Though winter may still have a firm grasp on your part of the world, the spring season is just around the corner. Because of that, I thought it might be the perfect time to look at a solid approach for almost anyone to use to create a new career for themselves. While I love to look at the many simple and legit side gigs that can help you supplement your 9-5 job or bring in some steady income, one of my greatest interests is in passive income. And as my readers might already know, one of the best ways to develop passive income streams is through affiliate marketing.
And before you sigh and think, “I already know about affiliate marketing opportunities,” just give me a minute longer. Rather than go on and on about the many benefits to be gained from affiliate marketing, I want to look at a method that almost anyone can use to start to develop a really legitimate and passive income from this approach.
Be Clear on Meanings
Passive income is money that you can make with the most minimal amounts of ongoing effort. It typically involves doing initial legwork, and it can actually be quite involved. Because many people want fast cash or overnight success, they say that passive income is impossible – trust me, it isn’t.
However, you need to understand and accept that you have initial work to do and ongoing input. This is how that famous “four hour work week” concept evolved. You do the initial work of creating the passive income system and then dedicate around four hours of each week to ensure everything is going as it should and to determine if you are missing any newly emerged opportunities.
Affiliate marketing is a great resource in your goal for passive income because it relies on partnerships with any number of vendors (they are also described as advertisers and merchants). They have something to sell, and they are willing to give you a kickback for any business you send their way. They track your work on their behalf by creating an affiliate relationship with you and giving a unique affiliate ID. This appears in any links you embed in the content you create around the product or industry in question.
As a simple example, you decide to earn passive income around the health food industry. You create content that talks about the benefits of a healthy diet. In some of your material, you mention the dietary supplements of one of your affiliates. Each time you do, you use a link that a reader can click. If they make a purchase from the merchant, you get credit for the sale and earn a percentage from the merchant.
Looking at it like that, it seems amazingly easy to find a niche, create content, setup affiliate relationships and begin making money, but there is a lot more to it. In fact, in my article Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes, I indicated that there are many ways you might be oversimplifying or making mistakes in your approach. I want to be sure you are clear on them, so let’s do a quick summary of “what not to do” as you begin.
Get Off to a Good Start with Affiliate Marketing and Passive Income
Here’s a bit of advice that you don’t often see when reading “how to” articles and guides about affiliate marketing:
Love the niche or industry you choose.
Seriously, it is not an exaggeration to say that you must have a deep and long-lasting interest in the industry you are going to emphasize. Why? Let’s consider this for a moment.
Most of us are told that it is a good idea to choose a job we love. So, naturally, if that were the case, the world would be full of travel writers, athletes, cooks and not that many garbage collectors, factory workers, and so on. In other words, doing what you love is not always possible.
Yet, if you are looking to earn legit from side gigs, you should be sure you are transitioning to something you love. And the good news is that affiliate marketing has connections to almost anything you might enjoy talking about, learning about, writing about and promoting well into the future. Just consider, you can find affiliate opportunities in:
- Automotive topics
- Food and cooking topics
- Travel and culture topics
- Money and finance topics
- Medicine and health topics
- Pop culture topics
- Antiques and collectibles topics, and more
So, to get off to the best start in affiliate marketing and passive income, you need to dedicate serious time thinking about what it is you would really like to focus on over the long term.
And it is important for more than one reason. While loving what you do is a good way to keep up your enthusiasm through your first hurtles and struggles, and to continue facing challenges such as slow growth, your enthusiasm does a lot more than that. Loving your chosen industry, topic or niche in affiliate marketing ensures:
- You’ll have an understanding of the industry, niche or field to know how to plot out a chart for growth (we are going to look at in greater depth in a few moments)
- You totally understand the audience because you are, in fact, one of them
- You have the kind of creativity and curiosity that helps you grow your audience and identify trends
- You are viewed as an expert or authority in this area (which drives lots more traffic to your content, and translates to higher sales)
- You never directly “sell” but instead talk with enthusiasm about your area of specialization (and this too is something we are going to look at this in greater detail a bit later)
- You are one of the most competitive in the field
- You have the sustaining power and energy it takes to setup the affiliate marketing business, even if you initially fail or struggle
- You will be able to choose products and/or relationships that are more likely to succeed, avoiding costly mistakes and wasting precious time.
