How to Make Money From Affiliate Marketing

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affiliate marketing - how to make money - featured image

The goal of every affiliate is to earn money from this revenue-sharing business model. But making money from affiliate marketing is easier said than done.

About 48.36% of affiliate marketers earn less than $20,000/yr. That’s the reality of things. Many beginner affiliate marketer was made to believe that you can earn while you sleep. At least, that’s what a search on Google and the sales gimmicks snake oil marketers would have you believe.

In summary, you’re told affiliate marketing only requires finding a product and getting your affiliate links. Write a review post. Promotes this and see the sales coming in.

Bam! Commission in your affiliate account.

I wish things were as simple as that. Every known affiliate marketer would’ve made money from affiliate marketing, millions of dollars selling other people’s stuff. Like Jason Stone, who made $7 million in 18 months from affiliate marketing.

If you want to make money from affiliate marketing, then pay attention and read this post to the end. In this post, you’re going to learn the following:

  • How to research your affiliate product for profitability.
  • How to SEO your affiliate review post.
  • Why you should use paid ads and traffic sources.
  • How to incorporate unbiased users review to maximize sales
  • Why banner ads are not suitable for your affiliate links.
  • How to build a community that buys from you.
  • What content format is the best for your affiliate campaign?

But first, What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing business model. You agree to promote a merchant’s product in return for a share in the profits.

It is a win-win situation for every party involved. There are 4 parties involved in the business of affiliate marketing:

  1. The merchant.
  2. Affiliate marketing networks.
  3. Affiliate marketer (you, sometimes referred to as the publisher).
  4. The customer.

Let’s review the activities of each party, one after the other, and how affiliate marketing works for a smooth business transaction.

This will help you understand each user’s role in the affiliate marketing chain and start affiliate marketing with a clear understanding.

This is how the affiliate marketing business model works…

affiliate marketing chain diagram

Four Affiliate Marketing Chains

The Merchant

The merchant is responsible for product creation, sales pages, landing pages, shopping cart, payment options, customer care, shipping, delivery, etc. This can be a big brand like WpEngine that sells web hosting and WordPress themes or a single individual like you and me.

Anyone can be a product creator, from an individual to a big company like the fortune 500. Just have something to sell that other people promote on your behalf in return for a commission; you’re the merchant.

The Affiliate (Also known as the Publisher)

The affiliate is sometimes referred to as the publisher. An affiliate marketer can be a solo individual or a large company. Affiliate marketing is a vast business that has attracted both small and big businesses.

This area is where all the marketing happens. As an affiliate marketer, you connect the customers and the merchant. You drive the traffic to the merchant’s website, hoping that a purchase is made.

You earn a commission when a purchase is made through your affiliate link ID.

Affiliate Marketing Network

An affiliate marketing circle can never be complete without the network that manages the affiliates and the merchant affiliate marketing programs.

The affiliate network is the intermediary or the link between the merchant and the affiliates. The affiliate gets all the marketing materials for promotions, like banner ads, affiliate links, affiliate IDs, etc.

Also, the affiliate network company helps gather a detailed, helpful report for tracking and marketing decisions. Like clicks, sales, invalid clicks, traffic, etc. The affiliate network is where you see all these reports.

Many merchants only manage their affiliate programs through an affiliate network. So, the affiliate has to go through this affiliate network to sign up and get accepted before promoting the merchant affiliate product.

This affiliate network usually has hundreds of merchants you can sign up to become their affiliates. This makes it easy to sign up for multiple merchant affiliate programs without going through their website one after the other.

A reliable affiliate network is Shareasale. You will find hundreds of merchants with thousands of affiliate products you can start marketing upon approval.

If you want to join the Shareasale affiliate program, this link will take you to the program page.

The Customer

Without a paying customer, an affiliate marketing business isn’t complete. The job of an affiliate marketer is not done yet without someone buying the product.

The customer makes the business of affiliate marketing go around in circles. Everything done in the affiliate marketing business is centered on customer satisfaction.

Everything has to be to the best of user satisfaction, from product creation to promotional materials. The business of affiliate marketing is a big one. It is projected that affiliate marketing spending will hit $12b in 2020.

This indicates that consumers trust affiliate reviews content before making their buying decisions. People are looking for recommendations before they make a purchase. And this presents a lot of opportunities for affiliate marketers to tap into

But the question is, how do affiliate marketers make money?

Don’t worry; I will answer the question in this post.

1. Choose The Right Affiliate Product

Without the right affiliate product, everything falls flat out of the gate. The traffic won’t convert no matter how much traffic you send to your affiliate offer page.

