Affiliate marketing 101
Answering most asked questions about being an affiliate!

Affiliate marketing 101 Answering most asked questions about being an affiliate!

Make money from other people's sales

Jan 18, 2020

Being an affiliate is one of the top choices for digital nomads, and people who want to work from home.
As the job is 95% what you need to do, and 5% working with systems and services available 24/7- you can work whatever hours you want, and from anywhere in the world. 

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A lot of people think being an affiliate is a scam,
Or confuse dropshipping with affiliation. 
I hope this blog post could clarify the affiliate world for you,
as it is a great way to make money while nomading around the world,
or working from home!

So, what is an affiliate?

First i’d like to explain 2 important phrases here:
An advertiser & a publisher. 
An advertiser is a company or individual offering any kind of online offer- a service or a product. 
A publisher is a blogger, social media influencer, or website owner. 

An affiliate is a publisher that created a digital connection with an advertiser for the purpose of tracking the traffic from them- to that advertiser. 
In layman’s terms, an affiliate takes a link to an advertiser’s website or a product- and places that link online, at their publication. 
Once a reader clicks on that link from the publisher’s website or social media and reaches the advertiser’s website- a digital connection is made, so that if that person makes a purchase from that advertiser- the affiliate/publisher earns an agreed upon commission. 

As an example, check out this article, from one of my affiliate websites: 

what is an affiliate

This article is about an Etsy seller that creates unique wall art from strings and nails,
written in my new blog about Home Design. 
As I am an Etsy affiliate- if a person clicks on one of the links in this article- they reach Etsy having my digital tracking code. 
If that reader makes a purchase on Etsy, not just from this seller- but generally from Etsy, I will be making a % of that sale. 

How does an affiliate link work?

Did you ever go into a website and see a “cookie warning”? 

Online Cookies are pieces of tracking code that tells a website- where you were prior to visiting them, or basically- what made you go to them!
That cookie holds the data of the click, showing what page you were on the publisher’s website when you clicked on the link, as well as what page you entered to on the advertiser’s website! 
Now, that cookie lasts more than 1-2 days, depends on the advertiser!
Each advertiser chooses the duration of that cookie- meaning- the time between click to conversion!
For example:
If a website provides their affiliates with a 45 day cookie- that means that if a person clicked on an affiliate link and makes a purchase within 45 days- that transaction will grant the publisher- commission!

when do affiliates get paid?

Being an affiliate is not like having a day job, and there’s no unanimous rule as to when you’ll get paid. 
However, each advertiser presents their payment terms when you apply to become their affiliate!
As affiliate commission is basically a cut from the sale- affiliates get paid after the advertiser has secured their money. 
In many cases, that would mean a period of several days, weeks, possibly even months. 
If you’re an affiliate of Fiverr and someone makes an order using your link- that someone can still cancel it a day later. 
Only once that sale’s funding was cleared- you’ll be getting your commission. 
This process takes different amount of time based on the type of service/product offered, and it’s one of the reasons I never tried making money using travel related affiliate links! 
(I promote Booking.com, someone gets a hotel room 4 months from now… Only after they check out of that hotel- will I be eligible to get paid!)

Can I do affiliate marketing without a website?

90% of the cases- the answer to that would be NO. 
An affiliate link can be shared online- based on that advertiser’s rules and restrictions. 
In most cases- the advertisers wouldn’t have a problem with you sharing your affiliate links on social media, in Facebook groups, or even in direct messages!
However, they will require seeing your website and making sure you’re publication fits their audience- before approving you as an affiliate to begin with.  

affiliate programs vs affiliate networks

What do Amazon, AliExpress & Fiverr have in common?
They all manage their own affiliate programs!
If you want to become their affiliate- you go into their own platform to submit your request. 
When you want to promote links from these advertisers- you’ll find all the tracking codes on their platform!
Want to know how much you’re making? You’ll need to check that on, guessed it already?? Their platform. 

However, not all advertisers have their own affiliate program. 
Managing an affiliate program is a lot of technical work, as well as dealing with questions from affiliates, payments, etc. 
Some advertisers place their trust, links & cookies to affiliate networks!
These are website that hold a variety of affiliate programs from different advertisers. 
This process makes things harder and easier at the same time!
You’ll have to get accepted to that affiliate network first, and then- apply for the specific program you want!
For example- if you want to be a Redbubble filiate- you’ll need to join ShareASale affiliate network.  

On the other hand, as I said just a second ago, these networks can also make things easier for you! 

In the photo above you can see a screenshot I took from AWIN-
an affiliate network that I am personally a member of. 
The screenshot is of the affiliate programs/advertisers I have yet to established a connection with…
Over 1000 programs!!!
With affiliate networks you can easily scan for programs from all over the world, and in different niches.
Browsing through the categories you might even find affiliate programs you never knew existed!

What makes this even easier is the fact it’s all in one place!
AWIN is the affiliate network that hosts Etsy’s affiliate program.
In my fashion blogging days- I also used AWIN as my gateway to ASOS’ affiliate program. 
That meant- that the money I earned from both of these advertisers- was in the same place, visible in the same reports, and was paid to me together! 

Do you need money to start affiliate marketing?

