Affiliate Marketing for College Students

If you're a college or university student a lot of your time is spent in front of a computer studying and writing essays and papers. The rest of the time, you may be working in a low paying job to make ends meet. However, we all know those part-time jobs can be stressful and distracting. So, the wise student might consider using those computer skills to earn themselves some money as an affiliate.

Affiliates are people who set up websites and promote products and services offered by specific companies referred to as "merchants" in affiliate lingo. In exchange for this, the merchants pay them a small amount of cash or a 'commission' on every sale which results from traffic sent via the affiliate's website. No need to carry stock, deal with the general public or worry about taking credit cards and so forth. The merchant takes care of all of those complex aspects and you simply get a check or bank transfer for your commission every so often.

How it Works

If, for example, you are really into computers you could set up blog writing about them and then add some special affiliate links to the best computer deals available from certain merchants. Whenever a visitor clicks on one of your links and buys a computer, the merchant concerned would pay you some money for sending the customer their way.

The same principle applies to almost everything, so no matter what your interests there's bound to be something that you could promote. You could sell anything from diet plans to computer games, so there's something for everyone and plenty of money to be made. A few serious affiliates have made a full time career out of it and now have very large businesses, some with 7 figure annual incomes!

Finding the Right Merchants

You have two options here. You can do direct to the merchant - just search for "XXX affiliate program" in your favorite search engine where XXX is your subject of interest and you will no doubt unearth a good many affiliate programs operated directly by merchants. However, for students with limited time, it is often simpler to go through an affiliate network rather than managing lots of individual relationships with various merchants. Affiliate networks (such as Commission Junction and LinkShare) are effectively dating agencies for affiliates and merchants, with lots of both signed up. They manage both sets of relationships, organizing many different affiliate programs in one place and handle all the administration. They also provide marketing help, tips and tools so that you can monitor your progress. Some even provide tools to help build part or indeed all of your website to get you going.

Getting Started

The most important thing is that you choose a topic you know plenty about and which is of potential interest to other people. Perhaps you're an athlete and could review and sell the best running shoes or maybe you're a musician and can promote certain types of musical instrument, choose what you think you could write about every day and set up a blog. and are easy to use and both are popular with affiliates - you can build an entire site using Wordpress with little or no technical knowledge.

Promoting your site and driving traffic to it is the main challenge. Start by putting plenty of rich, detailed and - most importantly - unique content on the site. Don't plagiarize: the search engines are not dumb and you will never get anywhere that way. Spend a few weeks blogging every day on your topic so that you gradually build up good quality website content. Then, slowly start to find and add affiliate programs that are relevant to your subject. Tell your friends and family about your blog and even (tactfully) promote it on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites. Find forums and blogs that are relevant to your subject area and post on those but not as advertisements - make sure your posts are genuinely useful to the readership of those sites. You will find that, over time, this should attract others and some may even add links to your site from their own sites or blogs. These links tell the search engines that your site is a useful resource in your chosen subject area and this will gradually help in improving your position in the search engine results for relevant search terms and thus drive traffic.

Hopefully if your content is good and you start to get plenty of traffic, people will buy the products that you are promoting and you'll earn plenty of commission. The more you promote your website the more traffic you'll get. You can also learn affiliate marketing techniques to bring even more people to your website and earn more commissions! Do, however, make sure that you are disciplined with your time and that your studies don't suffer as a result. Also research everything thoroughly including promotional techniques and the deeply complex subject of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If nothing else, proven skills in SEO are highly prized, with SEO practitioners commanding good salaries.

The only limit is your imagination and commitment.

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