What this means is pretty simple – you can do what you love if you choose affiliate marketing opportunities that align with your interests, passions and enthusiasms.
Take time today to sit down and write a list of the things you enjoy doing. And don’t be afraid or discouraged if what you love doing is something along the lines of eating, watching TV or movies, reading, playing video games, or anything else that seems like it might not translate to a career.
Instead, take that thing you like to do – let’s say it is eating and cooking – and break it down into more specific things. For example, you like eating BBQ, Tex-Mex cuisine and anything spicy. You love experimenting with sauces and new recipes that emphasize the kinds of foods you like to eat. How might that be used to build passive income with affiliate marketing? There are many ways it can happen:
- You could find makers of products such as sauces, spice kits and other food based items that offer up affiliate opportunities
- You can use affiliate options through larger sites like Amazon to sell big ticket items like cookware, barbecues and grills, clothing and gear for cooking indoors and out, and more
- You can use affiliate links to sell cookbooks of all kinds
- You can get really creative and use your affiliate marketing for online plant vendors who sell seedlings for all kinds of exotic peppers and other spicy food ingredients (and the gear needed to make a “spice garden” or something along that line)
- You could find out about affiliates with restaurant websites that help you earn by promoting bookings at certain restaurants
- You could even consider if there are any viable affiliate opportunities for you where travel to destinations where that cuisine originates. For example, could you find a travel site with affiliate options and earn income by helping to promote travel bookings?
As you can see, there is almost no limit to the ways you might use affiliate marketing to generate passive income over the long term. In this way, you can start to develop a career around what you love and continue learning more about it, developing your knowledge and expertise and all while enjoying every minute of the research and work.
Selling With Your Passion
If you recall from just a bit earlier, I said two things would be revisited:
- Your understanding of the industry, niche or field and how it would help you to plot out a chart for growth; and
- That you would never directly “sell” but instead talk with enthusiasm about your area of specialization
These are keys to ensuring that you can actually create a career out of your affiliate marketing and passive income.
In my article Up Your Affiliate GameI explained that you had to “narrow the niche down to a smaller sector” if you hoped to succeed. We just looked at that in my example above (going from enjoying eating and cooking down to the specific types of foods, gear, ingredients, etc.). It is only with that sort of in-depth and narrower field that you are going to be able to map out the way you’ll do your affiliate marketing.
If you recall, I said that affiliate marketing uses “content”. Content can be the basic blog, but I encourage you to think far outside of the box on this. Why? Firstly, the internet is changing and user patterns are changing even more dramatically. Content is no longer limited to words on a screen and can be:
- Social media messages
- Whitepaper studies
And within that spectrum of content, you have an almost unlimited number of ways to talk to your audience. And this is where your understanding of the industry, niche or field can work to your advantage. How? Because someone who is enthusiastic about their subject matter and who is part of as well as knowing their audience, can understand just what would appeal most.
Would DIY video be better than a blog or article? You will know this best because you are also a fan of your own industry or subject. Would a tutorial or infographic be more suitable to a specific topic? Again, you can know this best.
And with this knowledge, you can chart out a course of content creation that keeps you ahead of the game and even helps you become a bit of an influencer on your own. This can then help you to boost sales by creating trust with readers. You are not someone who is eager to just sell, sell, sell and make profits from the sales you drive. Instead, you are someone who loves the subject (food, automotive, travel, homeschooling, and so on) and who wants to help readers by showing them a lot of interesting solutions, in-depth studies and so on.
As one expert wrote about content and affiliate marketing: It “means acting like a publisher, consistently creating content that our customers actually like to read and share. Content … is how to build an audience…” And that is the key to passive income with affiliate marketing – building an audience that just continues to grow and share the information, ensuring you have consistent income over the long term.
And as to those affiliates? My basic go to list includes:
But, don’t limit yourself. Explore every possible opportunity. For instance, a restaurant booking site might have an affiliate program just as easily as an online educational service or travel site. Explore potential connections within your area of expertise, and by this time next year, you could easily be in an entirely new career that emphasizes only the things you love.