I am often asked about affiliate marketing for beginners. How do you get started? Is it really possible to make money online, and potentially quit your job (i.e., fire your boss) at the same time?
I’m going to be completely honest with you on this one. It is absolutely possible to make dynamite amounts of money with affiliate marketing. But it is also important for you to understand that it takes…
- Hard work
- A desire to help your audience
- A few key skills (included in this blog post)
In this post, I am going to share 5 affiliate marketing methods that you can use to make money. But I’m also going to let you in on the number one secret to affiliate marketing success.
Stay tuned and keep reading to find affiliate products and services out how to get off to a profitable, successful start… using the right tools the right way!
You cannot expect to crush it in the first week. That’s just not realistic, and it’s not the way it goes.
But… getting started can be relatively quick, easy, and painless, as long as you know what to do (as explained in this important video here). And if you have aspirations of leveling up your life and creating your own destiny for yourself, affiliate marketing is for you.
One of the most common questions I get asked is: “How do I get started Miles?” That is what we are going to help you do today.
Well... You asked and I deliver!
Here is my free, affiliate marketing fast start guide for 2020!
Why Affiliate Marketing is a Lucrative Way of Making Money Online
Working with the right affiliate program and/or site can be a lucrative endeavor... because it works. Unfortunately though, doing affiliate marketing right is the difficult part for a lot of people.
Affiliate programs and sites are not something that you can just rush into and cash-in on without having some kind of a game plan. You have to choose the right niche, stay dedicated, and employ the right tools.
The first and most fundamental part of this entire process as an affiliate marketer is to start creating content… whether it’s a blog post, video, or podcast - and part of this process includes delivering valuable information and helpful emails to your readers.
The good news is that affiliate marketing can be a lucrative and extremely profitable business… but the first, and most important key to this process is value.
If you want to make your affiliate marketing business a success, then you need to use your chosen website or platform:
- YouTube channel
So you can give value to your readers/listeners and strengthen your relationship with your audience.
This is monumentally important, because being successful relies on your viewers coming back to your channel and promoting it to other people.
That is how you rack up views and gain an audience. But if you want to keep your audience and gain their trust, you need to start making their lives better by offering them huge amounts of value for free. This is how you'll grow your own affiliate network
Now, let’s talk for a minute about how NOT to get started.
How "Gurus" Scam People
Fake gurus abound on the internet. But you can stay a step ahead by learning how to spot a scammer.
Fake affiliate marketing scammers will often promote ‘me too’ type affiliate programs or site. They may advertise with catchy click-bait, and want you to pay a certain amount of money to gain access to their ‘proven secrets.’
Make no mistake… there are some good affiliate marketing courses out there that will teach you how to build your own platform or website in your own niche.
But ‘me too’ programs are different. These programs will basically promise instant success, and will usually attempt to make you believe that you will be making thousands of dollars overnight.
They will tell likes of passive income, but let me tell you. No matter what affiliate program or site you choose, make sure you understand that "passive income" doesn't exist. There will always be hard work involved when promoting products and services.
If you suspect you've landed on a scammer's website, use caution. This sort of site can at first seem very legimate. Almost like they will be your best friend and guide. But I've been fooled a time or too. These are NOT the type of guide you want.
1. Beware of “Me Too” affiliate marketing programs
Be really careful if an affiliate marketer tries to ‘sell’ you on their affiliate program. There are several mistakes that you can make in affiliate marketing, but this is perhaps one of the costliest.
There are myths and realities to each affiliate marketing program, just like there are to any skill, craft, or opportunity… and it is important that you understand that this is truly like a skill in the sense that you have to dedicate yourself to it if you really want to succeed.
‘Me too’ affiliate marketers will often claim to give you the opportunity to bring in huge amounts of money very quickly. But since 2003, I’ve seen all kinds of these networks rise and fall… because they just aren’t sustainable.
You will know this type of program by the way it is built. ‘Me too’ affiliate marketers will often try to convince you to do the exact same thing that they did to earn THEIR fortune.
They won’t promote the idea of starting your own platform in your own specific, targeted niche, and and they won’t tell you that you can get everything you need to succeed, for free, online (I literally offer everything someone needs to get started for free on my website. Scammers won’t do this).
