what is affiliate marketing

What Is Affiliate Marketing? 7 Ideas and Examples

What is affiliate marketing? Is it as simple as setting up a new website, adding some links, and earning a huge passive income that immediately starts improving your life?

The fact is that a lot of bloggers and website owners earn a great living with affiliate marketing. Some even earn as much as $50,000 or more per month. But blogging isn’t the only way to succeed at affiliate marketing.

Video marketing, email lists, and microsites are several of the other ways entrepreneurs earn a healthy income online.

Of course, not everyone who gets into affiliate marketing is going to start making a six-figure income right away. But there are some best online marketing strategies and tips you can start using today to improve your affiliate marketing approach and build a substantial income.

In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “what is affiliate marketing?” while providing you with ideas and examples to get you going on the right path.

Let’s take a look.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Simply stated, affiliate marketing is the practice of promoting someone else’s products or services. When a sale is made, you keep a small commission from the profits of the sale.

As you browse the web, you’ll often come across headings that are marked as sponsored posts or affiliate links. Maybe you’re further ahead of the game and have already signed up on a network for affiliates. But if you’re brand new to this world, you should know exactly how it works before getting too far ahead of yourself.

The first step to affiliate marketing is finding a network or program that you want to promote. Study the overview of each program, including:

  • What they’re selling
  • The payment methods they use
  • Their commission structure.

If what you see fits your vision for what you want to promote, simply sign up and wait for them to confirm.

While you’re waiting, you can start building content and adding the custom links they give you into the content. These are the links that your users will click on to make purchases that will earn you a commission.

You can choose to work with larger affiliate networks like Amazon, or with individual companies that offer affiliate programs. The programs are typically divided into separate categories to help make your choices easier.

After you’re approved, you can begin promoting the affiliate links on your site, social media, email newsletters, or anywhere that you’re allowed to post and share links.

When you’ve reached a minimum payment level set by the affiliate program, they’ll send you a payment. This is normally done every month through a bank transfer or PayPal.

Some affiliate programs will still send physical checks if you prefer.

The Top 7 Ways To Succeed At Affiliate Marketing in 2022

Besides the more traditional ways of promoting your links, there are now some new trends in affiliate marketing that you should pay attention to.

Let’s dive into some of the most successful trends, as well as more traditional ways you can promote affiliate links.

1. Influencers

Influencer marketing is the top trend in affiliate marketing thanks to YouTube and other social media platforms. Celebrities like Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner are some of the most well-known social media influencers in the world.

But there are also a lot of everyday people that have found fame as influencers due to their ability to create great content and interact with their audience.

Some examples include:

  • Mrs. Hinch the cleaning expert
  • Addison Rae the TickTokker
  • Murad Osmass the photographer

Of course, often brands will directly pay influencers a flat fee to promote their products and services. But these influencers also share links with followers to earn affiliate commissions. It’s another avenue for building recurring revenue as an influencer or blogger.

If you’re an individual or business with a passionate audience, you can succeed at influencer affiliate marketing as well.

For example, on Instagram, consider promoting and sharing affiliate links by:

  • Adding affiliate links to your bio
  • Tag your brand when promoting an affiliate product
  • Build gift guides and product comparisons to help educate the people who follow you
  • Use IGTV and Instagram Stories to promote and discuss the products

When you include affiliate links, also include a powerful call-to-action that encourages users to click through and consider buying the product.

Also remember to choose the products that best match your niche or brand, and only promote products you personally like.

You need your audience to know that you have their best interests in mind and that they can trust you.

2. Affiliate Blogging

Bloggers that want to monetize their content often look to affiliate marketing as the ultimate solution. Most bloggers specialize in a niche and share services and products within that niche that they know will grab the attention of their audience.

For example, a blogger may promote things like health trackers, credit card systems, or customer management systems.

This works well for niche businesses. And the further you’re able to “niche down,” the more success you’ll find.

To turn your blog into an affiliate marketing machine, you can include things like:

  • Banners
  • Video clips
  • Pop-ups
  • Links to products within blog posts

Of course, you can also use email and social media to share your links with followers.

It’s important, however, to only include affiliate marketing links if they naturally flow within the rest of your content. And of course, always avoid overselling.

If you publish a weekly or monthly newsletter, share links through gift lists, product comparisons, and other special offers.

Lastly, focus on sharing the links that offer the most value to the people who trust you. Never just “go for the sale.” Instead, make sure that you first provide value.

3. Referral Links

After you sign up for your chosen affiliate program(s), you’ll have access to your own personal links. These are called referral links.

When a user clicks on that link and completes a purchase, you get paid a commission for the sale. For example, a company called BigCommerce has an affiliate program that pays $1,500 for every single enterprise referral.

