EPIC GUIDE TO AFFILIATE MARKETING 2019

Affiliate marketing. You’ve probably heard of it. Maybe you’ve even tried it.
But even if you have some experience with affiliate marketing, how much do you know about doing it effectively? The answer for many folks, sadly, is “not much.”
I want to change that. And so, if any of the above describes you, I’m glad you’re here! Stick around, because you’re going to learn some incredibly useful things about affiliate marketing and how it can fit into your online business success.
In this EPIC 8-PART SERIES, I’ll give you everything you need to get started and succeed with affiliate marketing, and create massive value for you and your audience along the way. Let’s dive in!

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

For the newbies out there, what exactly is affiliate marketing?
Quite simply, affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.
In essence, you’re generating an income by sharing, recommending, and promoting another company’s or person’s product or service.
In other words, when you help another company generate sales, you get a cut!
Perhaps the best part is, you don’t have to create your own product, because someone else has already done the hard work. That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing: that you don’t have to invest the time and effort to create something to sell. You can begin making money as an affiliate as soon as you have a platform to sell products.
All you have to do is send traffic through a link to that product, and everything after that is out of your hands . . . right?
I say “all you have to do,” but of course there’s more to it than that—much, much more.
Like many things, it’s relatively easy to get started with affiliate marketing, but more challenging to succeed.
Don’t get me wrong—when done the right way, affiliate marketing can be a huge difference maker. But doing it right requires work and a smart strategy—and it especially means not putting the desire for short-term gain over the needs of your audience.
We’ll talk more about all that in a second. But first, a little bit about how affiliate marketing has been such a crucial piece of my own business success—and what the right mindset has to do with affiliate marketing the right way.

Successful Affiliate Marketing Is About Mindset

Affiliate marketing is something I’ve been involved in ever since 2009 on my very first website. On that site, an architecture-related website, I promoted an exam software product that has generated more than $200,000 in commissions over the years.
Since then, I’ve branched out and diversified my affiliate income sources. But much more than that—I’ve made affiliate marketing a cornerstone of my business strategy and my biggest single source of revenue.
In fact, my largest affiliate partnership, with a company called ConvertKit, has driven more than $300,000 in revenue alone.
In total, affiliate marketing has earned me over $3 million in commissions over the years.
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing the whole time.
Every time I’ve put money before serving my audience, I’ve failed.
And unfortunately, many people who get into affiliate marketing do so with the same mindset: making money first, and thinking of their audience second (if they think of them at all!). That’s a recipe for disaster—or at least lousy results.
They also think that because the product they’re promoting isn’t their own, that it doesn’t need to be treated like their own—but they’re plain wrong.
And let’s not even get started on the outright scams that have been perpetrated under the guise of “affiliate marketing.”
Because of all these factors, it’s not surprising affiliate marketing has gotten a bad rap over the years. But is that rap totally deserved? Definitely not.

