Close
Close

What is Affiliate Marketing?

What is Affiliate Marketing?

It seems that more readers are asking this question than I previously thought.

In a recent poll here on ProBlogger I asked readers whether they’d done any affiliate marketing on their blogs. The results revealed that:

  • 29% of readers regularly do it
  • 24% occasionally do it
  • 27% have never done affiliate marketing on their blogs
  • 6% used to do it but don’t any more
  • 14% don’t know what affiliate marketing is

There’s some interesting results there but it was the last category (of bloggers not knowing what affiliate marketing is) that I wanted to write this post for with the hope of answering the question. It’s pretty basic and quite beginner focused but for the 14% of you who don’t know what affiliate marketing is – here’s a brief introduction.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Perhaps the simplest way to explain affiliate marketing is that it is a way of making money online whereby you as a publisher are rewarded for helping a business by promoting their product, service or site.

There are a number of forms of these types of promotions but in most cases they involve you as a publisher earning a commission when someone follows a link on your blog to another site where they then buy something.

Other variations on this are where you earn an amount for referring a visitor who takes some kind of action – for example when they sign up for something and give an email address, where they complete a survey, where they leave a name and address etc.

Commissions are often a percentage of a sale but can also be a fixed amount per conversion.

Conversions are generally tracked when the publisher (you) uses a link with a code only being used by you embedded into it that enables the advertiser to track where conversions come from (usually by cookies). Other times an advertiser might give a publisher a ‘coupon code’ for their readers to use that helps to track conversions.

For example:  when I recently released my 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook I also give people an opportunity to promote the workbook with an affiliate program whereby they could earn a 40% commission for each sale. When you sign up to become an affiliate you are given a special code unique to you that enables you to promote the workbook and make $7.98 per sale. The top affiliates earned over $2000 in the first few weeks after launch through these commissions.

  • Advertisers often prefer affiliate marketing as a way to promote their products because they know they’ll only need to pay for the advertising when there’s a conversion. I knew when I started this affiliate program that while I’d earn less for each sale that having a network of affiliates promoting it would almost certainly increase overall sales levels.
  • Publishers often prefer affiliate marketing because if they find a product that is relevant to their niche that earnings can go well in excess of any cost per click or cost per impression advertising campaign.

Why Affiliate Marketing Can Work Well on Blogs

Affiliate marketing isn’t the only way to make money from blogs and it won’t suit every blog/blogger (more on this below) but there are a few reasons why it can be profitable in our medium. Perhaps the biggest of these reasons is that affiliate marketing seems to work best when there’s a relationship with trust between the publisher and their readership.

I’ve found that as this trust deepens that readers are more likely to follow the recommendations that a blogger makes.

Of course this can also be a negative with affiliate marketing – promote the wrong product and trust can be broken (more on this below).

Affiliate Marketing – Easy Money?

While affiliate marketing can be incredibly lucrative it is important to know that affiliate marketing is not easy money. Most people who try it make very little as it relies upon numerous factors including:

  • traffic (high traffic helps a lot)
  • finding relevant products
  • finding quality products
  • building trust with your readers
  • having a readership who is in a ‘buying mood’
  • you being able to write good sales copy (and more)

There’s also some risk associated with affiliate marketing in that if you push too hard or promote products of a low quality you can actually burn readers and hurt your reputation and brand.

It’s also worth noting that affiliate marketing doesn’t work on all blogs. Some blogs are on topics where it is hard to find products to promote – other blogs attract audiences who are not in a buying frame of mind and for other blogs it just doesn’t fit with the blogger’s style or approach.

Tomorrow I want to continue the focus upon affiliate marketing with another post – this one on how to find affiliate products to promote.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. One of the basic tenets of any kind of marketing is putting your best foot forward and capitalizing on the opportunity to make a good first impression. The first step in formulating a sustainable marketing plan is to understand what the naturally occurring information or opinions are out there about your specific product or service. Next, is to decide if the information paints an accurate picture of you. If it does, you’re ahead of the game and you can begin to build upon this. Since the healthcare industry is a little late to the party of web-based and interactive marketing, I expect that most people will find that there is very little information out there about them and their practices. At the very least, you need to be checking to be sure your contact information is accurate and up-to-date. After all, patients can not make appointments if your phone number is wrong. However, all is not lost! The time to think about marketing plan and marketing message is now. As consumers/ patients begin to take a more active role in their own health care, it will become increasingly important to have some sort of web presence. Take action early because it is much better to begin to participate in your web presence early in the game than it is to have to fix huge problems that occur without you knowing. I am a physicist practicing from about 7 years. I was also unaware of such a fruitful resource that can be taken care of. Then I came across a similar blog regarding the website for physicians. I consulted a web designing and marketing company named http://www.medicalwebexperts.com. They designed my website embellished with a large amount of functionalities which include, learning materials, tests and scans descriptions, information regarding what all we do, blogs where patients can comment on the articles, provide suggestions. And the most important function that was unparallel with every other function was e-Medical Records. They provided the functions to store the details of the test and scans conducted on the patient, hence providing them 24/7 access to the medical details to the patients. And after my website was host and marketed, I am able to feel the outcomes on my income. My patient count is definitely increasing (though not as fast), but quite distinguishing.

  2. Thanks for the great post. I am looking into affiliate marketing as well and I really appreciate your advice and insight.

  3. Great entry.

    I’ve just started Affiliate Marketing via Amazon and am really looking forward to seeing how it performs.

  4. themag33 says:

    This is a great post. As a newbie I have had some success early and reading things like this makes me more motivated to go for more.

  5. making money says:

    I very happy to be able to read your article and I feel lucky because I can read the article you, thank you this article opened my mind about the internet more, thank you this article is very excellent, successful

  6. Affiliate marketing is a preference. Personally I wouldn’t use it on my blog because I don’t see a need for it. I see it as a turn off for readers, but if your promoting a product then go for it by all means.

  7. Adil Rehman says:

    Hi,
    Thanks Darren, this is a very useful post. Your post helped me to understand real meaning of affiliate marketing. This is an excellent work, keep going.

  8. gtr99 says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is a great post, i’m a newbie for affiliate marketing, your post help me to understand for affiliate marketing.

  9. Rita says:

    I’m working on affiliates now. It sure is interesting. I started by asking “good guy” companies that I’ve learned about in my consumer research and writing, including companies that sell organic products. Most don’t have affiliate programs.

    Now I’m looking for other “good guy” companies that have a mechanism set up for affiliates. I’ve applied to three companies and am waiting for a reply.

    This sure is complicated.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  10. Good Post. Did you set up an affiliate program with a company like Clickbank?

    Do you think I would be successful if the book were written about something other than affiliate marketing?

    Jeffery Roberts http://financeyourfuturetoday.com/blog

  11. Annabelle says:

    Great article and opinions, very interesting to see what other people had to say about it. Thanks for sharing your advice with us!