Interested in making money on line, but don’t know where to start or whom to trust? Heard good things about affiliate marketing, but confused by all the “helpful free information” out there?
This post will be the starting point for you to learn how you can build a successful affiliate marketing business on the internet. This is the first page of many in a free guide I will be developing this year. Your comments and suggestions are welcome (this guide is for you, after all).
Affiliate Marketing Overview
So, what is Affiliate Marketing exactly? Simply put, affiliate marketing is a business model where you match offers (products, services, etc) with buyers (leads, visitors, traffic) and get a commission. Thousands of on-line businesses are willing to pay you a commission if you will send buyers to their websites. It’s really that simple.
One of the fantastic things about affiliate marketing is that you can get started with almost no capital, no real experience, and a very simple set of guidelines that will allow you to make money 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The cool thing about internet businesses is that they never close. There’s no brick and mortar and there are no employees to pay.
But don’t confuse the simplicity of affiliate marketing with ease. It’s certainly not easy money. Like all things in life, the only way you can make money with affiliate marketing is by creating real value.
It’s the intention of this guide to layout a road map for how to do affiliate marketing so that you can create your own real internet business in the comfort of your own home.
You might choose to work in your pajamas, or on your lunch hour, or in the early morning hours before breakfast over your first cup of coffee. Whenever you choose to work, know this. Nothing in life is free. You can’t get something for nothing by pressing the magic internet marketing button and make money come out of your hard drive. It simply doesn’t work that way.
Having said that, there are some simple things that you can do; a simple recipe that you can follow in order to make creating your own internet business a reality. In order to do that it’s important that you understand the basic overview of how to make money on the internet with affiliate marketing.
This first article that you’re reading now is an attempt to give you the broad brushstrokes so that you can see the forest, if you will. The problem with a lot of approaches out there is they get you focused on the trees. Once you lose sight of what it is that you’re really trying to do it’s hard to stay motivated.
So this guide will present a broad overview in the first article and then we’ll offer four more articles underneath that to go into greater details. In those four articles you’ll find links to other resources that go into even more detail on each of the specific things that you need to know in order to become a successful internet marketer.
It’s the goal of this resource to become the absolute best – paid or free – collection of information on affiliate marketing available on the internet.
In order to become a successful affiliate marketer you need to do four simple things.
- Decide on a niche that you’re going to attack and build your business.
- Build a website where your business lives.
- Get traffic to that website so that you can make conversions (sales) and collect commissions.
- Grow that business to a level that meets your requirements for income.
It’s really that simple. Let’s look at each of those four areas in details.
Finding Your Niche
If you’re going to have a business on the internet you need to figure out what that business is going to be about. I have some very simple recommendations for new internet marketers when deciding what niche to build their first business in.
I recommend, first and foremost, that you select a niche that is profitable.
There are lots of ways to determine how profitable a niche is, but the simplest way is to search for your niche on Google and notice whether or not there are commercial search engine ads for that niche. If you see ads in Google on the right hand side of the search results that typically means that people are making money in that niche. Only people who are making money can afford to buy ads, so if you see ads there’s money to be made.
My second recommendation with regard to selecting niches is that you, at least initially, choose a niche that you actually care about.
Very simply, internet marketing is hard and it takes a lot of work. If you pick something that you’re interested in that will make it easy for you to slough through the work that’s going to be needed to build your internet business.
You’ll be learning as you go – and that’s hard work too – but if you’re working on something that you actually care about you’ll be willing to put in that extra hour at 1:00 in the morning or write that extra 500 word article that’s going to put you over the top in traffic or search engine results. That’s why I recommend that you choose something that you’re passionate about.
Maybe it’s not a blind passion, maybe it’s just a passing interest. At least choose something that you want to learn more about, because you’re going to be up close and personal with that topic for several months before your site is making money.
Years ago building websites was really difficult. Now building websites can be done with just a few clicks. In fact, it’s possible to start right now as you’re reading this, spend under $20 and have a brand new website up and running in less than 30 minutes. It can be done. It will probably take you longer than 30 minutes your very first time, but it won’t take you more than a day or two. It’s really amazing.
Even someone with very limited technical skills can build a website. If you know how to answer your email and edit documents in Microsoft Word, you can build a website. I recommend that you build your website using the popular open source platform called WordPress. It’s simple and easy to use.
You’ll host that website on shared hosting from a provider like HostGator or Bluehost. Those two hosting solutions offer cheap and WordPress friendly packages that can have you up and running in minutes.
Once you have your website up and running you’ll leverage the power of the WordPress community by using software called plugins to customize your website to work the way you want it to. Most of the customizations involve simple mouse clicks that are easy to understand and execute.
