In this article we are going to address the precise mechanics and how understanding this can help you to be more effective at your job as affiliate marketer.
What happens for example, when someone clicks on one of your affiliate links?
The answer is ‘cookies’. Cookies are small files that get saved on the computer and are handled by your browser. Websites can store cookies and then look for them and they use this to keep you logged into Facebook, or to show you relevant adverts based on your browsing history.
When a buyer clicks on your link, they get sent to the checkout page for a specific product. At the same time though, a cookie will be stored on their computer which will identify them as having been referred by you. This then means that when they make a purchase, the profits can be allocated to you.
Understanding this is important because it introduces a potential risk – that people will see what you’re selling and navigate there of their own accord. This is called ‘link bypassing’ and it’s worth your while to prevent this using link cloaking. That means using a redirect that sends people to your affiliate link while hiding the URL from them. You can do this using a simple bit of code:
<meta http-quiv=”refresh” content=”0; url=http://www.example.com/affiliatelink”>
Alternatively, you can use something like TinuUrl or Bit.ly.
It’s also worth doing a little research into the affiliate scheme that you’re going to be working with. That’s because the creator of a cookie also gets to set the lifespan. A cookie can last a few minutes, or it can last until the user actively chooses to delete their cookies/changes computer.
Of course it’s much better for you to have an affiliate scheme with cookies that don’t expire at all. Amazon has a ‘session limited’ cookie scheme for instance that only lasts 24 hours. That’s actually pretty good in this case though, considering that people already know about Amazon and you can make money from other things people buy from the site that day.
What’s also key to note is whether a subsequent affiliate can ‘override’ your cookie. This becomes relevant if someone should click your affiliate link, not make a purchase, then click someone else’s affiliate link and buy. Who gets the money? This depends on whether the affiliate honors the first click or last click. If you are a ‘lifetime referrer’ then you will always be given credit for the referral regardless of what else happens subsequently.
Types of Affiliate Program and Choosing the Best Product
With those technical details out the way, it’s time to start choosing affiliate products and schemes. The first step here is going to be in deciding which type of affiliate scheme you want to join up to. Do you want to sell a digital product? A physical product? Or a service?
The best answer for most beginners will be a digital product. This means something like an eBook, a free report or a digital course. There’s no cost associated with production, storage or delivery here and as such the product creator gets a much bigger slice of the profit. What’s more, they have more profit to share with you and that means you can earn up to 50-75% from each sale.
To find these products, you should look at an affiliate network such as JVZoo, ClickBank, Comission Junction or Warrior Special Offers.
To use one of these sites, all you need to do is sign up, browse through the available products and then apply to work as an affiliate for a few. You can see data and information about each one, such as the number of sales, the cost etc.
From there, you want to choose a digital product that is making a lot of sales but also offers you a good amount of cash per sale. Think too about how you’re going to market each of those products and what ‘angle’ you’ll go with to make it desirable for your audience.
Trying out the product is a very good idea, as is finding one that offers free marketing materials that the product creator designed. Some will come with free landing pages, blog posts, email autoresponder sequences and more that you can utilize.
Promoting digital products means you make more money per sale and it means there’s less that can go wrong. It’s also the preferred method by many digital marketers, which means you’ll find a lot more advice and help.
Some people though will feel more comfortable selling physical products which they can do by signing up to Amazon Associates or Shareasale. People like selling physical products because they still have a much wider audience. It’s a certain type of person who is willing to spend $50 on an eBook and anyone who is a technophobe, who wants something physical, or who is savvy enough to know they can get most information for free will be uninterested.
On the other hand, we all spend money on physical items – from Grandmas, to jocks to genius coders. This means you have a much larger potential audience.
Unfortunately though, physical products also cost a lot more to produce and to ship and normally they go through more channels before you get the opportunity to promote them. When you sell a product through Amazon for instance, the money is going to get split between you, the product creator, Amazon, the delivery company and possibly even another reseller.
As such, affiliates on Amazon tend to get as much as 4-8% per sale as opposed to 50-75%. The products will also often be cheaper and less geared toward getting digital sales. Why would someone click your link to buy a computer when they can just go to their local technology store? These are the considerations you’ll need to take into account when you start trying to sell physical products rather than digital ones. Of course there’s nothing to stop you from selling both types of product, though then you do risk cannibalizing your own sales.
Ultimately, it makes more sense to start with digital products because you can make a bigger earning from fewer sales. When you’re not yet getting the sheer volume of visitors you need to make hundreds of sales, selling digital products is still the quicker route to making more money.
Finally, you can look at selling services or memberships. These will often provide you with what are known as ‘lifetime commissions’. For instance, if you can get people to sign up to a gambling site, then you might be able to earn commission from them for the lifetime of their membership. Get enough of these and you can be set for life – but of course there are unique challenges here too.
There are far fewer of these sorts of affiliate schemes for instance (for obvious reasons) and normally the best way to find them is to visit the sites in person. This means you can end up with lots of separate accounts and in turn, things can get a little fiddly. This is more complex and perhaps not a great starting point for complete beginners.
Your Beginner Strategy: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
The great thing about affiliate marketing through JVZoo or ClickBank is that you can start earning nearly as much as the product creator themselves without having to create anything. There’s really very little reason to spend lots of time and money creating a product when you could just find one ready made to earn the same amount of money for you right away.
But saving time and money is only one big benefit of affiliate marketing. The other is the fact that the products you’ll be selling will come ‘pre validated’.
What this basically means, is that you know for sure that there’s demand out there for the product you’re selling and that people actually want to buy it.
When you create a product of your own conversely, there’s a chance that after putting all the time and effort in to build it, you’ll find that no one actually wants it. In that case, all the marketing prowess in the world won’t help you and you’ll actually come out of your affiliate marketing activities worse off than you started.
With affiliate marketing, you get to choose a product that is already selling lots of units and in some cases you can use their exact sales scripts in order to sell it. This is a proven quantity and as such, there’s nothing that can go wrong. This is literally a ‘cut and paste’ business and all that’s left to you is to find your own audience.
Unfortunately, many affiliate marketers don’t realize this and they instead want to get clever with creating their own unique business strategy. The same goes for all the people who try inventing their own new app, or becoming the next massive blogger. That’s all good and well but 9 times out of 10, they will fail. If you’re really serious about earning money, you don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Just find what you know works and then use that exact business model to earn money yourself.
This is the smartest way to start making lots of money as an affiliate. Find what works and then go with it – don’t try and be clever. Once you’ve had some initial success and earned some cash then you can look at creating your own product or changing the world. For now, settle for earning money in a tried and tested manner, quickly and efficiently.
Once you find the right product and you begin making some money from it, you can continue with this ‘repeat what works’ strategy in a very simple manner: by repeating it!
In other words, if you are making money from a certain digital product in a certain niche, then why not just completely mimic that model and start selling two different digital products? That quickly, you can double income as well as giving yourself a backup and a more secure model as a result.
Alternatively, you can just start spending more on your PPC ad campaign to drive more traffic there. Build mini business models and monitor your conversion rate.