It’s no wonder freelance affiliate marketing is on the rise since affiliate marketing is one of the most popular techniques for generating sales and building a passive income. The marketing strategy started in the late 1990s, and it has grown to become a billion-dollar industry.
From just under $2 billion in 2010, Statista estimates that affiliate marketing spending in the US will hit $8.2 billion by 2022!
It’s evident that there is a lot of potential in affiliate marketing for freelancers. But, of course, you can only succeed in the industry if you know how to get started.
In this guide, we will discuss freelance affiliate marketing in detail and share some tips on how to become a successful affiliate.
What is freelance affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing involves promoting other people’s products in exchange for a commission for every sale made. For example, if you promote a BigCommerce product on your blog or YouTube channel and a user signs up for the product, BigCommerce will give you, the affiliate, a commission for the sale made.
Affiliate programs are very common in the modern digital world. From big B2B companies like HubSpot to B2Cs like Amazon, there are many opportunities to get started as an affiliate.
Affiliate marketing is considered freelance since you get to choose what programs to enroll in. Plus, you don’t have to rent an office, get involved in the logistics of selling the products or offer any customer support. The company whose products you’re promoting handles all of that.
How do companies keep track of the customers referred by affiliates? When you sign up for any affiliate program, you’re issued with a unique affiliate link. That’s the link you are supposed to use on your website and other channels when recommending the product.
When your visitors click on the link, the merchant tracks the clicks through a cookie and attributes any sale made to you. The commission will then be deposited to your affiliate account, which you can withdraw on an agreed date.
You should know that different affiliate programs have different cookie lifetime policies. A cookie lifetime refers to the duration when a sale can be attributed to a given affiliate link. For example, Amazon has an affiliate cookie duration of 24 hours. That means you will only earn a commission if you refer a visitor and they complete the purchase within 24 hours of clicking your link.
Meanwhile, merchants like Wix and Shopify have 90-day cookie durations.
Additionally, some affiliate programs generate recurring revenue. That means you will receive a commission not once, but every time the referred client buys the product or renews a subscription.
How much money can you make doing freelance affiliate marketing?
It’s impossible to pinpoint just how much you can make through freelance affiliate marketing because there are too many variables at play.
First, it depends on the commission rates of the affiliate program you’ve signed up for. For instance, Amazon has commission rates varying from 1-10% of the purchase price. That commission seems abysmal compared to something like Elementor, which pays its affiliates 50% of the sale.
It’s not all about commission percentages, though. You also have to consider the price of the product being promoted. The 10% commission may result in a bigger payout if you are promoting an expensive item.
The other factor that will influence your income is the conversion rate. The best affiliate programs give their affiliates lots of resources to drive more clicks. Merchants like website hosting providers also give first-time customers huge discounts resulting in even higher conversions. As the conversion rate goes up, so does your income.
Traffic is another factor. Of course, you want to drive as much traffic as possible to your website. However, the click-through rate on your affiliate links also needs to be high.
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As you can see, affiliate income can vary greatly. You can literally earn anything between nothing and millions of dollars. In a 2016 study conducted by Viglink, for example, only 9% of the affiliates reported earning over $50,000.
Nevertheless, affiliate income was still the second revenue generator for publishers.
The lesson here is that there’s so much you can earn from affiliate marketing. You just need to run your campaigns properly. So let’s see how you can do that.
How to start making money with freelance affiliate marketing
Here are the five critical steps on how to become an affiliate:
Pick an industry and then narrow down your niche
Niche choice is probably the biggest decision you’ll have to make as an affiliate marketer. Pick the right niche, and the odds of seeing great success will tip in your favor. On the flip side, the wrong niche could result in significant losses.
Picking a niche you are passionate about can make a huge difference. It can help you push beyond most challenges since it’s a subject you love, after all.
However, passion should never be the only thing to consider. Sometimes the industry you love is too difficult for a newbie to hack. For example, digital marketing is a popular and profitable industry, but the competition is insane.
For beginners, the advice is to niche down to a smaller category. For instance, instead of building an affiliate blog on health and fitness, you could do one on yoga. Smaller niches are less competitive, so they give you plenty of room to learn while earning some commissions.
