Affiliate marketing is a popular online business model where a brand shares commissions for each sale referred by a website owner. This is the most basic format of describing affiliate marketing in layman’s terms.
There are a lot of activities, parameters, and entities that make up the affiliate marketing ecosystem and make it a reliable business model. Affiliate Marketing allows website owners to make a living by monetizing their traffic. In addition, affiliate marketers get a chance to sell top-quality products and work with multinational companies, across industries.
Before we dive deep into what affiliate marketing is and how you can get started, let’s understand how affiliate marketing works.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing has a simple process.
There are three entities that make affiliate marketing. Let’s have a detailed overview of each and understand how they contribute to the affiliate marketing ecosystem.
Sellers and Product Manufacturers/Owners
The first entity—the one that provides the opportunity to webmasters to monetize their website traffic—is the brand, seller, or product manufacturer.
The Sellers decide the rules and regulations; like how much percentage of the sale price they would share with affiliates, the payment window, how many days the cookie lasts on the browser and for its affiliate marketing program, and so on. They are the people who would want to ensure that online sales grow exponentially.
Sellers or Brands could be big billion-dollar brands like Adidas, Amazon, eBay, and so on, or local startups that have just entered the market, or even online businesses looking for beta testers.
Someone who’s selling services or any kind of physical products can also host affiliate marketing programs. Brands don’t have to follow specific criteria to host an affiliate marketing program. As long as they share revenue with webmasters, it’s all set.
When you start your affiliate marketing journey, your affiliate links are the key elements because those affiliate links will help you validate the sale, which in return gives you the commission. The sellers will usually share those affiliate links with each of the affiliates. It falls under their responsibility to manage and provide affiliate links.
They also provide robust affiliate systems or in-house tracking mechanisms where affiliates can evaluate website visitors’ activities. Such tracking allows webmasters to gauge the performance of their content.
The sellers also provide a 24×7 dedicated account manager for affiliates who get end-to-end guidance with links, advertising materials, strategies, and so on.
The Affiliates or Publisher
The next entity of the affiliate marketing ecosystem is the affiliates themselves.
Like you and me, these are the people who own websites and look forward to monetizing website traffic. They generate sales for the brands by advertising and selling the products to their website visitors.
It’s difficult for brands to keep selling to new audiences. Therefore, affiliates leverage their audience and generate sales for the brands and get a commission per sale.
Affiliates’ job is to promote the product through different types of content and redirect visitors to the brands’ websites where they can purchase the product.
Utilizing channels like Social Media, Email, Paid Ads, Search Engine Traffic and so on fall under the responsibilities of affiliates. Therefore, these affiliates have to invest in content creation, distribution, and advertising activities.
Affiliates strategize how to put the product in the most efficient way possible. They need to work towards convincing buyers to buy the products.
The consumer or customer is the last but most crucial part of all of this all. Without consumers, the entire ecosystem wouldn’t exist.
Customers visit websites, read content, interact, and click on the links to see a specific landing page to buy a particular product or service.The entire affiliate marketing strategy is designed and developed for the consumers only. Therefore, all the activities, copy, creatives, and UI of the website are designed to win the customers’ trust.
Once you understand how the affiliate marketing process works, the ideal question is: How do affiliates get paid?
Well, to answer that question, let’s understand the various affiliate marketing models in detail.
Affiliate Marketing Models
Let’s understand the various events considered as conversion, which allows affiliates to earn a commission. Depending on what type of product or service you are selling, different activities are considered as conversion.
Usually, there are 4 different major categories of conversion:
Pay Per Sale
This is the most apparent form of conversion that you can consider when you are into affiliate marketing.
When a customer purchases the product you are affiliated with, you get a commission for the conversion, provided that the sale is generated through your unique affiliate link. Straight up and very simple!
Information products like eBooks, courses, mentorship programs, and physical products sold via eCommerce stores usually share the commission with their affiliates on a Pay Per Sale basis.
Digital products, too, like SaaS subscription, domain & hosting purchases, are commissioned on a Pay Per Sale basis.
Pay Per Lead
Agencies, coaching groups, service providers — these people are more concerned about driving quality leads. By “quality” leads, I mean the people who are more likely to convert as buyers.
Therefore, they run a Pay Per Lead model where they share a fixed commission to affiliates who bring quality leads for their business.
