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What Is Affiliate Marketing And How Does It Work?

The basic concept of affiliate marketing has been around for well over 100 years. Back in the day, it was well known as door-to-door sales and popular products were vacuums, encyclopedias and cleaning supplies. After the birth of the Internet, people began referring to it as affiliate marketing and the list of available products grew to almost anything one could possibly imagine. The concept remains the same. Only the name, method and types of products have changed. Regardless of what it is called, it has always been commission-based third-party referral sales. 

Is It Easy?

Affiliate marketing is extremely simple. Don’t confuse the word simple with the word easy. It’s anything but easy. If you choose to build an affiliate marketing business, you are going to work your ass off and you still may not be successful. Most aren’t successful with this business model. Why? Because, they simply give up entirely too fast. They don’t spend the time and effort necessary to continue learning and building their business. The time and effort that is required to be successful. 

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

I go back and look at the content I created in the beginning and I am aghast at my low level of quality. But, you know what? That didn’t stop me. I didn’t quit. I continued to learn, to get better and create better and better content. 

There is nothing super-complicated about it. Many regular people have created incomes most people only dream of. It ain’t rocket science but you can sure as hell ROCK IT! Many others have done it before you and you can do it too. No guarantees though. Just don’t give up like everyone else does.

The amount of work you put into your business and the decisions you make are going to dictate whether you end up earning millions of dollars or you never even generate one penny in additional income. It is all dependent upon you.

Have thousands and thousands of people began generating incomes greater than they ever dreamed possible with this business model? Damn straight! Do I think you can do it. Yes, I think you “can” do it. 

Do I think you will do it? That’s an entirely different story. I have no idea if you will do it or not. I’m damn sure not promising you anything. 

Honesty Is The Best Policy

I’m being very honest with you here because I believe honesty is the best policy. I also understand how important it is for you to be able to understand exactly what is necessary to be successful. 

Most people in my position won’t tell you how much work is involved because they are afraid it will scare you away and then they won’t make any money from you buying the tools you need that they offer. Me? I don’t give a damn about that. If you don’t have what it takes to put the work in and make this happen to begin with, I don’t want to waste your time or mine. 

I believe this is the exact reason that I have experienced so many business failures in the past. No one was brutally honest with me about what was required in order to be successful. I believe that by me being extremely honest and upfront with you right in the beginning, you will know exactly what to expect and therefore have a much better chance of becoming successful.

Ultimately, my number one goal is to help as many people as I possibly can become successful with this business model and that includes you.

Most people have the ability to do it. They just haven’t made it their number one priority.

Most people give up and quit way before they should. I call it The Chasm. Most don’t have what it takes to make it to the other side of The Chasm.

Crossing The Chasm

I didn’t possess the testicular fortitude to make it to the other side of The Chasm for over thirty years. In high school, I took an elective course called “Investments.” I told that teacher, Mr. Homer Fowler, I was going to be a millionaire by age thirty. He just smiled and nodded. I’m sure he just dismissed it but I remember it because I believed it with every fiber of my being. 

I was wrong. Today, I know I was just a “Wantrepreneur” back then. A true entrepreneur has the tenacity to cross The Chasm. I didn’t have that back then. Hell, I didn’t even have the knowledge that The Chasm existed.

I didn’t have it until recently and I’m 50-something. That’s the good news. It’s never too late for you to accept the fact you may work your ass off for years and not make one red cent. You have to have faith in yourself and the drive to keep busting your ass even when the future looks bleak.

Fast forward to recently. I was up against a wall and increasing my income became a must-do. Success had just been a want-to-do up until that point. 

As they say, shit just got real! My retirement was looming in the very near future and I had just found out I was going to either keep working, find a different job in my retirement or figure something else out. I didn’t want to keep working. And, I sure as hell didn’t want to work another job after I hit retirement! Option number three was clearly my only viable option. 

I made a conscious decision to put the pedal to the metal and not let up. I was all in. No matter what it was going to take to get ‘er done, I was now mentally prepared to make it happen. I had always enjoyed what I did for a living and that had made it extremely easy for me to not do what I needed to. Now, that I had some real pressure, I was determined to make it happen. 

Monetize It

There are multiple ways to monetize your site and/or channel(s). Digital affiliate products are probably the most popular. They are definitely my favorite. Notice I said “digital” affiliate products. Can you get affiliate links for physical products on Amazon? Sure you can. Are they a pain in the ass? Yes, yes they are. 

My recommendation is to steer clear of Amazon affiliate links and physical products as a whole for several reasons. Commissions tend to be lower. Your customer doesn’t get the immediate gratification of receiving their purchased product or service at the time they push the “Place Order” button like they do with digital products. Physical products incur shipping costs for you and for the buyer both. Physical products can be broken in transit. The list goes on and on. 

Go Digital

Digital products and services just make more sense!

There are thousands of digital products and services available in just about any niche you can possibly think of. If there aren’t any in your niche, you should give serious consideration to creating some and allowing other affiliates to promote your product(s)!

Four of the largest sites to find products are ClickBank, CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), Rakuten/LinkShare and ShareASale. There are many others also. 

And, a lot of products/companies have affiliate programs you won’t find on these types of sites. If you know of a product or company you love and think your followers could benefit from, go to their website, scroll to the bottom and look for the word “affiliate.” If you don’t find it, reach out to them and see if they have an affiliate program or would entertain the idea of creating one. If the answer is no, again, consider creating your own. Or, just find a similar competitor that has a solid product that is beneficial to your customers and go with that one.

Running Ads

There are many ways to run ads. You can run ads on your website and you can run ads on other platforms such as Google AdWords, Facebook and many other platforms. The Internet world is your oyster!

As I said, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and the like can be great ways to push traffic to your site and generate sales. But, be extremely careful here. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can lose a lot of money fast. Hell, you can lose a helluva lot of money fast even if you DO know what you are doing! My recommendation is to make damn sure you have at least one high-ticket product on your site if you are going to run paid ads on one of these platforms. If you don’t, you will only dig yourself into a hole. Actually, you should have at least one high-ticket item you offer even if you aren’t running ads. You should have a mix of one or two low-ticket products and medium-ticket products (or more if they are beneficial to your audience) and one or two high-ticket items. It just makes good business sense. 

I would hope it would go without saying but no matter what, you must make sure the products you offer are high quality and useful to your customers. After all, you are in this to help them. Income from your help is just a nice by-product. Don’t get this part wrong. As the saying goes, karma’s a bitch!

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, becoming a successful affiliate marketer is an extremely simple concept and is very doable for most. The problem is, most people don’t grasp the amount of work and perseverance required to make it happen. Once you have that in mind and seriously commit to making it your number one priority for 2-5 years no matter if you see any type of profit in that time or not, you are well on your way to blowing by all those who give up after a few weeks because it’s hard. Just Rock It!

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