Starting with affiliate marketing as a college student is a great side hustle option that can passively put some extra money in your pocket as you go through college.
This article will tell you what you need to know about getting started.
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to work on it full time to make your money.
Take LuckyMojito for example who only worked on her blog as a side hustle (part-time) in December 2018 and was still able to make $1,127.34 in that month alone!
Or hairsoutofplace.com who recorded earning $5,227.55 from working part time (about 20 hours a week, sometimes less).
What Is Affiliate marketing?
As an Affiliate marketer you act as the middle man in a transaction between a company and potential customers.
Being an affiliate marketer can be very lucrative because it gives you the opportunity to be able to make 5 figures in profit every month and the better you get at it, the more money you will end up making.
The concept is this.
You promote other people’s products. When a sale is made, you earn a commission based on the price of the product for referring that buyer to the product.
Being an affiliate marketer, you have the choice to either promote products through an affiliate network or find companies you would like to promote their products (more on this later).
But you don’t always have to play the part of the affiliate marketer. If you have products or a service of your own that you would like to sell to people, using other marketers will be happy to sell for you as long as they do get a commission for helping you make that sale.
There are no contracts involved in affiliate marketing. Which means you have the freedom to, essentially, do what you want.
Don’t want to keep promoting a product? No problem simply take it off your site.
Want to take some time off affiliate marketing? No problem, its up to you (you will probably end up still making money while taking your break anyways!)
So…How Do I Get Started?
Making the decision to become an affiliate marketer is going to be your first step to becoming one.
Next, you will need some information on this new world so you aren’t just doing things completely blind. (which is why we wrote this guide for you)
Look at you, already done with the first 2 steps! You’re practically an affiliate marketer already!
Before you move on, you will need to understand the different parts of affiliate marketing.
The 5 main players of affiliate marketing:
- The Affiliate
- Affiliate Networks
- The Advertiser
- The Traffic Source
- The Customer
As explained earlier, this will be the middleman that connects the customer to a company selling a product or service through your website.
Try to think of this role a “That go to person”.
You know, the person that always seems to know exactly where to get things and for the best deals.
Yeah, that person.
As a busy student, this will mostly likely be the most suited for you. Unless you are somehow able to make time to create your own products to sell. In which case you would be the advertiser.
Your job is to find products to promote, find potential customers and send them to the product, create marketing material (such as ads, landing pages etc.), and test and tinker with different things to see what works to give you your desired amount of sales.
One of the most popular, and the best way that i would recommend, you can make sure that you are taking full advantage of everything affiliate marketing has to offer is creating a blog and growing an email list.
This is because creating a blog and email list enables you to have go-to audience that you can always market the products you promote to.
Another way to promote an affiliate products would be to create your own online store.
Be aware as an affiliate marketer that since you are operating on the internet it can be hard for you to make a sale because people can be skeptical about who to trust.
So you must be careful about what products you chose recommend.
The products you promote should make sense for you audience.
A good rule of thumb to follow is: Don’t promote it if you haven’t tested it out yourself and Don’t promote a product that you don’t believe in just because you know it’ll pay high commissions.
Affiliate networks are websites that will connect the affiliate (you) to product owners and the products or services they want to sell.
They specialize in gathering offers from companies and bringing it together to help make things easier for affiliate marketers.
Every market is different.
Some markets will only have offers pertaining to a specific niche and other markets take a more more general approach to what products they show to affiliate marketers.
Rather than contacting each company yourself and asking if they are willing to accept you as an affiliate, these affiliate networks exist to take away that extra step away and bring all products able to be promoted together.
You will have access to a variety of offers from all types of companies – dating services, gaming, insurance, weight loss products, food, deals are among the many offers available. All you would need to do is choose which offers will best suit what you are trying to do.
Sometimes an advertiser can refuse to pay you for sending them sales. Depending on the affiliate network rules, the network will make sure that you get paid for the work you put in.
This is not going to be done for free though. Affiliate networks will usually also take a commission out of the sales that you make.
The amount taken will vary depending on the network and what product you are selling.
When you sign up for a network, you will have to wait to get approved before you get access to the products on that platform. But don’t worry, the approval process is relatively short so you shouldn’t have to wait too long before you can get started!
This is the companies with offers.
They love to use affiliate marketing because for them it is a low risk way to get more sales.
With no contracts in the picture, there are no obligations held to an affiliate or to an affiliate’s business.
If an affiliate fails, the advertisers business is not affected. If the affiliate succeeds then they get new customers and make more money.
This makes it a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Also every advertiser is different. They all set their own rules as to how their products should be sold. This information will usually be available before an affiliate marketer commits to an advertiser so they know the rules before going in.
