That’s a catchy headline, I get it.
Making money online involves work, despite what some of these YouTubers spout off on their videos.
Now, building an online busienss is not easy, and takes an insane work ethic, discipline, commitment, patience, persistence, unshakable confidence, and an unwavering belief in yourself.
I find that affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to make money online for these reasons;
- You can monetize your passions/interests
- You can get started today
- You can get started for ZERO dollars
First off, I want to share a busienss philosophy I learned many years ago, from one of my all-time favorite (digital) mentors, Jim Rohn;
“You get paid for bringing value to the marketplace, and if you’re not very valuable you don’t earn much money.” … When you’re more valuable to the marketplace, you make earn money.
Earning money online (or anywhere) comes down to how much value you deliver.
In this blog post, I am going to reveal a step-by-step gameplan anyone can take and put into action right away.
Now, there is work involved.
This ain’t some get rich quick bullshit scheme where you sit on the beach, click buttons, and money flows into your bank account.
The business has the potential to earn you passive income, but there is some foundational work to be put in place.
This blog post is the ultimate guide to earning money online through affiliate marketing.
It’s 9+ years of blood, sweat and tears crammed into a 2,782 word blog post.
Online Business Simplified
The far majority of people like to overcomplicate this whole online business thing.
I was guilty of it for years.
Online marketing comes down to two things, and two things only;
Traffic & Conversions.
You need traffic to your website, blog, YouTube videos, podcast, sales page, eCommerce shop, Amazon/ebay listings, etc.
A percentage of this traffic will take some type of action (conversion) which typically results in a lead and/or sale.
Let me give you an “offline” example…
Let’s say you own a hat store in the mall.
Roughly, 500 people walk by your store each and everyday (traffic).
Of the 500 who walk by, 100 step foot in the store to look around or browse (conversion).
In the online world, we could call these leads.
Of the 100 people who step foot in the store, 20 people purchase something (conversion). This is obviously a sale.
Online business works the exact same way.
These are two levers you can control.
Two levers that you should be constantly trying to improve.
A couple questions you’d want to ask yourself when running an online busienss?
- How do we get more traffic to our site/store/whatever it is we’re selling?
- How do we get more of those people to pull out their credit card and become customers?
Most people spend their time, energy and money into driving more traffic. However, it’s much more efficient to increase the conversion rate of your current traffic before putting more effort/money into more traffic. Sadly, most feel that more traffic is the answer to their problems.
Think of it like a bucket. If you’re not converting enough people (into leads and/or sales), you have holes in your bucket that need to be fixed.
Is more water in the bucket going to help the problem?
Possibly, but it’s much easier to fix the holes before pouring more water in the bucket.
In the end, it’s just one big math problem equation.
Success Leaves Clues
There are people who’ve accomplished what you’re looking to accomplish.
No need to re-invent the wheel. It’s much easier to find what’s working, and model it. Improve it and/or add your style/personality/spin to it.
I am reminded by one of my favorite Tony Robbins quotes;
Go figure out what someone who was successful did, and model it. Improve it, but learn their steps. They have knowledge.
My M5 Framework for Online Business
This is something I developed many moons ago.
It’s an idea I got from the legend, Dan Kennedy, and added my spin to it.
See that Tony Robbins quote above?
I modeled what Dan teaches, as he’s wildly successful being responsible of billions of dollars generated through direct response advertising.
Dan says that there are three components to marketing; Market (who), message (what) & media (where). They all work off each other.
He came up with this 20+ years ago, and it’s marketing broken down in a very simplified way.
However, with online marketing, he left off two key components, so I added two Ms to the mix, hence my M5 framework.
My 5Ms are; Mindset, Market, Message, Machine & Media.
Below, I explain each of these in detail.
This 5M framework is foundational, and can be applied to ANY online business. Whether that be building a social media marketing agency, a Shopify store, selling on Amazon, consulting, or affiliate marketing (the example below).
This is principle based, and not based off hacks that work today, and not tomorrow.
Step #1: Master Your Mind
Without this, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
It doesn’t matter how many “how to” blog posts I write or videos I record, if your mindset is not in the right place, none of this matters.
Your mind is a muscle and needs daily exercise.
Most people think it’s the fear of failure that holds them back.
