So you want to become a highly profitable, successful affiliate marketer? Want to know what still works in 2019, what has changed, and how run a profitable, solid affiliate marketing business in 2019?
You’re in the right place. Let’s dive into it:
The concept of running a profitable business, or: How to make money in general
Here are the very basics of how to do business and make money in general:
- Get the attention of a potential customer.
- Sell him goods and/or services.
That’s really all it comes down to in the end.
Now that you know how to pursue any business endeavor and make money in general, let’s take a deeper look:
A potential customer is somebody with pain, an issue, a burning desire, a passion or hobby.
You sell goods and services to the customer as a solution to his problem, pain or passion.
Actually HELP your visitors and be of high value to them
Let’s not forget we’re dealing with other human beings here.
The only institutions that are legally allowed to literally print money worldwide are the federal reserve banks. As a result, we’ve got to understand that all the money we’re trying to acquire comes from other people.
And these people are very likely working as hard for their money as you. Therefore, they attach a certain value to their money.
To make them hand over their hard-earned cash, you’ve got to offer them something of high value in exchange. Ideally, this something is of exceptionally high value to them and they’re even looking for it right now.
Present the solution to their problem
They want to solve an issue and get rid of their pain NOW.
To make our job easier, we don’t want to come across as needy, pushy or salesy. Nobody likes to be sold. In addition, we don’t want to chase people down the road.
Instead, we want to put ourselves into a position of authority on a certain topic or specific niche.
That way, we attract these people to us. We offer a solution to their problem and are the authority on this subject. They are literally attracted to us, which makes the final sale rather easy for us.
In summary: The money we want comes from other people. We offer a solution to a problem these people have, so our solution is of value to those people. We’ve got to find a way to get the attention of those people and present our solution to them. Then we make the sale.
The basics of online business
Of course the exact same principles of general business above apply to online business.
In order to be the authority on any given topic, you have to give value. Lots of value.
We want people to like and trust us. So we have to help them even more and exceed their expectations.
The moment you give a potential customer way more value than he assigns to the money he has to pay for it, he becomes your client.
In other words: Your offer was irresistible, it was a great deal for him. And you made a sale.
Exceed expectations and the whole process will be a lot easier for you
No need to be pushy or salesy when you have something really valuable to give (in exchange of money). Something that is ideally in high demand.
So what’s different about online business in comparison to a brick and mortar store?
The storefront and you potential customer base.
In the online world your storefront and potential customer base is basically all people who are online. (as of this writing there are over 4 billion people online according to internetlivestats.com)
And by putting their search requests into google and other search engines, these people tell us what exactly they are looking for.
What pains they have, what issues they have and for which problems they are looking for a solution.
By participating in social media groups and forums, they even tell us about their passions, hobbies and favorite movies. About their preferred TV shows, sports, books, games, food, even sexual preferences.
And they want more of it.
Seriously – can it get any better from a marketing perspective?
What is affiliate marketing?
The short answer: You refer people to other companies and their products. If they make the sale, you get a commission.
The long answer: When selling a solution, there are basically two ways:
Either you create the product/service/solution yourself, you become the vendor that way and the profit margin is 100% yours.
That’s awesome, but it takes a lot of hard work to come up with a product. Also, you’ll have to deal with logistics, tech teams, customer service etc.
Your second option:
You act like an independent sales person and sell products or services of another company for a commission
Of course, you don’t have to work exclusively for one vendor. This puts you in the position to be truly independent in comparison to a sales or account manager tied to one company.
The downside is that you don’t earn a base salary, but companies usually compensate for that in the form of a high commission.
In that sense affiliate marketing is a very honest business, and a potentially very lucrative one as well.
At the same time you don’t have to run an office, manage staff, meetings, logistics etc.
Therefore, affiliate marketing is an awesome business model. It’s proven, it can be highly profitable and a lot of fun.
To summarize affiliate marketing: You refer people to other companies and their products. If they make the sale, you get a commission.
