When the pandemic hit, I lost both my waitressing and personal training jobs. I decided to take the loss as a sign to build the online fitness business I had always dreamed of.
I sold 90-day fitness programs, which included custom workout and meal plans, along with weekly coaching sessions via Zoom. I made about $1,000 to $2,000 a month and supplemented my income with my savings and Covid stimulus checks.
But I ended up working 10-hour days and getting burned out. So after a year of trying, I decided to part ways with my fitness business and find another way to make money.
For months, I had seen affiliate marketers — people who get paid commission by an online retailer for website traffic or sales — on my TikTok feed.
I was skeptical at first, but I had nothing to lose. I took an online course that convinced me that affiliate marketing could be a worthwhile business model, so I went all-in.
In July 2021, I used my TikTok and Instagram accounts to market affiliate products. I began posting multiple times a day, giving tips on how to start a side hustle, earn passive income, and grow your presence online. All the while, I promoted business and wealth-building tools and programs.
By October, I had amassed 43,000 followers on TikTok, my largest platform.
Since then, I've made an average of $8,600 per month in passive income (a.k.a. commission off my affiliate posts, including posts that are several months old and posts that sold recurring subscriptions).
If you told me a year ago that I could do what I love — creating helpful content right from my phone and work just two hours a day — I would have laughed.
I now have the freedom I'd always wanted. At 24 years old, I was able to move into a beautiful apartment in New York City, I get to travel frequently, and my life no longer revolves around work.
You don't need to have a TikTok presence to build an affiliate marketing business. It can be through a website or some other social media platform.
Success won't happen overnight; it takes a lot of time and effort at first. Here are my top five tips for getting started:
1. Turn to the experts for guidance
Look for people who have done what you're trying to do and study their strategies. Reach out and ask if they're willing to walk you through building your type of business. This will save you tons of time, energy and money.
There are also courses, one-on-one mentorship programs and online communities that can teach you how to start an affiliate marketing business. I used the 15-Day Business Builder Challenge to expand my knowledge and skills.
2. Don't start with multiple niches and products
To focus your efforts, start with one niche and find one winning affiliate product to promote. Once you've mastered marketing that product, you can can start exploring other products.
I recommend brainstorming a list of your hobbies and interests, then doing some research on the best affiliate programs in each category before narrowing your niche down to just one.
If you're planning to add an affiliate marketing business to an already-established account or website, your niche should match the content your audience already loves. If you have an Instagram account full of pictures with your dog, for example, look for affiliate products in the pet space.
From what I've seen, health and wealth-building are two of the top-paying niches because products in these areas are often in high-demand.
3. Find winning, high-ticket products to promote
You will spend the same amount of time and energy promoting a product that pays out $2 in commission as you will promoting a product that pays out $2,000 in commission. So the key is finding high-ticket affiliate programs and making those the bulk of your business.
- High gravity, or a high number of marketers who are actively promoting the product. If many other people are putting their time into sell a product, that probably means it's working for them.
- Recurring subscriptions, or consistent monthly charges for the product, so you will make recurring commissions.
- A low refund rate, which means that the majority of people who purchase the affiliate offer are satisfied with it. This helps me ensure I'm only promoting high-quality products.
- Upsell opportunities, which means that when someone buys the base-level offer, they also have options to add upgrades to that product for more money. Upsell opportunities help you cash in on both customers with a low budget and customers who are willing to spend more.
4. Build trust with your audience
No matter what platform you are marketing on, make sure your content is authentic. People want to buy high-quality products from someone they trust.
My content is always relevant and relatable to my audience. I build trust with them by doing things like putting my email in my social media bios and responding to direct messages from my followers.
This lets them know that they can always reach out with any questions they have about the products I'm promoting.
5. Hone your marketing skills
Affiliate marketing isn't a "get rich quick" scheme. It requires you to learn skills like copywriting, generating consumer interest and communication.
These are the skills that differentiate a good affiliate marketer from a great one — and there are many online courses to help you master them, such as Dave Sharpe's Legendary Marketer and specific courses on Skillshare.
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