The prospect of making a full-time income online is an appealing one for most – especially when that income can be scaled as you increase efforts and leverage innovative technology.
Affiliate marketing is a powerful business model that allows people to promote a marketer’s products or services, then earn a commission when a legitimate conversion is made. It’s a unique business model that allows for independence, creativity, and unlimited earning potential. And while it’s very possible for virtually anyone to start an affiliate career, you need to approach it with the right information if you want to navigate the industry and find success.
At Perform[cb] we take pride in working with top partners in the affiliate marketing industry – but before they found their success, they had many of the same questions that affiliates still ask us today. These are some of the most commonly asked questions from affiliates around the world – truthfully answered.
Where can I sign up for an affiliate program?
Affiliate marketing has been around for decades, and opportunities lie everywhere. But ultimately, as an affiliate partner you can sign up for programs in two main ways:
- Many brands have existing affiliate programs that you can join. You can find these opportunities via searching each merchant you’re interested in, or you can work through an affiliate marketing agency. Perform[cb] Agency provides affiliate program sign-up opportunities with our marketers here. These are private programs that affiliates sign up for individually. Learn more about how to choose an affiliate marketing agency.
- The second option is to join an affiliate network and connect with advertisers who already work with the network. A network provides affiliate partners with a central database of available offers, as well as one platform to manage multiple offers at once. Top networks will also provide their partners with account manager support and robust tracking and analytics. Learn more about how to choose an affiliate network.
If both of these sound good to you, you’re in luck because you can do both over time. While getting started, though, it may make sense to choose one avenue so you can focus your efforts to expedite your path to earning.
Can I start in affiliate marketing without an upfront investment?
There are numerous “resources” across the internet promising get-rich-quick schemes for affiliates where no money upfront is required. And while for a select lucky few these methods might be sufficient, for most serious affiliates, creating a legitimate and profitable affiliate business requires some investment – just as any other business would.
Reasonable upfront costs to expect can include a domain name and hosting for your website, SEO and keyword tools, website and landing page creative outsourcing or tools, and potentially pay per click traffic or email tools, depending on the type of traffic you’ll be running. While none of these are required, they can all better your chances for success.
One thing you should not have to pay is an upfront fee to join an affiliate network. Reputable networks treat their affiliates as business partners, and joining the network is based on performance, not fees.
How long before I start making money?
When you start making money in affiliate marketing correlates to how much time and effort you are able and willing to dedicate to it. It also depends on your niche, the offers you choose to run, and how passionate you are about succeeding.
The reality is, there’s no exact timeline for when you’ll start making money as an affiliate. But very generally speaking, it takes most affiliates 6 months to a year to start earning a meaningful amount from their efforts. While a year can seem dauntingly long, think of it this way – most small businesses take anywhere from 3 to 5 years before they ever see a profit. Affiliate marketing takes time, research, and diligence, but for those who are dedicated, it’s actually one of the faster businesses you can reap a profit from.
How much money can I make from affiliate marketing?
The short and sweet answer is – as much as you want! It really depends on how much time, effort, and investment you’re willing to put in. STM forum, one of the most popular affiliate marketing forums in the community, recently conducted a survey asking affiliates how much they earn per year. From the results below, you can see how broad the range is.
Some affiliates enter the industry only looking to make a side income, while others are determined to make it a full-time business, which plays a part in why the range is so wide.
Beyond the time investment, other factors that play into how much you earn include the amount and quality of your traffic, how successful you are in capitalizing on traffic around the clock, how diligent you are with optimizations for scale, the niche(s) you run in, and the payouts your network provides, just to name a few.
How do I find a good niche?
You’ve likely heard the “find your niche” mantra if you’ve looked into running any business, but it’s especially important to affiliate marketing.
A niche is a highly-specialized market that appeals to a certain segment of the population. When looking for a niche to focus on, there are a few ways you can go. One route is to focus on niches you’re actually interested in, and where you may already have a foot in the door with the communities you’d want to reach.
A second route is to choose your niche based on research into today’s popular topics, then take your chosen topic and look into what people are searching for within that topic. For example, you may see that Auto Insurance is a popular category, then notice that a popular search is “When to lower my auto insurance coverage”. You’ve now honed in on a specific sector of consumers looking for advice on how they can save money on their car insurance.
From there, you’ll want to ensure that your niche’s needs can actually be monetized. You can do this in a number of ways, such as analyzing keyword planner tool stats, looking at Google keyword search trends for your niche, and visiting offer listing sites to determine average payouts for offer types that apply to your niche.
In many cases, a niche will directly relate to a specific vertical (a section of the market in which vendors offer goods and services specific to an industry, trade, profession, or other group of consumers with specialized needs or wants). The auto insurance example above would correspond to the Financial vertical. So once you’ve identified that your vertical of focus is Financial, you will want to look for network or agency partners that provide access to top offers in that specific vertical.
The performance marketing industry is steadily growing, with a reported rise in U.S. spending on affiliate marketing to a staggering $8.2 billion by 2022 (and that was estimated before the bump in digital marketing spend due to COVID-19). We encourage those who are starting in the industry to continue putting in time and effort, as there is undoubtedly a burgeoning opportunity for growth in this business.
The team at Perform[cb] is here to help you optimize and scale your affiliate business for even greater success. Apply to our partner program!