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Best Ways to Start Affiliate Marketing in 2020 [Easy Guide for Complete Beginners]

Getting started with Affiliate Marketing is wonderfully easy and can be done in a couple of clicks. 

This is a great passive income that virtually anybody can do, and should. 

But, before you do start affiliate marketing, read about the why and how to start in affiliate marketing business to be more successful.

I have to warn you in advance, I will try to get you to read reports, statistics, and, well, numbers. Although I am a writer by profession, constantly surrounded by words, marketing is a numbers game. If you don’t plan on making sense of various reports, you are not planning for success.

 

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Basically, you are a seller for a company. When you sell their product or service, you earn a commission. 

In a more specialized lingo, you have to sign up for an affiliate program with a company. You will then get an affiliate link, which is your unique ID. Whenever you are promoting a product, you have to link it using your unique affiliate link. Then, when someone clicks on the link, they will be taken to the company’s website, and if they buy something, you will earn a commission. 

How does the company know it’s you who sent them the customer? By the affiliate link used. 

 

Why Start Affiliate Marketing in 2020?

Honestly, why not? It’s free to join, and the earning potential is enormous if you get into it seriously. 

“Affiliate marketing is an excellent opportunity if you truly believe in the value of the product you’re selling. Because many times, you can make money off of something you would probably recommend anyway.”

Neil Patel

A scientific study of 300 Indian Internet users demonstrated a positive view of Affiliate Marketing. 

¼ of Amazon’s revenue is generated by its affiliate program.

iab italia published these numbers in their Affiliate Marketing Study Summary:

Advertisers spent £554 million on online affiliate marketing in 2017. This generated £8.9 billion sales, up from £8.1 billion in 2016. The market grew 15.1% y-o-y. 

79 percent of Americans now shop online, but it costs more than convenience that sways them, according to TechCrunch.

Our spending habits have changed. The improvements in technology influence what we buy, and how we buy, as well. Smart marketing campaigns are targeting an online audience for a reason. Numbers don’t lie.

start affiliate marketing with amazon associates
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Why Start Affiliate Marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The shift to online shopping has only accelerated in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A new Pew Research Center survey conducted in early April of 2020 finds that half of U.S. adults (53%) say the Internet has been essential for them personally during the pandemic. 34% describe it as “important, but not essential.” 

E-commerce sales spiked nearly 93% in May according to a new report from MasterCard.

“It’s the ultimate win-win situation. All affiliates get something from the arrangement, as does the company running the affiliate program, making it a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Russell Brunson, co-founder of ClickFunnels

Many companies won’t survive the pandemic. It is a smart business decision to partner up with such a powerful company like Amazon. 

 

Why start Affiliate Marketing in 2020 if you own a business?

In the largest, longest-running survey of its kind, Forrester Research, Inc. asked more than 68,000 North American households how they think about, adopt, and use technology. According to Forrester Research, an average affiliate program has around 10,000 affiliates. Only 10%-20% of those actually participate, and around 20% of those that participate, produce the majority of revenue for the program.

You can save money on advertising campaigns when you let thousands of websites advertise your products or services for you. They will promote your products for free. You only have to pay them a small commission, after the sale is complete.

These websites can reach a wider audience for you, and tap into new markets. Your old traditional ad campaigns may not be as effective these days. New bloggers and influencers stay on top of current trends more easily, and effectively. If you treat the affiliates as your business partners, not just as free advertising, you can start building long-lasting relationships that will ultimately be beneficial to all sides.

If you are new to all this and don’t know how to start Affiliate Marketing, you can join an Affiliate network. This is an intermediary between companies and content providers, which provides technical solutions to managing affiliate programs.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker

The medium author says that in the past, people weren’t sure what part of their marketing brings results and what doesn’t. Things are much different now and it seems that we know more regarding marketing effectiveness, especially when it comes to digital marketing, thanks to Google Analytics (GA).

 

How to Start Affiliate Marketing?

Easy

You don’t have to start a YouTube channel to promote the products. You don’t have to be a trendsetting influencer either. You can start Affiliate Marketing on a blog, Facebook, Instagram, hugely successful TikTok, or all of the above combined for the best results. Build traffic to gain more audience. 

“The key to success in any business is an understanding of psychology… Because our minds decide what to buy. So if you know how minds function, you have the power to influence”

Neil Patel

Chaffey calls online promotion Traffic building campaigns – a method used to increase a website’s audience.

This way you can promote products to more people and you will eventually start earning money from commissions.

 

start affiliate marketing with amazon associates for best results
Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

 

How to Start Affiliate Marketing with Amazon?

You can be sure that if you start Affiliate Marketing with Amazon Associates, you are not making a mistake because Amazon is well respected and buyers prefer to buy from a trusted brand.

Amazon Associates can be joined from the Amazon.com page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you will see the column — Make Money with Us. They offer different ways of earning money, but for now, click on: Become an Affiliate. You will see a yellow box at the bottom — Sign Up. You will have to log in to your Amazon account or create one. Then, follow the instructions. Amazon will ask you to put in a website (or your YouTube channel, or Facebook account).

