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Affiliate Marketing in 2020: Does it actually work?

2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge in remote working and the ability to earn money without going into the office. Affiliate marketing has never been more relevant as a career option: totally remote, self-sufficient, and a big money-spinner — if you can make it work for you. In this article, we’ll look at things to avoid — and the top tips — to become a successful affiliate marketer.

But first off: what is affiliate marketing? 

The definition of affiliate marketing is a form of performance marketing where an “affiliate”, or associate, promotes a business’ products in exchange for a commission based on successful sales, confirmed leads, or actions. Essentially, affiliate marketers publicize products or services they like or have expert knowledge about to their base, including affiliate links within their website. When a reader or viewer clicks the link and purchases the product or service through that link, the affiliate marketer earns money too

As a form of “passive income”, affiliate marketing might sound suspiciously simple — too simple to actually work. In fact, this exciting and competitive industry could be extremely lucrative for you – but only if you are aware of both the potential disadvantages and the advantages of affiliate marketing before you get started.

Affiliate marketing: the advantages

A. Make money from your passions and expertise

One of the most important parts of setting up your affiliate marketing business is choosing your niche. You need to find out how to differentiate yourself from everyone else out there, as well as narrowing down the huge number of products to choose from. The best way to do that is to choose products that you like, or an area you are especially knowledgeable about. This not only makes your content better for your customers, but it also makes your work as an affiliate much easier and more pleasant – you can spend all day writing about what you’re passionate about, while making money in the process! 

B. Growing industry

Although the affiliate marketing industry is much more competitive than it used to be, it is hardly crowding people out — spending on affiliate marketing is increasing by 10% each year, expected to hit $6.8 billion in 2020. Plus, with more and more people making money as affiliate marketers every day, there is no shortage of resources and a community to help you get started. 

C. Work from wherever you like 

Since you’re the only member of your team, and all you need is your computer and Internet connection, you can pretty much work whenever, wherever. This is great if you want to live the digital nomad lifestyle! 

D. Low to zero start-up costs

As an affiliate marketer, you’ll be on your own — all you’ll need is a computer and an Internet connection. That means you can get started right away, without needing to save up a security blanket. But remember, just because you’ll have minimal overheads doesn’t mean you should quit your day job this minute. Ot can take a long time to build your affiliate marketing business, but at least it won’t cost you anything to do so. 

Affiliate marketing: the disadvantages

A. Choosing the wrong partnerships 

You have to make sure you choose your partnerships as carefully as possible. Don’t be tempted by scammers offering to help you “get rich quick”! Established partnership programs won’t make you a millionaire overnight, but they will be steady and reliable. (And they will never charge you to become an affiliate — don’t be fooled by “pay to play” affiliate programs.)  Even if you are careful about who you choose to work with, you may be misled. It can happen that your affiliate partner will cancel their program, go out of business, or simply decide not to pay you for your work.

B. You can’t negotiate prices or commission

Usually, your commission is not up for negotiation — the company will set the rate they will pay their affiliates and it is very unlikely that you will be able to adjust it. A typical example is Amazon’s affiliate program, which pays a fixed commission based on what you successfully sell. While companies will often have a sliding scale that means that you will take a bigger cut if you drive more traffic to the site, there will eventually be a cap and you won’t be able to negotiate a higher percentage than that.

C. Choosing the products 

You may become very overwhelmed by how many products are available for you to offer your customers, and finding an ethical company that produces high quality products can be more difficult than originally thought

D. It can take a lot more time and effort than you’d think

It bears repeating: affiliate marketing does not mean easy, overnight cash. It can take months, even years, for your affiliate marketing site to become truly profitable. It naturally takes time to build your audience, but also the research involved in finding appropriate partnerships and optimizing your affiliate marketing site. 

Affiliate marketing can work — if you know how!

Affiliate marketing has plenty of pitfalls you should be aware of before you get started. But if you know how to navigate the potential problems you’ll face, yes, affiliate marketing can definitely work for you! 

To start your affiliate marketing journey, make sure to check out some of our other guides to make sure you are as informed as possible before you get going.

Start earning your affiliate revenues with the GetYourGuide Partner Program by signing up here.

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