Affiliate Marketing Has It’s Advantages
I’ve written a lot about affiliate marketing on this blog, and you might think from reading my various posts that I think it’s the only way to make money online. That’s not the case, and in fact, it’s not even the only way that I make money online. I have one site where I do direct retail – I actually put products in boxes and mail them to people. It’s not my primary method of making money, but rather an offshoot of a hobby and I do it because I enjoy it. It’s a nice diversion from my main method of earning money – affiliate marketing.
While you can make money by putting things in boxes, it has some decided disadvantages when compared with affiliate marketing. You need boxes, and a place to put them. You need merchandise, and a place to store it. You need scales and packing tape and packing peanuts and bubble wrap and all of that requires space, too. Of course, selling merchandise directly is a profitable business model, and Amazon certainly seems to be doing OK with it. But affiliate marketing offers a few advantages over other methods of making money online that makes it perfect for just about anyone, including newbies who are just getting started.
Why Affiliate Marketing Makes Sense
The beauty of affiliate marketing is what it doesn’t require. You don’t need boxes, tape, or even a big office. You can do affiliate marketing with a laptop and a blog, and you’re good to go. Sure, you’ll have to find a topic to write about and add some compelling content to get people to visit your blog. You’ll also have to find an appropriate product to promote and manage to tie it in with the content of your site. But that’s about it. Affiliate marketing makes it easy for anyone to enter just about any market and to promote products in any price range.
You can sell anything – You can’t sell a $100,000 product directly unless you can afford to buy it wholesale. Then you have to find a place to put it. As an affiliate marketer, however, you can sell a $100,000 product, and even better is the fact that you don’t have to buy it, store it, or deliver it. All you do in affiliate marketing is provide your Website visitors with a special link that’s unique to you, and if your visitor clicks your link to the product’s sales page and makes a purchase, you get a commission. Affiliate marketing is making sales without the headaches that come with selling things.
With affiliate marketing, you can sell $5 toys or $2 million personal submarines or anything else in between. Many manufacturers and retailers realize that by offering a commission to affiliates, they can dramatically expand their potential market. It’s lucrative for them and for you to offer commissions to people who help promote their brand.
You get tools – Many companies with affiliate marketing programs offer useful tools to their affiliates. These might come in the form of professionally-created images, or banners. They might provide you with pre-written email messages that you can send to your mailing list, or a press release that talks about their product, or even sample advertising that you can use wherever you like. While you’ll likely benefit from using these affiliate marketing tools as a starting point for creating your own, you’ll find that you’ll get lots of help when it comes to promoting products as an affiliate, and that’s a big help for people who are just getting started in the business.
No shipping or returns – If you make a sale of a refrigerator via affiliate marketing, shipping isn’t your concern. It’s also not your concern if the customer isn’t happy with it and they return it. Sure, you’ll lose your commission, but you won’t have to deal with the angry customer or give them their money back. That’s the problem of the seller.
An unlimited number of products to promote – Affiliate marketing is such a widely used sales technique that you can use it to promote just about anything. While it’s often used for downloadable products such as ebooks or software, you can also use it for physical products. There are lots of people who do quite well promoting products from Amazon, and they sell just about anything. I was recently in contact with someone about the idea of promoting underground bomb shelters as an affiliate and I’ve seen affiliate programs for yacht and airplane charters. If you can promote it, chances are there’s someone who will pay you to market it through affiliate marketing.
It doesn’t have to be full time – With affiliate marketing, you can set up a blog and add things to it whenever you have time. It just takes a small amount of time to do a blog post, so you don’t have to be at your computer all day working on it. I usually add one or two posts to this site each day, and rarely spend more than an hour and a half on it. That leaves me lots of time to work on other projects, and if your “other projects” include a full time job, you can still find time to do affiliate marketing on the side.
There are a few downsides to affiliate marketing. One of the big ones is that the search engines aren’t all that fond of affiliate Websites that don’t have a lot of content. The days when you could build a two or three page Website with a single product review are long gone. You can, however, build a site in a niche with a lot of interesting content that will appeal to a lot of people and include occasional affiliate links on it.
Another downside to affiliate marketing is that the products you promote often come and go, as companies go out of business or change their product lines. Here’s a good bit of advice on that. If you see a product that looks like something that is interesting, profitable and one that might be a good one to promote, see if you can’t find something similar that you can promote if something goes wrong. Last year, I decided that I wanted to promote products from one particular company whose products were essentially unique in the marketplace. Before I could apply for their affiliate program, I had to show them the Website that I’d be using to promote their products. I didn’t have one, so I found a suitable domain name and spent the better part of a week creating a site to show them. Then I applied to join their affiliate program and they declined my application. I was left with a Website that I couldn’t use with a domain name that wasn’t suitable for anything else.
Lesson: Never promote a product through affiliate marketing if you don’t have a backup product handy.
Affiliate Marketing Summary
While there are some disadvantages to affiliate marketing, the advantages outweigh them. It’s easy to do, it’s potentially profitable, and there are an unlimited number of products to promote. If you’re interested in making money online and you don’t know where to start, affiliate marketing is a good way to go.