The idea of acting as an agent and selling somebody else’s products in exchange for sales commission has been around for a long time. Affiliate marketing in its current guise is a fairly recent idea which relies on the technology of the internet in order to track sales and referrals made by an army of business partners that would otherwise be too numerous to account for and track effectively.
What is affiliate marketing?
The idea is quite straight forward. A business joins or creates an affiliate scheme and produces links that can be tracked by them or an affiliate manager to see who has clicked on them and then go on and purchase. Normally, the business will supply a range of marketing images and copy that affiliates can use to promote their products on websites, blogs and newsletters. This is how it works.
Steve (customer) visits the blog written by Mary (affiliate) and clicks on a link to a product on Viv’s website. When Steve clicks on the link on Mary’s blog, a “cookie” (tiny bit of computer code) is set in Steve’s web browser.
and he is taken to the product on Viv’s website.
If Steve then makes a purchase, because of the presence of the cookie in his web browser, Viv is notified that she should pay sales commission to Mary.
It is possible to make a lot of money as an affiliate of a number of different programmes and it is a form of marketing used by many big businesses (such as Amazon) very successfully. Once an affiliate scheme reaches a certain size, the business will have to have dedicated departments to manage it or outsource management of the scheme but it is perfectly feasible to manage a small affiliate scheme “in-house” if you have the appropriate software. Most E-commerce software including WordPress with WooCommerce have a range of plugins for running an affiliate scheme. The most popular plugin for WooCommerce is Affiliates Pro.
Spreading the Word
The downside of running an in-house affiliate scheme is the need to spread the word to potential affiliates. There are different ways that you can reach out to people interested in affiliate marketing, social media being one of them, but it is a good idea to list your affiliate scheme in specialist directories and to discuss it with people in certain affiliate forums. Below you can see a List.ly list of affiliate directories and affiliate forums that we have started. Please add to this resource if you know of others.
Concise Training has an affiliate scheme to promote its online social media courses. Please see here if you are interested in becoming an affiliate for Concise Training and making some money by promoting our training courses to others on your website or blog.