How to Start Affiliate Marketing in 2021? (Step-by-Step-Guide)

In this article, you will learn about how to start affiliate marketing in 2021? A smart entrepreneur running a flourishing business will always want to grow it. An effective way of taking a step ahead is by finding an alternate source of income. And it does not necessarily translate to setting up a second business but looking for ways to grow and complement the existing business. This is achieved by offering more value to the customers/clients. 

This is why affiliate marketing is important. And if you’re wondering how to start affiliate marketing, you have come to the right place.

What’s Affiliate Marketing? 

Affiliate marketing is the practice of marketing & promoting the products and services of another company or business in exchange for a commission on the sale. It is an online sales tactic that lets a business owner increase their sales by letting others target their customers/audience by recommending their products. The ‘affiliates’ earn a commission on the sales made by their recommendation. 

In simple terms, affiliate marketing refers to promoting a product or service on social media, blogs, or a website. The affiliate receives a commission every time a product or service is purchased through the link attached to the recommendation. 

If done in the right manner, affiliate marketing can work wonders for a business while letting it earn a good income. 

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How Does Affiliate Marketing Work? 

Let me explain how affiliate marketing worked out for me? Or how it works in general. There are many affiliate marketing programs available out there. To participate in one, you need to follow these few simple steps: 

  • Join an affiliate program
  • Select the offers/products you wish to promote
  • Get a unique link for each product or offer
  • Share these links on your social media accounts, blog or website
  • Receive a commission every time some purchases using the link you uploaded

The merchant or business owner usually pays the affiliate commission at the end of every pay period or due date. 

Commission rates vary depending on the offer and the company. The average commission rate is commonly between 5-30%. The lowest you can earn is 5% of the sale, however, affiliates can earn as high as 50% with few arrangements such as promoting an event. 

If a business or company sells a few specific products, each with its own dedicated price, then a fixed commission rate may work excellent for you. 

Few product affiliate programs offer a flat rate per sale and not a percentage. 

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Benefits of Affiliate Marketing 

Before we delve into the benefits of affiliate marketing, let’s take a look at a few statistics on it. 

  • 84% of bloggers go for affiliate marketing to boost their audience 
  • More than 70% of marketers claimed that affiliate revenue became successful in meeting their needs
  • Around 67% of affiliate marketers connect with their audience on social media

Wondering why companies spend huge amounts of money on affiliate marketing? Well, here is the answer: 

1. Low costs 

Since affiliate marketing is done by the affiliates, they also bear a chunk of the expenses incurred on it. And it is a commission-based program, which means a business owner is only supposed to pay if there are any purchases made. 

Thus, affiliate marketing makes it easier to manage the cost and doesn’t interrupt the cash flow. This is not the case with other marketing methods such as PPC advertising which requires a business to pay for each click directed to its website. 

2. Low costs to start

Investing in an affiliate program doesn’t require you to buy ad space or have an advertising team, which means it’s not that costly. 

Instead, businesses have to select their affiliates who are responsible for creating marketing content. Other than this, a business owner has to put hardly any effort to promote their products/services. 

Once a brand gets comfortable with an affiliate, and builds a good relationship with them, it can trust them to continue with their marketing efforts on their own. 

3. Attracts targeted traffic

As a company picks its affiliates, it can ensure that the traffic that their site receives is the people who find their products/services useful. The reason behind this is that the affiliates who resonate with a brand will most likely attract customers from their area of influence who believes its products are beneficial to them. 

4. Low risk

Affiliate marketing has little or no risk. This is because a company only pays if there’s an actual conversion. Therefore, it’s perfect for businesses that have a tight budget. 

5. Flexibility

With affiliate marketing, a company enjoys the flexibility of starting it at a smaller or bigger cost. Moreover, a brand can scale itself up without breaking the budget. 

6. Generates Higher ROI

Having the right marketing model results in a high Return on Investment (ROI). Affiliate marketing proves to give high ROI as compared to other types of marketing. 

A major reason behind this is that your target customers will learn about your product/service from affiliate marketers who are active within their area of influence. 

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How To Find Affiliate Programs 

If you’re wondering how to start an affiliate marketing business, you first need to find a good affiliate program. Not all businesses offer affiliate marketing programs. As some companies manage their affiliate programs on their own, while others go for an affiliate network. 

The simplest way to find an affiliate program is to visit an affiliate marketing platform. Search for your niche and find top affiliate programs, to begin with. 

Another way is to go to the brand’s website and look if they offer an affiliate program. Huge companies have their own programs mentioned on their sites such as Shopify Affiliate program and Amazon Associates

You can also follow a direct approach by reaching out to the owner of a good product and checking whether they offer an affiliate program. Even if they don’t offer one, you can convince them to get into an arrangement with you and ask them to provide you with a coupon code to share with your audience. 

If you have a relevant distribution channel and you’re the first to reach out to a product owner, you might find a good deal. For example, approaching a makeup brand, if you’re a beauty blogger. 

An affiliate marketing program comes with its terms of service & conditions which you must agree upon. 

How To Start Affiliate Marketing for Beginners 

While you browse through affiliate marketing platforms, make sure you keep in mind that the products you want to promote match your audience well or the audience you try to build. Will your audience find the product valuable? Does it suit your field of expertise? 

