Affiliate marketers such as ourselves have a vast array of products from which we can select to promote to our audience.

At the time of writing, for instance, Clickbank – one of the biggest affiliate marketplaces – has over 2,000 of such products.

But that is a mere drop in the option compared to the world’s online shopping mall, Amazon, which has a generous affiliate program.

However, abundance is not always our friend. Within that huge selection there will be great products, good products, not-so-good products, and truly terrible products.

In short, not all products are created equal.

In fact, the difficulty in producing a good product may well be the reason you decided to become an affiliate marketer. There are, after all, plenty of high-quality products already on the market. Why create your own when you can fall back on someone else’s expertise?

Plus, of course, you don’t want to have to deal with all of the rigmarole of billing and payments, handling refunds, customer support, and so on. Far better just to collect the commission, right?!

But, if we are going to promote someone else’s product, then we need to know how to avoid the bad products and home in on the good.

Focus on a Niche

The first step to narrowing our focus actually has nothing to do with product quality at all: you must select a good niche for your business.

You see, a “bad product” doesn’t necessarily mean one that is of poor quality, fails to work, or breaks after five minutes.

Actually it might be the most beautiful product ever created that does everything that it says it will do.

However, such a product might be an unsuitable product for your audience – unsuitable in at least one of two possible ways:

• Few people care about what the product does, even if it does it well.
• No one in your audience cares about what the product does, even if other people do.

As an example of the first problem, you may stumble upon a brilliant giraffe grooming product. This giraffe groomer may be truly awesome. But the number of people interested in grooming giraffes is vanishingly small.

So however much you promote this world class giraffe groomer, you are not likely to achieve many sales.

To tackle this problem, you need to select a niche in which lots of people are spending money on the available products.

“Health and fitness” and “internet marketing” are two of the biggest and most popular niches, with thousands of customers seeking help and advice in order to meet their goals.

Now, as an affiliate, you shouldn’t worry about the fact that there will naturally be more competition in these niches.

Remember that you are likely to skim more commission payments from a $2bn niche than you are from one which turns over a pittance in sales.

Always follow the money.

To tackle the second problem, you need to focus on building your affiliate business within your chosen niche.

That means gathering an audience of highly engaged followers, subscribers and customers who are interested in your niche.

It also means only promoting products that are relevant to your niche.

Not only does that, in and of itself, narrow your search for products within the affiliate marketing universe, but every offer you make will now be suitable for your audience.

So if you have selected “golf” as your niche, marketing golf products to a golfing audience is much more likely to result in sales.

On the other hand, you will see far fewer sales if you try to market to them garden furniture or accounting software.

Trying to sell everything to everyone is the fastest way to oblivion in affiliate marketing – you are a boutique, not a shopping mall.

Examine Each Product Carefully

Once you have selected a niche, then you need to look for decent products in that niche. Now, in other words, is the time for you focus on the actual quality of the product.

Once you have found what may be a suitable candidate, don’t just look at the commission rates (which is what many affiliates do).

Try instead to get hold of a unit of the product. Examine it, test it, pull it apart. Doing just this one thing will put you streets ahead of most other affiliates.

In fact, you should put in the time to become an expert on every single product you put in front of your potential customers:

• How does it work?
• What are the features?
• Does it break?
• Will it meet the needs of people in your audience?

When addressing questions such as these, don’t focus solely on whether you are likely to increase sales (as great as that will be).

Ask yourself also whether the product is something you are proud to put your name and reputation behind.

Because I assure you that your reputation does matter in affiliate marketing very much. If you promote bad products then people will simply stop listening to you.

In fact, it may only take one, or a short string of poor promotions, for followers and subscribers to start opting out from your email list, or un-following you on social media.

To get to the ins-and-outs of a product, ask the vendor for a review copy, or – if necessary – it might be worth you buying the product itself.

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