The key to success when it comes to selling affiliate products is to build an audience first. This is the “catch” (insofar as there is one), as it means that you need to actually put in some time and work in order to make the biggest sales.
The good news is that if you choose a topic that you find interesting, you will essentially be earning large amounts of money for doing something you enjoy.
But in order to get to this point, you first need to build that audience and gain their trust as an influencer.
Are there other ways to sell affiliate products? Of course! And we’ll explore those in this chapter too. BUT I still highly recommend that you build that audience and make sure that people are interested in your brand.
How to Create a Brand That Sells
Gaining this kind of influence of course is not easy. In order to get to the point where people will buy things just because you recommend them means putting in a lot of time and making an honest attempt to provide real value over time.
This starts by creating a website along with a strong social media presence. Don’t try and sell right away, but instead spend time building up that trust and loyalty through a campaign of delivering excellent quality content consistently.
The most important thing? Have a clear, strong brand, with a great mission statement, and a concrete “buyer persona.” (The buyer persona is the portrait of your “ideal customer.”)
The biggest mistake to make is to try and create a very general website with as broad an appeal as possible. As with the digital product you buy in the first place, this can be a mistaken strategy. The reason for that is that when you go extremely broad, you also necessarily create a brand that is dull and uninteresting.
A “fitness” website for instance is too generic and too done to death to be popular. It means competing with the entire internet pretty much. How do you stand out in such a saturated market?
Consider instead than having a website that is about Fitness for Over 40s. Or how about Paleo Fitness. Or CrossFit. Or Outdoor Fitness. Or Hardcore Bodybuilding.
All of these options have a much clearer target audience, a much clearer mission statement, and a more interesting hook. They will each appeal to fewer people, but the people that they do appeal to will be FAR more likely to engage and be excited that there is something out there specifically for them.
The brand should then be born out of this clear and passionate goal. That means that when someone looks at your logo or your website design, they should know instantly whether it will appeal to them or not. Your brand should strongly communicate who it is for and what it is about: and your content should then back this up.
The hardcore bodybuilding site will likely be red and black with lots of dark images of extremely strong guys, and articles about “boosting testosterone with compound lifts.”
Meanwhile, the paleo fitness site will likely be green and white with images of people running outside in nature. From here, all your advertising, all your social posts, and EVERYTHING should be congruent with this image.
And then, when you choose your affiliate product, it should ideally speak to that exact same audience. And you will market it in that way, and sell it with that value proposition.
What’s ALSO crucial is that you provide unique and new content that demonstrates real expertise.
Here’s a shock: if you hire a writer who doesn’t know about the topic, then you will NEVER sell the affiliate product. Why? Because all that hired writer CAN do, is to research the topic and regurgitate it in their own words.
That means that none of the content is going to be new or insightful, and might well be out of date or incorrect (because they won’t know the topic well enough to identify when this is the case).
You should write to yourself or find a writer who is genuinely passionate about the topic. Why? Because then they will have something NEW and exciting to say! This is how you become a thought leader, and get people to listen and to sign up: because they want a new perspective.
Be bold. Be different. Be passionate. Then choose a product that speaks to the very same audience.
Don’t have time for that? Don’t worry – there are other options too which are listed below.
Placing Your Link
As an affiliate marketer, selling couldn’t be easier. You’re given one link, which is a link to promote a product and you can then make sales and cash from anywhere you place that link.
So the question is: where do you put it?
Most of us will place our link on a landing page/sales page, but this is only one option. In this section, we’ll look at how that works, as well as several more options.
Creating a Sales Page
A sales page is a page on a website that has been designed specifically with the purpose of selling something. That means that it won’t provide any other content (no articles) and likely no other links or even adverts either. You don’t want anything here that could risk distracting people from the product you’re selling.
The design of a sales page is normally going to be very long and narrow, which will in turn encourage readers to keep scrolling and therefore to invest more time into the process of reading what you have to say. This makes it much harder for them to leave without buying, as they will feel as though they wasted their time!
Most important though is the writing. Write your sales pitch correctly, and you can take this captive audience and turn them into eager buyers.
Persuasive writing is an incredibly powerful tool that can turn you into a marketing Jedi. These are not the drones you are looking for…
Ultimately, if you know how to use words to persuade an audience, then you will be far more effective at making sales, at getting people to subscribe to your list and generally at achieving any goal you’re looking to.
So how do you go about learning this superpower? Here are some tips that will help…
- Grab attention: People are in a hurry and they don’t want to read through large amounts of text. If you want to persuade your audience, then first you need to get them to actually read what you have to say. How do you do this? One method is to open with a bold statement. Another is to grab attention by using a narrative structure. The latter works particularly well as we naturally find it very difficult to turn away from a story without getting to the end!
- Appeal to facts and figures: People aren’t always inclined to trust you – after all, they’ve never met you and they know you want to sell to them! Instead, then, let the numbers speak for you. The more figures you can quote and the more authorities you can reference, the more persuasive your argument will become.
- Anticipate: Try to anticipate the concerns that your readers will have and then combat them right away. For instance, you can mention how there are ‘lots of amazing sounding offers online’ but point out that this isn’t ‘just another scam’.
- Mitigate risk: People are naturally inclined to ‘loss aversion’. This means that they are keener to hold onto what they have than they are to gain something new. You need to remove any risk factor then by offering money-back guarantees and free trials.Most importantly: understand the value proposition. This is the emotional value of your product: the way in which you are promising it can change your readers’ lives. For example, if you are selling an ebook on fitness, then you should note that you’re not really selling an ebook on fitness!
