If you've ever tried to start an affiliate marketing business then you know how difficult it can be to turn a profit.
Getting the basic infrastructure – a website, affiliate program membership and a mailing list – in place is easy, but getting people to come to your website and then make a purchase is much harder.
The pioneers in the world of affiliate marketing were forced to figure things out on their own through an expensive and time consuming process of trial and error, but the good news for the rest of us is that there is now a clear and simple affiliate marketing blueprint out there for new affiliates to follow.
You can learn from the mistakes of your predecessors and take a simpler (albeit not effortless) route to success.
What Makes an Affiliate Marketing Business Blueprint?
You do not need to spend a lot of time or money to get started in affiliate marketing; all you need is:
• A website, ideally with your own domain
• Membership to an affiliate marketing program
If you have the above, then you can start earning commissions, but there are some additional items that will increase your chances of success:
• A Google Analytics account
• A Google AdWords account
• A mailing list – either self hosted, or via a third party such as Constant Contact
• Accounts on most social networks, along with HootSuite or a similar social media tool
Building a successful affiliate marketing business can take some time. If you want to achieve success as an expert in just one niche, your best option is to start by building up just one content-rich website and then to monetize it once you have a good user base. Alternatively, you can try to build a profitable business by launching networks of smaller sites spread across multiple niches, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve success with this kind of thin-content approach to marketing.
Building Trust and Traffic
To build a successful affiliate marketing business, you need traffic, and that traffic needs to come from people who are interested in what you have to offer, and who trust you. You cannot expect to be successful if your traffic is untargeted and of low quality, or if your visitors feel that you are not interested in helping them, but that you simply want to sell to them.
It is easier to sell to people if they trust you, and even easier if they think that their desire for the product you are selling is something that has come from their own minds. You can harness this by using something known as “attraction based marketing”.
Instead of opening with a sales pitch, start with some reviews, guides, how-to's, opinion pieces or other content, and gradually create a scenario where the product you are promoting is needed. Provide your readers with content that educates and informs them or solves a problem that they have – at no cost to themselves. Then, once you have a trusted relationship with the customer, you can introduce the product you are selling.
The best thing about this kind of marketing is that you can do it in a semi-passive fashion by taking advantage of evergreen content on your blog, and using pre-scheduled mailing lists. Of course, there is no substitute for real-time networking, and you should devote a little bit of time each day to nurturing leads yourself and meeting new customers, but there is a lot to be said for working smarter, instead of harder.
The Value of Persistence
The final part of your affiliate marketing business blueprint is persistence. There are so many testimonials and success stories out there that it is easy to get the impression that affiliate marketing is a recipe for a fast, low-effort income, but this is not true. Once your business is ticking over, you can enjoy some passive income, but it takes a long time to get there.
All too often, marketers give up after a few months, even though they have been doing all the right things and are on the verge of success. Don't make this mistake. If you start a business, give it at least a year to see if it will succeed.