By now, you must have heard a lot about passive income. No, I’m not talking about the random, intrusive ads claiming to demystify the secrets behind how a housewife earned a gazillion bucks from home. I’m talking about a legit revenue model, which ensures you receive a handsome amount every month. I’m talking about the affiliate marketing model.
The affiliate marketing model essentially boils down to sales or traffic driven to a retailer from an external website who, in turn, earns a commission based on successful referrals. Small and medium-sized enterprises and large companies alike use affiliate marketing as an essential revenue-generating mechanism.
One of the best examples of affiliate marketing done right is GrabOn, a coupons and deals startup based out of Hyderabad. The company started in 2013 and is a bootstrapped startup mainly depending on growth hacking, strategic alliances, and organic sources for revenue generation. One of the prime growth drivers for the organization is affiliate and performance marketing. The company benefits from first-mover advantage, having built successful partnerships with established affiliate networks. GrabOn now leads the coupons and deals market in India, with over 4000 merchant partners onboard.
The abovementioned example goes on to showcase the power of affiliate marketing when adequately utilized. So, how do you go about building your platform to ensure a steady inflow of affiliate income? You don’t need fancy tools and sophisticated tech. It is pretty straightforward. Let me break it down. There are a couple of things that you need in place before you begin with the process:
- Set up a well-functioning blog
- Choose the right affiliate network and program
- Figure out the best space to place product links
- Creating a strong email subscriber list
Setting up your personalized blog
The first and most important part of the process is setting up the blog. Blogging has been around since the late nineties with PyraLabs rolling out its blog publishing tool called Blogger in 1999, which was later acquired by Google in 2003. Fast forward to 2019, and there are tons of blog (website) building tools available viz. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and more. Self-publishing platforms like Tumblr and Medium have recently gained steam. But it is ideal to go with a WordPress theme for your blog as it comes with a wide variety of functional plugins that you can later use to transform your blog according to your changing needs, for example, an e-commerce marketplace store if you want.
Once you are done choosing the content management system for your blog, you need to finalize a niche for your blog, be it travel, food, entertainment, etc. Whatever you choose, remember to stick with because consistency matters. You wouldn’t want to dilute your relevance by mixing and matching content across various verticals.
You can begin by developing an editorial calendar and strategy to create and post content. But ensure you maintain content relevance and quality while posting.
Here are a few tools that will help you maintain the quality:
- Google Keyword Planner – To target the right keywords that will help you rank better and boost the incoming traffic to your blog.
- Grammarly – To check the grammatical and semantical issues in your content piece.
- Hemingway Editor – To maintain readability of the content churned in addition to providing suggestions based on which you can modify the style or tone of your articles.
- Copyscape – To ensure original blog content free from plagiarism.
- AnswerThePublic or Hubspot Blog Topic Generator – These tools will help you brainstorm and generate ideas based on which you can plan your content strategy.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer – For creating headlines that attract the attention of the reader.
- BuzzSumo – To scope the competition and see what kind of content gets most traction (likes, shares, etc.) and how you can improve yours.
- Canva – For designing attractive creatives to accompany your content.
Now, once you start posting articles and have a decent volume of content on your blog, you should focus on increasing the trust and citation flow of your blog, which would reflect in your domain authority and domain ranking (DA & DR). You can do this by building backlinks from reputed websites to your blog, i.e., publish guests posts on authoritative third party websites and place a relevant link to your blog. You can start pitching relevant, useful, and original content pieces to websites and other bloggers to accomplish this.
Choosing the right affiliate partner/program
There is no shortage of affiliate networks and associate programs in the market. Some of the most popular ones like CJ, VComission, ShareASale, and Amazon Associates provide a variety of commissions based on the conversions made from your blog. It is advised to start small and go for low commission programs before approaching the big networks and programs. You can check out tools like Everflow.io and HasOffers for tracking and monitoring your affiliate marketing performance.
The optimal space for product link(s) placement
It is a little tricky, but you will get better at it with experience. If you think you can place the product link anywhere in the article, it doesn’t work like that. Few suggested places are banners/images, content succeeding the header tags (steer away from adding product links to H1, H2, and H3) or linked to CTA like Buy Now/Purchase Product in a top 10 listicle.
Building an email customer base
There will be times when your traffic is low, and your rankings are down, resulting from Google algorithm updates. Such fluctuations will mean lesser conversions and referrals from your blog, thus hurting your affiliate income. The contingency plan to sail through such scenarios is to have an active and reliable email subscriber base where you can push your blogs through email newsletters. Regardless of your rankings, these viewers will come directly to your blog and may end up buying the products and contributing to your affiliate income.
If you take some time out, plan and set up your affiliate marketing model, it will go a long way in ensuring a sustainable inflow of cash without you putting much effort into it.