Chances are that you have heard about affiliate marketing, and maybe even considered getting involved yourself, but you have some questions and concerns.
I think I know some of what you may be thinking when the topic of affiliate marketing crosses your mind;
- Is it legit or is it just another sleazy internet scam?
- What exactly is it anyway?
- Is it just another MLM pyramid scheme designed to rip people off?
- If it is a real opportunity, then how do I get started?
- How technically difficult is it going to be – do I have to know how to build a website and SEO and all that techie stuff?
- What equipment and supplies do I need to get started?
- Where and how do I sign up?
- What is the REAL earning potential – how much money can I really expect to make?
- How much is it going to cost me to get started?
- How long is it going to take before I begin to earn affiliate income?
- Where and how do I find products to market?
- Can I really make the most money with affiliate marketing or should I do something else instead?
- How can I make more with affiliate marketing if I work hard at it?
- How long should I expect before I should begin to see results?
- Is it really PASSIVE INCOME?
- Are there any Secrets that I must learn to become successful in Affiliate Marketing?
- What course is best to start with?
- What about the flashy guru’s with pictures of stacks of cash, yachts, airplanes, fancy cars and mansions – is that real or just B.S. ?
- Why are there so many people saying affiliate marketing is just a scam designed to rip people off?
- Are there any guarantees I will be successful as an affiliate marketer?
Most of these things were questions that crossed my mind too. A few are not necessarily questions I had but that other people seemed to ask again and again as I researched and began to study more of what affiliate marketing is all about.
Now let’s go over what I have learned and my thoughts on each of these questions so far, and by the way – I will abbreviate some of them instead of copying each one entirely.
- Is it legit?
The short answer is YES, it is a legitimate opportunity.
What I found out is that most of the largest and most successful companies on the planet use affiliate marketing programs to help them sell more products. Some names you will be familiar with are Amazon, and Walmart just to name a couple. Then there are hundreds of thousands of other companies using affiliate marketing too. Some are large companies, some small and even some individual people and solopreneurs using it to increase their sales.
- What is it?
Affiliate marketing is a process of earning a fee from promoting products for companies and people when your efforts result is a sale.
One of the easiest ways to get the concept is to imagine a salesperson representing a product or a service for another company. Two examples would be real estate agents and insurance agents. Typically, they will market their products, find prospective buyers, explain the benefits and advantages of their product (home or policy) and attempt to overcome any objections the prospective buyer may have to complete the sale. When they make a sale, they earn a fee (commission). As an affiliate marketer you find ways to reach potential customers (such as websites, blog posts, articles, videos, and social media), provide them with the information they want and need about the products and services you are representing – and if they buy they do so by clicking on a link that is attached to you – then you earn a fee for that sale. In some cases, you will earn a fee for any continued renewals such as for memberships, courses, website hosting, subscription boxes, etc. The real estate agent and the insurance agent spend a lot of time one on one trying to make sales. They do so either live and in person or on the phone. Often a sale requires both time on the phone and face to face and eats up a lot of our most valuable commodity – time.
You have a lot of potential advantages. First off you do not need a license to become an affiliate marketer – whereas you do if you want to become a real estate agent or insurance agent. Your market is also worldwide thanks to the internet. Once you have your systems in place much of the remaining work is automatic (near passive or what I like to call semi-passive). So unlike the agents and other types of salespeople – you build websites and put systems in place that are automated and work 24/7/365 even while you sleep.
By the way – there is nothing wrong with becoming a real estate agent or insurance agent either – they are just different types of business models and vastly different opportunities.
- Is it just another MLM scam?
No, it’s not MLM and no it is not a scam.
MLM – or Multilevel Marketing definitely has a bad reputation, and in my opinion more than deservingly so. One fundamental difference is that MLM in many cases is primarily intent on recruiting more people into the thing and that is where the money comes in. Think pyramid scheme and you get the basic idea I want to convey. In other words there is no real product or service of any true value being marketed – and whatever excuse of one there is – it is just that, an excuse and a technicality to enable the schemers to operate their scheme so long as they thread the needle and stay on the right side of the law. Cross it and get caught too many times and they get class-action lawsuits, regulatory action and often shutdown ala MOBE and so many more before it.