Once you have a website up and running the way you want it customized you’ll add content that’s helpful to readers and offers that they’re looking for to that site. Readers will be drawn to your site from the search engines, they’ll read your helpful comments, they’ll come to know, like, and trust you, and then they’ll click through from your website to affiliate offers that will pay you a commission.
In this way affiliate marketing is simply a referral bonus. It’s like when you go to a trusted friend and ask them who they use as a satellite provider. If they use Direct TV and you sign up for Direct TV your friend gets a $50 bonus. This is a well known program that Direct TV has been offering for years. That’s affiliate marketing and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing with your brand new website. You’ll amaze yourself at what you’re capable of doing when you build your first site.
The next order of business will be getting visitors to your site. After all, you can’t sell anything unless you have someone to sell it to. Most of the traffic that we’ll be focusing on in this guide will be free traffic from the search engines. Don’t believe everything that you read; it’s still possible to get great free traffic from Google and the other search engines and we’ll show you how to do it right here.
One of the key ideas that you need to understand when it comes to getting traffic from the search engines is how to optimize your content so that you can be found there. Google’s job in this regard is really simple. Google wants to have a tool that finds the absolute best websites for whatever you’re looking for. If you need to buy blue suede shoes then Google is going to try and deliver the best website to you whenever you type in “blue suede shoes” into Google’s search box.
The great thing about that is we know a lot about what criteria Google is using to decide which websites are best. In this guide I’ll teach you everything that I know about how to rank in Google and you’ll be able to get your site ranking for keywords that are relevant to the content on your site.
Once your site ranks in the search engines searchers will find you in Google, Bing, and the other search engines, and they will come to your site to read your content. Since your content is fantastic and your offers are good, people will buy through your affiliate links and you’ll get commissions.
That’s how affiliate marketing works. You add value to the transaction and people reward you with purchases.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of affiliate marketing the next step will be to grow your business.
I’ll show you how to add a mailing list to your site, using a popular internet marketing tool called AWeber, so that you can get in touch with your readers and visitors and call them back to your site when you have something new to tell them. I’ll also show you how to find more offers, create more content, and expand the reach of your site through social media and other forms of internet exposure.
Once you’ve decided that you have that mastered you’ll be able to build more sites. You may choose to build five sites or 10 sites, or you may choose to make your current site five or 10 times bigger, expanding the reach and expanding the search engine traffic to grow your business.
A Simple Case Study
Through this guide we’ll talk about an affiliate site that I built for the purpose of education called The Corn Sheller Site at CornSheller.net. The concept of The Corn Sheller Site is very simple and follows the four topics that we’ve discussed here. The Corn Sheller Site is a very specific niche that I selected dealing with antique corn shellers.
Now, antique corn shellers are not a topic that I’m passionate about, but it turns out that a lot of people are. This makes it an excellent niche for affiliate marketing. I’ll go through with you exactly how and why I selected the niche and what made it a good one, so you can use that as an example when selecting your own niche.
Having selected the corn sheller niche, I built the website that you see up and running today at CornSheller.net. I’ll take you through the exact process that I used to build the website and I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to build a website just like it specific to your niche.
You’ll notice that the offers on The Corn Sheller Site click through to eBay. That’s one example of an affiliate marketing program. If you visit the website and you click through to eBay and buy something, even if it’s not a corn sheller, I get a commission. Please feel free to do that now… 🙂
Seriously though, this is the best example of how to do affiliate marketing. I’ve built a website that has great information on it about corn shellers and I’ve also built a little online store of products on my website that people can buy using a very clever plugin called PHPbay.
When people click through to eBay and generate a commission for me, they’re happy because they found what they were looking for on eBay and I’m happy because I got the commissions. It’s a win-win situation that exemplifies what Zig Ziglar always said, “You can get everything in life you want by getting other people what they want.”
Of course, for The Corn Sheller Site to work I need traffic. I’ll show you exactly how I get that traffic and how you can get traffic like that as well. I do it all through search engine optimization and creating good content.
Finally, I’ll show you how I’m growing The Corn Sheller Site. I’ll show you how to implement an email list with AWeber and how to expand the reach of the site into other areas; you can use these same concepts on your site.
Conclusion and Ready for Your Questions….
Here’s what you should take away from this article on affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is about adding value between offers and buyers. You find an offer, you add value to it with content on your website, you get buyers to that, they accept your value that you offer and they buy the products that they need. It’s a win-win situation and you can do this by finding a niche, building a website, getting traffic, and growing that business.
I hope this introductory tutorial was helpful to you. I’d like to encourage you to ask questions that you have about affiliate marketing in the comments below.
For these tutorials I’d like to think of the comments as a frequently asked questions section. If you have a question about affiliate marketing I’d like to help you try and answer it, so please don’t hesitate to ask a question no matter how silly you think the question might be. I promise you, if you have a question, other people have that question too.
Thanks very much. I’d like to encourage you to read the next article in this series on finding your niche.