Don’t let anybody tell you that blogging is dying, as it’s simply not true. Blogging is more profitable today than it’s ever been. Out of more than 600 million blogs on the internet, the majority earn their income through some type of affiliate marketing.
Not only is it more profitable, but it’s also essential to compete in today’s marketing world. If you’re looking to join in on the action, we can help. Let’s talk about how to start affiliate marketing in 2022!
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
If the term is unfamiliar to you, affiliate marketing is the name for using your platform to direct users to a certain affiliate’s website or page in exchange for payment or sales commission.
For example, when a blog runs a sponsored story about the best solar generators on the market, it may link to one particular eCommerce store that sells these items. If that eCommerce store paid them for that link (or offer an exchange), then it’s another form of affiliate marketing.
A blog post is one of the most common mediums for affiliate marketing, but it’s far from being the only one. Affiliate marketing can take place on social media, in email newsletters, on a blog, or on your website content. The medium doesn’t matter.
However, we’ll primarily discuss on your website or blog, as these typically act as the center of an affiliate marketing strategy. Even if you use social media as your primary outlet, a website is still highly recommended. On an affiliate site, you have full control over design, content, and profits.
The benefits of affiliate marketing are simple. You can be yourself, it’s low-risk, and there’s endless potential for scaling your project. The amount you charge is entirely based upon the amount of users and the conversion rates you drive.
How to Start Building Traffic
Before you can begin a profitable affiliate marketing business, you’ll need to generate traffic. The more high-quality, relevant traffic you have on your site, the more profitable your affiliate marketing will be. Here’s how to get started.
Start Content Marketing
Affiliate marketing needs to come with content marketing, and the easiest form to launch is a blog. Of course, there are other options, including:
- Video content
- Online radio
- Interactive content
The list goes on, including different mediums like email marketing. A blog is the easiest for beginner affiliate marketers and the easiest for Google to index, but you can choose whatever you want. Most importantly, you need to focus on quality.
Google’s algorithm has one goal: to match users with the highest-quality, most relevant content based on their search. You may be able to cheat Google for a little while, but it never lasts for long. Once Google catches on, they slap on penalties that can destroy your campaign.
For that reason, content marketing needs to focus on quality for the user, not for search engines. Google recognizes tricks like keyword stuffing, purchased backlinks, and more, which can hurt your strategy. Even if you aren’t getting a single click (yet), keep focusing on promoting high-quality content that you’re proud of.
With every post (and even paragraph), ask yourself, “How will this benefit my target audience?” If the answer is “not at all,” then don’t post it. Otherwise, you may find yourself hit with the Panda penalty.
Choose Your Niche
You may want to choose a niche that you know well and love, or you may want to choose what you think is most profitable. Some fields are highly competitive, like technology, politics, or celebrity gossip. However, some are very niched, like veganism, off-grid homesteading, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
These come with their own pros and cons. If you’re doing what you love, that’s a benefit of its own. You can still potentially scale a low-traffic niche by driving higher click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates by building a strong rapport with your audience, but it’s not always easy to do.
If you choose a topic like tech, then you will have the benefit of a massive potential scale, but the disadvantage of an uphill battle. Climbing the ranks against thousands of established tech blogs is a challenge, but the payoff is worth it. Either way, it’s entirely up to you!
Keep in mind that if you know a topic well, it’s likely going to be your most profitable option. This will save you time and money on research, content marketing services, and more. Limiting your startup costs and offering a thorough understanding to your users will typically offer the best payout.
There are many strategies to start building an audience, and some are as simple as can be. Try to build a social media following, ask users to sign up for a newsletter, run ad campaigns, and ask friends to share your content. Whatever you can do to start generating traffic, do it.
Now, that’s for the beginning. After that, you want to focus on optimizing your website and content for continuous, organic traffic. Organic traffic, the traffic you don’t pay for, has the highest conversion rates and accounts for 64% of all web traffic.
Optimize Your Website
If you’re using a platform like Medium for your content marketing strategy, then the site is already fairly optimized. However, if you’re building your own website, it needs to be strong. Search engine optimization comes down to three primary factors: backlinks, content marketing, and the quality of your website.
Your website essentially acts as the foundation for your SEO strategy that you will build upon over time. Content marketing and backlinks will come with time, but only if you have a strong enough website. This includes:
- Optimization for mobile devices
- Fast loading times
- Clean navigation system
- Readable page structure
- Optimized linking structure
- Optimized images
The list goes on, as Google uses over 200 ranking factors directly related to your site, but this is a good start. Once your website is optimized and Google has few complaints, it will be a lot easier for your strategy to take off.
