If you’ve heard about affiliate marketing and would like to discover how it can help you to make more money, you have come to the right place. And, the good news is that it’s not that difficult to get started. Even a beginner can be up and running in no time at all.
Read on to learn how to get started affiliate marketing for beginners.
According to Lexico, powered by Oxford, affiliate marketing is: “A marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.”
The above definition is a little bit simplistic as not all affiliate programs work in the same way. For example, you don’t always need to have your own website. Many affiliate programs will allow you to promote their products or services without having your own website.
The basic concept behind affiliate marketing is that you make money from someone else’s product or service if, through your efforts, they generate more sales.
Selling your own product or service online can be difficult. It can take a long time before you’re ready to present it to the market, and you have no guarantee that it will be a success.
Amazon alone has millions of products for affiliates to choose from, and there are many other affiliate networks besides Amazon that you can work with.
As an affiliate, you don’t need to worry about inventory, payments, shipping, complaints or refunds. All of those things are taken care of by the merchant. You only need to focus on getting traffic to the merchant.
All you need to get started is an Internet connection. Although it’s highly recommended that you have your own website, you don’t always need one.
Many affiliate programs allow you to promote their offers on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Important note about affiliate marketing and social media:
Always comply with the terms and conditions of the social media platform you’re using and abide by the FTC regulations.
The FTC expects you to disclose that you’re getting compensated as an affiliate. By not disclosing it you are, according to the FTC, deceiving people for which you may be fined.
You can spend as much or as little time as you want to on affiliate marketing. Just remember that what you put in is what you get out. Treat it as a hobby and it will pay you as a hobby.
Many affiliate programs post details on how well their offers convert into sales. Although this will depend on how targeted the traffic is you send to them, it does give you an idea of what affiliate programs you should focus on.
You would obviously rather send traffic to a website where, on average, 10 out of every 100 visitors buy a product than promote a website where only 1 out of every 100 visitors turn into a customer, unless the latter sells very expensive items and offers a high commission rate.
If you are, like millions of bloggers, passionate about posting content on your blog and would like to earn some money from all your hard work, affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your site.
There are very few topics you can write about where you won’t be able to find a complementary affiliate offer to promote.
The problem is that many, if not most, beginners get so excited about affiliate marketing that they want to get started straight away without a reasonable plan or strategy. More about this later.
As previously stated, having your own website is not a prerequisite for affiliate marketing. However, there are many advantages to having your own website. These include:
There are many free blogging platforms on the Internet where you can post articles or content. The problem is that you have little control over those platforms. Your account can be terminated at any time or Google may penalize the site for reasons that you have no control over.
It’s always advisable that you work on building your own business and not someone else’s business.
By driving traffic from social media platforms to your own site first instead of to a merchant’s site you’re able to “warm up” your visitors first with great content.
After warming them up, you encourage them to visit another site where they will hopefully make a purchase that will result in an affiliate commission for you.
Many successful online marketers will tell you “the money is in the list.”
By first sending traffic to your own site, you have the opportunity to build your own database of potential customers by collecting their email addresses. This will allow you to contact them in the future and build a relationship with them so that when you recommend a great offer to them they will be responsive.
The ability to send a promotional email to hundreds or even thousands of targeted prospects can’t be underestimated. Even if only a small percentage click on your affiliate link and buy a product from the merchant’s web page you can make some good money for doing relatively little work.
Tip: Make sure you provide value to your email subscribers first. If every email they receive from you is about an offer you would like them to consider you will soon end up with a dead list.
A very popular service that offers a free plan is Mailchimp but be careful using them. They don’t allow “affiliate marketing” but do allow “affiliate links” as long as an email is not seen as marketing done on behalf of a third party. It’s obviously a gray area so rather avoid using them if you can.
If you have previous experience with online marketing you’ll know that it can be very expensive to drive traffic to your site through paid ads.
Getting free and targeted traffic from Google’s organic search results is very valuable as it could cost you thousands of dollars to get the same traffic through paid ads.
Starting your own website really makes sense if you’re serious about affiliate marketing.
You would need your own domain name, website hosting, and a platform to build your site on.
