You have probably been on a blog before and seen posts about products that have links to an Amazon page. You’ve also probably seen ads on blogs for different online stores or specific products you can buy on those websites. More likely than not, the blogger isn’t just linking to products they like because they’re being nice and offering free promotion. Many of them are part of affiliate marketing networks. What is an affiliate marketing network? It’s a way to help sell products and make money.
People are always looking for quick and easy way to supplement their income. It isn’t always possible to start up an entire business and start selling your own products, especially if you already have a full-time job, are going to school, have children to take care of, etc. This is why many people try to find ways to make money online or ways to make “passive income” a.k.a. money that you don’t have to put in a lot of effort to earn.
Joining an affiliate marketing network can be one way to earning some extra money without expending the effort you would by getting a second job. When you have an ad on your site or a link in a blog post that goes to a product you’re doing affiliate marketing for, every time someone clicks on your link and buys the product, you get a portion of the sale. This may sound easy but it’s not actually as effortless as you may think!
How an Affiliate Marketing Network Works
Affiliate marketing is a type of revenue sharing. Vendors who sell products use affiliate marketing to extend their reach and get others to basically do their promoting for them. If you sell lipstick and there is a highly popular makeup YouTuber with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, affiliating with them is a good way to market your product. In turn, the makeup YouTuber will benefit by receiving a portion of each sale made through their affiliate links. It’s a set up that benefits both parties. Customers receive the same product either way, whether they purchase it through an affiliate link or not.
So how does it work exactly? The process itself is actually fairly simple. Anyone who sells products can start an affiliate marketing program, from a huge corporation to an individual who sells handmade products out of their house. Once they’ve established an affiliate marketing program, they have to find people to do the affiliate marketing for them. These people will put up their own unique links to the vendor’s website and/or to specific product pages and then promote the products.
When visitors click on the affiliate links, the links take them to the same website they would get to by organically finding the site through a Google search. The only difference is that if they make a purchase through a unique affiliate link, the company will then know that they go the sale because of an affiliate marketer. After the purchase is made, the affiliate marketer will then get a percentage of the sale. This amount is usually not substantial but varies from company to company.
Who Is in the Network?
There are essentially three people in an affiliate marketing network: the seller, the marketer, and the customer.
The seller/brand/vendor/merchant is whoever is creating the product. This can be an individual person or a huge company. Anyone can utilize an affiliate marketing network to help sell their product. The seller can even pass along the task of finding affiliates to a third-party so that their involvement is minimal or non-existent. All you have to do to be this part of the affiliate marketing network is have something to sell.
The affiliate is whoever is doing the marketing of the product in exchange for portions of each sale they bring in. Again, an individual can be an affiliate or a company can be an affiliate. The affiliate does the legwork for the seller: they promote their products. They may promote one specific product, promote multiple products, or just promote the company as a whole. This can be done in a variety of ways. One popular way is by promoting the products on a blog. The marketer may set up a blog specifically to review a company’s products or they may already have an established blog that they use to promote the products.
The customer is who really makes this whole network function. If customers don’t click on affiliate links and then purchase products from the seller, nobody makes any money. Customers don’t always even know that they are purchasing something through an affiliate link and that they are taking part in an affiliate network. Most bloggers will share that they use affiliate links but if the affiliate is another company that uses AdWords, Facebook ads, or other means of advertising the products, you might never know that the ad you’re clicking on was created by an affiliate marketer and not the actual seller.
How Merchants Use Affiliate Marketing Networks
Becoming a seller and using an affiliate marketing network is a simple idea but it isn’t always easy. A large company may be able to set up their own affiliate network in-house but many smaller vendors will want to use an established network or a tool that helps set up affiliate networks, like Gumroad. Do some research and find a network that works for you.
The hard part isn’t finding affiliates. There are plenty of people out there who would be more than happy to throw up a few affiliate links in order to try and make money. The hard part is finding quality affiliates that will actually sell your product. Somebody who has 100,000 blog followers is going to have better reach than someone who is only sharing their affiliate link with their 200 Facebook friends.
Some people also think that they can just put up a link on their site and watch the money roll in and those people aren’t going to get you as many sales as the people who actively write product reviews and make frequent posts about your products. Because you are not paying for ads or paying the person up front to advertise for you, but instead are giving them a sales commission, you aren’t going to lose any money from ineffective affiliate marketers but you also aren’t going to make any.
How much you offer an affiliate in exchange for their marketing is up to you. For digital products like e-books, you could offer 50% and still make a profit. For physical goods, take into account your cost of production before deciding on a percentage. You obviously don’t want to make it so high you end up losing money but you also want it to be appealing to people.
How to Become an Affiliate Marketer
Again, some people think they can just sign up to be an affiliate marketer with a few different sellers and watch the money roll in without doing any work. This isn’t the reality for most people. To become an effective affiliate and actually make money for the seller and yourself, you have to have an audience. Building an audience online takes a lot of work.
If you do not already have an established blog, YouTube channel, live stream, etc. then you’ll want to get something going. You can set up something that is specifically for reviewing products, you could have a channel where you do makeup tutorials and then linked to the products used, maybe you want to be an Instagram model and advertise products that way. You will need to do things like utilizing SEO, asking other bloggers to share your blog, and commenting on forums, YouTube videos, and other places with links to your blog in order to build up followers.
When you are reviewing products you like or linking to products you’ve used in tutorials, photo shoots, etc., you can use affiliate links. A simple way to get into an affiliate network is by using Amazon Associates. This allows you to get an affiliate link to pretty much any product on Amazon and is a great way to become a first-time affiliate.
If your blog or channel has a huge reach you can probably make a decent amount of money just using your affiliate links. If not, you’ll want to get your links out there in other ways. One way to do this is by having an email newsletter you send out to followers who have given you their email addresses. This might round up the reviews you’ve done for the week, hint at future content, whatever you want. The main point is that you’re not relying on people coming to your website, you’re sending the content directly to them.
Start Earning Extra Money
What is an affiliate marketing network? To sum up, it is a way that sellers and affiliates alike can make money by selling products. The seller benefits from the advertising done on their behalf by the affiliate. The affiliate then benefits by receiving sales commissions from every product they help to sell. For sellers, it is a great way to connect with people who can advertise their product and put it in front of consumers. For affiliates, it’s a way to make some extra money, often by doing something they already love to do.