INTRODUCTION TO AFFILIATE MARKETING
We hear all the time these days about how internet business and e-commerce is taking the world by storm and millions of dollars are to be made. It’s so big, even traditional companies, including brick and mortar giants like Walmart and other big box retailers, are now competing with Amazon for online business.
Along with all this news comes the inevitable offer to start your own online business to earn unlimited amounts of money, gain independence from a current job, make passive income, work remotely, and enjoy financial freedom to travel and spend more time with your family.
These are, indeed, enticing propositions, especially if you are dissatisfied with your current job, underpaid, over-worked, and want more out of life than living for a paycheck. Been there, done that! And as an avid internet consumer of info and e-commerce shopping, I was bedazzled by the possibilities. So, not too long ago, I jumped into e-commerce and internet marketing with the complete confidence and commitment to make this work for me.
The purpose of this post is to share my experience so far and some insights into what it really takes to create a successful online business and the basic steps to getting started.
1. Start with Realistic Expectations
The Hype. There is a lot of hype about e-commerce and internet marketing that too often creates unrealistic expectations about how much time, effort, and money is required to start and successfully run an online business. Offers to start your own business are alluring because of promises to earn huge sums of money quickly and create passive income from a business that purportedly runs itself on auto-pilot and, thus, gives the business owner financial security and freedom.
These offers often start with a free webinar or training session, during which examples from some of the most successful people in the business are featured. At the end of the free training, an offer is made to get in on the opportunity. Almost always, additional incentives, such as free bonuses worth X-amount of money, are included. The total value of the program plus bonuses can be some exorbitant amount. However, you are told if you act now, for a limited time, you can get in for a fraction of the amount, which may still be rather significant.
Because I was convinced of the great opportunity and the possibility of making more than enough money in relatively short time to pay for the initial investment, I jumped at the opportunity and pulled out the credit card and eagerly began my training and launched my first online business.
The Reality. So, after running my first e-commerce business, and then switching to affiliate marketing under another program, then attending free webinars, summits, training sessions, or subscribing to a monthly membership of other programs to check them out, to the tune of over $5,000 already invested, here is what I have learned you should realistically expect:
- The opportunity is, in fact, real, and the possibility to earn some or a lot of money is limitless.
- An online business is not all that different than starting, developing, and running an offline business.
- There is nothing passive about it. It takes time and effort, action, focus, consistency, and some financial investment, which could be nominal or significant.
- It takes time to begin to see real results–there is no getting rich quick.
2. Do the Research Before Investing Time or Money
If you’re new at this, the options on where to start can be overwhelming. I, actually, did some of my research in reverse, after I got involved with one option and already invested quite a bit of time and money. So, my first bit of advice is don’t jump at the first opportunity presented to you.
Despite the claim of a limited-time offer, that simply is not true in almost all cases. There are so many ways to make money online. Until you know what those ways are, it’s hard to know which approach and training program will be best for you.
Start by researching generally internet marketing by Googling such terms as “What is eCommerce,” “How to do Internet Marketing,” “Best eCommerce opportunities (or programs or systems platforms), “Best Internet Marketing Opportunities,” “What is Affiliate Marketing,” “Best Affiliate Programs,” or “Does internet Marketing Really Work,” or “Is X-program Legitimate” or Is X-offer a scam?
When you come across an offer for some kind of training program or platform or offer, research reviews for it. Keep in mind some of these reviews may be from people marketing the program. So, you should look for genuine third-party reviews by consumers or professional marketers making an independent review.
3. Choose the Right Platform for You and Your Business
Unless you are already a pro at running at internet marketing, it is imperative you find the right training and platform for the type of online business you want to develop. For instance, if you want to sell and drop ship physical products, you don’t want to choose a program that teaches only affiliate marketing of digital products.
All internet marketing or eCommerce platforms, programs, systems, or training ultimately cost money, which is another important factor. Some require a rather substantial upfront, one-time fee.
Others are on a monthly membership or subscription service with a wide range of monthly cost, which may or may not include tools you need to run your online business, such as domain name registration, website hosting, website design, shopping carts, invoicing and payment collection, email and customer relationship management systems, etc.
There may be tiered membership, with the more expensive “pro” version costing more than the intro, basic membership. In short, it is important to weigh the bang for the buck, i.e., value, rather than just the initial cost or monthly membership fee.
Another very important factor is the type of support you can expect to get. Since any platform is only as good as the support, you want to determine the history and stability of an online platform, which is an indicator of how long it is likely to remain in business and, therefore, continue giving you ongoing support.