You Can Do Affiliate Marketing Right—I’ll Show You How

Yes, affiliate marketing has a bit of an image problem. But image isn’t everything, and in this case, it obscures the truth that affiliate marketing can be done smartly, honestly, and in a way that serves you and your audience.
That’s why I’ve made it a big part of my mission to change the perception of affiliate marketing, and to show people how to do affiliate marketing the smart way. I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it right, and even have people thank you for your product recommendations.
You see, when you go about things the right way and recommend products people really want and need, there’s a virtuous cycle that comes into play. When someone thanks you for your recommendations, they’re more likely to take you up on further recommendations you make down the road.
They’re more likely to trust and value your advice and hopefully, eventually become raving fans.
They’re more likely to become part of the core, devoted audience that forms the foundation of your online business success—in affiliate marketing and everything else you do.
Making that happen is exactly what this series of epic articles on affiliate marketing is going to show you how to do. Together, we’ll learn how you can serve your audience and cultivate raving fans by tapping into the power of affiliate marketing.
Over the next 8 info-packed chapters, I’m going to share with you:
  • The truth about what affiliate marketing is and how it works
  • How to get started with affiliate marketing, even if you have no idea how to begin
  • The one-word key to success with affiliate marketing (and all online business endeavors)
  • behind-the-scenes look at one of my high-level affiliate marketing partnerships (I’m talking 5 figures a month!)
  • The biggest mistakes you need to know—and avoid—if you want to make it big as an affiliate marketer
  • My favorite affiliate marketing tools and tips that will be game changers for you
  • How to succeed on one of the world’s most popular affiliate marketing networks
I know how powerful affiliate marketing can be when it’s done the right way, and I know what a difference it can make for you and your audience when you’re promoting products and services that can really help them out.
That’s why I’m rooting for you to succeed, and it’s why I put together this epic guide to affiliate marketing.
It’s the guide I wish I’d had when I started my affiliate marketing journey way back in 2009.
Excited? Here’s what’s in store:
Affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful ways to generate an income online. But before we explore the huge potential of affiliate marketing, we need to understand what it is and how it works. This “affiliate marketing 101” chapter will lay the groundwork for everything that comes and set you up for affiliate marketing success.
Once we’ve got the nuts and bolts down, I’ll show you my five-step framework to getting started with affiliate marketing. You’ll learn the importance of using trust as the foundation of all your affiliate marketing activities. Then, we’ll break down the process of creating and running an affiliate marketing program into executable steps.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, we’ll dig into the strategies and tactics that will help you accelerate your affiliate marketing success. We’ll revisit some of the crucial basics, go over the must-dos of affiliate marketing, explore different promotion types, dig into some advanced affiliate marketing strategies, and uncover ways to stay on track when the going gets tough.
The first three chapters focused on the “how” of affiliate marketing—now we’ll switch gears and show you what affiliate marketing looks like “in the field.” I’ll reveal my five-part approach to affiliate product promotion, one that’s helped me make ConvertKit my most successful affiliate relationship to date.
Affiliate marketing is easy to do—and easy to do wrong. With all the focus so far on what you should do to succeed with affiliate marketing, we’ll inject some balance into the equation with some insight into what you need to avoid if you want to be successful in your affiliate marketing endeavors.
Time to go shopping! To take your affiliate marketing to the next level, you’re going to need to fill your toolkit with some top-class tech. These are 12 tools I love and recommend, from apps to web services to physical products and more, to help you seriously up your affiliate product promotion game.
If you’re thinking about working with an affiliate marketing network, the world’s most popular marketplace can be a great place to start. We’ll cover how to sign up and start picking and promoting Amazon products, as well as strategies for success—the must-dos and must-don’ts that go into making Amazon a key piece of your affiliate marketing stable.
Now that you’re armed with some serious knowledge, tools, strategies, and possibilities to take with you on your affiliate marketing journey, what’s next? Well, I’ve still got a few more resources up my sleeve for you . . .
Ready to go?
In total, affiliate marketing has earned me over $3 million in commissions over the years.
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing the whole time.
Every time I’ve put money before serving my audience, I’ve failed.
And unfortunately, many people who get into affiliate marketing do so with the same mindset: making money first, and thinking of their audience second (if they think of them at all!). That’s a recipe for disaster—or at least lousy results.
They also think that because the product they’re promoting isn’t their own, that it doesn’t need to be treated like their own—but they’re plain wrong.
And let’s not even get started on the outright scams that have been perpetrated under the guise of “affiliate marketing.”
Because of all these factors, it’s not surprising affiliate marketing has gotten a bad rap over the years. But is that rap totally deserved? Definitely not.

