5 Strategies to Make Money as an Affiliate Marketer

Since John’s blog is primarily about making money online, I thought I’d come up with a post that shares some tips on how you can make an excellent income as an affiliate marketer. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mitchell Harper and I’m co-founder of BigCommerce, ecommerce software which you can use to sell physical and downloadable products (such as eBooks or music) online. We have 40,000 customers between our Interspire and BigCommerce products.

We’ve recently launched our BigCommerce affiliate program which pays $300 per sale. Now to most this is extremely generous – after all, our highest plan is $149.95 a month, but why do we do it? We do it for two reasons:

  1. So we can attract the top 1% of affiliates. We have two affiliate programs – our own in-house program and our Commission Junction (CJ) program. CJ is the biggest affiliate network in the world and in order to recruit their premium affiliates your offer needs to stand out. Offering (significantly) more commission than our competitors – GoDaddy, Yahoo Stores and Network Solutions – made us stand out because affiliates are always after the BBD – the bigger, better deal.
  2. So we don’t have to expand our internal sales team. Affiliates are like a sales team for a company – except they work for commission only and no salary. An affiliate program is the smartest way to increase your sales without increasing your expenses, because you only pay affiliate commissions when a sale comes in.

So now let’s look at the other side of the coin – being an affiliate marketer. I’ve learned a lot about affiliate marketing in the last few years (our Interspire affiliate program has over 3,000 active affiliates and our BigCommerce affiliate program is pushing 1,000 active affiliates even though it was only launched last week) so I wanted to share some strategies which you can use to make money (and even a full-time income) as an affiliate marketer. Feel free to add your own strategies in the comments section below.

Here they are:

  1. Take the time to write detailed reviews for the products you’re promoting and get them listed in search results. For example, did you know that Top10Reviews.com is one big affiliate site? The key is that they provide excellent quality reviews and comparisons between similar products, but no matter which product you choose they get their affiliate commission.
  2. Use video to promote products. Grab your MacBook or a digital camera and record an unscripted review of the product, just like how CNet does. Be honest and talk about both the pros and cons of the product you’re reviewing. People appreciate honesty and you’ll build up an excellent following if you’re honest with your reviews.
  3. Use offline marketing methods such as postcards to reach prospects. Let’s face it. AdWords is expensive and there’s so much “noise” online that it can be hard to reach the people you want. Why not try a more traditional marketing activity such as postcards? Just create a domain name such as AcmeProductTrial.com (where “Acme Product” is the name of the product/service you’re promoting) and forward that domain using your affiliate link.
  4. Pick up on the pain points customers are having using products similar to those you’re promoting and address them. For example, if someone is having trouble using Intuit QuickBooks and you promote Microsoft Money, create a website with a comparison table and reviews from happy Microsoft customers and have a big “Try It!” button which of course links to the Microsoft Money website using your affiliate link.
  5. If you can afford it, run Google AdWords ads which take visitors to a survey. Ask them questions about their particular situation (such as Internet security if you promote McAfee products) and if it makes sense, show offers for 2 or 3 related products after they’ve completed the survey. Clearly tell visitors you will use their responses to create a website with more information and even ask for their email address so you can link them to that site when you’ve built it. This way you can get real insight into their pain points and what they’re looking for out of the kind of products you’re promoting and you’ll make your affiliate commissions. You can then use the information you learn to setup landing pages addressing their concerns which of course include your affiliate links.

I could write a few dozen of these strategies because I know they work time and time again, but I’ll leave it at five for now. Remember, if you’re looking to make money as an affiliate marketer you need to promote products with a high conversion rate, large audience of potential buyers and excellent commission. The BigCommerce affiliate program, which pays up to $300 per sale is a great place to start 🙂