So you’ve heard all the hype about affiliate marketing and dream of collecting large paychecks from the comfort of your couch? Well, we hate to break it to you, but it’s not as easy as all those work-from-home mommy-bloggers claim.
Nonetheless, it certainly is possible. The power of the Internet combined with the suave of content marketing and search engine optimization means we have entered an unparalleled age of promoting and selling our ideas, endorsements, or products.
While we all want to live comfortably at home and collect a monthly paycheck from a website, the ever-increasing competition and changing technicalities means that the whole process has become a steadily growing challenge for those looking for success on the web.
So what can be done differently when creating and promoting your affiliate website? We’re here to give you seven must-have tips if you are thinking about starting an affiliate site in 2016.
Properly research and decide on your target/pitch
So, you’ve put it in your mind that you want to start an affiliate marketing website. All you have to do is slap a few affiliate links into your page, and the money should start flowing, right?
Wrong. When deciding your particular product or idea, you need to put careful consideration into whether it will be successful. Let’s take a look at three things we recommend you do while brainstorming ideas.
Research Google keyword rankings
Acquiring traffic to your site through Google isn’t as easy as you think. Due to advanced algorithms and ever-changing statistics, getting your site to rank near the top of the Google search requires you to know what people are searching for in the first place.
As an example, let’s assume you want to create an affiliate website dealing with image editing software. If we take a look at Google Keywords (read more about Keywords), we can see that the search term “best image-editing software” gets over 25,000 monthly searches! Playing around with some of the wording will give us a better idea of what people are looking for in either broad or specific terms.
Scope out the competition!
So, you’ve decided what you are going to base your site’s content on, and you know your pitch. What’s next? How about some good old-fashioned snooping on the competition! Whether it’s through traditional Google search or an outreach tool such as Buzzstream or Buzzsumo, you can quickly find related websites to your product.
Having an idea what some of your successful (and unsuccessful) competition has going for them will help you ultimately deliver a better end product.
Make it unique and worthwhile
The internet has grown to the point where having something that is available in dozens of other websites is a waste of time. Do your keyword research properly and make sure to target a particular niche or group of people.
For example, doing a quick google search on our example of an image-editing affiliate site returns dozens of review and blog sites. While this is undoubtedly worrying, if we further refine our search for image editing software only for GoPro’s, we can see that there only a handful, new sites out there.
Know your audience
So you’ve got your idea and market, you know what people are looking for, but do you know who your audience actually is?
The demographics of people searching on the internet can be vastly different depending on the product itself, meaning your content and marketing should be tailored to the audience you are trying to attract.
Going back to our image-editing software review site, if the majority of your site’s visitors are budding young photographers, starting a photo submission contest or having an online photography course giveaway on your site could potentially be an excellent way to attract visitors and followers.
Get your backend straightened out
It may not seem like the most critical component to your site’s success initially, but having the proper backend is almost as important as having a visually appealing front end.
If you are using a publishing platform such as WordPress to manage your website, keeping it clean and functioning adds a degree of professionalism and authority to your site in the eyes of your visitors.
Don’t forget the importance of deciding on a reliable host that will guarantee your site’s uptime and keep your page’s loading fast. Having someone click on a link to your site only to close the window due to an eight second load time is, of course, unacceptable.
Have a short and long term plan
Having a short and long term plan means that not only do you know what you are doing with your time today and tomorrow, but also in six months time.
Long term goals should be set first, with a definite goal or target that should realistically be readily achievable. Instead of focusing on dollar amounts or retiring in the Cayman Islands, plan on reaching X number of monthly visitors to your site, or X conversion rate among visitors.
Your long-term goals should also tie in with your short term goals as well. Short term goals should help your progress towards eventually reaching your long-term goals and ambitions.
Setting a goal of having X amount of content released each week, or even merely touching up frontend and design related work can be realistic and eventually help you reach those valuable long-term goals.
Read more about how important goal-setting is and how it can help you grow as a business here.
How are you going to market?
Let’s go over some of the ways you can help market your website in order to garner and retain traffic.
Newsletters are a classic way of building a stable and valuable customer base. Whether through a discount or some other sort of promotion to sign up, offer some incentive for users to sign up for your weekly or monthly newsletter.
