What is affiliate marketing and how can you get started to make money with it?

What is affiliate marketing and how can you get started to make money with it?

Affiliate marketing is a nontraditional marketing tactic whereby you can generate online revenue. Imagine changing your job: you´ll create a website, add an ad to it and thereby you´ll be making money anytime from anywhere – even though while you´re sleeping? It sounds good, isn´t it? You can succeed in it if you become an affiliate publisher and start using affiliate marketing. You´ll learn in this article what affiliate marketing is about and how you can start making money with it.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a process whereby an affiliate publisher (online content creation) earns a commission for mediating the sale of products to another person or company (advertiser affiliate). You´ll get paid only whenever you make a sale, just as a commission sales rep.

A publisher will simply find a product they like, then they promote that product and receive a portion of the profit on every sale made by them. Sales are tracked via special commission links from a publisher´s website to an advertiser´s e-shop. If you have a website or site on social networks and want to start making money on it, affiliate marketing is a great opportunity for you.

Affiliate marketing is an advertising model in which a company compensates partners for a sale created based on an affiliate partner´s marketing tactic.

Basic notions of affiliate marketing

  • Advertiser – a business/company seeking to drive sales. This can be an e-shop, the provision of loans, or other online services (e.g. 4home.sk). 
  • Campaign – an advertiser has own affiliate campaign containing information about an advertiser, the amount of commission, as well as other conditions for promoting a campaign (e.g. campaign 4home.sk). 
  • Publisher – a person or company seeking to earn money online by promoting other companies/services. This can be a blogger, the owner or a website, or an influencer who has own sites on social networks.  
  • Affiliate link (partner link) – a unique URL that a publisher receives in a campaign. Using this link, the publisher brings the traffic to an advertiser´s website and gets commissions. This is a unique ”address“ through which, after a visitor clicks through, an e-shop and Dognet alike know that that visitor comes from a particular publisher and can credit them with a commission.  
  • Affiliate network – an affiliate network brings together a number of various campaigns in a single system. This is a kind of a connecting line between an affiliate publisher and advertiser. We, at Dognet, are an affiliate network. You´ll find with us hundreds of various campaigns.  
  • Cookies – cookies are data used to identify a website visitor and a publisher that has brought the former there. This is a temporary file that is saved in the visitor´s browser. Thus, we can assign a commission to the publisher. Cookies also make sure that the publisher gets a commission even if the visitor comes back to the website a few days later.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Affiliate marketing promotes products from other people in exchange for a small commission for every sale. This commission principle has worked for hundreds of years and just transferred to the online environment. As a publisher receives a reward for shopping done only, it´s a win-win situation. An e-shop only pays for an ad that has brought profit to it, a publisher receives a reward.  

Must one buy immediately? How will an e-shop find out that you have brought a person?  Cookie files offer an answer to both questions. When you bring a visitor to a shop through cookie files which are saved by default for 30 days, the e-shop can determine that you have brought the visitor via your commission link. A website visitor does not have to shop immediately. It suffices if they clicked through your commission link for the first time and then, if they came back to the e-shop, even a week later, you´ll receive a reward – commission.

The default cookie file saving period is 30 days. This period can be longer or shorter – depending on a particular campaign. E.g.: the campaign Bistro has a duration of a mere 1 day. Though most frequently it is 30 days.

A simple principle of affiliate marketing

  1. A publisher (the owner of a website/site on social networks) will register itself in the affiliate network (the registration and use of the Dognet network is free). 
  2. From the administration, it will choose the advertising elements containing its identifier (identifiers are added automatically).  
  3. It will place the advertising elements on its sites at its discretion (banners, links, products, etc.).  
  4. It can also create alternative sources of revenue in the form of newsletters and so on. 
  5. As soon as a user clicks through from a banner or other element to an advertiser website (e.g. an e-shop) and carries out an action (e.g. it purchases goods), a commission will be recorded and credited to the publisher based on what link the customer has come through.

Four parties involved in affiliate marketing

The success of affiliate marketing depends on the relationships of the four parties involved.   

