Affiliate marketing is something practically every website owner should have a basic understanding of in today’s digital world. Even if you don’t personally use it in your monetization strategy, there may be a time when you want to. This guide to affiliate marketing can get you several steps closer to understanding one of the most popular forms of website monetization online businesses use today.
URL masking: Often, you’ll find that affiliate links are a real, million character eyesore. It’s likely that your links will look like Merchant.com/dlfjlfjlfjdskljdfgimmeallyourmoneyalajdlkaf2131032klfjfdjldsjf. And let’s be honest, few people are going to want to click on that. URL masking is therefore when you create a prettier, cleaner “vanity URL” that makes your links more clickable. Some people use bit.ly, which has tracking purposes, or the WordPress Plugin Pretty Link.
Avoid ‘affiliate theft’ at all costs. There are several illegitimate methods of increasing your commissions, which are collectively referred to as ‘affiliate theft’ or ‘commission theft.’ As such, you’ll need to make sure you only use proper, disclosed links at all times. Otherwise, you might end up like the scammer who used affiliate theft to steal $28 million from eBay.
Amazon is known for sometimes coming down hard on sellers, affiliates, and other partners who don’t follow the rules. This is maybe the other big downside of being an Amazon affiliate—Amazon is big enough to boss you around if you step out of line, and there’s usually not much you can do about it. I’ve heard stories of affiliates having their accounts closed without any chance for recourse or appeal when they went against one of Amazon’s affiliate policies.
Whichever way you choose to promote something, you’ll include a trackable link that’s unique to your affiliate account so that any sales can be attributed back to you. If you’re a blogger who wants to monetize your platform, then becoming an affiliate can provide that steady source of income as you earn commissions. An associate program gives you the opportunity to provide solutions to your audience who may need a product to solve a problem. The savviest publishers are content marketers, pay per click powerhouses, leverage marketing automation and can recite the guide to affiliate marketing like clockwork.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products, tools, services and learning resources I’ve personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.
Finally, when promoting an affiliate product on Amazon to your audience, offer to help them with the product. Be a source of support. If people have questions or people want to know more about the thing you’re promoting, make their decision easier and offer them that support! But, you might think, am I going to have people beating down my door asking for help with the product? I’m too busy for that! Here’s the thing. Very few people will actually take you up on that offer. But a lot more people will see your offer of assistance and appreciate it. They’ll see you as an authority figure, and someone they can trust to help them out if they need it, someone who stands behind the products they promote, even if those products aren’t your own.
Now most affiliate programs have strict terms and conditions on how the lead is to be generated. There are also certain methods that are outright banned, such as installing adware or spyware that redirect all search queries for a product to an affiliate's page. Some affiliate marketing programs go as far as to lay out how a product or service is to be discussed in the content before an affiliate link can be validated.