Helen Southgate, senior online marketing manager at BSkyB and the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) affiliate marketing council chair, is keen to allay the fears of those suspicious of web-based income schemes: ‘Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to generate an income from online advertising, regardless of the size of your business,’ she says. ‘It has been growing in stature and is highly regarded by key advertisers from large blue chip companies to SMEs.’
If you try to sell a product that is in low demand then chances are that you are not going to get many sales no matter how hard you try. So it is a good idea to spend a bit of time researching and finding out if a product that you are thinking of promoting is a product that your audience needs. If your site gets decent traffic then you can conduct an online survey and easily get input from your visitors.
Build relationships. Affiliate marketing takes a lot of work and patience before any real money is made. Affiliate marketing programs drive traffic to the affiliate marketer's website, but the marketer is responsible for building lasting professional relationships with the affiliate partners out of that web traffic. The marketer must also continually seek out better partnerships with other affiliates.
It’s one of the oldest and most proven ways to make money – buy low, sell high. The buy low part comes from searching garage sales, estate sales, and even thrift stores to find items that are in good condition (“gently used”) but selling well below what they would if they were brand-new. In this way, you might be able to acquire an item for $5, and later sell it for $50.
If you have a business, you want to get listed on Yelp! You may not use the software, but some people do, and they use it religiously (and I don’t mean they’ll kill you over it). By listing your business on Yelp!, you’re putting yourself on the map. From here, you also need to start using Yelp! Write reviews of places you go. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
The frequency and method of payment vary as well. Most programs pay their affiliates monthly, although a few pay more frequently. Some require that affiliate earnings reach a specific threshold, which can be as low as $25 or as high as $100. Some programs don't have a threshold. There are programs that pay through direct deposit into your bank, but a vast number pay through PayPal.
This is the easiest way to gain experience because you get exposed to other affiliates. You can meet people by joining a discussion forum or an online community. The good thing is that they are free to join and you get very good advice there. Examples of such online communities are ABestWeb, Digital Point, and Warrior Forum. Apart from getting advice from more experienced affiliates, you get the chance to network with other marketers.
If you’re looking for inspiration, my friend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of the website Making Sense of Sense has become the expert on all things affiliate marketing. Michelle earns more than $100,000 per month from her blog and the bulk of her income comes from affiliate sales. Michelle has had so much success with affiliate marketing that she even has her own course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.