Affiliate Marketing Strategies to Make Passive Income

April 22, 2022 Updated: April 22, 2022
what is affiliate marketing
what is affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular methods of generating passive income online, it makes much more money -if implemented the right way- compared to other content monetization like Subscriptions and Ads.

Today, 81% of brands around the world have affiliate programs. According to Statista, affiliate marketing spending in the U.S. alone is expected to reach over $8 billion by the end of 2022.

If you’re looking for a complete guide to affiliate marketing, you're in the right place. This affiliate marketing guide includes everything you need to start promoting products and services as an affiliate and create an additional source of income.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting and selling someone else’s product or service for a commission. That is simply Affiliate marketing. But the process itself can involve a lot of details.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

To better understand how Affiliate Marketing works, let’s take a more in-depth look at the involved parts in the process:

Main Players

There are typically four parties involved in affiliate marketing:

1. The Merchant

Sometimes also known as the seller, the vendor, the product creator, or the brand. This is the party that creates the product and pays affiliate commissions for sales. It can be a big company, like Nike, or it can be a single individual like me or you.

The merchants can be anyone from solo entrepreneurs to startups to massive Fortune 500 companies, as long as they are willing to pay their affiliates to help them gain a transaction.

They don’t even have to be actively involved. They just have to have a product to sell.

Sometimes, the seller might not even be the creator of the product or service as in the case of the Amazon Associates Program.

2. The Affiliate Marketers

This party sometimes also known as the publisher can be an individual or a company.

More often than not, affiliates are content creators in the same niche of the product they're promoting.

An affiliate promotes one or more products and tries to attract and convince potential customers of the value of the merchant’s product so that they take an action.

This action could be a purchase or submitting a lead form, or trial subscription depending on the affiliate program.

This can be achieved through content like social media posts, blogs, videos, and several other types of content, or even by using paid ads to bring in traffic.

3. The Consumer

The consumers or customers are the ones who make the transaction. They are the ones who purchase the product or submit the lead form in order for the affiliate to gain the commission.

It is the party who makes the affiliate system work, without sales or action from consumers, there aren’t any commissions.

It is recommended that consumers know they are part of an affiliate marketing system, some Affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates, may require your website to have a proper Affiliate Disclaimer before using their affiliate links.

Usually, a short disclaimer, like “This page contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase after clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.” is fine.

4. The Affiliate Network

An affiliate network is a platform that connects merchants with affiliates. Although an affiliate network is not always required, in some cases the merchant manages his affiliate program himself, but most businesses prefer to collaborate with one or more affiliate networks to add a layer of trust and focus on product quality, letting the network manages the relationship and provides resources to track, report, and manage payments to the affiliates.

The affiliate network acts as a database with a large number of products from which the affiliate marketer may choose which to promote.

Some of the top affiliate marketing networks are ShareASale, ClickBank, CJ Affiliate, and Rakuten.

In the case of promoting consumer products, like books, toys, tools, and household items, the biggest affiliate network, by far, is Amazon.

Types of Affiliate Payments

Pay-Per-Sale (PPS): The affiliate gets paid for each sale they generated. This is the most popular affiliate marketing model.

Pay-Per-Lead (PPL): The affiliate gets paid for every lead they generated. This could be a trial registration, form submission, or any pre-purchase.

These two types (PPS and PPL) plus Recurring commission –we will talk about it later- are the most common types of affiliate payments, in some cases, they are combined on the same product or service, which means if the affiliate generates a lead, he gets a commission, and if he generates a sale for the same product or service, he gets a higher commission, These two types (PPS and PPL) are sometimes called Pay-Per-Action (PPA); another pay-per-action type is pay-per-call for resulting appointments for businesses like real estate sales or Insurance.

Pay-Per-Click: In the pay-per-click affiliate marketing payment model, affiliates get paid for clicks generated, regardless of whether a lead or sale happened. This model is pretty rare in affiliate marketing, Pay-Per-Click, and Pay-Per-Impression are more used in advertisements.

Two-Tier Affiliate Programs: A two-tier affiliate program sometimes called a tiered affiliate program, is an affiliate marketing model that allows you to earn commissions not only on your own sales but also on sales generated by people that you refer to the program (your sub-affiliates).

Sometimes compensation will be written in shorthand as tier1/tier2 (ex. 10%/5%).

It is important to read the fine details to determine if the second-tier commission is calculated as a straight percentage (% of revenue generated by “referred people”) or a percentage of a percentage (% of earnings generated by “referred people”).

Recurring commission: Instead of One-Time Commissions, some affiliate programs pay Recurring Commissions. In this case, affiliates earn a commission for every purchase or service renewal one of their referrals makes over a period of time, not only a commission on their first purchase alone.

This "period of time" could be forever which is called "Recurring Lifetime Commissions".

Affiliate programs cookie life

A cookie is a small file stored on the user’s computer. It’s used to identify the website’s visitors. Cookies have their expiration date, in affiliate marketing, cookies are used to track affiliate referrals.