Reach Out for Links
In the early days, it may be beneficial to sacrifice a few small payouts or affiliate sales and instead try to exchange links. Building backlinks is one of the biggest frustrations in SEO, but the payoff is worth it. A backlink (a link from another site to yours) acts as a vote in your favor.
Those websites linking to you are vouching for your credibility, and the more you get, the higher you’ll appear in the SERPs. This will directly translate to more high-quality traffic on your site.
Start with the low-hanging fruit. If you know anybody with a blog or website, ask for a link exchange. The more relevant their website is to your industry, the more “link juice” you’ll receive, which will help your SEO strategy.
Next, get your blog listed on all of the appropriate directories that are blog-specific, industry-specific, location-specific, or anywhere else that’s relevant. Social media and directory links will help drive traffic, which will indirectly help your SEO campaign. The links themselves will help Google find and index your site, but they won’t provide much link juice.
Spend a Little
SEO takes time to develop, so it may be helpful to spend a little money on ads to generate some initial traffic. This could help bridge the gap and drive new traffic to your site, which could indirectly help your SEO strategy over time.
No business comes without startup costs, so consider investing a little to get the ball rolling. Once you have the right prompts in your content for social media following and newsletter signups, you’ll be able to keep users on the hook for longer!
You can even pay for some affiliate marketing in the early days to help get the ball rolling. Either way, you want to start building a marketing funnel as soon as possible. It could be several months before your SEO campaign goes anywhere, but keep at it! The payoff is well worth the effort!
How to Start Affiliate Marketing
Now that you know how to build traffic, remember that it isn’t the only part. You can start affiliate marketing with limited traffic, as long as you’re keeping your users engaged and still focusing on scaling your business. Once you have some initial traffic, here’s how to get your feet wet in the affiliate marketing industry!
Choose an Affiliate Program
There are plenty of affiliate programs you can join as a marketer, and most of them are free or reasonably priced to enter. Once you’re in, you can start matching with appropriate clients related to your industry. Common examples of an affiliate marketing program include:
There are plenty of others to choose from, and some are specific to niche industries. These programs will allow you to easily match to specific affiliates for a fixed rate per post, click, or conversion.
Reach Out to Affiliates
Cutting out the “middle man” can help you earn more from each post. Reaching out directly to potential affiliates and offering your services can help you. You may even get requests from other potential clients.
If you start building affiliate networks or partnerships early on, it could lead to long-term recurring payments down the road.
Businesses are constantly looking to build backlinks for their SEO strategy and diversify their organic traffic. There are many jobs in the business world dedicated to outreach like this. Once you have traffic and make a name for yourself in the industry, you can expect affiliate link requests.
From there, you have the perfect opportunity to offer your sponsored services to them at a price you deem fair. You may get more responses than you think!
When trying to link to an affiliate, you have to walk a tight rope. You’ll get better affiliate income over time, but try to tread the fine line of following regulations while promoting a product. By law, you will have to leave a note that it is a sponsored link, but you still need to make conversions.
Talk to your affiliates about how they would like the link to be portrayed. What kind of anchor text would they like to use? How would they like you to promote affiliate products?
Whatever the guidelines are, try to create content for the link that will allow you to promote your affiliates as naturally as possible. If you start to come off as spammy, this won’t help your relations with affiliates, Google, or your audience.
If you’re looking to start building a quality content marketing strategy but don’t know where to start, there’s nothing wrong with getting help. Also, Google wants to see consistent uploads to show your website’s relevancy. For that reason, having extra hands on deck can make a world of difference.
If you find the right content marketing services, you can stay up-to-date with your new content while staying on-brand the whole time. Consider this as a supplement to help drive organic leads early on and optimize your content for search engines!
Track Key Metrics
Using free tools like Google Analytics, keep diligent track of key performance indicators (KPIs). Tracking CTRs, conversion rates, bounce rates, where traffic is coming from, and more will help you adapt your strategy better. Otherwise, you’re running through an obstacle course in the dark.
Start Growing Today
Now that you know how to start affiliate marketing, there’s no time to waste. Building an organic following takes time, but the benefits of running your own affiliate marketing business greatly outweigh the downsides. The sooner you start becoming an affiliate marketer, the sooner you’ll get to reap those rewards.
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