How To Start Affiliate Marketing
+ 4 Common Mistakes To Avoid
One of the goals of starting your affiliate marketing blog is to have your website work for you while you’re sleeping, traveling, or just hanging out with friends and family. This post helps get your affiliate marketing blog started as early as today! While avoiding some of the common mistakes people tend to make when getting started.
Lots of people have found ways to leverage the internet to achieve both time and financial freedom. But the harsh reality is that a lot more have tried and failed. Back in 2005, I was one of those people. I bought myself an eBook that promised to teach me the secrets of how to make money as an affiliate marketer. I read the eBook and followed it to the letter but I ended up spending a tonne of money on Adwords for little return and gave up… What I didn’t realize then, was that not everything you read on the internet comes from a reliable source.
Fast forward 12 years, and I made the decision to start affiliate marketing again. This time I was determined to do it right! But more importantly to work at it until I was successful. This time I made sure I had access to the right education!
Affiliate marketing is one of the most common ways bloggers earn income from their blog. So it makes sense that if we’re aiming to be successful affiliate marketers we also need to look at blogging and why it is important.
But, what is affiliate marketing?
Because you don’t have to create the products yourself, to start affiliate marketing is one of the most accessible ways to begin making a profit online. You simply connect the consumer with the merchant and take a commission on the sale that you promoted.
All of this might sound effortless but there’s quite a steep learning curve. Affiliate marketing is an attractive way to make money online, but it is highly competitive. For you to be successful, there are some things you need to know before you get started. Check out this FREE On-Demand Video Workshop to get insider secrets into Affiliate Marketing Strategies.
Choose your niche
Too many people start affiliate marketing by registering with every affiliate program under the sun. Trying to promote everything to everyone is a recipe for failure. Learning a new skill can be tough on its own let alone trying to juggle multiple affiliate campaigns at once. Try not to dilute your energy, the time it takes to really concentrate on researching and promoting your chosen niche is well worth it when you get it right.
One of the most powerful ways of establishing authority in your niche and providing value to your target market is to blog about it regularly (read my blogging post here). If you’re going to blog about a niche topic regularly its helpful if you’re already interested in and knowledgeable about your chosen topic or prepared to spend time researching the ins and outs of it thoroughly before you start your affiliate marketing blog.
To start affiliate marketing effectively you’ll need a website or a blog. Most businesses will usually have a website that the blog sits within, however, as a blogger you will only need a blog to get started. I use WordPress because it’s easy to use and the availability of 1000’s of plugins make it simple to add additional functionality as you grow.
Ok, so we’ve arrived at the fun part of starting your blog. What kind of blog theme should you choose? This really depends on your niche, I always start a blog by heading across to Creative Market. They have a huge selection of responsive WordPress blog and website themes to choose from… who doesn’t like a choice?
Keep in mind you will still need to customize your theme once they have set up the demo theme on your live WordPress site.
If you’re completely new to the online world it’s helpful to know that once you’ve chosen and purchased a website or blog theme you’ll need to have it hosted in order for it to go live. There are essentially two kinds of hosting; shared hosting or cloud VPS hosting. Of the two; the cloud is much more reliable and what would be considered a premium level of hosting.
For cloud & shared hosting, checkout HostPapa I’ve lost count of the times their helpful support team has solved my problems in the past plus they offer competitive rates and easy to follow how-to video tutorials
So, let’s talk about traffic; if you’ve decided to start an affiliate marketing blog chances are; by now you’ve chosen a niche and written a couple of awe-inspiring and informative blog posts. But how are you going to get your posts in front of the right people? Yup, you guessed it, blogging. Consistent blogging is absolutely going to help your website to rank organically in Google for certain keywords over time.
This brings us to the next step; you will need to promote your posts and landing pages for people to find them. Online promotion can be divided into two categories; paid promotion and free promotion. Social media platforms are a fantastic way to share your content for free but there are others too.
The trick to effective marketing is to get to know your audience, once you know this, you can find out where your specific market hangs out online. When you first start affiliate marketing chances are you may be working or studying at least part-time so will have limited time on your hands. Chose the top one or two social platforms where your audience is and focus your attention there. Share your post and comments and inspire people to click through to read your posts in full.
