Affiliate marketing allows you to earn money by promoting another brand's products-it is one of the many incredible opportunities offered by the digital world today. Here's how it works and what its benefits are.

Waking up early, driving in traffic to the office, crowded streets, traffic jams and traffic lights....

At your desk you scroll through email after email, hoping that the time when you can go home will come soon.

Yes, I know, said like that it sounds like a nightmare!

Of course, I hope for you that your work routine is really not so terrible and stressful--but also full of satisfaction.

As an aside, I was going to say, what if there was a way to deflect this now and then and make money anytime and from anywhere, even while you are sleeping?

This is kind of the basic concept Of affiliate marketing.

What is it all about? It is a way to generate new online revenue: on the one hand there is a brand that you want to promote; on the other hand there are people, called affiliates, who do it in exchange for a commission on sales. It is very beneficial for both, because it takes advantage of digital marketing tools and involves virtually no resources.

But wait, let me be clear right away: all that glitters is not gold. 

As always, the basis must be a valid business and a well thought out strategy.

Nonetheless, it is a really super interesting system that can allow you to earn a little more money in an easy way!

The combined benefits for both parties make it an essential part of any digital marketing strategy.

Ready to learn more about it?

Let's start with the base: What it is, how it works, and what its benefits are.

What is affiliate marketing?

Examples of affiliate marketing are all around you; you've probably even been involved in it without even realizing it!

Try to think: Have you ever clicked on a link in a blog article or social media post for a product or service offered on another website that you later bought?

Here, there's a good chance that the author of that article or post that suggested the link to you received a commission on your purchase. 

Let me explain further.

Affiliate marketing is essentially a digital sales and promotion strategy, a very powerful way to generate income online: it allows you to earn a commission by promoting another retailer's offer. 

It thus involves collaboration between two parties: a brand and a affiliate. The latter, after finding a product or service he likes, promotes it to his target audience by sharing it in his "virtual space" (be it a blog, a podcast, or his social page) and receives compensation for each specific result he manages to provide to the brand owner.

How? With the so-called affiliate links, which send people directly to the selected offer.

Typically, the required outcome of such a referral is sales, of which commissions are a percentage; but some programs may reward for other goals as well, such as new leads, clicks to links of various kinds, or downloads (we'll talk about this in a moment as well).

So there are two ways to get involved: as a brand owner or as an affiliate.

Let's focus on the latter: he is basically sort of like a salesman, except that he is not an employee of that company. Every time he helps it generate sales, however, he gets a share of the profit.

On the one hand, the original brand has someone promoting its products to a differentiated audience; you, as an affiliate, do not have to expend resources to create your offer, and you only need to have a virtual place to concretely place links. (Mind you, this is not to be confused with the referral marketing: to learn more about it, you can read the two articles I devoted to it, in which I explain what is and how to exploit it.)

Put like that, it really sounds super simple; it looks like an opportunity that anyone can benefit from. It only takes so little. Right?

Well, that's ... as I already mentioned, there's a lot more to it than that to make it all work best-which is why many people who try to do it are often disappointed and give up before they even start in earnest.

But I will tell you about that in the near future.

For now, let's try to understand how it works in practice and why it is so beneficial.

How does affiliate marketing work?

How does affiliate marketing work in a nutshell?

Suppose you want to seize such an opportunity. What happens? I'll put it down simple for you in a few steps:

  • Find an affiliate program or network that interests you and evaluate its features (product types, payment methods, commissions, etc.);
  • You enter into a relationship with the company that owns the brand and enter into an agreement;
  • Share your product or service with your audience by promoting affiliate links on your website, in newsletters, on social media, and so on;
  • The potential customer interacts with the link;
  • The customer arrives at the offer landing page;
  • The customer makes a purchase;
  • The company gets sales and you get a commission.

Thus, the strategy involves three people: the brand owner (the one who distributes the products and services); the affiliate (or marketer); the customer. 

The producer may be a company or an individual, and its offering may consist of a physical object, a digital product, or a service-the important thing is that it is premium.

The affiliate, for its part, tries to attract and convince potential customers of the value of such a product so that they end up buying it-so that it can receive a share of the revenue earned. 

Each affiliate has a unique link so that the company can easily trace the person responsible for each sale. Finally, the relationship between them will depend on the nature of the agreements made.

The customer, for his part, will have an initial interaction with the affiliate and then buy from the company. Whether he knows it or not, he (and his purchases) is the driver of the whole mechanism. In any case, for him the price and the purchasing procedure will remain the same as in any other case.

affiliate marketing

But how does an affiliate get paid after connecting the brand to the consumer?