You Can Do Affiliate Marketing Right—I’ll Show You How

Yes, affiliate marketing has a bit of an image problem. But image isn’t everything, and in this case, it obscures the truth that affiliate marketing can be done smartly, honestly, and in a way that serves you and your audience.
That’s why I’ve made it a big part of my mission to change the perception of affiliate marketing, and to show people how to do affiliate marketing the smart way. I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it right, and even have people thank you for your product recommendations.
You see, when you go about things the right way and recommend products people really want and need, there’s a virtuous cycle that comes into play. When someone thanks you for your recommendations, they’re more likely to take you up on further recommendations you make down the road.
They’re more likely to trust and value your advice and hopefully, eventually become raving fans.
They’re more likely to become part of the core, devoted audience that forms the foundation of your online business success—in affiliate marketing and everything else you do.
Making that happen is exactly what this series of epic articles on affiliate marketing is going to show you how to do. Together, we’ll learn how you can serve your audience and cultivate raving fans by tapping into the power of affiliate marketing.
Over the next 8 info-packed chapters, I’m going to share with you:
  • The truth about what affiliate marketing is and how it works
  • How to get started with affiliate marketing, even if you have no idea how to begin
  • The one-word key to success with affiliate marketing (and all online business endeavors)
  • behind-the-scenes look at one of my high-level affiliate marketing partnerships (I’m talking 5 figures a month!)
  • The biggest mistakes you need to know—and avoid—if you want to make it big as an affiliate marketer
  • My favorite affiliate marketing tools and tips that will be game changers for you
  • How to succeed on one of the world’s most popular affiliate marketing networks
I know how powerful affiliate marketing can be when it’s done the right way, and I know what a difference it can make for you and your audience when you’re promoting products and services that can really help them out.
That’s why I’m rooting for you to succeed, and it’s why I put together this epic guide to affiliate marketing.
It’s the guide I wish I’d had when I started my affiliate marketing journey way back in 2009.
Excited? Here’s what’s in store:
Affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful ways to generate an income online. But before we explore the huge potential of affiliate marketing, we need to understand what it is and how it works. This “affiliate marketing 101” chapter will lay the groundwork for everything that comes and set you up for affiliate marketing success.
Once we’ve got the nuts and bolts down, I’ll show you my five-step framework to getting started with affiliate marketing. You’ll learn the importance of using trust as the foundation of all your affiliate marketing activities. Then, we’ll break down the process of creating and running an affiliate marketing program into executable steps.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, we’ll dig into the strategies and tactics that will help you accelerate your affiliate marketing success. We’ll revisit some of the crucial basics, go over the must-dos of affiliate marketing, explore different promotion types, dig into some advanced affiliate marketing strategies, and uncover ways to stay on track when the going gets tough.
The first three chapters focused on the “how” of affiliate marketing—now we’ll switch gears and show you what affiliate marketing looks like “in the field.” I’ll reveal my five-part approach to affiliate product promotion, one that’s helped me make ConvertKit my most successful affiliate relationship to date.
Affiliate marketing is easy to do—and easy to do wrong. With all the focus so far on what you should do to succeed with affiliate marketing, we’ll inject some balance into the equation with some insight into what you need to avoid if you want to be successful in your affiliate marketing endeavors.
Time to go shopping! To take your affiliate marketing to the next level, you’re going to need to fill your toolkit with some top-class tech. These are 12 tools I love and recommend, from apps to web services to physical products and more, to help you seriously up your affiliate product promotion game.
If you’re thinking about working with an affiliate marketing network, the world’s most popular marketplace can be a great place to start. We’ll cover how to sign up and start picking and promoting Amazon products, as well as strategies for success—the must-dos and must-don’ts that go into making Amazon a key piece of your affiliate marketing stable.
Now that you’re armed with some serious knowledge, tools, strategies, and possibilities to take with you on your affiliate marketing journey, what’s next? Well, I’ve still got a few more resources up my sleeve for you . . .
Ready to go?
Affiliate marketing is quite simply one of the most powerful ways to generate an income online. Regardless of your niche, the upside with affiliate marketing is nearly limitless if you go about it the right way!
Part of the beauty of affiliate marketing is you don’t have to invest time in creating the products that will be serving your audience—because, guess what? Those products likely already exist. Because of that, affiliate marketing is an opportunity anyone can take advantage of, and it’s easy to get started.
But before we explore the many ways affiliate marketing can do wonders for you and your business, we first need to understand what affiliate marketing is. By laying that groundwork, you’ll be making the right moves toward doing affiliate marketing right—in a way that truly serves your audience.
Affiliate marketing is all around us—and you’ve probably been involved in affiliate marketing without realizing it! If you’ve ever clicked on a link in a blog post to a product or service being offered on another website, there’s a good chance the owner of the website where you originally clicked the link received a commission from your purchase.
Yes, affiliate marketing is everywhere—but here’s the thing: few people understand how to take full advantage of it. In fact, I believe affiliate marketing is the world’s most untapped source for generating passive income! It’s a beautiful process that’s completely underutilized, and I’m excited to share with you exactly how it all works.
In this chapter, we’ll look at exactly how affiliate marketing works, including the pros and cons, whether you’re a good fit for it, and how much you can earn from it.
Ready? Let’s get to it. Here’s what to expect in this chapter:

So What Is Affiliate Marketing, Exactly?

As a brief refresher, affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting another person’s (or company’s) product. You find a product you like, promote it to your audience, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make. It’s similar to a salesperson earning a commission, except you don’t work for the company. Instead, it’s like earning a reward for sending a new customer to the company.
There are two ways to be involved in affiliate marketing—either as a product owner or an affiliate marketer. In this series, we’re going to focus on how to do affiliate marketing from the affiliate marketer side.

Who Is a Good Fit for Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing can be a great choice for online entrepreneurs, bloggers, and really anyone who has a website and is willing to build an audience they can serve authentically.
If this describes you, products exist right now that people in your target market are probably already buying, and if you can become the resource that recommends those products, you can generate a commission as a result.
Affiliate marketing can be an especially good option if you’re not ready to create your own product or service, but you want to serve your audience by recommending products that may be helpful to them.
Affiliate marketing can also be a good fit for a wide range of people because you can apply a bunch of different marketing methods to promote affiliate products and services. These include the same marketing methods you may already be using—things like search engine optimization (SEO), paid search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, content marketing, and display ads. You can even take advantage of other nifty ways to market products, like product reviews and unboxings.
Finally, it’s important to remember that affiliate marketing works best when you’re sincere and confident about the product you’re promoting. You’d only sell your own product if you knew it could help people, and it’s the same with affiliate marketing. If you go in with a get-rich-quick mentality, you’re not going to be impressed with your results.

