Making Money Online: Affiliate Marketing?

What is affiliate marketing?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

With the current financial crisis and increased unemployment, many people have explored the various possibilities of making money online in an effort to subsidize their incomes. Those looking for online money-making possibilities have inevitably come across the concept of affiliate marketing. This is essentially the idea of promoting an online business through various venues and methods, such as video marketing, and receiving payments for every referral you manage to send to the business.

The method of compensation varies among companies, but the basic idea is to promote a product or service online and when you succeed in getting others to visit the company’s website, you receive a small cash payment for your efforts. For the company this amounts to outsourcing online advertising and promotion to affiliate marketers who work as independent contractors

Does affiliate marketing work for businesses?

Whether or not affiliate marketing actually works depends upon your perspective. For many businesses, the idea is excellent because it operates on a “pay for performance” model; meaning that the business pays only when an affiliate successfully generates tangible results. A number of major online businesses, such as, did very well with affiliate marketing in their early years.
Similarly, since the online business can develop its own affiliate programs that operate under its own terms and conditions, many online businesses have chosen to set them up. On the other hand, affiliate marketing offers few benefits for businesses that operate on a local basis or whose product or service is off-line in nature. Further, failure to properly restrict the activity of affiliates or to monitor for abuses also leads to many unscrupulous affiliate marketers giving the business they are promoting a bad name or negative associations.

Does affiliate marketing work for affiliates?

It is undeniable that at least some people have built successful careers from affiliate marketing, but at the same time, it appears that the overwhelming majority of affiliate marketers make very little money, if any at all. Because affiliate marketers are independent service providers, the industry is completely unregulated which makes it very difficult to get exact numbers on how successful the industry is for most people.
Another difficulty in assessing the effectiveness of affiliate marketing is that one of its primary niches is the selling of information about how to become an effective affiliate marketer. This means that there is an enormous amount of misleading information online about how successful affiliate marketers can be, since the promoters have a vested interested in getting people to buy their “how to” materials. Because affiliate marketing is primarily an online endeavor, people are able to make whatever claims they want and it is virtually impossible to confirm them. Just because an affiliate marketer claims to make $60,000 a month does not mean it is true at all, and there is virtually no way to find out whether or not it is.

Who is successful at affiliate marketing?

Like any industry, there are occasional flukes where people succeed by sheer luck as opposed to skill or talent; but as always, these are the exceptions. In general, most of the confirmed successful affiliate marketers are people who already had a strong background in advertising and marketing before they took up affiliate marketing. Additionally, most of the proven success stories concern people who have been involved since the beginning of the industry in the late 1990s.
There are very few success stories about people who jump into the industry and become immediately successful, and the stories that do exist are impossible to verify. The few who have become successful very quickly usually have had access to some new innovation, such as the development of a completely new niche, technology, or marketing strategy. Despite claims to the contrary, there is virtually no verifiable evidence that most affiliate marketers ever make significant amounts of money.

Get rich quick? Probably not.

Since so many affiliate marketers are making their money by selling instructional affiliate marketing materials, there are many claims that affiliate marketing offers the opportunity to get rich quick. These claims tend to resonate loudly in the current economic climate where so many desperate people are looking for ways to make livings or supplement incomes. However, as is the case with most “get rich quick” schemes, more often than not it’s just a scam. Even if you have an innovative concept that might open a new niche or market and even if you have a strong background in advertising or marketing, the odds are that it will take years to turn these ideas into enough money to live on.
While setting up the basic online infrastructure for affiliate marketing can be done within a couple of months, actually making money from it always takes much longer. Most of the confirmed successful affiliate marketers freely admit that it took them anywhere from one to five years before they were making enough to even consider dropping their day jobs.

Is affiliate marketing right for you?

If you already have a solid background in advertising or marketing or you have some brilliant new idea, you may be able to make a fortune with affiliate marketing. However, even if this is the case, don’t expect to do so overnight or to be able to do it without investing a lot of time and energy. If you have no experience in the field and are simply looking for a quick and easy way to make some emergency cash, realistically speaking, affiliate marketing is probably not going to be the solution to your problem.

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