As I mentioned, the customer does not always need to buy: depending on the program, the contribution will be measured differently. Here are the main cases:

- Pay per sale: is the standard affiliate marketing structure: you earn a commission for every sale you make. It is a common payment model for e-commerce offerings. 

- Pay per lead: is a more complex system that compensates you based on lead conversion. The goal is, for example, to persuade the consumer to visit the Web site of the company in question and complete the desired action, whether it is filling out a contact form, registering for a product trial, signing up for a newsletter, or downloading software or files.

- Pay per click: You earn commissions on every click on your affiliate link. Such programs are usually used by large merchants with the goal of increasing the brand awareness. Customers do not have to register or purchase anything, just visit the website of the brand in question or view the desired page.

The benefits of affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a fantastic source for generating passive income and can offer many benefits.So let's imagine that you decide to offer yourself as an affiliate and let's look in detail at what the benefits of such an activity would be.

Passive income

While any "normal" job requires you to be physically present to make money, affiliate marketing allows you to have indirect income, that is, income that does not depend on you "being active" at a specific time. By investing an initial amount of time in a campaign, for example, you will see continued returns as consumers purchase the product in the days and weeks that follow. 

Low barrier to entry

Affiliate marketing is easy to start and costs little. Most affiliate programs are free and there is no need to create, stock or ship products, which also means less hassle/responsibility.

No investment and low risk

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you don't have to invest time and effort to create a product to sell-what you need is a digital platform on which to place links. If that doesn't work, at best you've wasted some small resources.

It is also simple to execute: your part is simply about managing promotional campaigns. You don't have to worry about other more difficult tasks, such as developing, supporting, or fulfilling the offer.

Wide choice and easy to scale

You can choose from the most disparate products: those that offer the highest percentages or those that your users are most likely to buy. In any case, I suggest that you be the first fan of a particular product and recommend those that you first use or would recommend. As an affiliate, you can also promote products from different companies and receive commissions from all of them.

No responsibility (or almost no responsibility)

The seller, not you, is responsible, for example, for customer service, returns, etc. It is clear, however, that since you are the one recommending that product to your audience, if something goes wrong, the trust they place in you can also falter. So always evaluate what you propose carefully to avoid making a fool of yourself ๐Ÿ˜‰

Comfortable and flexible

Since you are like a freelancer, you have complete independence in setting your goals, redirecting your path, choosing the products you are interested in, or determining your schedule. This convenience means you can diversify your portfolio or focus exclusively on simple, straightforward campaigns.

What you need to be effective

All very interesting, isn't it?

Of course I do, but I want to be honest with you and tell you that, as in all things, you have to earn the results with commitment and determination.

There will be no shortage of challenges when you decide to do affiliate marketing. 

First, it takes patience: this is not a get rich quick scheme. It will take time to generate the amount of traffic needed to create substantial revenue.

For it to be effective, you have to have influence over a wide audience that you trust. The program works on a commission basis, so you don't have a fixed fee; not only that, as I mentioned earlier, your reputation is put at stake by how good or bad the brand you sponsor is. You do not own or control the product/service you are recommending, so you cannot control the quality or customer experience. Finally, remember that you would not be the only one: there are countless affiliates out there!

Affiliate marketing can be a great way to increase your existing income or even become your main source of income if you are willing to put in the effort.

But either way, if you're looking for long-term success, you have to be willing to do it the right way.

That's why it's important that you don't take this opportunity lightly: you have to start with the right mindset and skills if you actually want to get real results.

Conclusion

As you may have guessed, if done right, affiliate marketing can be a win-win for everyone. Every party involved can benefit.

From your recommendation, your audience discovers a product that might be useful to them; on the other hand, the brand owner gets new customers he might not have found otherwise; in all of this, as an end result, you receive compensation.

But at the heart of it all is one fundamental thing: the trust of your audience.

Yeah, because you know what often happens? Many people do this the wrong way by taking a revenue-based approach instead of a service-based approach: they promote random products without bothering to provide real value to their users.

When your audience believes you have their best interests at heart and trusts your advice, then yes, the mechanism works and is profitable.

So take my advice: first gain the trust of the people you are targeting and only recommend affiliate products that you have used yourself and that they will also appreciate.

Finally, don't miss the next article: I will talk to you about what strategies to set up for effective and successful affiliate marketing.

Photo by Damian Zaleski on Unsplash