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Do you dream of making money from anywhere, at any time? Affiliate marketing can make that fantasy a reality.
The affiliate marketing industry is estimated to be worth $12 billion — clearly, this lucrative revenue stream is worth exploring.
If you’re looking to learn everything you need to know to succeed as an affiliate marketer, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this post:
Let’s get started.
Affiliate marketing is when an affiliate promotes a company’s products or services in exchange for a commission.
It’s a performance-based opportunity that anyone from solopreneurs to massive companies can get a healthy income from.
As an affiliate, you’ll earn a commission on all sales or referrals made through your unique affiliate ID which you’ll automatically get when you join an affiliate program.
The commission offered by the third party incentivizes affiliates to find ways to promote a company’s products or services.
This in turn increases the company’s brand awareness, traffic, and profits. It’s a win-win for both parties!
An affiliate program is run by the merchants themselves, whereas an affiliate network acts as a network that brings merchants and affiliates together.
Examples of an affiliate network include Amazon’s affiliate program, ClickBank, and ShareASale.
These networks make it easier for merchants to find influencers, and it makes it just as easy for affiliates to find offers that they want to promote.
Not sure which one will work best for you?
Let’s weigh up the pros and cons for both affiliate programs and networks.
The average annual salary for affiliate marketing in the US is $66,029, with the lower end of the range being $35k and the upper being $124k per year.
It’s true that anybody can become a successful affiliate marketer, as long as you’re determined and in it for the long haul.
As with anything, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it — affiliate marketing is no different.
However, there are some factors that can influence your success, these include:
We’ll delve into each of the above and more to ensure you’re on the path to success — just remember that nothing great happens overnight.
As with anything that provides a return, it takes time to nurture and grow.
Let’s take a look at how some bloggers have increased their affiliate income over the years.
Michelle’s blog Making Sense of Cents
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner started her personal finance and lifestyle blog Making Sense of Cents 10 years ago.
Her income report from May 2012 shows that she made $672 from sponsored blog posts, surveys, and selling textbooks.
One of her recent income reports shows that:
Her blog regularly makes over $100,000 per month with the majority of that handsome sum coming from affiliate marketing.
Adam Enfroy’s website
Adam Enfroy started his blog in 2019, and in under 2 years, he earned over $1 million — without spending a penny on advertising!
Adam’s first income report from May 2019 shows:
His monthly income went from $0 to $281,773 with most of his affiliate commissions coming from recommending Software as a Service (SaaS) products.
SaaS products (like systeme.io) usually offer commission rates as high as 20-50%, plus there are recurring commissions.
Because your success as an affiliate marketer relies on a number of factors (the strategies you use, your niche, etc.), it can be difficult to give an exact timeframe of how quickly you’ll see results for your efforts.
However, considering that most affiliate platforms are free to join, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Let’s get into the basics of how it all works.
These are the 3 parties involved in affiliate marketing:
Here’s a simple 5 step breakdown of how it works:
1. When you join an affiliate program, you’ll receive a unique affiliate link that’ll track the sales you’re responsible for
2. You’ll promote the third-party’s offer and provide your affiliate link on your blog, social media posts, podcast, or website
3. When someone clicks the referral link, a small file called a “cookie” gets stored on their device (more on this in a bit)
4. Now, let’s say that the lead who’s clicked on your affiliate link decides to purchase the product or service that you’re promoting
5. The company tracks which affiliate is responsible for the purchase, and you get the agreed-upon commission for the sale
When it comes to the commission, this is usually percentage-based, but some affiliate programs also offer a fixed amount per sale.
The commission rate also varies depending on the merchant, the niche, and the offer.
Lucrative affiliate marketing programs, like systeme.io’s for example, offer up to 50% commission on all sales made through your affiliate ID!
Usually, commissions are made as a result of a sale, but some programs reward their affiliates for acquiring leads, sign-ups, etc.
The marketing model used by the merchant determines what goal you need to reach in order to receive your commission.
These are the 3 marketing models:
1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
2. Pay-Per-Lead (PPL)
3. Pay-Per-Sale (PPS)
Let’s do a quick outline explaining exactly what each of these are.
