In a world where paid advertising is becoming increasingly unviable, content sites have begun seeking alternative revenue streams. Affiliate marketing has emerged as arguably the most promising of these. How it works is simple.
First, the content creator finds an affiliate, either through a network or by signing up for a larger brand’s affiliate program. Next, they start drafting content focused on that affiliate’s products or services. For every conversion or sale their content generates, they receive a commission.
Usually, this commission is between 5-30%, though some affiliate programs simply pay a flat rate.
As you might expect, a successful affiliate marketing company can be immensely lucrative, with the top brands bringing in six or even seven figures. The caveat, of course, is that you need to know what you’re doing. Affiliate marketing is extremely competitive—unless you cultivate the right skills at the outset, you’re unlikely to succeed.
But what are those skills, and how can you develop them?
As an affiliate marketer, communication is roughly 90% of your job. You need to convey the value of each product you’re promoting in a manner that’s both compelling and concise. This means not only understanding how your audience speaks, but also how they think and feel.
It’s important to note here that a purely sales-focused approach to affiliate marketing generally isn’t the best path. While your call to action is the sale of a product or brand, your goal, first and foremost, should be to provide value. Give your audience content that they actually want to consume because it’s entertaining, informative, interesting, or all of the above.
Most importantly, be honest about a product’s strengths and flaws. You want to eventually become a voice that people not only relate to, but also know that they can trust. That doesn’t just apply to content creation, either—it’s important that you also actively communicate with your affiliates and business partners.
We live in a world where data is the lifeblood of every successful business. The capacity to digest, analyze, and extract insights from your business’s data represents a significant competitive advantage. From traffic numbers to conversion rate, an analytics platform can provide you with a barometer for the overall health of your entire organization while also identifying bottlenecks and shortcomings.
In the affiliate marketing space, data can be leveraged in a multitude of ways:
- Identifying new opportunities such as an untapped niche
- Optimizing existing content
- Predicting upcoming market changes
- Determining which products are the most popular among your target audience
- Optimizing your website to improve traffic and conversions
- Measure and run an email marketing campaign.
You should therefore have at least a passing familiarity with tools such as Scaleo, Google Analytics, and Mailchimp.
A Creative Mindset
Granted, creativity is not itself a skill—no matter how many generic resumes and job applications try to claim otherwise. It’s more of a mindset. It represents the capacity to look at problems from a unique angle that other people might not consider, a willingness to innovate and experiment, and a drive to constantly seek fresh new ideas and concepts.
Plenty of people have this curiosity and drive by their nature. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate it in yourself. It just takes a bit of practice, is all.
Collaborate with friends or colleagues on a project. Immerse yourself in a hobby you love. Look at what others are doing, and draw inspiration from them.
But above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help or feedback.
Web Design and Search Engine Optimization
In affiliate marketing, your website is the hub of your operations. It’s where you’ll make the bulk of your sales pitches and generate the majority of your conversions. As such, first impressions are everything—your website not only needs to be easy to find with the right search terms, but also eye-catching and simple to navigate.
Look at it this way. Let’s imagine, for a moment, that you’ve decided to physically go and purchase a new pair of shoes. After a bit of research, you find that you have two options.
Your first option is clean, well-lit, and organized, with professional signage and a welcoming atmosphere. Your second is a dingy, run-down building, and its only signage a large billboard with the word SHOES unevenly printed on it. Which one would you prefer to shop at?
As for SEO, one thing you need to understand about affiliate marketing is that it’s as much about search engines as it is about content. If you don’t understand the keywords your target audience is using, you won’t be able to bring in traffic. If you can’t bring in traffic, you won’t generate conversions.
Last but certainly not least is the one skill most creative professionals seem to struggle with—organization. The best affiliate marketers are observant and focused, capable of picking up on fine details and sticking to an established schedule. This allows them to simultaneously juggle multiple projects and campaigns where others would find themselves completely overwhelmed.
An organized mindset is also crucial in professional development. To succeed in affiliate marketing, you need to have a plan, a notion of where you want to be in five years, and a strategy to get yourself there. Without sufficient organizational skills, this sort of strategic approach is difficult to adopt.
Creativity. Organization. Discipline. Technical aptitude. Communication.
These are the pillars on which the affiliate marketing sector is constructed. But there’s one last factor that plays a major part. The drive to always look ahead to the next milestone. The desire for constant self-improvement.
That’s one trait shared by not simply the best affiliate marketers, but all the most successful entrepreneurs—an unending hunger to do better, think smarter, and climb to perpetually greater heights.