Many beginner affiliate marketer makes the mistake of choosing an affiliate product based only on the commission rate. While the commission rate is a part of the criteria for choosing a profitable affiliate product, that’s just one of many factors to consider.

Below I have listed a few tactics you can leverage to discover the right affiliate product to promote.

Affiliate Marketing Keywords Research

A big part of your affiliate marketing success lies within your target content keywords. If you’re not targetting the right keywords in your content, your content won’t reach the right audience to buy your product.

Even if you’re promoting a high-in-demand affiliate product, but your content is not optimized with the right keywords, it won’t be seen by your target audience.

Long-tail keywords will help you rank better for your target keywords. The more specific you can get, the better your chances of improving your search ranking.

If your blog SEO strength is lower, consider targeting keyword phrases with 3 or more words. This will increase your chances of ranking higher in the organic result for your target keywords.

How to Research Profitable Affiliate Products

First, you need to start your base affiliate marketing keyword ideas by looking at what’s already working on your blog. In most cases, this would be the content you’re discussing most on your blog and your audience type.

This could also be your niche. The blog topics you discuss or the industry you’re serving. These are your starting point.

Once you figure that out, the next thing is manually brainstorming on your base keyword. This is where your keyword research process starts.

There are lots of keyword tools you can use for this purpose. From the free keyword tools to paid ones, any of these keyword tools can work pretty well for your research purpose. It depends on your choice and your keyword data analysis savvy.

Once you have a list of generic base keywords, the next thing is to type them into your keyword tool of choice to generate a more in-depth list of keyword data. From this list, you should be able to come up with a more proven keyword to target in your next affiliate marketing campaign.

Pro Tip: Search volume is not enough to pick a target keyword, but look at the commercial intent. You want to profit, not just traffic. The “Top of page bid” keyword feature in the Google Keyword planner is a good indication of how commercial a keyword might be.

The higher the number, the better the commercial intent.

Google keyword planner page

Now that you have a winning keyword with good commercial intent, the next thing is to find an affiliate product to match your keyword. This leads us to the next step of finding a profitable affiliate product.

Research The Merchant Details

Suppose you have already signed up with affiliate network programs like Shareasale, CJ, Amazon, ClickBank, etc. You can search through their product database to see if you can find an affiliate product to match your keywords.

Dig through the merchant database, revealing many companies/businesses that provide services related to your target keyword.

Now, there is something tricky I want to share with you here. Take a look at the images below.

wp engine affiliate program details page

wp engine affiliate program details on ShareASale

According to the data in the image, the Wp Engine is converting at 0.50%. That’s a meager conversion rate judging by the Wp Engine standard.

namecheap affiliate program details page
NameCheap AFFILIATE marketing program details

NameCheap is converting at 4.75%, better than WpEngine.

cloudways affiliate program details page
cloudway affiliate marketing details

Cloudways converts at 6.91%, better than NameCheap and Wp Engine in terms of conversion rate.

Though the Wp engine has a higher commission rate than Namecheap and Cloudways, if I have to sign up for just one affiliate program, it will be Cloudways. This is because it converts better than the rest two on the list.

There is no use in promoting a higher commission rate offer that doesn’t convert better. You only get frustrated and lose advertising money in the process.

This is one of the key features you should look out for in merchant affiliate program details.

Research Market Places

Marketplaces like the Amazon store, Udemy, SEOClerk, and Click bank are good places to discover profitable affiliate products. Products people are already buying.

There are several ways to do your product research using marketplaces. Though, depending on the marketplace, your tactics will vary.

If you’re searching for affiliate products you can promote through the Amazon store, look through the customer’s reviews and ratings on the product page.

These customer reviews and ratings are a goldmine of information to help you determine if the product is worth promoting as an affiliate.

amazon customer review

Spend some time going through these reviews left by the customer. Some customers go more in-depth in their reviews. If you skim through the page, you might miss a review like the one below.

amazon customer review more in-depth

Also, a question-and-answer section on the product page supplies in-depth information about the product. All the information you’ve gathered on this page will help you produce better content that answers many of the burden questions your readers might want to ask.

question and answer on amazon product page
question and answer on the amazon product page

Marketplaces like Udemy and Skillshare sell courses you can promote to your audience. While SEOClerk is a place for freelancers to sell their skills.

SEO Clerk home page
SEO clerk marketplace

Online courses are some of the top-selling products today. People are looking to learn new things and upgrade their skills and knowledge. But a good rule of thumb is that you first take the course yourself.

If you have taken the course yourself, it will help provide more insight into why the course will benefit your audience. Your content will be more detailed with practical examples to relate to vs. writing from other people’s experiences.

