What is affiliate marketing?
This term refers to the promotion by an individual or a company (also called. affiliate) of the products and/or the services of another person or company (known as a vendor or merchant), generally through an affiliate network using an affiliate link, to earn a cut of the sales price (or commission).
A performance-based marketing system, you get from affiliate marketing what you put into it. Put in little work and resources and you get little or next to nothing from it. Intelligently invest a lot of work and resources in it and you’ll reap the fruits of your labor.
Parties involved in affiliate marketing
The definition above shows that there are 3 parties in affiliate marketing: the merchant, the publisher, and the customer as you can see in the image below:
(Image source: CJ)
Other sources, including Wikipedia, claim that 4 core players are involved in the industry.
They are, the:
- merchant (also known as ‘advertiser’ or ‘retailer‘ or ‘brand‘)
- network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments)
- publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’)
Let’s look at the affiliate, since they are the ones that interest us here.
The affiliate, also known as the website publisher/owner, can also be an individual or a company, a blogger or webmaster that implements promotional strategies to sell the merchant’s products and/or services for a commission or subscriptions.
They may use strategies like creating marketing campaigns with ads, links and banners, etc. to reach the consumer.
Successful affiliates market to a very specific audience, meaning that the promotion is done within a defined niche or personal brand.
This way, the affiliate attracts people already stoked about an offer and thus most likely to act on it.
That said, let’s go to the crux of the matter.
What Are Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing?
If you’re like me, you only considered the advantages of affiliate marketing for affiliates when getting into it. However what you should have minded most are the disadvantages since they allow you to be aware of the pitfalls awaiting you.
Advantages of affiliate marketing
According to Statistica, affiliate marketing spending in the U.S alone is expected to hit $8.2 billion by 2022.
That’s quite a juicy amount to let go by. But before you do sign up as an affiliate with a program, let’s look at some of the benefits of using affiliate marketing in your business:
That said, let’s see what the advantages of affiliate marketing are.
1. Low barrier to entry
It’s said that the Internet has levelled the playing ground for all. In business, affiliate marketing is one of those models that truly has levelled the playing field for all aspiring business owners.
In effect; any sort of degree or certification is not required. All you need are just a laptop and a WiFi connection, coupled with a willingness to learn, a great deal of drive, and the discipline to work. These last three are factors people hardly take into consideration when joining affiliate marketing.
Another area people don’t give thought to when going into affiliate marketing is the need to choose a compelling niche and a particular product or products (goods) that are relevant for you to market. Then, you simply sign up for a selected affiliate marketing program, and you’re ready to start.
2. Marketing Kit provided
Marketing materials are often provided by vendors, so you don’t need to produce any promotional materials like banners, email swipes, etc.
So, from the moment you sign up as an affiliate, you are all set to go.
3. Low start-up costs
Although it costs practically nothing to get started in affiliate marketing, investing in education is certainly a good idea. This will help you avoid typical mistakes that new affiliate marketers make and thus fast track your success.
Other costs you might consider are the creation of an affiliate marketing website, which will require expenses related to setting up a domain, web hosting and also some minor costs about designing layout, etc.
Note that you can become an affiliate marketer without owning a website.
All said and done, as a freelancer, you have no investments to make in hiring staff and office space, you don’t have to buy office furniture and equipment (except, as already said, for a computer and internet connection), no inventory to keep, etc.
4. Creates a revenue stream
Working as an affiliate of an affiliate program will open up a main or an additional revenue stream for you.
In effect, when you market products and/or services on behalf of an affiliate partner, and manage to refer a contact who makes a purchase from your affiliate partner, you’ll earn a part of the purchase price as affiliate commission. This is how you can watch the additional income start rolling in!
Another good thing: you don’t even have to leave your current job to start working as an affiliate marketer. You can do it as a side project and decide to go full time when you’re getting good money out of it.
5. You make money 24/7/30/12
When you manage to do it well (reason why we suggested education in the first place), you make money around the clock (even while you’re sleeping). There’s no feeling as exhilarating as when you wake up in the morning, switch on your laptop and find that you had made some sales while you were sleeping.
This passive income continues for 7 days a week, 30 days a month, and 12 months of the year. The income is passive because you do the work only once and continue to earn sales income without having to trade time for the rest of the money.
But don’t construe passive income to mean you don’t have to do any work at all, even after earning the sale. You need do some maintenance work to keep the money rolling in.
This can be done through a blog, a YouTube channel, an email list, or any other type of established audience online.
As long as you have the right expectations and use the right strategies, you can be assured of passive income with affiliate marketing.
For successful affiliates, this can bring in thousands of dollars each week.
The main requirement for this success is to build a popular website or blog, with a lot of interesting and useful content.
Websites and blogs being visible all day, this is what allows you to earn money even while sleeping.
6. You can create multiple sources of income
Another beauty of affiliate marketing is that you’re not locked into working exclusively with any affiliate program.
There are many types of affiliate programs out there which you can include in your portfolio.
When you come across one and believe that you can sell their products or services, you can hop on board and start making money.
This is how you earn income from many sources.
7. No marketing experience needed to begin
Maybe you’ve never engaged in marketing before. But that doesn’t bar you from beginning in affiliate marketing. All you need is the desire to succeed allied with primary skills in selling.
By promoting your affiliate partner’s products, testing various organic or paid campaigns, you learn the fundamentals of marketing and sales, which you can accelerate and deepen through education.
Thus, you may have to learn content marketing, email marketing, copywriting, SEO, and social media marketing like Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, or LinkedIn ads.
These will help you attract customers who search for products in Google, Yahoo!, and Bing before deciding to buy.
