An affiliate business is one of the easiest ways to get your feet wet in e-commerce. You send visitors (i.e., potential customers) to a merchant’s website that you are representing. If they buy (or complete a required action — for example, fill in a form), the merchant pays you a commission. Simple, right?
That, in essence, is the beauty of the affiliate concept. You can be up and building a business in record time, at minimal risk…
- You don’t have to spend large amounts to manufacture and store inventory.
- There’s no need to take and process a single order, or worry about getting paid (you don’t even need a merchant account!) — you simply send people to your affiliated merchants, then get paid when they buy.
- You don’t have to handle or ship a product — your merchants do that.
- You’ll never have to answer customer email (enquiries and support are 24/7 issues that can easily eat up 50% of your day).
- Affiliate program cost nothing to join (beware of the few that do).
- Your affiliate business can be started part-time, on a shoestring.
With the affiliate model, you can earn as you learn. Want an example?
Let’s say that you’ve created a fun site about New York City. Tens of thousands of people search for information on all kinds of topics on New York, every day… “Broadway Plays” or “New York Mets” or “Central Park,” etc.
They find your site… They read your pages, enjoy your content, and check out your recommendations. And so…
They click your link to go to TravelNow.com to book a cheap flight. You get paid a commission.
And they click your link to AllHotels.com and book a hotel room. You receive another commission.
Finally, they click your link to Amazon.com to buy a New York tour book and street map. Yup, one more time with another commission!
Getting the idea?
If you’re a Netpreneur in need of a product, affiliate programs are the answer. Top-notch merchants supply everything… excellent products, ordering, credit-card processing, and delivery. You supply the marketing.
All you need to do is to put yourself in the path between customers and quality merchants… and earn a commission for your efforts. But, like any “true” business, effort and passion are essential ingredients for longevity. This is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme.
In order to be a successful affiliate, follow the process as outlined in SBI!’s Action Guide. It’s important that you…
1) Do the critical upfront thinking and planning…
- Develop the best Site Concept/niche, based on what you know and love. Perhaps a hobby or past work experience can be your springboard.
- Brainstorm the most profitable topics related to your theme.
- Select the best related affiliate programs.
2) Then put yourself into your visitors’ “click” path. You achieve this by…
- delivering customer-focused content (i.e., information that meets the needs/wishes of your target group). PREselling through valuable content establishes credibility. Once you have that, your recommendations carry more weight. The difference in conversion rates between visitors who arrive PREsold to your merchant’s site via an in-context text link vs. a banner can be as high as 20-fold.
- building pages that rank highly on a search results page. The higher the ranking, the easier it is for interested and targeted traffic to find you. More traffic means more potential sales which means more potential commissions for you.
- publishing a regularly scheduled e-zine. This lets you build trust over time with your visitors. You change from being a “stranger” to being a “friend” who has their best interests at heart. Your recommendations are worth heeding.
3) Eliminate dependency on any one single source of income. By diversifying into other, complementary monetization models beyond affiliate programs, you reduce risk. You are protected in case, for example, your merchant partner goes bankrupt, or shuts down their web division, or reduces commissions, or fails on their payments.
Multiple income streams stabilize your online business and potentially make every visitor to your site count. If you want a more hands-off income, the ideal diversification strategy is to combine Google’s AdSense Program with a few top-notch affiliate programs, blending in a finder’s/lead-generation relationship or two.
Later, you can earn more profit from each visitor by diversifying into more active income streams… such as selling your own hard good or digital product.
So build traffic first and then monetize it using the low-risk affiliate model — as a primary source of income (while you develop a product or service of your own to sell) or as a profitable secondary source.
Subscribe to the SiteSell Newsletter for more tips around building and monetizing your online business. Affiliate marketing is just one of many possible ways to earn an income with your SBI! site.