- If it is real – how do I get started?
You can research and learn on your own and take action as you learn, or you can get help from others.
There are multiple ways to proceed. Some better than others. Some just a matter of preference as to which is best for you. I recommend you join Wealthy Affiliate and sign up for their FREE trial. I am an affiliate for WA so if you sign up using my link and if you later become a paying member then I get a commission. You can do that HERE. You can also read more about Wealthy Affiliate right here on my blog as I post new articles in the future. Be sure to subscribe while you are here if you want to be notified.
- How technically difficult is it?
Not too bad really – but it will take some effort and a bit of learning.
Chances are that it won’t be too difficult for you to learn what you need to know, and if you are adept at using a computer and the to do your research then you are already off to a good start! It really just comes down to whether you are willing to learn and ready to put in the time and effort to do it or not.
- What supplies do I need?
A computer and internet connection mainly.
Beyond that, you will need a domain name and website hosting, and access to companies offering affiliate products you can market. The domain may be as little as $20.00 or even less and you can get it here. Hosting can range between a few bucks to around $15.00 or so to up to about $50.00 or more per month (sometimes billed annually in advance) depending on where you get it and what plan you start with and what bells and whistles come included with it. I represent Bluehost as an affiliate and you can use my link to sign up HERE. This is one of the most affordable hosting services available and they have a great reputation too. If you do use my link and if you have questions about how to set up your site or any other site related questions you can email me, and I will do my best to help you. My email address is on my site www.ldsewell.com.
After you have your site up and running you need to start creating content and getting some readers.
When it comes to getting products to sell you have many choices. Amazon is certainly one, and there are many others to consider. You can contact individual companies who have their own programs and sign up – and you can also join services that have multiple companies available for you to represent as an affiliate. Some others are mentioned further below.
- Where and how do I sign up?
There are multiple options to get started for you to choose from.
As mentioned above there are multiple providers of products to market. There are also many different choices when it comes to sites, site hosting, affiliate marketing information, training, and other resources too. There is no single point of entry.
I suggest that you do some thinking and consider whether this is something you feel like you really want to pursue or not. If it is, then get a domain name and a site hosting service, download WordPress and start building your own site. Begin building it out and creating content.
Also, go ahead and sign up for Wealthy Affiliate HERE – and REMEMBER – just take the FREE TRIAL for now! There is nothing for you to lose and it is FREE yet will provide you immediate access to a TON of information and resources that can help you go from clueless to relatively well informed much faster than otherwise likely.
It is a matter of you choosing a place to start, learning the basics and then taking ACTION and trying something new to you. Then keep doing it long enough to begin to see results.
As I mentioned, I am still learning all this myself too – and taking action to see what works and then I will continue refining and adjusting until I get it all dialed in. What I can tell you already without a doubt is that most people are going to QUIT before they ever even have a chance to see whether it works or not. How do I know that? Because that is true in EVERY OTHER BUSINESS and similar activity that people get involved in without exception.
Attention spans are short, and people are looking for quick and easy. This isn’t that – not that I can tell anyway – and for that matter, every other real opportunity I know of in life requires both hard work and time for it to begin to pay off in measurable ways that are sustainable long term. I expect that to be the case here too and believe you should too. Remember this is a BUSINESS and be prepared to put in the time and effort if you expect the rewards.
- What is the real earning potential?
While there are NO LIMITS there is no accurate way to answer that question particular to you.
All I can tell you is that it depends on your ability to generate leads and then convert those leads into prospects and those prospects into customers. Some people are far more motivated than others. Some people catch on to how to do that faster than others. Some people are just willing to work harder than other people and put out tons of useful, relevant and helpful content on multiple different platforms.
If you can get enough people interested and if you have chosen your products well – then it should be a simple matter of math.
