What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a way for companies to outsource their marketing to external professionals. Essentially, affiliates are given links to the website of the company they are marketing for and are then tasked with encouraging people to use their service or buy a product. It is growing massively in popularity, especially in the blogging, social media, and video production space.
Each affiliate is rewarded for their marketing with a share of the profits from each sale. This is agreed in advance, and then paid on a regular basis. Most affiliate marketers will work for more than one company. It’s popular on product review, travel, and food blogs as a way for the website to make money. Usually if you click on a link from one of these websites, you are actually clicking on an affiliate link.
This is popular for a few reasons. For the company, it means they only have to pay for marketing that works. Since they are paying per sale, they know their return on investment immediately. For the marketers themselves, it allows them to have some control over their earnings and how they market these products. It’s a super easy way to make money if you already have a large audience that’s interested in the kind of products you are selling.
Of course, it does also have its cons. As a business, the more sales you make the cheaper it becomes to invest in direct marketing campaigns. For marketers it’s not a guaranteed income and sometimes depends on how your audience feels when they see the product. You really need to balance it all out, but if you already have somewhere to put the links then it’s a great way to make a passive income.
How is affiliate marketing used?
Affiliate marketing is a pretty hands-off type of marketing for the business. All they need to do is set up affiliate links for their website and distribute them to anyone that’s willing to help advertise their brand. This means they don’t have to spend as much time on marketing campaigns and can instead focus on their product or service.
Most of the work is done by the affiliate marketer. Once given the link it is then their decision how to market the product or service. This can be through a blog, sharing on groups or with social media. Affiliate marketers will usually have an established audience of their own, which can help them judge how much they expect to make from the links.
The links themselves contain information that helps the company trace each sale back to the affiliate that made it. Each affiliate has a dedicated code, and when someone clicks through to the website this code follows them through the site’s cookies. Once the sale is complete, information about the total profit is used to calculate how much the affiliate is paid. Sometimes affiliates will have codes instead, which the buyer then has to enter manually when they purchase.
Usually affiliate marketing is only worth it when you sell large amounts of the product or service. For this reason, many affiliates learn other skills to help them get more clicks on their links. Affiliate marketing is a great source of passive income if done right, but you’ll need to keep checking back on your links to see if they can be adjusted for higher profits.
How to become an affiliate?
You need to make yourself attractive to the company, so the best way to become an affiliate is to build a large audience. This is ultimately how you will make your income, and an important step to making serious money. If you have a blog, social media profile or channel with a huge audience you’ll find companies start coming to you with affiliate offers.
That being said, you don’t always need to wait for companies to come to you. In many cases, you don’t even need to ask to use an affiliate link. Many businesses offer an affiliate scheme where you can sign up and you will be given a link. One of the best known for offering this is Amazon, but it’s also pretty common with accommodation and travel websites, such as Booking.com and Viator.
So are there any skills you should learn? Absolutely! Social media marketing, search engine optimization, and community engagement can all help you build large audiences. SEO in particular is common with blogs that specialise in affiliate marketing. This lets you bring in larger audiences to your website, in turn driving up more clicks on affiliate links.
We also recommend taking the time to learn more about affiliate marketing itself. There’s an entire industry built around it these days, with years of experience for you to learn from. Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to make a passive income but you need to know what you’re doing. Check out some online courses where you can learn more about the best way to be an affiliate.
What jobs require knowing about affiliate marketing?
It’s a job in itself—though admittedly not the most high pressure job. Affiliates market their links and then once the money starts coming in you can leave it alone. We do recommend checking in every so often, as sometimes information might need updating. Affiliate schemes might also shut down —as Airbnb did recently—making your links useless.
That being said, if you plan on marketing through social media exclusively it’s a much more hands-on job. You will have to constantly post new content and engage with your audience so they stick around. Likewise, marketing through community engagement will also be a heavier workload. It might take more effort but you’ll usually get more clicks this way.
And what about other roles? Digital marketing professionals should learn about affiliate marketing. This is a great way for your company to boost sales without having to invest up front. It also teaches you about how to approach potential affiliates, and what kind of content you can expect from them.
As for other jobs, it can be handy to keep it as a second income stream. We recommend starting out in affiliate marketing by treating it like a side-hustle. This way you won’t be too disappointed if it’s taking a bit longer to make money. It’s a passive form of income, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be raking in the cash. Make sure you have a safety net and work on building your websites on the side to start with.
Average affiliate marketing salary? And does experience matter?
Affiliate marketing isn’t the highest paying career but experience can take you a long way. When you’re first starting out, you might find you actually lose money—especially if you’ve had to pay for a website and content production gear. Budget before you start and try to make sure you’re not too reliant on it working out.
After about a year or so, if you’re doing a good job, you should be well within side-hustle territory. As a passive income, affiliate marketing can bring in around $20k per year. The vast majority of affiliates see an income within this range. You’ll likely need more to live off—unless you plan to stay in a cheap country—but it’s a great way to bring in some pocket money.
If you get really good at it your earning potential is endless. Guru affiliates can see their annual income exceed $1 million, though keep in mind this is rare. Those who do it as a career can expect around $40-60k per year with a decent amount of work. Again, this isn’t common so don’t rely on it happening.
The great thing about affiliate marketing is it requires you to learn a bunch of skills. These can then be transferred into the job market once you’re ready to start making a serious income.
Community engagement, digital marketing, and social media professionals all have average incomes between $45-55k. This can exceed $100k once you’ve got more experience in those areas.
How common is affiliate marketing amongst digital nomads?
It’s a pretty common side hustle amongst digital nomads. Since it’s such a passive income (at least when done through blogging), it means you don’t need to put much effort into it and you can work on other things to top up your earnings. Affiliate marketing, when done right, can help fund a digital nomad lifestyle that has more time for exploring.
We must emphasise that it’s a side hustle though. If you already work in marketing or content creation then it’s a no brainer, you won’t lose much—or anything if you’re doing it through social media—by setting it up. This takes out a lot of the risk associated with other forms of digital nomad income.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn a passive income while you explore the world. It requires a whole host of digital marketing and content creation skills that you can also use to pick up other types of work. If you’re looking for your next side hustle, we definitely recommend affiliate marketing.