Getting started in affiliate marketing can be overwhelming; the terminology, processes, and best practices can be a lot to someone new to this space. But affiliate marketing, if done correctly, can also be a great way to monetize a large, targeted online audience. If you’ve made the decision to give affiliate marketing a try as a primary monetization method for your online traffic, here are seven resources you’ll need:
Resource #1: Training
There’s a temptation to dive immediately in to affiliate marketing and generate that first dollar in revenue as quickly as possible. A smarter approach, however, is to invest a few hours learning about best practices and common pitfalls from other experts in the area.
AffiliateTip is great training resource; Shawn Collins has put together a detailed coursecovering all the basics of affiliate marketing. moving on to the nuances of the various strategies that can be used, how to objectively evaluate an affiliate marketing network, and the key factors that will make or break a campaign.
Resource #2: Analytics Package
Detailed analytics is an important component of any Web-based business, and affiliate marketing is certainly no exception. An in-depth understanding of where your visitors are coming from and how they’re spending their time on site is important if you hope to optimize your site’s affiliate strategy and drive visitors towards affiliate links.
Google Analytics is the default package for most online businesses, and it has just about everything an affiliate marketer needs. Before you go off looking for fancy alternatives, take a look through a few pieces of reading:
- Affiliate Tracking Through Google Analytics
- Tracking Affiliate Performance using Google Analytics Events
Resource #3: Affiliate Marketing Video Tutorials
Beyond the basic education, video tutorials can be a huge help when kicking off an affiliate marketing career. Affiliorama is another great source of affiliate marketing knowledge, with a number of videos analyzing the various approaches to affiliate marketing.
Resource #4: Email Platform
Not every strategy will involve email, but many affiliate marketers will find that a thoughtful email strategy can improve overall results. There are a number of good email platforms out there that offer generally similar functionality, including MailChimp, aWeber, and GetResponse. (See also: How to Pick an Email Provider.)
We personally have used MailChimp with great success; the flexibility is a major advantage over other programs. However, it’s worth noting that MailChimp has a very low threshold for spam–and many merchant sites may fall on its blacklist.
Resource #5: Network Reviews
While there are a number of merchants that work directly with affiliates, most affiliate marketers will make the majority of their revenue with the aid of a network. When it comes to choosing an affiliate network, there are a number of options available, each with strengths and weaknesses.
The MonetizePros Ad Network Reviews contain objective, unbiased reviews of dozens of popular advertising and affiliate networks. Based on our extensive experience with these partners, each review covers technical details, payment settings, and offers some insight into what can be expected.
Resource #6: Link Cloaker / Tracker
For a number of reasons, it’s good business sense for affiliate marketers to maintain a high degree of control over and visibility into their links. If you’re running just a single site, that may be easy enough to do without any assistance. But if you’re dealing with multiple sites, networks, and merchants the process can quickly get overwhelming.
There are a number of services out there that offer an automated way to “cloak” and subsequently track affiliate links, including Eclipse and GoCodes. SEO consultant Rae “Sugarrae” Hoffman has a good explanation of the benefits of link cloaking as a general practice, as well as of Eclipse in particular.
Resource #7: Continuing Education & Inspiration
Once you’re off and running with your first affiliate site, you’ll quickly learn that you have a number of additional questions and need both insights and inspiration from others. There are some great resources out there that regularly provide fresh affiliate marketing content, including Sugarrae and Tyler Cruz.
If you haven’t already, you might also want to check out our feature, 17 Articles to Read Before You Start Affiliate Marketing.
Affiliate marketing is one of the toughest monetization models to implement; most who start with this approach end up frustrated and with little to show for their efforts. But if you’re really determined to make money through affiliate sites, there are a number of great resources out there that can be used to jump start your campaigns.