For instance, if you are a travel blogger, you won’t promote food products. Various tourist destinations and places to visit will make more sense to your audience. 

Additionally, promote products or services which suit the platform you pick for affiliate marketing. For example, apparel and home decor fit an image-heavy platform like Instagram.

Besides, if you are marketing software or an electronics item, it’s better you choose a long-form platform such as YouTube or a blog.  

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This Is How I Started Affiliate Marketing?

It’s vital to have a proper plan to start affiliate marketing. As I already mentioned, the revenue earned by affiliate marketing can easily become a form of passive income. But, I still required some hard work when I started it. The success of your affiliate marketing largely depends on the review you offer. 

Here are few important steps you must follow when you start  affiliate marketing: 

Step 1 – Be more personal while creating a review 

Share your experiences about a product or service in your blog, vlog, or social media post. Give candid feedback based on your knowledge and experience of the product. An honest opinion will portray you as more authentic in front of your audience. It will build trust and your followers will be more comfortable with your advice. 

Trust is an important factor in affiliate marketing as people must trust an affiliate to act on their recommendations. The amount of trust you need to build depends on the products you recommend to your followers. 

Step 2 – Speak to a product professional/expert 

Interview people who use the product or service you’re considering promoting. You can even shoot a few questions to its seller or manufacturer. This will help you give a more clear, in-depth review of the product/service. 

Step 3 – Look for relevant search terms or keywords

If you’re promoting a product or offer through a blog, compile a list of relevant keywords or keyphrases so that consumers can find it easily by entering that keyword into the search engines. I used Google Ads Keyword Planner to do this. 

Step 4 – Make a product tutorial 

Though the success of your affiliate marketing largely depends on the number of followers you have, you can also attract a substantial amount of traffic by posting a tutorial about the product or offer. 

People often look for ‘How-to’ videos and blogs on the internet to find solutions to their problems. So, if you provide a tutorial that addresses a specific issue while showcasing how valuable your product is, you will have a greater impact on your target audience. This will eventually lead them to make a purchase. 

Step 5 – Determine your angle  

Figure out how much energy you need to invest in a tutorial or a review which often naturally comes to someone who has tried a product themselves. The best way to do this is to shoot a video of yourself using the product or demonstrating its benefits especially if it’s a digital product. 

Posting a story of unboxing products sent by brands is quite popular these days on Instagram. Documenting the entire experience can be quite interesting to you as well as your followers. 

Step 6 – Plan your distribution strategy

Once you’re done writing your promotional content, publish it on your website and social media accounts. Create an email marketing campaign if you have an email list. Email marketing lets you build relationships with leads, existing customers as well as prospective customers. It gives you an opportunity to talk to them directly in their mailbox at a time they prefer. 

Also, do not forget to include an affiliate marketing section on your website along with a list of all the tools you prefer to use. 

Step 7 – Offer a bonus or gift

As an affiliate marketer, you can offer bonuses to anyone who purchases through your link. For example, you could offer a free eBook to a customer who makes a purchase. Offering such bonuses can make you popular while encouraging customers to buy from you. 

Such promotions can really persuade your customers if you offer them something you would usually sell, as then they might see it as a good & valuable deal. 

To simply put, adding a bonus can make you outperform other affiliates who are marketing for the same or similar products. 

Step 8 – Keep everything legal 

Always inform your followers/audience that your post consists of affiliate links. By explaining it, your audience will feel more connected to you. It also develops a sense of trust. You can consult a legal expert regarding the language you need to use. 

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Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Can you make money from affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing online is one of the best ways to make money from the comfort of your home. It’s a passive source of income. The affiliates don’t have to manufacture the products or handle end customers, it becomes much easier to earn that extra income. Also, it requires less cost to start affiliate marketing, through consistent hard work is involved. 

You need to be patient, pick attractive products, target the relevant audience and research the product demand well in advance to do it the right way.

2. How can I start affiliate marketing without any money?

You don’t require any money to sign up for an affiliate program or for promoting any affiliate links. All you need is to have a strategy to reach the relevant target audience. You can target people through social media, blogs, communities, and even through your own network. 

3. Where to promote affiliate products? 

You can promote your affiliate links or products in various ways. A few of them are: 

  • Write blogs to inform your audience about the products or services
  • Run social media campaigns
  • Send emails/newsletters to recommend products to your followers 
  • Create tutorial/review videos to show how a product works and solves a particular problem
  • Create micro-content and post it on your social media profiles 
  • Offer bonuses, coupons or any other form of loyalty rewards to your customers
  • Add banners/buttons related to affiliate marketing on your website

Wrapping Up 

The dream of earning passive income isn’t any fantasy. You can easily achieve it. 

Though it’s not as easy as displaying an ad on your website, with some knowledge, hard work, and consistency, you can definitely make money through affiliate marketing. 

Once you have gained a substantial amount of following, affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative models for making money online. 

And the best part is it’s not complicated at all. This post contains all the necessary steps required for starting an affiliate marketing program. 

So, what are you waiting for? Identify your audience, pick an affiliate program, select the products, and start sharing information about it. 

Make sure you offer valuable content to your audience, without being too salesy. Be straightforward and honest with your opinions. Develop a trustworthy relationship with your audience.