What is Affiliate Marketing?
The success of homegrown online businesses is still baffling to some in this day and age. How can a self-produced, self-marketed website become successful? How can a person generate enough income to support themselves and their travels without selling a product? If this website is free to browse, how is its creator making a profit?
The answer in many cases relies on the process of affiliate marketing. This form of targeted advertising relies on a symbiotic relationship between two online partners—a merchant that wants to sell stuff to customers, and an affiliate that brings the customers to that seller’s door. For example, if you, dear reader, click on the advertisement at the right, you will be taken to the highly recommended page of (vendor). You’ll have the chance to check out some excellent (products) that I personally vouch for, and I will earn a tiny commission based on the web traffic that I have directed to their site. Everyone wins—(vendor) sells cool stuff, you buy cool stuff, and I just got my next plate of pad thai paid for without any real work.
Different affiliate marketing relationships may set different contractual terms. Some agreements are based on a pay per click method, while in others the company advertising its products may only give the affiliate publisher a commission if a sale is made. Finding the correct partners is also a process that requires some work and research. Target audiences must be considered, as visitors are most likely to click on advertisements that are relevant to their interests that brought them to a website in the first place. If the idea of making a passive profit from your blog or website intrigues you, your first step is to consider the sort of people that visit it, and what else they might be interested in. From there, you can reach out (and often be reached out to by) companies that would benefit from your traffic. When starting out, initiative is important. Use online affiliate directories or just plain old upfront emails to find advertisers in need of publishers, and you may quickly find yourself earning a small but steady income that will only grow with time.
A final note should be made about the potential for abuse in the affiliate marketing system. Any user of email and internet is very aware of insidious Adware, junk emails, flashing popup ads, and other aggravating and in-your-face examples of spam marketing. These irritations are often the result of unscrupulous groups and individuals eager to earn a profit without any regard for bringing potential customers to products that they may actually be interested in. For that reason, I implore you as an affiliate to partner with vendors whose services you genuinely recommend, and publish your advertisements in an unobtrusive manner. Little oversight exists in the world of online advertising, save self-regulation and common sense. There is certainly profit to be made, but your standing as a good web citizen should not be lost in the process.