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Affiliate marketing frequently asked questions for you

Once you answer the initial question of ‘what is affiliate marketing?’ it’s not uncommon for the aspiring entrepreneur to start looking for more clarity. In fact, there’s usually a long list of questions that you want to have answered before you dig into starting your journey as an affiliate marketer.

So to help get more clarity regarding affiliate marketing frequently asked questions, I’ve put together a list of common questions and answers that will help ease your mind and give you some basic guidelines to work with.

Is Affiliate Marketing Still Viable?

One of the biggest concerns with newcomers is perhaps the most relatable. Simply put, is there any more room in the world for another successful affiliate to make it?

That depends on what you want to sell as an affiliate.

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It’s no secret that interest in affiliate marketing has trended positively over the last decade. A simple look at Google Trends will tell you that much.

On the surface, the trend may seem discouraging. Your interest is piqued, but so is the interest of your friends, neighbors, and coworkers. It gives the impression that affiliate marketing for beginners is an uphill climb.

That idea isn’t wrong, but it’s only half the picture. Much like the rest of the digital frontier, being an affiliate means changing with the times.

That means while there’s more interest than ever, there’s also more opportunity than ever as well.

For example, smartphones have changed the way we interact with the world around us, which means they’ve also affected how affiliates approach their audience.

Also, sites like Instagram and YouTube have created a broader pool of influencers for brands to choose from, as there are more content creators with ready audiences than ever.

Becoming an affiliate is still a viable option for the entrepreneur that’s willing to put in the effort and find what works.

It may take trial and error, but there’s no doubt that you can make money once you hone your approach.

Is Affiliate Marketing Truly Profitable for the Little Guys?

It’s easy to look at an example like the one above and think you’ll never get there. However, the facts should pleasantly surprise you.

Recent studies have shown that affiliate marketing is the second-best way that brands generate money. Google AdSense barely edges it out.

That means the potential for newcomers to be profitable is there if you approach with the proper system. At its best, being an affiliate can become an excellent source of passive income.

There’s a moderate amount of upfront work required to potentially make a sale, but once you create a system, you can easily turn a profit.

Say for example you decide to use paid ads to sell a product. Once you build an ad, determine a budget, and do some optimization, you can have your ad running in the background that will send visitors to your merchant’s site.

You don’t hassle with a product or customer complaints. Your only goal is to send highly targeted traffic to a landing page or product page to start winning conversions.

But being profitable requires much more than sending a visitor to a page and hoping they buy. Much of the profitability of your efforts depends on elements you can’t control.

For example, does the product that you promote offer a reasonable commission rate?

If not, you may not make enough to cover the costs of your advertising.

Even though commission rates are rising, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to always turn a profit.

Furthermore, does the niche that you’re selling within have high enough demand so that products will sell?

And will people actually click on your ads at all?

All of these questions need to fall into the ‘yes’ column for your efforts to be profitable. Instead of going with the first brand you find, you’ll need to do some serious digging.

Partnering with an unsustainable brand could lose you money and put you off from being an affiliate for good.

So yes, being an affiliate can be profitable if you’re strategic about your efforts and do your homework. 

Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam?

While affiliate marketing has a good reputation in general, one of the common questions raised by newcomers is whether or not it’s a scam.

Unfortunately, these allegations sometimes have a leg to stand on, as there have been some publicized scams through the years that you should be aware of. 

This scathing article on VentureBeat from 2013 still ranks number one for a Google search of “affiliate marketing scam.”

The author’s business was being scammed by affiliates who manipulated their system, which cost a great deal of money.

The business owner unfortunately concluded, and shared, that most affiliates were scam artists. Since he writes for a major publication, the damage was done for good even with the rebuttal post that the publication posted.

It’s also not uncommon to stumble upon affiliate programs that are little more than a get-rich-quick scheme. If you ever watched late-night infomercials, the promise is typically one and the same.

These schemes typically focus on a product or service that doesn’t even exist, which is the first red flag.

The other thing to watch out for is how the program is ‘sold’ to you. If they overuse buzzwords like “work from home” or “make money while you sleep,” you should proceed with caution.

While those phrases are technically true, they can be used to pique your interest and lower your guard.

It also makes being an affiliate as a profession look somewhat sleazy, and has prompted many a forum chat about authenticity.

The final common ‘scam’ revolves around people who advertise courses for new affiliate marketers.

They typically draw an unknowing and unsuspecting prospect in, only to give poor advice or information that leads the marketer down the wrong path.

This ‘training’ is just someone trying to make a quick buck at the expense of an interested but unknowing party.

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While legitimate affiliate marketing training courses do exist, there’s enough bad out there to cause some harm to affiliate marketing’s reputation.

People sign up, and when they don’t make any money (or actually lose money), they decide that the whole thing is a scam.

