Are you interested in starting your own business, but wondering what is the best online business to start? I know you are, because you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.
So if you are looking for a home-based business that you can do full-time, or in your spare time, and with very little start-up costs, I think affiliate marketing is your answer.
I’m sure you have heard about people making money with affiliate marketing, but maybe you are not sure exactly what it is, or if it could be something that you could make money from too.
Affiliate marketing is growing online business opportunity that will allow just about anybody to earn a part-time or full-time income working from home or practically from anywhere for that matter.
Not only is it relatively easy to start, it is also a great business model because of the extremely low start-up costs that is involved to get up and rolling.
So if you are not completely familiar with affiliate marketing, let me explain. In its simplest form, affiliate marketing is a referral program where an online merchant will pay a commission to an independent party or “affiliate”.
An affiliate marketer will promote the products and services of a merchant on their website, and get a “finders-fee” on sales generated from the customer’s that were referred by the affiliate to the online retailer.
The reason affiliate marketing is so attractive to both parties is because the affiliate can join most programs for free and there is virtually no risk to become an affiliate marketer, and for the merchant because they only pay out when a sale is made.
But I want to be completely honest and up front with you. While the process of affiliate marketing is not complicated to begin, making money is a different story. Being a successful internet marketer will take a serious effort on your part and will take some time before you make your first dollar.
To see the results that you are looking for, you must learn how to do affiliate marketing the right way and treat your new endeavor like a real business.
A Brief History of Affiliate Marketing
The first known version of performance based online marketing began in the late 1980s. The idea of internet marketing came from William J Tobin who was an American entrepreneur, inventor, and business owner.
He founded PC Flowers, Inc in 1988 and became one of the first e-commerce business on the internet. Then in 1994, he started PC Flowers & Gifts and affiliate marketing as we know it now was soon born. By the year 1998, the company had secured more than 2,700 affiliate marketing partners.
The E-commerce Boom
With almost 4 billion people using the internet today compared to 20 years ago, people are more interested in the convenience of shopping online instead of leaving their house and driving to a store.
The world wide web has become a place where people can find just about any product, service, or information with the simple click of a mouse button. As consumers started spending so much more time and money online, retailers started looking for ways to profit from the internet and e-commerce boom.
Creators of small websites everywhere started looking for ways to monetize their sites and get paid by promoting someone else’s products. In return, the merchant was able to reach much further and to a larger audience with this new concept, while only paying fees to the affiliate when a sale was made.
In fact, global spending with affiliate marketing is expected to increase to 8.2 billion dollars by the year 2022, which is up from 5.4 billion from just two years ago in 2017.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
As I mentioned earlier, affiliate marketing or internet marketing is an online business model where you earn revenue for promoting other companies goods or services.
You as the “affiliate” is basically a middle-man between the retailer and the end consumer.
The parties involved in the circle of affiliate marketing are:
The customer is the first piece to start the cycle of affiliate marketing. The prospective buyer starts the process by searching the internet for a specific product or service and comes across your website.
This customer is already in the buying mode and is wanting information and looking for reviews on a specific product and are looking at you for help.
While the customer started the whole affiliate marketing process, they are also the one to complete the circle, where it all begins all over again.
After the customer makes the purchase, you just made money.
Remember, you didn’t have to “sell” them anything. They were already in a buying mode and came looking for you for answers.
The Independent Party Or Affiliate
You as the independent party or affiliate is basically acting as a middle man between the customer and the merchant. You will be promoting a product or service of your choosing, and earning money when the retailer completes a sale to a customer.
There are millions and millions of products or niches that you can promote for other companies and get paid for your efforts.
For example: Maybe you are into fitness and would like to help people reach certain weight loss goals that they may have. You could promote a supplement or piece of exercise equipment that could help someone lose belly fat.
You create a simple website (yes it is simple to do) containing valuable information along with product reviews, showing an interested buyer how you can help with their weight loss.
When they click on your affiliate link, it will take them to the merchants website where they can learn more and make their purchase.
The Merchant Or Retailer
Then there is the merchant or retailer. This is the company that has the products and/or services that they are wanting to sell.
Most large online companies make use of affiliate programs as part of their overall business plan. They are more than happy to pay a commission to you for a sale that came from your website and affiliate link.
How much you earn on commissions will vary depending on what affiliate program you decide to partner with.
A few of the more popular affiliate programs that you can partner with are:
Sometimes there is some confusion about the difference between an affiliate program and an affiliate network. An affiliate network is basically a single company that provides many different affiliate programs and acts as a liaison between the merchant and the affiliate. While some companies like Amazon and ebay run their own in house affiliate programs, other programs go through an affiliate network that will handle all the software and support systems.