What you’re really selling is the feeling of having boundless energy, ripped abs, and tons of confidence. You need to focus on that! Speak to the heart, and try to get the reader to feel something – ideally excitement for buying your product.
Remember: many digital products will come with ready-made sales pages like this, meaning that you can simply lift the script wholesale to use on your own page.
With your sales page, you now simply need to direct your audience toward that page in order to start generating conversions. This can be done through emails, and by promoting your product on your social media. You can even include adverts for the product in the sidebar of your site and elsewhere.
Building a Store
If you are selling multiple affiliate products (which is also a very good strategy), then you can build a store in order to sell them. That means that you’ll be highlighting and promoting products that are relevant to your brand as you might do in an eCommerce store. The only real difference is that when the buyer clicks on your item, they will now instead be taken to an external page.
This is simple to do: for example, you can do it by using the WordPress-friendly eCommerce plugin called WooCommerce. This will allow you to create a store from your site where people can view items. It supports affiliate content, meaning that if someone clicks on an item, they will be taken to the new page using your referral link.
More Ways to Sell
But how about embedding links within the body of your articles? This is something that very few affiliates take advantage of but it’s a great way to monetize a website or blog. Simply write about whatever subject you’re interested in covering and then insert an affiliate link into the text. This way, you can promote the product subtly and anyone who is engaged with your content might click it.
It’s like adding AdSense to your page, except you earn much more commission and you get to actively encourage people to click the link. You can even be honest about the fact that it earns you money!
In fact, the law in many parts of the world is that you must disclaim that you are making money from those products. You can do this easily by using a plugin that adds a message to the bottom of every page on your site – but don’t forget!
One of the best types of content for selling affiliate products is the top ten list. You can make a countdown article listing the best home gym equipment if you’re in the fitness industry, or you can create an article sharing the most powerful laptops on the market if you write about tech.
Whichever you do, this is perfect for generating clicks and money, and will also lend itself perfectly to rich snippets, which can really help your content to stand out in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Likewise, there’s nothing stopping you from placing an affiliate link within the body of an e-mail. This is a great way to reach people right inside their inbox at a time when they may be receptive to your offers.
Affiliate links can also go in eBooks. If you are selling a digital product or giving one away for free, then you can add links to your PDF. The people reading this are likely to be highly engaged with your brand, and thus likely to buy what you recommend. These are qualified leads and that makes it the perfect place to try and sell even bigger ticket items.
Imagine selling a digital product for $20 a pop, and then making lots of MORE money from all the people reading the book and following your advice.
Or how about putting an affiliate link on a physical flier or pamphlet? The best way to use this is to use a more memorable and simple URL and then have it redirect to your affiliate link. That way you can actually advertise your product in person!
The point of these suggestions is partly to demonstrate that you don’t always have to be actively selling the product: you can try the soft-sell by simply adding the link, perhaps with an image.
This works especially well for physical products (especially if you use a well-designed button and the item is actively related to the content on the page). If you have a popular site with a lot of viewers and a lot of content, then simply weaving buy links in throughout in this way can lead to lots of sales trickling in… and they all add up!
There are many more ways you can use affiliate links, you just have to be creative. Experiment and try different things and you might be surprised what works best for you and your product!
PPC Advertising and Other Marketing
But what if you don’t have an audience? What if you aren’t an influencer who has earned the trust of your readers?
In this case, you will need to find ways to send visitors to your sales page directly. The good news is that you can do this easily through PPC (Pay Per Click) platforms such as Facebook and AdWords.
PPC means that you only pay when someone actually clicks on your advert. You decide what your maximum spend “per click” is going to be, and what the cut-off point of your budget will be as well. If you set your per click to spend too low, then your ad won’t show when there are lots of competing ads from other brands in the same niche. Set it too high, and you likely won’t turn a profit.
When placing ads on Facebook, you will be able to target who they are shown to based on information that users share with the social site. Those include:
- Hobbies and interests
- Job title
- Income bracket
- Interests of others
When placing ads on Google through AdWords, the aim is to consider not only the interests of the person (based on what they are searching for – the “keywords”) but also the intent of that person.
Intent is an important consideration for PPC, because it tells you whether someone is researching, or looking to buy.
If they are researching, then they might search for “best computer games this year.” If they are looking to buy, then they might search the name of the computer game, or “cheap computer games.” You can also use “negative keywords” to rule out phrases that might suggest someone is not interested in buying and so has the wrong intent (such as “free download”).
The aim of PPC is to ensure that people ONLY click the link if they are likely to buy from you. This lowers the amount you spend while increasing the potential profit. That means the adverts must be as tightly “targeted” to the right person as possible, even to the point of scaring away people who won’t likely want to buy using the right text.
The link should of course direct people to a sales page in order to maximize your profits. You then need to focus on the conversion rate of your site. In other words, if your landing page is well written, then it might convert 1% of visitors (meaning 1% of visitors buy from you). The higher you get this number, the more you can afford to spend on your advertising while still earning a profit.
Direct Selling Through Facebook and Other Platforms
Of course, you also have the option to sell directly through those other platforms. There is nothing to stop you sharing an affiliate link to your Facebook group, or to your Instagram (in your bio, or once you are able to add the swipe up feature on stories). This is a useful way to build an engaged audience if you don’t have the skills or time to create a website.