Whether it’s an important consumer application, a specialist app to solve a particular niche problem, or even a time-wasting game you can play on your phone, you can create a massively successful business if you build software that helps people. (Look at the rise of Slack—the team communication software that went from side project to billion-dollar company in just 2 years.)
Last, but not least, you need to make sure you're in compliance with each affiliate program's terms of service. Some programs will allow you to promote via email marketing, others, like Amazon, do not. Keep a detailed spreadsheet of all the affiliate programs you belong to and what methods of promotion are allowed. Not following the rules could get you banned from a program — which means you've lost a source of revenue.
What’s the catch? None, really. Cash back apps act as affiliates for many online merchants, which means that whenever you make a purchase through one of the apps, they get a small commission — but then, they give you a portion of that commission as “cash back”. For example, if I buy a pair of Nike shoes through the Ebates app (or website) and spend $75, Ebates may get a $10 commission but then they’ll pass $7 back to me. It’s basically a way to get sale prices on stuff that isn’t on sale!
My 10-year-old son brought home a book from our park’s free library box. It was a biology textbook – teachers edition. He said it looked interesting and hey, it was free (having no idea you could sell it). I scanned it in my Amazon seller app and realized it was worth around $150. He was so excited. We listed it for sale for $130 and it sold! Going to tell him, he just made $130!
Holly told me she started writing content in 2011. At the time, she still worked a full-time job but created content online part-time to supplement her income. Over time, she was able to double and triple her rates until she could quit her full-time job to write. These days, she makes bank as a freelance writer and teaches others to do the same via her online course, Earn More Writing.
Amazon’s affiliate program is the most popular of them all. I don’t participate myself (yet) but the majority of affiliate marketers I know use Amazon because… it’s Amazon. You can review products you have used or write tutorials (eg. how to connect computer to TV) and drop an affiliate link to an HDMI cable… just a couple examples. You may want to build relationships with the manufacturers so you can get products before they’re released – giving you time to create a review before the product is launched and capture sales during peak buying times.
Theme – you don’t need a special theme for affiliate marketing, you probably just need a blog. I recommend StudioPress themes since that’s what Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and I use. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress also recommends them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was using a theme from Themeforest… since they’re built by independent developers who may stop making updates to their theme. This happened to me and I hear horror stories all the time about people having to switch themes and redesign their entire site. I’ve been using the same StudioPress theme (Outreach Pro) for 3 years. Their themes are lightweight (load fast), SEO-friendly via optimized code, secure, and they have a huge selection of plugins for the Genesis Framework and an awesome community in the Genesis WordPress Facebook Group. They include documentation for setting it up and will serve you for many, many years.
There are numerous printing companies that will print your designs onto not just T-shirts, but also hoodies, hats, posters, cushions, bags, and phone cases, to name a few items. These businesses also offer fulfillment services. This means that you promote the merchandise on your own site and once you sell a product the printing company will not only print your design but also send the item directly to the buyer. So all you have to do is concentrate on the marketing and selling of your products, and the fulfillment company will take care of the rest.
While a part of affiliate marketing is a numbers game (how big is your list, how much traffic do you get, what is your social media presence) the best way to increase these numbers is to provide quality content. Always remember to put your best foot forward in everything that you do, from your blog posts to your newsletter content, to your social media interactions. When you take time to focus on quality and building the relationships – the numbers will follow.
Shopify is another great option if you are wanting to create your own eCommerce store. Shopify is arguably easier to set up than WooCommerce but will give you less control over your storefront and cost you more long term. However, if you have little to no experience of creating websites or using WordPress, or you are working to a very tight time schedule, then Shopify may be the perfect eCommerce platform for you.
You'll also need ecommerce software, fulfillment software, worry about warehousing, customer service, refunds and so on. But that's not all. You'll also need traffic. Think search engine optimization, Facebook ads, and other social media campaigns. Sound like a lot of work? Sure, it is. Especially if you do it all on your own. You could opt for Amazon's platform, which might be the easier route. But, then again, at the end of the day, this is a serious business, which could produce significant profits. So you're either all in or you're not.
For those with a large Twitter following, you can make money from your Tweets alone with Sponsored Tweets. You could be paid for sharing a business’s information, recommending restaurants or hotels, or tweeting pictures of you using or wearing products. As with all sponsored posts on social media, businesses will only be prepared to pay you to Tweet if you have a large following that you can influence. So work hard on building up a loyal fan base.
Find your niche partners, collaborators, and champions: As you’re creating your course, look for notable people who are also creating content in the space. Look at how their businesses operate and incorporate that into your own plan. You can also reach out to any influencers and make them affiliates for your own course. This way, they’ll be incentivized to share your content with their own audiences (which can be a major way to generate your first sales and start building your own community!)
Another strategy to make money online is to become a social marketing manager. Being present on social media is key for any business that wants to attract new customers, promote their products and grow their following. However, constantly posting, liking and commenting on the numerous social media channels is extremely time consuming. More and more businesses are recruiting social media managers to run and organize all their social media. And to save money, social media employees are often employed as online freelancers.
If you are a professional photographer, or have a real flair for photography, then selling your images on other sites could be an idea. This could be done alongside your own photography site, as it is a good way help get your work viewed by a wider audience. There are numerous stock image websites to contribute to, but choosing a popular high-end site like Shutterstock should ensure your photographs make you some money.
I make the bulk of my money from blogging. In addition to the advertising revenue streams mentioned above, I also receive flat rate payments for blogging from various blogs throughout the web. I’m paid to write as a whistleblower, financial analyst, reviewer, commentator, and more. Writing for other sites builds traffic to my personal blog. The traffic for this blog gives me clout to present to advertisers.
If you have your own eCommerce store, social media is the perfect platform to showcase your products. Demonstrate your products in use and tell your social following why they need to buy your merchandise. Most social media channels allow you to add ‘buy’ buttons your pages, allowing your followers to easily click through to your site and make a purchase.
No, I’m not trying to motivate you by pulling some sort of reverse psychology here. What I’m telling you is, if you find affiliate marketing is NOT for you after reading this guide, that’s ok! There’s another route for you! Do not “force” success to happen. If what I mention below sounds like it’s something you would enjoy, by all means put your heart and soul into it.
Video is growing like crazy. And more and more people are looking for professional help cutting their raw footage into viral-worthy content. If you have the right software and a bit of skill, you can easily make money online as a video editor. Check out these article of Fstoppers on how to become an online video editor and then look for relevant jobs on Mandy.com, Creative Cow Job Search, or ProductionHub.
Business Versatility: Just about any industry has a very wide array of products that can be sold as it relates to any niche. If you start promoting one product, but over time another product becomes the better option to promote, you can change at any time. There’s no commitment to keep selling one product or another. Heck, sell them both if you want! Most of my sites make money using affiliate programs from multiple different services. Also notice that I have many sites in many different industries which helps to diversify my business even more.
Once you have that problem or need nailed, the next step is to validate that idea and make sure you’ve actually got customers who will pay for it. This means building a minimum viable product, getting objective feedback from real customers, incorporating updates, testing the market for demand, and getting pricing feedback to ensure there’s enough of a margin between your costs and what consumers are willing to pay.