Affiliate Marketing 101: 4 Steps for Beginners
While affiliate marketing has been an often discussed and frequently misunderstood component of e-commerce since coming of age nearly 15 years ago with Amazon.com's affiliate programs, the industry has seen a great growth curve over the years. Forrester Research estimates the affiliate marketing industry will grow to $4.5 billion by 2016 as companies continue to grow online revenues and scope out new opportunities overseas. Clearly, there's money to be made with affiliate marketing, and if you own almost any type of website you can potentially earn monetary commissions by referring visitors of your site to the sites of merchants with whom you are affiliated.
So, what do you need to know and do in order to become a successful affiliate marketer? Just as one doesn't open a store without first identifying the kind of merchandise to be sold or the location of the business, an affiliate marketer doesn't just build a presence on the internet without knowing what audience to target or what to offer visitors who come to their website. There are four basic steps a person must take to start the journey toward affiliate marketing:
1. Choosing your type of website: First, you have to decide what kind of affiliate you want to be, and therefore what kind of site to create. There are a number of types to choose from:
- Blog: This is probably the easiest type of affiliate site to set up and one of the most popular. Blogs can be as informal, as interactive and as wide ranging as you want them to be. However, no matter which direction you choose, in order for a blog to be successful you must write about topics you're passionate about and with which you have a real connection. Your content should be original, targeted to your audience and updated frequently. You want people to visit your site and return to it.
- Review: Created with a sense of authority, review sites can also be flexible in their subject matter and in how the public interacts with them. The key is to provide reliable and up-to-date information that visitors find useful. The content should compel visitors to return to the site and refer it to their friends.
- Coupon: Focused on the vast audience of bargain seekers, coupon sites can generate a lot of traffic, but as with review sites, visitors will expect up-to-date deals and won't tolerate anything less.
- Download: Download sites are among the most lucrative of the different types of affiliate sites, particularly if you can become an affiliate of a great number of companies. These sites are aimed at consumers who are looking to try software before they pay for it. The goal is that they'll purchase a full version of the product after a trial period.
2. Choosing your domain: After choosing what type of site you want to use to refer visitors to affiliates, the second decision to make is choosing your domain name. The name is important and will be a huge part of your online presence. It may take time to settle on a domain simply because so many are already taken, either because they're being used or have been previously purchased and are being held for later sale.