Generating the steady, substantial passive income every affiliate marketer dreams of earning hinges on headstrong commitment throughout each crucial step in the development of your enterprise. That aspect of your entrepreneurial evolution will be anything but “passive” in nature.

As a matter of fact, your initial growth will be nourished by a determination. To one day look back on the time and effort invested in laying the groundwork for that very first sale and smile in amused amazement at the financial freedom you've reaped. Few achievements could be considered . These include compelling touchstones of goal-oriented, headstrong business acumen powered by an independent will not everyone ever discovers.

Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing game of promoting someone else's product. Typically through an established network, in order to earn a proportionate commission for each person your marketing channel actually convinces to make a purchase. Without exception, everyone involved in an affiliate marketing enterprise falls on the side of the product creator and seller or affiliate marketer. Within those halves of the equation, four different parties keep the wheels of a profitable organization turning:

  • The Merchant;
  • The Affiliate;
  • The Consumer;
  • The Network.

Let's Break Down These Roles

Whether portrayed by a Fortune 500 company or lone entrepreneur:

1. The Merchant creates the product. From there, this party doesn't necessarily have to be actively involved in all of the subsequent steps.
2. Next, the Affiliate attracts attention to the product. This is in exchange for a share of resulting profits, sets out to convince The Consumer to buy it.
3. The Network is the arm that acts as an intermediary between The Merchant and The Affiliate handling payment and product delivery. This includes database products and sometimes managing and maintaining promotional publishing channels.

Sounds straightforward enough, right? Let's examine how to become an affiliate marketer one step at a time.

how affiliate marketing works

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How to Become an Affiliate Marketer, Part 1 – What Do You Want to Sell?

This step requires some thoughtful consideration, but the core question is fairly simple. What do you feel strongly enough about to spend indefinite months and years ahead of you writing, talking or making videos it?

Whatever you happen to already be interested in, there's likely a viable related affiliate marketing opportunity just waiting to be explored. Ideally, your topic should be one in which you have already invested some measure of time, experience or education. At the very least, orient your efforts toward something you expect to thoroughly enjoy researching from top to bottom.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer, Part 2 – Build a Website

This is where forging the outward identity of your affiliate business begins. Your company and website domain don't have to share a name. They should at least be similar enough to quickly establish an association. Building the website itself can be a fairly quick process. Thanks to hosts such as WordPress with scores of ready-made framework themes and plugins that millions of bloggers have already customized and adapted to reflect their respective enterprises' distinctive personalities.

Don't worry if you don't nail down the quintessential look and feel of your website right away. Stick with something simple and user-friendly that you can comfortably change any time an inspired new look strikes you.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer, Part 3 – Content

It might be a tired cliche, but it persists as it does in the minds of marketers around the world for good reason: content is king. What you publish in relation to the products you promote will not only determine the eventual commissions you earn from actual sales driven by your channel but crucial search engine rankings and visibility among Google search results.

There's no better way to start planning your content than by researching popular existing pages within your niche. Choose three well-trafficked themes on which you can base your site's web pages. At least one of them should focus on a primary motif you can consistently reference and link back to from each of the other two sub-topics. This is also an outstanding excuse to write an “About” page and boilerplate privacy policy for your site.

Next, it's time to perform some keyword research. The secret to search engine optimization (SEO) is to avoid overly general terms with a horde of competition. Emphasize searches with few competitors and plenty of interested potential consumers looking for information. Once you identify those crucial searches, work those terms into your content and metadata in a steady, natural fashion. That's how you attract traffic, and how you create opportunities to convert traffic into sales.

The content you eventually produce should focus on solving prevalent problems within your niche. Spend some time browsing topical forums and ruminate on the most talked-about pain points among your ideal consumers. By addressing them in a relatable voice and presenting solutions to their issues, you can earn your audience's trust in your recommendations by providing an “authoritative voice” of value within your community.

That's how your sales pitch begins to carry meaningful weight: letting people know their concerns matter to you.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer, Part 4 – Revenue

To begin monetizing your website, research the affiliate products sold through merchants such as Amazon, Walmart or Target which meet a profound demand within your niche. To broaden your horizons, affiliate networks such as LinkShare, ShareASale and Commission Junction provide platforms where publishers and advertisers can engage affiliates and bloggers can explore further selections of marketable products to sell. After registering with a network and choosing your products, you can then gather affiliate links to place within your posts. When these links are clicked, it registers as traffic directed from your website and will credit you with a commission if the visitor makes a purchase.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer, Part 5 – Promote

Most importantly, never neglect an opportunity to promote your affiliate website in front of fresh eyes. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest are just a few widely traveled social networks where you can quickly accrue a highly engaged following and start building trusting relationships through which you can spread your content.

In your early stages of establishing your affiliate presence, writing guest posts on high-traffic blogs can capitalize on an established influencer's. This allows for a more substantial audience to the end of defining your own expertise and directing some of their traffic your way. Who knows? It could even lead to an ongoing link-sharing relationship that continues to build and drive audiences to one another's works.

Never underestimate the enduring appeal of email marketing, either. Every affiliate market should build an email list. It should also offer regular updates to members as a means of both pushing content and making affiliate offers more visible. There's no need to turn up the sleaze on your sales pitch. Your audience may welcome the opportunity to make a purchase once you've established that all-important bond of trust.

Summing Up

Of course, there's also plenty to discuss about paid advertising. It might demand resources you don't yet have. However, even a simple pay-per-click (PPC) campaign can be an excellent engine for affordability. Thus, propelling traffic your way using a simple banner ad on a small niche site or a Google AdWords buy. These strategies can often keep new eyes on your site. This will keep sales rolling in during the more methodical process of organically building influence through valuable content.