Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

   Here is some quick info about affiliate marketing for beginners. Basically, affiliate marketing is an agreement between a website owner and a merchant. The website owner is actually an advertiser for the merchant or for the product creator, on his own site or using other methods. On the other hand, the merchant agrees to pay a percentage of each sale generated through the affiliates personalized link.

   The affiliate - i.e. you - market the merchant's product or service online (that includes websites, emails, forums, blogs, as well as paid advertising). The company then is responsible for the product; they process the payments, ship the merchandise, and handle any complaints. This benefits both sides because the product creator spends nothing to advertise their goods and the affiliate pays nothing to research and develop new products. That's what I call a win-win situation!

   Let's say you own a website or a blog giving people information about cooking. You could place on your websitelinks to products related to cooking: cookware, kitchen utensils, kitchen appliances etc. and you can even get to table linen, kitchen furniture and so on. When your visitors click on your links, they will go to the website with the products you are promoting. If they buy, you will be paid a commission. Not bad for providing information! 

   When you register for your chosen affiliate program, you will receive your own personal ID number. When you place your link to the website you're promoting, you will use a link which includes your unique ID. Anyone who makes a purchase via your personal link racks up commissions for you. These commissions are paid based on the pay schedule of that particular program.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

   The product creator wins by saving money on advertising, which is one of the most costly aspects of doing business, by passing this cost on to affiliates. 

   The affiliate marketer wins by being able to sell an already developed product, thus saving the time and money by not having to deal with R&D and product creation. All you have to do, as an affiliate, is find as many prospects as you can that will bring in the profit for both the merchant and yourself. This is an ideal way to make money online when you don't have your own product (and, let's face it, many of us don't).

   Another benefit for the affiliate is that most programs are free to join and have pre-made sales material, so you don't have to be an expert at marketing.

   Because of the global reach of the Internet, it's very easy to reach tens of thousands of prospects for almost any type of products. It's also very easy to intensify your efforts as an affiliate marketer to exploit new and productive strategies, such as viral marketing, ebooks, special reports and autoresponders.

   Last, but not least, as an affiliate marketer you get to pick and choose between many different products to promote. You're not "married" to a specific product or even a specific product type. The ideal situation is to start by choosing products related to your experience and hobbies. Your risks are minimal, because there are no long-term binding contracts, so if one product doesn't bring in a profit, you can quickly and easily replace it with another. 

Where to Find Affiliate Programs

   You can find affiliate programs just about everywhere these days.  A good way to find programs you'd like to join is by doing a search on your chosen topic.  See what your competition is doing, for a place to start. 

   When you shop online, pay attention to the sites. Look for the words " affiliate" or "partners". You’ll soon see there are almost no merchants online today who don’t have some sort of affiliate program.  If you’re going to have a website or blog, you should definitely have affiliate links.

   The affiliate networks are great places to look as well. Here are some of the most important: Rakuten - Linkshare, Commission Junction, Amazon, ClickBank (digital goods), ShareASale. You could also visit AssociatePrograms and LifetimeCommissions, where you will find directories with companies that offer affiliate marketing programs. 

   For a very useful book about how to make money through affiliate marketing, click here.