One of the easiest ways to make money online is with an affiliate marketing side hustle. As an affiliate, you'll get to promote and sell products for other companies. When you refer a sale, you earn a commission that is a percentage of the purchase price.
Unlike other online businesses, affiliate marketing doesn't require you to buy inventory or even to provide customer service. For this reason, it offers the potential for earning a passive income. It can be easy for beginners to get misled in this industry though, so I've created this post to point you in the right direction.
Join Affiliate Programs
To be able to promote products from other companies, you need to sign up as an affiliate. There are a lot of different affiliate programs out there, so you'll need a general idea of what kind of products you want to try to sell.
For example, physical goods that are shipped to the customer can be found at places like Amazon or CJ.com. Amazon is an obvious choice for many people, but they have made it more difficult to get approved as an affiliate these days. You really need your own website to pursue being an affiliate marketer for Amazon. CJ.com or Commission Junction is easier to get into, but individual vendors have to approve you to promote their products.
CJ.com, ClickBank, JVZoo and other similar networks offer digital products to affiliates. Digital goods have a much higher commission percentage than physical items, but they can also be more difficult to sell.
Discover Affiliate Products
Once you have an account with an affiliate program, you can start to look for products to sell. You'll generate a special affiliate link for each product you want to promote. You send website traffic through these links. When someone clicks your link and then buys the product, you earn a commission.
My biggest piece of advice when selecting products to sell is to target products that are likely to be bought by your audience. As a wild example, maybe you run a website for single moms. An advertisement promoting diapers would perform much better than one selling motorcycle helmets or power tools. It doesn't matter if a power tool is the #1 seller on the market if it won't appeal to your audience. Know your website visitors and try to give them what they want.
You'll also usually do better by limiting your choices. It can sometimes be tempting to create a ton of affiliate ads on a website to cover a wide range of products. However, more choices for your websites will usually result in fewer clicks and sales overall. Try to make things simple for your visitors and pick no more than a couple of products to promote on a single page. In many cases, I'll only promote one product on each page, but if I'm comparing products, I may offer a few choices as part of the comparison.
Avoiding Affiliate Spam
Affiliate marketing has a negative side, and that is spam. Since you can quickly create links to sell any kind of product, this is an appealing way for spammers to try to make a quick buck. Normal people that try affiliate marketing for the first time can inadvertently become spammers though, especially if the struggle to make sales in the beginning.
In general, follow one golden rule to avoid spam: NEVER post your affiliate links on a website you do not own unless you have explicit permission to do so. For example, you don't want to run around Facebook groups posting your links everywhere. Even trying to find people searching for your item and then posting the link can easily be considered spam.
The goal of being an affiliate is to refer sales on products. That sole fact can easily blind you and make you think that landing a sale is the one thing that should have your focus. However, if you only concentrate on trying to land a sale outright, you are actually more likely to have a hard time finding success.
Build an Audience
One of the most effective ways to succeed as an affiliate is to have your own audience. This could be a website attached to an email newsletter and/or social media websites. It could possibly be a following on a social media channel. However, to promote affiliate goods on social media sites, you usually need to direct people to visit your own website, which is where they'll find the advertisements.
There are a couple of really good reasons why this approach works. First of all, without an audience you will stumble around blindly trying to land single sales at a time. With an audience, you can quickly send a lot of traffic on demand to view a page and potentially purchase a product. This can result in many sales at a time.
This strategy is also effective because of trust. The internet can be a bit like the wild west at times. Everywhere you go online you will find advertisements trying to sell things to you. As a result, many people will tune out the ads they see and have a general distrust in online promotions. When someone follows you and consumes your content on a regular basis, they're much more likely to build trust in you. This trust can have huge benefits when it comes to selling products, especially as an affiliate.
Passive Income Stream
Another major reason why affiliate marketing is so appealing is because it offers the potential for a truly passive income stream. Any website can make money for you while you sleep. However, when you're selling your own product, you still have to fulfill the sale and provide customer service, so it's not really passive revenue. As an affiliate, you do not have to do anything when you refer a sale. No need to ship a product or provide customer service.
Since you don't have to do anything to fulfill an affiliate sale, you can actually earn an income from it without actively working to make that money. It is worth mentioning that work is still involved to be successful though. You'll need to work to build a website and/or an audience that you can use to refer sales. Once it is built, you could potentially choose to stop working and sit back to enjoy a 100% passive revenue stream.
Even though affiliate marketing can be passive, I really recommend against this approach. If you build a successful website or audience of any kind, you will simply be more successful if you do not stop working on it. Continue building your site even once it is a success. Any website can always obtain more traffic. The more content and the larger your audience, the more sales you can refer as an affiliate and the more money you can make from your efforts.