How to start your affiliate marketing?

Not too difficult, right? Just like running your own small business, becoming a successful affiliate takes dedication and discipline. Use the following step-by-step guide to start your affiliate marketing business.

Pick your platform and method

The first step is figuring out the platform you want to build your audience around. Every affiliate marketer has a different approach and platform. There are many affiliate marketing ideas you can choose from based on different methods:

  • Niche topic and review sites. These are sites that review products for a specific audience or compare a line of products against their competitors. This method requires you to create content related to the review space and post regularly to draw in an audience.
  • Digital content. Digital content creators include bloggers, YouTubers, or social media influencers. They create niche content that resonates with a target audience. The goal is to organically introduce niche products their audience will enjoy. This increases the chances they’ll buy and you’ll earn an affiliate commission.
  • Courses, events, workshops. If you’re an educator, you can integrate affiliate partnership offers into your events.

No matter which route you take, authenticity and audience building are the two most crucial elements for affiliate marketing.

If you cannot authentically connect with your audience, chances are you won’t have success in converting them into affiliate sales.

To pick a platform and method, ask yourself:

  • What platforms do you use the most?
  • Which platforms do you understand best?

Starting with a marketing platform you’re comfortable with helps you create high-quality content. This can result in a stronger, more engaged audience you can turn into sales.

How to choose a niche for affiliate marketing

When it comes to how to choose a niche for affiliate marketing, aim for something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. This helps you come across as authentic and as a trusted source of information for potential customers. It also helps you evaluate which products and brands you want to promote.

Say, for example, you started a blog about dogs. You own a sprocker spaniel and you’re passionate about helping other owners care for their sprockers.

You create a blog called Sprocker Lovers (true story), and you regularly post and encourage people to subscribe to an email list and share your content. Sprocker spaniels are your niche, and you’re going to invest in content marketing and optimization to grow your audience of owners.

As you post more, you can use affiliate marketing tools like social listening tools, website analytics, and social media insights to discover who your audience is and what they like.

It’s important you know your audience so well, that you understand why they follow you in the first place.

Remember, you’re not paid to post. Affiliate marketing is a performance-based online business. If you know what your audience likes, you can then refer the best products to them and earn more affiliate income.

Find your products

To earn revenue as an affiliate marketer, your audience needs to connect with what you're saying. The items or services you promote need to be products they genuinely need. Getting this wrong can hinder your success and diminish your credibility—as well as your audience.

Visit the websites of the products and services you use and like to see if they have an affiliate program. Large companies often have programs they promote on their site, such as Amazon Associates or the Shopify Affiliate Program.

You also can take a more direct approach. Reach out to the owner of a great product you come across and see if they offer an affiliate marketing program. If they don’t, they might be happy to set up an arrangement with you, such as offering you a special coupon code to share with your followers. The best deals often are found when you’re the first to inquire and have a relevant distribution channel, such as approaching the seller of a new fitness product if you’re a health and wellness blogger.

Choosing your first affiliate program

As you brainstorm products or browse through affiliate platforms, the most important criteria to keep in mind is that the product should be aligned with your audience, or the audience you hope to build. Ask yourself, is it something your target audience would find valuable? Does it fit with your area of expertise?

A food blogger probably wouldn’t promote beauty products, for example. A wide range of other products, such as cookware, meal kits, gourmet ingredients, or even aprons, would make more sense.

Also make sure the product or service you’re promoting is a fit for the platform you’re promoting it on. For example, home decor and clothing are well suited to image-heavy platforms like Instagram. However, if you’re promoting more in-depth purchases, like software, your conversion rates may be higher on longer-form platforms, like a blog or YouTube.

Start affiliate marketing without a website

Did you know you don’t even need your own website to start your affiliate business? In fact, many successful entrepreneurs have figured out how to make money with affiliate marketing without a website. If you have a sizeable audience on social media, in your email list, or somewhere else, you can leverage these channels to promote your affiliate business and offers. However, if you want to grow your affiliate marketing business over time, it’s a wise decision to do so on a platform that can scale with you, like Shopify.

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