  1. Affiliate advertiser
  2. Affiliate publisher
  3. Consumer
  4. Affiliate network

1. Affiliate advertiser (e.g. an e-shop)

Seller, e-shop, product creator. A product can be a physical object, for example household goods, or a service, for example starting up a trade online. An advertiser launches an affiliate campaign for its product. E-shops do it most frequently via an affiliate network, but they may also have their own solution.

 

2. Affiliate publisher (e.g. a blog)

A publisher comes into play when an e-shop has a campaign launched in the network. This is where the publisher will find commission links whereby it promotes an advertiser´s product and whereby a network can track that it was the former that mediated the purchase on the latter´s e-shop.  

An affiliate publisher promotes a product on its website or social media so as to convince consumers that the product is beneficial to them and convince them to purchase the product.

3. Consumer

A highly important part of the whole marketing is just a consumer who purchases on an advertiser´s e-shop and whom a publisher has convinced to do so.  Without consumers it wouldn´t work. Whether or not consumers know it, they (and their purchases) are the driving force behind affiliate marketing.  

When consumers buy a product, the seller (advertiser) and the publisher share the profits. The consumer will not pay a higher price for the product as the cost of affiliate network is already included in the retail price.

4. Affiliate network (Dognet)

An affiliate network proper is an equally important part of this equation. While some huge e-shops have their own affiliate system, an affiliate network is a perfect solution for the majority of e-shops. It´s an affiliate network that is a connecting line between the advertiser and the publisher. For publishers, a network is a database of those campaigns they can use on their websites. For e-shops, in turn, a network is a database of those publishers that will promote their products. Dognet.sk is one of Slovak affiliate networks.

The pros and cons of affiliate marketing to publishers

Affiliate marketing is chiefly about patience, efforts to learn new things, and constant work. If someone says that it´s easy money, don´t believe them. Beginnings are relatively difficult and it takes long to get your first commission. Though, banging away and holding out will pay off. Later on, this may become your sideline or even main revenue.  

The biggest advantage of affiliate marketing is that the beginning requires almost no expense. If you want to write, you can do so on free blogging sites, create a social media profile, or spend a few euros creating a website on own domain (we do recommend!). Work on your project is often flexible and you can work when and how much you want to. This does not restrict you in your main job.  

Other advantages are that you do not work on creating a product but just on its sale. Moreover, there are billions of online people so that every website or social media profile will find its audience.

The chief disadvantage is that producing results takes time. As a publisher you get paid only if you mediate a purchase. To make this happen, you need an audience and it takes a while to build it up. It may happen that you will be working for several months without a reward. Still, your efforts will definitely pay off.

How to get started making money through affiliate marketing?

To get started with affiliate marketing is simple and really everybody will master it. If you´re skillful enough, your project can be turned into a full-time job.

Step 1: Create your website or social media profile

If you want to make money through affiliate marketing, you need an online space to promote advertisers´ products. Choose a topic which is of interest to you and you devote yourself to. Check the offer of affiliate network campaigns. If there are enough products for your topic to promote, create your website or social media profile with that topic, and add contents on a regular basis to gain an audience.

Step 2: Register yourself to the affiliate network

To gain access to campaigns you need to register yourself in the affiliate network. There are a number of affiliate networks operating in Slovakia and you can use, of course, foreign affiliate programs as well.  

Try out, for example: 

  • Dognet.sk
  • Affial.com
  • eHub.com

Registration to the Dognet affiliate network

To register to the Dognet affiliate network, just fill out the form you´ll find on the home page Dognet.sk, The registration is quick and free.

You can register yourself to the network even though you do not have a trade license – just choose the option Form for Natural Persons. When registering, you´re required to enter one website (or Facebook site), YouTube channel or Instagram profile) where you want to use affiliate campaigns. If you do not have or are still in the process of creating a website, don´t worry. Just write it and your registration will be approved anyway.

 

Step 3: Use commission links and make money

Now you have access to affiliate commission links. Just sign up for the Dognet administration https://login.dognet.sk/affiliates/panel.php  

Use them and publish the contents on a regular basis including a commission link. You can insert links, for instance, in your articles, FB posts, Instagram stories, or the infobox under YouTube videos. Make sure to regularly check and update the links – it may happen that your campaign will be turned off – do not use unnecessarily dysfunctional affiliate links and rather replace them with a new campaign.

