What Is An Affiliate?
An affiliate is someone who refers traffic to a company and receives a finder's fee or referral fee for that traffic that converts to a sale. This can range across all industries from real estate to gold and silver buying, stock brokerage to dress retailers. If there is an exchange for money and you brought the traffic to that exchange then you can earn a finder's fee for that! Affiliate marketing has been around for as long as the World Wide Web has existed, and even before that in face to face format. Ever been asked "did anyone refer you today?" That is the company wanting to give a referral fee to the person that brought you! Now let's get you referring so you can make money, too.
What is the Difference Between Affiliate Marketing and Other Forms of Online Marketing Businesses?
Affiliate programs are similar to several other ways to make money online.
- It can be done from anywhere, at any time, from an office of your choosing
- It can be done as little or as much as you choose making your income flexible
- It can be done using a brand already established or newly established
This is all awesome, but this is where the similarities end. Affiliate programs have very special attributes that make them very desirable to online marketers.
You are not an employee of the company or a contractor with the company, and often times affiliates work with several different companies to drive potential customers to. Some affiliates will even be signed up with several competing brands and drive traffic to all of them in different ways without having to obey a non-compete clause.
No Inventory Purchase Requirements to Earn Money
Affiliate programs are focused heavily on personal sales. Some programs offer a single direct tier to earn from, in terms of a team, in order to allow the affiliate to benefit from anyone they market to that decides to sign up before purchasing. However building multi-level teams is not a focus.
Since an affiliate is not tied to one brand in particular, an affiliate can change their focus at any time to any industry.
The focus for affiliates is purely to drive traffic from all over to one focus. It does not thrive on the "recruit and sell to your friends and family" aspect. Affiliates do not expect their friends and family to be their own ongoing customers therefore they do not cause their hot-market to get burned out on their marketing.
Affiliates are marketing a brand that is marketed in conventional methods and has the consumer's trust. This means your consumer already wants to shop from them but you have a chance to make money off that purchase.
What is the Focus of an Affiliate?
All too often we look at joining a brand to, in some way, receive the discount on the products. This is a definite perk of many programs. But the main focus for an affiliate program is not what you can buy and save, but what you can sell and earn. In fact most affiliate programs don't allow the affiliates to shop from their own link.
Average order price is important and the higher this amount is while still being competitive in the industry the better.
Remember, your percentage of money earned is pulling from this amount. So 15% of an average order of $100 is $15 an order. If the price of a product drops then the average order amount drops, and then 15% of $50 becomes $7.50. Lower price items end up hurting your income and increasing the amount of work you need to do to drive in the same income requirements you have established for yourself. Not to mention the consumer that buys higher priced items shops more often online and with a looser budget than those looking for the lower price points.
Affiliates want that average order price to higher while remaining competitive, not lower to cater to their own spending habits or those of their friends and family. It's about being competitive with other companies while driving traffic of their target audience to the link that they get paid from.
Seek an audience based on their shopping habits and mimic what they already like. Look at the high ends brands, find the fans of those, and network with them! You'll find they not only LOVE what you have to offer, but they will LOVE that you are so much more approachable than those stuffy high end places they already shop.
How Do You Drive Traffic?
This is easier than you think, but it takes a bit of time to build up. It will not be at optimum levels the first month. And consistency is more important in affiliate programs than anything else. However the heavy personal touch and hand holding is not nearly as important so initial traffic can be done through automation across social media, and that leaves you to hand hold those who do purchase.
Process Automation is Key!
Once your social media networks are set up you will want to automate as much as possible. This could be in the form of using follow/unfollow apps for twitter, auto posters for all platforms, and even simple things like posting once across all platforms. Always be on the lookout for something that will help you to make a big impact for very little work. Google is your friend. If there is something you are doing daily, multiple times a day, or something that takes a long time to do you better bet someone out there is automating it. Search for that. (I personally use Cinchshare. This is not a free program, but it works well for me. There are others out there. Do research on the Snapdragon Home Affiliate site.)
This does not mean you will end up making money with no work, but it will streamline your focus and help you to determine what needs TLC time and more hand-holding, lessening the amount of time you spend on repetitive tasks.
How Do Affiliate Links Work?
Affiliates receive a unique number which identifies their traffic. The website URL has the affiliate number appended it, and this develops a cookie on shopper's website. When the shopper completes an order the affiliate's number is attached to it. When it is processed the affiliate gets credited for their contracted amount. This is then paid out weekly. Simple as that!
Other ways of making money online, like MLM and direct sales brands, will put the name of the representative on the brand's replicated website. This is not done with affiliate marketing, though the way it works is the same. Instead the consumer looks at the website as it being the normal retail website.
Want to do some advertising? Simply post a picture of your favorite product on one of your social media platforms you are building an audience with and talk about it! Say what you like about it, where or how you would use it. Then give your link to the website with your affiliate number attached.
PRO TIP: Always send people to the main homepage of the website for recruiting or selling. If you link directly to a product you will end up with people going to broken links when the product sells out and is no longer available.
Other Ways to Drive Traffic
So you've got your social media networks set up, working hard for you, and you want to reach even MORE! There are several ways to do this.
- Blogging - Become a blogger focused on the industry or trend you are affiliated with the most.
- Buying traffic - You can invest in traffic from ad campaigns through google, ad services, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Email Marketing - Develop an email list, or purchase email leads, and send direct mail to them with your link.
What if I Live in the Middle of Nowhere?
Who cares?! This is a purely online run business. That means your target audience is wherever you choose and you can market to whomever you choose. You do not need to market to your friends, your family, your town. You do not need to market to people with the same income level or tastes as you. You do not even need to market to the same gender or age range as you. You are simply taking a product, like Snapdragon Home, finding the target audience and getting it out in front of them. You do not make the brand fit your audience, you make an audience to fit the brand.