These people are wrong.
It’s the fear of judgement that holds the far majority of people from chasing their wildest dreams. They are more concerned what their parents, spouse/partner, family, friends, co-workers, or people they went to high school with think about what their doing.
The faster you eliminate your fear of judgement, the faster you’ll discover success.
Here are 7 daily habits I practice to build a strong mindset.
Step #2: Find a Market
This is who you are going to be marketing to. Many people refer to it as a niche.
I like to refer to it as “finding a starving crowd”, as I feel it as it paints a better picture.
Market, niche, pocket of people and/or starving crowd are all interchangeable.
You’ll want to find a pocket of people who have a problem and are looking for solutions. The bigger the problem, the more money to be made.
How many times per day do they think about this problem?
Now, there is never going to be an exact number to this question. Is this a problem they think about once a month, once a week, once a day, or multiple times per day?
The more often they think about the problem, the hungrier they are going to be for a solution.
Here are some examples;
- Getting your ex back (something guys think about 1,237 times a day)
- Guys battling erectile dysfunction (5 – 10 times per day?)
- Married couples on the brink of divorce (multiple times a day)
- People who are in debt (every time the phone rings)
- Newly engaged couples about to get married
These are all problems that people are thinking about MULTIPLE times per day. These are all starving crowds who are desperate for a solution.
Here are a few more examples of problems, but not ones that people stress over daily;
- People looking to a recipe for a dinner to cook
- People who have poor memory
- People who are interested in origami
These are all problems, but probably not problems people are frantically searching for a solution. Money can still be made in these areas, just not as much as the first list.
There are many determining factors when selecting a niche, but this is one that many people overlook. Arguably, it’s the most important one.
Now, it’s your job to find solutions to offer to your market and earn an affiliate commission (money in your piggybank).
There are several places online to find solutions, and I am going to cover a couple of them.
You can also use Google to find hidden gems that not many know about.
Here are some search strings you can use;
- “Niche” + affiliate program
- “Niche” + become an affiliate
- “Niche” + join our affiliate program
Any of the above, or some variation will work. You might have to search through a few Google pages to find something, but a wise investment of your time.
There are also affiliate networks that have hundreds or thousands of products in several niches, if you don’t feel like Googling yourself. These networks are going to be much more crowded, so remember that.
Clickbank – This is the most popular one as ti has thousands of ready-to-sell information products. Information products are digital, so there is no cost to produce, and nothing to ship, so much higher margins (meaning you make more money per sale).
With Clickbank, you can earn anywhere from 30 – 100% of the purchased price.
You might be thinking…
Why is the Hell would someone pay you 100% of the product?
How do they earn money?
Any smart business knows that the real money is made on the backend, meaning when the customer buys a second, third or 28th time. Smart product creators offer 100% upfront as they are only interested in obtaining customers to sell to for years to come.
Amazon Associates – Did you know Amazon will pay you for helping them sell their products? You can join their affiliate program (FREE to join) and become an affiliate/partner with the online retail juggernaut.
You can get personalized links for any product on their site, and if someone clicks your link and purchases ANY item within 24 hours, you’ll earn a commission.
Each of their categories pays a different percentage, but it’s typically in the 2% – 10% range.
With physical products, there is cost of goods (the product), shipping, inventory, etc, so the commission percentage is much lower, compared to Clickbank. With that being said, Amazon is a well established businesses that has built an incredible amount of trust in the marketplace, so making sales on Amazon is much easier that selling a digital product.
You obviously have to sell much more on Amazon to make a decent amount of money. It is possible, as my friend Sean earns over $20,000 each & every month as an Amazon affiliate.
Commission Junction – This is a website that has thousands of household brands that you can become an affiliate for. Companies such as Nike, Bose, 1-800-Junk and American Express all have affiliate programs through CJ.
You ca earn a commission from products you use each & everyday.
Those are three of the most popular places, but there are many others.
If you’re curious if a company has an affiliate program, just Google: “Company name” + affiliate program.
Step #3: Craft a Compelling Message
Creating content, is no longer an option in 2020, if you want to be relevant.
Content makes the internet go ’round.