You’ll click on their website, and they will promise you ‘everything you need to get started’ as long as you pay for it. They will almost always say things like ‘for a small investment, you can be making thousands overnight,’ etc. They will sell you packages that include things like:
- Products to promote
- Other products you can white label
These types of affiliate marketers basically charge you money to bring you into their own marketing network. Sure, you may make some money… but most of the goal is usually to try to sign other people up for the same network, who will then be trying to sign EVEN MORE people up for the same network, etc.
Be very careful of these kind of affiliate programs. Make sure you find affiliates to promote that have a legit website and are also free to join at first. You don't want to fall prey to a false guide.
It is almost like a glorified, affiliate link pyramid scheme… with the people at the top earning HUGE amounts of money from other people’s work.
But the major problem with ‘me too’ networks is that they are not sustainable in the long-term. There will only be so many interested people… and once there are no longer enough new people to sustain it, the money dries up… and the whole thing kind of collapses on itself.
MOBE Program’s Plan Got Foiled!
The Federal Trade Commission actually recently shut down the MOBE Program (My Online Business Empire) because it was a total scam! It charged you money to buy into the exact same things they were promoting, but then wanted you to bring in new people to promote the exact same things… and it created a situation where no one was bringing real value, and money was just trickling up to the top.
It was a total scam. So the morale of the story here is to stay away from affiliate programs that have a “Just do what I do and you will be successful too” pitch.
2. Creating Affiliate Training Forums Void of Value
Another type of affiliate marketing to stay away from is affiliate marketing that contains no value.
I see this a lot with affiliate program training forums. You will basically be asked to pay a certain amount of money each month, and asked to bring traffic into an affiliate marketer forum where other people can learn how to make money online… by bringing even more traffic into that forum.
It’s like a wheel… but not the good kind! This creates a situation that doesn’t hold any real value. It is all empty promises, thin affiliate techniques, and content designed to prey upon people who are desperate to make some extra money.
But anyway… now that you know the two biggest affiliate marketing scams to avoid, I’m going to show you 5 platforms that you can start building to begin gathering followers and earning money from each affiliate link as a successful affiliate marketer.
5 Best Ways to Get Affiliate Clicks!
There are basically 5 successful ways to get people to click your affiliate links.
- Paid Advertisement
- Direct Posts on Social platforms
- Pre-Sale Pages, or Advertorials
- Bridge Pages or Thank You Pages
You may or may not choose to use all 5, but many to be a top affiliate marketer you'll dabble in each at least a little bit. However, for beginners, some affiliate products and affiliate programs are better than others.
I have used (and continue to use) all five for my affiliate links… and while there are some that I like more than others, they all give you value for your time and effort if you use them correctly.
There is also one crucial element that you need to tie all of these in together… but we will get to that in a moment! First, let’s break these 5 different methods down and talk about them.
~ 1. Paid Advertisement ~
Paid advertisement is usually the first method I talk about, though it is not the method I would choose for you to use if you were just getting started.
Not every platform or website allow this type of affiliate marketing, so you need to read the terms of service on the platform first before jumping on it for most affiliates. You don’t want for all of your hard work to go to waste by missing a rule, and then getting the ban-hammer brought down on you!
Here's a list of the platforms you can run ads on:
The idea behind this method is to use paid advertisements to direct-link people over to your affiliate product or landing page. Which THEN they will see your affiliate link.
Now, there are a couple different reasons for why this method is not my favorite. For one, it only gives you one chance to make a sale. Two, you are not building an email list with it, which is a valuable asset to every successful digital marketer. (Unless you are sending your traffic to a pre-sales page, which we will discuss in a moment.)
You can make decent money with it if you know what you’re doing, but it is a little bit risky because you have to spend money to make money with this sort of site / platform.
~ 2. Direct Posts on Social Media ~
Direct posting on Instagram, Pinterest and other website platforms is another method that you can use to drive traffic to your affiliate links. No, I do not love this methodology either… but it deserves a spot in the lineup, and it does deserve a place in your affiliate program knowlege.
Just last year, Pinterest changed their terms of service to allow Amazon affiliate links directly inside rich pins, which is pretty cool… and only one example of how this technique can give you some interesting angles to work for new leads and click-throughs on Pinterest.
Social media direct-posting tends not to be quite as effective because most website or app platforms are so information-light. You can’t really do a lot to convey information and make a sale with direct posting. You can do a lot more with blog posts, podcasting, or video. Affiliates that spam will ultimately be ban.