While you don’t need to pay affiliate networks anything to become an affiliate (if an advertiser says you need to pay them to get a beginner’s package- they are probably an MLM…), you will need to invest on creating your own website, and possibly on marketing.
The spending amount here is totally up to you!
Some affiliates pay a web-developer to build their website, a content writer to write the articles, and a graphic designer to create their social media posts. They than move on to spend money on social channels for sponsored posts >> counting on their skill of optimization to create a beneficial business. 

When I started my first affiliate website (I wish i had a link to give you, but that domain was put to rest 6 years ago) – I built my own WordPress, and shared my posts on Facebook groups about shopping online. 
Cost me very little on the hosting + domain- and a whole lot of my time!

is it legal to be an affiliate?

One of my strongest memories from my “Junior lawyer” days (a program that teaches law to 4th grade gifted children) was the teacher saying that anything can be illegal- when done illegally. 
If you post a link to an item you’ve never tried before- saying you purchased it and it was amazing- that’s illegal!
If you post a link to an item saying it’s a body cream and the link leads to a USB disk-on-key- that’s illegal. 

As long as you’re on the up and up, and honest with your following about the item you’re promoting and your relation to it- you’ll be just fine. 
However, you need to make sure your website has a very specific and inclusive terms of service / policy / disclaimer page- that tells people that your website contains affiliate links, that it collects data from the click (cookies), and that you are in no way responsible for the quality of the service they’ll get from the advertiser. 

While you are not liable for problems from the advertiser- you’d better make sure you are recommending proper advertisers, for your reputation as well as for your money! (cause if you recommend a shady Etsy seller that never ships the item to the buyer- they will get a refund- and you’ll get 0 commission! ) 

Is affiliate marketing a pyramid scheme?

is affiliate marketing a pyramid scheme

If you go ahead and Google anything about affiliate marketing, one of the main topics that will keep rising would be a repeat question- is affiliate marketing a pyramid scheme?​

Honestly, once you actually research what affiliate marketing is, and what pyramid companies (MLMs) are- you see there’s no way the two are connected. 
Pyramid schemes are about having a “product” you need to sell, one that you pay an entry free to get your “starter’s kit”, while your main goal is to keep recruiting more and more people to recruit more people under them, just like a pyramid. 
Affiliate marketing is about referring people to items you think they’d like, and getting commission if they purchase. It’s by no means- a pyramid scheme. 

What is the difference between affiliate marketing and dropshipping?

Yesterday, as preparations for writing this post, I asked my IG followers to let me know if there’s anything they’d like to know about affiliate marketing. 
9 out of 21 questions were about the differences between dropshipping and affiliate marketing- are they the same?

For that answer, let’s quickly analyze the process of dropshipping- in the publisher’s eyes:
You find products sold in relatively cheap prices, and you offer them to be sold on your own platform- for a higher price. 

As the client purchases the item from you- you get the money from the sale, while at the same time- you pay the original product price to the original item’s seller. That seller than ships the item to your customer- as if they were you!

While doing affiliate marketing- you NEVER take ownership over the items you’re affiliated with. 
You recommend an item, often providing people with clear information on where the item can be purchased!
Once a client purchases the item- FROM THE ORIGINAL SELLER – they make their deal with that seller, not you, and you get a cut off the profits. 

what is the difference between affiliate marketing and dropshipping

If there’s a problem with the item- the buyer will turn his concerns and complaints to the seller- not you, as opposed to dropshipping- where the buyer will come to you with their problems- as they believe you’re the one who made the item! 

How to start an affiliate marketing business?

The answer to that question is both simple and complicated at the same time. 
To start an affiliate marketing business you first need to pick a niche! 
That means- picking a specific market you’d like to target. 
It can be women’s fashion, tech gadgets, ski equipment, supplements, books, and all kinds of online goods!
It can also be services, personal or company-services, like: content writing, graphic design, hosting & domain registration, WordPress themes, online courses, and really- anything that people sell online in a platform that allows a tracking link to affiliates. 

I wanted to dig deeper on that topic, but I feel like it requires a full post of it’s own, as this matter can be so tricky!
You need to find a common ground between:
– Products that are trending
– Products that are in a good price, or offered from a trusted seller
– Products you can freely blog about in a professional way. 
Technically speaking, you can affiliate any item, but if the content you provide isn’t good- no one will read enough of it to click on anything. 

It’s also important to find a topic you actually feel comfortable with, as affiliate marketing can take time and effort to start generating you a proper income- that time is time you spend “interacting” with your readers and making content- and if that topic is something you hardly care about- you’ll grow tired of it pretty fast. 

Is affiliate marketing really profitable?

is affiliate marketing really profitable

Affiliate marketing can make you anywhere between $0 and $300,000 a month. 
You can make 0 dollars when you don’t know how to pick a product, build a “bad” website, and don’t market it well, or at all. 
However, if you choose a good product/niche, and really spend time creating quality content, and always learning and implementing your knowledge of online marketing- you can make a lot of money!
The money that can be made with affiliate marketing will often not have a limit- as you are not selling from your own stock. 
It’s all about choosing the right niche, the right affiliate programs,
and really investing the time in growing your business.  

I hope that you feel now you know a bit more
about affiliate marketing, what it means to be an affiliate
and the potential hidden in this line of work!
I will definitely upload more posts about how to become an affiliate,
how to choose your affiliate niche
as well as, detailed information about affiliate programs worth joining! 
Have any questions or feedback?
Reach out to me on Instagram and let’s chat about being an affiliate!

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