Affiliate Marketing – A SIMPLE Introduction

The term “affiliate marketing” came about when people started selling things online. These days, you’ll hear it everywhere. It’s the most common model of selling things on the Internet. In spite of this, many people are still confused as to how it works. Which is understandable because there are a lot of factors and components, often depending on industry and product.

The simple explanation of affiliate marketing however is…

Promoting a product or service and receiving commission through it.

Even if you’re not planning on starting your own business, anyone working in the digital marketing realm should at least have a basic understand of affiliate marketing and what it is.

The Basics of Affiliate Marketing

When I was freelancing, I had a vague idea of what affiliate marketing was. When I started working for a company, I learned a good bit more. We promoted online dating sites – through affiliate marketing.

Essentially, the process ran like this:

  • You got a product you wanted to sell. For example, say you wanted to promote Match.com.
  • You then receive a special, tailored link to that product (called a “tracking link”).
  • You promote that link and persuade others to click on it and buy the service (in this case, a subscription to the dating site).
  • You then receive a commission.

That’s essentially all affiliate marketing is – at it’s most basic level.

Now of course, it’s much more complicated than that. But if you’ve never heard of it and want a basic understanding, that’s pretty much the crux of it.

Wait… There’s more!?

Of course! In the olden days, it was quite easy to just send the tracking link to someone who might be interested in your product. Since the internet has gotten a lot more sophisticated, we have to be a lot cleverer in how we promote our links. Some people put them on website and then do content marketing to drive traffic. Others use Adwords, others used paid advertising.

Promoting tracking links through organic search (SEO), for example, is playing the long game. You’re not going to make money straight away. In fact, you’ve got to build up your site. Build up your authority on Google. That takes time.

On the other hand, you could make money doing paid advertising campaigns. That’s a lot faster and is sometimes known as digital media buying… which of course requires a lot of skill and a good eye for numbers.

Don’t forget about affiliate networks!

Anyone can start off in affiliate marketing. The easiest way to do this is sign up to an affiliate network like Commission Junction and then peruse their products, seeing which one you would like to promote. It’s also possible to get affiliate links and deals straight from the source. However, that’s often where negotiations come into play.

We Work Remotely – A Jobseeker’s Review

We Work Remotely is a pretty well-curated list of remote and telecommute jobs. They were definitely on my list when looking for a remote position – and will be if I have to again.

They claim to be the largest online community for work at home job seekers (150,000 monthly, or so the site says).

And of course, you can get jobs of all kinds. Full-time freelance, subcontractor, full time and part-time positions.

First impression – We Work Remotely is quite professional

WeWorkRemotely.com is part of a new wave of telecommute job boards. They’re also linked to a few others like Unicorn Hunt (for start ups) and Fresh Gigs (for anyone interested in marketing). There’s also Future Jobs (AI, data science and machine learning). So, not a bad resource for any potential remote worker.

I definitely kept them on my watchlist and you should too. Especially if you’re into online marketing or software engineering (and let’s face it, currently the majority of remote jobs are in software).

What are the most common industries found on this platform?

Anything new and cutting edge. We’ve already mentioned software engineering (web dev positions are available here as well). I also saw a significant number of design jobs that were regularly posted. These included careers like product designer, marketing designer and jobs in the UI/UX field.

There’s also a boatload of customer support jobs. If you like customer service (or don’t mind it…) and want to work from home, then you’ve got a bunch to choose from. I was also happy to see the sales and marketing section, which was also quite large. These included telecommute jobs in the area of content marketing, project management and even public relations. Not bad.

When it came specifically to copywriting jobs… There were a few, but it was slim pickings. Unfortunately.

So are they worth it?

For me, anyway, they were. If you’re a techie, designer or a marketer then you should keep your eye on We Work Remotely. But like all remote job boards, it’s really important to expand your search and cast your net as wide as possible!

 

Content Writing… And Where It Can Lead

Probably one of the most common remote jobs out there, online content writing has been around since people realized it was necessary to make $$.

Much like customer service and IT, writing is one of those fields that has translated quite well into the digital world. In fact, a lot of content nowadays is primarily produced through the medium of the Internet. Other channels are often seen as “secondary”: radio, television, billboards (although, not in all cases).