As a merchant, you can opt for paid advertising through the PPC model, and it’ll help generate traffic to your website.
As an affiliate, you can place PPC ads on your blog or website and receive a commission for any clicks that you receive on the ad(s).
As an affiliate, this means you earn a commission even if the lead doesn’t make a purchase — you just need to get them interested enough to click the ad.
This model can be profitable if you’re able to generate a fair amount of traffic to your site, as most PPC programs are measured based on impressions.
As the name suggests, with this model you get paid for every lead that’s converted.
Here your goal is to get the lead to take the desired action — whether it’s to submit a form, sign-up for a trial, join an email list, or make a purchase.
Getting a lead to act on your call to action (CTA) requires more effort than simply generating traffic.
This is the model that you’ll come across most often.
With this model, you’ll only earn a commission if a successful sale is made — this requires more marketing effort on your end.
This can be tough, as the pricing of the offer and the level of trust that you’ve built with your audience can impact how many sales you make.
Your audience might trust you enough to purchase an offer that’s worth a few dollars, but not one that’ll cost them $1,000.
Fortunately, you get products (like systeme.io), that are so good that they practically sell themselves.
But how do merchants know a sign-up, sale, or any other outcome was as a result of your efforts?
The answer — cookies.
A cookie put simply, is software that’s used for tracking.
Without cookies, it wouldn’t be possible to know which affiliate was responsible for the traffic, leads, or sales.
Unfortunately, these cookies expire.
Why is this unfortunate?
The lifespan of the cookie determines how long it’ll track the user’s online activity.
This means that if there’s a 30-day cookie life, your lead has to make a purchase within this timeframe for you to make any commission on the sale — after 30 days, the lead will no longer be trackable.
Affiliate programs vary in terms of the cookie duration, some aren’t as lenient as others, so keep this in mind when choosing an affiliate program.
There’s nothing better than hearing success stories to get you inspired!
Let’s take a look at 3 super affiliates and some of their recommendations to help you succeed.
Pat Flynn earned $163.16 in his first month — today though, almost 80% of his income is from his affiliate marketing efforts.
With Pat having earned over $3 million in affiliate revenue, here’s what his free ebook advises you do to increase your success as an affiliate marketer:
1. Cultivate a relationship with your audience
2. Decide on the products you want to promote
3. Focus on illustrating your experience with the product
4. Show how the product has worked for you or others and how it’ll provide the results your audience is looking for
5. Pitch or sell the product(s) to your audience
Pat’s advice has a strong focus on building trust with your audience — without trust, you have little chance of converting them into customers.
A quote by Zac Johnson on affiliate marketing
Zac Johnson has been in affiliate marketing for over 20 years, and he’s built a business around affiliate offers and his own product launches.
In just the last couple of years, he’s generated over $5 million in sales with his blog — earning over $100,000 every year in affiliate revenue alone.
Zac advises that you:
Ana Skye’s blog “The She Approach”
The She Approach is a blog created by Ana Skye that helps female bloggers and entrepreneurs increase their traffic and make money online.
Although Ana started the blog in 2016, she only took it on full-time at the beginning of 2020.
Her blog is fairly small with:
Considering the size of her blog, the earnings she’s made are astounding!
In her milestone income report that shows how she hit $100,000 from blogging (since starting in 2016), she shows how 43% of it ($48,892) was from affiliate commissions!
She makes the rest of her income from selling ebooks and courses.
Some of what led Ana’s blog to where it is today includes:
Of course, success doesn’t come easy — these affiliate marketers have invested years and years of consistent effort into their businesses.
But for every success story that you hear, there are hundreds of failures that you don’t hear about.
The biggest reason why some affiliates fail is that they simply don’t give it enough time, and they go in thinking that it’s a get-rich-quick scheme.
Give your efforts time to blossom!
Let’s get into some of the other common mistakes that affiliate marketers make to ensure that you get started on the right path.
9 of the most common mistakes that affiliate marketers make
As we’ve mentioned several times throughout this post, success as an affiliate marketer rests on the relationships you build.
Your number 1 priority should be your audience.
