Being a student is expensive. Apart from exorbitant tuition fees, students need to pay for housing, food, books, school supplies, and, of course, enjoying student life.
It’s not uncommon for students to take up part-time jobs, but that can lead to an unhealthy work-life balance. Working 5 hours at a cafe after 8 hours of classes, plus completing assignments and studying for tests is enough to cause burnout.
But what if we told you that there’s a less demanding way to earn a side income. You might even make money while you’re not working.
We’re talking about affiliate marketing. It’s one of the most popular ways for bloggers to earn an income. Students, too, can earn money from the comfort of their homes and even get an early start in a blogging career if they so choose.
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What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing that involves brands and service providers selling their products through a third party, known as the affiliate marketer.
The affiliate marketer is a content creator who adds affiliate links to the products they showcase in their content.
Every time a person clicks on the affiliate link and makes a purchase, the marketer gets a commission.
Here’s why it works:
- Blogging is a booming industry right now and while it’s highly competitive, there are also a lot of opportunities if you play your cards right.
- It covers a wide range of industries and can make for valuable work experience for students interested in fields like marketing, creative writing, and tech.
- It gives students the flexibility of working on their terms. They choose the volume of work and when they want to do it.
- It’s a source of passive income. You’re not just earning a one-time content creation fee, you’ll earn it every time someone makes a purchase through your affiliate link.
How to become an Affiliate Marketer
You can promote your affiliate marketing content on social media channels or other content websites. However, the best place for it is your own blog. This way, you have complete control over your blog’s content, the brands you promote, and how often you promote them.
There are plenty of free blogging websites, but if you’re in it for the long haul, it’s recommended to use a blogging platform like WordPress to set yourself up. These tools are easy to use and allow enough room for customization.
Next, you’ll need a domain name for your blog.
When it comes to finding a domain name for your blog, you need to avoid using free domain names like www.mattsblog.blogger.com if you want to be recognized as a professional blogger.
You need to start by choosing a short, sweet, meaningful, and relevant domain name that can help you build your personal brand. New domain extensions such as .TECH, .STORE, .ONLINE, .FUN, .SITE, etc. offers students the opportunity to find the right domain name easily.
You can use a combination of social media posts and your blog to promote affiliate links on multiple platforms. Just don’t forget to add a disclaimer that specifies the use of affiliate marketing links.
When you start out as an affiliate marketer, you need to be mindful of the products you promote. You need to create high-quality, interesting, and valuable content.
This is how you’ll build a credible reputation and make money from affiliate marketing. You want to attract a niche audience that is interested in the products you promote.
You need to find a blog topic that:
- You’re passionate about
It’s important that you love what you do because that passion will determine your dedication and shine through in your writing. You can promote clothing and apparel if you like fashion and sports equipment if you’re a sports fan.
- You’re an expert on
You need to be knowledgeable about what you’re writing. This is the only way people will trust you and your recommendations. Failing this, you will just be another person creating paid content.
- Is not too generic
There are millions of blogs out there, so you have tough competition. You need to avoid being generic and repetitive. Instead, give your potential audience something they won’t find elsewhere. For instance, instead of travel, you can narrow down your blog topic to “budget backpacking trips for university students”.
- You can sell
You MUST be able to find products that you can sell within your niche. Don’t pick a topic that doesn’t have a lot of demand and for which there aren’t enough brands selling products.
There are two ways to find products you want to sell:
- Joining affiliate programs
- Contacting the brand directly
A simple Google search will offer up a wide range of affiliate programs to choose from. There are affiliate marketing programs for every kind of product and service.
From B2B programs selling software to other niche products, there’s something for everyone. The right fit for you depends upon the audience you want to target. But you should also take into consideration how their payment models match your expectations.
Typically, programs selling niche products will offer lower sales volumes but higher revenue. For instance, ConvertKit sells CRM software to small business owners whereas Supermetrics sells automated marketing metrics tools.
On the other hand, there are affiliate programs like that of Amazon Associates that allow marketers to sell almost anything, but the revenue per sale can be just about $2-3.
If you find products that you like and think you could do a good job selling them, you may contact the seller or the brand directly.
Simply look up their website to see if they have an affiliate marketing program and sign up for it. If they don’t, send them an email and pitch yourself as an affiliate marketer.
Now that you have your platform and affiliate marketing agreements in place, it’s time to start marketing those products through your content.
Although you are a marketer, you need to avoid creating sales-y content. Address the needs of your audience and the products you promote should fit in naturally.
For instance, if you are selling guitars, you can write an article on how music helps boost intelligence and creativity and add an affiliate link in the story.
You need to know the products you’re selling. If you are writing a review, you need to first use the product. You can get quotes from other experts in the industry or even add some customer reviews.
Remember, if your affiliate links seem forced and out of place, your blog will not convince anybody and it will lack credibility. Your audience will read between the lines and think that you are in it just for the money. That’s when you can wave goodbye to both sales, and your revenue.
On the other hand, valuable, informative, and legitimate content will increase your credibility as an expert content creator. That’s what’s called a win-win-win, for you, the seller, and the readers.
Now that your content is up and running, it’s time to get more views to increase your chances of making a sale. High-quality content optimized for search engines will rank higher every time someone searches for the related keywords.
Et voilà, watch your content transform into a source of passive income that will continue to generate revenue long after you have published the content.
To ensure this, you need to:
- Find high-volume keywords relevant to the products you are selling and create valuable content around them.
- Make sure to use the primary keywords in your title and introduction.
- Improve the overall quality of the content by making sure the images and videos are high-quality and that the links are not broken or outdated.
- Ensure loading speeds are high with compressed images and fewer plugins.
To get more views, you could also promote your content on social media through your personal account and on groups that you may be a member of. You can also build an email list and send an alert to your subscribers every time you post something new.
Affiliate marketing is a lucrative way for students to make money while pursuing their studies, but it’s no magic. To enjoy its benefits, you need to lay the proper foundation with a customized and user-friendly blog, valuable and engaging content, and the right affiliate partner.
Start small, and focus on how you can make those initial sales. Avoid selling too many products at once. As your site grows, expand your network. Experiment with different formats. And always, always focus on quality.
Author: Rutuja Pawar
Rutuja is a Sr. Content Marketing & Communications Associate at Radix, the registry behind some of the most successful new domain extensions, including .Online, .Store and .Tech. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.