The fees you earn range from about 1 to 10% on the low side up to about 50% or even more on the high side. Physical products are often going to pay less because there are more overhead costs to the company to create or purchase, warehouse, pack and ship products and deal with damages and returns etc. Digital products such as courses, eBooks, printables and other things do not have the same costs or potential liabilities involved with shipping physical products – so their profit potential can be a higher percentage in many cases. One is not necessarily better than the other it’s just that they are different, and you need to take those differences into consideration.
Percent literally means 1 per 100. In other words, if I offered to pay you 1% and the sale was $100.00 you would get $1.00. Then if it were 10% you would get $10.00 and if it were 50% you would get $50.00. See how that works?
Now another thing to consider is how large is your nitch (or niche depending on where in the world you are)? Even small fees can add up to large amounts of income if there are large numbers of sales. Which would you rather have – half of ten $100.00 sales or ten percent of 100,000 $10.00 sales?
Go on Amazon – pick a product. Now play with some scenarios. What if you generated 1000 sales X commission? What would the dollar amount to you come out to? So, play with some different scenarios and you will see the real potential is HUGE. The question is what kind of results can YOU produce, and what kind of results can I produce? That remains to be seen – and will always be an individual thing which will vary from person to person based on many different factors. I believe the potential is enormous, and time will tell the tale.
- How much is it going to cost me to get started?
Immediately – NOTHING. You are already starting if you are reading this and if you decide that it is something you are going to take action on. To join WA and continue learning is also FREE, and you can do that Here now if you are ready.
I suggest that you keep your initial costs as low as possible until you get your site up and some affiliate links on it after you have some content there. Then begin to make a few dollars and then a few more, and as you do – DO NOT SPEND IT on junk! Take that money and reinvest it in your business. As you make more repeat the process and reinvest that money also – and in a little time you will hopefully be generating more and more income which will sooner or later provide enough for you to start taking some of it out to spend on whatever you like while leaving more than enough to continuously keep reinvesting in your business and growing it to whatever level your drive, ambition, and talents will take you.
The fact that you can get started for next to nothing is one of the major draws and enticements of affiliate marketing in the first place. Few other businesses in life can be started so cheaply.
- How long is it going to take before I begin to earn money?
I don’t know – and neither does anyone else, not when it comes to YOU. That depends on what you do.
Potentially it can be almost immediately as soon as you post content with your links in it IF someone clicks your link and IF they make a purchase. Realistically do not expect immediate gratification – expect it to take time and to begin slow, then hopefully increase as you attract and drive more traffic to your articles, posts, and links.
- Where and how do I find products to market?
There are so many options available to you that this isn’t going to be any problem at all!
The key is to choose products to market carefully and then make sure you only market quality products and services that you are familiar with and that you truly believe are a good value for the customers you market them to. In other words look for win, win, win products. That means it first and foremost is truly a good deal for the customer, and it will also be good for the company you represent and for you too. Everybody does better and gets something they want and need from the transaction.
You can find products by doing independent research. Look up companies that you are interested in representing and then scroll to the bottom of their main page and look for an affiliate program link. Some sites make it obvious – others you have to dig around a bit, but usually it isn’t that hard to find.
You may also do a google search with something like “companies with affiliate programs” or “online course affiliate programs” etc. You can be as specific as you like or broad and then scroll through whatever comes up and look at individual opportunities.
There are also several major networks and numerous individual programs to choose from.
Here are three for you to look into and consider;
- Can I really make the most with Affiliate Marketing or should I do something else?
I think that you are better off asking yourself if you can find solutions to other people’s problems through affiliate marketing or not. Then do you like the idea and believe you will get satisfaction out of doing the research and finding products and services that people want and need, and then making them available in informative ways or not.
While we all want to make money – doing anything just for money alone – is almost always a serious mistake, and will never produce the best results possible for you. Even working a job is the same way. Doing something you dislike or maybe even hate is a terrible way to make money and usually leads to less than good results.
Instead, find problems and challenges – peoples pain points – and help them by providing options and solutions that they can choose from and decide for themselves if they want them. If you can do that and want to do that – then I think this affiliate marketing thing just might be the right thing for you – and hopefully, the rewards will follow.
