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Affiliate Marketing

What is it?

Join the conversation and get paid.

Affiliate marketing, in its basic form, is when someone gets paid a commission in return for referring buyers to a company’s website or product.

One of the simplest ways in which people use affiliate markting on their own website or blog is by writing reviews of products or services. These are not just ads for whatever you are an affiliate for, but should be a personal review or account of how YOU have benefited from its use.

In a recent study, 70% of Americans said they were more likely to buy something that had a positive review from a stranger. In that same study, they found people were 90% more likely to buy something based on a friend’s positive review. In short, people trust people, not corporations.

 

Because of social media’s popularity, it has become almost impossible for any large business to operate without paying it serious attention. Websites like Facebook have given companies access to millions of people, and have helped them spread the word about their business through a 21st century kind of ’word of mouth’. Having millions discussing your service (and growing your audience) can be amazing for your business, provided people are speaking favorably about you. Find yourself on the wrong end of some reviews, and your business’s reputation can take a long time to turn around.

This rise in importance of social media is what is making affiliate marketing so lucrative. It has given companies a real incentive for rewarding positive online content featuring their products or service, and this is where you (or more specifically your website or blog) comes in.

Many companies now offer an ‘affiliate program’ (usually in the website’s footer) where after signing up for the program, you are given an “affiliate link”, or maybe a web banner, to place on your site. Then, whenever relevant (remember, no hard sell), you can insert your affiliate link into the copy, or place an ad on the side.

 

For more details on the importance of e-commerce inbound marketing, check out this informative graphic.

 

Writing content.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is where you actually have to do some work. Simply making a website yelling “Buy this thing! It’s really good! Do it!” doesn’t sell anything except a bad reputation for affiliate marketing online. You must remember what your website actually is, and what it is not. You are not the product’s shop front, people are not coming to you to buy anything, they are coming to hear your opinions and advice and to use your experience to help them make an educated purchasing decision. For example, your vacation photographs could form a gallery online, maybe you enjoy diving, let’s say. A simple and not intrusive link explaining that your pictures were taken with the “DX87 Blah Blah underwater camera” can send a lot of buyers to the checkout having seen the results from an “average person” using it.

 

Be helpful to people first!

Be a guide for people.

If you write a review that is clearly written, informative and helps people, those pages will be bookmarked, shared and distributed for you all over the web. The more your pages are bookmarked and shared, you gain not only the traffic from shares, but your Google ranking will rise with its popularity increasing your traffic even more.

Don’t hard sell 10 people when you can advise 10,000.

At any given moment, millions of people are online searching, browsing, reading and shopping. A recent count put the total number of websites online at over 400 million. Your job as an affiliate is to help people navigate a sea of information to find what they are looking for. Most consumers are not looking for a hard sell or the technical manual, they want an overview of what they are buying into, and then they will make up their own mind.

 

Don’t be pushy.

No one likes being told what to do, or having a salesman jump down their throat with the hard sell speech. With one quick click of a mouse, all your effort and hard work can be discarded. What is great for the online consumer can be fatal for retailers. Don’t just yell at people to buy, give them options and advice. Increasingly people want to feel like they have made an educated decision about their purchases and giving people information, rather than a sales pitch, builds trust with your readers. This relationship between you and the reader increases the amount of people taking your advice, and ultimately making purchases.

 

Stick to the facts.

Giving your opinion is always encouraged, but you must stick to the facts about what you are an affiliate for. People rarely check one source for their information, and if you’re bending the truth or outright lying, you will get found out. There is nothing to be gained from lying to your audience. Lying to people will bury your business overnight. As with the same companies you’re representing (and the whole reason affiliate marketing is needed), credibility is everything. When people see your website is a source of credible information, you will get users coming back and using your site again and again.

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Where to find affiliate programs.

There are dedicated services for finding and subscribing to affiliate programs and I’ll go into that in a moment, but first I want to talk about the simplest way to find affiliates – looking in a website’s footer. When looking for affiliate programs, I always visit websites that are based around mine. For your website about you taking diving trips, for example, you could look at websites selling diving equipment or underwater cameras, diving lessons or schools. Whatever surrounds your particular niche, there are bound to be products or services you could use. Even if you don’t see an “affiliate program” link on a site, it doesn’t mean there is no such program. Contact the site and see if they have one or will contact you if they get one. That way, you can be one of the first affiliates in the program if they do decide to start one.

 

When it comes to websites offering directories of affiliate programs, there are two main websites that are always in the conversation. Commission Junction and ClickBank are a staple for every affiliate marketer I have ever come across, and an absolute must for anyone thinking of getting into affiliate marketing.

 

Commission Junction is a very popular source of affiliate programs, and some of ThirthySomething’s affiliates have come from here. They offer programs from very large blue chip corporations to affiliate sales, and can often add credibility to the look of your site. You will need to create an account in order to apply to programs, but once you do, it will allow you to apply to a lot of programs at once and quickly build a portfolio of affiliates for your site.

Click bank is another popular source for affiliate programs. Where ClickBank differs from Commission Junction is in the type of affiliate programs they offer. ClickBank offers more programs from instant download products, such as software and eBooks. They are a great resource for software, plugins, mobile apps and games as well as guides and “how to” eBooks. Some of their programs (like Commission Junction) are used here at ThirtySomethingInvestor.

 

Most of all, write about something you’re interested in. If you don’t, then your writing won’t interest others and you will probably give up. Choose something you enjoy learning about and writing your blog will be a pleasure.

Good luck!

 

ThirtySometing.

 

 

1st Image courtesy of sheelamohan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2nd Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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