When you search for a particular item, how often do you come across a website that says it lists “the ten best” of that particular thing? Or has an in-depth review of it?
Most of these are affiliate sites, where the website gets a bit of money for driving customers to that particular product.
Affiliate marketing can be a good way to earn additional income, especially if it’s something that you can happily write about. But how do you start an affiliate site, and how can you make yourself stand out from the crowd?
Pick a topic
People are looking for experts they can trust — someone who knows the product, knows the industry, and knows how exactly it works. So you want to pick a single topic you can be passionate about and have some knowledge of. You can branch out from that topic into related items, but try to keep it more or less the same sort of thing. For example, your whisky blog can have an article or two on rum, but having an article on lawnmowers would be…off-putting. (Not to mention combining whisky and lawn mowing is dangerous!)
Get yourself a website
With a reliable hosting package and a WordPress installation, you can easily set up a nice blog that is ready for you to fill with content. Make sure it’s locked down and that you’re keeping it as fast as possible, because speed and security are important indicators of trustworthiness.
Sign up to an affiliate network
Once you know what you’re going to write about, you need to sign up to an affiliate program in order to make money on that topic. We use Awin to promote our web hosting (and you can join our program right now), but there’s also CJ Affiliates, Amazon Associates, or eBay Partner Network, just to name a few. If you know of a particular brand you want to promote, they may already have their own affiliate program in place But if you’re looking to promote a range of brands, signing up with a network gives you loads of possibilities.
Connect with advertisers
In the affiliate networking world, your site is a Publisher and the brands that want you to promote them are Advertisers. Once you’ve signed up, you can connect with advertisers and see what they have on offer and what they can do for you. A lot of them will have special discount codes, nice images, and targeted links, making it even easier for you to promote that brand.
Once you have everything together, it’s up to you to start writing. Review the products you like, link to places people can purchase them, and watch the affiliate commissions roll in. It’s not an instant cash earner, but it’s a nice way to bring in a small amount of additional income.
Things to watch out for
Of course, because it is a way to earn additional income, there are a lot of get-rich-quick scams out there. Here are a few things to watch out for.
Promising lots of money
Are they telling you you’ll be earning millions in just months? Showing off their fancy cars or fancy houses? It’s just like the cliché says — if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. With our affiliate program, we offer 20% on each sale, which means that, really, you’re getting maybe £1.50 per sale, because most people won’t be buying an annual Reseller hosting package through your link, but will be buying a .uk domain instead. Sure, it can build up nicely, but you won’t be renting out that superyacht any time soon.
Pushing your friends to join
Do they keep asking you to invite your friends? And then your friends will invite their friends and then they’ll invite their friends and everyone will keep earning based on the number of people they keep inviting? That’s a pyramid scheme. And it will eventually all collapse. Telling your friends is a nice way to get people interested, but only earning by inviting more people isn’t going to work.
Paying in large amounts
Do they tell you that if you just put in £20 every month, you’ll get back £500 once you make a commission? Do they want you to buy all the products before you even begin to talk about them? Some affiliate networks do require a small deposit before you can fully sign up. Awin, the network we’re with, asks for a deposit of £5, which they refund with the first commission payment. But if they’re repeatedly asking for money, with no obvious way to get it back, you’re going to end up spending a lot more than you earn.
Is it an MLM?
Multi-level Marketing is a combination of all three warning signs in one flashy package. You’re asked to buy products, recruit all your friends to also buy products, and they say you’ll make plenty of money, but you won’t. Thousands of people around the world have been duped by MLMs, and it can be easy to get sucked in. If you’re wondering if it’s an MLM, isthisanmlm.com is a fantastic resource, listing all the known MLMs out there.
Affiliate marketing can be a great way to get your name out there as an authority while also earning a small side income. You have to put in the effort, but if you’re already excited about a particular topic, why not earn just a little more from it?