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What Is Network Affiliate Marketing for Writers?

Network affiliate marketing for writers is a means by which writers can use their skills to operate profitably as freelancers in the digital world. Don’t we as writers often find ourselves seeking income opportunities? Ideally, we want to use our writing skills to help us generate income.

We may want to earn a living wage or possibly just a part-time, reliable income with our writing. Perhaps our ultimate goal is to write that novel, self-help book, memoir, cookbook, or travel guide that will propel us to authorship stardom and grant us celebrity status among the literati. We probably never considered establishing a business referred to as “distributorship affiliate marketing.” But it is a way to convert our writing talents into an appreciable amount of hard cash.

However, many aspiring writers are not entirely aware of the degree to which we must treat our writing efforts as a business. For example, we must have and maintain an effective website. In addition, we must become masters of social media—something that many writers loathe.

And now it gets exciting.

First, A Bit of History about the Beginnings of Affiliate Marketing

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Because of their writing skills, writers have big advantages in the world of “affiliate marketing.” Another name for affiliate marketing is “referral marketing,” which may be a bit easier to relate to.

In the “before times,” up to the latter part of the 1950s, there were no “social marketing” (formerly known as “multilevel marketing”) programs. The social network marketing giants like Shaklee and Amway sprung up in 1956 and 1959, respectively. They took full advantage of the power of referral marketing. They rewarded their distributors (often stay-at-home moms and female college students) with generous commissions and other benefits.

Suddenly, there was a powerful reason to share the benefits of certain products with others. The more people were encouraged to purchase products through a distributor, the more benefits that distributor would receive. Before the dawn of the Internet, distributors were highly motivated to speak with as many people as possible about their products. They were conducting “word-of-mouth marketing.”

Since those humble but highly effective beginnings and up to the present day there are innumerable companies, including the originals in one form or another, that continue to operate in this fashion.

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And Then…the Internet Appeared…

Internet for Affiliate Marketing
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But then the Internet came upon the world stage. Up through the 1970s, we would use or consume products sold by companies that had an army of representatives and distributors. Or we might have benefited from the services of a business that someone had told us about.

We might have used a cleaning service or bought something from a hardware store or a flower shop. We would naturally tell our family and friends about it. In fact, we might have encouraged them to use these services or to purchase these products.

Assuming they did just that, we would be happy that they took our advice. Then we would feel that we had done a “good thing.” But we certainly did not expect a monetary reward for having shared our enthusiasm for the product or service.

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What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Components of affiliate marketing
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Well into the 21st century now, affiliate marketing has evolved along with the Internet. It is potentially big business. The beauty of the concept is that it is available to anyone with a computer. Persistence, and at least minimal proficiency with technology, are likewise desirable characteristics. But over and above anything else, what can make the difference between success and failure in affiliate marketing is writing skills.

Affiliate marketing is a business model whereby third parties (i.e., you and I) are able to enable and facilitate sales of a company’s products or services. The role of the affiliate marketer is to connect those products and services with:

  • those individuals who are already “following” us (through our blog or social media channels);
  • the “seekers” of those products and services who, because of our SEO skills, find us when they are actively looking for what we offer as affiliate marketers.

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Clicking for Cash

Diagram: What is affiliate marketing
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Let’s say someone clicks a link and purchases a product or service that we are promoting or recommending. As a result, the merchant will pay us a commission. This is guaranteed via a “code” that is embedded in the link that the purchaser of a product clicks on. Those commissions, over time, can generate substantial cash flow for us. Our business generates income day and night, whether we are awake or asleep.

Consider this sketch depicting the concept of affiliate marketing:

Affiliate Marketing concept diagram.

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Affiliate Marketing and Passive Income

Passive Income for Affiliate Marketing
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Affiliate marketing, then, is one of the paths to “passive income.” Nonetheless, the effort expended to set it up is anything but “passive.” However, as described by innumerable authors such as Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” such income is the key to true wealth. Working by the sweat of our brow, even professionally, these authors proclaim, is what keeps us “poor.”

Success in affiliate marketing hinges on strong writing and/or speaking skills. So there is a special need for writers in this industry.