Having them come second or not considering them at all is a recipe for disaster.
The stronger the relationship between you and your audience, the more you’ll earn. It’s a win-win.
These are the 2 main mistakes affiliates make in terms of their audience:
1. They focus on selling instead of helping
Focusing on selling won’t produce the results you’re looking for, instead focus on helping your audience.
2. They think that customer service isn’t their responsibility
Although customer service isn’t your responsibility, establishing a strong relationship with your audience is absolutely crucial.
You have to stay in touch with your audience and build trust in order to get them to be confident in anything you recommend.
So be sure to respond to queries and comments that you receive on your content, and work on building those relationships!
There are a number of common mistakes that happen when choosing a niche, for example:
1. Avoid choosing a niche that you’re not interested in
Not being interested in the niche you choose will make promoting the products difficult and boring.
2. Narrow down your niche as much as possible
A well-defined niche is important, as it’ll make building a solid following much easier than if you had a much broader audience.
3. Don’t ignore the level of competition
The competition level in each niche is important, especially as a beginner affiliate, because you might struggle to show authority in an overcrowded space.
If the product you’re promoting offers no real value to your audience then you’ll be wasting both your time and energy.
Ask yourself these simple questions:
Always be sincere and confident about the products you’re selling — only ever promote products that you know will offer value to your audience.
Promoting products with recurring payments means that you’ll get recurring commissions!
It’s easier to bag those monthly commissions if you’re not having to sell once-off purchases where repeat customers aren’t guaranteed.
Recurring payment models are common with software, membership, and hosting companies.
For example, systeme.io offers 50% lifetime commissions on all subscription and course sales, so this means recurring commissions!
systeme.io’s pricing plans
Let’s say that you refer 100 people to our cheapest paid plan — the Startup plan for $27/month, that’s $1,080/month in commissions!
This is a surefire way to lose your audience’s trust — if you’re not authentic, they’ll pick up on it.
If you’re selling for the right reason (to help your audience), then you’ll know the products you’re promoting inside and out.
Either only promote products that you’ve personally used, or ensure that you do extensive research before you promote it to your audience.
When a customer buys a product, they’re not interested in the features it has to offer, but the benefits that it’ll provide.
Features tell and benefits sell.
This is a common mistake that you can’t afford to make because this will have an immense impact on the number of sales you make.
People buy benefits — focus your content on the benefits and you’ll see an increase in your sales.
It’s true that content is king — poor quality content will do nothing but kill your sales.
Focus on producing high-quality content that provides value to your audience.
Producing high-quality content will also help you rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs), which in turn will help bring in more traffic to your site.
Underplaying the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) is a big mistake!
Ensure SEO plays a big role in your marketing strategy.
Producing quality content but then failing to effectively market it will also be nothing but wasted effort.
A strong email marketing strategy is a must-have for affiliate marketers because it allows you to:
With a platform like systeme.io, you can build and segment your email list, run marketing campaigns, send newsletters, and more.
The best part is that you can do the above and send unlimited emails to a list of 2,000 contacts for free with our Freemium plan!
Testing what does and doesn’t work is the only way that you’ll know where you need to make improvements.
With most all-in-one tools like systeme.io, you can run A/B tests on your CTAs, your headings, etc. to know what elements work best.
Keep experimenting with how you promote and see what your audience responds best to.
Do images work? Perhaps not.
When do your emails get the most opens and click-throughs?
Test everything — test, test, test!
You’ll want to try to avoid making the above mistakes, but bear in mind that failure is necessary for learning!
So don’t feel discouraged if you make mistakes along the way — persevere through it, and implement what you’ve learned.
As we’ve emphasized throughout, affiliate marketing can be incredibly fulfilling, but it’s not magic — it requires time and constant effort.
Whether you should do affiliate marketing is up to you, but what have you got to lose?
To help you weigh up whether or not affiliate marketing is worth it, let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
Here are the key pros and cons of affiliate marketing:
There are far more advantages than disadvantages to affiliate marketing.
But perhaps you’re considering dropshipping instead — let’s find out if that’s a more viable option.
