Affiliate marketing is great, but you have to be careful when it comes to choosing which merchants you’re going to promote. There are definitely good and bad merchants out there. I don’t mean to scare you, but people have been burned by not investigating a particular merchant thoroughly enough before promotion.
And, even if a merchant is good and does pay well and on time, there may be other, even better merchants out there for you. Some merchants convert better than others. Some merchants pay faster than others. Some merchants pay more than others. You have to investigate and weigh your options, and it doesn’t always come down to who pays more than others.
Affiliate marketing can be a very lucrative business, but it’s important to be smart about how you approach it. First and foremost, make sure you can trust the merchant. Take a look at what other affiliates in your niche are successfully promoting. Make sure the merchant you’re interested in has a reputation for paying fairly and on time.
Research the merchants in your niche based on what’s written about them on the web. Read reviews about them and even consider contacting other affiliates about them. Sure, there are merchants out there like Amazon and eBay that you won’t really need to investigate because they’re well known for being legitimate.
But, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are other merchants that might be even more lucrative than the usual suspects. There are other merchants out there that are easier to make sales with because they aren’t anywhere near as saturated.
It depends on your niche and your goals, of course, but promoting these lesser-known merchants might be the right path for you. That’s why you should do more digging to find great merchants than you otherwise would if you were choosing something like Amazon or eBay as an affiliate.
Consider how often and how much you want to be paid for your efforts as an affiliate. This totally depends on your niche, your audience, and the opportunities that are out there for promotion.
When you find a merchant you’re considering, in addition to their reputation, consider what they sell and whether it’s a good fit for your audience. Sometimes, promoting something might be really, really enticing because you see the dollar signs, when in reality, that particular product or merchant may not convert at all for your audience.
And there’s no real way of knowing upfront whether something will or won’t work. You can do your research and pay attention to your audience, but in the end, it’s going to take some testing and tracking and trying different offers before you find the perfect merchants.
Also, think about the future you might have with certain merchants. With certain merchants, you’ll be bumped up in payment with the more you sell. This even happens with merchants like Amazon where you’re paid on a tiered system.
But even with private, lesser-known merchants, if they see that you’re a good affiliate, they will often give you special deals for your audience, special percentages, and more.
Again, I recommend that you test different products and merchants to see what works for your audience. That’s really the only way to know, beyond the initial research you do.
As part of testing the different products, especially with digital products, I strongly suggest that you either obtain a review copy of the product (many merchants will be glad to provide one to proven affiliates), or purchase the product itself.
By doing that, you can get an inside look at the product, compare it with the sales page, write an in depth review, and especially you can weed out the bad products or poorly supported products before you recommend them to your followers.
Keep Track of Who You’re Promoting
This might sound silly, but once you really get started as an affiliate, you’ll probably end up promoting many different merchants. It’s important to keep track of who’s supposed to be paying you, how much they’re supposed to be paying you, and by when they’re supposed to pay it.
In an ideal world, everyone would just pay you what they owe you like clockwork. It doesn’t always work that way though. If someone is late in paying you, you may have to contact them. You don’t want to leave money on the table by just letting your payment due slide because of disorganization.
Of course, if someone doesn’t pay you at all or has a hard time paying you on time, then you probably should drop them as a merchant. Sometimes, it’s disappointing how people who used to pay well in the past suddenly have trouble doing so, and so on.
Trust me, from my own personal experience, this does happen.
Maintain Solid Relationships with Your Merchants
It can be really helpful if you maintain solid relationships with your merchants. You want them to contact you first with new offers, special rates, and more. It’s these relationships that can really help you earn more and grow your business.
Also, if you decide to create your own products in the future, these relationships will really help you because these merchants might, in turn, become affiliates of yours.
Or, you might find opportunities to joint venture partner with certain merchants. You can really scale your income up if you have solid relationships with proven merchants. Remember that they have their own customer base. When combined with yours, the opportunities are endless.
How to Find Merchants
You can easily find merchants to promote depending on which niche you’re in. For example, if you’re in the Internet marketing niche, then you can search JVZoo.com, ClickBank.com, and WarriorPlus.com—these are great places to look.
Those aren’t all the options, of course. For example, most of my own products are run through the Nanacast affiliate platform.
If you’re looking to promote physical products, then you probably want to check out Amazon first and foremost. Commission Junction and ShareASale are other great options for physical products and more.
You can also search for merchants by typing in keywords related to your niche combined with affiliate related keywords (“your niche affiliate”). You might find great merchants that not many other people are promoting. This can be a great boon for you because there’s less competition to contend with.
You can also pay attention to what other people in your niche are promoting. If you see that someone is promoting a product that is selling really well and that you really like, follow the trail and figure out how you can become an affiliate for that product as well.
Choose a Merchant and Get Promoting
Do your due diligence on choosing a merchant, but don’t spend all your time researching. Yes, make sure that a merchant is going to pay you and pay well. Spend some time getting to know your audience and what they are most likely to buy.
But in the end, you aren’t going to make any money if you don’t actually promote. So, choose a merchant and promote them to test them out and start earning. Don’t fall prey to analysis paralysis. Move forward, build your business, and promote products your customers will love… and rinse and repeat. That’s how you earn money as an affiliate with great merchants.