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Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest-growing business models on the internet right now. Companies are taking advantage of the millions of bloggers, YouTubers, and social influencers out there and putting them to work promoting their products as freelance commissioned salespeople. This article will show you how to start affiliate marketing on the right foot (and avoid many common mistakes) with your own affiliate marketing business in 2020. Think of this as a text version of my starter’s guide, which I include as a bonus to the $7 Business Builder Challenge.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Before we start explaining how to start your affiliate marketing business, it’s important to clarify what we mean exactly when we mention affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing at its core is the process of referring interested buyers to a company website using your own unique link. You use your own unique “affiliate link” so when the person you referred buys, they company knows it was you who sent them. When this happens, you get paid a commission for referring the sale.
So I’m Like A Salesperson?
Becoming an affiliate marketer is kind of like becoming a traditional commissioned salesperson, but instead you sell entirely on the internet and you’re a freelancer. Other than that, the big differences are that you can sell anything from any company and you typically don’t have face to face or phone interaction with your customers.
I Can Sell Anything?
The fact that you’re not tied to representing one company’s products means that you can truly give unbiased opinions and recommendations for products you truly believe in. For example, let’s say you were promoting golf clubs. If you worked for say, Callaway, they would want you to promote Callaway drivers, but have a huge problem if you sold TaylorMade Irons, and a Nike putter. Even though you truly believe that’s the best combination of clubs in the game, you would be forced to sell Callaway irons and putters even though you thought they were inferior products.
As an affiliate marketer and freelancer though, you’re free to do whatever you like. If you truly believe that a Callaway driver, TaylorMade Irons, and a Nike putter is the best combination of clubs, you’re free to sell that combination without fear of consequences. Affiliate marketing allows you to sell what you truly believe in and not have your pitch be influenced by who you work for.
No Phone Calls or Face to Face Meetings?
As an affiliate marketer, your primary mode of communication with your customers is the internet. As a result of this, you rarely (if ever) call your customers on the phone or meet them in person. To promote and sell your products, you create content around them. Content is anything that your potential customers can find online and consume. This can be blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media posts, or any combination of all four.
The upside to this is that once content is created, it lives on forever and never takes a day off from selling. You can potentially get paid on content you made 18 months ago. The downside is that feedback is rather slow. You will not get an immediate reaction if you make a bad post or video. In traditional sales, you can sense when the prospect isn’t feeling your pitch and shift gears. In affiliate marketing, you have to watch your traffic and engagement levels for a while. If it isn’t getting much traction, that pitch was probably a flop.
Now that we have what affiliate marketing is out of the way, let’s get into how you can get started affiliate marketing.
Start By Identifying an Audience
Identifying your audience and choosing the people that you want to serve is the first and most crucial step. There is no sense in picking a product to promote only to find out you don’t have an audience for it. By finding the audience first, they will tell you what they want and you will have buyers before you have a product. This will make promoting your product so much easier.
How you choose your audience is based upon a few factors…
First, choose one of the three big desires people have. These are health, wealth, or relationships. Every single affiliate offer is going to help someone improve their health, make more money or improve the relationships with those around them. For this example let’s choose wealth by targeting people who want to grow their business and make more money.
Then, choose a characteristic or demographic that will group people together easily. This will ensure that they are facing the same pain points and desires. For example chiropractors who want to grow their business.
Once you have your audience picked out, It’s time to find them…
Figure out where your audience hangs out online. Chances are someone has already assembled them for you. If you are not sure where to find your audience, Facebook is a great place to start looking. They’ve organized people into nice little groups for you. Just join a few Facebook groups where you think your customer will hang out. After you have become part of the community, just hang out and listen. You’ll be amazed by what happens next…
Identify A Common Problem or Question Within The Audience
If you spend time in the community where your ideal customer hangs out and just keep your ears open, you will notice that the same questions and problems keep coming up repeatedly and with surprising frequency. Keep note of these. The problem they are having today will probably be the same problem tomorrow and the next day.
Make a short list of about three problems and questions your customer base is having and store it somewhere. It’s now your mission to help your customers. Now it’s time to go find a product that will both serve your customer well and that will pay you well.
