An Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

by WorkFromHome on April 12, 2011

Determining Your Business Model

The first step when getting involved in affiliate marketing is to determine what your business model will look like. While there are countless ways to work from home and make money in affiliate marketing, there are only two main models for affiliate marketing as a business. These two models are based around how you plan to find the people that you will be selling to.

One model is based around using search engine optimization techniques to have a landing page rank high in the search engine results for specific keywords. For beginners, this approach is more about penetrating niches that haven’t been tapped. It’s also useful for beginners to target keywords that have low amounts of competition. As you improve at search engine optimization, you can start using more advanced techniques, and this will allow you to attack niches and keywords that have more competition. Entire books could be filled with the intricacies of search engine optimization techniques, but the general process is to figure out what the search engine algorithms want in a high-ranking website, and produce pages that meet those criteria.

Another model for getting traffic for your affiliate marketing business is to use pay per click advertising, also known as PPC for short. With this method, you post advertisements that appear when users search for specific keywords, and you are charged a small amount for each time a user clicks on an ad to visit your website. The general idea behind this business model is to make enough money from sales that you pull a profit on top of the cost for your traffic. When compared to the SEO route, using pay per click advertising is more about testing keywords and finding profitable ones than trying to rank in the search engines. In fact, many affiliate marketers using PPC for traffic don’t try to rank in the search engine results at all.

Once your business model has been determined, then you’ll need to decide on a starting niche. For people just beginning to work with affiliate marketing, very specific niches will tend to be easier to get started in. For example, a niche of “computers” is more specific than a niche of “electronics”, but a niche of “custom-built laptops” is more specific than a niche of “computers”. The more general a niche is, the more likely it is to be competitive, and the more experience you’ll need to be able to tackle it profitably.

Getting the Technical Aspects Right

You don’t have to be a genius with computers to do well in affiliate marketing, but it’s still very important for you to have a basic level of understanding about what you’ll need to get started. The general idea is that you’re going to have a website, and you want to leverage this website to the best of your ability to make a profit. Your website is your virtual foundation for your business, and you want it to be solid.

Before you do anything, you’ll need a domain and web hosting for your website. If you’re going to use a business model that is based around search engine optimization, then you’ll want to have a domain name that uses a keyword that is important to your niche since this will help you with ranking well. You’ll also want to stick with a .com, .net, or .org extension for your website, as these do the best in the search rankings. If you’re going to be using a PPC-based business model instead, then your domain name isn’t nearly as important, and it can be just about anything related to your niche. In any event, you’ll want to make sure to have some sort of WHOIS protection enabled for your domain to make it more difficult for people to get your personal information from domain registrars.

When it comes to web hosting for affiliate marketing, the decision generally comes down to choosing shared hosting or dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is cheaper and is sufficient for most people starting out in affiliate marketing. However, it lacks the flexibility of dedicated hosting that may be needed when trying advanced SEO and PPC techniques. Moving your websites from shared hosting to dedicated hosting is generally an easy process, so it’s fine if you want to start out with shared hosting, even if you plan to move to dedicated hosting in the future.

Website Design and Purpose

After you have a domain and hosting account set up, it’s time to get to work on your website. While your business model will determine some of the more detailed aspects of what you’ll want to put on your website, there are a few key things you should do to make the most from each visitor that comes to your site.

It’s critical that your website have a professional look and feel. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to pay a lot of money for a professional website design service. instead, you can use a free content management system like WordPress. Many web hosting companies will have an easy setup option for WordPress like Fantastico where you can have WordPress installed on your web hosting account after just a few mouse clicks. WordPress has thousands of free themes available, so you can be sure that you’ll be able to find a professional-looking theme that matches what you want.

When a user either clicks through a paid advertisement or a result in the search engines, they will generally be coming to a landing page. This landing page is the next logical step in the process of trying to sell to the user, and will usually show the user sales copy. This copy has the purpose of stirring emotion and creating urgency in an effort to increase the chances that the user makes a purchase. Some people like to outsource this, but it’s worthwhile to learn to write good sales copy if you plan to stay in affiliate marketing for the long run.

From your landing page, you’ll also be trying to get the email addresses of users who have found your page. If you’re using a content management system like WordPress, there are free plugins available to ask the reader to give you his or her name and email address. For better results, it’s a good idea to provide some incentive for readers to give you this information by giving them some sort of small gift in return, like a “special report” on some topic in your niche that you have typed up yourself. Getting these email addresses will allow you to have multiple chances to sell to the reader over time if you use an auto-responder service like AWeber, drastically increasing your profit potential.

Becoming More Advanced

Once you have the basics under your belt and have chosen an affiliate site to sell for, it’s time to get more advanced. If you have decided to go the SEO route, you’ll want to seek out advanced SEO methods like mass link-building techniques next. If instead you have decided on using PPC traffic, you’ll want to learn about split-testing and how to test every aspect of your affiliate marketing campaign. If you work hard and try to improve at your craft on a daily basis, then you’ll see lots of success in affiliate marketing.

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