Their instructions are clear, just fill in the information, or check the boxes — how you drive traffic to your website, how do you usually build links, how many visitors your get per month, etc. Next, you will be asked to enter your phone number for identity verification. After a call from Amazon, you will get a PIN, which you enter to get approved. 

Setting up the account is free and easy to terminate if you desire. Note that Amazon gives you sort of a 180 day trial period, during which you have to make one sale, or your account will be terminated. You can reapply if you have made progress with your website or another channel.

When you are accepted as an associate, you will see in the upper left corner the Amazon Associates SiteStripe. When you want to get an affiliate link, just click on the Text button and copy the link that will popup. This is THE link which you’ll use to sell the product. This is THE link that people need to click on to buy the product and you’ll earn a commission.

You can start by reviewing anything you want from the Amazon catalog, and selling it through your Amazon affiliate link. You can promote products you have tried and liked on your blog. But, you can also start the other way round. You can choose products that bring the highest commissions and create your blog content around them.

 

Links and Cookies.

  • How is an affiliate tracked? When a customer clicks this link and lands on a website, the affiliate’s unique ID is stored in a cookie, within the customer’s browser. If the customer makes a purchase, the affiliate that steered the customer is awarded a commission from the sale.
  • Do Amazon Affiliate links expire? When an affiliate link is clicked, it starts a timer called a “cookie window”. The cookie window is just a way of saying “the time period over which you can earn a commission on items added to cart”. In the Amazon Associates programs, there is a 24-hour cookie window. This means that if a customer clicks your link and orders anything within 24 hours, the sale will be attributed to you and you will earn a commission on the whole cart.
  • What is a cookie? To put it simply, a cookie is a small file stored on the user’s computer. It’s used to identify the site’s visitors. In affiliate marketing, cookies are used to track affiliate referrals. And, most importantly, such cookies have their expiration date. The affiliate cookie life is the time span that starts with the consumer’s click on the affiliate link.
  • What is last-click attribution? The bad news is that cookies can be overwritten with a click on another affiliate link. This is called “last-click attribution”. If the shopper happens to click another affiliate link, the last click wins. If it was your link, then the timer restarts.
  • How often does Amazon pay their affiliates? Monthly. For more detailed information, and no unwelcomed surprises, please read Amazon’s operating policies. Amazon is known for changing its policy, so it’s a good idea to come back to it every now and then.
start affiliate marketing with passion
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

How to become successful after you start affiliate marketing?

Produce quality content.

The quality of information shown on your blog directly influences the readers’ perceptions of you and the company’s products. Accordingly, any information sent to them in emails also needs to be accurate and useful.

I would like to recommend seeking advice from professionals like Lilach Bullock. Her insight and advice can help you create timeless quality.

High-quality content will over time convert your readers into fans, and more easily into potential customers.

According to Affiliate Summit’s 2016 report – email solicitations have the greatest impact on affiliate engagement.

Top traffic sources come from SEO (69%), social networks (67%), blogging (64%), and email marketing (41%).

Focus on getting more traffic to your blog. 

“Be consistent with your content, don’t be the drunk uncle. You want to be steady and regular. It builds trust.”

Laura Belgray

Why?

More traffic means more audience. The more readers you get, the more potential customers can earn you a commission. 

How?

SEO. Learn how Google thinks, use the right keywords, internal links, and quality backlinks, and write engaging, informative content that you would like to read yourself. Slowly, but steadily, you can climb the Google ladder all the way to the top of the search page. The Dream!

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Write Commercial intent content.

Use keywords like best, top, review, how to, vs, top 10. Commercial intent keywords indicate that whoever is searching on Google, is close to making a buying decision. For example, If I Google: best office chair in 2020, it means that I am thinking about buying. If I am reading an in-depth review of a particular model of chair, I am even closer to buying one.

Eight in 10 Americans (82%) are now shopping online, according to a new study from Pew Research. They consult online reviews before buying something.

The survey illustrates well the extent to which Americans are turning toward the collective wisdom of online reviews and ratings when making purchasing decisions. 

photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Find a profitable niche.

Profitable niches that never go out of style are Romance, Health, Fitness, Wealth, Money, and Pet Market.

People are also always willing to spend money on hobbies and tools. During the COVID-19 pandemic, not only preppers are interested in buying survival kits and emergency foods.

You can always browse through Amazon categories to find products ranging between $50 and $300. This is a “sweet spot” for “impulse buys”. You want to target impulse buyers because Amazon’s cookie time frame is short, only 24 hours.

Focus on design.

Attractive design helps your page stand out — there’s a wow factor. There’s a perceived value when something looks really good.

If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.

Ralf Speth

93% of people are influenced by website design and visuals. Different colors can attract different kinds of shoppers and change their behaviors even. This infographic from 16 Best offers insights on the psychological motivations for online shoppers. It is smart not to ignore such high percentages, and incorporate colors in your content.

Be personal.

Write content that looks like it’s not written by a robot. Don’t just name products, prices, and post pictures. Write a funny story, tie it all together in an attractive package. Don’t just sell, sell, sell, or people will run away.

“You need to share life experiences. Your life is unique. If you can tie your personal experiences into your content, you’ll do much better.”

