Welcome to Affiliate Success step 2 which is part two of my Affiliate Marketing Success series!
In part one, we talked about how to choose your niche. In this section, we’re going to talk about the next step which is building your platform.
So first off let’s define what is a platform because it may be a new concept for you.
Essentially a platform is a home base to your affiliate success. It’s where you can establish your authority and build a responsive audience.
In other words, basically it’s a website or online channel. It’s where you can start to share your thoughts and ideas. A place to interact with other people when they visit your home base to see what you have to share.
There are several ways you can use to build an online platform – which I will cover in just a minute.
A platform is where you can go to express your thoughts online. Where you can start building a good reputation by sending people to your site. A place they can get more of an idea about you and what you have to offer.
Next, let’s talk about why you need to have a platform to realize affiliate success. Instead of just trying to run a business based purely of niche websites or driving free traffic to an offer.
Three really good reasons for building a solid online platform
The first one is to have control of your brand and your business.
It is a mistake to rely completely on third-party sources for generating traffic and sending affiliate promotions. Because they can be taken away from you at any time.
For example, You might be sending traffic by using Twitter, YouTube, or something like that.
But they can decide to change their Terms of Service or even end up going out of business. If that happened, you could suddenly lose all the business and momentum you’ve built up.
So it would be wise if you don’t rely completely on third parties only.
It’s better to have your own website or home base. Then people can come back and find you. And no one can easily take that away.
It’s just a much better long-term plan and business strategy rather than relying entirely on outside parties.
The second one is trust and reputation.
By having a home base where people can find you with quality content, it looks reputable. You’re giving people a reason why they should view you as an authority and expert. In turn they will be more likely to trust you and your recommendations will carry a lot more weight.
They’ll be more likely to click your affiliate links and take your referral more seriously. This in turn will lead to more sales and they will actually look at your offers and buy.
Ultimately, it really becomes the easiest path for online success!
The third is building your own audience.
As an affiliate, pre-selling will become so much easier. You’ll develop your own audience rather than just trying to get random people to click on your links and buy from you. Pre-selling becomes harder if they don’t have a good reason to trust you.
Without a platform, they won’t have a reason to see you as an expert. It will be much harder for you to grab their attention even for a second. And they are already doubting you as a resource or wondering if you are even reputable.
There are a number of different ways you can use to build trust (like WordPress, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, forum, etc).
The most popular way to develop an online audience is by building your own site using WordPress. I will cover more on this a little bit later. But basically you want to setup your own self hosted WordPress site.
You can create a web presence by building a platform on a Facebook Fan page or something similar to it. Or create your own YouTube channel which is another way to build an audience. Even Twitter is another option you can use.
Be aware that these are third party options where you lack control as mentioned before. But they can still be used to complement your main home base platform.
The purple square you see on the side is an icon used for podcasts – you can build a great platform through podcasting.
Or you could potentially create your own forum and build a platform that way.
The best way I recommend is to create a blog and make it the centerpiece of your platform.
The idea is that you will always want to have your own web presence like I talked about earlier. You can send people to it along with several other advantages as well.
But the best way really is to setup multiple platforms with multiple channels and have them support each other.
For example, you can have a blog linked to Facebook, linked to a YouTube channel that you can use to send people back to your website.
Have them support each other – don’t pick just one. Remember that marketing is a process, not just a one time event!
Please note – the idea is that you shouldn’t do all of this at once when first starting out. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend doing all of them for most people to gain affiliate success.
Until you can really afford to build up, you’ll have plenty to do by concentrating on just a few to start.
So you’d be better off beginning with a blog, maybe a YouTube channel, and a Facebook fan page.
You want to create a place where people can come and find you and interact with you. Otherwise trying to do it all at once, won’t allow you to dedicate the proper amount of time or resources on any one of them.
Next – Four key steps in platform building
The first one is creating your brand
When building your platform, you really need to put some thought into what type of brand you want develop and how you’re going to present it to people.
One option is developing a personal brand
Some examples are:
- Tony Robbins who is a huge motivational speaker, self-help author and life coach.
- Seth Godin who is an entrepreneur, public speaker and best-selling author.
- Jillian Michaels who is very famous in health and fitness space offers online personal training, several workout DVDs, and has a popular weekly health podcast.
Another option is creating a business brand
Some popular examples:
- Amazon – clearly the king of eCommerce;
- Vitacost – which topped the health and beauty category;
- Google – which is still #1 online search engine plus more!
It basically comes down to this decision. Do you want your name on it or do you want it to be more of anonymous company? There are advantages to both.
Obviously if you’re using your name as the brand, it will help make you more trustworthy. And if you add your own personality into it being very personable, it lets people know who you are.
A disadvantage of personal branding is that you’d have a harder time selling your brand or removing yourself from it. That’s because it’s very much tied to you and pretty much lives and dies with you.
So you want to make sure that it’s something you are going to stick with for a long-time. Otherwise without you, the brand won’t really work.
With business brands, it’s much easier to sell them to others. Or if you need help, to bring in other people like guest authors and things like that.
On the down side, business brands normally don’t have a face attached to it. That makes it a bit harder to build up to become likable and trustworthy when compared to personal branding.
So think about it when you’re deciding how to create your brand. Also consider what style of brand you want others to think about when they see it.
Is it going to be something fun? Or is it going to be serious and all business-like?
Do you want to position yourself as the expert? Or do you want to position yourself as someone who’s learning about a topic and sharing what you learn as you go?
As you can see, there are a number of directions you can go with a brand.
The second step is getting a domain name and web hosting
If you decide to host your own website, don’t rely on free third party platforms. That includes WordPress dot com, Blogger dot com, or other services like them.
