likely flag your site and it won’t be as successful in ranking in search engines.
Aim to build a handful of links per week and gradually build up your backlink network over a longer period of time.
You should also aim to adjust your anchor text as much as you can. Anchor text is the line of text that will link somebody to your site. For example, Number One Search Engine! is the anchor text here and is linking people to Google’s site. Poor examples of anchor texts are things like ‘click here’ or ‘visit this website’ – aim to be unique in your links but also relevant to the product you’re advertising.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is hands down the best way to increase your income. The more visitors your site brings in, the higher your overall profits will be. The reason for this is that, if people aren’t able to find your site, they simply won’t be able to click on your links and make purchases. Therefore it is vital that you maximise SEO to increase your income.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Because SEO is the key factor to your sites monetary success, we’ll be covering a whole section on it.
As has already been discusses, keyword research is very important in SEO. If the words you’re using on your site aren’t being searched for in Google then people simply won’t find your site.
Below are some key tips in ranking highly on Google and maximising your monthly site visits:
- Use a domain name with appropriate keywords. Your domain name should not only be kept short and snappy as well as easy to remember but they should include some keywords relevant to your niche. Don’t choose an irrelevant site title just because it sounds cool or resonates with you – if you’re in this for the profit then you need to stick to the rulebook and choose an appropriate title.
- Supply decent, top-quality content. It’s no good promoting the hell out of a site that offers nothing of value. Though people may end up visiting your site, they’ll soon be turned away by poor content that clearly wasn’t created with care. If you struggle with writing and simply can’t create good content, you can always hire somebody else to write for you for a fairly low price. This is also great for people wishing to turn marketing into an entirely passive source of income as you won’t even be required to create content, moreover sit back and watch your site tick away by itself.
- Building on this point, being sure to get regular content published is also key to SEO. If your site doesn’t offer frequent, new content to be read then people will become bored and won’t revisit. If you do wish to create an affiliate site centred on a specific Amazon niche that you can leave to tick away then this point isn’t too much of a concern as, with low competition, the site will still bring in visitors regardless. If you’re running one site with more effort than the others, though, and wish to focus on that as a primary source of income then you should seek to publish regular content to that platform.
- Focus on building good quality links that are grounded in evidence. Link-building sites that claim to offer great services for free generally offer fairly poor quality services and won’t do you much good at all. Dodgy backlinks will also be flagged by search engines and could hinder your SEO progress so try always to build up strong, credible ones.
Some Useful Books on Becoming an Affiliate Marketer
Although there are a tonne of excellent resources online available to help you on your journey to affiliate marketing, it’s often very useful to also have physical materials that we can take notes on such as books.
Books are an excellent tool for learning. I find that much of the information I read in books is absorbed much quicker than it is when browsing the web simply because books offer far less distractions. Burying your head in a book is much more engaging than flicking through one tab among twenty in your browser and becoming distracted every time you take a look away from the blog you’re reading.
For that reason, below are listed a number of great books for the newbie affiliate to help get you started.
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Simple, smart and proven strategies to make A LOT of money online, the easy way. This is a great book for those hoping to create a successful affiliate marketing business but just don’t know where to start. Geared specifically for beginners, this book will run you through some detailed steps and ensure you avoid making some devastating mistakes as a newbie affiliate. A must have for any marketer’s toolbox.
Affiliate Marketing: How to make money and create an income. Available as a paperback or an ebook, this one puts a stronger focus on driving traffic to your site through using SEO and creating marketing campaigns, as well as how to select an affiliate program that best suits your chosen niche.
Affiliate Marketing in 7 Days: Build Your Own Passive Income Stream in a Week. Claiming to get you up and running this guide will give you a series of daily steps that’ll simplify everything it is you’ll need to know as a marketer. This one’s a must for anybody hoping to get started with affiliate marketing quickly.
Web Marketing All-in-One For Dummies. Saving the best till last here, the ‘For Dummies’ series have produced an excellent, 8-in-1 book focused entirely on online marketing – not just affiliate marketing but a bunch of other easy methods. The book runs through SEO, building up an audience and utilising social media platforms to create a large following. I would highly recommend this book to not just beginners but anybody starting out with affiliate marketing (as well as many other forms of online marketing).
And there you have it. A full guide on exactly how to get your Amazon affiliate business up and running.
Once you’ve setup your site and have some articles written, you’re ready to start your Amazon Associates account and can begin dropping affiliate links around your site.
I’d recommend creating some smaller sites and leaving them to tick over to increase your commission inflation as well as a few larger ones promoting higher-end products to bring in more money.
After that, SEO is your money-maker. As soon as your site is in place and your links are up, your key to earning is simply getting people to visit your site. The more visits you get, the more clicks you’ll get and the more purchases you’ll likely make. Using the above SEO guides in conjunction with perhaps some more advanced, paid SEO tools will maximise your successes and have you ranking highly in search engines, sending your monthly profits skyward. Moreover, check out this best affiliate marketing tools list for additional tips and tricks on how to be a successful affiliate marketer
Good luck and don’t give up at the first hurdle.
This will be tough at first. Give up and you’ll earn nothing. Persevere and you’ll unlock financial freedom for the rest of your life.