A cookie's lifespan means how long the prospective buyer who clicks through your affiliate link might make you a profit.

For example, if a visitor clicks your affiliate link which has a cookie's lifespan of 30 days, you earn a commission when this visitor makes a transaction in the next 30 days.

Now after disassembling the affiliate marketing parts I think you can easily understand how it works:

  1. Affiliate (you) subscribe to an affiliate program, whether on the merchant website like Fiverr or an affiliate network like ShareASale or ClickBank or CJ Affiliate or any other Networks, then pick a product or service and ask for approval.
  2. When getting approval, you copy your proper link and start promoting the product or service you chose using social media posts, blogs, videos, or any other types of content, or even using paid campaign.
  3. When a customer (visitor) clicks your affiliate link, a cookie is created in the customer’s browser, this cookie has a lifespan, this lifespan could be 30 days or 60 or 90, or even forever.
  4. When the customer makes a transaction (lead or sales depending on the affiliate program) before cookie expiration, the affiliate (you) get a commission.

Common Affiliate Marketing Channels

Affiliate marketers need traffic to make sales, which can be achieved in different ways. Of course, some affiliate marketing channels are more popular than others. Here are some of the most common marketing channels to succeed with affiliate marketing.

1. Influencer Marketing

Influencers are one of the top faces of today’s affiliate marketing due to their sway over the people following them,  typically on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

We all tend to mimic gestures of people we like and we do it subconsciously.

Famous like actresses, Sports champions, and singers are among the world’s top influencers. However, many ordinary people have become famous just because of their influencer personalities and ability to create engaging content and interact with their followers.

If you have a considerable or passionate audience, then consider influencer marketing.

Choose products that make sense for your niche and audience, and share only products you like, if you have already tried them, it's fine, if not at least you already like them or knows a lot about them. Your audience needs to trust you have their best interests in mind.

2. Blogging

Unless you are a famous influencer or have a considerable audience on social media, blogging is one of best channel for you to reach customers and promote your affiliate link.

Nearly 65% of affiliate marketers generate traffic by blogging.

Bloggers generally specialize in a specific niche and focus on content quality and SEO to drive more traffic to their websites.

Usually, bloggers use products comparison, reviews, tutorials, how-to, and other educational content to promote their affiliate links.

In addition, bloggers can combine different channels of promoting affiliate products like email listing and social media by building subscribers for newsletters and sharing their posts on social media.

However, only include links when they’re useful, don’t oversell. The Golden Rule is 1- don’t spam, 2- give value, 3- engage with people. Then you’ll be able to include affiliate links in your content and link back to your website in your email notifications.

3. Microsites

Microsites or mini-sites are branded pages (or a single page) that usually companies use to promote their individual products, events, or campaigns. They are separate from the main website, sometimes, hosted on their own domain or on a subdomain.

It varies from single pages to promote specific products or services to a collection of pages.

However, it’s not only brands using Microsites. Affiliate marketers use them too.

Since they're separate from your main website, you can Write detailed, media-rich content and offer a more targeted, relevant message.

to get much profit from Microsites, greets users with racy, adrenaline-pumping content, Highlight features and benefits, offer detailed and engaging multimedia content, Add reviews of products you’ve tried and tested—and be honest.

4. Email Marketing

You may think emails are outdated and constitute a kind of spam, but hey, if they are used legally and smartly, will give wonderful results; emails nowadays, represent one of the most powerful tools for digital marketing.

The average ROI through email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent. Simply put, you invest $1 and in return receive $36 from it.

Affiliate marketers who have set up their website or blog may have invited their visitors to subscribe to their newsletter. It’s a common way for bloggers to maintain engagement with their visitors and offers an extra channel for promoting their affiliate links included in their posts or directly from time to time, there's nothing wrong with sending a promotional email for every four or five value emails.

Bloggers usually, give some incentives to visitors to subscribe to their newsletters, like exclusive content, free courses, templates, and eBook downloads.

The high-quality content regularly updated constitutes by himself a lead magnet to attract visitors to subscribe to newsletters.

5. Video Content

The video content is the first in the world in terms of visits, the proof is YouTube, as it's ranked #2 after Google in the United States and globally.

People don’t just like video content. They love it because it is easily consumable for busy people, social media also love it more than classic content, although it requires more effort, a YouTube channel grows very fast compared to a blog.

video content is perfect for products reviews and comparison, showing people how they can use a product or service, how it benefits them, and highlighting the pros and cons, adding affiliate links underneath the video is a good practice for promoting your affiliate products.

6. Social Media Sites

Large media sites are built to bring in tons of traffic, 58.4% of the world's population uses social media. The average daily usage is 2 hours and 27 minutes (January 2022).

Sharing your affiliate links on social media like Facebook, Quora, LinkedIn, Reddit, or similar sites, could be ideal for affiliates with a decent number of followers or a very niche product.

These social media can be divided into popular and professional, to reach more results, affiliates have to focus more on most related social media depending on their niche.

