Affiliate Marketing – A Beginners Guide

Before the Internet, if you wanted to sell a new product you had to do market research, develop the product, produce the product, advertise and finally sell the product.  With the power of the web however, anyone with the ability to draw and funnel traffic can sell products in just about any niche market.

Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting other people’s products, driving targeted traffic towards their sales pages, and getting a percentage of the sale as commission for finding the customer.  The size of the commission depends on the market, and the type of product, and can typically range from 5% to 100% or more (some affiliate programs actually pay out more than 100% of the sale price, since they know their backend systems will generate further profits from that customer!)

Physical products, from books to bikes, typically pay a small commission of around 5%.  This is because physical products have high production costs, warehousing, shipping etc.  Information products on the other hand, like ebooks or downloadable video, have virtually zero production and distribution costs, and so commissions tend to be much higher.  40% to 75% commissions are commonly paid to the affiliate for finding the customer which means that top affiliates (known as super affiliates) can earn very substantial earnings, even though they don’t sell any of their own products.

Product owners can run their own affiliate programs, or use an affiliate marketplace.  While both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages I suggest looking at products available through an affiliate marketplace to begin with.  The reasons being that you can find multiple products to promote, and you can be sure of getting paid in a timely fashion (without having to research or trust the product owner!)

Affiliate products can be promoted in many ways, via direct text links from your site, with banners on your site, in links from your articles, or even in your own products.  Probably the best way to promote them however is by sending email promotions to the subscribers on your opt-in email list (you have started to build a list right?)

One of the other major benefits of selling as an affiliate is that the product owner does all the selling.  If you choose a good product to promote then it will already have a well written sales letter, and many products will have pre-written sample emails that you can literally cut and paste right into your autoresponder.  Just change your affiliate links (provided by Clickbank) and you’re good to go.  In fact, you can preload your autoresponder sequence with many, many promotions which will keep earning you money for months, or even years after you set it up!

This is where the power of an autoresponder really shows.  You could load 52 emails, one per week, for an entire year, then just concentrate on driving traffic to your opt-in page.  So long as you have people subscribing to your list, you know you’ll be making money on autopilot, whether you’re in the office, or at the beach!

Now, you don’t want to just bombard your list with offers, you want them to keep reading your emails after all!  For that reason, you should mix your promotions with content – good, quality, free content that will keep them coming back for more.

Different marketers have different ideas about the ratio of content to promotions, but personally I would say that if you give your subscribers one quality content email per week (quick tip, link to an article or free video etc.) that offers real value, then you can safely send one or two promotions each week.

Some affiliate programs will also pay on a second tier.  What that means is, rather than finding customers for a product owner, you can find other affiliates.  You’ll then get a commissions every time that affiliate makes a sale!  The commission will tend to be smaller than if you found the customers yourself, but any affiliate you find could potentially make thousands of sales, and you get a piece of every one.

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