Tip: Try to get a short and memorable domain name, without hyphens, that’s relevant to your niche and always try to get a dot com.
For hosting, have a look at HostGator or Bluehost. Both are reliable and a starter package should not cost you more than $10 per month. You can always upgrade your plan at a later stage once you start getting a lot of traffic to your site and need a more robust hosting package.
Consider using WordPress as your platform. You can normally download it from your website’s control panel. It comes with many free and super useful plugins that will give your visitors a good user experience and boost your site in the search engine rankings at the same time.
Unfortunately, it’s outside the scope of this article to provide you with detailed instructions on how to buy a domain name, link it to your hosting provider, and set up a WordPress site but there are many good resources on the Internet that can help you.
If you’re not comfortable going through the learning curve of setting up your own website, don’t worry. BrandBuilders offers great, professional Custom Affiliate Sites and Pre-Made Affiliate Sites that will save you a lot of time and effort.
If you want to make a success of affiliate marketing, you need to plan before you get started.
In the words of Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”Step 1: Choose a niche you are passionate about.
It’s very difficult to make a success of anything if you’re not passionate about it. Affiliate marketing can be very profitable but it often takes time and hard work before you see results. Chances are that if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing that you’ll give up too soon.
One of the key factors that will determine your success is how well you understand your target market. The better you understand your market the better you’ll be able to give them what they want. This is why it always makes sense to choose a niche that you know and understand.
A common question is: “Do I need to have a niche full of desperate buyers?”
Many people recommend you should always go for a niche that’s full of desperate buyers that are urgently looking for a solution to a problem.
This is not necessarily bad advice but if you don’t know a lot about the niche you may soon run out of steam and find it difficult to scale your marketing efforts.
* What topic can you talk about for hours?
* What do you enjoy doing?
* Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
* Can you think of anything you’re really good at?
* Is there something you really enjoyed doing in the past?
* Is there anything you promised yourself you would like to do in the future?
You can even ask your family or friends what they think. You’d be surprised what clever ideas other people can come up with.
Make a list of everything and then narrow it down to 5 things.
It’s important that you write it down.
Here is an example of some of the things you may have on your list:
Next, get into the details. For example, cooking.
What do you enjoy about it?
Do you have a preferred cooking method or technique?
Do you know something that you can teach other people?
Your answer may look something like this:
I love steam cooking vegetarian dishes using fresh, organic ingredients.
Do the same with the other items on your list.
If you have any problems coming up with ideas, here is a great list of 1,452 niche ideas you can look at for inspiration. And, best of all, it’s free. Simply click on the following link to get the full list > niche list.
Step 2: Is there a big enough market for your niche?
The next step is to determine if there is a big enough market for your niche. It doesn’t help if you’re passionate about a certain topic but nobody else cares about it.
Here are a couple of ways that you can establish the potential size of the market.
Google has a pretty nifty tool called Keyword Planner that gives you an idea of the number of searches being done every month for selected keywords.
Have a look at what results you get from Google’s Keyword Planner tool for the potential niches you identified in Step 1.
Using the example we came up with in Step 1, namely: “I love steam cooking vegetarian dishes using fresh, organic ingredients” we can run a search for relevant keywords, such as:
– steam cooking
– vegetarian dishes
– organic ingredients
Here are the results, based on Google’s Keyword Planner tool for the U.S.:
– steam cooking : no results
– vegetarian dishes : 10K to 100K searches per month – Low Competition
– organic ingredients : 100 to 1K searches per month – Low Competition
Note that Google also suggests some additional keywords that you might not have considered but that are relevant to your niche, such as:
– steam cooker : 1K to 10K searches per month – High Competition
– vegetarian recipes : 100K to 1M searches per month – Low Competition
– vegetarian meals : 10K to 100K searches per month – Low Competition
– easy vegetarian recipes : 10K to 100K searches per month – Low Competition
– vegetarian dinner recipes : 10K to 100K searches per month – Low Competition
– best vegetarian recipes : 10K to 100K searches per month – Low Competition
Don’t worry about the competition too much at this stage. Right now you just want to make sure that many other people are also interested in your niche.
Once you have made a list of relevant keywords based on Google’s Keyword Planner tool, the next step is to run a normal search on Google using those keywords.
