Can You Really Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?
The Truth About How to Make Money in Affiliate Marketing
Can you make money with affiliate marketing? The short answer is yes, affiliate programs can earn extra money and even a full-time income from home. The long answer is a little more complicated. Like any home income venture, success comes not so much from what you choose to do to make money, but whether or not you do what needs to be done correctly and consistently.
The Reality of Affiliate Marketing
The problem with affiliate marketing, like many other home business options, are the so-called gurus and get-rich-quick programs that suggest affiliate marketing can be done fast and with little effort. Odds are you've read claims of affiliate marketing programs that say you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month doing almost nothing ("Three clicks to rich!"). Or, they suggest you can set up your affiliate site, and then forget it, except to check your bank deposits.
The reality in affiliate marketing is that it's like most other work-at-home ventures; there are a few who are filthy rich, a good number who are successful enough to meet their goals, and a ton who aren't making anything.
The question isn't really whether or not affiliate marketing is a viable income option (it is), but whether or not you can make affiliate marketing work for you.
Only you can decide that. But to help, here are some tips.
Pros of Affiliate Marketing
There are several aspects of affiliate marketing that make it a good home business option including:
- Low cost to get started. Most affiliate programs are free to join, so your costs are usually related to your referral/marketing methods.
- No need to create a product or service.
- Don't have to stock or ship products.
- Work anytime and from anywhere as long as you have Internet access.
- Passive income potential, depending on how you market your affiliates programs.
- Can be added on to current home business to create an additional income stream. It's ideal for bloggers, coaches, information entrepreneurs, and anyone who has a website.
Cons of Affiliate Marketing
There are challenges to making money from affiliate marketing, such as:
- It can take time to generate the amount of traffic needed to result in income.
- Affiliate hijacking can occur in which you're not given credit for your referral. URL masking can help.
- A bad affiliate referral can ruin your credibility. It's important that you choose quality businesses to work with to avoid this.
- No control over the businesses' product, service, or how it does business.
- Some companies have been known not to pay, although there are ways to screen and choose quality affiliate programs.
- High competition. When you find a great program, you can bet that many others are promoting it as well.
- Customer belongs to the merchant. Your stats will let you know how many sales were made of what product, but in most cases, you'll have no information about who made the purchase, which makes it difficult to market for re-sales.
How to Become a Successful Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing is an ideal home business because it doesn't require much money to get started, and you don't have produce, stock or ship product inventory, or deliver a service. You're essentially paid for referring new clients and customers to other businesses.
Affiliate marketing isn't hard, but like any business venture, it requires knowledge, planning, and consistent effort to make any significant income. Here are some things you can do to ensure your venture into affiliate marketing is successful.
- Start right by learning about affiliate marketing and the steps required to be a success.
- Choose only quality affiliate products and services. In fact, consider buying them yourself so you can attest to their quality. You'll be judged by the product/services you promote, so don't just focus on the income, but also on the quality.
- Research the programs so you understand how and when you're paid, and other important money issues you need to know to ensure the program is a good fit.
- Start a blog. An information, how-to, or lifestyle blog offers lots of opportunities to promote affiliate products.
- Choose affiliate items that match your niche or the content on your home business website or blog. For example, if you write about figure skating, affiliate links to motorcycles or a new set of saddlebags won't do well.
- Mix and match affiliate ads so you don't overwhelm your visitors. In-content affiliate links usually have the best click-through rates over image links.
- Always disclose your affiliate relationship. Most visitors will probably understand that graphic ad will lead to your getting paid, but if you write a review or use an in-text link as a recommendation, you want your readers to know that may lead to compensation as well. This ensures you retain transparency and trust with your readers, but also, it's required by the FTC's endorsement rules.
- Market, market, market. Don't rely on SEO or social media alone to drive people to your website or blog, and affiliate referrals. Understand who your target market is, where you can find it, and how you can entice it to your site. There are many low cost and free ways to market your affiliate business.
- Start an email list. The most successful affiliate marketers use email in their affiliate marketing. Don't put this off. Email marketing can increase your affiliate profits significantly.
- Consider using a lead page and funnel system to market your affiliate business. Lure prospects to your email list with a great free offer, and from there you can send them to your affiliate product page. In your email system, you can offer more great free content and more affiliate offers.
- Monitor the success of your affiliate programs, particularly if you have several programs and/or are also using other ad types, such as Google AdSense for making money. Sometimes having too many ads dilutes the site or distracts readers, resulting in lower performance.
Before jumping into starting an affiliate marketing business, learn all that's involved in making it a success.
If you decide to pursue an affiliate marketing business, or want to add affiliate marketing to an existing business, understand that it's not fast, automatic, nor without effort.
Like all home businesses, you need a plan and daily involvement to make money with online affiliate marketing.
Overall, your chances for making money with an affiliate program are probably no better and no worse than any other type of Internet home based business. Your success depends on how well you execute your affiliate business plan.
Updated May 2018 Leslie Truex