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The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing for Writers

Affiliate marketing home office
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Writers should stop and consider the benefits of affiliate marketing. Besides using the skills in which they are trained, writers stand to earn considerably more than their colleagues who are struggling to sell their latest novel or memoir. After all, affiliate marketing writers are simply providing a link (quite literally) between companies who have a need to sell products and consumers who already actively seek those products. The rewards for those who make the effort to connect suppliers with consumers are considerable.

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Lifestyle Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

One of the incentives for engaging in affiliate marketing is the lifestyle that it offers. Here is a brief list of some of the lifestyle benefits available to writers who decide to become affiliate marketers:

  • Affiliate marketing can be a “home business” that we pursue in the comfort of our own domicile.
  • Affiliate marketing lends itself to the “digital nomad” lifestyle. To conduct business, all we need is a laptop (or a tablet) and an Internet connection.
  • You don’t have a “boss” – other than yourself.
  • You set your own hours.
  • Likewise, in some business models, the rewards go beyond cash; companies offer family vacations, cars, and further cash incentives.

Affiliate marketing also offers certain business-related benefits.

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Business Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

  • There is no need to store inventory or ship products; the supplier is responsible for those headaches.
  • Affiliate marketers can “branch out” to serve numerous companies offering an array of products, or restrict themselves to specializing in one niche (e.g., pets, travel, food supplements, beauty, kids).
  • No significant start-up costs; a computer and a website (possibly with a blog) are the foundation for a profitable affiliate marketing business.
  • No need to provide expensive and time-consuming “customer support” to purchasers – that is the responsibility of the supplier.
  • There is no “cap” on your “salary.” Your income depends on your level of effort (and, to a lesser extent, “luck”).
  • In some business models, affiliate marketers can teach others to set up their own businesses. In this way, marketers can leverage and greatly multiply their own efforts and, accordingly, their earnings.

As we can see, affiliate marketing offers benefits that are generally not available to the average worker or entrepreneur.

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The Need to Communicate

Spelling Errors
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We’ve all seen them. Those ads with grammar and spelling errors that look like the writer either a) is sloppy and careless, or b) does not have the benefits of sufficient education to express their thoughts clearly, accurately, and concisely.

Whether writers want to publish a novel or sell self-help books, cookbooks, or travel guides, it is essential that they learn how to market their products. Likewise, effective affiliate marketing requires good communication, which in turn requires excellent writing skills. Solidly written expression conveys trust, convinces, and sells.

Writers, it is assumed, are able to communicate effectively with an audience. Most write extremely well, and some are better speakers than others. But most importantly, from the perspective of digital and affiliate marketing, writers seeking success must master at least the basics of social technology. This would include, for example, the usual social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

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Social media icons used in affiliate marketing
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Different Forms of Affiliate Marketing for Writers

Affiliate marketing female writer at computer
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Affiliate marketing comes in different flavors. Some may be more appealing than others to writers. Those who favor the written word most likely prefer focused messaging over the use of banners and pop-up ads. There are different affiliate marketing programs with different requirements and opportunities.

Generally speaking, affiliate marketing is a business model. It’s a sort of marketplace that connects providers of services, digital content (e.g., eBooks), and physical products with affiliate marketers. These marketers have a network of followers to whom they can promote these products, content, and services. Affiliates choose which of the thousands of available products they want to present to their audience.

We can become affiliate marketers in the following types of programs:

  • Online courses
  • Website builders
  • Personal finance and investments
  • Web hosting
  • Retail outlets (such as Amazon, Target, Sephora)
  • Digital platforms
  • Beauty and Cosmetics
  • Health and nutrition
  • Travel

Which program we choose will depend on our natural interests, the opportunity for income, and the ease with which we are able to establish ourselves in the online world in a given program.

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Other Things to Consider About Affiliate Marketing for Writers

Affiliate Marketing Diagram
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Affiliate marketers are in business to promote someone else’s products and services. On the one hand, we can promote these things without ever using or consuming their products and/or services. However, this is not ideal. Preferably, we have some personal experience with whatever it is that we are advocating.