2. SEO – Organic Traffic

How you optimized your regular blog post is not different from how you optimized your affiliate review post too. The only difference is in your preparation and how you may pay attention to details.

It’s okay to ignore specific SEO signals when you’re writing to get people to read, but not when you’re writing to make profits. You want to ensure everything goes fine, from content writing to promotion.

So, in general, write longer, in-depth articles that cover the subject extensively. It makes sense to do this because it gives your post more substance, triggering social shares, likes, and retweets.

A good rule of thumb is to Google your keyword and see what other pages have writing on the subject. See how you can beat the top pages by providing better content than they already publish.

Use the Yoast SEO plugin to guide yourself toward content on-page optimization. But don’t pay too much attention to things like “focus keyword does not appear in the first paragraph.”

Yoast SEO is developed to recognize the exact keyword match. So don’t sweat too much on such a thing. Also, don’t bother with keyword density. That’s a thing of the past.

Content quality and link signals are two of the most crucial search engine ranking signals.

3. Use Paid Ads

At first, you may think the free traffic channels are enough to drive traffic to your affiliate content.

Yes, it’s okay if you don’t expect results fast and don’t bother about how long it takes to experience significant results. After all, you’ve done your homework perfectly. There is killer content that is well SEO optimized to gain the best of free and organic traffic.

But when you consider millions of web pages with similar content as yours, you’d want to do something extra to get your content in front of your target audience.

This is where paid marketing comes in.

3 Reasons You Should Consider Paid Marketing

Grow Faster

It takes months or even years for SEO traffic to take off. And even other free traffic channels like social media bring little traffic to impact your expectations significantly.

Instead of waiting months or years to see real marketing growth, you can scale faster by investing in paid ads and experiencing instant results.

Investing in paid ads (pay-per-click) will allow you to get your affiliate content in front of your target audience. This also presents the opportunity to gather more data on what could be working and what to improve upon.

You don’t need to wait for organic traffic to pick up or engage in endless social media marketing; with paid marketing, you instantly see growth.

Spend Less Money

Contrary to what many believe, you don’t need a considerable investment to run paid advertising. With as little as $10, you can test paid ads to learn what works.

As a starter with a small advertising budget, you can set out $10 each week to test-run paid ads from different advertising agencies. Facebook ads are a great example. You don’t need $1,000 to get started with Facebook advertising.

Start small and grow big as you discover what works and earns from your previous marketing.

Convert Better

Aside from organic traffic, paid ads convert better than any other marketing channel. Assuming your ads are well-targeted and optimized to reach the right audience for your offer.

Because of its targeting features, Paid ads can weed out a lot of unwanted traffic that could see your content in other traffic channels. Even in search engine organic traffic, you have less control over who sees your content.

Google serves content based on the user’s search query and intent. This does not take into consideration some user factors like age and sex.

But with paid ads, such as Facebook ads, you can target users based on gender, age group, location, etc. This is made possible through their profile information.

Best Paid Traffic Source for Affiliate Marketing.

  • Google Ads.
  • Facebook Ads.
  • Reddit.
  • Instagram Ads.
  • Bidvertiser.
  • Bing Ads.

4. Use Unbiased Users Review

People like and trust product recommendations from real users, family, friends, colleagues, etc. They trust this recommendation more than testimonials displayed on the company’s website.

Though company testimonials work great, reading product reviews or recommendations from someone you know gives you more security and assurance that you’re making the right buying decision.

So as a savvy affiliate marketer, unbiased product reviews will help increase affiliate sales and boost commission. The big question is, how do you get unbiased product reviews or recommendations?

How to Get Unbiased Product Reviews From Users?

  • Survey your audience.
  • Ask your social media followers.
  • Use the Facebook poll.
  • Do an expert round-up opinion post.

5. Build Your Reader’s Community

A successful affiliate marketing business starts by building a community of readers that trust your content and recommendations.

If your readers trust your recommendations, it makes things easier. People will buy more from your affiliate links and help spread the word about your small blog.

By building your blog community, you’re setting yourself up for traffic on demand and a loyal audience.

How Do You Build a Loyal Community of Readers?

  • Start by collecting an email list of subscribers. Email list building is an essential tool for a successful affiliate marketing business. Don’t neglect it.
  • Always respond to comments left on your blog post. It helps build the bond between you and your blog readers.
  • Invite guest bloggers regularly to write for your blog. It opens your blog to different types of audiences. Plus it helps build the network you need to scale your blogging career faster.
  • Engage with other people’s blogs. People are more likely to return the favor.
  • Engage your readers in your blog activities.