These free platforms need to be treated with caution and respect when incorporating them into your affiliate program.
Using social platforms to promote your major platform such as:
- Your blog...
- Or video channel...
Is awesome. But as a direct affiliate marketing method, it leaves a bit to be desired… though you can still earn with it. I’ve dabbled in it, tested it, and still use it for some things.
Each niche social site have a definite role to play in your overall affiliate program, but direct posting tends to not be quite as effective on its own.
~ 3. Pre-Sale Page or Advertorial ~
This is essentially a landing page that functions as a pre-sale page. It usually conveys the idea of the product, and could also include a review page or an advertorial.
For those of you not familiar with what the term ‘advertorial’ means, it is basically an older term used to describe an ad that reads like an article. It is, essentially, a long-form ad that tells a story and promotes the product.
Advertorials used to be used in a lot of magazines.
This method can actually work really well in affiliate marketing today. In fact, if you want to run ads on Facebook or other search engines. then I would actually recommend that you link over to an advertorial page to pre-sell what you’re offering.
The great thing about this type of page is that it engages with the audience on a deeper level. It is giving them more than just an ad. It is giving them ideas, reasons, and compelling information about the product you’re offering.
As far as design is concerned, think of a pre-sale page as a basic landing page. But you can also control the retargeting pixel to re-target people who have read your advertorial, which is super-cool.
This gives you the potential to target potential buyers even after they have clicked away… which can be quite powerful if implemented correctly.
~ 4. Bridge Page or Thank You Page ~
Number four on our list is the bridge page (or ‘thank you’ page). This is essentially the ‘thank you’ page of a larger digital marketing or affiliate link funnel.
The short version of this type of affiliate marketer method is to create a landing page that offers something for free in exchange for an email address.
You can run ads to it, run people through social media to it, or even use your content marketing to drive traffic to this page.
Once your viewers get here, they will be offered something of value (a PDF, a video, an audio piece, etc.) in exchange for their email.
If you are selling your own products, we actually call this a ‘one time offer’ page. But if you’re promoting an affiliate product, this page can serve as your first opportunity to promote that product to the visitor.
Of course, before you ever offer a product on this page, you need to adequately describe how this product is going to add value for the visitor show them you are best at understand that niche. You have to sell it through content before you present the affiliate links.
I actually like this method because it helps you to build an email mailing list by offering true, real value to your audience. It doesn’t cost you anything to offer them a free PDF, and in return, you get an email address out of the deal.
And once they give you their email, you legally have the right to market to them until they click the ‘unsubscribe’ button!
I love building email lists because this gives you more than one chance to offer them an affiliate product. It also gives you the tremendous opportunity to build a relationship and offer real, measurable value over time.
This is how you become a trusted advisor to your audience, which is extremely important to your success.
~ 5. Email ~
Speaking of Email marketing, this is actually the fifth (and in my mind, the best) method to use in 2020. And I love it!
A lot of people think that email is dead… which is completely false. If anything, it has seen a revival. As people spend more time using email on their smartphones, an entire new trend in digital marketing is shifting toward it.
Make sure to use this to your advantage!
Of course, you need to collect emails before you can employ this method.
But direct email is, by far, my favorite way to present affiliate offers.
Crafting these emails is an art-form. You have to communicate that you can help your visitor to solve the problem they’re experiencing. You can build up trust and share some information about yourself as well. You need to make them believe that you can actually guide them to achieve their goals.
(This ties into the crucial element you need to make affiliate marketing work in 2019! We will get to it in just a moment!)
To put it simply, you need to provide real value in these emails, and you have to use their content to gain your reader’s trust.
But along with this, you also include a link to a presale page.
I have discovered that people are far more likely to respond to a well-crafted email than to a blog post on a website. But at the same time, you must treat this opportunity with respect. Don’t spam them. Don’t blast them.
Rather, you need to employ Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, right hook’ concept. Every jab is a bit of value that you give them for free, to reel them in. Then, when you’ve helped them, earned their trust, and given them actual proof that YOU are the solution to their problem, you come in with the right hook… the offer.
You can utilize email to send traffic to affiliate offers in a number of ways. You can link to a video review, send them to a pre-sale page or advertorial, link them to a webinar, etc.
