Affiliate Marketing – Making Sales Without Products

Affiliate Marketing – Profits Without Products?

I’ve talked about affiliate marketing before, as part of a longer post on how to choose a marketing niche.  As affiliate marketing is a great way to get started making money online without a large investment, it’s worth a post of its own.  While there’s no easy money to be made anywhere, affiliate marketing does have some advantages over other types of sales.

affiliate marketing - amazon associatesIn traditional retailing, you’re going to have to have an inventory of some kind and then a way of filling that order when you make sales.  That may involve putting things in boxes and mailing them or in the case of information products, making a download available so that your customers can receive their products.  With affiliate marketing, it’s a bit different.  You’ll still advertise and promote products, but you won’t have to fill the orders.  That’s the responsibility of the seller, also known as a merchant.

Affiliate marketing is a decades old method of selling products that works well for the merchant, who sees increased sales, and the affiliate marketing partners, who receive commissions without having to actually handle the merchandise. While affiliate marketing isn’t necessarily the most profitable way to work online from home, it does have a number of advantages:

Easy to get started.
No upfront costs.
No orders to pack, ship or fill.
No customer complaints.
You get paid!

As you read on, you’ll see that affiliate marketing has a lot going for it.

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Affiliate Marketing Overview

In short,  with affiliate marketing, sellers or merchants are going to pay you a commission if you can send paying customers to them.  These days, this affiliate marketing process usually works like this:

  • You sign up for an affiliate marketing program at the merchant’s Website.
  • You receive a special link that you place on your Website for your visitors to click.
  • If they go to the merchant’s Website, the merchant can see that the visitor came from your site.
  • If they buy, you receive a commission.

There are two ways of signing up for an affiliate marketing program.  One is to sign up at a merchant’s site.  If you’re going to become an affiliate for Amazon, for instance, you would register at their Website.  You would provide them with some information about yourself, the name of your Website, and perhaps answer some questions about how you intend to promote the company’s products.  Amazon will give you special links to place on your Website as well as a special page you can visit that will show you how many people have clicked on your links and how many people have made purchases using your link.  When you receive enough sales to qualify for commissions, Amazon will pay you.

clickbank logoThe alternative to this is to sign up for affiliate marketing programs through an affiliate network.  There are sites such as Clickbank, Rakuten Linkshare, Commission Junction and others that represent hundreds or even thousands of merchants.  You create an account at the network and then you can select from a variety of merchant affiliate programs to find one that you’d like to promote.  This is a great way to go if you’re interested in a small marketing niche, as there are many relatively small companies in all kinds of niches that are looking for affiliates.  You can browse through lists of merchants or you can do a search for either a merchant name or a type of product.  Most large networks have all kinds of products, including retailers, service providers, and more.  You might find clothing companies, or Internet providers, or sports memorabilia companies, or jewelers, or companies selling gold bars.  It’s pretty limitless, and it can be fun to browse and see what’s available.  If you click on a merchant name, you’ll see details about the company and they’ll show you their terms of service, their commission rates and their payment terms.

Once you sign up to promote a product as an affiliate, you are known as a publisher.  If you sign up as a publisher through an affiliate network, you will usually see your statistics for a sales of a particular merchant’s products at the network site, instead of at the merchant’s site, as you might with a big company such as Amazon.

How much can you earn in affiliate marketing?  That depends on the merchant and the product.  Amazon typically pays 4%-8%, depending on the product and now many products you sell in a month.  That can add up, as many products on the Amazon site sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars.  There are also high-paying affiliate programs for merchants such as gold bullion dealers or jewelers.  Some jewelry programs pay as much as 10%, which might not sound like a lot, but some wristwatches can sell for $250,000!  Ten percent of a quarter million is a pretty good commission, I think.

One particularly interesting affiliate marketing network that we’ll spend some more time on later is Clickbank.  Clickbank is different from a lot of networks in that their products are almost all informational in nature.  Most products sold through Clickbank affiliates are either ebooks or software, though they do have a variety of niches, including health and fitness, home & garden, business and investing, cooking and more.  The nice thing about becoming a Clickbank affiliate is that many of the merchants offer surprisingly high commissions – sometimes as high as 75% of the selling price.  While most of the products are relatively inexpensive (less than $50), you can still earn hefty commissions in volume.

Where to get started with affiliate marketing?  You’re going to need the following:

1. A domain name and a Website.  While it’s possible to earn money in affiliate marketing without these things, it’s not for beginners.  If you’re starting out, you definitely want a Website.

2. Web hosting.  Your Website has to reside on a computer somewhere, and hosting companies have computers for this purpose.  You can rent space on one of their computers, known as servers, for a small monthly fee.

3. Affiliate links and marketing tools – you can get your links and affiliate marketing materials, such as banners and text ads, from either the merchant’s Website or from the affiliate network where you signed up for the program.

4. Traffic to your Website.  Obviously, you need visitors to your site to make sales, whether you’re using affiliate marketing or traditional retail.  There are easy ways and hard ways to do this and we’ll explore them in depth later on.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to get started making money online and we’d recommend it as THE place to start for newbies.   Once you get the hang of affiliate marketing, you can move on to other things later.

To learn more about affiliate marketing, I highly recommend joining Wealthy Affiliate.  This comprehensive training program offers useful tools, a friendly user forum, and even free Web hosting. You can even join Wealthy Affiliate for free.

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