With countless online shops, landing pages trying to push lead generation, social media managers trying to expand their reach… Online content writing is actually at the core of it. Some digital marketers will craft their own content – but for the most part, many will defer to someone who can actually write.

That’s where the job of the content writer/online copywriter comes into play.

Being hobby writer as a teenager, I soon fell into a career “writing for the Internet” (Note: I was desperate, needed money and this was the best way of making some quick cash). I actually really enjoyed it but back in those days, I wrote a lot.

A lot of the texts I wrote were simple, keyword-optimized pieces of content. In fact, I can actually still remember the very first SEO text I wrote. The only instructions I had to go by was the keyword itself: “steampunk buttons”. To this day, I still have no idea where that text ended up. Probably on an eCommerce sit. Or maybe a fetish site (you honestly never know…).

I continued that way for the next year or two. My client list grew, as did my assignments. I went beyond simple SEO texts to things like landing pages, ad copy, press releases and more. At the very beginning though, I earned mere pennies (my clients were too cheap even to pay me in steampunk buttons).

steampunk buttons content writing
Glorious, intricate, shiny: All I ever wanted were those precious, steampunk buttons…

Naturally, I had to explain my job to people. How was I sitting at home most days, but still able to pay my rent? What sort of job title was I supposed to give myself? Admittedly I was quite young then and didn’t fully understand how a lot of things worked. I could’ve given myself any kind of title.

For a while, I stuck to “content writer”. The problem was, that particularly description didn’t fully express what I was doing.Why? Because the truth is…

’Content writing’ is an astoundingly broad and varied field.

Online Content Writers – Copywriting for the new age

The Internet is powered by content. Articles, videos, images, blog posts, product descriptions, forums, rude words, keyboard warriors, trolls… Much of that content is informative with an eye to either educating or selling (in many cases, both) or simply annoying people. Online content writers literally just do that: they can write on a wide range of different topics (YES, some people are literally paid to be annoying).

When talking about the “types” of content written, it can come in a range of styles. For example, here’s a list of the types of content I’ve written over the years:

  • In-depth reviews of products. Some of these were for ecommerce, others were for informative purposes with an eye to generating leads (reviews of online dating sites, for example).
  • Advertising copy across a wide range of paid advertising networks (Facebook, Gemini, Taboola, Outbrain).
  • Press releases for different companies.
  • Product descriptions
  • Blog posts like this one for others, of course (in these cases, I was essentially a ghostwriter).
  • Content for landing pages, the majority of which needed to be optimized with keywords. Interestingly, there are many cases where clients often don’t want keyword-optimized texts. These are often for paid landing pages.

As a content writer or a copywriter, you’re literally selling your skills. You may “specialize” in writing online content. It’s still possible to write more than just online content.

Simply being a “copywriter”

A copywriter in the truest sense of the word is someone who simply writes copy. Plenty of media is online now, so most writers are “online” copywriters in some form. BUT… even in the early stages of my writing career, I wrote print advertising copy for some place in Texas. Seriously. Just because a client of mine had them as tasks. I’ve never even been to Texas. Or the States, for that matter.

Copywriting, expertise and specialization

Any literate person can do basic online content writing jobs. From then on, you can simply build up your skill and branch out into different areas. The mark of a truly skilled copywriter is not just someone who can write. It is someone who can adapt and change their writing style depending on what the client wants. In this sense, it’s essentially what a commercial copywriter will do. They’ll want to sharpen their skills with an eye to improve their personal profitability.

But it’s also possible to specialize and become known as an expert writer in a specific niche. Journalists are of course a classic example: they also research and report, both online and in real life. Financial writers may be heavily involved in investment strategies or banking. The list goes on.

What does it lead to?

Online content writing isn’t a job you have to do forever. For many, it’s a foot in the door. When I originally began freelancing, writing was the only real “skill” I had in this field. I soon learned a lot about online marketing, from what my clients wanted to simply doing a lot of research myself. My freelancing led me to a job in online marketing which involved far more than writing.

These days, copywriting remains one of my core skills. But they’ve expanded beyond that: I’ve been a press manager, a content manager, a SEO and am now one of the main creatives brains working for a profitable online advertising agency.

So, if you’ve got ambition and are willing to learn, there is a whole host of different things it can lead to!

