Now more than ever before, many of us are looking for ways to work from home and diversify our incomes. During these challenging times, using a little ingenuity, a little know-how and activating all the channels at your disposal is a positive move to give you some control back!
Whether you already have a website and want to use your social media to boost sales, or you’re dreaming of becoming an influencer that’s liked, known and trusted – affiliate marketing may be the answer.
We’ve put together an affiliate marketing tutorial step-by-step that takes you through the process to start earning a passive income through your social media!
What Is a Brand Affiliate?
Before you can begin looking for brands to partner with, you need to understand what it means to be a brand affiliate.
By definition, a brand affiliate is anyone that markets products on behalf of a seller. Sometimes, a brand affiliate is a business advertising for another business.
Though in this guide, we’ll be discussing individual brand affiliates who promote products for businesses to potential customers in their audience!
What Do You Need to Be An Affiliate Marketer?
While the lack of overhead like products or a storefront makes affiliate marketing a great side hustle, that doesn’t mean that you won’t need some skills and tools to succeed.
So what do you need to become an affiliate marketer?
To start, you’ll need to choose a niche to focus on, research affiliate programs that can help connect you with brands, and build your website or social media pages.
Keep reading to learn more about mastering step-by-step affiliate marketing for beginners, and watch our Tailwind Live replay with Affiliate & Community Manager Melissa Megginson for even more insights!
1. Search Your Niche For Brand + Product Inspiration
When you’re first diving into affiliate marketing, it can be tempting to apply to programs en masse or to seek out only the highest paying partnerships.
But narrowing your focus and choosing a specific niche is a MUST if you want to learn how to make money on Instagram with affiliate products or on websites as well.
Having a specific niche will help you develop a successful personal brand, which in turn will translate to more sales for your brand partners (and more commission for you!)
It’s important to stay true to your niche when choosing affiliate products.
Your followers will respect your recommendations as authentic because they expect that type of content from your website or social media page.
And brands will feel confident sharing a portion of their revenue with you because they know your authority and reach will boost sales!
2. Research Affiliate Programs to Partner With
Some brands work directly with influencers while others choose to figure out how to get into an affiliate marketing program.
The program acts as a go-between for brands and brand affiliates! These programs make it easier for businesses to find a wider selection of affiliates in their niche, while also giving brand affiliates a simple way to reach out and connect with brands and negotiate terms.
Choosing the right affiliate program is JUST as important as choosing your niche. Knowing commission rates, level of support from the program, and your scope of options for affiliate links help you evaluate a potential program and make the right choices.
3. Build Your Website and Social Platforms
Finding the right brands and businesses to partner with is only half the challenge. Once you’ve found the right match, you then have to actually sell their products!
Most affiliates use a website, one or more social media channels, email lists or a combination to effectively connect with their audience and create sales.
Starting a Website
If you choose to use a blog or website to sell affiliate products (and you don’t already have one established) this can be an intimidating step.
However, starting a website is easier than it might seem. It all comes down to your needs and expectations.
If you have your heart set on a professionally built website with lots of bells and whistles, be prepared to invest a lot of money.
If you’re willing to work with an individual web developer or are okay with a more basic site, you can likely lower this cost.
Each of these programs will walk you through the entire website building process, from choosing and obtaining a domain to posting content.
Establishing Your Social Media Platforms
When most people think of influencer marketing, they think of social media platforms and more specifically, Instagram. Even if you plan to peddle your affiliate products through long-form content on a website, social media is still a great tool for building your following. Instagram can also be used on its own to sell affiliate products directly!
One mistake that beginners frequently make is trying to use too many platforms. It’s better to be great at two social platforms instead of okay at five. Choose the strongest platforms for your niche and audience. In other words, go where your target audience already is.
For instance, Twitter is a platform that’s largely text-based and doesn’t focus as heavily on links or images. Instagram, on the other hand, is dominated by pictures and video.
While the first is great for sharing opinions, the second is a better choice for showcasing the details of a product or service.
Demographics are also important.
For example, Facebook is the most popular platform for users of all age, race, and education demographics – but Instagram takes a sharp plunge among generations over 50. It’s also less popular among men than women!
Some social media platforms are simply better for affiliate marketing and blogging than others. LinkedIn might be popular among your target audience, but it’s often used for connecting with business partners over online shopping.
Pinterest and Instagram continue to be the highest-performing social-media platforms among affiliate marketers.
4. Attract Your Ideal Audience (+ Ideal Partners!) With Quality Content
A study by Microsoft found that the average human’s attention span is now just 8 seconds. This means that when someone lands on your blog or scrolls past your latest post, you have less than 10 seconds to capture their attention before they move on!
It takes practice, dedication and attention to detail to curate quality content that resonates with your followers.
If you’re creating content on a website, don’t just list your affiliate products and links. This won’t impress a search engine, or your readers!
Instead, look for ways to draw in your readers and keep them coming back for more!
Solving common problems your readers face in new and creative ways – or putting a personal spin on it – is a great way to form a connection while also establishing authority in your chosen niche.
On social media, creating quality content that stands out is just as important. Because you have a small amount of space to do so, focus on taking stunning images and writing captivating posts.
Don’t write “sales-y” sponsored posts; instead, find ways to naturally integrate mentions of affiliate products into personalized posts.
Once you’ve created a great blog post, don’t stop there. Regular, consistent posting keeps your audience captivated -and draws new followers!
You also need to engage with your followers as much as possible. This helps give your website or social media pages a personal feel. It lets your followers know there really is a person behind the screen that they connect with!
Creating this bond is essential to building trust so that readers will feel confident purchasing the products that you recommend.
Remember that follower counts aren’t everything; engagement often matters more. The stronger the bond, trust, and engagement, the more ways to make affiliate marketing money online.
5. Track Your Results Frequently to Improve Your Affiliate Marketing Plan Over Time
Tracking your success as an affiliate marketer might seem as easy as counting the number of sales you’ve made… but it’s actually more complicated than that.
Understanding analytics on your website or social media platforms (as well as through any affiliate programs you use) will help you see how certain types of posts or specific products perform so that you can adjust your approach in the future.
Tracking visitor counts and clicks on your website, as well as your overall traffic can help you analyze not just how your content performs, but also how specific affiliate products are received by your audience.
Use these numbers to look at more specific details as well, such as how when to post on Instagram or your blog post affects their performance!
Looking at post interactions and your audience demographics on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram page can be used in a similar way.
You can also use them to analyze how different types of images or combinations of images and text perform with your audience. Then, use this information to tailor your future affiliate posts and Instagram Stories to boost sales.
Finally, tracking your performance with affiliate networks can help you decide which products sell best with your audience, or can help you figure out when a specific brand might not be a good fit for your niche.
Sometimes website, social media, or affiliate program analytics reveal surprises.
You might discover that you’re getting readers from an older or younger age group than you expected, or that your posts are getting interactions with followers in a foreign country.
These analytics can help you adjust your approach and choose new products to boost your success over time.
Conclusion: How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
Now that you know what you need to learn how to make money with affiliate marketing, it’s time to jump in and get started!
Whether you already have a website or a social media following, narrowing your niche, choosing the right affiliate brands and products, building or improving your site or social media platforms, and producing quality content will help you start selling your affiliate products in no time.
Have you already tried your hand at becoming a brand affiliate? Tell us about your success or struggles in the comments below!
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Caitlin Lamb is a Content Marketer and Editor with a passion for helping businesses and individuals master social media and web marketing.
When she isn’t traveling around the world, you’ll find her at home in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and their spoiled rescue pup Briley.