Focus your newsletter on your most fruitful and engaging content, while keeping it slim and to the point.
Giveaways and competitions are also great ways of getting your name out there and attracting freeloaders visitors to your site. Through building an e-mail list or just gaining traffic via social media, you can rapidly increase your presence with the proper promotions.
A potential great tool for this purpose is Gleam, a compilation of online marketing tools that provide high value to emerging businesses.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave these past ten years, you probably already know that Social Media has to be an essential part of your marketing campaign. Ignoring it is like being offered a pay-rise and saying “no thanks.” Not only can it be a good source for new traffic but a platform to connect with your visitors on a unique level and gain valuable feedback.
Yes, I know, the sheer number of social networks out there can be daunting, especially since a new one seems to pop up every week. But you only need to focus on a few of them and using some of the following tools, they won’t take up too much of your time either.
If you need some help with managing your social media profiles, I highly recommend checking out Hootsuite, a multi-platform social media management tool. Not sure if you site is up to social media standards? Take a look at Know.me to see if your site is optimized for sharing and engagement.
Be prepared to spend
Budget over what you think you will need! Web hosting and advertising, coupled with any additional services you may use, mean that this will not be a cheap endeavor. Considering you probably won’t be raking in millions in the first couple months, be prepared to open up the checkbook.
Don’t save money on hosting! As we mentioned earlier, having a reliable hosting provider means more traffic on your site. While your budget $5 a month hosting plan may sound enticing, you could also be dealing with downtime and other issues that affect your business.
If you think a tool would be useful, pay for it! As we mentioned above, there are numerous tools at your disposal to help you sell your product(s) better. Whether it is an outreach/marketing service such as Buzzstream, these tools exist specifically to help make your job easier and drive traffic to your site.
Spend money on advertising! Just like the traditional method of placing an ad in a newspaper, spending money on getting your name heard out there will reap its rewards. Whether it’s Google, Bing, or Facebook, advertising yourself and the product you wish to sell is necessary.
Check out this insight from Newfangled so see the true costs in starting and maintaining a website.
Produce informative or valuable content
Believe it or not, we’ve reached the most important part of this guide and the number one reason most affiliate marketing sites either succeed or fail: Content.
I could point you to numerous different affiliate sites that have failed to garner attention and traffic. The reoccurring theme with these affiliate sites is that they fail to make their content stick, or gain any traction.
So, how can you avoid a similar fate for your website? Let’s take a look at some of the key points you should stick to when producing content for your site.
Is your content readable? So, you’ve covered your website in walls of text, placing your hopes on somebody having the patience to read your endless paragraphs.
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Well, this happens a lot with people thinking that as long as there is something on the page, it will drive traffic. Wrong!
Keep your content short and to the point, but without trimming off important details. This will keep your readers focused on what is vital to them and you (the product).
Is your content informative? One of the cores of running a successful affiliate site is having content that is not only readable and about the topic, but also informative to the point where your readership feels they are learning something.
I don’t have to tell you how the value of the content of your website is essential to gaining reoccurring business and authority among peers.
Using the previous GoPro site example, if you publish a guide that specifically details how to attach a GoPro to a drone, you will reach people who not only want to invest in GoPro-related products but also visitors that are looking for information and guides on GoPros.
By creating content on your site that is value, you are obtaining quality, organic traffic that cannot be replaced. Check out this nice article about three ways you can improve your site’s content.
Are you offering something unique? One of the major issues one can see with different affiliate websites is that they all tend to reproduce a lot of content that is already out there. Depending on the product you are basing your site on, it could be difficult to produce content that doesn’t already exist somewhere else on the internet.
Part of creating something unique is researching and contributing enough time and effort to make the content stand out in the eyes of your readers. Instead of rehashing old news, look at releasing industry-first guides, how-to’s or other ideas that aren’t being beaten to death by hundreds of other bloggers.
So, after reading this, you must be thinking that you can be successful with an affiliate business without a hitch. The stark reality, however, is that you need a lot of time and patience, along with quality work to become a successful business.
Staying proactive and constantly updating yourself on new techniques and tools means that you will always stay ahead of your competition.
So, do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to an affiliate marketing website? Let us know in the comments below!