6. Use Contextual Links – Not Banner ads

Banner ads are easy to put up on your blogs, but the reality is that they don’t convert. Plus, they slow down your website speed which impacts your search ranking a lot. One of Google’s ranking factors is page speed. These banner ads code slow down web pages, especially banner ads coded with JavaScript.

The image below is the Gtmetrix performance score of this blog. I will soon write more details on how I achieved that page speed score.

I’m still experimenting with some blog elements to see what works and what’s not.

Updated: Here is a glimpse into how I achieved faster page speed by moving to a better hosting server.

Cybernaira gtmetrix page speed score 1.2 seconds

Instead of using affiliate banner ads, use text links instead. It blends perfectly with your content and converts better than banner ads.

Plus, it comes naturally within your content. Readers reading through your content will have a reason to click on your affiliate links. Most clicks on banner ads are curiosity clicks. People who want to know what the banner is all about but are not interested in buying.

Though, there are some seasons when banner ads could be more effective. For instance, during summer sales, promo sales, discount offers, etc. Banner ads could be more effective during this period as it’s put the information right in front of your blog visitors.

And anyone could easily take advantage of this seasonal offer to make impulse buying. He may not be ready to buy, but he may go for it because of the discount prices.

You may test banner ads during this period to see if it helps boost affiliate sales.

7. Discover The Best Content Format

Not all affiliate products will fit blog post content promotion well. Some affiliate products are best promoted using video content format. You need to discover the best content format the affiliate product marketing.

For example, if you’re promoting a weight loss product, your audience will love to see more image illustrations than just 100% text.

Words alone can’t explain better how the weight loss product works. Readers need to see the effect of the products on humans. They want to see the before and after images.

Words alone can’t describe this effect or convey the message to your audience. It would help if you had visual graphics that tell the story better.

There is plenty of content format you can experiment with to see which works best for your type of affiliate product. Though, in most cases, blog post works mainly. But this is not to say it works 100% of the time.

Consider using the following content format:

  • Video format.
  • Infographics.
  • Blog post – Text content.
  • Images.
  • Audio.
  • Webinar.
  • Slide Share Presentation.

Conclusion…

Affiliate marketing is not a get-quick-rich business model. It is a long-term investment that needs an upfront commitment of time, money, and energy.

If you can take the leap and commit yourself to working harder and more intelligently, the result speaks for itself.

23 thoughts on “How to Make Money From Affiliate Marketing”

  1. Hi Shamsudeen,
    What an amazing share on this subject Affiliate Marketing.
    Though I read many posts in this subject this is no doubt one of the best I ever read. Though I am in this for some time now I need to pick a lot on this category to get more benefits.
    I fully agree with yous concluding sentences: Yes, AM is not a quick rich business model but a dedicated commitment will bring in a lot of benefits.
    Thanks for sharing the various aspects of AM. I am bookmarking it for my further reference and study.
    I found this post on the pages of IM platform BizSugar and I up-voted and commented.
    Best Regards
    ~ Phil

    1. Hi Phillip,

      I’m glad you find this post on affiliate marketing one very useful. Yes, not a get rich quick business, but with patience and the right marketing strategies, success is not far fetched.

      Thank you, Phillip.

  2. Hi Shamsudeen

    You’ve given lots of great and actionable points here.

    Promoting affiliate products, or even your own, takes time and attention to details like the ones you’ve outlined here.

    But certainly, the rewards can be great for those who stick with it consistently.

    This article serves as a great checklist guide to keep you moving forward.

    -Donna

    1. Hey, Donna,

      Good to have you around here. Consistency is the key to success. As long as you’re on the right track, keep pushing till you succeed. Thanks for you coming.

  3. Hello Sir,

    After reading this article, I am of the opinion that this blog post makes it easy to learn affiliate marketing. This blog post is in-depth also it is easy to understand.

    Sir, I’m a bit confused about the keyword research. Can you recommend any tool for keyword research?

    I think every content creator should read this article.

    It’s a full value-pack article!

    Thanks Again!

  4. hello shamsudeen,
    Nice post! I am seeing increasing number of people are talking about contextual link and advising to avoid banners.
    The keyword research is still a gray area. I have found at lat three keywords about products review, that have much search volume but no data to show how many users clicked on the results.
    I believe affiliates are creating fake search volume by researching on google search engine. What are your thoughts on that?

    1. Hi, Aatif,

      My experience in affiliate marketing shows that banner ads don’t convert like links in an article.

      People are more likely to click on product links after reading through and convinced the product/services will make them feel better or improved their business/living.

      Your second question, I didn’t get it quite right.

      Thanks.

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