You should also consider the market demand. How many searches per month does the niche attract? Is the search volume trending upwards or downwards?
Find a niche with increasing market demand, or at the very least, it should be consistently flat. You can use Google Trends to explore your niche of interest.
Look for products that you can review in your niche
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few niches, look for the products you can review within that niche. For example, potential products in a digital marketing niche would be website builders, website hosting providers, etc.
In the health and fitness niche, you could be looking at bodybuilding supplements, weight loss pills, and so on. A small niche like yoga could review products like yoga mats, clothes, etc.
One easy way to know what products can be reviewed in a given niche is by analyzing the competition. For example, if you want to join the yoga niche, pick the top websites in that niche and check their product review pages. You can also use tools like Moz and SEMrush to see all the topics the competitors are ranking for.
Look for affiliate programs for products to review
It’s critical to identify a good program because your earnings and overall experience as an affiliate will hugely depend on the program you pick.
Ideally, you’ll want affiliate programs with great payouts, but you must also consider the competition.
It’s also good to pick a program that your target audience will respond positively to -one that has products from reputable brands. This makes promoting the products much easier.
The quality of your content plays a big role in determining how much you earn. Not only that, but it also determines the rapport you will build with your audience.
To boost your earnings and trustworthiness, you need to create high-quality content. Your tutorials, reviews, etc., have to be helpful and factual. In fact, you may have to purchase and test some products before endorsing them to your audience.
Focus less on selling and more on providing solutions to your customers.
Optimize the website and monitor your Google rankings
You will need to implement some SEO best practices to boost traffic to your content. These include:
- Optimizing page load times
- Keyword density optimization
- Writing title tags and meta descriptions
- Optimizing URLs
- Image optimization with alt text
- Proper internal linking
- Building backlinks
Use the Google search console to monitor your performance on the search engine results pages. One of the items you need to look at is coverage. The section shows you the indexed pages on your website. Make sure all the pages you want to rank for are indexed.
Beyond that, monitor impressions, clicks, and average click-through rate from the performance dashboard.
These metrics will show you whether your SEO efforts are yielding any results or not.
Tips to excel in freelance affiliate marketing
Freelance affiliate marketing is a lucrative industry, but you have to know your way around it to make a meaningful income. Below are some tips to help you out:
Know your audience
Successful affiliate marketers understand the interests and challenges of their audience. They also know where their audience hangs out.
The information allows marketers to create a highly targeted campaign that appeals to their audience. As a result, they enjoy higher engagements and conversions whilst solving their audience’s problems.
Therefore, before launching your campaign, do some research into your audience. Identify their core problems and look for affiliate products you could recommend as a solution.
Use multiple channels to promote the products
Successful marketing campaigns do not rely on one channel. That’s why most businesses have blogs, YouTube channels, social media pages, email lists, and so on.
Your affiliate business needs a similar approach. A multi-channel campaign boosts brand visibility and drives more traffic.
Therefore, as you start your affiliate marketing venture, identify at least two platforms where your audience is. In most cases, you will need a blog and at least one social media channel.
Build your email list as well since email marketing can boost your affiliate income significantly. Also, email marketing has a great return on investment.
A multi-channel campaign is vital but don’t do too many things at once if you don’t have enough resources. Identify two or three of the most effective platforms for your niche and focus on them first. You can then diversify to other channels gradually.
Build a reputation in your niche
To become a successful marketer, you have to build a strong reputation in your niche. That’s the only way consumers will trust your endorsements and purchase the products.
How do you build your reputation? Start by recommending products you are familiar with. Next, show your expertise in the field by publishing high-quality and reliable content.
Third, partner with respected experts in your niche. You can do this by giving them guest blogging opportunities on your website. You can also invite them for a podcast or social media interview.
Partner with brands with good conversion rates
A brand with great conversion rates will help you earn a decent income even if your traffic is average. In fact, high conversion rates can result in decent payouts even when the commission rate seems poor.
For example, if you join a program with a $100 commission and a 20% conversion rate, you can make $1,000+ much easier than in a program with a $200 payout and a mere 0.1% conversion rate.