Once they get leads’ data, their in-house team takes the conversation forward.
The affiliate’s job is done once they share the leads with the brand, and the affiliate is liable to get the commission.
For example, an affiliate of a real estate brand, getting paid on Paid Per Lead model, highlights services and encourages the website visitors to fill a form by following the link placed somewhere in the content.
In such activity, users get redirected to the real estate business’s website, submitting the form.
Once the form is submitted, the real estate business team will take the conversation forward with that lead. Now, even if that lead does not become the customer, it’s of no concern to the affiliate.
Pay Per Install
Pay Per Install is the type of affiliate marketing model which is for mobile and desktop applications.
Your job as an affiliate is to ensure that your audience installs the application or the software by following the link from your content.
These products usually have in-app purchases, either subscriptions or a single-shot payment to purchase the product. Few brands share the commission as soon as the customers you refer to them complete further purchases. So, your job as an affiliate is done as soon as the customer installs the application you have recommended to them.
Pay Per Download
In this model, you get paid for the number of successful downloads that you can generate through your platforms.
Info products, PDFs, white papers, presentations, videos, and more follow the Pay Per Download model, where they pay as soon as the download gets completed.
For example, a digital creator wants to promote his or her skills through an eBook. The influencer runs an affiliate program where the commission is provided to the affiliate based on the number of eBooks downloaded.
Pay per download has nothing to do with physical products. Therefore, all your activities are digital, starting from content creation, publishing, distribution, customer acquisition, product usage; everything is digital.
After knowing the affiliate marketing models, it’s time to get an idea of the types of channels that can help you promote the products. Without channels, affiliates cannot reach consumers, without whom there is no sale and no commission.
Popular Affiliate Marketers & Marketing Channels
Affiliate marketing channels are the platforms where you can share your message and get a sale.
Based on the type of channels, affiliates can have a stream of conversions for their affiliate marketing business.
Affiliates should proceed with the mindset of an advertiser who ensures that he or she is getting in touch with the right people on the right platform at the right time.
If you know that your audiences are between 20-30 and browsing LinkedIn throughout their day, you cannot waste time making Instagram reels to promote your product!
Affiliates should know what the customers are watching, reading, interacting with, and interested in. What do they expect the most, and what are their problems?
You can craft communication and become a solution provider to the customers via these channels.
Influencers and Bloggers are the two most common affiliate marketers, where as Emails, YouTube, Email lists, Podcasts and Ads are the most popular affiliate marketing channels. Let’s look at the key features of all:
Influencers with a massive social media following have an edge to instantly reach hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of people.
These influencers use social media platforms, website blogs, email lists, and so on to engage with their followers/audience
These are content generators with a very engaging and interactive audience that regularly comments, shares, and likes the content. This audience is aligned with the thought process of these influencers and often makes purchasing decisions based on the recommendations of the influencers.
These influencers can quickly generate traction for your products with their popularity among the targeted audience.
For example, a teenager watches a YouTube video and comes across a product and remembers that his or her favorite influencer has promoted that product. Even though the teenager does not need that product at that time, the teenager will prefer buying that product when the necessity arises.
Bloggers are known to share in-depth and high-quality textual content through blogs, eBooks, long-form articles, infographics, and so on. They have an active and engaging blog on their website.
Unlike influencers, bloggers have complete liberty to play around with creativity since they have ownership of sharing content.
Bloggers can publish:
- A detailed review of the product
- A list of top products of a particular niche (For example – Top 11 camping products)
- Compare two products in the same niche
- Make a detailed walkthrough of how to use that product
Genuine bloggers have an excellent reputation with their audience, and their site has a good number of subscribers. Therefore, if bloggers can plan their content smartly, they can frequently generate new sales for their business.
They can also leverage organic search engine traffic to generate more sales.
For example, a blogger writes a detailed review about a social media marketing tool. If the content is genuinely good, fulfills the necessary SEO parameters and gets a few good backlinks, it will start to rank in SERP and get unique eyeballs every day.
- Email Lists
Email is the most effective mode of communication because it puts you directly in touch with the targeted buyers.
Unlike social media and search engines, you will know who you are talking to when you leverage email marketing. Because in SEO and social media, you’re talking to the masses. Therefore, your copy, content, and graphics have to be generic.
