Affiliate marketing is a brilliant way to monetize your blog or social media presence, particularly if you don’t have products or service of your own to promote.
If you’re still at the research stage with this topic, you’ve likely come across stories of people earning six-figure incomes from affiliate marketing alone, making it seem like a magical strategy for escaping the 9-5 workday and gaining the freedom you’ve always wanted.
If you’ve already ventured into the world of affiliate marketing, then you’re probably feeling confused and frustrated because the truth is, though it sounds simple, and though the earning potential is real, affiliate marketing is a complicated beast that takes time, energy, and a lot of trial and error to tame.
For those of you just starting out, it might be worthwhile checking out our guide to making money from affiliate marketing before delving into the insider secrets below.
The advice you’re about to read will help you super-charge your current strategy, propelling you closer to the financial freedom you’re striving for.
1. Understand your audience and focus on helping them
The most successful affiliate marketers are super selective about what they promote. Instead of just looking for any chance you can get to throw an affiliate link in, it’s important to research your target audience so that you genuinely understand who they are, what problems they’re looking to solve, and what products could enhance their lives.
To direct your research, start by answering the following questions:
- What is my target demographic?
- What needs and challenges do they face?
- What dreams and desires are they pursuing?
- What would they most like to change about their lives?
- What kinds of doubts and fears get in their way?
- What products and services could help them overcome their fears and challenges?
- Which products and services would best help them achieve their goals in life?
- What would motivate them to make a purchase?
In addition to hours of research, this affiliate marketing ethos requires a mindset shift as well. You need to be someone whose primary aim is to solve problems for people and bring them things that will improve their lives. Think of money as the bonus you get for helping them, and you’ll see a massive difference in your results.
Having a deep understanding of what drives your audience will allow you to offer them solutions, not just more stuff to clutter up their houses or browsers with. You may have the best product in the world, but if you don’t present it to people in terms of the benefits it will give them, they won’t be motivated to buy.
2. Add value with your content
As an affiliate marketer, you’re in the rather strange position of making money from products the buyer could’ve found online by themselves. For this reason, you owe it to both the brands you’re promoting and the customers you’re connecting them with to offer value in exchange for the commission you hope to receive.
Many successful affiliate marketers do this by providing comprehensive reviews of the products they link to. This allows them to show people the product in action, allowing them to get a clear understanding of whether it will fulfil their needs.
Another option that’s sometimes available in affiliate programs is the offer of free trial periods or discount codes.
There are plenty of other content creation strategies you can come up with. The one rule to keep in mind is that you must be honest in your content as this will ensure you’re still focussing on helping people first and earning money second.
3. Always be transparent
While we’re on the topic of honesty, it’s important for affiliate marketers to be clear and transparent in everything they do. Never underestimate the intelligence of your audience and think you can get away with glossing over the fact that a post is sponsored.
The laws for declaring sponsored posts are different in each country, and this has tempted many social media influencers into straying past the murky borderlands that lie between what’s legal and what’s ethical.
If you want to see the repercussions of being sneaky about your sponsored content, there’s a site called Tattle Life that’s filled with threads breaking down the phony, sales-driven tactics of the internet’s biggest influencers.
Here’s the thing – if you’re only ever promoting products and services that will genuinely solve problems for your audience, if your main goal is to help people, and if you add genuine value with your content, then there’s no need to hide the fact that you’re using affiliate links.
4. Create non-sponsored content too
One trap many newbie affiliate marketers fall into is thinking that if your content doesn’t contain any links, then it’s a waste of time. This is about as far from the truth as you can get.
Keeping in mind that your main goal as a content creator should be to enrich people’s lives and help them solve problems, it makes perfect sense that you would want to create an abundance of content that’s all about sharing information, making a personal connection, and building trust.
So much of the internet is now geared towards sucking money out of us that people are becoming wary when they browse. If every post or video has a product to push, many people simply switch off.
By contrast, if someone’s offering plenty of valuable content that’s allowing us to live better lives, then when they do promote a product, their endorsement will be far more powerful.
The best part of this secret is that it takes the pressure off and allows you to get back to the creative side of the content creation equation. While you need to be targeted in your approach to creating content around affiliate links, you can just run with your inspiration and intuition for non-sponsored content.
5. Email marketing is your biggest secret weapon
We’re not suggesting that you start putting affiliate links in your emails. In fact, programs like Amazon Associates actually require that their affiliate partners do not do this.
Building a mailing list is more about keeping your audience engaged and coming back to your website and social media channels. Once again, you want to stick to all the points listed above and ensure you’re giving people real value with every email you send.
Share a funny story, solve a problem for them, encourage them to visit your website to check out your latest post or head over to your YouTube channel for a new product review video. Whatever approach you choose to take, be sure to make your emails concise, engaging, and tailored to your target market.
If you’re new to email marketing, check out our complete guide to running successful email marketing campaigns.
Affiliate marketing: final thoughts
There are no overnight solutions to building a steady income through affiliate marketing. If someone tries to sell you one, do the digital version of running for the hills and close that tab!
Though the secrets above aren’t flashy, they are at the heart of every successful affiliate marketing campaign. Yes, some influencers have success by less scrupulous means. However, the longevity of their income stream is always at risk because it’s only a matter of time before people catch on to the fact that they’re only in it for the money.
By taking the time to understand your audience and then dedicating yourself to helping them improve their lives, you’re going a long way towards guaranteeing the future viability of your enterprise.