Is Affiliate Marketing Profitable: How, What & Why

June 27, 2017 by Jasmin Hukić

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At the first glance, it really may seem that reviewing products is the most obvious way to earn money from affiliate marketing.

That might be the case several years ago, but things are a bit more complicated these days.

The times are a changing

The competition is strong and it won’t get any easier. Writing simple reviews is not good enough anymore.

Sometimes even if the reviews are great it can be a pain in the neck to monetize such work. In other words, you need to stand out.

How?

Here is one nicely wrapped up answer from an expert:

The affiliate formula is always the same – find out what people need or desire (pain points) and put the solution in front of them. Now, what separates successful affiliates from unsuccessful ones is persistence (most of the time).

Drazen Prastalo, Founder of IncomeMesh

Of course, there is much more to it, but this quote really points to key things about affiliate marketing:

  • Finding the niche
  • Creating the content
  • Being persistent

That is, among many other things, what I’m going to talk about in this blog post.

I’m going to talk a lot about the content, and although the term includes different types of content, here I’ll mostly refer to the blog posts.

By the end of the reading, you should be able to find out how to make affiliate business profitable.

Let’s start.

Find Your Niche

The first step is to clarify what you are interested in. So, ask yourself:

  • What do you like?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What are you the best at?

You really shouldn’t be entering Home & Garden industry, for instance, if you don’t care about gardening that much.

Flowers

The reason lies in a fact that you would have to write lots of content, and if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll fail because you wouldn’t stand a chance against competitors who are truly into it.

Once you get clear about your interests, the next thing you should do is to identify your main competitors.

Here are some questions that need to be answered:

  • Who are your main competitors?
  • What type of content they’re publishing (blog posts, infographics, tools, interviews, etc)
  • Which affiliate programs they use

For example, if you’re writing about books, it’s probably a good idea to join the Amazon’s affiliate program.

It will provide you the best earnings because Amazon is worldwide available and its conversion rates are higher than some local bookstore.

The photo above shows you Amazon commission rates.

According to Statistia, an average U.S. online shopping order value in Q1 2017 is exactly $82.5 which means that if you get a 8% commission rate, each sale will bring you $6.6.

Average Order Value In E-commmerce

In other words, earning $1,000 requires 153 orders.

This is a classic example of business to consumers – B2C. But, what if your customers are other business owners? In that case, we’re talking about business to business – B2B.

The following explains differences between B2B and B2C marketing.

B2B vs B2C Marketing

If you go for B2B, you can count that, comparing to B2C, you will need 8-10x fewer visitors to earn $1,000.

Why?

B2B visitors usually have more buying power than B2C visitors, but the problem is that there are much fewer affiliate programs for B2B than for B2C.

Therefore, I would recommend searching for affiliate programs before you start!

This might be helpful – Web Guru Studio named these 11 most profitable niches in affiliate marketing.

Niche

It can help you with your choice, and that’s very important.

I’ve already said that in affiliate marketing you need to spend lots of your time in creating a good content and if you’re not familiar with the subject or you don’t enjoy it, you will struggle to create good content.

Get Content Ideas

Once you’ve defined the niche that suits you, next step is creating a valuable content.

No matter what’s the type of your business, knowing what your audience is interested in, is a starting point in creating a good content.

Here are few tips how can you get to know your audience better.

Use BuzzSumo to see what’s shared on the social networks.

For example, if you simply type fitness you’ll clearly see how different content about fitness is shared on major social networks.

Just write fitness in the search box and click on Go!

Fitness search at BuzzSumo

The results are here.

Fitness at BuzzSumo

In this particular example you can see that half of the top results is content about workout and exercises, so that can be a good signal what the audience in the fitness industry find interesting.

Also, there are many useful filters including, date, country, content type and more.

Next, with a help of keyword tools, you can discover the keywords from your niche.

I strongly recommend using Ubersuggest or Keywordtool.io. Here is how.

Let’s imagine that you enjoy writing about traveling across the USA, and you would like to write an article about visiting Chicago.

But, if you put the title Visiting Chicago, it will be hard for you to show up on the top results on Google.

You should go for longer titles (I’ll explain later why). This where Ubersuggest can help you.

Type visiting Chicago and click on suggest.

Ubersuggest: Visiting Chicao

You will get the following results.

Ubersuggest: Visiting Chicago, long-tail keywords

Personally, in this case, I would choose the title Visiting Chicago In December For The First Time.

With this title, I’d be attacking two different long tail keywords with solid search volume. Of course, I would have to make relevant in-depth article first.

There is no better place than Quora to see what’s frequently asked and answered in your niche.

Quora

Take a look at these numbers.

Quora Visits by SimilarWeb

Quora has more than 270.4M visits each month which means that there are lots of questions which are always a great source of content marketing ideas.

Type travel and you’ll get several suggestions of different topics containing the word travel.

Quora: Search for travel

Click on Visiting and Travel topic, and there will be options to sort questions by different criteria including Topic FAQ, Most Viewed Writers and more.

Quora: Answer on Specific Topic

Here, you can see suggested questions, so click on Answer.

You’ll find the questions that are waiting for answers. Based on that you can start writing a blog post and provide a detailed answer to hot questions.

Visiting and Travel: Answers

As you can see from the photo, in this case, I’ve found a good evergreen title perfect for a blog about traveling.