Affiliate marketing and dropshipping both allow you to make money by selling other people’s products, without having to worry about stocking the products yourself.
Earlier in this post, we discussed how affiliate marketing works, here are the simple steps of how dropshipping works:
1. You display the merchants’ products on your own store
2. The customer completes a transaction (at retail price)
3. You order it from the merchant (at wholesale price)
4. It gets shipped directly to the customer who thinks it’s coming from you
5. You make a profit on the sale
Although affiliate marketing and dropshipping have some similarities, there are some key differences that are worth noting:
Regardless of whether you decide on venturing into dropshipping or affiliate marketing, both require consistent effort to grow the business.
And both can be achieved with systeme.io!
You can create your website, your own affiliate program, become a drop shipper, or sell your own products, and more (for free!).
As a small business owner, you likely won’t have the resources or the marketing budget to get a dedicated marketing team or to explore other means of advertising.
Thankfully, affiliate marketing is as beneficial to businesses as it is for affiliates.
Here are some of the most noteworthy advantages and disadvantages of businesses using affiliate marketing:
Now that you know what to expect, let’s see how you’d get started.
You can set up a successful affiliate marketing program for your business by following the steps below:
1. Determine your goals
2. Analyze how your competition runs their affiliate programs
Be sure to do in-depth research here to get a better idea of what’s common in your niche.
3. Identify your commission structure
4. Decide whether you’ll create your own program with the help of a platform like systeme.io or whether you’ll use an existing affiliate network
5. Get a tool like systeme.io that offers email marketing services
Not only will this allow you to keep in touch with your leads and customers, but you’ll also be able to improve your affiliate program by:
6. Find affiliates suitable for your niche
Let’s take a closer look at the steps you need to take to get started if you’re an affiliate.
To get started as a beginner affiliate, you can follow these 4 steps:
Step 1 — Choose a niche
Step 2 — Choose an affiliate program or network
Step 3 — Create great content
Step 4 — Get clicks on your referral links
Narrow down on a niche, and identify your target audience.
Research your audience thoroughly to understand how you can help them achieve their goals and overcome their problems.
You’re not only looking for a profitable niche but one that you’ll be interested in too, and remember to consider the level of competition.
Do ample research on affiliate programs to ensure that they offer products that are relevant to your audience.
Here’s a breakdown of the top 50 affiliate programs to help you decide on one that’s best for you.
Once you’ve chosen an affiliate platform, you’re ready to choose your products.
Whether they’re digital or physical doesn’t matter, they both work — just ensure that you only promote products that are relevant to your specific audience.
You also want to ensure that you have a good understanding of the product — this will allow you to provide your audience with valuable and unique insight into how this product can help them.
High-quality content drives traffic, and traffic drives sales!
If you aim to provide value to your audience, you’ll ultimately produce quality content.
When creating content you also want to ensure that you:
Here’s a guide on how to create high-quality content that’s optimized to help you rank higher in the search results.
Your content can provide value in a number of ways, for example, you could:
It’s worth noting again that your content should focus on the benefits, not the features.
If you can’t effectively explain how the product will solve your lead’s problem, then it’s unlikely that they’ll become customers.
There’s one more noteworthy tip and that’s that proof sells!
Be sure to show your audience the results that they can achieve with the product, and be honest about the fact that you’re using affiliate links.
To get clicks on your affiliate links, you need an effective marketing strategy and a strong CTA.
You can promote your affiliate links and CTA’s on your:
Email can’t be underestimated when it comes to your marketing strategy — especially considering that you can get all the email marketing tools that you need for free with systeme.io!
Not only does email allow you to nurture your relationships, but you can promote your products directly or indirectly in your emails.
An indirect approach is great for beginners, as you guide them to where your affiliate links are (on your blog, YouTube channel, webinars, etc.).
This way you get to build trust with your list before the referral link is presented to them.
To further increase your chances of making the sale, you could consider offering your leads a complimentary bonus.
For example, you could add a free ebook offering a how-to guide on how they can achieve a certain result with the product.
With systeme.io, you can easily create an entire sales funnel to guide your leads through the sales process, and you can use:
These are great for increasing your chances of not only making more affiliate sales but also boosting your average customer value!
