Have you ever thought about just packing it all in and doing something different instead of trudging off to your job each day, slowly losing the will to live and counting the minutes until the weekend?
Does travelling the globe excite you, or working with your local charity, or how about spending as much time as possible with your kids as you can – life's short after all?
The idea of bucking the status quo and being in control of your own destiny may seem a little far fetched, but in the age of information and the internet more and more people are living this way.
I'm friends with people like this, people whose lives are so much simpler than they used to be… people who I ultimately aspire to be similar to (not exactly the same as, I have my own goals), people who have taken the leap.
And what exactly was it that allowed them to make this dramatic change and swim against the 9-to-5 tide? In most cases, they decided they'd had enough and started an affiliate marketing business.
They may not ultimately be affiliate marketers today, however the skills they learned in order to be successful as affiliate marketers have given them a rock solid foundation for doing what they do today.
So, how exactly does one start an affiliate marketing business?
Well, the good news is in today's day and age it's not that hard, the bad news is, (initially at least) you're going to have to put the work in… this isn't a “push button riches” plan I'm about to lay out for you.
Let's look at the steps shall we:
1. Choose something you're interested in
Too many budding affiliate marketers concentrate on the money and where the “biggest opportunities” are within affiliate marketing, and let me tell you that is probably one of the quickest ways to end up failing.
Yes, the “make money online” or “internet marketing” niche has a ton of opportunity within it as there are a wide range of products, both low and high value, that you can promote.
But let's face it, unless you're really interested in helping people achieve those types of goals it's unlikely you'll remain interested long enough to overcome the inevitable hurdles you're going to face.
However, if you consider the products or services that you use today, the ones you'd be more than happy to recommend to friends or family cause they're “that damn good” then this might be a better place to start.
But just because you'd highly recommend a particular product or service, it doesn't necessarily make it right for an affiliate marketing business.
Do your homework, find out if you can promote it as an affiliate, what's the commission that you stand to make and what tools are provided for you?
2. Build your own affiliate website
Regardless of whether the affiliate program you have chosen expects you to have your own website, I highly recommend building your own so that you can have full control over how you decide to market.
Many (if not most) companies that run affiliate programs will want to know your website URL when you sign up, as it gives them a chance to check out who is promoting their products and how… so having a site set up will help.
Now, I'll go out on a limb and say that you're not really a “techie”, so this step may freak you out a little, but the good news is it is far easier to create a website these days than has ever been before.
All of these providers will allow you to build your site using a friendly dashboard with a selection of designs to choose from, allowing you to get up and running as quickly as possible.
It's even possible to get started without your own domain name, however I'd suggest you have a think about getting one so that you can build an online brand in the long run… not a must, but highly recommended.
Now that you've created your site, the key is to populate it with great content related to the affiliate marketing program you have chosen. People want useful, relevant information and are searching for it every day, so if you can get on their radar you'll increase your chances of success.
3. Diversify, it'll increase your chance of success
Don't make the mistake of only promoting one product or service, remember that people from all over the world have the potential to find your content and affiliate links, so you need to cater for them.
Do your research and find a range of affiliate programs for your niche, build a portfolio of offers that you can provide to people depending on what it is that they are looking for.
Ideally you will find low and high value products or service to promote, this will allow you to start off by gaining interest with a smaller investment from prospects and then upsell them more expensive products in the future.
There are a wide range of affiliate marketing platforms available, so spend some time researching related products and create additional content about each of the ones that you choose to help draw in a wider audience.
Here's a quick list of affiliate networks for you to check out:
Now, if there are particular products or services that you are interested in promoting and they're not available through an affiliate network then don't hesitate to see if they run their own private affiliate program.
Most, if not all, affiliate programs will be free to join, after all the more affiliates that a company has promoting their products or service, the more they are likely to make themselves.
You will need to provide some financial details however, usually a bank account number or PayPal account. This is so the affiliate network or partner you have chosen can pay you your commissions.
4. Track your affiliate marketing efforts and optimise
Make sure you are tracking your promotions and marketing so that you can identify where you are getting your best returns on investment, it's no good paying for a bunch of advertising if you have no idea your return.
Make sure you have comprehensive analytics set up on your website, either by using Google Analytics or a third party provider like Clicky (who I heartily recommend). You need to know what's working and what isn't!
The affiliate marketing programs usually provide analytics information for the products you are promoting, showing you how many people are clicking on your links and then going on to buy the products you promote.
By trying different marketing techniques and monitoring their success you will quickly discover what works and what doesn't, allowing you to maximise your efforts. Invest more into what works and cut out the things that don't help the bottom line.
If you promote multiple products through different affiliate marketing platforms then you may find it tedious logging into each and every platform to get your analytics data.
If this is the case then you can use an all-in-one tracking service to consolidate everything into a single place, saving you time as you begin to scale your marketing efforts. Examples include Voluum and ClickMagick.
5. Invest in training and mentoring
If you really want to excel at anything you need to invest in developing your skills and growing your suite of tools, you will not be successful at becoming an affiliate marketer without investing in yourself.
There are so many ways to promote products and services these days that it's nearly impossible to figure it all out on your own. And even if you do go down that route, it'll likely take you many times longer than if you'd chosen to invest in an affiliate marketing training system.
The cost of training varies from a little to a lot and sometimes you get what you pay for, so be careful where you choose to invest your money. The best programs will have a community you can interact with and regular training for you to take part in.
If you can afford it, sign up to a training system that offers 1-to-1 mentoring so you can have your specific questions and challenges addressed. This way you can cover the problems or issues you are facing head on and lean on the experience of people who have gone before you.
Don't be shy about reaching out to others for help, things can change pretty rapidly in the affiliate marketing space, with products and networks coming and going, so you'll want as much help as you can get as required.
A quick tip for finding training and mentorship, ignore the hype or any claims of overnight success. Affiliate marketing is not simple, nor can you master it without a good deal of effort or trial and error.
Anyone that tells you otherwise is not being honest.
Congratulations, if you've chosen to entire the world of affiliate marketing then that makes you special. It takes courage, faith and a little bit of crazy to get into this business… but rest assured it has the power to change your life.
There will be times when you think about quitting, others when you'll wonder what you've gotten yourself into, but if you stick with it then you will reap massive benefits in the long run.
Whether your goals are to generate a little bit of extra income or make a full time living with affiliate marketing, follow these steps, invest in yourself and you'll be living a life that others aren't prepared to.
Thanks for reading, don't forget to share your thoughts below and get in touch if you have any questions or you think I need to add to this article.