It’s really that simple and you can totally focus on the most profitable areas of any business: Marketing and (pre-)selling.
Valid methods of “monetizing a website” – What does that even mean?
Once you’ve got the attention of a potential customer, you can command and direct this attention.
It’s exactly this attention that companies are after. They want to “use” that attention of a potential customer to sell their services and products.
To be exact, you’re not really “monetizing a website” but instead you’re monetizing the attention you’re getting from your visitors. This is also knows as “converting the traffic”.
To look at a practical example, instead of pointing towards a product as a potential solution to the visitor’s problem (affiliate marketing), you could also let other companies pay you for taking over this attention.
It’s still a potential customer, right?
Placing ads on your website
Companies try different forms of marketing, only one being affiliate marketing.
Another one could be the use of display ads, text ads, native ads, infomercials, and more.
You could “sell” the attention you’ve got from your reader or visitor in the form of “sponsored posts” or content.
But again, we’ve got to remind ourselves that these companies are essentially playing the basic arbitrage game that all companies are in:
They know that they can make more money over the long-term from newly acquired customers than the pay for the acquisition of that customer in the first place. In this example in the form of an ad, sponsored content or a display ad.
The closer the potential customer is to the actual sale, the more you usually get paid.
That’s because you already did the hard work.
In conclusion, don’t expect the same earnings potential with placing simple ads on your website as with affiliate marketing. As an affiliate, you do the hard part and inform and pre-sell a potential customer to an already existing solution, thus making the sale more likely.
When you place ads on your website, you’re “distracting” you visitors in most cases from your content. Sure, if the ad is highly related to your content it might be ok, but you can generally expect less revenue from “directing the attention of your customer to an ad” than with pre-selling him on an existing solution to his burning problem.
Affiliate marketing math – Know your numbers
You’ve got to know your numbers. Why?
We’re coming back to the very basics of business and making money in general again and again for a reason:
If you truly understand this concept, you will know exactly what to do and quickly become profitable.
A quick reminder what business is and what we’re talking about:
- Get the attention of a potential customer.
- Sell him products and/or services.
This is also how advertising works in general: You simply pay for the first part of this concept, the “getting the attention” part.
Instead of putting out valuable content that ranks high in the search engines (known as content marketing and SEO), you put together an ad and place it in front of potential customers.
You pay for impressions or clicks, aka their attention.
Then you try to sell your products or refer people to excellent products.
Only if you know how much money you’ll make on average per new customer, you know how much you can spend for this customer.
You’ll also know what you can spend per click, per impression etc and still be profitable.
You can also look at the two steps of making money this way: You’ve got to pay less for the first part than you make on the second part. The difference is your profit.
In that sense, business is no different from arbitrage. You make a profit as long as you’re able to sell higher than the price at which you bought.
Getting back to the numbers
As long as you pay less for getting the attention of a new customer than you profit on the overall/life-time sales of that customer, you’re in the green and run a profitable business.
At this point another important concept becomes very obvious:
All companies are fundamentally in the business of marketing
The product or service part is simply the deliverable.
All businesses have to acquire the customers first, otherwise they’re out of business very soon.
The same businesses would be out of business soon if they pay for a customer more than they make back over the long-term on that particular customer.
While these concepts seem obvious and intuitive, it’s important to keep them in mind and stay focused.
Why? Because these are the basics of how to make money in the business world. These basics are the foundation and cornerstone of a profitable business.
Why would companies pay very high or even recurring commissions to their affiliates?
- Companies understand that acquiring a new customer is one of the highest valuable tasks of their business. This part can easily make or break the business. Therefore, companies are happy to pay high commissions to successful affiliate marketers
- Affiliate marketers are practically responsible for one of the highest valued and usually most expensive part of any business: Successful marketing, successfully acquiring new customers.
