Selling Other People’s Stuff

Yesterday in my blog post, I talked about the importance of diversifying your income streams when building our your businesses.  Obviously, that email and blog post resonated with a bunch of you because I’ve had numerous replies asking questions about ways to diversify your income sources if your business is predominantly online.

A couple people asked about affiliate marketing so I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about that.

Let me start by saying, I don’t do MLM.  I used to be violently opposed to it, but now I’m kind of indifferent.  I’ve seen a few interesting MLM models in the health supplement industry that aren’t scammy, so in that respect, my opinion has changed.

What I’m going to talk about in this post is more traditional, single level referral commission style affiliate marketing.

If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, it’s a model where you get paid a commission on a sale when you refer buyers to someone else.  Probably the most well-known affiliate program is Amazon’s Associates Program.  You send traffic to Amazon using your links and for 24 hours, anything the person buys, you get a commission on the sale.

The basis of good affiliate marketing is trust.  You build a rapport with an audience, you add value to them on a regular basis and then when appropriate, you make them aware of something that might help them proceed further and faster in their journey.

The best way to go about building an affiliate income stream is to find complementary products or add-ons to what you’re offering people.  A classic example that I use is around some affiliate marketing I used to do in the quilting niche.  I used to have content writers and quilt pattern creators generate content for me, then I’d publish on my site to build traffic and an email list.  Then once a week I’d send out an email promoting some product that they could use – maybe it was guidebooks one week, the next might be a video training course and once a month, religiously I always promote a sewing machine on Amazon.

I built that into a nice little affiliate income stream over the course of about six months – without fail I would sell two or three sewing machines every month to new people who’d gotten into quilting picking up my free eBook and then liked the patterns and stuff I’d given away.  I would get emails every week thanking me for helping them by selling them mine and other people’s products.

Another easy way to build out some affiliate income is to have a “resources” page on your site that highlights tools or products that you use in your business with an affiliate link embedded for you so that you make a commission if someone buys something.  This works really well, so much so that I often feel dumb for not doing this with Casual Marketer.

With your resources page, just be honest.  Remember the comment about trust?  Don’t pitch things that you don’t use or you don’t believe in.  Trading your reputation for a small affiliate commission is a terrible business, just don’t do it.

The final affiliate revenue stream is looking at it from the other side.  Rather than you sending traffic to other people, recruiting affiliates to help sell your products.  If you can build up a good affiliate base, this is a phenomenal source of good quality traffic and new customers.

Word of warning though, building out an affiliate program is hard work and if you are trying to self-manage one on your own site, I’d suggest you do a fair bit of research.  The easiest way to do this is to use something like JVZoo.  You create your product on JVZoo, your affiliates register there, you approve them, they get their links and JVZoo take care of the transaction and doing the revenue split with your affiliates.  They make it pretty easy and for people like myself, I’m a Premium Affiliate, it is very easy to promote other people’s things if I want to.

If you’ve not done been an affiliate before or you’ve not had affiliates selling for you, it’s a really fascinating business model that I urge you to look into it.  If you’d be interested in me creating some kind of affiliate marketing short course or information product to teach you how to be an affiliate and build and run your own affiliate program, then click here and I’ll see what the interest level is like.

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