If instant gratification is your thing, affiliate marketing will make you want to run into a wall. Even after you surpass the threshold needed to “cash out”, there’s usually a waiting period before your commission is confirmed/approved, simply because they allow time for people to return goods if needed. So yes, affiliate marketing is by no means a fast track to cash.
I once persuaded my mum to buy all my Christmas presents using my affiliate links on Amazon, and then found out that Amazon won’t pay out to anyone with the same surname as you (as they assume them to be family; luckily I have an unusual surname!) or anyone who lives at the same address. However one of my friends has ordered through one of my affiliate links and the commission has tracked for that. It’s my ONLY commission, mind. And my account hasn’t been shut down yet (touch wood, fingers crossed etc etc…)
Now here’s the tricky bit: let’s say you’re part of the Amazon.com program (for the US) and you generate an affiliate link for Amazon.com. If I, a polite little Canadian, skates over to your site and decides to buy a giant jug of maple syrup from your link, you won’t get any commission if I end up buying from Amazon.ca. You will only earn commissions from Amazon.COM.
As you start regularly putting out content, you’ll hopefully start to build a bit of an audience. But to start seeing real money from YouTube you need to market your videos elsewhere. Share your channel on Twitter and Facebook. Distribute videos anywhere else you can think of. Also, interact with comments and build a community around the videos you’re making so people will share it with their friends.
If you’ve got a way with words and expertise in a niche, there are plenty of sites that will pay for articles and content you write. Think of the sites you read regularly. What can you contribute to them that would be interesting? Research your niche and then look for ways to pitch articles. Many sites will simply have a submission or contact link in the footer. To get started, check out my full guide to becoming a freelance writer on the side and then submit your articles to places like Listverse, A List Apart, International Living, FundsforWriters, and Textbroker.
Once you have that problem or need nailed, the next step is to validate that idea and make sure you’ve actually got customers who will pay for it. This means building a minimum viable product, getting objective feedback from real customers, incorporating updates, testing the market for demand, and getting pricing feedback to ensure there’s enough of a margin between your costs and what consumers are willing to pay.
Equally important to the money is the fact that your email list is one of the few elements of your online business that you’ll have 100% control over. Marketing to your own private list of customers, fans, and followers will always be under your control. That’s not necessarily true with traffic generation methods, affiliate offers, social media platforms, and SEO.
“For someone new, I send friendly emails, comment on their YouTube channel, DMs on Instagram and LinkedIn. I’m very casual [and friendly] in my speech. In the outreach, I include a link that I created with resources – right off the bat, it shows them resources, templates, reviews, summaries, infographics, screenshots; everything they need to make this as easy as possible.”
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