Ideally, we not only have experience with the product or service—we use or consume it on a regular basis. In other words, we are our own best customer, and we know of what we speak. To make this work in the kind of affiliate marketing that I will describe in a bit, we want to use, to one extent or another, the kinds of products or services that we actually consume—ideally, on a regular basis. But not only that. In a perfect world, we are enthusiastic—maybe even passionate—about the item that we are boosting as a writing affiliate marketer.

Again, writers have the upper hand here. Writers know how to express themselves accurately, persuasively, credibly, and fervently.

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Using Our Talents in Affiliate Marketing

Typewriting for affiliate marketing
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If we stop to think about it, using our talents in something akin to affiliate marketing could be quite profitable. More lucrative, in fact, than posting our latest eBook on Amazon or self-publishing our memoir. We writers all know that the probability of a major publisher, such as Penguin/Random House, or Harper Collins picking up our work is…let’s just say…”challenging.”

Of course, we can always pursue that blockbuster novel while earning a living. We can earn our daily bread by working a “day job” and/or establishing ourselves in the affiliate marketing universe.

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Potential Income for Affiliate Marketing Writers

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According to Influencer Marketing Hub, about one-third of affiliate marketers earn over $10,000 per year. A fair chunk of those marketers earns between $50,000 and $100,000 annually. There are several factors that determine whether an affiliate marketer earns a professional income or a hobby income:

  • The “suitability” of the products that are promoted, and to whom.
  • Whether or not the marketer manages a blog, updates it frequently, writes relevant information, and practices sound SEO (Search Engine Optimization) principles.
  • The affiliate marketer hits the “sweet spot” in the choice of products to promote—something between inexpensive, low-commission products and expensive, high-commission products.
  • Whether the marketer chooses “popular” products vs. “niche” products.
  • Whether the marketer decides to focus on a single product or on a variety of products.

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Affiliate Marketing of a Variety of Products

Affiliate Marketing of Shaklee products
Shaklee Corporation

A marketer may choose to promote a variety of products. It would behoove that marketer to endorse products that are “synergistically compatible.” In this way, the marketer is perceived to be an “expert” on something as opposed to a “jack-of-all-trades.”

In other words, some forms of affiliate marketing are more lucrative than others. For the writer, it’s a matter of choosing judiciously from an array of opportunities. The writer’s interests, talents, background, and enthusiasm in a particular field of interest (besides earning income!) drive that choice.

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The Distributorship Model of Affiliate Marketing

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Too many of those who have an interest in affiliate marketing neglect a particularly lucrative platform. That would be the distributorship model of affiliate marketing. This goes back to the network marketing companies discussed earlier. Many people involved in network marketing still use the methods developed in the 1960s. This is around the time when some of the bedrock companies started. But the more technically savvy and forward-looking companies offer enormous opportunities for writers.

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Advantages of Working with a Network Marketing Company

  • You interface with potentially only one company with which you can build a valuable relationship.
  • You dedicate yourself to only one product, or a variety of products, “under one roof.”
  • You are your own best customer of a product or service that you want to purchase—ideally on a regular basis—allowing you to write as a credible user of the products or services you promote.
  • If a variety of products is involved, they are likely to be compatible in one form or another.
  • Companies that allow you to form your own distributorship for their products tend to pay generous commissions, in addition to other incentives, including paid family vacations and contributions toward car payments.
  • Reputable network marketing companies often have a long track record—in some cases, decades—of great success, allowing you to proceed with full confidence in the integrity of the company.

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Affiliate Marketing for a Network Marketing Supplier

As we can see, the advantages of working with a network marketing company as an affiliate marketer of their products are numerous. In addition, working with a network marketing company (the “supplier”—and possibly even the “manufacturer”—of the products) is particularly beneficial.

Network marketing companies (your product suppliers) often provide a personal low-cost website. These sites then serve as your own storefront for the products that the supplier manufactures. Here, you can market their products as one of their distributors; you may want to link your writer’s website/blog to your personal distributor website that they provide to you (at a very reasonable price). For example, I have a Personal Website that costs less than $15/month. It is dedicated to the products I promote via affiliate marketing.

