Affiliate Marketing...Friend or Foe?  

by Anthony Docherty

Firstly, what is an affiliate? Well it's somebody who promotes other people's products and services and for the result of a sale or lead earns a commission - a win/win situation for affiliate and retailer alike.

7 Reasons to start an Affiliate Business

(i) Minimum outlay costs, you don't even need a website to get up and running. All that's needed is plenty of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

(ii) Minimum risk - affiliate marketing provides you with the opportunity to learn what sells and how to sell it before trying to market your own product.

(iii) It allows you to be creative - we are all secretly creative inside - it's about enticing that creativity out of us that's the key. Affiliate marketing does this.

(iv) It's better than selling your own product if you have no selling experience - there are no product design costs, no costly and time consuming product development, research and marketing expenses.

(v) Affiliate marketing allows you to hitch a ride on an already moving train, if you know something is already selling well, why not promote it and earn a commission?

(vi) It can allow you to monetise an existing website. You may already be running your own website in something linked to a hobby or your local community or sports centre. Starting a small affiliate business on the side can allow you to extract extra income out of that very same website at very little extra cost and effort to you.

(vii) It's provides you with great ideas for your own product - after running an affiliate business you are bound to be hit with a lot of bright ideas yourself on creating your own products e.g. software, e-books, subscription services, marketing services, the list is endless - just getting started as an affiliate is all that is needed to start you on that road to business success.

3 reasons why it is a good time to start an affiliate business

(i) We're travelling through the internet's second boom right now - the medium is beginning to mature. Never have so many people been joining the internet and spending such copious amounts of time and cash online. The spread of broadband connections has taken off nicely and this is allowing ever more people to spend ever more time online and therefore: cash. Recent news has it from the BBC that British people with internet access are now spending more time online than they do watching television - this is a significant paradigm shift- would it be a good idea to delay starting?

(ii) Technology is improving all the time so it's never been a better time to start - just a few examples: podcast software, audio and visual technology are getting better all the time - new products in these areas are cropping up all the time - these products are just some that are right for electronic delivery that the internet provides with ease.

(iii) You think the internet is big already? Yes it is in one way; estimates put it that 600 million people today are already online or have access to the internet. However, there are over 6 billion people on the planet; this means that only 10% of the world's population is already online - or put another way - 90% aren't even hooked up yet! Yes - 90% - and each day another 150,000 of these unconnected people join the internet - that's close to 55 million new potential customers a year! That is a phenomenal growth rate and due to globalisation, more and more of these people have more disposable income - it can only mean profits for people running affiliate businesses. As they say, 'you've go to be in it to win it'.

What kind of products should you promote?

(i) A good starting place is products linked to your hobbies - if you are already passionate about an area it's going to be very easy to be enthusiastic about plugging products linked to your area of expertise.

(ii) Electronic - this is one of the best ways to make an income online through affiliate marketing. By electronic I mean things such as e-books, software etc. Electronic products lend themselves to the internet, it is very easy to sell to people all over the world without costly inventory expenses - people buy and download - very simple.

(iii) Subscription services: coaching and mentoring programs or services that provide 'how to' step by step knowledge that can help improve somebody's circumstances. Subscription services are excellent for affiliate marketers, not only do they pay out a commission for the original sale or lead - but they also pay a recurring commission for as long as that person stays signed up to that program and is paying each month. One customer could potentially turn out to be a lifetime of income - this is quite a valuable thing: passive income. You only have to think about the exponential power of multiplication to realize that some tasty income is possible through the avenue of the internet here. (iv) Essentially, you can sell what you want provided the services and products are good - don't sell trash - you'll get burned in the long term. People aren't idiots, they can spot garbage a mile off.

Is affiliate marketing easy?

Well, it's not hard - unless you do it wrong! That's all well and good for you to say! Of course it is easy for me to say, but if you work hard, are willing to learn and apply the knowledge you've learnt and if you're willing to be creative then there is no reason why you shouldn't create yourself a nice long term income by setting up an affiliate business.

Downsides to affiliate marketing?

(i) There are always downsides to anything in life e.g. as an affiliate you don't own the products so you don't have any copyright or patent rights under your belt to help you to earn from them, but as I said before, there are downsides for having your own products (see above). And I've already said it too: Affiliate marketing allows you to come up with ideas to sell your own products anyway, so you can create whatever products you want in the long term.

(ii) Technology constraints - a lot of affiliate marketers are missing out on revenues, some say potentially 40% - due to things like 'cookie theft' or from people simply cleaning out their cookies for maintenance purposes therefore the retailer gets all the benefit from your hard work. These problems are being ironed out all the time though, technology is constantly improving to reduce lost commissions and it's better anyway to join programs that don't use cookies - use ones that track the initial hit and forever link it to the affiliate so commissions are always paid out as they are rightly due.


As I said before, affiliate marketing is an excellent way to get started earning online. It shows you the ropes to potentially setting up your own products, it teaches you the skills of online marketing and basically provides you with a gateway to achieving a long term, profitable online business. However, it doesn't just have to just be a gateway; many affiliate marketers are earning a heck of a lot of money - you could too.

About the Author

Anthony Docherty runs the successful AntDoc Marketing Times website at Earning Ideas, Practical Advice and Strategies for the Online Entrepreneur

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