In emails you have the opportunity to make direct communication and personalize it. Additionally, you can use segmentation in emails to cater the right message to the right audience at the right time.
You can personalize your email copy in a much better way to ensure dynamic conversions for your affiliate marketing campaigns.
Video content is growing at a massive pace. Cisco notes that 82% of all internet customer traffic will be credited to video content.
Affiliates leverage YouTube by sharing tutorials, step-by-step guides, and in-depth product walkthroughs and reviews. In addition, they share their affiliate links in the descriptions and recommend viewers to “check the link in the description.”
Each sale generated through those links generates a commission for the video creators.
The main challenge for affiliates is to build a loyal audience that takes their content seriously and provide problem-solving products through YouTube videos.
In 2021, the number of monthly US podcast listeners will increase by 10.1% year-over-year (YoY) to 117.8 million. (Source)
A podcast is one of the most user-friendly content formats that allows people to access content on the go.
Podcasts work in niches like education, entertainment, professional skills, lifestyle, spirituality and so on. People can educate themselves and acquire knowledge about a particular thing through a podcast.
Unlike other channels and forms of content that require a higher degree of attention, Podcasts are more easily accessible anywhere and any hour of the day, whether someone is working out, commuting, traveling, cooking, and so on.
Therefore, podcasts give tremendous opportunities for affiliates to promote products and acquire commissions out of the same. They can partner with podcast publishers to run in-stream ads or share a link of a product in podcast descriptions.
- Paid Ads
Paid Ads are relatively quick compared to SEO and organic social media reach in generating traction online.
Here are a few paid ads channels that affiliates utilize to generate traffic:
- Google Ads
Google provides two types of ad platforms—search and display. Search ads are the ones that appear above the organic results on Google Search.
Display ads are the visuals, both motion and static. That means images and videos. In fact, YouTube video ads also fall under Google’s Display Ad network.
- Facebook Ads
World’s best social media platform, Facebook, also has an ad platform where advertisers run ads of various types—leads, traffic, app installs, video views, and so on.
Advertisers can also run ads on Instagram using the Facebook Ads platform.
- Pinterest Ads
Do you know that Pinterest gained 100 million new users in 2020?
It’s a goldmine to find creative and DIY-type content ideas. For example, Pinterest has an ad platform where you can run PPC ads and reach millions of people on social media.
- Taboola Ads
Taboola is a major ad network to reach audiences for your business. Taboola has unique places where you can interact with your buyers. From brand awareness to conversions, Taboola allows you to run interactive marketing campaigns. You can promote your content and get conversions for your affiliate marketing business from this platform.
- RevContent Ads
RevContent is also a popular native advertising and discovery platform that can put your message across to millions of people online.
You can run display ads and generate traffic to articles. RevContent also runs email newsletter ads where you can highlight your offer as sponsored content.
- Popup Ads
I’m sure you must have come across website popups when you browse websites. You can run sponsored popups and ‘Popup Ads’ to smartly put across your offer to targeted audiences. However, don’t annoy the readers and compromise the website’s UX by implementing too many Pop Up ads.
Why Affiliate Marketing?
This is my most favorite question to discuss when it comes to affiliate marketing.
If you want to be the master of a particular thing, you need to make sure why we are doing it and what separates it from other alternatives.
I recently published an Instagram post where I discussed the same.
- Low-cost and low-risk
You can start affiliate marketing with minimal investment. For example, you don’t need to buy inventory or rent a warehouse. Your ultimate focus is to publish great content and find relevant and lucrative offers.
Plus, you are not responsible for the customer support of the products that you promote. Therefore, all you need is a laptop and internet connectivity, and you’re good to go.
2. Easy to scale
You can quickly scale your affiliate marketing business. Unlike other models, say running a digital marketing agency, scaling involves hiring more people, renting office space, bearing the hardware and software cost, etc.
In affiliate marketing, all you need is a good website. You can also outsource content creation to a freelancer if required.
3. High ROI
This one goes without saying. You can make 6-7 figures a month with affiliate marketing.
Many brands, like Bluehost, share a good commission with their affiliates.
You can even earn up to 50% of the commission. Sometimes, brands also share a commission even if the customer referred by the affiliates renews or purchases other products.
That being said, you need to make sure you’re picking suitable affiliate offers. So let’s dive deep into that thought.
How to pick affiliate offers?