Even then it is ONE path, one way out of many ways to build a business and make money – not the only way.
If you think it might work for you then you can give it a try. What have you really got to lose? Especially when the barrier to get in and try it is so low and so easy to get started. Please note I said easy to GET STARTED… Yet like all other things worth pursuing that I have ever found in life, I wouldn’t expect major success to come instantly nor easily, and neither should you. Expect it will take hard work, persistence and some time – then maybe, just maybe it will exceed your expectations. So, should you try it or not? That my friend, only YOU can answer for sure – and even then, the only way you will ever truly know is to actually take action and see if you can do it!
- How can I make MORE money with Affiliate Marketing?
From what I can see so far there are a few ways to do that. One is by increasing the size of your audience on multiple platforms. This can be your site/blog readership, next you may decide to start a YouTube channel and grow that, then maybe build a network of connections on other platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others as you see fit.
The consensus seems to be that a better approach involves providing USEFUL information and content first and foremost instead of just asking people to “buy my stuff!” all the time. I agree. Nobody wants that, and you don’t want to be an irritating pain in the butt, do you?
So figure out what kind of information and content you can create that other people will find useful, and maybe even entertaining – and get to work creating that. Then find products that may be of interest to your audience and simply make them available without being too pushy in the process. Having said that you do have to at least make them available – otherwise how the heck are they supposed to find out you have anything for them!
Next keep creating more content, providing more useful information and mentioning relevant possible solutions and providing links to them.
You can create multiple niche/nitch sites over time that are aimed at multiple specific audiences each with links to their relevant product solutions. The more solutions you offer effectively to the correct audiences then the larger your potential reach and the more your potential profit will likely be.
As you learn more and implement it you will earn more, which can help you learn more and just keep repeating the process as far as your skills and abilities and drive will take you. Nobody will ever know where that might be unless you actually take action and do it and that’s a choice for you to make.
- How long before I see results?
Patience grasshopper, patience… We all want instant results and instant gratification. Seldom does anything worth doing happen like that in real life.
I will give you one such example. When I decided to put my very first course on Udemy I spent a few weeks studying other instructors on Udemy and on other platforms. I learned what I could, did my research, completed and launched my first course. Then crickets…
After a while, I made my first sale and had my very first ever online student! Even though it was only a few bucks it was nevertheless progress, and I was excited. Then I launched several more courses almost at the same time. I got more students, more sales and more money. Ever since that first student I have never had a single month go by that I didn’t get a payment from Udemy each and every month since. Some months are more than double others – but every month there is money earned, and as I create more courses over time and improve and update my existing courses that income keeps growing over time.
At the same time I started, several other instructors also launched a course. Each one launched only one or two courses – then they quit. I suspect they had high hopes of making a lot of money from a single course or two, and when they made little or nothing at all they took their marbles and went home disappointed. Probably they went on looking for the next shiny thing to try.
That was not my approach.
My approach was to expect it to be a long journey and a long learning experience but one where I could keep making continuous progress with effort over time.
I expect affiliate marketing to be much the same thing, for me – and for you.
Do not expect to come out of the gate and make a killing overnight, but instead expect that results will come with time and effort and they will increase and grow with more effort over time. It is a long voyage – not a sprint – that you are about to embark on.
- Is it really Passive Income?
Not exactly – more like Semi-Passive Income AFTER you do a ton of work upfront.
The internet is ate up with the lust for passive income, and I get it.
We all want more money and we all want it faster and easier so we can do what we want to do when we want to do it instead of working our lives away.
Yet most of what people call PASSIVE INCOME isn’t really passive in the first place.
It may at best be Semi-Passive.
What I mean is that even after the work is done, whether that is creating an eBook, an online course, audiobook, etc. you still need to track and manage those assets. You still have to respond to student’s questions, do updates and improvements to online courses and even books need to be updated from time to time if they are how to non-fiction books anyway.
