With so many people these days looking for opportunities to work from home, it is easy to get drawn in by scams or schemes. However, there is a way to make some cash safely and easily from home, without any big initial outlay of money. That is affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing, also referred to as performance marketing, is a commission-based relationship where you get paid when you successfully refer a sale to a site via a link from your website or social media. This way, a business can outsource marketing while only paying for results, while you do not have to handle the actual sales.
Affiliate marketing is low cost, simple to set up, and there is no direct contact with customers. It does, still, require a certain amount of time and dedication if you want to make a success of it. Competition is high, so use this guide to help you get ahead of the game. Here are four steps to starting an online affiliate marketing business from your own home.
1. Find your niche
Your site will need to target a specific topic or area of interest to attract visitors and then later, refer them to external sites. Think about what you would like to promote with your site, and who you would like to promote to.
It is more interesting and sustainable long-term if you work with a topic that plays to your interests or strengths. Not only will you be creating content that feels authentic to your audience, but you will have the enthusiasm to create that content frequently. If you choose instead to create your site based on demand and not on your own interest, just be aware of the work and commitment that comes with it.
Make sure that you can attract visitors with your content. This means doing research around what other successful players are doing in that space. Some popular subjects for affiliate marketing include fashion, food, health, games and casino, finance, and entertainment. However, at the end of the day there is no limit to the niche you choose. Finding a completely new niche is the most promising way to spend the least money as competition is likely to be low. Also, high value markets will have more competitors, which means increased costs before seeing returns.
2. Build a site
This is not strictly necessary, as some people manage to do all their affiliate work via social media. However, some of the most effective ways to do affiliate marketing are to write reviews, recipes, or comparison articles. To push out consistently good content and attract visitors, a social media platform may not always be enough.
The good news is that building a website is not the technical challenge that it used to be. These days, there are all-in-one solutions that allow you to create your own pages using templates and a drag-and-drop interface. These are called website builders and they include the purchase of the domain name, the file hosting, and the content management.
The costs for all this are minimal, and anyone can do it. Note that for a .ca domain name, you will need to prove that you are legally living in Canada, and it may cost a little more than a .com domain.
3. Find your audience
Affiliate marketing is all about attracting visitors and engaging with them, so they click through to other sites and convert to sales. To do that, you will need to find an audience that is interested in your content.
When creating your content, focus on giving your audience real value. Posts should be educational, entertaining, or both. If you choose affiliate products or services that you believe in, it will be easier to create convincing content for your audience to persuade them to make a purchase.
To get your content picked up by search engines, you will also need to know a little about search engine optimization (SEO). There are plenty of good articles online to get you started there. You will also have to include a disclaimer about the purpose of the content – that is, affiliate marketing – in a conspicuous place.
Alternatives to SEO are PPC (paid ads), WhatsApp chat marketing, Facebook groups marketing etc. SEO seems to be the cheapest since a beginner usually has more time than money to invest.
The hardest part of the process is growing your audience. There are several channels that you can use, and we recommend that you use as many as you can. At first it is best not to pay for ads, that can come later. Growing your audience without ads is best, and this can be possible (provided your content is good) via several different approaches:
- Join a community. Be active on sites, forums, and groups relevant to your niche. You can plug your site there when you have built some trust.
- Ask for links. Again, if you are confident that your content is valuable, you can request other high-profile internet users to link to your page.
- Have a good social media presence. Multiple platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube will give the widest possible exposure.
Finding the audience is the costly or the fun part. In some niches where interesting content brings customers, like travel, fashion, tech, you will focus more on the products and experiences you are selling, which will require amazing content that showcases why your readers should experience something similar too.
Some other affiliate niches are more valuable in terms of commissions; however, they also bring high costs of customer acquisition. Casino or finance niches will require a lot of paid investment to win. While the content will be quite standard, it is the marketing that draws the links that makes the difference. And this is a huge investment. In casino niche, especially in the Nordics, thousands of sites are fighting for a piece of the pie, investing millions. For unregulated “grey” markets such as Canada, the competitive landscape is similar as player values are much higher than in regulated European markets.
A Canadian casino website new-casino.ca has been on the market since 2018 and has seen steady rise in traffic. This has come at a considerable cost. Their founder Chris Martin says that the investments required to keep up have been rising constantly and are comfortably in six-figure sums for a small, but high value casino market such as Canada.
4. Join a network and choose your products
Affiliate marketing is made possible via affiliate networks. These act as a sort of middleman between you the affiliate marketer, and the merchants. They are free to join and take care of the payments. They are also where you find the products or services that you would like to promote. You’ll need to apply, and the decision will be based on your content and the quality of your site.
Merchants have program managers who work with various affiliate marketers. Once you have been accepted into a program, the manager can help to guide you through the various products to promote and how best to promote them.
While we could write a whole separate article on this part of the process, the most important parts are the creation of valuable content and the cultivation of an online audience. Without that in place, merchants will not be interested in working with you. So, get your site in order and find a decent following before you take the next step.