From Strategy to Sales: How to Make a Killing with Affiliate Marketing

BY Sarah J Dinwiddie

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Ever since Tim Ferris published the 4-Hour Work-Week, employees frustrated with Corporate America have sought opportunities to quit their day jobs and earn money in their sleep. 

Affiliate marketing — defined as “earning a commission in exchange for promoting a company’s product or service” — is such an opportunity and one that’s increasingly popular among entrepreneurs. 

But success in this endeavor is anything but simple. Profitable affiliate marketing campaigns are more strategic than simply linking a product to your website and hoping for the best. 

If done correctly, however, the payout is potentially monumental. Curious to know the trick to launching a successful affiliate campaign? Bossbabe is here to teach a process for monetizing your website and making a killing using affiliate marketing. 

Before You Start Marketing…

Before we begin, one note about traffic. It’s important to drive steady and consistent traffic to your sales platform prior to launching an affiliate marketing campaign. While nothing precludes you from attempting this process without building an audience, you owe it to yourself to bring your best foot forward prior to making an initial attempt.

How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

Most good affiliate programs offer a 40%-70% commission in exchange for the sale of a product or service. While this seems high, this payout comes at a significant cost. As an affiliate, YOU attempt to drive traffic to a company’s sales page, so be prepared to put in some work, Babe!  

Affiliate companies typically pay associates at least monthly through an online payment system (e.g., Paypal). Each company sets their own rules when it comes to payouts, commission rates, etc., so make sure you read the fine print of any affiliate agreement prior to joining a program. 

how affiliate marketing works

1. Find great affiliate products

Consider selling products you already use first. It’s easy to recommend products you know and love and your affinity for such products makes you seem more trustworthy and relatable–paying dividends when it comes to success.

Beyond what you already use, the next best place to look for products is an affiliate marketplace. Affiliate marketplaces host large databases where you can search by topic to identify programs that are best for you. 

Popular affiliate marketplaces and programs include:

Make sure you consider the following selection criteria when reviewing affiliate products:

  1. Higher priced products = higher commissions
  2. Subscription services are ideal because you earn a commission from recurring sales
  3. If you find a product you love that doesn’t offer an affiliate program, contact the creator directly to propose the possibility of a partnership

2. Create content surrounding a product you aim to promote

The whole point of an affiliate program is to persuade consumers to purchase a product. This means that as the marketer, it’s your job to convince your audience that the product you’re promoting is beneficial and valuable to them. Creating review articles and videos is the most effective approach to achieve this goal. Reviews sell products because they are thoughtful and detailed testimonials that build trust and the more your audience trusts you, the more likely they’ll follow your recommendations. 

It’s important to follow a proper sales sequence when constructing your reviews. Following this sequence increases the chance that a customer will purchase a product. 

First, build a relationship with your audience. A buyer is “hot” when they’re engaged with your content and they know who you are. Hook them by telling your personal story about how the product has helped you. Include any details that will connect you to your audience. Who are you? What do you do? Find commonalities between you and your audience and emphasize mutual pain points. Talk in terms that people can understand; no need to exaggerate, just be honest!

Second, explain the “why” behind your decision to purchase the product and not just any product–this product specifically. What exactly was it about this product that pushed you to the point of purchase? Explain a certain selling point that hooked you to purchase the product that resonates with your audience. 

Third, provide compelling evidence that the implementation of the product contributed to a positive outcome. For example, if you’re marketing a product designed to boost blog traffic, share your user data prior to implementation as compared to post-implementation data, highlighting areas where your traffic has improved. People respond emotionally to transformations, which has big implications for your marketing efforts. Focus on how the transformation made you feel, be honest, and avoid too much hype.  The moment you exaggerate, your audience gets turned off. 

Finally. Include a call to action (CTA) at the end of your review. The easier you make it for your audience to purchase the product, the better. 

3. Know where to link affiliate products

It’s best to use a combination of methods when linking products. The most common places to link products include:

  • The “resources” page of your website
  • Directly within a product review
  • In the bio of your social media profiles
  • Within an email 
  1. Resources page

Design your Resources Page using the general rule of “quality over quantity.”  Highlight the most important products that are relevant to your audience. 

If you’re promoting lower-priced products, like those within the Amazon Associate program, include short descriptions and list the products side-by-side. If you’re recommending mainly higher-priced products, include detailed descriptions and list the products vertically, like you would a blog post.  

  1. Directly within a product review

In-text links are most effective for lower priced items like Amazon products. You can certainly link higher-priced products in-text occasionally, but don’t rely on this method alone to generate significant sales. 

  1. Email opt-in

If you’re selling a higher-priced product, include your call to action in an email opt-in to increase the chances of a sale. Build anticipation and need for a product through an email trust funnel, giving your readers a reason to buy the product now.

Your email funnel should follow this sequence:

  1. Build trust with the customer by telling your story or by sharing testimonials from others who have found success with the product
  2. Offer a limited-time discount related to the product
  3. Offer an additional bonus if the customer buys the product through your link 

Common mistakes to avoid

Winston Churchill once said, “Failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” This is a valuable perspective pertaining to entrepreneurship, but…if you can avoid failure, you’ll likely succeed much faster. That said, here are some tips for how to avoid common mistakes of new affiliate marketers.

  1. Post proper disclaimers 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) governs all consumer, business, marketing and sales activity for products and services sold in the US.  The FTC rules and regulated consumer activity to keep consumers safe and prevent the distribution of illegal activity and requires associates to disclose all affiliate relationships with their audience when promoting a product, regardless of where that promotion takes place. Therefore, it’s important to read and understand all of the FTC requirements prior to promoting any affiliate product. 

  1. Openly acknowledge your relationship with the affiliate product

Don’t trick people into buying an affiliate product or make people believe that the product is yours. Concealing your relationship with an affiliate product will only break the connection between you and your audience and dissuade them from future purchases. Acknowledge your relationship upfront by posting appropriate disclaimers on your website.

Disclosing affiliate relationships builds trust between you and your audience, making it more likely they’ll purchase a product from you now and in the future. 

  1. Purchase the product or service prior to promoting it

It may seem obvious that you should purchase a product prior to promoting it, but this advice bears repeating. Researching products prior to promotion enables the formation of a unique perspective that your particular audience can specifically relate to, increasing the potential to boost your sales. 

You owe it to your audience and to yourself to properly review a product prior to promoting it. Product inexperience runs the risk of promoting poor products to your audience and increasing the rate of returns. 

At its core, affiliate marketing comes down to trust. The more trust you build with your audience, the more likely they are to purchase a product. Without trust and value, affiliate marketing is a waste of time. Want to learn more about affiliate marketing? Check out this article on 6 Quick Tips to Increase Affiliate Sales!


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