The Traffic Source
This refers to where and how you are going to be getting potential customers to view your promoted products.
There are 3 ways to get traffic: Direct, Ad Networks, and Organic.
Direct refers to directly purchasing ad space on a website like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.
Ad Networks are sites that connect advertisers (in this case affiliates) to websites that want to host advertisers. This will be a good option if you don’t want to deal with the process of directly contacting a host to post an ad on their site.
And last but no least, Organic traffic.
Organic traffic refers to the traffic that comes to your site through a search engine or people directly entering your URL in their browser.
People who make money affiliate marketing generally like getting organic traffic the most because it literally requires no money.
With direct and ad networks you will have to pay before you can start counting your profits, but with organic traffic the money that you make from sales are entirely yours.
As an affiliate, everything that you do and every product you promote should be done wanting the best for your customers.
Be careful not to scam customers. The reputation of affiliate market is already very questionable in the eyes of many people and that takes away business that all affiliate marketers could really use, including yourself.
Like i said earlier, don’t promote a product you don’t believe in or that you haven’t tired personally.
Choosing Your Audience
The type of audience you would like to cater to is completely up to you. No matter what type of customer you try cater to, you will still have to put in just about the same about of work to be successful.
If you choose to start a blog then you should already know what audience you are trying to target which should help you know what type of affiliate products to recommend to them.
Try to focus your efforts on a consumer base that you are familiar with, or try to get familiar with the consumer base you choose.
You can chose to market to other students like yourself, or to parents, graduates,gym goers, gamers, artists etc.
Make sure that you are learning everything that there is to know about niche you are marketing to.
That way you know what offers are truly a bargain, and which aren’t. Trust me, your customers will appreciate it.
For more information about finding the right audience for you check this article by Neil Patel.
What Will I Need To Start Growing?
Join An Affiliate Network
As explained earlier, affiliate networks can be very helpful for you.
They can save you time, energy and the stress of dealing with an affiliate company directly.
To get started as an affiliate, as explained earlier, you should look into becoming a part of an affiliate network. They will help you to take care of the little things that you would have otherwise had to do yourself.
Simply apply to one, wait to get approved, and start selling.
Here are some good ones to get you started:
Work on Getting Traffic
The traffic that you get on your site will be the determining factor of how much money you will be making.
The more traffic you get, the more money you will make.
You can increase your traffic numbers by running ads, using landing pages, Optimizing your site for SEO to rank better in search engines, using pintrest, and by being consistent.
Growing traffic is probably going to be the hardest part of this process for you and it is the part that will require the most patience on your part.
It is normal to start slow and you will need to get creative about how you grow your traffic and make sales.
Look into Ads
We understand that a lot of college student do have money in their budget to use on ads.
The good news is that there are many other ways to get your site noticed that will give you the same results that ads do.
But for those with some extra dollars in the bank, look into running ads for your site and see how they work for you.
You honestly won’t have to spend more than $10 per ad, sometimes even lower.
You can buy ad spaces on popular sites willing to host ads. Websites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram etc. are always hosting ads on their platforms and will be willing to host yours.
Type “Facebook ads” (for twitter ads type “twitter ads”) in google and the right links will pop up to get you started.
Landing pages are perfect tools that are used to collect emails.
But there are other uses for it as well.
On a landing page you can put a group of products that you are promoting to make it easier for visitors to see what you are offering.
They are a very popular tool uses by different websites when marketing.
Using the Right Type of Offers
You must be careful to pick the offer that works best for your the specific audience that you are looking to target.
Be sure to pick offers that are worth their time.
The last thing you will want to do is recommend something that has completely nothing to do with your audience.
Optimize Your Site For Google SEO
If you don’t know, SEO – Search Engine Optimization – is the tool that google relies on to make sure that the most relevant page comes up when somebody searches for something.
With the flood of websites out there it can be difficult to rank on the first page of google. Odds are when your first start, you will be sitting among the last pages.
But that doesn’t mean it will be impossible for you to start ranking. There are tools out there, like Yoast SEO, that can help you by showing you the main things to look out for to get your page to the first page of google.
How Much Will It Cost Me To Start Affiliate Marketing?
In your beginning stages, there shouldn’t need to start spending money right away.
This is what makes affiliate marketing such a great option for college students. As long as you have your blog and e-commerce site already set up, it should cost you $0.00 to start affiliate marketing.
You should be investing your money in running your ad campaigns.
Your time will be spent marketing and making sales. Setting up some money monthly to put towards marketing will come in handy and pay off in the long run. (only if you wish to run ads, which you don’t have to)
If you would like to know about affiliate marketing, check out this in dept post by Neil Patel.
Did you like what you read? Learn more about Affiliate Marketing and other ways to make money while in college in our E-book below.