Repeat the process and I guarantee that you’ll find lots of content marketing ideas.

Now that you know what to write about, let’s see how to make content that matter.

Create Valuable Content

The more content you produce, the better results you will achieve.

But keep in mind that content needs to valuable if you want to feel real benefits. What content is considered to be valuable?

Simply said, it’s any piece of content that attract visitors to your site, and then engage them in making the desired action.

However, there are some standards that every content creator should follow. Examine this photo.

Average content length of top ten results

Obviously, content length is something you need to be aware of.

First 6 positions are taken by contents with +2.300 words, and the first two positions are contents with more than 2.450 words, on average.

Writing such a long articles is not an easy job, so it will require lots of efforts, but trust me – it’s worth.

Content length has an impact on social shares too. Apparently, the content should have +3.000 words if we want to get our posts shared on social networks.

Average shares by content length

These numbers above are telling us even more than ranking positions.

It’s interesting how content with 2k-3k words isn’t shared at all. There is a perfectly good explanation for this. Everyone loves solutions.

So, when someone type, for example how to check backlinks in Google Webmaster you can provide a short straightforward answer, but that’s usually not enough because one will probably have more related questions.

On the other hand, if you provide a detailed guide about his problem you’ll be a hero of the day because your post will be valuable to them.

The satisfied visitors will browse through your website, share your posts and visit you again.

All this will result in better ranking positions and more shares on social media.

Bottom line: Writing quality in-depth articles is essential to becoming an authority in your niche. It’s a hard work, but very profitable in long term.

Promote Your Content

No matter how good your content is, it needs promotion, all the time.

In the long term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the best way to do it.

Now, SEO is a constant activity with many aspects, and it would be the best if you could hire an expert.

But if that is not the case, don’t worry, you can do a lot on your own.

I suggest doing a quick SEO audit which will point to what should you improve on the website in order to improve UX.

Then you can start optimizing your content. This is where long tail keywords can make the difference.

Here is how. Take a look at this curve.

Long-Tail Keywords

With short phrases, you will face high cost and competition and low probability of conversion.

On the other hand phrases with +4 words – long tail keywords, generate low cost and risk and high probability of conversion.

It all makes perfect sense. With more words, it’s easier to understand the intention, and therefore you can expect better conversions.

All this about long tail keywords stands both for organic rankings and paid ads. So, it’s pretty much clear how to promote content on Google.

Now let’s see how to promote content on social media. Here’s one interesting research of social media platform usage.

B2B vs B2C marketing

For B2C content marketing, Facebook is the most used social media, whereas for B2B content marketing Linkedin and Twitter are number one and two, respectively.

Depending on your industry and customers (business or consumers) you should choose where your primary focus will be for content promotion.

For example, if you’re in food or fashion industry, Facebook and Pinterest would be much smarter choice than Linkedin and Twitter which are more suitable for most of the B2Bs.

One of the great things about digital marketing is that everything can be easily tested. That’s why there are so many available useful stats.

Here are some of them.

Sprout Social calculated that, on average, Americans spend more than half an hour every day, both on Facebook and Twitter.

Average time spend on social networks per day by Americans

Apparently, the day you tweet matters a lot.

If you tweet on Saturday or Sunday, the chance to get clicks is almost two times better than on other days.

Twitter Activity by Day

Finally, don’t forget that everything about social media can be explained in the following three steps:

  • Plan
  • Measure
  • Implement

The wheel of social media strategy

This way, you will find out what works the best for you, because the examples mentioned above are just examples.

You have to find out what works for your site, so you can maximize the results.

Monetize

I’ve already talked about the way to find ideas for your blog posts.

Now, let’s see what are types of things that blog can sell. There’s very little that blog can’t sell.

This picture above shows blogs potential both on direct sales and affiliate marketing. The main thing is to have great content that will bring visitors.

Types of things you can sell on your own blog

However, when you create good content, promote it and increase the number of visitors to your site, that’s still not the end of the circle.

To get there, you’ll need to get the leads and to turn your visitors to become your customers.

In affiliate marketing, getting the leads may not be as important as it would be if you were the one selling the products and services.

But, it would be a huge mistake not to use the power of email marketing.

Why?

Because when you build your email list, you can send newsletters every time when you publish a new blog post.

As I said before, you can measure and optimize everything.

The best day to send email is

Sending emails is no exception. Just like posting on social networks, there are also days when it’s best to send emails.

Writing reviews on your site can be also a good idea. One of the best examples is BestVPN.com which learns its user’s everything about VPN.

BestVPN

When they mention a VPN provider, they simply add an affiliate link so they earn a commission whenever someone clicks (and buys) from it.

Another example is TheSweetHome.com.

TheSweetHome

This site writes reviews about products that you use every day in your house.

Writing reviews in terms of monetization is undoubtedly great because the intent of users that come from Google is highly commercial.

Conclusion: Is It Profitable?

Affiliate marketing is like any other job. Some are making fortune out of it and some aren’t so lucky.

The good news is that there is no secret recipe for success. If you create enough of valuable content the results will be there.

I’ve shown you how to find a niche, how the content should look alike and how to promote it.

Now that the path is clear, it’s all about how much effort you’re willing to put.

That’s why it’s very important that you enjoy it while writing the content.

Also, you should try different affiliate programs so you can see which one brings you the most revenue.

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