Working Nomads – A Jobseeker’s Review

Working Nomads only offers remote and telecommute jobs – with a focus on digital nomads. Of course it’s not restricted to digital nomads only – remote job seekers will find a wealth of different advertisements here as well.

Remember, though:

Like most remote-only job boards and sites, those applying through Working Nomads will face a lot of competition.

This platform is pretty simple. A lot of the jobs posted can also be found on other job sites. However, very occasionally you may find something here that’s no posted anywhere else.

What kind of jobs can I find on Working Nomads?

Like all remote job boards, you’ll definitely find plenty of open positions in the software/IT/tech industry. They’ve even got separate categories for Systems Administration, Design and Development.

Beyond that, you’ll find other categories like…

  • Consulting: Tech-related consulting at that. Which shouldn’t be a surprise.
  • Writing: Another broad field hard to pin down. Writing positions vary from journalism to content marketing and technical writing.
  • Finance jobs are sometimes posted here (tax advisors, bookkeepers, underwriters etc.)
  • Human resources although there weren’t quite a lot of them.
  • General administration such as case managers, online scheduling, broker assistant etc.
  • Heathcare jobs like medical coding and scheduling.
  • …and even a few legal jobs.

There’s also a few education jobs for online tutors and online teachers.

Sadly, like most of these platforms, the remote jobs available on Working Nomads lean heavily towards tech or maybe online marketing/general digital media. If you’re not looking for a job in these areas, then don’t rely solely on this board!

Overall, is it worth it or should I pass?

No matter what kind of remote job you’re looking for, I would highly recommend at least signing up for their job alerts. When looking for a new job, it’s important to pull out all the stops and keep your eyes open. You may have a very slim chance of getting something here – but you never know.

FlexJobs.com – A Jobseeker’s Review

When I looked at FlexJobs.com, I got excited.

There were tonnes of remote jobs advertised. Literally thousands. From all over the world. It also didn’t appear to be a scam: since this platform’s been around for a REALLY long time. So I decided to give FlexJobs a good, old-fashioned review from a jobseeker’s perspective.

When I put this site through the Wayback Machine, it told me they’ve been around since 2007. I remember them from when I started freelancing in 2011 (along with something called “All Stay At Home”… which doesn’t seem to exist anymore).

So…

It’s a good sign Flex Jobs has lasted this long.

So let’s get down it, asking the most important questions first.

Is FlexJobs legit?

Lots of people are asking this. It’s understandable why you’d think they’re a scam. Especially since there are so many work from home scams at the moment. Of course, the telecommute job industry is a little savvier nowadays (though you still ought to be careful). But after reviewing them, I’ll say this: FlexJobs is definitely legit.

They’re no different to Indeed.com or Monster. In fact, if you do a quick search you’ll find many of the jobs posted elsewhere. That does take a bit of work, though.

So then, what’s on offer for remote job seekers?

Quite simply: job leads. However, applying for a work at home position through FlexJobs comes at a cost. Literally. The price is usually USD$15.00 per month. Jobs are divided into a rich range of different categories. Here you’ll likely find a remote position for almost every kind of job that you can do from home.

This is the stickler, though.

It’s often the cost that keeps people from using the platform. Which is totally understandable. There are a lot of pros to paying for and using their service, though. First and foremost, you have one, single place from which can apply to all relevant positions.

Seriously, it cuts out a lot of time from your job search. Secondly…

They filter out the work from home scammers.

In fairness, job boards like Remotive and Working Nomads do the same thing (for no subscription fee). But with this particular platform, you know you’re safe.

If you’re still humming and hawing about the cost, here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of FlexJobs:

Pros:

  • Work at home scams are screened out!
  • The categories and number of telecommute positions here is… Amazing. Really, up until this point I haven’t seen a wider selection on any remote job board.
  • Links are posted to the original job advertisement: though, to be fair, a lot of job boards do that.
  • Accredited by the US Better Business Bureau (if that means anything to you… I’m not American so I have no experience of what it’s worth).

Cons

  • The cost! They’re not expensive, really. A lot of people don’t like having to pay for a job board, though. Myself included.
  • Most positions advertised are published elsewhere. Which means you just have to spare a little more time to find them yourself.

Should I use FlexJobs?