Instead of having to sign up with 1000’s of affiliate programs separately, you can join an affiliate network and have access to the thousands and thousands of products that you can instantly promote on your website. With an affiliate network, having all your tracking links and payout information in just one place is one advantage of being part of an affiliate network.
Some of the more well known networks that you can join are ClickBank, ShareASale and CJ Affiliate. Each one of these networks has their own features, and just like most affiliate programs, these are all free to join and you can instantly start promoting just about anything you can think of.
Keeping Track With Affiliate Links
In order for you and the merchant to keep track of the traffic and sales that are being generated from your efforts, you will be assigned a unique affiliate tracking link.
No matter what affiliate program you decide to join, you will be given your own personalized affiliate link from the merchant to place into the content of your website or blog.
When someone clicks on your link, it will be stored into the browser of the customer in the form of a “cookie“. The cookie does not contain any personal information on the customer, but keeps track of the activity of the buyer. Just like the commission fees will vary from one affiliate program to the other, the length of the cookie duration is different as well.
Some programs have a 24 hour cookie window, while some have a 3-day, 7-day, or even a lifetime cookie.
For example: Amazon’s affiliate program has a 24-hour cookie. This means that if someone clicked on your Amazon affiliate link, you will earn a commission on EVERYTHING that customer buys from Amazon in the next 24 hours.
You can always use multiple affiliate links from different programs to give the potential customer a choice on where they would like to buy.
By having your own unique tracking link, it makes it really simple for you and the merchant to keep track of all your sales and commissions from that individual program.
Depending on which affiliate program you join will determine when and how you get paid. Some programs will pay out every month, every other month, or when you reach a certain amount of commissions.
Most of the programs will pay directly to your PayPal account or a direct deposit to your bank account.
Start Building Your Online Business
Now that you know the basics of affiliate marketing, I will show you how to actually get started using four basic steps. These 4 steps have been proven to be successful over and over and are currently being used buy internet marketers from all over the world.
Starting any business can be challenging but rewarding at the same time, especially an online business. Fortunately there are certain steps you can take to ensure you get the best information, so you have the best chance to build a lucrative and long term business.
Even if you are a complete beginner with no previous experience, you can also follow the same basic steps and get your slice of the pie, and you can do it on a shoe-string budget too.
Choose Your Niche Or Interest
The first step when building your business is choosing your niche. Your niche selection is what you will be building your whole business around and should probably be something that you already have an interest in.
Sometimes it is easy to lose focus when you are working on a business everyday that you really don’t have much knowledge of or not real interested in. By selecting a niche that you truly enjoy, will keep you more engaged and be the best for your business over the long term.
What do you like to do on your off days or what do you like to do as a hobby?
Your niche will help you identify what audience you would like to reach and who you want to market to. Just don’t be too broad when you choose.
Do you like to cook and would like create a business from that? Maybe you could offer recipes for diabetics or people with wheat allergies and need to be on a gluten free diet. Instead of trying to reach everybody, try to market to a specific group of people.
Will Your Audience Love Your Niche?
While just about any niche could be the start of a profitable business, and it would be awesome to have a niche that nobody else is promoting. But there has to be enough interest from your target audience for you to make money. If you have something that is really unique to you, but doesn’t solve a large common problem, it probably won’t be too successful.
How really interested are you in your niche, are there other people buying your niche online, and what are the chances of your niche bringing a high volume of traffic to your website. The whole idea of affiliate marketing is to bring massive amounts of traffic to your website and provide a much needed service to your audience.
Build Your Website
It goes without saying, but your website is what your business is built on and is probably the most important part. Your website will be your “storefront” for your business and where people will go to find what they are looking for.
For some reason, a lot of people don’t start their online business because they think there is some complicated process in getting a website up and running.
That simply isn’t true.
I can tell you that most online marketers had no clue how to create a website when they first got started, but found out how easy it really is with the different website builders that are available to you. You can have your own custom website live on the web in just a few minutes time.
All you really need to get a website going are three things: Your domain name, web hosting, and a content management system (website builder).
Your domain name will be your “business” address where people will go when they find you. Preferably, your domain name should have no more than 3 or 4 words and should be easy for someone to remember. Try to avoid using numbers and hyphens in your domain name too.
Don’t make it anymore complicated than it has to be. Make it easy for your audience to remember you and find you.
- Domain Registration – Averages about $13.00 to $16.00 a year
- Web Hosting – As low as $3.00 a month for one domain and website, up to $10.00 for unlimited websites
- WordPress Website Builder – Free
Fortunately, there are many places that you can go to find a web hosting company and a company to register your perfect domain name. Each one will offer different packages and have various pricing structures.
Some of the more popular choices for website domain registration and web hosting are:
Even though the upfront startup costs are relatively low to build a website, it still can be a bit of a task for someone that is new and just starting their online business.