Do you still have some burning questions?
Below we’ve answered two of the most common questions that those looking into affiliate marketing have.
Unlike dropshipping, you don’t need a website to start affiliate marketing — you can leverage a number of other channels such as:
Using a website is highly recommended though, and you can get yours up and running in a matter of minutes with systeme.io.
Not only can you do this for free, but our simple drag-and-drop editor and templates make creating a website hassle-free, even if you’re a newbie!
systeme.io’s simple drag-and-drop editor
When it comes to promoting your affiliate links, it really comes down to experimentation and creativity.
For example, you could add your affiliate links in an ebook and offer this as a lead magnet on your website to build your email list!
A platform like Youtube is also fantastic for promoting your referral links, even if you don’t have a large audience.
You can place your affiliate links in the description section, but be sure to disclose that it’s an affiliation — this is a legal requirement.
Regardless of your approach, if you provide valuable, informative, and authentic content, then you should have no trouble achieving success.
Generally, affiliate programs are free to join, so there are no startup costs to worry about.
Plus, as an affiliate you don’t need to worry about any costs whatsoever — the merchant deals with all the nitty-gritty stuff.
All you need to focus on is getting the desired results with your marketing efforts.
The best way to determine whether your affiliate marketing strategy is working or not is to monitor important key performance indicators (KPIs).
Let’s get into how you’ll track the success of your affiliate program as a business or your affiliate marketing efforts as an affiliate.
As a business, you’ll need to keep track of the following important metrics:
1. Your conversion rate — This is the number of clicks versus the number of sales (the number of conversions divided by the number of clicks)
2. Sales per affiliate — This metric will allow you to know who your top affiliates are, who may need help, or who’s negatively impacting the program
3. Revenue — Calculate your program’s overall revenue growth and your incremental revenue (revenue you wouldn’t have generated without an affiliate program)
4. Return on investment (ROI) — This is the revenue generated after you’ve covered the costs of your program
5. Active affiliates — Divide the number of active affiliates by the total number of affiliates
6. Customer lifetime value (CLV) — This is the revenue a customer brings in, minus the initial cost of acquiring them
7. The average order value (AOV) — The higher the AOV, the higher your ROI
8. Affiliate contribution margin — The revenue brought in by an affiliate minus the cost of recruiting the affiliate
9. Leads and customers gained — What percentage of leads and customers do your affiliates bring in over a given period of time?
Analyzing these metrics will help you notice any fluctuations — tools such as systeme.io offer powerful analytics, and you can use Google Analytics for free.
1. Traffic — Here you want to monitor how your traffic increases over time because engagement is necessary for conversions
2. The time spent on your site
You can find out how to calculate the estimated read time for your posts here.
In Google Analytics, “Session Duration” shows you how people are engaging with a specific post.
You can calculate how long people are staying on your site by comparing the average read time to the average session duration.
3. Returning visitors — This tells you whether or not your content is bringing people back for more
Here again, Google Analytics lets you monitor this metric using the dashboard, under “New Sessions”.
4. Social sharing — Content that delivers value will encourage shares!
Use social share buttons with counters to get a clear idea of how your audience is engaging with your content.
5. Social media analytics
Gain extra insights from social media platforms (such as seeing your clicks, likes, shares, etc.).
6. Your SERP ranking
Search the keywords in Google, and see how well your content is performing in the results pages.
Ranking high in the search engine results pages for your niche topic makes it easy for potential customers to find your content.
If your post is on page 4, then you need to focus on optimizing your content to rank higher.
Now, let’s take a look at one of the best affiliate programs out there — systeme.io!
Systeme.io is an all-in-one marketing platform that offers an affordable solution to all your business needs.
Plus we have an incredibly robust affiliate program that pays out more than $100,000 in affiliate commissions each month.
To date, we’ve paid our affiliates well over $2,000,000!
With a platform like systeme.io, not only can you join our incredible affiliate program, but you can also:
And so much more, for free!
Plus, if you’re looking to create your own affiliate program, systeme.io lets you do this on our Freemium plan too.
