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Affiliate Marketing in a Nutshell - How It Works and How Much It Costs
By TaSha Franklin

What is Affiliate Marketing? I get asked this question ALL the time. Usually it comes in the form of "What exactly do you do?". Well, I'm going to break it down for you. Basically, I'm selling other company's products. That's it! Obviously there's a lot more to it than just that, but that's what I tell people. When they ask "How?", that's where it gets tricky to explain. I'll try to keep it simple.

Pick a Product
I DO NOT sell products that I myself wouldn't use. I will not promote something that I do not believe in. So my first step, try something out, if I like it, and truly believe that is was worth the buck, I'll promote it.

Build a Website
Using a Web Editor, you can build a website on your home computer! One of the most productive websites you can build is called a squeeze page. A squeeze page, which will obviously pertain to whatever product you're marketing, will have a "grab" as I like to call it. Something that grabs the readers attention, and gets them interested in whatever it is you're offering. It's also best to offer them something FREE. I Do NOT try to sell right off the bat. I like to build a relationship first. You could give away a free subscription to a newsletter, a report, or an e-book that pertains to the products you're eventually going to try and sell them. If they want the free subscription, or e-book, they can sign up using their email address and name.

Build Your List
Once someone signs up, their email address goes onto your list, they receive their FREE gift, and everyone's happy. Now, the LIST is very important. Affiliate marketers pride themselves on their lists. Obviously, the bigger your list, the better. Especially if they sign up for a newsletter that comes weekly, or monthly. Now the key is, to provide QUALITY CONTENT. You can't send them crap, because if you do, they will either delete it automatically, or unsubscribe. So, whatever you send them, make sure it's worth their time to read through it. You can than market your products within the newsletters, by providing affiliate links to those sites. If they decide to purchase something from the company you sent them to, than they will be identified by your special affiliate link, and you get paid!

Create Traffic
Okay, but how do you get them to look at your website in the first place? This is where we Affiliate Marketers spend most of our time. This is where you either make it, or break it.  Some believe the key to high traffic is SEO, Search Engine Optimization. This means, when someone goes to their search engine, like Google, and types in "How to build a birdhouse" for example. If your site pertains to building birdhouses, you want it to be on the first page, right below the paid advertisements (those are the highlighted ones and the ones to the right). Getting it there means spending lots of time researching keywords, keyword phrases, and back-linking. Other's believe the secret lies in Article Marketing. Write a keyword rich, original content article and submit it to as many places as possible. Then there's Social Bookmarking, Online Giveaways, Video Marketing, Blogging, and the list goes on. Regardless of which one floats your boat, the key is to focus on only a couple, and try to master them. Once you've mastered the traffic  part, well what else is there? Oh, collect your paycheck! That's it folks, in a nutshell.

I'm not going to lie to you, you can't quit your day job tomorrow and become an Affiliate Marketer. It takes time, lots of time. It's like building a brick house. Each brick must be laid in exactly the right spot. It may take months, but when you're done, the big bad wolf won't be able to blow your house down. Sorry, too many nursery rhymes for my daughter. Anyways, you get the point! Oh, and I forgot the cost.

Let's see, a domain name costs about $10 a year, and the hosting probably costs about $5 a month. That's enough to get you online. So, about $15 will get you started. I can't think of any other business  you can start building at $15. Of course the more involved you get, the more you'll find little things that can make your life easier, such as if you decide to use an Autoresponder to help build your list. That can cost up to  $20 a month. Also, if you decide to use an Automated Submission site for your articles, that would be an additional $10 a month. You can also purchase images, and website templates if you like. There are also a ton of freebie sites available (See Free Resources on this page). So I guess a person can take it as far as they want to, just like anything else.

In conclusion, Affiliate Marketing is not a get rich quick scheme. It's not hard, but it is time consuming. You have to be willing to learn some new skills. It's cheap and easy to get started, and well worth the time spent, especially when the money starts piling in.  

"The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work."
- Vince Lombardi

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