Neil Patel

Advantages — Why Start Affiliate Marketing?

  • Financial gain. The biggest advantage when you start Affiliate Marketing when compared to other online advertising is financial gains, according to the scientific study. You don’t need much initial investment to start earning money. What is even better, there are no limitations on how much money you can earn. 
  • It is a great form of passive income. You can earn money months and months after you have recommended a product on your blog. You can literally be on a beach, sunbathing, and earning money.
  • There is minimal effort involved. Start Affiliate marketing because it is easy to do – you only need a computer and internet connection. There is no logistics involved, no dealing with customer service. 
  • Start Affiliate Marketing because it can easily be terminated. If you change your mind, never mind.

Disadvantages — Think twice before you start Affiliate Marketing 

  • Don’t waste time on creating a blog, if you don’t plan on learning how to improve it, how to get more audience and eventually, more money from affiliate marketing. 

“There’s no point in getting into affiliate marketing if you can’t monetize it, and you can’t drive traffic and sales. You’d just be spinning your wheels.”

Neil Patel

  • Don’t spend money on advertising your blog if you are a beginner. Focus on creating quality content, and deal with advertising later. Conversable Economist claims that the economics of spending on advertising remain largely unresolved, even in the digital age. People vary so much in their spending on products and change so much anyway, it’s really hard to disentangle the effects of advertising from the changes in buying patterns that happen anyway.
  • The biggest disadvantage is – it’s time-consuming. A lot of time is spent on implementation and adjusting to visitors’ behaviors.
  • People think that Affiliate Marketing is hard, usually because it takes perseverance to start seeing the first results. This causes a lot of burnout. Most people are motivated by instant, not delayed gratification. Don’t be like most people!

 

photo by visuals on unsplash

Tips – Before you Start Affiliate Marketing

  • Don’t give up too quickly. Affiliate sites grow like a snowball, over a period of time your income will jump to high levels. Stick around.
  • Percentages vary from category to category. And amazon changes the rates often so check them often.
  • Amazon’s cookie window is 24 hours. Most other affiliate marketing programs offer a much longer time frame, some even 6 months. So, check out the competition. Don’t get stuck with Amazon.
  • Read Amazon policies carefully before you start affiliate marketing. A blogger pointed out that Amazon doesn’t allow affiliate links in emails. Any email. This includes affiliate links you manually paste into your emails and affiliate links in blog posts that get sent automatically to email subscribers. Read her valuable post about breaking Amazon rules to find out more, but also consult Amazon because they update rules often. I was surprised to find out that you cannot use your own affiliate link to purchase items (even if you use a different Amazon account to do so).
  • Stay in touch with the latest regulations. According to TechCrunch FTC votes to review influencer marketing rules & penalties whether The Endorsement Guides for advertising need to be updated. Amazon’s Bezos himself is appearing before a Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, part of an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee on online platforms and market power. The hearings are asking: in the age of Big Tech, how big is too big?

 

The Future of Affiliate Marketing

Is the market over-saturated?

Everyone is online, the companies, the customers, the influencers. Everyone is either trying to sell something or buy something. Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Target, BestBuy, Apple, Google all have affiliate marketing business models. It’s up to you if you want to dive in, take a chance. Remember that Affiliate Marketing is not for an average Joe, though. 

“Your brand should feel like a personality. And that brand personality should be inviting. If your brand was a person, people should want to be friends with them.”

Jay Shetty

The competition has become fierce.

To stand out, you will have to do more, do better, innovate, and most importantly, persevere.

Feeling nostalgic about the good old pre-Corona days?

Techcrunch reports that Amazon made a bold move that underscores its belief that physical stores will remain a key component of how consumers shop. Amazon launched its new Amazon Fresh grocery store, now open to only a select group of customers to test it out.

 

Invitation

Start Affiliate Marketing in good company

At this year’s Affiliate Summit the world’s most successful marketers shared how they’ve survived and thrived during the COVID-19 crisis… and more importantly, the strategies that they’re implementing NOW to navigate tomorrow.

Next year, at ASW21 participants, will take a look at how the industry transformed in 2020. Hear from industry experts on the strategies that helped them weather the storm. And more importantly, how you can apply these strategies to future-proof your business. Want to know about the new tech that was used to accelerate growth? Or how about how to justify the use of affiliate marketing in your business?

You can still sign up for the Next Affiliate summit.  

 

Conclusion

If you are thinking about starting a blog, it’s useful to learn new ways how to monetize it, even if it wasn’t the reason why you started writing. 

If the COVID-19 pandemic has left you without a job, and you are now desperately searching for online employment, a great solution to your money problems is to start affiliate marketing with a profitable blog.

Before you know it, your blog will grow, and you will attract many readers who share your interests or hobbies.

Your blog can become a side job, or a profitable stream of passive income, depending only on your dedication.

I leave you with food for thought — Charlie D’Amelio, TikTok’s star in 2020 with 84.5M Followers!!!

@charlidamelio

got my own song and it just hits different. show me how you “do the charli” while you drink ‘the charli’ using charlirunsondunkin!! @dunkin #ad

♬ The Charli – dunkin

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