5 Steps for Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

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When affiliate marketing weaved its way into the online world, tech savvy entrepreneurs caught the wave of passive income and built websites, blogs, social media accounts; they ran ads and sent out emails, all in the name of driving traffic. It was fresh, it was cool—it was exciting! But what about now? Now, there is a plethora of websites covering every topic you can think of. So, we ask, is it possible to be successful in affiliate marketing when there is so much out there already? The answer is ‘yes,’ and today, we will provide you with a few pointers to get you started on the right track.

Step 1: Choose a topic

It’s fun to think about all of the different designs and products you can promote—from wedding invites to funny t-shirts to cats—but how do you choose? The possibilities are endless, but you can narrow your topic down by doing the following:

  • Be specific. Make a list of all of the designs and products that you would like to promote. There are millions of sites out there with funny t-shirts, animals, weddings so you need to thin out the herd. If you want to promote cats, for example, think about what kind of cats? Perhaps you only want to promote black cats? Or lynx cats? Or tabbies? Or only pictures of pizza cats? Or you can take the route of only promoting certain products. Only cats on pillows or cats on ties? The idea is to create a niche so that even though your potential customer number may be small, the conversion rate will be high due to the targeted interest.
  • Do your research. How many people search for your title/topic/term on Google in a month? Use the Google Keyword Planner tool to find out. Do a search on Google or Bing (or another browser) for your topic to see if there are similar websites. Is the website name already taken? Are there too many sites for this topic already? It’s good practice to do a search for Facebook, Google+, and other social groups as well.
  • Stay close to home. Are you familiar with the topic you are promoting? Is it something you like? If the topic piques your interest, you will probably have more ideas on how to market it and who to market it to.

Step 2: Choose a platform

Which online platform do you consume the most? Are you a blog reader, Facebook poster, Instagram picture-taker? Chances are that the more you spend time on a website, the better you know it, and the better you will be able to switch over from personal to business use.

Also, think about what type of media you are good at. Do you prefer taking pictures? Writing stories? This can help you make the decision on whether you want to create a blog or use Instagram, for example.

Step 3: Build your audience

After you set up your blog and/or social account, you need to get people to visit it. You can start by sending an invite via email or a social network to friends and family. I don’t know about you, but I get a request to like a page each week. I don’t see much from these pages in my newsfeed, but I still think it doesn’t hurt to send it out, if not for business, then for feedback.

The family and friends route will only get you so far, and you don’t want to spam anyone, so next you’ll need to create content and reach out to potential customers. One way to find potential customers is to look through Facebook groups, Google+ groups, Twitter lists, etc. and to participate in conversations or reach out to certain members directly. If you have resources to invest, you can run ads on Facebook to get likes for your page or Google ads to drive customers to your blog.

Step 4: Engage your audience

Get to know your visitors. What is the demographic? What is their age range? Tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Analytics can provide you with these statistics which are important in the way you market.

Look at similar websites, blogs, and groups to get ideas of what works and what doesn’t. Is there a special offer that performs well? Is there a new product that received an overwhelming number of likes? Why? What do the comments say? Check out this blog post for more ideas on engaging your followers.

Step 5: Test and optimize

Test everything. Test posting different media. Test posting different products. Test sharing different kinds of information—not all posts have to be product related. How about sharing some tips to your readers? Offer something unique, something that adds value. Have a cat blog? Offer tips on grooming, for example.

Another part of optimization is getting rid of content that doesn’t work. Don’t hold on to products and posts that don’t receive a good reaction. It’s tough sometimes to let go of designs, products or blog posts that you worked hard on; however, numbers do not lie, and just like in any successful business, you have to be strategic about which campaigns to continue and which to cut loose.

Have questions about your personal website or social media site? Post them in the comments below.

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