- Companies understand that they don’t have to be profitable right away. They don’t have to be in the green immediately after they made their first sale to their newly acquired customer. These companies usually have a long-term strategy and can be extremely profitable after selling again and again to the same customer.
Affiliate marketers take care of company growth
Bottom line: If you understand that basically every company is in the business of marketing and that the product or service itself is just the deliverable, the importance of marketing becomes obvious.
We also see why we need to run our own affiliate business the same way as these companies do:
We’re profitable as long as we pay less for acquiring a new customer than we make by referring that person to another company for a commission.
How to run a profitable affiliate marketing business in 2019?
Simply put, you spend less money on acquiring the customer than you make of him in the back-end.
For an affiliate marketer, the back-end consists of commissions from the companies you work with as an affiliate.
You recommend products or services of other companies, and get a commission in case the company makes a sale.
It’s very obvious why affiliate programs that offer a high commission per sale (“high ticket”) or even recurring commission are so attractive to affiliate marketers:
If you make more money from one customer, you can spend more money on acquiring this customer while still being profitable
If you’re in the business of content marketing and SEO, and if you produce the content all by yourself, here are the only expenses you have:
- Mandatory: Ongoing fees for website hosting and domain management
- One-time costs for acquiring the initial knowledge on how to perform profitable affiliate marketing in the form of books, courses, boot camps, seminars etc
- Potentially ongoing costs for different marketing automation services like e-mail auto-responder services
- Costs for running PPC campaigns or outsourcing the content production
- Costs for keeping up to date with the latest industry trends, newest traffic sources, conversion hacks, conversion tools and more. Often in the form of mentorships, mastermind groups, seminars, webinars, exclusive communities etc
Later, when you run your profitable affiliate marketing business for some time, you probably want to scale it.
You might consider putting your profits back into your business to scale faster.
Sure, you can bootstrap quite a bit in the beginning. You could be cheap and pay nothing for acquiring the essential knowledge on how to do affiliate marketing in a very profitable way.
And I’m the first to admit:
The knowledge is out there – and it’s free
Take this article for example. It’s freely available to you, costs nothing you can definitely become a profitable affiliate marketer by applying what I’m suggesting here and reading my other articles on running a profitable affiliate marketing business.
Furthermore, you could decide to use a free, non-top-level domain in the beginning or even scratch website hosting altogether by going with a free hosting service.
You could go with a free website provider (basically you are playing in another person’s garden) or even try to do affiliate marketing exclusively in forums or in Facebook groups.
Again, in this case you are “building” your online business foundation in another person’s garden.
Sure, it’s possible to make some quick bucks that way.
But is it really worth it?
You could also go a more professional route:
Buy virtual real estate and build your own, professional online business on a solid foundation so it will last years, if not decades.
It’s your choice.
In comparison to other business models the costs for running an affiliate marketing business are extremely low while the profit potential is gigantic.
It’s truly a low risk, potentially high reward business model.
Bottom line: Keep your costs as low as possible, especially in the beginning (but not lower than necessary, don’t be cheap, you’ll regret later) while building your profitable online business and new streams of income.
At any given point you want to respect people’s attention and valuable time, because you understand they are precious.
You want to only recommend high quality products and services from reliable and highly reputable companies, ideally in rising industries and niches, that you stand behind as a person.
Over time, you will see some nice commissions coming your way and these will very quickly cover the costs mentioned above. After your expenses are covered, every newly generated commission is 100% your profit.
This is where the fun begins.
Current trends: What changed in 2018?
The trend of video is still unbroken. More and more video content is being produced and consumed.
At the same time, you want to stick to your preferred way of communication:
If you like to read a lot and prefer the efficiency of the written word, being able to skim content, quickly absorb the key concepts etc then stick to writing articles, blog posts and books.
If you enjoy listening to podcasts while commuting to work, running or hitting the gym, you might want to consider publishing a podcast.
