Is affiliate marketing all it’s cracked up to be? Or is it just another get-rich-quick scheme that fails to deliver. The truth, as is often the case, is somewhere in between.
Chances are, if you have spent anytime online recently, you’ve probably heard of affiliate marketing. Perhaps you’ve stumbled across it while browsing Google in search of side hustle ideas, or maybe you’ve seen one of the countless facebook ads claiming that affiliate marketing is the answer to getting rich and living the life of your dreams. Maybe you’ve even seen a disclaimer on one of your favorite blogs, alerting readers that the article they are reading contains affiliate links.
If you are a blogger, joining an affiliate network can be a great strategy for monetizing your blog. Even if you don’t have a blog (and don’t want to start one), affiliate marketing could be a good side hustle choice for you.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
The dictionary defines affiliate marketing as a “marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.” In essence, affiliate marketing is a way to make money by recommending products to your audience — be that blog readers, Facebook friends, email subscribers, or Twitter and Instagram followers.
How Exactly Does it Work?
Let’s say you have a large audience following your camping blog, and you’ve recently written an article reviewing different types of tents. Chances are, you’ve already linked to the tents you have reviewed, right?
How Much Can You Reasonably Make?
The reality is, affiliate marketing is like most things in life — there are a few people making a small fortune with it, a decent amount who make enough to replace their day job, and a vast majority who make next to nothing. The amount you make with affiliate marketing depends a lot on the effort you put into it. Despite many claims to the contrary, affiliate marketing won’t make you rich overnight, and it won’t make vast amounts of money with little to no effort either. Your’e success, in other words, is directly proportional to the amount of effort you put in.
According to a recent survey by VigLink, around 65% of affiliate marketers say that they are making between 5% and 20% of their annual salary through affiliate marketing and 9% said that they generated more than $50,000 annually.
Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing
- Easy to join affiliate networks
- Low risk (becoming an affiliate costs nothing other than your time)
- Because it is low risk, you can afford to learn as you go
- Can be a good source of passive income
- There is no guarantee of income (if no one clicks on your links and makes a purchase, you won’t make anything)
- You need a LOT of traffic to make a decent amount of money
- Your commission per sale is generally small
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started with affiliate marketing is fairly simple. Basically, all you need is to find some affiliate networks that work with companies you love, sign up, and start posting your links! There are some things to keep in mind, however, if you want to make the most out of your affiliate marketing side hustle.
1) Picking an Affiliate Network
There are a lot of affiliate networks out there to choose from. Luckily, you can sign up with as many as you like, abandon the ones that aren’t working for you, and pursue the ones that prove successful. Still, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options available. To cut down on the noise, really think about what products you want to recommend. Is there a particular niche you are trying to fill? Knowing your audience and your personal brand will help you to find the best affiliate networks for you.
If there is a specific product or company that you find yourself frequently recommending, try typing it into Google with “affiliates” or “affiliate marketing” added. Often, this will bring you to the affiliate network for a specific company that you love.
Here are a few good affiliate networks to get you started:
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partner Network
- CJ Affiliate
- Fiverr Affiliates Program
2) Speaking of Niches …
You have picked one, haven’t you? If you’ve spent any amount of time on Side Hustle (or just on the internet in general), you will know the importance of choosing a niche. Affiliate marketing is no different. Picking a niche will help you recommend products that your audience will truly love, be interested in, and possibly purchase.
What is a niche, you ask? A niche is simply a specialized topic, like fashion or sports. There are broad niches (fashion and sports would both fall under that category), and narrow niches (like swimwear and tennis). Choosing a broad niche category will give you more options when looking for products to recommend. On the other hand, choosing a more narrow category can help you curate your choices for your very specific audience — therefore increasing the likelihood of clicks on your links.
3) Building Audience Trust
Building and maintaining audience trust is paramount to successful affiliate marketing. This means that you should only recommend products that fit your niche and personal brand. You should also only recommend products that your truly love.
People are extremely discerning on the internet these days, and will smell insincerity from a mile away. If your content feels spammy, you will lose your audience pretty quickly. And no audience means no clicks. Treat your audience like royalty, and they will reward you by coming back for more and spreading your name.
4) Deciding How You Will Market Your Links
There are a lot of ways to market affiliate links. Some people make money by writing reviews or other types of content on their blog. Others use Twitter or Instagram to make recommendations and post links. Putting links in the description part of a YouTube video can be a successful strategy if you are a YouTuber or enjoy making video content. Another popular and profitable place to post affiliate links is on Pinterest.
Email marketing is a particularly powerful way to spread your affiliate links. If you have a blog and have grown an email list, you are already in a great position to do this. You can include affiliate links in any part of your emails — just make sure that the links feel honest and authentic.
5) Choosing the Right Content
Most of the time, your links will be included within some sort of content. Reviews are always a great place to use affiliate links, since you are already directly recommending a product. There are other times when you can use affiliate links, however. Tutorials, and lists can also be a great place to put affiliate links. Know your audience and be creative.
Affiliate marketing may not be the get-rich-quick dream job it is made out to be, but with a little effort, it can be a very viable side hustle. Looking for more side hustle ideas? Be sure to check out our Master List of 92 Side Hustle Ideas to get your hustle juices flowing.