Affiliate marketing is one of the most well-known and oldest forms of digital marketing. It can simply be defined as the process when a person earns a commission by promoting or marketing the product of an individual or a company. To put it simply, if you recommend a product to someone, and they buy it based on your recommendation, then you get a small portion from each sale that is made - that's affiliate marketing.

The commission for affiliates could vary from anything between $1 to $10,000 or more depending on the product they’re promoting. Affiliate marketing is often known as the ‘channel’; it’s the model that allows brands or companies to team up with individuals to track their own performance in an efficient, scalable, and cost-effective manner.

In some ways, affiliate marketing is simply a way of crowdsourcing a sales team to scale.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing believes in distributing the responsibilities of product creation and marketing across various parties. This allows them to leverage the talents of a group of individuals for a marketing strategy that is efficient and effective, while providing the contributors or affiliates with a share of the profits being made.

There are quite a few parts or segments involved in affiliate marketing. They are as follows:

The Merchant: The merchant is also known as the company, the maker, the creator, the retailer, or the brand. The affiliate marketing merchant creates an item or service. The merchant could also be an individual who is an entrepreneur offering services such as online courses or consulting programs. Basically, a merchant can be anyone who has a product to sell.

The Affiliate: Affiliates can be publishers, advertisers, or distributors. These can be big organizations or just an individual. The job of the affiliate marketer is to promote the products or services offered by the merchant so as to attract individuals who can become potential customers for the vendor and end up buying the product. The affiliate can also be a site that advertises the merchant’s services to target audiences.

The Consumer: Consumers will know about the affiliate networking system only if the affiliate informs them of it. Whereas some affiliates are open about it, others don’t normally like to reveal it. Without consumers, there wouldn’t be any commission present or income to be distributed.

Consumers are marketed to depending on the channel that suits them best, be it social media, content marketing channels, search engines, or digital billboards. Since the cost of the affiliate system comes included in the unit economics of the retail cost, consumers don’t usually pay a higher price to the affiliate advertiser.

The Network: A network serves as a bridge between the affiliate network and the affiliate marketing merchant in the framework of affiliate marketing. These networks help the affiliates in promoting a product even more efficiently.

The network acts as a database of numerous products, and among those products, affiliates can choose the one they wish to promote. For example, if an affiliate comes across the content writing services provided by ContentFly, and believes in their services, they can opt to promote it through an affiliate program.

How to Be Successful in Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a great way to make money, but it’s also very competitive. You need to know the current state of the market to know how to promote different products. In order to be a successful affiliate marketer, be it as a blogger, a YouTuber, or a social media influencer, here are some strategies to follow:

Know Your Audience

You need to know as much as possible about your audience and followers. Think about why they’re visiting your site or subscribing to your email lists or ardently following you on social media. See to it that the products you promote aid in solving the problems of your audience. By increasing the relevancy of your products, you give your audience a reason to keep coming back to your content, which in turn increases the rate of sales and profits.

Knowing about your audience not only helps you with the success of your products, but also lets you explore more regarding the best places to advertise your website in order to attract the customers who are genuinely interested. This can also help you use the necessary demographics and psychographics, and make your offers more enticing.

Be True to Yourself and Your Readers

The only way you'll gain success as an affiliate marketer is if you’re ethical and can manage to win the trust of your audience. It’s ultimately them who will spread the word about your content through posts and reposts. If they get a hint that you’re promoting products you don’t believe in or are doing so just for monetary benefits, they’ll leave and never come back.

For example, if you’re a beauty blogger who talks about skincare or makeup products on YouTube, and if you happen to promote products that are harmful in any sense, your viewers are bound to be upset and disappointed. This can lead to not just your reputation being tarnished, but also you losing a tremendous amount of followers.

So, only promote the products that you think will be truly helpful to your audience. You can also choose to disclose about your relationship with the company or place you’re promoting, because the viewers like that level of honesty and transparency.

Create Meaningful Content

Content is most definitely king. If your content is strong, readers will flock to your page anyway. It’s important to remember two things: Write content that is relevant, and write on topics that are timeless. You can provide links to your old blogs on the new ones, and also keep updating the old ones to make them more relevant and topical.

