So, you have decided to try your hand at affiliate marketing but do not know where to start? What better way to find out how than from the very people who have built a lucrative career in the field?

Check out these five top tips from some of the most successful affiliate marketers who have been there since the early days:

Pick a topic of interest

To start off, choose your niche or focus market carefully. That is a piece of advice commonly dished out by successful affiliate marketers.

There typically are two options here. First, you can ride the wave of current hot topics. Or, you can identify subjects that you are personally interested in.

Shawn Collins, who has been an affiliate marketer since 1997, recommends you focus on markets that you are passionate about. He should know better, as he has admitted to losing interest in sites he had created based on current trends and letting these sites die a natural death.

It is uncommon for an affiliate to excel in more than one market, so choose a niche within the industry and really excel in it.

This can prove especially rewarding in a vertical that requires specialized knowledge, such as stock trading. So, suppose you are on an affiliate programme with platforms such as Forex4you; you can quickly rack in the commission when you showcase your credibility as a subject matter expert.

Takeaway point

Think, then think again before you commit to a domain because you will need to put in sweat and blood building your footprint.

Content matters a lot

Once you have decided on your domain of choice, you need to build a strong content marketing plan to drive traffic to your site.

Veteran online marketer Zac Johnson is quick to remind that affiliate sales may make you money while you sleep. However, they will not come easily if you do not have a good content strategy.

He outlines several tips that can drive your affiliate prowess, including identifying your target audience. This means knowing their demographics and interests. So, find out which forums or social media your audience visit and figure out what kind of content they look for.

Johnson also suggests reaching out to other bloggers in your domain and linking to their content. Eventually, they will do the same for your content and help boost your overall search ratings.

Takeaway point

Your content needs to add value. Do not be afraid to offer a different voice even if it does not conform to others' words. Your audience may love you more for it.

Do the groundwork

Apart from offering good content, you will need to put in the legwork to hone your craft and domain expertise. This all goes toward cultivating trust, so your targeted audience will see you as a credible source.

The need to do so is the top advice from Pat Flynn, an affiliate marketer since 2008. This, he says, will take time and energy to maintain, so you will need to be patient.

You can nurture trust by offering content, information, and freebies. You can also do so by getting recommendations. The latter requires you to get others to know who you are, so they will help market your brand, Flynn says.

Building relationships plays an integral part in your success as an affiliate marketer. So hit the networking switch and nurture connections with others in the industry.

Takeaway point

Network, network, network. Enough said.

Prepare for the long haul

And be ready for the long road ahead if you are looking for a sustainable career in affiliate marketing. It is not going to be a path to getting rich quick.

As Missy Ward describes it, you will need to have "stick-to-itiveness". Having been at it since 1999, the affiliate marketer warns that success requires time and effort.

It also is a learning process that can only be improved over time, Flynn says. This requires continuous trial and error as you take action to plug gaps and correct things that do not work.

This means you should test everything, including placements of your affiliate links and the number of links you should use in your posts.

Takeaway point

No silver bullet here. You got to put in the work to reap the rewards at a much later stage.

Jam up the traffic

When you have done the research and identified the right domain, you need to generate eyeballs for your affiliate links.

Johnson points to search engine traffic as a key area affiliate marketers should focus on because you only need to put in the work once. After you have established your ranking on search engines, traffic will automatically flow to your site.

In addition, these platforms convert traffic better than other sources since people search based on specific keywords and are more targeted.

There are also other ways to drive traffic to your content or blog, including posting on forums, marketing through videos, and guest blogging.

Ward adds that attention should be given to where you place affiliate marketing links. Insert these correctly within reviews of products and services. The links can then offer opportunities for continual revenue with little restriction on the copy.

Takeaway point

If you took the time to produce good quality content, then take the time to ensure others can find it.

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