So You Want to Be an Affiliate: Start Here

If you’re just starting to dabble in the world of affiliate marketing, it can be a lot to take in and wrap your head around. At the core, it’s simple: affiliate marketers promote a link (i.e. a product), and when people buy from that link, the affiliate makes a commission.

But before you take your first steps toward becoming an affiliate, it’s important to know the lingo and understand the different offerings and best practices out there. With that in mind, we’ve put together a primer with the basics.

Don’t force a square peg into a round hole

The most successful affiliates are the ones that have found their right niche and product fit. When thinking about what program to join, ask yourself: Is this product something that will fulfill a need for other people? Would I enjoy it for myself? Can I talk comfortably about it? You want to say “yes” across the board.

Some affiliate programs involve promoting a single product or service, while others can open you up to many products that will help your readers. For example, joining eBay’s affiliate program gives you access to 800 million listings by sellers in a wide range of categories in eBay’s marketplace.

Getting paid

Affiliate marketing is a form of “performance-based marketing,” that is, affiliates drive visitors to purchase (or another action, below) and are then rewarded. There are three main commission models offered by affiliate programs:

  • Cost per sale (CPS): You get paid when you drive a visitor to the affiliate merchant’s website and they complete a purchase. This is the most common payment type.
  • Cost per lead (CPL): Also called cost per action (CPA), in this model a lead can be defined as a registration, download or other action.
  • Cost per click (CPC): This model isn’t based on sales or conversions, but rather you earn commissions based on the number of visitors you drive to the merchant’s site.

Commissions vary across each network. With eBay’s affiliate program (a CPS model), the amount is based on category-level commission rates. Affiliates earn anywhere from 40% to 80% of eBay’s revenue, depending on what product they’re selling.

Commission models and base rates are one of the biggest factors to consider when looking at affiliate programs, but also be sure to compare any bonuses or other opportunities offered. For example, eBay Partner Network pays a 200% commission bonus for each purchase made by a new or reactivated eBay buyer.

Using tools and tracking

Once you’ve found the right program and model for you, you want to do things right. Luckily you’re savvy and do your homework. Stay ahead of selling trends with Terapeak, a powerful tool for eBay and Amazon sellers to identify top products and know where to focus your efforts. DataLabs, a free eBay-specific alternative, gives insight into top selling items in real-time, along with their value.

Finally, tracking and analytics should be woven within all of your efforts. Ensure your website is properly set up with analytics, use unique tracking codes for different campaigns, and dig into the data from your site as well as from your affiliate partner often to know what’s working and what isn’t.

Now that you’re primed with the basics, check out this comprehensive rundown by affiliate marketing expert Geno Prussakov to learn more about getting into the affiliate marketing game.

Wanna learn how to make more money with your website? Check the Online Profits training program!


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