There are certain subjects that are absolutely timeless, therefore, writing on those always works. You can also choose to not add dates to your blogs so that people don’t discard them just on the basis of the fact that they are old. Create content that is useful, makes your readers think, and brings about a positive change to their lives.

Make Wise Business Decisions

Just because you’re an affiliate marketer, doesn’t mean you should promote anything and everything. Promote only the products whose scope and background you firmly understand. Choose to go for fields where your expertise is high. This will help you in the long run, for you will be able to differentiate the good from the bad. Yet another plus of this will be the fact that the choosier you are, the stronger will be your hold on the audience, because the viewers will recognize your expertise in the field and value your content.

Make Use of the Tools

There are several tools out there that will help you become a more efficient affiliate marketer. This includes creating a website, using elements such as Google Analytics, and adding the relevant software. Online tools will aid you in measuring the results, smoothing out your workflow, and staying on top of the game with regards to all the updates.

Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms

Whether you’re an expert affiliate marketer or are just starting out in this field, you will always wish for your affiliate marketing campaigns to work well. You need to try out different programs to see which one suits your content the best. Some of the best affiliate marketing programs to try out are as follows:

1) Amazon Associates

If you’re a beginner, Amazon Associates is a great platform to begin with. Amazon warms up the leads for you and takes care of most of the sales process. All you need to do is use the external sources to bring in new clients to the Amazon site. The range of products you can pitch is enormous, since new products are added every day.

2) eBay Partner Network

By being a part of the eBay Partner Network, you can make use of the numerous customers who enjoy surfing the eBay marketplace. When you advertise the eBay products on your blog, social media, or website, you make money with every product that’s sold using your link. From popular trends to daily deals, the supply of products on eBay is never-ending.

3) ContentFly

ContentFly provides you access to the best professional writers who give you SEO-optimized content. With ContentFly’s affiliate marketing program, you’re sure to drive in a lot of benefits for yourself, because companies and people are always looking for quality copywriters. Whether people are searching for content for their blogs, website, newsletter, social media posts, or landing pages, ContentFly gives you $100 for every signup that’s done through your affiliate links.

4) ShareASale

Having been around for almost two decades, ShareASale has garnered a respectable reputation for itself in the affiliate marketing industry. The interface is extremely user-friendly, the sign-up process is fast and free, and it provides support for the affiliates who run multiple websites. As an affiliate, there are several merchants you can choose from, with over 40 categories available.

5) ClickBank

ClickBank reaches over 200 million people all around the world, with their 6 million digital products spread across more than 20 categories. It provides commissions as high as 75% and is known for its regular and reliable payments, which is one of the most positive factors. Since the availability of products is steady and pretty humongous, it will signify a great amount of income for an affiliate marketer.

6) PartnerStack

PartnerStack focuses mainly on the advertisement of software tools and products, including most of the popular ones. The affiliate marketing program states that it’s the channel partners through whom 30% of the software is sold. Therefore, for the marketers whose audience includes individuals with an inclination towards software, this works pretty well.

This affiliate marketing program aims towards the collaboration of affiliate marketers and product owners. Hence, the high growth potential will benefit you greatly as an affiliate marketer.

7) CJ Affiliate

Containing 300 brands, including some of the best global ones, CJ Affiliate is the best for experienced marketers. Known to have a 43% year-on-year growth in terms of commissions, the platform has pretty strict guidelines to hire publishers and marketers. Although it can seem slightly confusing to use at first, once you get habituated to it, the toolbox is fun to work with.

8) Fiverr Affiliates Program

Touted as the largest marketplace for digital services in the world, Fiverr Affiliates Program has more than 11 million users from 190 countries. Their commission plan is supremely generous, with the CPA going up to $150. One of the best parts is that the marketers get lifetime attribution, and there’s no referral limit either. Their user-friendly dashboard makes the work of the affiliate marketers much easier.

Summing Up

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money by promoting the products and services that you know are beneficial and will make the lives of your audience better. It increases your popularity as a publisher and gets the important brands to notice you through your hard work and credibility.

In order to be a successful affiliate marketer, it’s crucial to select a program that will complement your company's core beliefs and principles.

Neither do two affiliate marketers work in the same manner nor do two affiliate marketing programs function the same way. It all ultimately depends on the marketer’s niche and audience, based on which an affiliate marketer can choose the one that best suits their needs.