A Three Step Guideline to the Affiliate Marketing Business

by Andrew Parsons
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Affiliate Marketing BusinessAs any internet marketer, I have had my share of pitfalls along the way. Also, like many, I have a story to tell. Perhaps many of you can relate to my professional life in the cruel corporate world. I am sure more than a few people who will read this can relate. Three layoffs in three years kind of takes it toll on you. So that brought me to the creation of my affiliate marketing business in November of 2009.

Needless to say, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. How does one start any type of business with very little capital for start up costs? The first thing that came to my attention was the affiliate marketing business. I also wanted to build my own website, but that is a topic for another day.

What is affiliate marketing?

Well, if you have ever used the internet and surfed the web, then it is probably 100% possible that you have been surrounded by affiliate marketers. In fact, you could have been surrounded by them on a daily basis -and didn’t even know it. The affiliate marketing business is quite lucrative.

When you visit just about any commercial website, whether is it TMZ.com, Amazon.com, CNN.com, and Facebook.com – well, you get the picture. All of these sites are a platform for advertisers to display advertisements. We are all aware of advertiser ‘pop ups’, so it is almost impossible to not be familiar with these advertisements if you have used the internet. So, did I want to be a part of the ‘pop up’ advertiser’s fraternity?

Absolutely not. I hated pop up ads. Now with anti pop-up software, the pop ups are not as frequent as in the past. However, affiliate advertising, or affiliate marketing business, is alive and well.

To put in plainly, huge companies like Netflix, Nutrisystem, Match.com, and any other big company will use affiliate marketers to place ads for them on the internet. The biggest industries are the home based business industry and health and wellness. If you or I, as an affiliate, place an ad in which someone clicks on that ad -and buys the product- we will receive a commission for the sale of that product. Its that simple. Or is it?

Take a look at Clickbank.com, Commisionjunction.com, and Paydotcom.com. You can get started today simply by promoting digital products with your own affiliate link. Amazon also has a great affiliate program for physical products. Do a little research and you can discover how many affiliate programs are really out there. You are now on the threshold of being in business for yourself. How exciting!

The greatest thing about the affiliate marketing business is that you can get started right away. You won’t need your own product or even your own website.

Creating your own product to promote and sell online can take weeks – or even months to create. If you are just trying to get out of the starting blocks, try promoting an affiliate product. (Newbies really want to pay attention to the next step…..and I mean this is the most polite and gentle way).

Step One – Take Your Time

Do NOT get seduced!!

The problem I came across very quickly in the affiliate marketing business is how to get started. How do you discern all of the information that is out there? The first instinct everyone has is – ‘how can I make money really fast?’ How do I make a web page? I didn’t know the first thing about internet business websites. There are so many internet marketers out there – selling the dream. Telling you how easy it will be to simply push a button and become a success in a few hours. In my experience, I would pick a very high gravity product on Clickbank to promote – and then – instead of promoting it, I would start following the sales pitch from the product –and completely forget the fact that I was supposed to promote it – and not follow it. This happens to many of us.

The ‘shiny object syndrome’ – you will be heavily and thoroughly enticed to buy products on the internet that make HUGE promises. You will see headlines like “ How a ‘stay at home mom’ makes $75,000 in just 4 days with her first affiliate product!!”

Yes, these advertisements are everywhere. Don’t fall into those traps.

Marketers such as these are targeting people who want to make quick money, without really having to ‘work hard’ or put in the time and diligence it takes to learn something. You will have to work hard, which some people don’t have a problem with. The key is to work hard and work smart. If you don’t work smart, it could be a rough road.