If you refuse to create content in today’s online world…
Let me paint you a picture…
It’s like attempting to climb Mt. Everest, in the winter, with one shoe, in the dark, and the battery in your flashlight is blinking.
To top it off the wind is blowing sideways, with snow in the forecast, and and the hat you brought is barely covering your ears, and struggling to stay on your
Your content is how you gain awareness/attention, and we’re all in the attention
Unapologetically share your story with the world.
Eliminate your fear of judgment RIGHT NOW! Sadly, this is the #1 thing holding people back.
Do what EXCITES you.
Someone out there needs to hear your message.
As far as I’m concerned, you’re being selfish by not sharing it.
The internet is waiting for you.
Not only does your content garner awareness, it also builds trust in your
People buy from people who they know, like & trust. Your content is how you build up all three of these things.
Your content works for you 24/7/365 and never takes a day off. I have YouTube videos from 5+ years ago people still watch. That’s incredibly powerful.
Determine your strengths, what you enjoy, and leverage your current skillsets.
If you have a face for radio, YouTube is probably not for you.
If you enjoy talking, but are terrified of the camera, why not start a podcast?
You can use an app like Anchor.FM, where you can create, distribute, host, and monetize your podcast, 100% free.
If you enjoy writing, start a blog, and/or publish on websites like Medium.com
Pick one content channel, and GO ALL IN with it!
Step #4: Build a Marketing Machine
Your website is your home base, your main hub where you will house all your content.
I recommend this website builder, as it’s super simple to use, amazingly fast (helps your content rank higher in Google/search engines) and has some stunning website templates that allow you to build a great looking website, even if you’ve never designed a website in your life. You can start your FREE 14-day trail here. No credit card required.
If you prefer to use WordPress, which is a wildly popular choice, and what this blog is built with. I created a step-by-step post on how to build a WordPress website from scratch in 30 minutes.
The content you publish (written, audio, and/or visual) is designed to generate attention/awareness in your marketplace. It also builds trust, credibility and rapport with your market.
Your content is going to work for you ’round the clock — 24/7/365. Also, your content, depending on your niche, will work for you for years to come.
It’s 2020, but in 2025, people will still be searching the interwebz for solutions to acne problem, male baldness and getting your ex back.
Create a Landing Page
This is a single website with one objective: Obtain contact information.
On this page, you are going to offer them some type of download (ebook, guide, cheat sheet, checklist, etc) in exchange for their name/email address.
When you set up your website using the builder I suggest, they offer plenty of landing page design templates that you can use. These are templates designed to convert and are very easy to set up.
Set Up Your Email System
I use, and recommend Get Response for your email provider.
They are affiliate marketing friendly (most email providers will shut your account down, if you promote affiliate products in your emails).
Another insanely helpful, and my favorite feature, is they offer 24/7 chat support. There is nothing like having someone to chat with, in real time, when having an issue setting up emails.
I recently switched over to Get Response, and have used the chat 328 times in the last month. It’s been an absolute sanity saver.
Step #5: Pick Your Platform
This is your media, in the 5M framework.
This is “where” you will share your message.
Your platform of choice could also be referred to as a “communication channel”. You’re going to use this channel to interact/network with your target market.
When starting out, I HIGHLY recommend picking ONE platform and mastering it.
I am not a fan of spreading yourself across 4 or 5 platforms, and never really gaining any traction.
This is a common problem for many entrepreneurs, because they subscribe to the Gary V thought of Be everywhere. I am a huge fan of Gary, and have a tremendous amount of respect for him, however, I disagree with his thought process here. When starting out, you’re likely pressed for time, and need to be as efficient as possible, hence why I recommend going all in with one platform.
Commit to a single platform for 90 days, and then re-assess. Make the necessary tweaks/changes along the way.
Some of the many platforms out there include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Ideally, you want to pick a platform your target market hangs out on.
These platforms will serve as a source to drive traffic back to your longer form content (website/blog, podcast, and/or YouTube videos).
Whatever platform you choose, the single biggest factor to success on any of these platforms is: BE CONSISTENT.
Consistency is the key to success.
Most people jump form platform to platform before gaining any traction.
Wrapping It Up
This framework can be applied to ANY online business.
I recommend Affiliate Marketing, as it’s the most newbie friendly way to start earning money online.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.