How to become successful in affiliate marketing

Unlike other online businesses, and content monetization like Subscriptions and Ads, you can start affiliate marketing from the first day, even without a blog or website, or YouTube channel, all you need is, to subscribe to an affiliate network, send requests to some brands that don’t require a website, wait for approval, then start promoting your affiliate links in your preferred social media, or using paid ads, that’s all.

But to make your way to success in affiliate marketing, you must look beyond that, success requires planning, a lot of work, and patience, and the first step towards success is to start the right way.

Setup your own blog or website, increase ROI

As we see in the previous sub-title there are a lot of Affiliate Marketing Channels, but building your blog or website is the best choice as it allows you to increase your Return On Investment, when getting traffic to your affiliate links and makes sales, you can determine your ROI, but behind your appearing ROI, there are a lot of other benefits in case you have your own website, like return visitors, push notification and email newsletters subscription, and much more, at least when you invest in paid ads, you grow and invest in things you own, instead of investing in other platforms that may change their policy at any time, plus having a website is look more professional for your brand, and help you a lot with other monetization forms later.

Nowadays creating and hosting your own website or blog is becoming simple and cheap, maybe simpler than creating an email and cheaper than the price of your coffee, even free, sometimes, which allow you to focus on growing your audience the right way from the first day.

SEO: Search Engines Optimization, free unlimited ads

The first source of traffic for most websites is search engines, especially Google.

The first organic result in Google Search has an average click-through rate of 28.5%, according to a newly published study.

google search results click-through

With an average CTR rate of 8.8% for the 10 results on the first page of Google search results.

Simply think of it as free unlimited ads with very high CTR that you can’t find elsewhere.

Email Newsletters, Old is Gold

As we see earlier in this article, emails nowadays, represent one of the most powerful tools for digital marketing.

The average ROI through email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent. Simply put, you invest $1 and in return receive $36 from it.

Imagine how many sales you could generate by a simple click, with only 10.000 subscribers and a 1% conversion rate! Let's Do Simple Math: 10.000 X 1 / 100 = 100 sales.

YouTube channel: People love video content

As we see earlier in this article, video content is one of the best Affiliate Marketing Channels, unlike classic content such as post, the video goes viral, a YouTube channel combined with a website, enrich the content and reduce content creation effort by integration and content recycling, and double the traffic for both channel and website.

Forum: let’s people create content for you

In addition to your website you can easily setup a forum, the forum is a place where people ask questions, talk, and discuss with each other, what is nice about forums is, you don’t have to publish content always, people will do that, and when people write some specific words it will be automatically replaced by your affiliate link if you implement such technique.

In addition, a Forum will help you a lot build relationships with your audience and get more traffic to your website.

Social Media, the Rest of the Story

Large media sites are built to bring in tons of traffic, 58.4% of the world's population uses social media.

Having a website plus a YouTube channel diversifies your social media posts, and helps you bring more visitors and generate more sales.

Track your efforts, without it; it’s hard to tell you’re doing marketing

Like any marketing program, to be successful, you need to analyze statistics to know what’s working and what isn’t. Without it, it’s hard to tell you’re doing marketing.

You need to use your visitor analytics to learn more about your visitors, what pages get the majority of your traffic? What links in your navigation bar and other places on each page get clicked? And a lot of other metrics that you need to analyze to track your performance and optimize your strategies.

Start with your affiliate programs dashboard, and see what this tells you.

Implement Google Analytics on your website.

Use URL shortening services to get more details.

You have to pay attention to keys metrics like clickthroughs, conversion rates, ad spending, and ROI.

Ideas for affiliate marketing content

When including your affiliate links in your post, don’t oversell, only include links when they’re natural, always Focus on quality leads, not quantity, Put your audience first, Build trust, and engage your visitors.

Taking this in mind, there are content ideas that work better than others.

One versus one product article: most people reading one versus one product or service articles are already convinced these two products are the best, but they have difficulty with which one to choose. If you write a good article with deep details, and pros and cons, that will help them make the decision, Once they do, you will earn a commission whatever they choose, because you are promoting both products.

Top list services: the top list services like “top ten tools for email marketing” “the best 10 freelance websites…” and so on allow you to promote different products in one article.

Step by step tutorial: Step by step tutorial is also a good idea for implementing affiliate links, because people looking for step by step how to, are sometimes, about to purchase the service and want to know how it works.

Product reviews: product reviews or services reviews help people know better about a product or service, generally, people looking for product reviews are planning to use this product or purchase it.

There are a lot of other ideas to implement your affiliate links like deals pages, resources pages, and even using banners on your website is a common idea, especially if you track performance and analyze the results, and find it more beneficial than monetization ads.

Affiliate Marketing Mistakes and Strategies to Avoid

Affiliate marketers, like everyone else, make mistakes. However, instead of making the same mistakes over and over, you may learn to avoid them today.

Here is a quick summary of the most common affiliate marketing mistakes:

  • Prioritizing selling over helping
  • Publishing low-quality content
  • Picking the wrong product to promote
  • Too many products to promote
  • Designing a poor quality website

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