The exact channel you use may depend on the context. But with direct email, you are going to have the highest potential for click-throughs.
So treat it with respect, and craft your emails well. This is where you're really building the best asset in your affiliate program.
Attention Formula - How to Guarantee Your Success as an Affiliate
In the beginning of this article, I promised to tell you the number one secret to a successful affiliate marketing business. If you want to make serious money in affiliate marketing (and I mean 6-figure money), you need to know how to implement this secret.
Well, I’m going to give it to you right now.
Let me explain.
To put it very simply, storytelling is the new gold standard for making money with affiliate marketing in 2020. It is absolutely a key difference between people who are making money, and people who aren’t.
As we shift out of the information age, we are moving into an age where people are craving inter-connectedness. They want to feel true, real connection online… and proper storytelling can tap into this.
When I say ‘storytelling,’ I am not necessarily just talking about a good, one-off story, either.
Have you ever watched a hit show like
- Game of Thrones
- Breaking Bad
- Stranger Things
- The Mandalorian
These types of shows are psychologically designed to tell stories that keep you engaged. Hollywood has mastered this formula, and it is actually an extremely subtle, yet effective form of marketing.
It is an attention formula.
They capture your attention, and then they hold onto it by feeding you small bits of the overall plot. They patiently, little by little, give you value and tell you the story, while also keeping you eager and anticipating the next part.
Think about your favorite movie. I loved Black Panther and Wonder Woman. These movies were advertised well enough to get me to sit down and start them. But they were also compelling enough and engaging enough to keep me hooked while I watched them through to the end.
If you want to keep your readers engaged, you need to become a dynamic and engaging storyteller.
Boost your Affiliate Marketing Efforts with an Engaged List - Not the Biggest List or No List
It is really important to understand that your engaged list is where the money is.
Your engaged list is made up of your readers who actually open, read, and follow-through on your emails.
This step is a big one that many affiliates miss.
The biggest list does not always win. Also on the flipside, you cannot earn any money with an email list that doesn’t exist! You have to constantly work toward building that list and bringing real value to your viewers.
It all hinges on value. You need to…
- Guide them to solve their problems
- Entertain them
- Tell a story
- Keep them engaged
- Offer them free tips and helpful advice
- Interact with them on, your websites, and wherever you have the opportunity to do so
- Make yourself available to maintain a dialogue
- Become an authority figure who can legitimately help them to solve their problems and achieve their goals
If you want your customers to continue engaging with you, you cannot just drop affiliate links and say ‘buy from me!’ You have to provide them with enough value that they actually look forward to every email you send them, and every piece of content you put out.
That is the key. That is what proper storytelling can help you to achieve.
Imagine being ‘in demand’ instead of trying to ‘compete’ for audience attention?
That changes the game… and storytelling is how you accomplish it.
Try A 90 Day Challenge to Create Better Affiliate Storytelling Skills
If you really want to connect with your audience, you need to learn how to become a better storyteller.
One method that I love to recommend is a 90-day challenge.
What platform are you using to engage with your audience? Hopefully, you are using a blog, a podcast, YouTube, or some combination of these to interact with viewers, build value, and establish your own personal brand.
During a 90 day challenge, you commit to posting every day, at least once per day, to your blog, video channel, or podcast… whichever medium is the predominant one.
And the results can be super-awesome for your platform and driving sales for your affiliate products.
Committing yourself to a 90 day challenge will…
- Help you to build your storytelling muscles
- Help you build your digital marketing muscles
- Help you to narrow your niche and discover your core demographic
- Help you to get to know yourself better, which will enable you to tell better stories
- Get you used to creating a lot of content on a regular basis, which will make you a better content creator in-general
- Give you more creative tools to make your content more useful for your viewers
- Give you a huge jump-start in creating more value for your platform
- Attract more visitors to your website
- Help you to get some concrete numbers for affiliate market split testing
- Help you to establish credibility in the eyes of your audience
- Help you to solidify your position as an authority figure in your niche
Building Relationships with Your Email List is Super Valuable
My wife and I actually learned about storytelling pretty early-on in our career as affiliate marketers. In fact, we were already email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing when we first learned about it.
But we had yet to incorporate the idea of storytelling into our posts.
Once we started doing it, however, and paying attention to how ‘story driven’ our content was… our income practically doubled overnight! It is incredible to see what happens when you start telling your story the right way.