Truth be told… That’s completely up to you. If you’re willing to shell out around US$15.00 a month, then go for it. You could consider it an investment. However, more people are willing to pay with time rather than money. Since its free to search for open positions on Flex Jobs, all you have to do is go through their listing. Then, search online to see if there’s another platform you can apply through.

Freelance Job Boards: Why They Should (Never) Be Your Only Option

When I began writing online for money, I knew I had to branch out.

I started off with one or two content mills. When I wasn’t fervently writing to clock up a survivable hourly wage, I did more research into freelancing. More specifically, online freelancing.

At the time, I had just moved to Essen, Germany. A few of my friends were freelance English teachers. They taught English at various companies, mostly on a contract basis. When I discovered a thriving freelance writing business online, I was overjoyed. “Great,” I thought, “I can sit at home all day, sip wine and write for cash!”

I sipped a lot of wine. I wrote for (not so much) cash. So I knew that I’d better get serious. That’s when I discovered freelance job boards.

Upwork, oDesk, eLance, Guru… whatever. There was a plethora: some went defunct days after I signed up. Others I stuck around on long enough. I managed to snag quite a few decent-paying clients and even forged one or two long-term (business) relationships. I kept the content mills for “slow” times and, overall, still had an okay living for someone who was in their early twenties, living in an affordable city.

That’s the abridged version, anyway.

One thing that struck me was just how much work freelance job boards are. They provided me with a good education in just how difficult it is to actually run your own business in the first place. The searching, the bidding, working on projects just to get an interview… I spent hours of work without even a guarantee of getting a job.

For the few months, it sucked. I hated it.

The sad truth is that a lot of freelance gigs are just as competitive and difficult to get as part-time and full-time jobs. The same can be said for remote and telecommute jobs: this is work we’re talking about, and prospective employers/clients receive hundreds (if not thousands) of applications a day.

That’s why it’s important to evaluate these job boards and determine whether they’re right for you. I’m not saying that these platforms are worthless: they definitely have value. Many people successfully find steady clients, gigs and full-time work on them. However, they are not the only avenue of success. You should definitely put some effort into crafting an application and a profile, but always remember…

Freelance job boards are PRIMARILY to be used as a means of visibility.

This has a lot to do with creating a personal brand. You should be growing your network online through social media. Applying to as many companies as possible – and you should definitely make your job application process as efficient as possible. Remember, freelance job boards are just a tool. One of many.

Increasing your chances of success on freelance job boards

Since freelance job boards are only one method of getting work, you need to take a look at the platforms that are relevant to your industry. There are a lot of them around these days. In order to maximize your reach, simply do the following:

  • Define just what you are (copywriter, digital marketer, software engineer, virtual assistant, etc.).
  • Craft the “perfect” profile for yourself: describe who you are and what you do, detail your experience and have a (small) portfolio of your best work (if relevant – VAs, for example, can list the clients they’ve worked with).
  • Remember to be creative: Forget about any one particular platform for a moment and simply craft a unique, “online resume” that you think accurately describes your work experience and what you offer.
  • Then, find job boards/platforms relevant to your industry. There are bound to be quite a few.
  • When you create your account on these platforms, simply fill them in with information from the “perfect” profile you’ve created. Sometimes, you’ll be able to tell your whole story: however, many sites will restrict what you can display about yourself. So, make sure only to display the best!

It can be frustrating applying to a job and not hearing back. We’ve all been there. But remember: Having a strong presence on as many freelance job boards as possible will increase your reach and your chances of being “found”!

(Easily) Avoiding “Work from Home” Scams

The sad truth is that work from home scams are common. VERY common. They’ve also been around for a long, long time. Nowadays, there are more people looking remote and telecommute jobs… Which means that the online job scam marketplace is growing exponentially. Scammers have a lot of opportunities to prey on unsuspecting people… Even if they do have to work that little bit harder for it. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. A lot of this simply involves being aware and informed.  So, please read on if your remote job search to go as smoothly as possible.

Job scams are also common in the “real” world – although they’re a little more difficult to pull off.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s a little easier for scammers to fool even otherwise savvy people into falling for work from home scams. Naïve people exist everywhere. Sometimes, this is born out of desperate. We want (or need!) a job so badly that we’re almost willing to take anything. Ultimately, it becomes very easy for the scammer to take advantage of someone.