Systeme.io offers unlimited earning potential when it comes to our affiliate program, just take a look at some of the success stories below.
Look at how two of our own marketers are winning in the market with systeme.io!
So far, Ross Minchev has earned over $13,000 with systeme.io’s affiliate program — and he’s earned over $1,469 in the last 30 days alone!
Ross Minchev’s systeme.io affiliate earnings
Damien Menu has made over €200,000 in commissions with systeme.io’s affiliate program.
Damien went through a lot of personal investment to get there, and his advice to help you succeed is to:
How much money you can make with systeme.io’s affiliate program is endless — better yet, your payout will grow the more the company grows!
systeme.io’s affiliate program
With systeme.io, all you really have to do is bring in the leads, we’ll do the rest, and you’ll walk away with 50% lifetime commissions on all sales.
What does this mean?
If you send us a lead that only ends up buying months or even a year later, you’ll still earn commission on the sale.
This is because all the leads that you bring in are marked in our database with your affiliate ID.
Plus, we also offer second-tier commissions!
This means that if your referral refers us to other people who end up making a purchase, you earn an additional 5% on these sales.
With systeme.io’s affiliate marketing program, you truly have nothing to lose and so much to gain!
Get started for free today, and make your first affiliate sale!
If you’re running your own affiliate program, you’ll be able to:
Whether you’re looking into affiliate marketing as an affiliate or as a business, systeme.io’s program offers you a number of benefits!
Let’s get into them.
We offer powerful tracking tools to ensure that you’re credited for any sales made as a result of your marketing efforts.
Unlike with standard cookies, our tracking ensures that even if your referrals operate on different devices or use different email addresses to make purchases using your link, you’ll still earn the commissions.
You also don’t have to struggle to recruit affiliates and get it all set up yourself if you decide to start your own affiliate program with systeme.io.
This is because everyone on your list gets their own affiliate ID automatically.
This means that they can start promoting your affiliate products without much effort from your side.
Systeme.io’s affiliate program gives you 50% lifetime commission on all subscription or course sales generated through your affiliate ID.
If you refer someone to one of our affordable price plans, you’ll earn a recurring commission for every month that your referral remains with us.
One of the greatest selling points is that systeme.io is far cheaper than most of our competitors.
This alone is a strong driving force to help you rake in those commissions!
Besides price, our software is also super easy to use which makes it suitable for literally anybody, regardless of their level of coding or design experience.
Plus, we offer startups everything they need to build and grow — for free with our forever Free plan!
Not only is our support team actively involved in ensuring you receive help, but we ensure that any customer-related issues are dealt with promptly and professionally.
This benefits you as an affiliate, as it ensures that those you refer to us are satisfied with the product.
Without trustworthy support, you risk losing your audience’s trust.
With an average response time of under 2 hours, we take support very seriously!
As we’ve discussed throughout this post, you can further ensure your success as an affiliate marketer with certain tools.
You could pay for the separate tools that you’ll need, or you can choose an affordable all-in-one solution like systeme.io.
Our Freemium plan gives you access to a number of powerful tools to help you:
And so much more to help you bag those commissions!
Plus, with systeme.io, you can sell your own products and start your own affiliate program.
Our marketplace is a great place to promote your affiliate products or to find products you’d want to promote!
Our marketplace is designed to connect merchants and affiliates.
As an affiliate, the process is simple:
1. Browse through the offers, and choose one that you’d like to promote
An offer’s page will illustrate information such as:
Simply choose which offer you’d like to promote.
2. Once you’ve made your decision, click on “Promote Offer”:
A systeme.io marketplace offer
3. This will prompt a pop-up with your affiliate link — copy the link and then you’re ready to start promoting the offer!
How much money you make as an affiliate depends on a number of factors, but whether or not affiliate marketing works has a very simple answer.
Yes! It does!
But affiliate marketing takes time — you need to be dedicated and passionate to succeed.
You should be better equipped to start affiliate marketing right away.
With systeme.io’s affiliate program, you’ll make your first affiliate sale in no time!
Good luck — here’s to your success!
Other posts about affiliate marketing:
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