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What is affiliate marketing? 

Affiliate marketing is basically selling somebody else’s products online for them and receiving a commission for what you sell. In my case, I write articles and create websites in which I recommend products to buy generally through reviews. If people click through from my website and buy a produce I recommend, I receive a small commission for what they buy. Many online retailers generate sales through affiliate marketers including big companies such as Amazon and ebay.

How / Why did you become an affiliate marketer?

I reluctantly went back to work part time when my son was 8 months old. I was gutted at the time, I didn’t want to leave him. I worked as a librarian in a college 2 1/2 days a week and he went to a childminder. Going from working full time to part time as well as having to pay for childcare meant a drastic drop in my wages. I looked for something I could do in my spare time (when I had some!) that would give me some extra money. I did a few google searches and came across affiliate marketing and thought I’d give it a go. At the time there was a website called squidoo. Squidoo was a site which allowed anybody to write articles and share any revenue they made from them. Revenue was generated from affiliate marketing and adverts on the articles. It was split 50/50 between squidoo and the article’s author.

I started writing on squidoo and couldn’t believe it when I checked one of my articles one day. It has received 17 visits. I couldn’t believe anybody would read my stuff. This spurred me on and it wasn’t long before I was earning £20 a month. My husband thought I was mad. He couldn’t understand why I was working on squidoo for hours for £20 a month. But I knew I could make it work. In the end I was earning hundreds of pounds a month from squidoo. I eventually branched out into my own websites.

How did you manage financially when you started working for yourself? 

I built up my affiliate marketing business on the side.  It was hard work in the beginning. I worked in the evenings after my son had gone to bed, when he was napping and at the weekends. But at the very beginnning I had such a passion to make it work that it was all I wanted to do when I had spare time. I was also working part time at a college library before switching my job from a working from home admin job.

I eventually made the jump to affiliate marketing full time after I gave birth to my 2nd son. When I’d switched to doing affilate marketing full time, I’d been doing it on the side for 3 years. By this time, I was making enough money a month to give up my admin job.

What are the challenges of being an affiliate marketer? 

The  main challenge of becoming an affiliate marketer is that you have to put in a lot of work before you earn any money at all in the beginning. For me, I worked for months before I even got a pay out. And there is no guarantee that you will earn any money at all. This puts a lot of people off doing it and most people who have a go give up for this reason. It does take a lot of perserverance and self belief at the beginning. But if you’re prepared to put in the work and learn. If you have the motivation to work then there is no reason why anybody can’t do it.

What do you like the most about affilliate marketing?

What I love most is the freedom it affords me. It’s not an entirely passive income as I do need to put in a certain amount of hours to make sure my websites are always running, links are working and content is up to date. I always have to write new content as traffic to websites can flutuate depending on how google is ranking it. Websites which were once popular can suddenly fall out of the search engine rankings and your income goes with the traffic!

However generally once the websites are set up, it does earn some passive income (meaning I don’t have to actively work on it all the time to make money). I could make more money if I worked longer hours and created more content but I prefer to earn less and have more time for the kids and myself.

You’re a parent of two boys, how do you manage working for yourself and looking after the kids? 

When the kids were small and I was building up my websites, I did work a lot of evenings, weekends and naptimes.

Now the kids are at school, it is a lot easier to fit in my work as I can work in school hours.

The great thing about affiliate marketing as once you have websites up and running and selling stuff, a lot of the income is passive income. This means that the money comes in even when I’m not working. This is particularly great for fitting around the kids. I can drop them off and pick them up from school.  Also when it’s the school holidays, they are off ill from school or it’s the weekend, I just don’t have to work

Do you have any other ways you earn money? 

I also do some admin work and some website development work. I have found it’s a good idea to build a wide set of skills you can use and build muliple income streams. Then if one income stream dries up, there are others you can rely on too.

Do you have any advice for people who want to become an affiliate marketer today? 

To become an affiliate marketer you need to build a website or blog which attracts lots of traffic and be able to recommend something that people want to buy. Write about a subject and products which your are passionate about. Not only will this come across in your writing, it will mean you get content up on your website much more quickly. There won’t be as much time needed to research.

Remember that one reason people use the internet is that they want to research for things they want to buy and they actually want to buy stuff. It’s easier to be more successful as an internet marketer if you attract people to your website that are already ready to buy at that moment. For example, one of my first articles was “best toys for a 2 year old boy”. People using that term were looking to buy something for a 2 year old. Many probably wanted to find something quickly and get it delivered to them. If they found my website and some information about a really good toy that my own 2 year old loved with photos and a personal review, they have found the perfect toy and they would be very likely to click through and get it.

Although I’ve made most of my money via amazon I would avoid using them as an affiliate marketer now as there commission rates are generally very low. Look for sites and products that have higher commission rates. There are a lot of information products such as online video courses that offer much better commission rates than physical products. Also as well as selling other people’s products, consider creating your own online courses. Then you also have the option of getting your own affiliates to help sell your online products.

Another tip is to find niches of products to sell. If you find a niche that not many other people have covered, there will be less competition to rank in the search engines. Content is now King with google so make sure your website has a lot of it, that offers good value to readers.

Don’t forget to attract traffic via social network sites such as facebook, pinterest and instram too. Choose the best social networks for your sites.