When you learn to work to make your site rank high in search results pages, by using social media, by posting content and images relevant to your products or services to encourage a sale, new sign-up or click, you’d identify what performs best and brings the most profits.
Then you’d optimize and repeat the successful patterns to get results.
This education and the experience gained will benefit you later when the success it brings makes you create your own products to promote.
8. Helps create your own affiliate program
When affiliate marketers become successful selling other people’s affiliate products, they logically think of setting up their own affiliate program.
This is the case of Kyle and Carson, the co-founders of Wealthy Affiliate.
After succeeding as affiliates, they started with helping affiliate marketers with their PPC marketing. Further success made them transform their modest business into a full-fledged affiliate marketing program.
9. Attract new clients and have a high impact
As you go about your marketing, you reach new clients. These are people looking for solutions to problems. As you propose affiliate products and services from your partners, you forcibly make a difference in people’s lives.
10. Your imagination is the limit
When it comes to marketing the products of your affiliate programs, there’s no limit as to how to do it.
- · build an affiliate blog like this one and regularly post SEO-optimized articles about your niche.
- · send your subscribers affiliate emails or create PPC campaigns.
- · use social media to market to a large audience and even work on a platform like Quora to market your affiliate offers to receptive prospects.
- · even band all your organic and paid marketing activities into a cross-channel campaign.
11. Money back guarantee period (to avoid returns and chargebacks)
This provides a guarantee of the quality of your services as your money back guarantee shows how much you believe in them.
As you assure your consumers of the quality of your products, it helps to secure their loyalty. Offering a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee to a customer opens the window for a future conversation.
Loyal customers will come in and try new things.
This helps to boost sales. Because word-of-mouth advertising spreads quickly about your products and draws new customers in.
Your money back guarantee being a promise that you keep, it grows your company’s respectable reputation as it is a trait of a trustworthy individual or company.
12. Customer Service is not your responsibility
One of the most problematic aspects of running a business is how you deal with customer issues, like refunds and complaints.
It is often difficult for a one-person business like an affiliate marketer, to handle complaints relating to damages, purchases and errors in invoicing, among other things.
Fortunately, affiliate marketing eliminates this responsibility for you as your only job is to refer new customers to the merchant who takes it up from there. Thus it’s up to the affiliate program to take care of any customer issues that arise.
But not entirely.
On your blog, your readers may have questions. You should always reply to product related questions that appear in your posts’ comments section.
13. Growing billion-dollar business
As you saw in the introduction to the advantages of affiliate marketing, this business model is a billion-dollar industry that is still prospering. Being part of a growing sector means that you can benefit from it.
14. Offers convenience and flexibility
By continuously creating multiple campaigns on different affiliate websites and landing pages to market your affiliate links, you can detect the poorly performing ones which you can abandon and instead optimize the successful ones.
On the other hand, you can choose as few or as many affiliate marketing programs, niches, and products as you wish. If a particular program is not performing well for you, you can ditch it for another.
Although we’re advised to stick to one niche, you’re not obliged to. You can test various niches if you aren’t sure which one is good for you before making a final choice. In the same way, you can select a few various products and promote them on a daily basis to see how the product mix works for you.
For instance, you can join the Wealthy Affiliate’s affiliate program and start promoting this super useful affiliate marketing course, then enrich your portfolio with AWeber for email marketing, plus add some other online marketing tools on top of that, such as AnyTrack, and many more.
Although each of the tools mentioned above serve to manage different online marketing activities, they belong to the same affiliate marketing business niche and so, they complement each other. This helps you to have diversified products to your portfolio, each with its own performance level.
This way, should a product not be performing well, the other might be doing better, and act as a buffer.
With such an approach, you mitigate the risks of failure and maximize your success rate to earn sustainable affiliate income.
15. Offers independence
The ability to work wherever you want and on your own terms is an advantage particularly valued by affiliates. You can even go about your work while enjoying a vacation.
Of course, there is a limitation of your place of work since this hinges on the availability of an Internet connection.
You’re not subjected to any bureaucracy. There are no company regulations to follow, no reports to write, personnel to overseer. There’s no dress code (you can even work in your Pajamas) and other office dictates.
16. Your own sole proprietorship business
An affiliate partner usually works as a freelancer. As such, you establish your business activity. Above all, some costs, such as laptops and mobile phones, can be claimed as tax write-offs.
17. Flexible working schedule
As an at-home business, affiliate marketing enables you to make your framework and daily working schedule.
You are your own boss and work at your own pace. When you start work in the day, when you close, how many hours you do a day and which days of the week you work is all left to you to decide.
Also, how many days off you take, when you go on vacation, and for how long, is at your sole discretion.
This doesn’t mean that affiliate marketing business is a lot of play and little work. Even at the initial stages you may have to work more than on a 9-5. The rhythm could be so hard that you could become overwhelmed.
But this is necessary so that later when you reach the passive income level, you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
18. Performance based income
This is both a benefit and a disadvantage.
For your performance to be advantageous, you must give affiliate marketing what you know how to do best or learn to acquire those skillsets.
These include online marketing, online review, article writing, making videos for YouTube, managing paid campaigns, etc.
Hard work and persistence underpin success in affiliate marketing.
You must work hard because at the initial stages you will be alone doing everything. But when your business is up and running, you wouldn’t need to do so much. Even, should that not be the case, you could later outsource tasks to a Virtual Assistant.
Persistence is needed because it takes time to build up enough traffic, the lifeblood of affiliate marketing. Many people give up before they can make an impact. Yet, you have to give yourself about six months or up to one year to see affiliate marketing working for you.
Know that at the end of the day, you are rewarded only when you produce results. There’s no better incentive for you to work hard!