So, since we are talking about affiliate marketing here and you will be marketing other people’s products and services on your site or sites and by various other means, you will face many of the same issues.
You need to periodically check and make sure your sites are up and operating and that your links are still working. You will want to monitor your customer’s satisfaction with the products and services you are marketing. Some companies are going to do better than others and product availability and quality can change over time. You will need to do updates, changes, and corrections as necessary.
Additional campaigns will need to be implemented to drive traffic to existing and new sites that you have or that you will create.
Even then you will be looking at reports and tracking your traffic and your revenue – so is that really PASSIVE? You tell me.
In any event, it certainly is more passive than working a typical job, and once your sites are built and everything is up and running much of it can be passive to an extent at least, while keeping in mind to grow requires more content and more products and that requires more active effort.
At some point, if you become successful enough to be able to afford it you could hire other people to do much of the work for you. They could source products, build and launch sites, write articles and posts and handle many other tasks too I suppose – but even then, YOU will still have to track, manage and control your business.
Call it what you will – I prefer the term SEMI-PASSIVE INCOME – and that it can certainly provide.
- Are there any SECRETS to Affiliate Marketing?
No there are No Secrets.
I realize that may be taken as a bold statement coming from someone new to affiliate marketing myself, but unlike most of the gurus touting secrets I have some real-world experience controlling access to and keeping real secrets over multiple years in the military.
Secrets in the internet world are not secrets at all – its just marketing hype at best, and in some cases a cause for extra alertness on your behalf because someone is about to lighten your wallet before you realize what hit you if you aren’t careful!
In most cases, it Is just catchy advertising trying to get your attention on a noisy internet in a noisy world. While by itself that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it is not really secret either. Just remember, it may be specialized information, and it may even be worth the price in some cases, but it most likely isn’t any kind of secret information at all. It’s just information that you don’t have yet.
Everything you need to know is probably readily available and in the public domain already. So why should you even consider paying for information or training?
For simplicity, efficiency, and productivity.
Think of it like this. Why do people go to college, or vocational school, or take a class on anything when practically everything mankind ever conceived of or discovered is in a book or online somewhere or both. Why not just read books and do google searches to find everything you need?
Because it can be a lot easier and a lot faster to learn it when you get competent instruction and help from someone who already has that specialized knowledge, and the skills and experience that you seek.
When you can find a lot of useful information in central locations use it to your advantage. So, take courses, join memberships and get the information that can help you. Just be careful not to let someone take unfair advantage of you by charging you a lot of money for something of little or no value to you.
How can you tell the good from the bad? The more they tout their stuff as being SECRET and EXCLUSIVE combined with high-pressure sales tactics the closer you should look before you leap and the tighter the grip you might want to keep on your wallet!
- What course is best to start with?
I do not believe there is a single best course, but rather it’s a matter of choosing something that will work and then getting started. That’s why I suggest that you join Wealthy Affiliate and complete their online training that is available FREE in their trial membership.
You do NOT have to put in any credit or debit card info so there is nothing to cancel if you don’t like it. Just use it and learn as much as you can during your initial free trial.
Be aware and keep in mind they WILL make several special offers for you to upgrade your membership to a paid version – and they are persistent – but not pushy. Just ignore them all and keep taking advantage of your opportunity to get a ton of free information.
Then when you are ready IF YOU DECIDE TO, then you can upgrade to a paid plan – or not. Up to you entirely.
What I can tell you is that I have already spent weeks and hundreds of hours of my time and effort researching and learning about affiliate marketing – and so far the Wealthy Affiliate program is by far the best thing I have found – especially when you can get it for FREE!
What have you got to lose?
You can try it out right HERE.
If you do, and if you like it enough to eventually upgrade to a paid plan then I will earn a commission. From then on so long as you are a member if you need any help with building your website let me know and I will help you as best as I can.
- What about the gurus with flashy cars, planes, etc.?
Forget about them.
They are selling dreams to gullible people who they want to take advantage of instead of providing any real value or mutual benefit exchange.