Automating your blog posts to be pushed out to multiple blogging and social media platforms on a loop is one way to do the work once and reap the benefits over and over. The best tool that I’ve found that does this from within your own WordPress Blog Dashboard is Blog2Social. Watch this quick demo video and to see how it works and download the WordPress plugin for FREE.
Another great resource that helps affiliate marketing bloggers to get targeted organic traffic straight to their blog posts is Pinterest. Pinterest is essentially a mini search engine searchable by images. You can learn more about Pinterest and how to automate it so it will bring a consistent stream of organic targeted traffic to your blog, website or affiliate offers in this post.
I’ll let you in on a little secret… I make 80% of my affiliate commissions from just one affiliate… earning me between $20-$11,000 per referral! Like to know more about this Affiliate Program?…Register for their FREE On-Demand Workshop.
Paid Advertising can be done in any number of ways, through Google Adwords, YouTube video advertising, social media boosted posts or instream ad campaigns. When you start your affiliate marketing blog I would suggest a blend of paid and free promotion.
Another way of putting your product or content in front of the right audience is by purchasing solo ads from other bloggers newsletters. Look for bloggers whose audience is likely to have an interest in your niche but with whom you are not in direct competition with… if you’ve managed to build a list yourself (we’ll talk about this later) then perhaps you could organize a Joint Venture trade-off.
Whenever possible and certainly when spending money on paid advertising avoid driving your hard earned traffic straight to your affiliate offer. You have paid time and money for that traffic and it’s important to send them through a squeeze or landing page first. A squeeze page (otherwise known as a landing page) will give you the opportunity to presell your visitor as well as giving them the opportunity to subscribe to your list before you send them to them to the affiliate offer or product.
You can get started with a free version while you’re learning the ropes. I personally got started with MailMunch because they offer an easy to use drag and drop editor with their Free Landing Pages and what I liked about it was that it plugs straight into your WordPress dashboard so you can make changes from within your blog just like any other page or post! As with most free things online, if you don’t want your subscribers to see MailMunch advertising at the bottom of the landing page they do have a super affordable paid upgrade to remove this.
The other feature that made Mailmunch a no-brainer for me is that it integrates seamlessly with just about any autoresponder you choose to use when sending emails to your subscribers. As people join your list MailMunch will send them straight to your list regardless of who you choose to use. But even if you can’t afford to use one of the big popular autoresponder companies like AWeber or GetResponse (more about this later) MailMunch offer this for free too!!
Bizanosa offers the best quick MailMunch set up tutorial – check it out!
Campaigns and tracking
When you start your affiliate marketing blog it may feel more like a hobby than a business. But you’ll want to track and monitor your campaigns even if you’re doing it on the side, to begin with. If you’re not monitoring your promotional activity you will have no idea what is worth spending more time, money, effort and energy on and which activities to drop altogether.
One way to do this is split testing. For those who are new to split testing, one of my favorite marketing guru’s Neil Patel describes it as “pitting multiple variants of something against each other. You have to find out which of those variants performs best.” For a more detailed explanation, check out Split Testing. You can split test anything from paid advertising campaigns to landing pages to product offerings.
When I decided to take the plunge again and get serious about actually building a sustainable business with my affiliate marketing blog I knew I would need a clear roadmap, constant and easy-to-digest training with ongoing mentoring not only to get me off the ground but to teach me how to scale and automate my business so I wasn’t a slave to it.
Remember to subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this post to access the same free video course that finally helped me transform beginner from affiliate marketing blog failures into a solid affiliate marketing business to be proud of. The training dashboard teaches you everything from how to source and promote affiliate offers, how to access high-end commissions and to how to develop your own blogging style as well as the most effective ways of promoting affiliate offers in today’s market.
Learn everything you can about the product you are promoting. Never promote a product you know nothing about. As an affiliate marketer don’t be afraid to form your own opinion about the features and benefits, pros, and cons of your chosen products.
It pays to read reviews and mention the information that other users share about it too. Help your readers to make informed buying decisions by making sure you yourself are well-informed, promote transparency and authenticity as your personal brand. Eventually, you will build a reputation of trust and your readers will seek out your opinion. Learn what you can about the market.