Instead you will want to develop your own brand. So get a domain name – it costs around ten dollars a year.
It’s absolutely worth having your own domain name. It helps you to become more trustworthy – where people will listen to you and take you a lot more seriously.
Picking a name
When thinking about your domain name, there are a few different ways you can approach it.
Do you want to create something that’s memorable and unique?
Or maybe create a term like Google or Yahoo that doesn’t really have a meaning?
Or you can go personal, if you decide to do a personal brand. You can certainly use your own name as the domain name.
Go descriptive if you are building your brand and website around the niche topic. There are advantages again to each.
With a descriptive name, there’s typically some SEO benefit with it including keywords in the domain name.
However, going too heavy with a purely SEO focused descriptive name, can actually detract from your brand.
It would appear like you’re just trying to game the search engines. Instead choose a name that shows you’re creating something that you’re building to last and really care about.
There are examples where SEO focused brands have been able to work. However, I recommend finding a hybrid solution and avoid going purely SEO.
You really want to focus on building this into a lasting brand something that people will remember and trust.
Once you decide on a name and are ready to get it, I recommend going to NameCheap to register your domain name.
Web hosting services
When it comes to web hosting services, it’s a crap-shoot. You can get a pretty inexpensive plan with most hosting services. I recommend starting out with a shared hosting plan.
Most plans are really inexpensive. They can range anywhere from $3 to $10 dollars a month depending on the service plan and duration you want.
If you decide to go with the least expensive option – usually you can host just one website. And there most likely will be other limitations as well.
Moving up to the next level, you most likely can host multiple domains on that web hosting account.
It’s only necessary if you’re planning on building a number of different websites now or in the very near future.
Otherwise, if you’re just starting out and want one website – it’s best to go with the cheapest plan.
Besides with most hosting services, you can typically upgrade to a higher-level plan later on if you need to so without issue.
I’ve used at least a dozen different hosting services throughout my time online. Instead of going into detail why I like this one or can’t stand that one – I currently recommend InMotion hosting that this site was hosted on.
Step three is to go ahead and create your blog
As I mentioned before, what you want to do next is install WordPress which is the self-hosted version not WordPress dot com.
There is two ways you can install WordPress. You can download the software from WordPress dot org. Then upload it to your hosting service and set it up yourself. Or you can use a quick install app located on the hosting service itself (like Fantastico or Simple-script).
With InMotion hosting service, installing WordPress is really easy to do! Just tell them that you want to install WordPress and they will pre-install it for you during the checkout process and it will be ready to go once you pay are are approved!
The next item you’ll want to do for your site is find a unique theme that represents your style.
There are a ton of great free WordPress themes available to you online. So if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you can certainly look for a free theme.
Just be aware that because it’s free doesn’t mean that it is good or that your website will be unique. Popular free themes will make your site look like many other websites online who use it as well.
Another way you can go is to buy what’s called a premium WordPress theme. These themes range anywhere in price from thirty dollars to a few hundred dollars.
Major advantages to having a premium theme.
- First, there will be way less people using it and where it will look the same. Most premium themes have more built-in options to make the theme look unique and easier to make a really nice looking website.
- Premium themes are packed with features that require less plugins and load faster making your site easier to access for your visitors.
- Free themes normally have less support, fixed features and can even have unwanted if not outright malicious code embedded within the theme. If you do decide on a free theme, keep to WordPress dot org theme depository where the theme at least meets minimum standards.
I personally have used free, premium and even custom themes for my websites.
If you are looking for a theme that will do the job effectively enough for you and will give you enough creativity to make a unique site – then I recommend Thrive Themes which is a great option for you to go and can create a really reasonably price website.
Finally, Step four is to build a mailing list from the rip
Sadly, this is one of the things that so many affiliates fail to do!
Why? It costs a little bit of money on a monthly basis when starting out and many affiliates are not confident that they’re going get people to opt into their mailing list.
They believe that this is just another unnecessary expense to avoid, but end up leaving a lot of money on the table in the long run.
If you want to build a lasting business with your online business, then accept the fact that you need to give people a way to subscribe to your website so that you will be able to reach out and contact them on a regular basis.
When you want to promote products, email works so much better than hoping for people to come see a particular blog article that you posted and contains your affiliate link to that product.
Even when posting on Facebook or Twitter with a link back to your blog will get lost in the stream of all the social media stuff other people are constantly posting there as well and your post gets quickly lost in the sauce.
Instead, you should be concentrating on building a mailing list as quickly as you can because the as the old saying goes – the money is in the list.
Your list is where you can really effectively and easily communicate with people who opted in from your site and know they already have an interest in the topics or offers that you promote.
You get a better opportunity to build a relationship where they get to know, like and trust you – plus it is your list!
Two of most popular old school mailing providers are a Aweber and GetResponse. But there are newer services growing in popularity like Mad Mini and MailerLite.
These services are fairly equal and pretty inexpensive at the starter level – usually under 20 dollars a month.
However, I recommend MailerLite because it offers full blown services at a remarkably low price. At the time of this writing, you can have unlimited emails sent for up to 1,000 subscribers for free!
You can get started on building your list because its really an inexpensive way to do it.
You need to build an online platform:
- To control your brand: don’t let 3rd parties take it away!
- To build trust & an a good reputation: perception is reality
- Easiest path to success: best place to sell.
Just remember to decide on and get a domain name with your own hosting account. A solid theme to build your website. And don’t forget to start building an email list by getting an email provider.
If you think about it, you can get your online business off the ground for just a few hundred dollars and then start promoting quality products that your prospects want to build a long-term business that’s really inexpensive to start!