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Affiliate Marketing: Beginner’s Guide for 2021

by Louise W. Rice
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What does your workday look like? Do you have to wake up bright and early even though you hate it? Do you at least get to work from home, or do you have to drive to the office with all the other groggy and cranky commuters? Once you get to work, we imagine you do your best to get through the day while you wait for the sweet release of 5 o’clock.

But what if you found a way to generate passive income? Wouldn’t that be great? Then you could finally take a step back from the rat race and breathe.

That, in fact, is the underlying principle of affiliate marketing.

When it comes to generating passive income online, affiliate marketing is a fantastic option, and right now is an especially good time to get started. However, if you’re unfamiliar with affiliate marketing or how it works, this article will help you decide if this is something you want to try, and if the answer is yes, it will also give you the basics you need to know to get started.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a way to make money by recommending existing products or services to your audience. You are the affiliate marketer, and you create content that attracts an audience, and then you refer that audience through an affiliate link to an online store. If someone you referred makes a purchase, you receive a commission.

An affiliate marketer is basically an online salesperson who earns a commission for referring customers.

Here’s how the process works step by step:

Step 1 – Your platform

First, you need a website, blog, YouTube channel – some sort of platform for your online content – and of course, the content itself. You insert links into that content containing your affiliate ID and direct your visitors to the online store you collaborate with.

Step 2 – Your visitors

When your visitors click on the affiliate links, they are directed to the online store to view an affiliate product.

Step 3 – The purchase

Suppose one of your visitors decides to actually buy that product. In that case, the online store will know they were referred by you because of the affiliate ID we mentioned earlier, so you will be granted a commission.

Step 4 – Your commission

Once you reach the payment threshold and requirements of the affiliate program you joined, the online store will send you your commission through bank transfer, or they’ll mail you a check.

The fundamentals of affiliate marketing are simple: create content, grow an audience, build trust and earn commission by recommending affiliate products to your audience.

Putting theory into practice does, however, take quite a bit of time and effort.

The beauty of the process is that it’s cumulative – the more you do it, the better you get at it, the more popular your platform becomes, and the more money you make. The most challenging part is to keep doing it even when you do not see substantial returns. Plus, there are other factors at play like doing market research, choosing the right niche, creating good content, and targeting the best keywords.

Many bloggers and website owners make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone so they create content that doesn’t target any particular demographic and is intended for the masses. Unfortunately, this usually leads to the content being largely ignored. That’s why learning to do market research or getting help from a company like Sapio Research is so important. You need to know your audience before you can build a successful platform and start making money with affiliate marketing.

How Much Will I Make as a Beginner?

At the risk of disappointing you, the answer is not much. Unless you already have a popular platform, you’ll spend the first few months building an audience. This means you’ll be earning pocket change because you don’t have enough visitors to click on your affiliate link.

On average, it takes about a year until you start making a few hundred dollars per month. Most new affiliate marketers make somewhere between $50 and $250 after the first six months, and then they start building up from that. The good news is that once you start gaining traction, there’s no limit to how much you can make. You could be looking at thousands of dollars per month.

It mostly depends on how engaging content and competitive your content is.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

Amazon Affiliate Marketing

Right now, Amazon dominates the affiliate marketing sector and is by far the best option for beginners since it has a wide range of products and a sizable chunk of the eCommerce market.

There are certainly other affiliate marketing programs available, some of which pay greater commission rates. However, getting most of them to convert as well as Amazon is quite difficult. After you’ve figured out how it all works and what kind of content your audience enjoys, you can start looking for other programs.

If you find a company that matches your niche but you’re not sure if it has an affiliate program, you can just google the name of the company and “affiliate program.” You should be able to find it without too much hassle.

For Amazon, you first want to make sure your platform has a decent amount of content, and then you can apply to the Amazon Associates Program. The sign-up process is very straightforward.

Display Ads

There is another simple way for beginners to monetize their website: using display advertising, also known as banner ads.

To start displaying banner ads on your blog, simply choose an ad network, and they will match you with the highest bidders based on your niche.

Right now, the biggest ad networks are Google AdSense, OIO Publisher Network, BuySellAds (BSA) Advertising Network, Revenue Hits, AdBlade, Sharethrough Ads, Epom Market Adsterra, and Propeller Ads.

The minimum payment threshold varies. For example, it’s $100 for Google AdSense and $20 for Revenue Hits.

CPA Offers

CPA offers are another good option. With this system, instead of getting commission for referring a successful product sale, you are compensated for an action, such as an email list registration. The acronym CPA stands for “Cost-Per-Action.”

The cost-per-action formula is a low-risk strategy for businesses since, unlike paid traffic, they only have to pay if visitors perform the desired action. It can be very profitable for affiliates if they target the right audience, as well as for businesses if they advertise through the right affiliates.

The biggest CPA affiliate networks right now are MaxBounty, Peerfly, Clickbooth, W4, and Admitad.

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