May 1, 2021
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Twenty-four percent of Americans want to start their own side hustle this year as a way to earn passive income or diversify their income potential. After 2020, we learned two important lessons: we need to get creative to stay ahead, and working remote gives us that extra time we need to kick off a side hustle.
One side hustle that’s thriving is affiliate marketing. Adobe Analytics predicts that e-commerce will hit the trillion-dollar mark for the first time in 2022. With the rise of influencers and social media platforms, affiliate marketing has quickly become one of the largest online income sources right now.
An affiliate marketer promotes offers or products that relate to them and/or their interests. They often appear very organic, and most likely, you won’t notice that it is a promotion at all. Whether you are aware or not, you’ve seen affiliate links everywhere, from social media influencer’s subtle (or not so subtle) product promotions to publisher’s affiliate disclosure at the start or end of an article.
One of the biggest misconceptions about affiliate marketing is that it’s too much work. But it’s easy to become an affiliate marketer, and you don’t need a massive social media following. All you need is an internet connection and a social media account. The best and quickest way to start is to utilize a full-service affiliate platform with a robust affiliate marketplace. My company has helped vendors connect with more than 25,000 global affiliates in 40 different niches.
Here are three easy tips to help you make the most impact when you start affiliate marketing.
You have to start with the right audience
Start on a social media platform that fits best for your audience and your content. The easiest place to start is the social platform you already have, so you can tap into followers that are familiar with you first. Are you targeting an older demographic? Use Facebook. Do you plan to promote to a younger demographic and want to focus on visually appealing or creative promotions? Use Instagram or even TikTok or Pinterest.
On your preferred social media platform, start to expand your following beyond family and friends. Engage with other people that have similar interests to you. If relevant, follow hashtags or join groups to discover who these people are. Create content that adds value to your audience. You can get ideas by seeing what others in the space are doing. You want to be authentic, and people will naturally engage with you.
Related: How to Build a Reliable (and Profitable) Affiliate Network From Scratch
You need to hone in on a niche
You don’t want to promote just any type of product. You want to be authentic and believe in the products you promote. Are you a subject matter expert? Take your certifications and use them to your advantage when partnering with products. What is your passion? Look at the content you regularly post and determine what themes are present. For example, if you’re sharing a lot of photos about fitness, that’s your niche. Or take a unique life experience and translate it into products you’d use.
One of the easiest ways to distinguish yourself from other affiliates is to look for fringe products. These are the products and brands that are off-the-beaten-path. Sure, it’s great to be passionate about a household name brand, but those affiliate programs are already crowded and don’t offer high-paying commissions.
Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market
Get creative and promote your products for maximum revenue
The more authentic you are when you promote products, the better you’ll sell to your audience. Unlike influencers, affiliates get to choose how they post to promote their unique affiliate links. For example, you could make a side-by-side comparison of ingredient labels between a big box brand and the smaller product you’re promoting.
Promoting your product goes beyond social media, and as an affiliate, you have the power to decide what other channels to use. You can capture emails on your social media accounts and send out email lists. Or, with a little extra money, you can create native or display ads to target people outside of your social media and email circles but who have an interest in your niche.
Depending on the platform you use to manage, affiliate marketers can earn up to 100 percent commission every time someone purchases through your unique affiliate link.
Related: Affiliate vs. Influencer Marketing: Which Should Your Company Use?