A Beginners Guide to: Affiliate Marketing (For the Affiliate)

When I describe affiliate marketing to people, I’m very aware that it often sounds like a ‘get-rich-quick’ scam that will allow people to work from home and earn thousands over-night. It isn’t. So here is a no nonsense guide that will cover everything you need to know about Affiliate Marketing and how you can make it work for your small business or blog.

Online affiliate marketing is pretty much just getting paid to refer people to a particular store. Once you have your website established and are generating a healthy amount of traffic you can start to look at monetising your website and driving traffic to other sites who will pay for your referrals. Let’s be clear, this is not an easy way to make a lot of money, to get the results requires hard work and dedication, but it’s hard work that pays off.

One of the biggest pitfalls small businesses will hit when it comes to setting up an affiliate marketing scheme is succumbing to the belief that everything has been done before and the Internet has reached saturation point. The best advice I can give is to stop focussing on inventing, and innovate instead. Even if it’s been done before, there’s always a way to improve.

When getting to grips with Affiliate Marketing, there are three (sometimes four) different payment models you will have to understand.

1. Pay Per Click – the merchant will pay every time a user follows a link from your website to theirs. Like Google AdSense. 

2. Pay Per Lead – the merchant will pay for every lead generated through a link from your website.

3. Pay Per Sale – the merchant will pay for every sale made following a link, or recommendation, on your site. Like the Amazon Associates programme. (Some also add Pay Per Action to the list, but this generally falls in to one of the other categories.)

It’s important to make it clear to your website users if you’re engaging in affiliate marketing program as tracing cookies will be required to track their clicks. It’s also a general courtesy, particularly if you’re a blogger with loyal readers, and you’re simply trying something new.

Next Week: Affiliate Marketing from the other side. How to use affiliates to grow your business.