Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.
If you’re looking for inspiration, my friend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of the website Making Sense of Sense has become the expert on all things affiliate marketing. Michelle earns more than $100,000 per month from her blog and the bulk of her income comes from affiliate sales. Michelle has had so much success with affiliate marketing that she even has her own course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
The earnings of the Super Affiliate Network Partner's in this chart are not guarantees of the income, if any, that a Super Affiliate Network Partner can or will earn through his or her participation in the Super Affiliate Network Affiliate Program. The average partner spends between $3000 and $12,000 in expenses per year as they build their business. Less than 2% earns sufficient commissions to cover their costs of the Super Affiliate Network products. Note that it takes hard work, dedication and commitment to the process to make substantial income in this business... and some Super Affiliate Network Partner's make no money at all. Success in this business requires leadership, hard work and dedication, just like anything you do in life.
In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.
What these opportunities typically turn up to be is a pyramid scheme. You pay a fee to signup. You then receive a flyer saying how great stuffing envelopes is and list of names and addresses to mail said flyer. IF those people pay that signup fee so they can mail that flyer too, you get paid a small referral fee. ONLY if they take the bait do you get paid.
I hear your concern. However, one reason I love affiliate marketing is because it tends to be the most affordable marketing channel. This is because you are only paying affiliates for people that converted on your site into an actual customer. It’s CPA — cost per acquisition. When you compare this to other paid marketing channels like Facebook or Adwords, you’re going to end up paying CPM — cost per impressions, or CPC — cost per click. In these cases you end up wasting a lot of money on people who do not become actual customers. This won’t happen with affiliate marketing. You do need to have some form of budget in order to be able to payout affiliates for the leads they send, but you’ll want it to be a percentage of the revenue you are making, so that your margins are high enough that you’re making money. I have seen affiliates make anywhere between 5%-40% of revenue. Keep in mind, the higher the commission rate, the harder affiliates will work to promote you and prioritize you as a partner.
1. I’m no longer a solopreneur. If I was a solopreneur who netted $5K from a website I ran on my own, that would be pretty darn good. But I don’t do everything myself. Instead, I run a company that has a lot of expenses. My team manages a number of blogs, and I pay six team members each month, as well as dozens of writers who contribute to our blogs, plus a tech-support team. That $5K goes into company revenue, not directly into my pocket.
The problem with affiliate marketing, like many other home business options, are the so-called gurus and get-rich-quick programs that suggest affiliate marketing can be done fast and with little effort. Odds are you've read claims of affiliate marketing programs that say you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month doing almost nothing ("Three clicks to rich!"). Or, they suggest you can set up your affiliate site, and then forget it, except to check your bank deposits.
If you have a background in a specific field, you may find there is a demand for writing industry papers in your area of expertise. For example, there are often adverts for doctors, lawyers, nutritionists, and business experts from particular niches, to write white papers on different subject areas. These are well paid jobs that you will need to stake your reputation on, but that can often be worked on from the comfort of your own home.
In 1994, Tobin launched a beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts on the Internet in cooperation with IBM, who owned half of Prodigy. By 1995 PC Flowers & Gifts had launched a commercial version of the website and had 2,600 affiliate marketing partners on the World Wide Web. Tobin applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing on January 22, 1996, and was issued U.S. Patent number 6,141,666 on Oct 31, 2000. Tobin also received Japanese Patent number 4021941 on Oct 5, 2007, and U.S. Patent number 7,505,913 on Mar 17, 2009, for affiliate marketing and tracking. In July 1998 PC Flowers and Gifts merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores.