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Affiliate Marketing

Learn what you need to know to get started in affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing helps individuals and businesses earn money online by advertising on the websites and blogs of others. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Affiliate marketing helps individuals and businesses earn money online by advertising on the websites and blogs of others.

Affiliate marketing is a good way for individuals to make extra money from their Web sites and companies to save money. As businesses trim their advertising budgets, affiliate marketing becomes an attractive, lower-cost alternative. A company can make money through sales without spending on advertising, while site owners get a commission on any sales that they send to the company. This creates a win-win situation for both parties.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

According to iMedia Connection, affiliate marketing works when companies recruit affiliates to promote their products or services. The affiliates place text links or graphic ads on their Web sites, which drives Web traffic to the company's site. If the visitor makes a purchase, the company then pays the affiliate a percentage of the profits. Computers track the entire process to ensure that affiliates are getting the commissions that they deserve.

Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing

Allan Gardyne, of Associate Programs, has been a professional affiliate marketer for more than 10 years. He offers an excellent tutorial for those looking to break into affiliate marketing.

The first major step to getting started with affiliate marketing is to find a profitable niche market in which to create a Web site. A niche market is a focused portion of a market sector. Good niche market ideas for affiliate marketing usually involve hobbies or problems that people want to solve. When choosing a niche, it's important to look at both the popularity of the topic and the competition. This involves looking at how many people are searching for the topic online and how many people have already created Web sites about it. An affiliate marketer should also make sure that there are products within the niche that offer affiliate programs.

After a person has chosen a profitable niche, a Web site or blog is created to provide information about the niche topic. Some people choose to spend money on hosting and site design for their Web site, but an affiliate marketer can also use free resources. The content added to a site must be "keyword rich," which means that it should contain the types of words and phrases for which people are searching. In addition to providing informative content, the marketer should place ads that send visitors to companies using their affiliate link. This is how the webmaster makes money.

A Web site alone will not bring a marketer affiliate commissions. The site needs to have traffic -- people visiting the site to click on the links. Only a small percentage of visitors purchase through affiliate links, so a webmaster needs to have many visitors in order to make money with affiliate marketing. This makes traffic one of the most important aspects of affiliate success. Ways to increase Web site traffic include:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Article marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Link trading with other sites
  • Social bookmarking
  • Commenting on other niche blogs
  • Syndicating a press release

Once the site is built, a marketer simply needs to focus on adding more content and driving more traffic to the site.

Factors That Affect Success in Affiliate Marketing

There are many factors that can affect whether an affiliate marketer is successful or not. Some successful marketers make millions of dollars a year, while others make little to no money at all. While traffic is one of the biggest factors affecting affiliate success, there are several other factors that can make a big difference.

One of these is the chosen niche. Some niches may be popular, but the market may be too competitive to allow the average person to prosper. Others may have little competition but may not produce sales due to lack of interest. Many times, marketers select a niche that seems profitable only to find that they are not particularly interested in the topic. This shows in the content written and leads to stunted success.

Sometimes marketers choose an affiliate program that simply doesn't convert. If the company the marketer chooses to send visitors to doesn't convert those visitors, the marketer should look for alternative products.

Finally, it takes a lot of effort and hard work to be successful as an affiliate marketer. Slick sales pitches that promote affiliate marketing as a way to get rich quick are misleading. A marketer must work hard to build their site and have patience waiting for traffic to increase. Those who expect to earn a lot of money their first week should know that true success takes both time and patience.

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