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More Reasons for Affiliate Marketers To Consider Network Marketing

Network Marketing for affiliate marketers
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Other aspects of network marketing companies to take into account are:

  • Established network marketing companies provide valuable resources, often for free, to their distributors.
  • Network marketing companies (also known as “social marketing companies” and a variety of other names) often provide free training and hold conferences that are educational, fun, and great for social networking.
  • The combination of your own blog and a personal distributor website, provided by the network marketing supplier, acts as a low-cost channel through which you can serve as an affiliate marketer of the supplier’s products and be paid accordingly.
  • Establishing yourself as a distributor for a network marketing company costs very little; for example, a lifetime fee of less than $50 may give you the right to act as an affiliate marketer of your supplier’s products.

As you can see, there are many distinct, but generally unrecognized, advantages to being an affiliate marketing distributor. And reputable network marketing firms actively seek distributors for their products. These companies are well worth investigating.

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The Importance of Good Writing for Affiliate Marketers

Word Grammar branching off to rules, prepositions, etc.
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We’ve all seen those posts on Facebook or neighborhood social sites. Folks who have not quite mastered some of the finer points of the English language, shall we say, put them up for the world to see. Well, OK, maybe some of them just never quite learned how to write. Period.

What kind of impression does that leave with those of us who are more trained in the written word? Justified or not, it’s a fact of life that poor writing skills reflect negatively on a person’s “standing” in certain social circles.

Top-of-class writing skills may not be so important when the community member is reporting on a missing dog in the neighborhood. Polished writing is not a requirement for a social media denizen who is ranting to fellow malcontents about the state of affairs in politics.

But when writers present themselves as “experts,” as influencers, or as knowledgeable “professionals,” then excellent writing becomes paramount. It’s hard to imagine a promoter of anything being taken seriously if they are guilty of sloppy, difficult writing.

Affiliate marketing writers should always strive for smooth, powerful, and effective writing. There’s a good reason for that: the artificial intelligence behind Google and other search engines.

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Google Scrutinizes Your Writing

Writing being graded.
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Let’s use Google as an example. Google’s close analysis of one’s writing might surprise new bloggers seeking attention in the vast universe of cyberspace. The algorithm that search engines such as Google use to rank your blog posts and articles is quite complex. However, in the long run, the rank that your articles achieve in search results is affected by things such as:

  • Sentence, paragraph, and article length
  • Grammar and spelling
  • The use of headers
  • The use of images and captions
  • The use of “keywords” in the title, headers, and text
  • The use of “transition words” between sentences
  • The use of links
  • The structure of a given page and of the entire website
  • The level of difficulty of the language
  • Accessibility for those who have issues with vision and dexterity

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Beware the “Tricks”

Tricks in SEO

Likewise, Google is on the lookout for surreptitious “tricks.” A desire for dishonest gain might tempt online writers to implement “tricks” that fool Google into rating their articles more highly than they deserve. Google is “on” to these kinds of shenanigans by means of its sophisticated algorithms.

One example of “tricks” is “keyword stuffing.” This means that the writer inserts important (key) words continuously and unnaturally in the text. This used to work, artificially pushing a website higher in the rankings. But now, Google is not amused by these antics. The artificial intelligence in Google not only detects such chicanery—it punishes the deceit. The artificial intelligence in Google’s algorithms will seriously scale down the rating that the article would otherwise receive.

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Google Rewards Good Writing

Grade for excellent for writing about affiliate marketing
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In a word, then, Google takes notice of the impact of your writing. Indirectly, Google rewards good writing, along with good website structure, by elevating the rank of articles you are publishing. It accomplishes this by analyzing the reactions of readers. You want your articles to rank highly. You don’t want a mountain of other bloggers’ posts, videos, images, recipes, and articles to bury your work. Ideally, when people are searching for a topic that you write about, your article will appear on the first page of search results. Otherwise, you will be like a sailor lost at sea. You will be lighting flares, but no one will be around to see you. You will not be found.