Most of these jokers also charge really high prices for their “SECRETS” too.
While there are a FEW good guys with decent information that do use these flash gimmicks to snag your attention – there are hundreds more that are snake oil peddlers using rented or borrowed props to pretend to be super-rich hoping to impress you into buying their expensive and worthless wares.
When you are targeting entry-level people who are just learning about something completely new to them – and knowing it is going to turn out not to be a good fit for many – why would you charge them as much as they make in a week or a month or more working hard at a job?
Why not give them a trial access for low cost or even better yet – for FREE – so they can see if it is right for them or not?
Greed is the answer in most cases. The truth is they don’t care about you or your family one tiny bit. They just want your money and then they will be on to their next victim.
Do as you wish, but I suggest you start with the basics and see if you want to continue. You can learn the basic things you need to know from reputable people and companies without the hype, the B.S. or the sky-high prices. Then once you learn what you need to know to get started, take action, get some results – reinvest those profits back into your business and parlay that on up as far as you can and want to go.
Later you may want to spend more money to get more indepth information and direct access to some of the most successful people in the arena, but you can’t afford that just starting out nor do you need it. You just need to know what to do to get started – then GET STARTED!
That’s why I really like Wealthy Affiliate! It’s FREE to start with so start there and start building your own Affiliate Marketing business without emptying out your bank account or maxing out your little plastic card.
- Why are so many people saying Affiliate Marketing is a SCAM?
I think that is because there are so many people and companies still to this day in the affiliate marketing arena that are scammers.
There are definitely more than a few people out there trying desperately to prey on people’s emotions and get them to buy into their worthless or near worthless programs for hundreds of dollars or more.
That is a big part of it.
Another part of it is caused by people who went looking for easy money in exchange for nothing. Even when they were fortunate enough to get good and valuable information from sources such as Wealthy Affiliate or Pat Flynn and a few others who put out TONS of very useful specialized information and content for FREE, and other information that is affordable and valuable for the price asked, it fails to work because the people failed to do the work.
By the way, this is NOT new or unique to Affiliate Marketing.
I have personally seen the same thing in real estate as an agent/broker and property manager. Then in trucking a professional driver, instructor, trainer, recruiter, personnel director, safety director, and risk management consultant.
The same is true with online course instructors.
Regardless of what you choose to look at most of the people who try it are going to fail and quit. Even when the opportunity is legitimate and realistically achievable with enough work, most people are not going to do the work. That is human nature like it or not.
When they quit, then they try to justify their own failure by claiming the were SCAMMED or ripped off or taken advantage of. While that does indeed happen in some cases the vast majority of the time in all walks of life the real fault lies in the person’s mirror and can be found looking back at them each morning when they get up. Yet they never want to accept any responsibility for their own failure, so they blame it all on someone or something else.
They go around calling everything they ever failed at a scam – much like the little boy who cried wolf.
- Are there any guarantees I will be successful?
No – There are No Guarantees you will be successful in affiliate marketing or anything else either.
There are plenty of cases where you will get results IF you do all the work necessary to achieve it, but that rests solely on you. No one on earth can control you and what you choose to do or not do.
While there is all kinds of specialized information, training, and support as well as other resources that can and will help you if you use it, your success or failure is always going to come back to you. What you choose to focus on, what you choose to do or not do and how consistent you are at doing the right things while avoiding the wrong will be what it comes down to.
Final Thoughts and Remarks for Now…
I hope you decide to give Affiliate Marketing a chance and see whether it is right for you or not. As I mentioned earlier my own journey in affiliate marketing has just begun, so in time we shall see where it can go.
Based on everything I have learned so far it appears to be one of the legitimate ways to make money online with massive potential and almost unlimited opportunity.
While I do not expect you will find it to be nearly as easy as some want you to believe it is, I think you and I and anyone else will find ample opportunities to succeed are available to anyone willing to do the work.
Keep in mind there are other ways you should consider too such as online courses, ebooks, books and creating and selling your own products too. It can be helpful to choose ONE thing at a time and work on mastering that before adding other things.