It’s best to do your research and make sure that any course you join is worth your time and money.

An added result of this is that there’s now an unfortunate amount of wrong information that you’ll need to wade through to determine what’s right.

But that’s why you should turn to successful affiliate marketers and authoritative guides to learn the fundamental skills.

So yes, there have been scams. Should that scare you away? Definitely not!

Now that you know what to look for from disreputable sources, you can avoid them. As long as you stick to established influencers and commit to building a legitimate network, you don’t have anything to worry about.

You can truly and safely start making money while you sleep, just stay away from the sites and individuals who promise that will happen overnight.

How Long Does It Take To Make Money As An Affiliate?

The truth is that building your income as an affiliate will take time. Overnight success is unheard of, and you’re likely going to be contending with other affiliates who have been at it for a while.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good idea of how long it may take to start seeing something. Many affiliate marketers report making modest sales within the first three months, even though that’s not a guarantee.

You have to approach this like you would any other online brand. The goal when trying to sell a product is twofold, and that extends to affiliate marketers when they sell to them.

On the one hand, you can approach this as if you are your own brand. You’ll have to build a website, start a social media account, and then create content that adds value to your target audience.

With this method, your two objectives are:

  1. Build an audience.
  2. Earn their trust.

So in one instance, the answer to the question “how long does it take?” is really better phrased like this:

How long does it take to build an audience and earn their trust?

Many successful affiliate marketers focus on building compelling content first. Then, they worry about revenue. But that’s just one example.

On the other hand, you could take a more incognito approach and choose to rely on paid advertising.

Your role would be to create an ad and shoulder and budget obligations. You still have the same goal of making a sale, but no one would ever have to know your name or see your website.

When you utilize paid ads, the timeline for making a sale can be much shorter provided you know what you’re doing.

Either way, you have to start by providing value that draws attention, and then you move to capitalize on that opportunity.

It also helps if you truly believe in the product you’re selling, as that creates a more genuine conversation with your audience.

You can certainly build an affiliate business around any product, but that doesn’t mean you should.

How Does It Compare to Drop-shipping?

When discussing affiliate marketing, it’s inevitable that drop-shipping will enter the conversation. Drop-shipping is another form of online selling that often gets tagged onto this topic and sometimes causes confusion.

Allow me to clear up the confusion for you.

When you take a closer look at dropshipping and affiliate marketing together, you’ll notice some immediate similarities:

  • You don’t have to carry inventory for either.
  • There’s little to no risk involved.
  • Both will allow you to earn a substantial income.
  • The startup barrier is low.
  • Both require a digital marketer’s skill set.

So both are the same in that you don’t need to actually have a physical product in stock in a warehouse to make money.

Drop-shipping usually involves a relationship between a manufacturer that ships to a customer on the brand’s behalf. But that’s where the similarities tend to end.

Unlike being an affiliate, dropshipping requires you to establish your own business.

You’ll set up a website, build a relationship with a manufacturer, and handle all of the day-to-day minutiae of running a business. It’s still low risk and can be profitable for an entrepreneur willing to learn the ropes.

The upside of dropshipping is that you have much more freedom with your products. You set the margins, market how you want to, and ultimately build a brand.

Being an affiliate doesn’t allow you that freedom, as you’re selling someone else’s goods.

Of course, you also have to deal with customer service, backlogs, and other frustrating e-commerce issues as a dropshipper as well.

The potential for success may be greater, but the risks and responsibilities grow with your business.

This debate naturally leads to one question: which is better?

The ultimate choice you go with is up to you. Both present low-risk, low-cost opportunities to make more money, and you can learn more of the differences by checking out this course on dropshipping.

But keep in mind that your only costs are related to the marketing tactic you use, and you can grow as fast or as slow as you want.

Being an affiliate is a much easier path than dropshipping, and can be just as lucrative.

So How Do I Get Started With Affiliate Marketing?

At this point, you’ve got the big picture. Affiliate marketing for beginners can be tough, but it can also be a great source of income if you’re willing to stick it out.

Now you’re ready to dive into the details of how you can get started. In this free ebook you will discover the basics of how you’ll make money, which channels you can use, and provide more guidance on where to begin.

If you love this content don’t forget to share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

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BIlal Abdullahi

Bilal Abdullahi is one of the fast rising professional bloggers in the West African Region. He is a Nigerian, the founder of Campus Entrepreneurs Hub (cehub.com.ng) an inbound online platform that helps individuals to maximize their full potentials to become successful entrepreneurs and bloggers. He is an SEO expert, and also holds certificates in 3 different courses (Affiliate Marketing, Digital Marketing and Graphics Design), also a content creator and Facebook Ads expert. Currently working with six trained and dedicated team members who share the same vision and likewise passion.

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