The telecommute job market can be particularly competitive. Which makes it tough… And emotionally draining. Sometime an offer comes along that’s too good to be true. And we take it because… Well, we’re fed up of searching.

One advantage we’ve got nowadays are remote job boards. These platforms are especially designed for those seeking remote jobs or who want to find an online job. These platforms do their best to “clean up” the job advertisements posted on their sites. Which protects applicants from scammers.

This shouldn’t, however, take the responsibility off the individual because…

…you should still be able to recognize a work from home scam yourself.

Evaluating a Work from Home Scam: What you should look for

There are a few signs which clearly point to a “job” actually being a work from home scam. As a general rule of thumb, if something’s too good to be true… Then it usually isn’t true. However there are also a few more signs that remote job seekers need to be wary of…

  • The good, old-fashioned “get rich quick” scheme. It’s a tale as old as time. Although it’s become more prominent in the online world. Sorry, but that’s not how the real world works. Unless you yourself are a (very good, nay, excellent!) and persistent scammer. “Get rich quick” and pyramid schemes definitely predate the Internet… And they’ve made a smooth transition online. So if a listing basically tries to guarantee you copious amounts of wealth in exchange for very little… Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! It’s a load of bullshit.
  • Never part with your money. Scammers can dress it up every which way – especially if they’re offering “freelance” positions. They’ll say you’ve got to pay for expensive “training”, “courses” or “software”… and that it’s part of your job to pitch in and pay for it. Nope, that’s not how it works. You’re there to provide them a service. So, bottom line? Never pay in order to work!
  • Read the job description very carefully. Is it written in a clear and concise manner? Do they seem to know the industry well? Do they seem to know exactly what they’re looking for (and if not, do they happily admit they’re not sure… But willing to try out with the right candidate?). Essentially, do you get the impression that the company knows what they’re talking about?
  • Check the URL! Simple, but effective. Scammers also try to rip off real companies. They even clone/copy a real company’s website. This is where a bit of deep research comes in handy if you’re unsure… So don’t forget to check their URL. Generally speaking if it directs to something like “unilever.com”, you’re in the clear. If the URL seems strange in any way… Then be very, very wary!

Work from home scams can be very elaborate. In a lot of case you’re usually fine if you’re trying to get a remote job from a medium to large company.

But another thing you need to keep an eye out is the types of jobs which are normally scams. Some of them seem like real jobs… At least until you take a closer look.

Remote “jobs” that are usually scams

Certain remote and telecommute jobs are, for the most part, complete bogus. The easier a job appears to be, and the higher the promised income is (for the amount of work you actually put in…) – then sorry, the less likely it is to be a real position. This is usually how work at home job scams catch people out. Although, some are getting a bit cleverer.

Some of the below “jobs” are positions that you should definitely avoid.

The Assembly “Job”

We hadn’t even heard of these until we actually did some research on job scams…  This type of “job” seems particularly mean (and depressing). The “employees” are sent starter kits to assemble craft supplies… And the products are then sold on by the company. Of course, the assembler gets paid… Not. It’s pretty obvious off the bat that this is a scam because… guess what? We’ve got machines to do that nowadays.

It’s simply not a valid business model. Forget it!

The Data Entry Job

Unlike assembly jobs, data entry is actually a valid type of work… And yes, a lot of people do it. You can actually find valid data entry gigs online which will pay you a couple of dollars. Honestly though, a full-time data entry is not only a) rare to come across and b) doesn’t pay very well. That’s because it’s quite literally grunt work. It’s the digital equivalent of stacking shelves.

Data entry is part of a host of other jobs. From VAs, secretaries to online marketers and programmers. All at different pay scales.

You’ll know that this job is a scam when you’re promised even a liveable salary.

Nope, forget it. These are usually bullshit as well.

So then what is the best way to get a remote job (without being scammed)?

There’s no magic formula to finding a remote job. It’s just like finding any other kind of positions. You need to have the qualifications and/or experience for the role you want. And during your job search, make sure you’re aware of the most common types of work from home scams. As well as any other kind of job scam.

Just being a little savvy will help you separate the wheat from the chaff… and get you the job you want.