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Affiliate Marketing Beginners Checklist #1

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by Carsten Cumbrowski, January, 31 2008.


First of all, affiliate marketing is not a way to become rich quickly, period! If you believe that or hope, either forget about it quickly or go elsewhere to waste your time on chasing your Golden Goose.

Anybody who tries to sell you something that claims otherwise is something you want to watch out for. Ask yourself what the person has to gain from offering you to tell you a foolproof way that is easy and quick to make a fortune on the internet. Do you have to pay that person something to get access to that secret knowledge? Does the person provide a 100% guarantee that his method will for you too? I mean a foolproof and unconditional guarantee and not a guarantee that is followed by a lot of fine print that explains to you that "100% guarantee" is not the same as "absolute guarantee" and that 100% is only an approximation and not a fix value.

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Nothing Comes from Nothing

Commitment, Consistency and Time are key factors that may allow you to make a living and day job out of affiliate marketing one day. Only very few made it ever to great riches, if you define riches by only monetary standards. There are many more, if you define "riches" a bit more openly, such as "being the master of your own life", being your own boss and work on your own terms, for your own benefits and on your own clock rather than working day in and day out to increase somebody else's fortune on their schedule and on their terms that you have to accept and follow.

But also to that point is it a long way to travel. The good thing is that you don't have to do affiliate marketing full time. There is no "everything or nothing" choice to be made. You can do it on the side to supplement your income or to monetize something that you are already doing anyway. Actually most affiliates fall into this category, some by choice, others because they are unable to take it to the next level for one reason or another.

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Things are much easier, If ...

The best single thing that will help you to be able to spend the needed time and get you back going rather than to give up, if something you did, wasn't working as well as you thought it would, or hoped or wished, is passion. If you are passionate about what you are doing and not just do it because of the potential rewards, you will be able to overcome drawbacks, disappointments and "hard times". It will keep you going, paid, paid only little or not paid at all. Choosing a subject where you are passionate about instead of something you don't care about at all and only do it because of the money has another side effect that will help you with what you are doing. People tend to be much more knowledgeable and interested to learn more about things where they have a passion for.

Knowledge is a valuable asset, an asset that your targeted audience might not have and look for. Honest passion can also be felt and seen in what you create out of this passion. Something that people will recognize and what people who are not passionate about the subject and try to do anyway try to emulate, but never seem to get right. People usually trust and listen to people much more who are passionate about the things they do and talk about. This is called attention and another vital element to successful marketing.

What are you passionate about? Do people who are not as passionate as you are, but interested in the subject have any needs that you could fulfill or help them with to fulfill it themselves?

Are you really ready? Affiliate marketing is not for everybody. If you need somebody who tells you what to do all the time, affiliate marketing is not for you. If you think that having a pay check with the same amount every two weeks or month is "security", affiliate marketing will never be more than a supplemental stream of income for you. Maybe it is not the right thing for you? Maybe you lack the commitment or thought that it will be much easier and a walk in a park. There is no shame in admitting this error, you are not alone. Thousands and thousands of failed affiliates who thought the same and learned the truth the hard way abandoned their dreams of quick riches through affiliate marketing and quit the business altogether.

You are still reading this? Why?

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Selling Somebody Else's Stuff versus Your Own

So you want to become an affiliate marketer? The difference between an affiliate marketer and a marketer/small online merchant (who just started out) is that if you become a merchant yourself, you are selling YOUR products to YOUR own customers. You don't do that as an affiliate. As an affiliate you promote SOMEBODY ELSES products, the products offered by a merchant.

This is a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that you don't have to carry any inventory, worry about the fulfillment of orders, online payments, customer service, returns etc. You also don't have any risks that are usually coming with the ownership and storage of inventory.

The bad thing is that people who you are referring to the merchant become the merchant's customers and not yours, at least not because of the products that you are promoting. That means that you have to create an additional value proposition the merchant can/does not offer that will make the same people come back to you in the future. You also have to keep in mind that whatever share you get for the referral, is overall still less than what the merchant will earn in profits from your marketing efforts (there are exceptions, but this statement is generally true).

However, there are enough margins to make this proposition commercially a success and to grow a relationship that is profitable and beneficial for all involved parties.

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Value Proposition and the Alignment of Goals

When it comes to promoting somebody else's products, think about how to do something that the merchant himself cannot or will not do himself, but something that is adding some sort of value to the process. This value can be a lot of different things and depend on what the merchant and the customer see as valuable. This can be very different depending on the specific vertical the merchant is in and from what the merchants goals are, particularly when it comes to his affiliate program.

Driving sales is one goal, but it is not the only one. Often is customer acquisition an important goal for an affiliate program. Some also use the program for customer retention and for branding purposes. Usually does a program have all those goals, but they are weighted differently by each merchant. It is important to understand what the merchant's main goals are, because this will determine, which of your marketing efforts will be seen by the merchant as valuable and good and which ones may not.

A misunderstanding between the partners about what those goals are is often the cause for conflicts and disputes down the road that can result in the end of a peaceful and friendly relationship that lasted a long time before that.

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Further Resources

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