Probably the most important tip (even if it’s also the most boring) is to strategize a business plan. Have you ever put in hours and hours of work on a project only to find out you are really struggling to meet your original goals? Ask yourself honestly; did you put a solid business plan in place?
I’ll be the first to admit I have a tendency to jump in head first and ask questions later… But I’ve learned the hard way that this kind of scattergun approach only left me feeling overwhelmed and produced zero tangible results to show for it. It might not feel like it to in the beginning but your affiliate marketing blog is a business so do yourself a favor and create a well-structured plan that will set a clear path for your online business goals. If you struggle in this area I offer personalized Business Coaching via Face-to-Face Skype Video call. Book a coaching session with me here if you’re ready to get started!
Construct your plan from the inception of your campaign – right from choosing the product, to promoting it and the steps to take if the campaign fails. You can always make adjustments as you go, but ultimately, a plan will assist you in managing your time effectively.
Ok, so we’ve covered off on the essentials of what to do if you’ve decided to start affiliate marketing. Now, I’m going to highlight some common things new affiliate marketers tend to overlook when getting started.
Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Affiliate Marketing Blog
Failing to build an email list
Always. always, always where possible encourage readers to subscribe to your email list. Building an email list from the very first day will help you to start building a relationship with the very same people who share an interest in your niche. It gives you the opportunity to build and strengthen a relationship with them, provide them with ongoing information on the topic and share any offers you feel they may be keen to hear about.
So how do you capture leads to grow your list? And how can you automate the emails to send at timed intervals? I don’t know where I’d be without my email autoresponder… all I have to do is write the email once and then add it to the email sequence and off it goes sending emails forever and ever without me having to manually touch it again! All email services these days come with subscriber opt-in forms that are easily embedded in your blog or website.
If you’re looking for a robust and trusted provider with a growing list of features it’s tough to look past AWeber and GetResponse. Check out my post ‘Email Marketing? Aweber or GetResponse‘ where I compare the two big guns in email automation and you’ll find links to both their Free Trial Offers!
Prefer a Free Option, MailMunch has you covered with this but keep in mind with all free things there will be advertising and limitations on certain functionalities. Having said that MailMunch is the best free option online and you can always upgrade once you start making money.
Being overly focused on commissions at the expense of providing value
Too often rookie marketers focus on trying to push their products before they have offered any real value or established authority on their subject. Ultimately your affiliate marketing blog will be a wealth of information on the niche you have chosen. If you’re aiming for long-term success focus on solving your market’s problems. It’s the surest way to gain trust and build your reputation. So, instead of focusing on how much money you want to make, pay attention to your readers and subscribers and help them achieve their goals.
Failing to be original
The fact is there are so many affiliates out there who will be and are promoting the same products and services you. The good news for you is lots are happy to just copy and paste material from the product pages rather than offer any real value or insights of their own. This gives you an awesome edge when it comes to standing out from the crowd. Be unique, create your own content and do your own thing!
Failing to incentivize opt-ins
Remember we spoke about value? this can also be a great tool for attracting new subscribers to your email list. Offering something your niche will find interesting or valuable will go along way to buying goodwill and building trust. This will require some work to create in the first instance but will pay dividends if done well, so make sure your bonus relates to the product you are promoting.
Ok, I know that we only skimmed the surface on the topics we covered today, but below I’ve highlighted the key components for beginner affiliate marketers so you have a list to work from.
- Start off by selecting only a handful of products and service to promote
- Research your product thoroughly and its demand in the market.
- Blog first then promote those posts out through your social media platforms and relevant forums
- Test and monitor your campaigns.
- Build a solid, well-structured business plan for your affiliate marketing blog.
- Remember to build your email list
- Solve your reader’s problems
- Show your personality.
- Everyone loves a BONUS!
- Rember to have fun! If you don’t love what you are doing you will never be successful.
If you’d like detailed step-by-step training, live mentoring and structured business planning on how to get started with your own affiliate marketing blog, save yourself a tonne of time and a cringe-worthy learning curve by checking out the same Free 3-Part Video Course that got me started.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. I will only make recommendations on products and services I personally believe to be of value.