Therefore, don’t look at commissions alone. Conversion rates are critical.
Partner with multiple merchants
Don’t make the mistake of promoting products from only one merchant. If something goes wrong with their products or operations, your affiliate business will take a major hit. Also, your earnings will always be limited by the conversion rates, reputation, and product quality of that merchant.
Diversify your portfolio to promote products from multiple vendors. It’s the safest approach for long-term success.
Follow the rules of your affiliate program
Affiliate programs have different regulations on what publishers are allowed to do. Some rules like the affiliate disclosure are FTC-mandated, so they’re shared by almost all programs.
However, some affiliate programs have other unique regulations. For example, amazon associate prohibits its members from cloaking or shortening affiliate links.
Review and follow the guidelines of your affiliate program lest you get penalized or have your membership canceled.
Test and improve different aspects of your campaign
Constantly test different aspects of your affiliate campaign to ensure you are getting maximum results. Some of the items you need to test are your call to action and content format.
For example, you can test a “Check latest deal” vs “click for best discount” CTA. But make sure the CTAs are allowed by your program. Don’t incentivize clicks using words like “best discount” with amazon affiliate links, for instance.
You also need to test the format and type of content. Does your audience react better to product reviews mentioning features or the benefits of a product?
Stay up to date with the latest trends in your niche
Follow relevant forums, blogs, and other resources that can help you stay in touch with the latest trends in your industry. This will help you stay ahead of the competition. As a trusted voice, your audience expects you to know and keep them informed of what’s happening.
Practice some patience
Affiliate marketing is a great source of passive income, but it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It demands lots of patience before the ROI becomes apparent.
Creating and scaling your website and social media pages will take weeks, if not months. Building a reputation also takes quite some time. Therefore, do not expect overnight results.
The good news is once your campaigns take off, you’ll be earning commissions almost on autopilot.
Freelance affiliate marketing for yourself vs. freelance affiliate marketer
Freelance affiliate marketing requires quite a bit of investment in the initial stages. Besides building a website and creating content, you may also need to invest in a good SEO course. These courses can be expensive, and as we’ve established, affiliate marketing does not produce instant results.
For these reasons, some freelancers opt to offer affiliate marketing services to other businesses. For example, if you are a great writer, you could create blog posts promoting affiliate products for another website.
Besides writing content, freelancers can also make money by creating social media posts, running PPC campaigns, creating email sequences, etc., for established affiliates.
In other words, you can capitalize on your existing freelance skills to make money from the affiliate marketing industry.
3 sites to find freelance affiliate marketing jobs
Here are three marketplaces where you can find affiliate marketing jobs:
Freelancer is home to over 50 million freelancers. It also has tons of clients ranging from small businesses to large corporations like Facebook, Amazon, and Deloitte.
Just browse through the jobs and find the opportunity that matches your skillset. This posting, for example, is looking for an email sales copywriter for an affiliate marketing company:
The beauty of Freelancer is there are projects with various budgets. Therefore, depending on your expertise and portfolio, it’s fairly easy to land a high-paying project.
Upwork is another great platform for freelancers. Post a project related to your skillset to attract affiliate businesses.
Check out this project, for example:
The freelancer utilizes their expertise in Instagram marketing to attract influencers and other marketers who want to grow an audience and boost their affiliate income.
From content writers to graphic designers and social media managers, Truelancer has plenty of opportunities for freelancers.
Most freelance marketing jobs do not pay as much as you can earn if you were to build your own affiliate marketing business. However, it’s much easier to get started with these jobs since they don’t require many resources. Also, once you get a long-term project, freelance marketing jobs can provide a steady source of income.
Start Your Freelance Affiliate Business Today
Affiliate marketing provides an excellent opportunity to make a living from the comfort of your home or anywhere in the world. The passive nature of affiliate marketing also means you could use it as a secondary source of income.
That said, building a successful affiliate business is not exactly easy. It requires plenty of time and money to get started, and your strategy has to be spot on to get a return on your investment.
Having gone through this exhaustive review, we are confident that you can now build and grow a lucrative affiliate venture. Just follow the tips shared and be patient with yourself.
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