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Have you dabbled in affiliate marketing? If you’re a blogger, I bet you have. Even small service businesses may throw an affiliate ad or two on their sites and hope for a little extra cash.
But how profitable have you really been? Ready for that vacation home in Barcelona yet? You may even have the right attitude to be a good affiliate marketer.
So why aren’t people clicking those links and feeding your retirement fund yet?
If you’re a pro at affiliate marketing and you’re loving the check you get each month, then maybe you’ve got a few tips to share!
But if you’re still not sure how to actually make a profit doing it or how to do it without being a sleazeball, then read on.
Here are your action items so you can start to make some money with affiliate marketing instead of just getting a lot of practice inserting links and ads.
Start With Great Content
A blog is an ideal place to start with affiliate marketing because you can build trust and relationships at the same time. Give your audience content that they can use, content that informs and inspires, and they will begin to see you as a trusted, reliable and valuable resource.
While you’re at it, make sure you’re following all the rules of engagement, like answering your comments, responding to your readers’ emails and being present beyond simply hitting the “publish” button.
Imbue your content with you so people will get to know you and like you.
If you don’t have a blog then use your website as a font of information and a resource for clients and prospects. It’s going to be a slower road, but you can still build trust with a great site that’s full of the information people want and need.
The web is full of junk content. There are entire sites devoted to no more than a massive collection of affiliate links. There are spammy article sites that put together a few vague words and pop a link to some related product in the middle.
How much does that inspire you to purchase?
Before you can sell you have to create, and your product is content. Give that away freely and you’ll build value and trust so that when you do get around to selling, people will be inclined to buy.
Take advantage of the opportunities social media offers to discover new people and build relationships with them. You should be collecting people long before you start collecting cash!
Start conversations, answer questions, be generally known as someone who other people want to engage with. It’s not about selling. It’s just about building your trust factor and likability.
There’s a reason that people go back to their favorite neighborhood bakery over and over and over… sure, they make great donuts but you probably know the people who work there and the owner has at least a working knowledge of your kids’ names and what you do for a living.
That kind of relationship is what keeps you loyal even when another bakery opens up closer to your home.
Remember that as you plan to engage in any kind of marketing. It takes trust and it takes relationships. And that’s currency you must build up over time, without selling a single thing.
If you’re actively helping others to promote their eBooks and courses without expecting any compensation, you’ll be setting a tone of goodwill that will go a long way when you’re looking for help promoting your products or affiliate products.
You can do this by sharing their promotions on your social channels like Facebook or Twitter, by giving them write-ups on your blog or a place in your sidebar, or even by being an advocate at real-life networking events.
If you know that you made 10 extra eBook sales thanks to the help of a friend… how likely are you to help that friend sell her eBook? Sounds like good odds to me!
If you’re that person who promotes and endorses anything and everything just for the sake of feigning “helpfulness” or accruing favors, it will demolish your credibility and you’ll end up selling nothing.
You should genuinely believe in what you promote and the people you’re promoting it for. That may even mean coughing up a few bucks to try a product or service for yourself before you endorse it.
And that friend who’s got an eBook to promote? There may come a time when you have to politely decline if you think her book is really just a bunch of nonsense.
Let’s hope you have smarter friends than that!
But keep in mind that your reputation hinges on your ability to be trustworthy and you can’t be trustworthy if you run around disingenuously “helping” and doing whatever it takes to pilfer a few bucks from an unsuspecting customer.
A better friend would help edit that eBook to be a winner.
Be A Reliable Reviewer
A great way to market your affiliate products at the same time that you build credibility and trust is to review products and services that you’ve tried and used yourself.
It also means calling a spade a spade when necessary. If you read a book and hated it, don’t give it a glowing review just so you can get a few people to buy it. If you enroll in a program that didn’t work for you, say so.
Be honest about your perspective and let people know why you have the opinions you do. They may not agree with you, and that’s ok. I’ve bought plenty of books at Amazon after reading all the one-star reviews and realizing that the things that some people hated about a book were the things I knew I’d appreciate.
Although ultimately a review is subjective, be as objective as you can with the pros and cons. If you’re reviewing a product, give the good and bad so people can make an informed decision.
Even if you review a product poorly and nobody buys it – netting you zero cash – you’ll have a whole lot of trust in escrow for the next time when you review a great product.
There are laws about how you must disclose your affiliation with a product or service that you’re endorsing, so don’t try to hide it. Plus, people aren’t stupid – if you review a product and provide a link, they’re going to assume you’re making something on that sale.
Maybe you’re not – and if not, then you should state that, too. Contrary to “common sense”, selling 50% of the time will ultimately net you a better payoff than selling 100% of the time. People will come to you as a resource, and not look at you as “that guy who’s always trying to sell me something”.
When you are using an affiliate link or ad, let people know. If people do like and trust you and you’ve done your job building relationships and providing value, then knowing that their purchase will support you can be incentive for someone to buy.
You’ll also avoid being that creepy sleazeball who appears to be trying to capitalize on someone’s ignorance.
Otherwise, it’s common courtesy, good practice – and the law.
Actively Promote Your Affiliate Products
Sticking a link in your content or plunking an ad in your sidebar or footer may net you a few bucks here and there. But affiliate marketing is called affiliate marketing for a reason – you’ve got to do the marketing part!
Reviews are one way to do that, but you can also do it as a natural extension of your content or business.
For example, you may be writing up an article on five tools you can use to manage your Twitter following. You could be an affiliate for one of those tools, and include the link along with the content – not a specific endorsement because your content isn’t about that product, but an open door to anyone who wants to try it (still with full disclosure, of course).
Depending on your business, you may be an affiliate for complementary products. Think photographers who are affiliates for frames, photo paper or camera parts.
Whether you’re sprinkling your content with affiliate opportunities or outright promoting products, you’ve got to get the information out in front of people, not just stuck in a sidebar.
Promote on your social channels… promote in your emails… promote on your blog and at your networking events. But promote you must.
Include A Call To Action
It would be a mistake to assume that just because people like you and trust you and may even want and enjoy the product you’re promoting, that they’ll buy it just because you put a link somewhere. This is still about marketing and people are still directive-driven.
If you want someone to try/buy/join then you need a clear call to action saying so.
“Get it here” or “Sign up now” will go a lot further to giving you the desired result than simply providing a link.
At The Intersection Of Fun And Marketing
I’m a firm believer in enjoyment being the driving factor behind success. If you hate what you do, disdain the products you promote or approach any kind of marketing with a “crap, I have to do this…” attitude then you’re not going to get very far.
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you get a chance to try products and services and get behind the ones you love.
Most of us love telling people about the great stuff we find, whether we read a great book, saw an awesome movie, drank the best cup of coffee ever… now imagine taking all that enthusiasm and making money with it!
Find a product you love that aligns with your business and promote it to people you care about so they can enjoy it too.
How about you… what kind of convincing do YOU need before you’ll buy an affiliate product from someone else?