So to make it even easier for you if you are a beginner, I personally recommend that you pass over the method of finding a company to register your domain name, paying for web hosting, and installing WordPress on your computer and then trying to build your website on your own. I would suggest that you look at this option and see how you can easily build your own custom website for free.
Within just a few minutes and a few clicks of your mouse, you can have a real website with hosting and your own domain name. And these websites will be live on the internet and won’t cost you a dime to get rolling
Attract Visitors And Drive Traffic To Your Website
No matter if you have a brick and mortar business or an online business, you must have customers to make any money. It’s pretty simple to figure out that without people visiting your business, you won’t survive for very long.
So you basically have two ways to bring potential customers to your store. They are from paid traffic and free traffic. Paid traffic can come from Google Ads and Facebook ads. Google Ads is a pay per click program where you only pay when someone clicks on your URL or website address.
However, this is probably not the best way to go for a newbie as it can become quite costly if your website is new and not yet bringing in any revenue.
The other way to bring traffic to your site is through organic searches with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This method is free and allows you to experiment to see what is and isn’t working before you spend any money.
For people to find you, ideally you want to be ranked high in the Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines, which will bring you the most free traffic.
Learning how to effectively drive free traffic to your website is not difficult if done properly, but can take some time while you are building out your business.
Of course every affiliate marketer wants to drive as much traffic to their website as possible, where people can read your content or buy your product or service.
The best way to bring visitors to your website is to know what your audience is searching for and create valuable content based on those searches.
There are an unlimited amount of “long tailed keywords” for every niche that you can integrate into your website pages and posts.
Using a good keyword tool where you can find high quality keywords with low competition, will help you get a leg up on the competition when growing your business.
An example of a long tailed keyword that someone might be typing into the search bar could be “Best DSLR Camera Under $500.” You can see exactly how many people are typing those exact words into the search box, and create your content around those keywords.
Interesting & Relevant Content
You don’t have to be a professional writer, but creating interesting and relevant content that keeps your readers engaged is the most important thing that you can do, and it’s what helps get you ranked by Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
One of the things that most affiliate marketers do is to write reviews on different products, thus helping potential customers with information they are looking for.
If a customer is in the market for a new microwave oven, but not sure which one to buy, you could write a post or blog reviewing the various microwaves with features, pros and cons, etc.
You can drive a lot of free traffic to your website by combining good keywords and quality content to the articles in your website.
Making the money. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Now that you (1) found your niche, (2) created a website, and (3) started adding content and affiliate links to your website, are you going to start earning revenue immediately?
Probably not gonna happen.
By following the 3 steps above, you have just laid the foundation to your online business and started the building process. While affiliate marketing can be a lucrative business, it can take some time before you see any results.
The truth is, many people quit because they expect overnight success and don’t have the patience to follow though.
Keep in mind that there are close to FOUR BILLION people online every single day, looking for information and products to buy.
Affiliate marketing is not a business where you have to “sell” anything. People are already in the buying mode and they are looking for you. All you are doing is helping a potential customer make their buying decision easier by providing them with much needed information.
Where Do You Want To Go Next?
It’s time to make a decision. Do you want to learn more about affiliate marketing and how you can make start making money online?
I hope your answer is yes.
Like I said before, with so many people from all over the world using the internet every day to make online purchases, now might be the best time for you to take charge of your future and get in on some of the action.
As you know, there are many places online where you can get more detailed information on starting an online affiliate marketing business, but there is one place that I highly recommend.
This a place that has all the tools and training, where you will learn everything there is to know about starting and growing an internet business from the ground up.
Starting an affiliate marketing business is not hard to do, but can be a little overwhelming when trying to getting started. Imagine having a place to go where you can learn how to create an online business step-by-step while doing it at your own pace.
In fact, you can actually create two FREE websites and start earning while you are learning.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Yes affiliate marketing does work and can be very profitable, but only you can decide if this is the right business for you, and where you want to go next.
No matter what affiliate program you choose to join, or what product you want to promote, you still need to have the right training and support to give you your business the best chance for success. Not having a clear path of direction will lead to nothing but frustration and will eventually cause you to give up.
So many people from all over the world are earning hundreds of dollars a month to hundreds of thousands of dollars a month with affiliate marketing. There is no limit on what products you can promote and how much money you can make.
Unfortunately, there is more to being an affiliate marketer than just getting some affiliate links and plastering them all over your website, that is assuming that you know how to create a website.
I know that you are wanting to try something different and new, so I really would encourage you to read more about my #1 recommended affiliate marketing training program.
Inside you will learn everything there is to know about starting an online business from the ground floor, including creating two free websites with hosting, how to attract visitors to your website, keyword research tools, tech support and more.
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