  • Pick a product in a niche you are comfortable with and have some familiarity with such as weight loss, home business opportunities, etc. You can find tons of great offers on Clickbank.com which have great conversion rates, advertising tools such as banners, emails, solo ads, and even follow up messages with a series of emails that are all provided. With a little research and a good feel for the product and niche market, you can get started right away.
  • Do some research on how to market your opportunity. If you don’t have any money for advertising, you can find plenty of ways to advertise online for free. Strategies such as free classified ad sites, traffic exchanges, safe lists, social media, article marketing, forum marketing, blogging, and video marketing on such huge free video sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Within a few hours, you may have your first lead or even sale – simply by placing your affiliate links around the web with a little hard work and focus.
  • I recommend sticking with free marketing strategies at first. If you have some money for advertising, I would advise you stay away from PPC (pay per click) advertising for the time being. If done right, it can be very effective. If done incorrectly, it can be very expensive and devastating to your affiliate marketing business. You will need some training first before you delve into paid advertising.
  • If your budget allows, sign up for an auto-responder service and start building your list with your affiliate marketing business.I cannot stress this point enough. For $1, you can sign up for an Aweber account on a trial basis. After thirty days of your trial period, the cost is $19.00 per month (pretty affordable in my opinion). There are other auto-responder services out there for around $10 per month like GVO. I stated earlier that many Clickbank products have great affiliate marketing tools that are provided to you all for free to help promote their products. Some provide the pre-written emails that you can load into your auto-responder. Most will provide you with banner ads, text ads, places to advertise, and this eliminate having to set up all of this yourself. This puts you at a huge advantage. The tools and training are all available on the internet for free, it is simply up to you.

Step Two – Apply Your Learning Curves

Lets take a step back and apply learning affiliate marketing to your own experiences. If you were like me, you probably have had many different jobs in your lifetime. Some of them good, some of them bad, and some you loved but you moved on one way or another. In all of those jobs, there was a learning curve in order to perfect your skills and performance. In fact, we go to work every day, do the same thing(usually) on a daily basis. Then once you think you know the job like the back of your hand, you learn something new from a co-worker.

This makes your job a lot easier, because you are now able to apply this new skill to your job tasks. Now you are even better at your job – and now you have more confidence. It usually takes about 6 months to really learn your job and know it like you know your name.

The same thing works for any type affiliate marketing business and marketing on the internet. You have to learn how to do it. You have to sharpen your skills. You have to put the time in to learning it.

You may not make huge money for quite a while – but you will make some sales along the way.

However, once you learn how to do it, you may never have to work for any large corporation again. That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it. Start by learning the basics. Wrap your head around the concept. Read some books on the subject. It okay to spend a little money on your education, but don’t invest too much too soon.

Step 3 – Avoid Hit and Run Marketing

As I mentioned earlier, the first thing a newbie wants to do is make money immediately. They are usually online because they are in need of making some money pretty quick -that is what brought them to their computer in the first place.

The first thought of a newbie is to find a great product on Clickbank.com (or any affiliate site or MLM opportunity), start promoting their affiliate link with PPC campaigns (as I mentioned, very dangerous to start out with), and hopefully earn a few sales. A newbie really doesn’t grasp the concept of follow up systems and providing great content up front before attempting to sell products to their subscribers (frankly, I didn’t grasp it right away.)

The immediately logic is to simply promote the link and hope to make enough sales to cover your advertising costs in order to make a profit. It sounds really easy at first. This takes time to perfect and a lot of trial and error by split testing. I don’t advocate doing this.

Most newbies are not aware of the money they are leaving on the table by not capturing the potential buyers email address with their marketing campaign. Most consumers do not buy on their first introduction or exposure to the product. You have to have a follow up email marketing system in place using an auto responder. Real businesses are built on repeat customers. Can a restaurant survive on first time customers only? One has to market to customers by building trust, providing value, and of course expose them to great products which will allow you to earn a commission. Keep this in mind if you are just starting out.

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I hope you enjoyed this post. Affiliate marketing is a vast business and difficult to summarize in just one writing. However, this is simply a general guideline to get started and a get good feel at it –without breaking the bank. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me and I would be happy to discuss it with you.

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To your success,

Andrew M. Parsons

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