When does a publisher receive a commission? 

  1. For the mediation of a sale

a publisher receives a reward most often for the mediation of a sale on an e-shop. If someone clicks through a commission link and makes a purchase, the publisher will get a percentage of the purchase value. A commission can also be a fixed amount, for instance if a consumer uses an advertiser´s service. A reward differs from campaign to campaign.

  1. For the completion of an action 

Another way of reward is based on the conversion of prospects. A publisher has to convince a consumer to visit a retailer´s website and complete a required action – be it filling out a contact form, signing up for a product´s test version, signing up for a newsletter, and so on.

The most common types of affiliate publishers

1. Influencers

An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of a large portion of the population and can use this influence of theirs for affiliate marketing as well.  Influencer marketing campaigns are in particular popular on Instagram where brands ally with those influencers who are viewed as experts or authorities in their specific areas.

2. Bloggers, review websites and magazine owners

Owing to their capability to write natural and good SEO articles, bloggers excel at organic search results and that´s their strength. A blogger, for one, will test a product or a service, and then he/she will write a comprehensive review promoting in an engaging way products and helping achieve conversions.

3. Microsites focused on a particular campaign

Microsites differ in that they offer a more targeted and relevant content to a particular audience, lead to an increase in conversions owing to their simple and straightforward call-to-action with a commission link.

4. Newsletter

E-mail marketing is still a vital source of revenue from affiliate marketing. Send your audience e-mail newsletters containing commission links to products and thereby earn a commission after a consumer purchases a product.

5. Major media websites

These sites are designed so as to constantly create a huge amount of traffic and are focused on building one hundred thousand strong audience. These websites promote products to a broad audience using banners and contextual affiliate links.

6. Product catalogs

Also popular are websites grouping products from one category but also from various e-shops. For example, furniture, clothing, kids´ toy, etc. catalogs.  

You don´t need a complex project or to be a major influencer to get involved in affiliate marketing. You need just a blog in which you´ll, for example:  

  • present the features of a promoted product
  • show various cases of using a promoted product
  • talk about the pros and cons of a promoted product
  • talk about your experience with a product
  • help make a better use of a product with your tips
  • compare various promoted products
  • create lists of similar products and services

… and this all using commission links.

How to use a commission link in an affiliate campaign?

A campaign can have a variety of forms and the final one is just up to you. The best way of promoting an affiliate campaign via a website is to recommend for visitors an advertiser´s product/category. Finding a problem that visitors deal with and offering a way out in the form of a product with a commission link. Your readers are highly likely to click through and buy.

 

1. You can insert it in the text

A super strategy is to open up a topic and directly recommend a solution. Thus, for example, write an article about what cushions to choose for the household. Choose a few tips of yours and recommend an advertiser for the reader. Not only will you bring an interesting content, but you can also win over those Google readers who search for your topic and are ready to shop.  

Best functioning are various guides, reviews, recommendations, product comparators, or “10 tips”. Choose your campaigns in advance and adjust the article form to match it.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/

 

Our tips for how to use affiliate links in text:

  • Set out products in your most read post.
  • Create an article about a product.
  • Make a contest about a product linked via an affiliate link.
  • A comparison post.
  • When a product features innovations, create an up-to-date post. 
  • Create a post of alternate products (e.g. alternatives to a luxurious make-up).
  • Write a post about why I´ve switched from X to Y.
  • Create a site of links (e.g. my favorite books).

 

2. You can insert it in the CTA button

Call to action is an element (e.g. a button) whereby you call on visitors to carry out an action requested by you. For example: Buy this book. Or: Write me.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/

3. You can insert it in a button

It´s up to you as to what form a button will have, it´s not necessarily a call to action, it can be an ordinary button with the name of a product and e-shop. A link in the button should be a commission one.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/

4. You can add it to an image 

An affiliate link can also direct from a website image. Try and choose a related link. For example, let a link go from a fishing rod image to a fishing rod product in the image.