Companies that send out newsletters on a regular basis, or write product reviews, typically find the referral link strategy effective. But you can also use these links in:

  • Forums (sometimes)
  • Tutorials
  • Resource pages
  • Blog posts
  • Video content and banners

However you choose to use your referral links, make your content valuable and your links visible and contextual. If you’re sending out your content to brand new subscribers, put your focus on building a relationship with them before you start including referral links.

On social media, it’s not the best form to directly share affiliate links. However, you can share the links of your published content that includes affiliate links.

And of course, don’t forget your typical standards of creating content that performs, like including CTAs, using the right keywords, and creating titles that drive clicks.

4. Microsites

Mini-sites, otherwise known as microsites, are separate from your main site. The goal of a microsite is to target a very specific audience.

A lot of brands will use microsites side-by-side with other marketing approaches, such as social media and blogging.

The format of a microsite will vary from single-page sites to a small collection of site pages. And it can be either a subdomain of your main site, or have its own unique domain.

Most often, a brand will use a microsite to highlight a specific thing, such as:

  • An individual event
  • Campaigns
  • Branded content

But it isn’t just brands that use microsites. Affiliate marketers can make them too. To decide if microsites are an appropriate approach for you, consider the following factors:

  • Are you an affiliate marketer trying to target a small and specific niche?
  • What is the role of the site in your customer’s journey?
  • Are you testing keywords or campaigns?
  • Will you need to keep the site live long term?

And if you want to give yourself a chance at succeeding using microsites, make sure you:

  • Provide content that’s detailed and rich in media
  • Highlights benefits and features so your users can take in content in an instant
  • Mix up the type of content you use, such as including videos
  • Include product reviews of products that you’ve actually tested and used. And be 100% honest about them
  • Use a lot of products from different programs for a better mix
  • Include a wide range of products that touch several different price points

5. Social Media

You can use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to promote your affiliate links. But you’ll have to make sure that the ads you use comply with each platform’s guidelines.

Sharing affiliate links on social media is an ideal way for affiliates that have larger online followings or an extremely niche product and it also allows you to reach your ideal member.

Some ideas for sharing links are:

  • Groups
  • Personal pages
  • Facebook ads
  • Promoted posts

6. Email List Marketing

Email lists are yet another way you can share links with the people who follow you. You can set up an email list of users who’ve registered with you by using services such as AWeber or MailChimp.

Most of these services will provide you with an incentive when you sign up, such as an ebook, templates, or a training session.

If you’re a marketer that already has an email list and subscribers and content engagement metrics you can harness, you’ll be able to benefit from email list affiliate marketing no matter what niche you’re in.

7. Videos

People don’t like video content. They actually love it. In fact, YouTube alone now has over 2.1 billion active users.

That’s nearly 25% of the world’s population.

But beyond YouTube, sites like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are great for sharing your video content as well.

Video content is the best way for busy people to consume content. And it’s also perfect for teaching people how to use products, how they can benefit from them, and for discussing pros and cons of the products you promote.

The best way to do this is by adding your links as pinned comments under your videos. You should also add them to your bio and be as active as possible on your page.

Use video marketing to build confidence in your audience. 

Affiliate Marketing Strategies You Should Avoid

Yes, a lot of people have found success as affiliate marketers. But there’s somewhat of a dark side to it as well.

As with other types of businesses that are centered on earning money, affiliate marketing is targeted by a lot of fraud. Cookie dropping or stuffing is one such example.

But there are many other practices that you should stay away from, which include:

  1. Creating content of poor quality. The days when we could produce content loaded with keywords and dominate Google search results are long gone. Rather, we need to provide content that has value to readers and viewers.
  2. Using hard sells. Focus on building relationships rather than an approach for direct sales. After someone trusts you, they’re much more apt to purchase the things you recommend.
  3. Not looking into the legitimacy of the products you promote. The health product you’re looking into promoting may sound great and pay healthy commissions, but does it work? Only choose products that you’ve studied. And that work.
  4. Misleading your buyers. This, of course, should be automatic. However, the greed of high commissions causes some affiliate marketers to misrepresent what a product can do. Yes, bold claims get more clicks. But if the claims aren’t true, it’s highly unethical and sometimes illegal.

Remember that your reputation in the business is everything. If the audience you’ve built doesn’t believe or trust what you say, you’re not going to make any money.

Always put your full focus on your audience.

What Is Affiliate Marketing In 2022 and Beyond?

It’s now clear that affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize content and build a substantial online income. And as the times continue to change, so does affiliate marketing.

In the past, email lists and blogs were the best way to share links. Now, the popularity of social media means that influencers now earn high incomes simply by promoting affiliate links and products.

No matter what method you decide to go with, always make sure that the products you promote will resonate with your audience. And always stay away from shady affiliate practices.

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