Sure, passive income (y’know, making money without direct effort other set up) takes initial effort, but it’s oh-so-necessary for sustaining your business while you plan and launch into future (ad)ventures.
Affiliate marketing is a popular source of passive income, and scheduled activities can also increase your earning potential. Plus, if you already have a popular blog or social media following, getting started with affiliate marketing might be even easier than you thought.
And if you haven’t already thought about it, just believe us. It’s not as bad as you think.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
So, let’s get technical: affiliate marketing leverages the relationship between an advertiser, a publisher, and a consumer. Just like old school magazines, blogs and other websites can advertise to their readers on your behalf (or vice versa).
Quick, fun trip down memory lane: old school mags were printed on this thing called paper, in case you forgot. Whaaaat.
Anyway, with affiliate marketing, you (the content creator and/or publisher) get a percentage of the sales from the advertisement. Instead of selling the ad, you’re working on commission. If you work with the right affiliate and have plenty of evergreen content continually bringing in readers, you can see how this could become a low-effort income stream.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Ka-ching.
Is Affiliate Marketing For You?
You might want to try affiliate marketing if:
- You have content, followers, and some inbound marketing skills, but you aren’t selling a product yourself
- You’re able to put a lot of effort into building something now, but continually develop new ventures and would prefer passive income in the future
- You have a niche ripe for affiliate marketing prospects
- You’re recognized as an authority in your niche
- You don’t have other sponsors or interests that would conflict with your affiliate marketing prospects.
There Affiliate Marketing Rules?
Well, sorta. There’s no Affiliate Marketing Rules of America or anything, but some unofficial, respected rules should be followed. We mean, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is definitely a thing, but there’s no one central set of rules otherwise. You’ll need to consider government regulations as well as affiliate regulations from your advertiser.
As touched upon, if your business is located in the United States, you need to pay attention to FTC (Federal Trade Commission) guidelines. The FTC has some serious guidelines for bloggers regarding the disclosure of material connection to any product or service. Here’s some info about how that applies specifically to affiliate marketers.
Note: Not all affiliate marketers do this, but obviously we encourage you to follow the law. Transparency is the best way to retain trust from your readers and profit with affiliate marketing.
Essentially, don’t be a dirt bag. Super easy if you’re not out to actively deceive people. And if you are: stop it.
When you sign up to be an affiliate for a company or through a service, you’ll sign an affiliate agreement. Read this carefully. This could include rules about how you discuss the product, whether you can talk about competitors, and more. Make sure that this agreement doesn’t violate your material connection to their brand so you can remain legal and retain your reputation.
After all, you’re leveraging your brand and expertise to push the product, so it best be a brand who will follow laws.
What we’re saying is yes, you need to read the legal documents before signing. Frustrating, but worthwhile. You’ll make it through it, we promise.*
*We legally can’t promise anything, by the way, but the odds are in your favor.
What Assets Can Help You Get Into Affiliate Marketing?
You don’t really need anything to get started as long as you’re willing to put the work into building a blog and community (and yeah, that can definitely take major effort). If you have an existing digital property like a domain, that can help immensely.
To prepare your existing site for affiliate marketing, try a thorough content audit. If you’re on WordPress, make sure everything scores “green” on Yoast SEO. Tie up those loose SEO ends so you can show your best self to potential affiliates. Think about it like dressing appropriately for a job interview.
Sidenote: If you need help with this or any other aspect of SEO, just contact us We can make this happen for you.
Some affiliate marketing networks and brands will only accept affiliates with a certain amount of proven traffic per month, so ensure your traffic is high and steady before you apply. You’ll need to meet those minimum requirements.
If you have a budget, some paid advertising definitely won’t hurt your cause. You don’t want to drive people directly to the product you’re affiliated with, but to your blog content – and that content should feature the product or service. Promote that blog post, and make it one that’s targeted and useful to the reader.
Let’s also note this plainly: as an example, if you’re looking to affiliate to Nike, probably don’t advertise a post praising their competitors.
How Do I Get Started With Affiliate Marketing?
First: coffee. Seriously, start there. It helps.
Next, you need to build or enhance your brand. It’s possible that you have multiple brands, and you’ll need to niche down. That is, pick a particular niche and move forward with that one. You should support this with keyword research about your topic.
If you’re building your blog or digital property from scratch, you could create your community with the specific intention of becoming an affiliate for certain brands. Meaning? If you rank higher than the brand’s sales pages, you’re going to get their attention – and they’ll want to work with you.
Once you have your site set up, you need to dive into research to find the best affiliate for your needs. Your main limiting factors are:
- Brand compatibility
- Social media reach
If you don’t meet certain affiliate requirements, hey, that’s okay. Come back to them later.
There are two kinds of affiliate options: working directly with a brand, or via an affiliate network. Make sure you scope out all options to ensure you get a sweet referral bonus. (Again: Ka-ching.)
Once you have a robust site ready for action, it’s time to apply to those affiliate programs. Publish regularly, ensure you’re following the rules, and reap the rewards. That easy and you can do it.
Content: The Secret to Successful Affiliate Marketing
If people knew what they wanted, they’d go directly to a vendor’s site and they’d buy the thing they needed.
If they have questions – or they’re doing some research, or better yet, have a problem that you can solve with that product, they’ll come to you. And capturing their interest is something you can do best through evergreen inbound content.
While the goal of your blog post might be to, in example, sell a widget, you need to earnestly address and solve a reader’s concerns. You wouldn’t buy something if your concerns weren’t considered or discussed.
That’s the type of content that ranks. Once you get rolling (or perhaps you already have), you can outsource the task of creating blog content.
End Stage: Enter Success
We’re here to support you when it comes to this stage or any of the stages. Let’s have a conversation about your niche and your goals as an affiliate marketer. We can help you with an audit, we can create content, or if you’re just starting, we can walk you through the affiliate marketing journey and website setup. Use this form to contact us today.