One of my favorite ways to tell a story is through email marketing. By the time I learned how to use storytelling through email marketing, I got to a point where I was able to generate $30,000 in profit, in my bank account, with a list of only 3,500 subscribers, in a three or four day window!
Continue to send them meaningful content, and keep providing value through your platform. Do this, and your affiliate links will definitely gain traction and start earning money for you!
Weave Your Story to be Successful at Affiliate Marketing
If you want to get your audience’s attention and hold it for years, you will need to weave your story in such a way that your audience is both captivated and curious at the same time. Tell stories that get them hooked… true stories about your life and business that will inspire them to click your links and take action.
Use your stories for content marketing, to build credibility, and to show your audience that you can help them to solve their problem.
The crux of all of this is value. I keep saying it, but I cannot say it enough. You need to create real value for your audience. This is what is truly missing in the digital marketing world.
So research your topics. Learn from the pros in your chosen niche. Consume quality content while also pulling from your years of experience, and create blog posts, podcasts, and/or videos that are filled with useful, relevant information.
Once you start using some of these affiliate marketing methods and spreading your story to your followers, it will only be a matter of time before they’ll start reaching out to you.
And when they do, engage with them. Use an email follow-up sequence, return emails, re-Tweet posts that shout out to you… whatever you can do to make your audience feel appreciated and included.
Shout out to that loyal fan on Instagram, and share his photo. You’ll gain a follower for life!
It is essential for your followers to know that there is a human on the other side of that device. They need, and want, to know that you are a living, breathing person who legitimately cares about them and wants to help them.
I truly can’t say enough about this topic. This is a huge mistake that many beginners make. You have to respond to every comment. When people comment on your Insta post or your YouTube video, heart/like i,t and reply to it!
Social media is social! And if you want to be successful, you must make it so! Give valuable content and don't just spam your products or services.
If you have a podcast, reply to comments on your show notes. If you start a blog, reply to comments that are left at the bottom of your posts.
Show them that you legitimately care about helping, and that you also know what has to be done to solve their specific problems, you will earn a huge amount of business… regardless of how you do it or what platform you choose.
Give an ‘Aha’ Moment
Weave your stories in such a way that you lead up to an ‘Aha’ moment for your readers, viewers, or listeners. Also known as the Eureka effect.
Don’t give everything away all at once. Lead up to your climax by telling a story, building trust, hinting at a solution, and letting them know that you understand their problem. Make sure you don't let them know what sort of products or services you're selling right away.
In some cases, you may need to make them understand that you understand their problem to begin with.
But as you get toward the end, provide them with the ‘Aha’ moment that they’ve been looking for! Drive them to your pre-sale page through ads, through social media, or through links on your various sites. Get them to fill in their email address, and provide a ton of value in return.
Then, once you have their email, start email marketing to them. This where most affiliate programs SHOULD focus on for beginners.
Get Started in Affiliate Marketing the Right Way
In the end, the truly successful affiliate marketer will be the one who delivers value through their content.
You need to…
- Create a hub of content online (Blog or YouTube channel)
- Start publishing content
- Start giving value
- Start a 90 day challenge to kick your content creation into overdrive
- Get email addresses and start email marketing as an affiliate
- Build your network and start delivering even more content as you send emails and build your platform
- Engage with your audience and build trust
- Deliver that ‘Aha’ moment and send them to the offer
- Then, rinse and repeat
Keep it up. Don’t stop. Stay committed and focused. Choose the best affiliate networks and avoid the empty scams.
Create your own brand and also build your own audience / site.
Choose one of the 5 affiliate offer methods, listed above, to present your affiliate offers and begin.
Broke like most beginners are? Digital marketing is a long road.
Get free views on YouTube with the smartphone you already carry around in your pocket. Believe it or not, most humans in the developed world have access to a smartphone… and that phone gives you access to all the tools you need to get started on a great foot!
Bring lots of value, and respect your audience. Your efforts will begin to compound… and THAT is when the money will REALLY start rolling in as an affiliate.
You can do it. All you have to do is set your mind to it and get started.
If you want to go deeper and learn how to generate your first commissions online, watch this video next.
Hit me up with questions or comments on this topic of affiliate marketing if you're a beginner. I am always interested in hearing what you have to say, and I love answering questions! Looking forward to big things for you! Here’s to winning!!!