People often ask about how I should pick affiliate marketing programs and how to find the products. Well, make sure that you look for the below parameters:
- Trusted company
Affiliates should do a little homework about the organization. The company should have a good reputation in not only end-users but also affiliates – Just like Bluehost, that provides good products to people who want to build a website. Bluehost also has a lucrative affiliate program for affiliates who can join it for free and get the help of dedicated and responsive affiliate support.
2. Good Payout
Affiliates should sell a product that gives them a decent payout. Often, they end up acquiring conversions that share minimum commission from the cost price.
Bluehost has a reasonable pricing structure. They give a flat $65 for each referral who successfully signs up for a hosting plan. $65/sale is a decent commission or any affiliate.
3. Easy payment options
Bluehost has paid over $5 million in commissions to the affiliates in the last year alone. They process the sale between 45 to 60 days after the successful conversion and start releasing the payments between the 16th and the last day of the month.
Let’s say you get a sale in May. So, your commission will be released between the 16th and 31st of August—a pretty straightforward payment approach. Affiliates get payments via PayPal.
Understand the payment options, payout method, timeline and other parameters when looking for brands to partner with.
4. Easy affiliate tracking
As an affiliate marketer, you should be able to track the performance of the content to gauge the performance and optimize them for better relevancy and higher conversions.
Therefore, make sure the brand has a reliable tracking feature.
Bluehost has a robust tracking interface that uses advanced and custom technology so that affiliates don’t miss a single opportunity to maximize their sales.
5. High demand product
This one goes without saying. You should sell a product that customers are looking for, which means you should sell high-demand products.
For example, in this era of digitalization, businesses cannot sustain themselves with a website, and therefore, they need a good hosting provider like Bluehost.
These are the basic things that you should keep in mind when you are starting your affiliate marketing.
Now comes the question of what tools affiliates must use. What are the excellent themes and plugins that can help them grow in affiliate marketing?
WordPress Hosting by Bluehost for Fast Site Load Time
With a global average response time of 153 milliseconds, Bluehost is among the fastest hosting providers you can sign up with.
WordPress officially recommends BlueHost, and it’s not hard to see why. The company offers three WordPress-specific plans, enabling you to host your site for as little as $2.95 a month for your first term.
After choosing a plan, you can set up your domain without hassle on the straightforward domain setup screen.
When you’ve set up the domain, you can enter your details and checkout. Sure, the sign-up process is simple, and the plans are very reasonable – but the simplified WordPress setup process is what’s most impressive.
All you have to do is navigate to the “My Sites” section from the dashboard and click on “Add Site.”
Next, pick between the two website building options.
And enter the details of your site.
After you choose a domain and select the plugins you want to install on your WordPress site, BlueHost will set up the site for you, and your WordPress dashboard will appear in a matter of seconds.
Best WordPress Theme and Plugin for Affiliate Marketers
When an affiliate is just starting, these tools must give it a good headstart thanks to the features they bring to the table.
- Affiliate Booster Theme
Affiliate Booster is a WordPress theme. It’s a responsive and ultra-fast affiliate marketing theme that is 100% schema optimized, Gutenberg compatible, and comes with many advanced website UI controls.
They have recently launched a new update, and the page speed score is 95+ on both mobile and desktop devices.
You don’t have to worry about performance with Affiliate Booster. It comes with dynamic layouts and modern UI-UX elements to give your website a professional appeal.
- Affiliate Booster plugin
Along with the theme, you must get the Affiliate Booster Plugin. It supports over 15+ website blocks.
It can enable a lot of helpful website elements to represent your content in the most comprehensible manner.
- Affiliate Booster plugin
- RankMathRankMath is an SEO plugin.
It comes with many helpful features to set up your website for better organic search engine rankings.
Half the battle of improving a website’s SEO is content, which you can publish and manage on your own. The other half is technical and on-page SEO optimization with robust tracking of SEO metrics. And that’s where RankMath comes in.
This plugin can help you with built-in modules to configure your SEO structure, measure keyword ranking, and run a detailed analysis for SEO activities along with dozens of other helpful features.
Let me know what you think about the ideas discussed in this blog. I hope you get some relevant tips about starting a successful affiliate marketing business in the coming time. If you need any help, feel free to drop a comment below. Either way, I’m excited to hear your thoughts about this post.