Careers That Don’t Suck Profile: Affiliate Marketing Manager

Job Title: Affiliate Marketer
AKA: Publisher, Affiliate Marketing Manager, Manager of Affiliate Strategy, Online Marketing Manager

What is it?

An Affiliate Marketer, usually a freelancer or small business owner, markets the products/services of other companies in exchange for a commission or fee.

What does an Affiliate Marketing Manager do?

An Affiliate Marketer creates his/her own marketing strategies and vehicles (web pages, blogs, forums, emails) to attract an audience to which s/he can sell another company’s products/services. The company that makes/sells the product/service is sometimes referred to as the Advertiser. The Affiliate Marketer is sometimes referred to as the Publisher. This refers to a situation where an Affiliate Marketer publishes a website or blog via which s/he refers the Advertisers products/services.

Affiliates may sound like resellers, distributors or dealers; however, there are key differences: Affiliates do not actually handle sales transactions. They do not stock any product. Instead, they create marketing campaigns designed to refer customers to the company where they can purchase the product/service.

Some Affiliate Marketers publish web pages or blogs, or operate forums. Others market via email and text messages.

Advertisers use Affiliate Marketers services in order to increase their marketing reach while limiting their advertising and marketing costs (they effectively push the costs onto Affiliate Marketers).

Here’s how it works:

  1. The Affiliate Marketer identifies a market (mobile phones, credit cards, luxury clothing or techie gadgets) s/he would like to enter
  2. S/he creates a marketing strategy (i.e. advertise mobile phone plans via emails to people who recently purchased cell phone services, or publish professional reviews and advice as a way of recommending certain products)
  3. Then, s/he identifies products/services s/he would like to refer/market
  4. The Affiliate Marketer applies for participation in the product-makers affiliate program
  5. If approved, the Affiliate Marketer is provided with links that s/he can place on their webpages, blogs or emails
  6. Interested people click the links to buy/use the product/service and the Affiliate Marketer gets credit (a percentage of the sale, a flat percentage commission or a flat fee) for the referral
  7. The links contain tracking information that tells the company which Affiliate Marketer referred the sale (Even if the customer buys up to a month after s/he clicks the link on the affiliate website, the Affiliate Marketer can receive credit for the sale)

Some Affiliate Marketers create websites that look exactly like real online stores selling products/services. They’ll usually feature a catalog and shopping cart features; others create websites, blogs, forums or emails that feature news, reviews, directories and other information related to the products/services. These Affiliate managers embed the links within the text so that readers who want more information can simply click the link while still reading.

Affiliate Marketers spend a good amount of time, especially early on, developing content from ad copy to feature-length articles to product reviews and directories. This creates the appearance of credibility so that the potential customer knows that the website isn’t a scam designed to collect their personal information or install bugs.

While creating and maintaining websites and blogs is a big part of the Affiliate Marketer’s job, Affiliate Marketers expend the greatest part of their energy, time and money on advertising from creating email databases to search marketing (buying keywords so that your site shows up in the first pages of search results) to creating affiliate programs of their own to get other publishers to refer their own sites.

Affiliate Marketers usually belong to multiple affiliate programs and market multiple products/services. Some focus on one category of products/services (baby items, skin care or automotive stuff), while others create webpages or email campaigns for multiple products/services.

Affiliate Marketers are paid each time a customer clicks the link and purchases the product/service, and/or provides his/her verifiable contact information. Very few companies pay affiliates when the customer merely clicks the link and views the ad; most require that the referral end in a sale before the Affiliate Marketer can be paid.

Some Affiliate Marketers also manage other affiliates and/or manage affiliate marketing programs for the companies that make/sell products/services. Their job is to create a marketing strategy to attract quality affiliate marketers to market their employers products/services, create advertising and sales campaigns to be used by affiliates to refer customers, and to ensure that affiliate marketers market the company’s products/services appropriately.

Who might like this job?
People who love:

  • Marketing and advertising
  • Creating innovative marketing/advertising campaigns
  • Trying new products/services and recommending them to others
  • Working for themselves from their computers (really)
  • Writing ad copy and content for webpages, blogs or email campaigns
  • Spending lots of time on the Internet

What does this pay?

  • New Affiliate Marketers earn little or nothing because it takes a while to find the sweet spot where the right product/service, the right content and the right marketing or advertising come together
  • Commissions range from $0.10-$100 per lead or 5%-50% of the total sale, while fees start around $0.05 (from iTunes)
  • Once the Affiliate Marketer generates a decent amount of pages views or conversions (clicks that lead to purchases), an Affiliate Marketer can earn over $80,000 per month (based on revenue claims of Jeremy Palmer and Michael Arrington)
  • That’s a big range, but the average affiliate marketer earns around $35,000-$40,000 per year in the first few years
  • Affiliate Marketing Managers who manage affiliate marketing programs inside larger companies earn

To break in you’ll need…

  • To be Net-savvy and have a knack for advertising and marketing
  • Or, be the web designer or Net guru who partners with a marketing whiz or someone else who has the talents you lack
  • To be willing to muddle through the relatively easy set up for blogs and webpages
  • No degree is required, though most Affiliate Marketers hold at least a Bachelors degree (no particular major)
  • Affiliate Marketing Managers are usually required to hold at least a Bachelor’s degree (in marketing usually), and have at least 5 years of direct response marketing, advertising and/or advertising account management experience (usually at a high-profile marketing firm or company that makes/sells a major branded product/service)

So, who would you work for?

Affiliate Marketers generally work for themselves or for product-makers/sellers as freelancers or paid Affiliate Marketing Managers. Paid Affiliate Marketing Managers usually work for large companies that sell consumer products/services (i.e. Pottery Barn, Best Buy, American Express, etc.) and/or for Publisher Networks (companies that are contracted to manage affiliate programs and screen and manage publishers).

To find current openings…
affiliate marketing manager jobs

What about this career doesn’t suck?

This career scores high points for the freedom of working for oneself, being your own boss and starting a potentially lucrative business for relatively little money, with no education requirements (for most jobs) and relatively little experience. This career loses points because it can be pretty difficult to earn a living, especially early on. And, no matter how diligent and talented you are, you may fail because your marketing strategy didn’t work. Finally, there are a lot of people jumping into this pool, hundreds of thousands of blogs and websites being published each day and hundreds of advertisers sending them messages like this one: “Earn Money With Your Blog or Website!

Still, this career has a lot of the entrepreneurial allure without having to leverage your home and your first-born child. When it’s done right, you get to sit back in your bunny slippers and watch the cash pour in.  This career earns an 82% on our WorkYourWay Index!

More information?

Books on Affiliate Marketing

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