The Nuts & Bolts of Affiliate Marketing

Let’s get into the details of how affiliate marketing works. There are three main players in an affiliate marketing arrangement:
  1. You and your website—the “affiliate.”
  2. The affiliate company (or network). In the simplest affiliate arrangements, you work directly with a single company to promote one or more of their products. There are more complex affiliate networks that provide an opportunity to earn affiliate revenue on a range of products, such as Amazon, Rakuten, ClickBank, and ShareASale.
  3. The customer. This is a member of your audience who uses your affiliate link to purchase a product from the affiliate company or network.
A company that offers an affiliate marketing program may call it by a different name—these programs are also commonly called partner programs or referral programs.
Here’s how each party benefits from affiliate marketing:
  1. From your recommendation, your audience learns about a product, course, or tool that may be useful to them;
  2. From your recommendation, the company selling the product, course, or tool gets new customers they may not have found otherwise;
  3. As a result of the sales to your audience, the company gives you a commission.
When done the right way, affiliate marketing can be a win–win–win. But at the center of this is one thing: your audience’s trust. When your audience believes you have their best interests at heart and trusts your recommendations, then all three parties in the affiliate marketing relationship ultimately benefit.

Examples of Affiliate Marketing

What does affiliate marketing look like? If you’ve visited my website, you may have come across my Resources page. This page contains a list of recommended resources—products, services, apps, and more—to help my audience build their own online businesses.
My Resources page, which contains affiliate links visitors can use to purchase products and services I recommend. These links take visitors to landing pages hosted by companies selling those products and services.
Many of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission if someone clicks on the link and purchases the product or service it links to.
Here’s what someone sees if they click on my affiliate link for Bluehost, the web hosting company I use and recommend:
My affiliate landing page on Bluehost’s website. If a customer purchases a web hosting plan from Bluehost after visiting this page, I receive a commission from Bluehost for the referral.
And here’s what they’ll see when they click on my affiliate link for ConvertKit, the email service provider I’m happy to recommend:
My affiliate landing page on ConvertKit’s website.
As we discussed above, you can also earn affiliate commissions by signing up with an affiliate network. One of the most popular is the Amazon Associates program, which you can read more about in Chapter 8.
Screenshot of the landing page where you can sign up for Amazon’s Associates affiliate marketing program.
You could easily find tons of other examples of affiliate marketing “in the wild.” That’s because affiliate marketing is essentially about sharing your affiliate links, so however you choose to share those links—whether on your website, on social media like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube, or via emails to your list—well, that’s affiliate marketing in action!
In this 2016 email to my mailing list, I promoted a special deal offered by Bluehost, which people could sign up for using my Bluehost affiliate link.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to successful affiliate marketing than just sharing affiliate links! That’s what we’ll talk about next, starting with the key steps you need to follow to get started with affiliate marketing.

The Steps to Becoming an Affiliate Marketer

In later chapters, we’ll cover the nitty gritty of getting started with affiliate marketing. For now, I want to give you the high-level overview of the steps involved. Many how-to guides for affiliate marketing suggest a series of steps similar to this:
  1. Find a company and product you want to promote.
  2. Sign up as an affiliate.
  3. Get your unique affiliate link and add it to your site.
  4. A visitor to your website clicks the link, which takes them to a third-party page.
  5. If the visitor makes a purchase, you receive a commission based on the value of the item purchased.
Now, these steps are definitely accurate—you can’t earn money with affiliate marketing without first finding a product to promote! But more importantly, you shouldn’t be affiliate marketing without first establishing trust with your audience. Audience first, always.
That’s why my methodology for successful affiliate marketing goes like this:
  1. First, build a relationship with your audience.
  2. Then, identify a product that might fit your audience’s needs.
  3. Next, use and test the product yourself, to ensure it’s truly something worth recommending to your audience, so you don’t risk taking advantage of their trust.
  4. Show your audience tangible proof that the product does what it promises via a blog post or case study on your website or YouTube channel.
  5. Then—and only then!—you can start to promote the product to your audience and hopefully start earning some affiliate revenue when they purchase it.
This approach puts your audience’s needs front and center, setting you up for success with affiliate marketing.
Another example of affiliate marketing in action, this time sharing an affiliate link in the show notes of an episode of the Smart Passive Income (SPI) podcast featuring Clay Collins, founder of Leadpages.

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