For my recommendation and review of the best, most comprehensive and affordable online marketing platform, CLICK HERE.
So, now that you’ve done your preliminary research on the type of online business you want to operate and the best platform to do so, the following are the basic steps in the process of creating your business, which are fairly common across all platforms and training programs.
4. Choose Your Niche
The first step in creating your business is deciding on your niche. A niche is basically a distinct segment of the market. You will be targeting a certain audience to whom this niche appeals. A niche can be quite broad, e.g., health and fitness, marriage and relationships, pets, gardening, cooking, or it can be much narrower, such as cross-fit training, trail running, paleo cooking, or organic tomato growing, or dog training. From there, a niche can be even more and more narrowed to be very specialized.
You can choose a niche in which you have an interest, passion or some knowledge or experience. However, you do not have to be an expert. You can choose something that interests you or that you want to learn and then become an expert.
Choosing a niche can actually be a bit confusing and one of the hardest things to do. Therefore, most good training will cover this topic rather extensively. For good explanation of “niche” and how to go about choosing one, CLICK HERE.
5. Set Up Your Online Business
Now that you’ve chosen your niche, you will create your business around that niche. How you set-up that business will depend a lot on the type of business you’ve chosen, or rather, the product or way in which you intend to earn money, i.e., selling physical or digital products, other people’s products or your own, or whether you’ve decided to be an affiliate selling other people’s products.
The different means for earning money online are so varied and extensive, I will not do a detailed comparison here. However, primarily, this is what is involved in setting up your online business, basically your website, so it has an online presence:
- Choose a domain name. That is the name of your website or business, e.g., savvyaffiliatemarketer.com (Savvy Affiliate Marketer). There are a multitude of domain name registrars and hosting companies, such as GoDaddy and NameCheap.
- Create your website. Your platform may include a web building and hosting service, but if not, most domain name
providers also have a web-hosting service that comes with the domain name, which hosting may or may not be free.
- Create content for the website. This is where so many training programs or approaches for making money online with your business vary. A website has to have some kind of content, whether it be strictly a storefront for selling products, a blog with informational, instructional information, photos, images, ads, etc. It is going to be the place where consumer come to learn, review, research, see, and, hopefully, buy your products and services.
6. Generate Traffic
A website is just a billboard in cyberspace that will not make you money unless people see it and regularly visit it. This is called traffic.
Without going into detail about how you get traffic, this is a huge part of the training that you will get with most training programs. It is this part of the training where you learn about such things as content creation, SEO (search engine optimization), keywords, video creation, paid advertising on Google, Facebook, YouTube Instagram, Pinterest, or other internet sites, Social Media marketing, email marketing, site analytics, and much more.
Check out this great resource for getting TRAFFIC to your website.
7. Make Money
Actually, the make money part is a result of good content and regular traffic to your website. How you make your money will also depend on the niche and vehicle you’ve chosen for earning money, whether it be earning commissions on affiliate sales, selling your own products, or selling other people’s products for a profit.
Further training on the make money part may include such topics as split testing ads, creating offers and squeeze (landing) pages, upselling, offering bonuses, scaling your business, expanding into related products, niches, or types of money making opportunities.
How fast you can make money and how much, of course, will depend on so many factors, the most important being your time, effort, commitment, focus, ongoing education, consistency, money you have initially to invest and later to reinvest in our business, the value you create for the consumer, and maybe just a little luck.
Making money online is possible and the opportunities are unlimited. While it is a legitimate business, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. To the contrary, it can be a slow, gradual process, depending on how much you are willing and able to spend in paid traffic and creating good website content.
A big benefit of an online business is the ability for the business owner to work from home or remotely with flexible hours that fit the owner’s needs and schedule. That being said, unless you are self-motivated, disciplined, organized, and a good time manager, being self-employed with an online business may not be a good choice, and is probably the main reason people fail at it.
Operating an online business is not a passive activity. It takes a lot of time, effort, and attention from the business owner. Once it begins to make money, however, the growth can be exponential. Having an online presence means you can be selling 7/24 to a worldwide audience.
When your business makes enough money so that you can afford to hire employees or independent contractors and outsource many of the things you did starting up and running the business yourself, that’s when it and your income become substantially passive and potentially massive.
Think you have what it takes to be successful in internet marketing? Want to learn more and start your own online business for free on my number one recommended platform? Then CLICK HERE to join today and see if you got what it takes!