Find A Solution To That Problem
It’s time to find a solution to the problem or an answer to the question. Spend some time Googling and researching and you should uncover some good information. You need to do two things in this phase…
Find A Product (Or Products) That Provide A Solution
While you research, you will come across products that fill the need you are trying to fill. Do some homework on the companies that you come across to make sure they are reputable. The last thing you want to do is pitch crap. Decide which ones you like best and check to see if they have an affiliate program. Bonus points if you can fine 2 or 3 products that all complement each other that you can present as a full system or suite of products.
Create A Brand For Yourself That Speaks to Your Audience
Now it’s time to create a brand. Creating a brand name rather than just using your personal brand is helpful because allows you to step away and sell the business later on if you need to or want to. It also helps your customers identify with your business and take ownership of the products more. Russel Brunson talks about the customer identity shift at length in the Expert Secrets book. Check it out here.
You want to create a brand name and identity that speaks directly to who you’re trying to serve and pushes those away that don’t resonate. They should be able to identify immediately what you’re all about and whether or not they want to work with you. By creating a divide in the crowd, those that do attach themselves to you will have a much stronger bond. I experienced this with the Dadapreneur brand. Those that it struck a chord with instantly bonded with me and those that didn’t share the same family first values shrugged me off as being gimmicky.They should be able to identify immediately what you’re all about.
Create Your Back End First
In continuing with this whole work backwards theme, once you have identified who you’re going to serve, what you’re going to serve them, and what you’re going to call yourself it’s time to start putting the back end systems in place so when someone opts into your list, the rest is automated. By working this way, you will free up so much time to focus on creating content rather than following up with customers.
Let me reinforce that before you start creating content, it’s important that you create the back end of your business first. Creating content and promoting products without any kind of back end processes in place will be like opening a store without a cash register. This is a very common mistake that beginners make. They just grab a bunch of links and spam the internet all willy nilly. You need to grab the customer and nurture them through your process in a controlled manner to build trust and make the most money.
Create A Lead Magnet
Your lead magnet is arguably the most important part of your back end sequence. This is the item that you give away in exchange for email address. This is what you use to attract your ideal customer. Once you have someone’s email address, you can now start to build the relationship and market to them repeatedly in order to gently nudge them into buying your offer.
A good lead magnet is something that has a high-perceived value and little to no distribution cost. A piece of software, a PDF of case study results, ready made templates, and a short mini course are all good examples of powerful lead magnets. It’s best if your lead magnet is 100% your own creation.
Spend some time creating a lead magnet that you know your customers will want. Don’t just throw something together in an hour and try to make it work. Put some thought into it. Once you’ve done that, throw it into the community and see what kind of response you get. They will tell you what they want. If they hate it, ask why and make those changes. If they love it, then you have a winner.
Create an Email Follow-Up Sequence
Email sequences are like the flossing of the affiliate marketing world. Everyone knows they should do it but few actually do. This is where you will make most of your money so put the time in here no matter how much you hate it. As an affiliate, you have no control over the main sales page of your main offer. There’s always a chance that the product may be amazing, but the sales page is terrible. However, a good email sequence makes up for a bad sales page almost every time.
A good email sequence builds a relationship with your customer and gently nudges them along in the sales process. It is not consistently pounding them with your sales message in every single email. It starts off with what’s called a Soap Opera Sequence (another Russell Brunson Term) that builds the bond with you and your company before the selling starts. This process warms the customer up so when the sales emails start, they are more likely to buy. Check out the section on the soap opera sequence in Dot Com Secrets to know what I mean.
You want each email to pull the reader into the next one. This is kind of like when TV shows leave you hanging and you have to come back next week to see how it ends. Each email will provide more value to your customer and offer small tidbits of advice and wisdom that build you up as an authority in your field. As your authority increases and the relationship progresses, your customers buying resistance will drop and you will be able to sell more and more expensive items.
Set Up Technical Accounts
Here is where most people get scared, but there is no need to be. An affiliate marketing business requires only four core accounts. A content site, a…