5. You can add to a banner

Right in affiliate network administration will you find a multitude of advertising banners.  You can add them to your website and link from them via an affiliate link.


6. You can share it on social media

Share a product including an affiliate link via social media. Whether as a link or add an image and click-through, for instance, via a shortener such as bit.ly (commission links are very long). Take care not to be viewed as spammers. Affiliate links can currently be added also to Instagram stories. You don´t have to truncate them there.

 

Example of Facebook affiliate:

Banned practices in affiliate marketing

  1. Artificially filling out forms or orders
  2. Sending out SPAM or carry out other activities that might be taken as SPAM
  3. Harassment on forums and in commentaries
  4. Use of brand campaigns in PPC ads
  5. Redirecting entire domains via an affiliate link

Best affiliate marketing article formats

If you´ve chosen to create an online magazine, there are 5 basic article forms which work and sell very well in terms of affiliate marketing. Try them out.

1. Product/service review

Product or service reviews rank among the most popular formats. People often search for reviews and other people´s experiences before making a purchase. They´re highly likely to click through to an e-shop and make a purchase via a link in your review.  

If there exists a product or a service you use, of which you think it might be beneficial to your readers, write about your personal experience. Point out all the pros and cons of a given product, thereby building trust with your readers. Your readers will definitely appreciate your extensive reviews setting out also the negatives of a given product and you´ll help them make a real decision while shopping. Having own product photos or video is an advantage.

2. Product comparison

In addition to reviews of respective products, people also like comparators a lot. Even in this case, the readers of your article are highly likely to shop with you – those interested in reading a comparison review are usually ready to buy, but they aren´t sure what product to choose. Creating an article to encourage them to buy one of the products gives you a great chance to get a commission.

A comparison of mattresses may look like this:

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/

 

3. A list of products, tools or services

Each sector has some type of tools or services. Make a list and update it on a regular basis. For example: A list of natural cosmetics e-shops or A list of books on World War Two. In making lists, again follow the keyword analysis and make lists of what people actually look for.

4. Product / service rankings

People do love rankings. Evaluate several products or services and rank the best ones.

5. Guides

Articles with procedures are always popular and work well to promote an affiliate product. Such guides are not only useful but they will also help you improve the rating of SEO tools. “How to” articles are invariably greatly rated in the search engines.

For example, if your product is a technical one, you need instructions before you can use it. Hence, you can write a guide to how to properly use it. Or you can add a recipe and create a link to the dishes used. There are a good many options.

Tips to help you become a successful affiliate marketer

The success of your project depends on the selection of the right strategy. We have several tips for you to help you become a successful publisher and make money.

1. Become an expert 

By becoming an expert in one field in lieu of promoting a great deal of products you´ll be able to promote specific products and manage to target an audience interested in those products and most likely to buy a product.

2. Draw on personal experience

If possible, promote products you trust and can bring for people personal experience. It will be felt from your posts, they will be more believable, and readers will be more eager to click through to an advertiser´s e-shop. That´s why the one-on-one approach is minor bloggers´ strength which splendidly works.

Building confidence with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing and the fastest way to lose confidence is to recommend such products as you´ve not yet used or are unfit for your audience.

3. Use a number of campaigns

Include links to a number of products or services in your contents, thereby increasing the probability of people clicking one of them. Select a number of campaigns in your field and promote a wide range of products.

4. Constantly test 

Try different formats, headings and CTA forms. Test things incessantly and look for what works best. Compare the results and used this data to pinpoint your strategy.

4. Focus on SEO

SEO is still important and if you have a good one, you´ll get free traffic from the search engine. Articles dealing with an issue and bringing a product as an answer thereto are a great format for affiliate. From the search engine you´ll get a relevant traffic interested in the contents of your article and, if you resolve their issue, you´re most likely to receive a commission.

Running an e-shop? Try your hand at affiliate marketing as one of the online advertising methods and become an advertiser

Affiliate marketing offers for e-shops the opportunity of boosting their sales. It´s an interesting form of advertising, since an affiliate network won´t get paid by an advertiser (e-shop) for advertising until after the sale has taken place. Thus, it does not pay “merely” for clicks, as is the case with other advertising systems. The return on investment (ROI) in affiliate marketing is very high.