And if you prefer watching videos and spend hours and hours on YouTube, you might want to consider starting a YouTube channel. Video is one of the most efficient ways of communication since it’s easy to consume, it incorporates sound and animation (thank you, captain obvious) and therefore people tend to build rapport quickly.
Consumer vs producer mindset
But no matter what medium you choose to publish your high quality content, you want to stay in a producing mindset rather than just consuming content and not applying anything, just wasting time.
Ideally, you want to immerse yourself in a focused, productive environment and stay accountable to other people with similar goals.
That way you’re quickly back on track once life happens and things go wrong or just don’t develop the way you expected them to unfold.
Plus, don’t reinvent the wheel and instead follow the footsteps of a success-proven path.
Of course you have to make your own experiences and develop your own style and perspective on things, but don’t underestimate the importance of your choice when it comes to who you hang around with.
For me, an ideal (work/business) environment would include highly successful internet marketers who “made it” and are willing to share their knowledge and what works for them.
The future of affiliate marketing: What will be different in 2019?
I’m not Nostradamus.
And you should just run if you hear anyone being absolutely sure about future events.
But at the same time there are clearly some trends of where we’re headed:
I think it’s reasonable and fair to say that quality will prevail.
When Jim Rohn was asked by oil-industry executives in the late 70s what the 80s will be like, he answered they will very likely be exactly like the 70s have been: Opportunity mixed with difficulty.
Here’s what will work for sure:
Consistently applying the basics
The very basics of running a profitable business have worked in the past and they will continue to work in the future.
With more and more people spending more and more of their time consuming videos on YouTube, video is on the rise.
We as marketers are highly interested in where the attention of our target market is.
That’s where we should be as well. With our offerings, of course.
It’s usually way easier to connect with people and build rapport with them if they see your face and hear your voice. That is, if you have something of value to say.
If you want to lose weight, you’ve got to consume fewer calories than you take in. It’s that simple. To support this process you can eat less and move more. In other words: You take fewer calories in and burn more at the same time, resulting in a higher caloric deficit. WOW – what a concept!
Thank you, captain obvious.
Here’s the interesting part: You might react in two ways now.
You could either say something along the lines of: “Come on, you’re boring. I already knew that… Now let me get back to buying another book on the latest and hottest diet and these new fat-burning supplements, that promise to make the process very easy and I can eat whatever I want and how much I want!”
Or you could be thankful for being reminded that you don’t need more knowledge and that you don’t need to buy another product to lose some weight.
Instead, you “just” need to consistently apply the working basics.
I know it’s easier said than done, that’s why it’s very helpful to have like-minded people around you who pursue the same goals.
Conclusion: It’s still about consistently applying the basics!
Simply help people with their burning problems, desires and give them what they are looking for, and they’ll be happy to exchange their money for your solution.
They will be happy to pay for it.
Helping more people results in making more money.
Having a bigger impact with your help results in making more money.
Great article dude, but I need help!
Glad you asked.
But at this point you already know that all you need is the knowledge, the tools and ideally a supportive community of like-minded people that help you apply the working basics.
Can I do it alone?
Yes, sure. It would be a lie to say otherwise and I basically already gave you all the concepts you need to become a profitable affiliate marketer in 2019.
But if you like to build a real, sustainable, highly profitable business in 2019 and surround yourself with professional internet marketers, you should get my free Online Business Blueprint (PDF) now.
Decision time – It’s your turn!
NOW is the time to make a decision.
Do you finally want to break free from the 9 to 5, earn a decent income and create true freedom from your location independent online business?
Your Online Business Dude
Hi – I’m Tim, an online marketer from Germany and the founder of Online Business Dude. I run a couple of websites, and I openly share what works when it comes to starting and growing online businesses. I specialize in value-first and results-focused content marketing. I live, eat, and breathe free/organic and paid traffic generation, list building, and email marketing. If you need a helping hand with your SEO, SEM, PPC campaigns, list building, or email marketing efforts, simply let me know. Stay awesome!