Affiliate marketing is often touted as an excellent way to earn extra income and even create a path to leave a current work situation to become a digital entrepreneur. There are thousands upon thousands of opportunities to become an affiliate. By all appearances, it is a surefire way to create more financial stability in one’s life. Yet many people struggle to generate even a modest stream of income via affiliate marketing.

My Start with Affiliate Marketing

When I started my journey to become an online entrepreneur, my goal was to create a series of online courses based on the knowledge I gained from my current career. Struggling to get my business off the ground, I turned to affiliate marketing as a bridge; a bridge that would fund my real passion and business until I got it off the ground. I had this notion that all I needed to do was sign up for a bunch of affiliate programs, insert images on my website, and then watch the money roll in. Several weeks later all I had was, well — nothing.

Extremely frustrated and somewhat disillusioned, I took a deep breath and considered maybe I wasn’t doing something quite right. I started learning more about affiliate marketing through articles and videos. The more I read and watched the more I realized I was hearing the same message I heard during training sessions I took for my “real” online business.

My Discovery of the One Secret

Finally, I made the connection. Affiliate marketing IS online marketing (yes, this is the one secret). Every person who has had success in affiliate marketing did so because they understood online marketing.

I want to be clear about something, which is online marketing IS NOT affiliate marketing. You may be scratching your head and wondering how that is possible. Being an affiliate marketer is a very specific type of marketer in that you are trying to sell other people’s products and services (of which you had no influence or input in how they were created). Then, when products or services are sold via your channels you earn a commission.

In exploring affiliate marketing and what it takes to make money this way, I am using the same methods I would use to sell my own products or services. Some of the marketing strategies I currently use are placing ads in a variety of online channels (e.g. Facebook), adding banner ads on my website, and occasionally writing a blog post about a program or product.

My viewpoint of affiliate marketing has changed. I no longer view it as this temporary, external activity that is supposed to tide me over until my online business became successful. I’ve embraced it as an opportunity to learn and test different online marketing strategies. It is now a branch of my overall online business strategy.

As I strengthen and build my online marketing skills, my leads AND sales related to my affiliate programs steadily increase. Affiliate marketing can provide an avenue of income for almost anyone. The key is to not view it as an easy, no effort method to generating money. This mindset is unrealistic and will ensure minimal results at best and most likely zero.

Transitioning to an Online Marketing Mindset

If you are interested in pursuing affiliate marketing, ask yourself ‘What do I already know about online marketing and where are my gaps of knowledge?’ Take what you know and utilize them. This will at the very least help generate leads. Then start seeking out opportunities to learn what you don’t know. As you learn new skills and strategies, begin applying them. This creates a wider and stronger net. It will also help you begin turning leads into sales.

Remember, the one secret is that affiliate marketing is online marketing. Building your online marketing skills ensures you will have affiliate marketing success.

Take one action this week towards your goals. Remember, it is about small, incremental steps. I would love to hear what has worked for you. Share with the community via the comments below.

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