Affiliate Marketing – an Introduction
Affiliate Marketing is simply selling other peoples products and receiving a commission on that sale. Many websites use this model for example skyscanner.
The trick to being a successful affiliate is driving the right sort of traffic to the right sort of offer.
Affiliate Marketing Networks
There are a number of ways to find affiliate products to promote. A number of different affiliate networks exist where you can create an account and then pick from hundreds or even thousands of products.
Affiliate Marketing does have a poor reputation in some circles but the issue isn’t really affiliate marketing more the products being marketed (as you’ll see below).
Some of the largest and most popular networks include (in no particular order):
There are over 4000 products available on the Clickbank marketplace and over the last 22 years it has paid out $4.2 Billion in commissions to affiliates. Mainly focusing on digital products such as software, eBooks and courses it offers something for every niche. You can sign up for free and get started promoting products straight away. They even provide courses on affiliate marketing via the Clickbank University and their own funnel building software (these are fee paying).
To browse the products you could promote visit their marketplace. If you’d like to sign up and start promoting products then create your ClickBank account. Reviews on Trustpilot weren’t the best but with any affiliate network they will often attract the ire of the customer rather than the vendor. Clickbank is one of the easier networks to use for beginners as you generally don’t have to be approved for specific offers.
I honestly couldn’t find one product on the marketplace that I would feel comfortable promoting. Seemed to be an awful lot of PLR products. Low priced courses and software. If you’d like to take a look for yourself then this is the JVzoo marketplace. Reviews on Trustpilot were mixed to say the least.
With over 15000 products in their marketplace you should be able to find something to promote. Its a very simple layout but actually the affiliate dashboard has some nice features when looking for offers to promote such as giving an indication of the total number of sales and the refund rate. However I struggled to find many offers that I would have felt confident promoting. Clearly judging by the sales numbers many of the products do sell and many have low refund rates suggesting the majority of the customers are happy with their purchase. Again the reviews on Trustpilot were not very complimentary.
In addition to the ‘normal’ affiliate offers that require someone to purchase a product in order for you to get a commission MaxBounty also have CPA offers. These will generally be where someone enters their email address for the chance to win a prize or to receive a complimentary eBook etc. You would then receive a commission for every sign up.
While the individual amounts are small – usually around $1, you have more chance of someone signing up with their email address than you would them signing up for a a $500 course! Their Trustpilot rating is somewhat higher than their competitors but of course you should always take any ratings with a pinch of salt. They also have a more stringent approval process for new affiliates and you would probably be best doing some research on the best way to get yourself approved before making an application.
This network has been running for over 20 years and boasts some of the biggest brands on its books but its probably not for new entrants as you may find your account is deactivated if you don’t make many sales. Looking on Trustpilot would suggest that you give this one a wide berth but if you want to gain access to some big name brands (eg. GoPro and Barnes & Noble) then it is the way to go.
Part of a larger group called Awin (formerly Affiliate Window) this network boasts 3900 programs to promote. Trustpilot gives it a reasonable rating (from a very small sample). The only brand I recognised was Reebok although reviews of ShareASale suggest Qatar Airways and Namecheap as other well known merchants. The signup for ShareASale requires you to enter the URL of your main site so you’ll need to have created a site before signing up to them. The well respected AuthorityHacker site gives them the thumbs up in this review.
Microsoft, Wayfair and Nike. Just some of the massive names involved with Skimlinks. They are a little different in that they take a cut of the commissions you earn but the process is a little simpler and you have access to more than 48000 merchants through their program. If you run a WordPress blog then you can install their plugin and after you’ve signed up to the program you can add affiliate links to your blog posts easily. Skimlinks has been used by some large publishers such as Daily Mail, Dennis Publishing and MumsNet. To apply for an account visit their website.
This network seems to mainly deal with software, the biggest names being QuickBooks, InstaPage, Unbounce and Evernote. There are approximately 120 different merchants on the program. They didn’t appear to be listed on Trustpilot even under their former name of GrowSumo.
This is a list of affiliate programs rather than a network where you just sign up once. It does include some big names for example: Uber, eHarmony, AirBNB, Fiverr, NordVPN, Bluehost and Siteground amongst others. I think I will find this site very useful going forward as it is easy to find some really good affiliate programs.
Finding the affiliate offers is only the beginning of course. You will then need to decide on your strategy for the offer and then your method(s) of publicising it. I will be covering these topics in future blog posts.
For now think about what niche might interest you and which networks have offers in that niche. Sign up to one or two and have a look at the promotional materials provided by the vendors for those products.
Done correctly Affiliate Marketing can be profitable.