BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF AFFILIATE MARKETING
Affiliate Marketing needs no introduction in the Entrepreneurial world. It’s leaving its mark on both small and big corporations alike. This year, Affiliate Marketing Spending is estimated to be at 6.8 billion U.S. dollars in the United States alone. Next year, there is a projected growth of about 6 million dollars in spending. That’s a lot of money for an activity which has been historically likened to your everyday greedy salesman. In military language, Affiliate Marketers are the foot soldiers of most corporations, working tirelessly to convince customers to buy a product.
Although there have been many advances, Affiliate Marketing has not been spared from the dark side of human ambition. As much as there are success stories of people making a huge fortune, equally horrifying stories of unethical behavior by affiliate marketers are not unheard of. Annoying Ads on blogs and websites make a person all but wonder if there are any ethics in the art.
What is Affiliate Marketing
According to Encarta Dictionary, Affiliate Marketing is the use of a central website to market the products and services of other sites. That’s a pretty blunt way to put it. If we were to put it in a more simple way, we would say it’s marketing the products and services of others to get a small commission on every sale. For example, a 10 per cent commission on a T-shirt which costs $100 would mean that an affiliate marketer would get $10 on every sale. This means that the more sales that an Affiliate Marketer makes, the more the earnings.
If you are a follower of Vigilante Scholar, chances are that you have read my blog post titled ‘Rape Chinese!’ The Two Most Common Words in Zambian Ghettos. In that post, I had talked about my failed attempt at being a salesman. To be honest, I didn’t do my best. That was a classic example of a situation where a man’s ego overrode a good life lesson. But just in case you are one of the few Vigilante Scholars who haven’t read it, feel free to click on the link above. Anyway, I digress.
You see, Affiliate Marketing works very much in the same way as your everyday salesman. In fact, you could think of it as being a door to door salesman for a particular company and your neighborhood as the Internet. Then you could also think of the doors as email addresses and the classic salesman’s slick tongue as Ads and Promotions.
The process is very straightforward: You get a link from a website that is selling a particular product called an Affiliate Link. After having done that, you then distribute that link in whatever channels that tickle your fancy: A Blog, YouTube Channel, et cetera… If a person purchases a product using your link, you get the commission promised by the company that gave it to you. Get the idea?
The Upside of Affiliate Marketing
There are obvious advantages and pros to Affiliate Marketing. The following is small list:
- It Requires Less Work: Unlike my futile attempts in the Salesman’s world, Affiliate Marketing doesn’t require as much effort as walking from door to door trying to convince people to buy a product. Pound for pound, it requires less physical exertion. With the help of digitization and the internet, you could literally make sales while you sleep.
- It’s time efficient: Since machines work around the clock to show Ads to potential buyers, you have time to do something else. Like I said, you could literally make money while you sleep or while watching a football game.
- You could make a fortune: Despite its turbulent nature, Affiliate Marketing has made a lot of people achieve financial freedom. People who become skilled at it have high chances of becoming Super Affiliates i.e. people who make six-figures or even seven-figures annually.
- You get to solve real human problems: I believe that businesses of all kinds are world changers. They provide jobs for us and will probably shape our future. From the color of our toothbrushes to the softness of your mattresses, companies continue to impact our lives at an unbelievable pace. When you are an Affiliate Marketer, you get to be part of that Ecosystem. You have the chance to solve people’s problems by providing them with the goods and services that they need.
The Downside of Affiliate Marketing
Like every other good thing in life, Affiliate Marketing is not without flaws. Here’s a small list of some of the cons:
- Miss out on building relationships: One of the biggest shortcomings of Affiliate Marketing is that you miss out on opportunities to build relationships with the customers that you sell your product to. Because you are the intermediary, the company that you are selling for is the one that gets to keep tabs on customers. After you get paid, there’s no responsibility attached to you whatsoever. (which brings me to reason number two):
- Affiliate Marketers are not exactly seen as Knights in Shining Armor: I find it very ironic that Vigilante Scholar endorses the idea of Affiliate Marketing but the words; ‘Vigilante’ or ‘Savior of the Day’ are the last thing that the General Public would use to describe Affiliate Marketers. As previously mentioned, they are seen as greedy and heartless business people who care nothing about customer satisfaction- no less respect for privacy.
- Acquiring and learning the Necessary skills can be tough: Affiliate Marketing is still in its infancy. Besides the obvious advantage that there’s a huge earning potential, this also means that acquiring the necessary skills could be challenging. There’s a lot of good online material to learn from. However, not all of it is created equal. From my own research, I have found that the most successful Affiliate Marketers are those that use a ‘trial and error’ method. This means trying out all sorts of ideas, both the good and the bad, and then painfully sticking around to see which ones work. Suffice to mention that not everyone has a heart large enough to lose a few hundred dollars before seeing a change in their income.
- Income is uncertain: This point is closely tied to the previous one. There’s a lot of uncertainty in Affiliate Marketing. You can make as much as $5,000 per month or as little as $20. It all depends with the strategy that you use. If you have a weak stomach for uncertainty and fluctuating revenues, then Affiliate Marketing is probably not for you.
Now, let’s wrap up this post with a few words of advice. From my point of view, I think Affiliate Marketing deserves a chance. It has its shortcomings, but I feel that it deserves attention from that Entrepreneur who is looking to make a few extra dollars in passive income.
My next post will be particularly helpful for those who may be interested in trying it out. On the other hand, I also completely understand those who may not be interested, there are many ways to kill a rat and Vigilante Scholar will reveal all the hacks and tricks it could possibly find.