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How to Get Started in Distributorship Affiliate Marketing for Writers

Start Own affiliate marketing business written on board
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Brainstorming Steps

  1. Think about the kinds of products or services that you might want to write about. These will form the basis for your affiliate marketing efforts.
  2. Through Internet searches, familiarize yourself with terms such as “direct marketing,” “direct sales,” “distributorships,” “network marketing,” “MLM (Multilevel Marketing) opportunities.” Include the words that describe what it is you wish to write about and market through your online business. For example, you may have an interest in marketing health products. You would then enter “direct sales distributorship health products” in the search bar of your browser.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the most enticing companies that your search presents to you. Look for qualities such as revenue, sales, longevity, location, and the marketing plan that determines your benefits. Find out what the company would pay you for a given volume of sales that you generate. Some companies place great value on your efforts to train others to market their products and pay you accordingly.

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Steps for Nailing Down Your Choice for an Affiliate Marketing Supplier

  1. Be sure to find out if the company you choose offers you a personal website (PWS). With such a tool, your customers can order their products or request services. That website, together with your blog, will form the hub of your business. A good PWS will relieve you of many of the headaches that many distributors encounter as they operate their businesses. For example, you would not have to worry about having to implement your own “shopping cart,” which can be …well…a bit scary. You’d have to be concerned about all the privacy safeguards and firewalls that have to be in place.
  2. See if the supplier you are considering allows you to create a “dropship” business. This is an ideal form of distributorship that does not depend on you physically meeting with prospects, customers, or other distributors unless you choose to. A dropship affiliate marketing business offers you many lifestyle benefits that other forms of affiliate marketing do not make available to you.
  3. Once you decide on a supplier, you must sign up as a distributor (which typically entails a very small fee). This gives you the legal right to act as a distributor of the company’s products.
  4. Set up your blog in which you will write your articles promoting your products/services.
  5. Learn the fundamentals of SEO, Email marketing, and lead capture; apply those tools to your blog post articles.
  6. Over time, if you follow good SEO and online affiliate marketing practices, you will begin attracting attention online. Inevitably, prospects will begin reading your material and ultimately begin purchasing through your website/blog. Then it’s a matter of nurturing those customers and maintaining contact. In this way, they continue purchasing repeatedly, week after week, month after month, year after year. Hence the concept of “passive income”—but only after much work and diligence!

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Use Your Writing Talent to Earn Income with Affiliate Marketing

African American writer with laptop
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You may have the gift of being able to write and express yourself impactfully, emotionally, and precisely. Perhaps you majored in English, literature, social science, history, philosophy, journalism, or the arts. These are admirable and fascinating majors. Perhaps you went on to work—or started a career—in one of these areas. Or possibly you are retired after a long career based on your language skills.

Maybe it’s time to consider that “working for pay” is not quite what we need. “Working for pay” means that when we work, we get paid. And when we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Most of us were raised with this work ethic. This is what the “poor dad” (a college professor, by the way) in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” taught his son. That’s all “poor dad” knew. That’s probably all his father knew.

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Earning Money “Smartly”

Making money online: hands on computer keyboard.
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Working for pay is admirable, but there are “smarter” ways of earning money (and potentially a lot of it). “Passive income” is a goal worth pursuing, despite its challenges. You receive passive income whether you are awake or asleep, at home, traveling across the country, or exploring the world. You can earn this kind of income. Simply follow this two-step process:

  1. Work diligently, investing an ample amount of time and only a very modest amount of money, to carve out your cyber presence. Establish your authority as a writer in your distributorship affiliate marketing business.
  2. Use your writing skills on your affiliate marketing cyber platform to influence others to buy your product or service.

Distributorship affiliate marketing is one of many paths that lead to passive income. It can also be one of the more satisfying paths to greater income. With effort, it could reasonably develop into your main source of income. For retirees, even a supplemental income can make a huge difference in their lives. They can enhance their lifestyles with that extra income. A distributorship affiliate marketing business can generate that extra income.

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By David Magallanes

Freelance writer, proofreader, blogger, and network affiliate marketer.

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