Affiliate marketing management requires both software and time

If you want an affiliate for your e-shop, you can create your own affiliate program or purchase a so-called box solution. The simplest way is to get engaged as an advertiser in an affiliate network that already has a ready-made technical solution. In addition, it will provide you with background, technical support and relieve you from communicating with publishers.

Affiliate marketing benefits to e-shops 

The main benefit is that an advertiser pays merely for actual sales made by it via an affiliate, you pay merely for a high-quality traffic, not for the ads on the sites which indeed fail to bring profit. Some affiliate networks require a flat-rate monthly fee, we at the Dognet network only charge a fee from the mediated sales. You´ll approve a commission only if shopping has gone smoothly and a customer has not returned goods to you.

Everything is measurable very well, so you can be sure that you pay for actual results only. A new traffic will come to your website owing to skillful publishers. Since publishers often deal with very good SEO content websites, the traffic they send you often precisely targets and there´s a high probability that they´re sending you a new customer. 

A disadvantage is that if your e-shop is tiny or has design defects, affiliate marketing cannot guarantee for you an increase in sales. The purchasing decision is eventually up to the visitor to your website. As a result, it´s good to improve UX design and work on the overall marketing of your brand.

In addition to sales, affiliate marketing can also affect an increase in credibility of your brand. Publishers are various magazines, bloggers and influencers who will begin to create a positive content about your brand (as they want to mediate sales). Your brand awareness will thus be enhanced and reach out to a broader audience.

Is your e-shop suitable for affiliate marketing?

The successful launch of your e-shop´s affiliate program is influenced by a number of factors. Prior to the launch of the affiliate program, you should ask yourself several questions:

  • Will you manage to administer the program singlehandedly or approach an affiliate network?
  • Do you have a network of bloggers whom you want to reach or will you use an affiliate network database?
  • Have you developed a commission strategy that fits your budget?
  • Have you prepared background documents (PR articles, banners)?
  • What is your audience, can it be reached by creating online content?

The Dognet affiliate network´s specialists will be pleased to help you with the answer to these questions. Fill out the entry form for advertisers and we will contact you. 

Every e-shop will get into a state where it no longer pays off to spend more in PPC, RTB, or press more on Facebook. This is when the right time comes to reach for affiliate marketing which opens up new opportunities. By joining an affiliate network, you´ll get access to thousands of new media which you otherwise could not reach or find them very hard to reach.

How much will an e-shop pay for affiliate per month?

You should realize that even the monthly amount you will pay for an affiliate campaign may vary. It´s impacted by the number of the publishers involved in the program, the shopping behavior of people during the season, and thus the final number of mediated sales. During the Christmas season, e-shops have higher sales as a rule, thus logically the number of mediated conversions will rise as well and you´ll pay more than, for example, during the summer at which time e-shops experience a decline in sales.

Try affiliate marketing in the Dognet network

Via affiliate campaigns, we´ve increased a turnover for our 831 advertisers by as much as 30 %. Up to this date, we´ve provided for 3,066,981 conversions with a combined turnover in excess of €196,204,211. Via the network, you will reach out to thousands of magazines, blogs, catalogs, and influencers. And all this on a commission principle without payments for clicks or displays.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your content and build up online revenue.

As times change, affiliate marketing evolves. Once banners were on a website and newsletters were the main way to share affiliate links. Nowadays, social media are growing in popularity and articles still hold their place. 

No matter what method you choose, make sure that the products you´re sharing are relevant to your audience and avoid any dubious practices. Affiliate marketing is a great way to boost sales at an e-shop. It provides advertisers with a high return on investment. It does not pay for unnecessary clicks, merely for sales carried out.

Štefan Polgári
Štefan Polgári

V online marketingu sa pohybuje už viac ako 10 rokov. Spoluzaložil affiliate sieť DOGNET a affiliate marketingu sa venuje na profesionálnej úrovni. Spoločne s kolegami sa snažia tento odbor na Slovensku pozdvihnúť a zapojiť čo najviac publisherov.

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