If people are not prepared to pay for ads it may mean that the niche is not commercially viable.
Open the sites to get a better idea of what they are all about. Look at things like:
The number of articles they have that are relevant to your niche.
Google prefers authority sites that have a lot of high quality, original content.
How often new content is added to the website and when the last article was published.
Google likes fresh content and will normally rank sites higher that publish quality content on a regular basis.
The average length per article.
Google prefers longer, more detailed articles of at least 1,000 words per article.
How the site is monetized.
Many sites are monetized through affiliate programs.
Write down the names of any merchants that the site links to as you may want to approach those same merchants in the future with the intention of signing up for their affiliate program.
Google will mention searches related to your keyword at the bottom of the page.
Add those keywords to your list of keywords for later use.
If you followed Step 2, you should have already made a list of possible affiliate programs used by your competitors to monetize their sites. Now it’s time to take it up a notch.
Do a search on Google for relevant affiliate programs, as follows:
[keyword] affiliate programs
Using the example of the cooking niche we looked at in Step 1, you would search for the following:
cooking affiliate programs
You should be able to see many different affiliate programs to choose from.
You will also notice on the bottom of the page the heading: “Searches related to cooking affiliate programs.” This will give you some additional search ideas, such as:
cookware affiliate program
kitchenaid affiliate program
cuisinart affiliate program
healthy eating affiliate programs
grocery affiliate programs
all recipes affiliate
There are some very large affiliate networks that offer thousands or even millions of products from reputable and often well-known merchants. Partnering with such a networks have many advantages such as:
* Merchants normally have to pass strict criteria before they are accepted into the network.
* If you have a dispute with a merchant you can usually approach the affiliate network for support.
* You can often promote several offers without first having to apply with individual merchants.
Top affiliate networks that you should consider working with.
Amazon has millions of products to choose from.
As far as our cooking nice example is concerned, you can choose to not only promote great cooking books but also many different cooking utensils.
ShareASale hosts over 3900 affiliate programs spanning 40 different categories.
One of the best ways to have a quick look if they have affiliate programs that are relevant to your niche is to do a search on Google for the following keywords:
[niche] offers on shareasale. For example, cooking offers on shareasale.
ClickBank mainly specialises in digital products. You can choose between thousands of products to promote and many of those products pay very high commission rates.
The easiest way to have a look at available offers is to visit their marketplace and to click on a relevant category.
Note: It’s not always easy to get accepted as an affiliate on a large affiliate network so before you apply make sure you are familiar with their requirements.
Compile a short list of up to 10 affiliate programs that you would consider joining. Make note of the following, for comparison purposes:
Methods of promotion – Can you promote them on social media? Do they allow email marketing?
Conversion rate – Do they mention the percentage of visitors that turn into customers?
Average order value – Do they mention the average order value per customer?
Commission rate – How much commission do they pay per sale? Do they also pay for leads?
Affiliate dashboard – Do they have an affiliate dashboard that shows all commissions due to you?
Cookie length – What happens if a prospect does not buy straight away but at a later date?
Refunds – What is their refund rate? If a customer requests a refund do you lose your commission?
Payment method(s) – How will you be paid and how often do they make payments?
Affiliate tools – What tools do they offer affiliates to promote them?
Based on the above answers you should have a good idea of how much you can earn from every 100 visitors that you send to their site and how quickly you will be paid for your efforts.
Note: Always read the terms and conditions of the affiliate program you would like to join and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you’re not sure about anything. Never make assumptions.
The best way to get an idea of just how good a certain affiliate program is, is to read reviews from affiliates that have used them or are currently using them.
Take into consideration though that affiliates are normally more likely to post a negative review if they are unhappy with the company than a positive review if they are satisfied with the company.
The best way to search for reviews on Google is to type in the following keywords in the search bar:
[Name of affiliate program] review. For example, ShareASale Review.
Creating content can be daunting for most affiliates.
Here are some tips and advice that can make this process easier and more effective.
You first have to deliver value and establish your credibility with your website visitors or email list before you can expect them to follow your advice, suggestions or recommendations.
Your focus should be on delivering value to your readers and not on selling. Selling is the job of the merchant. As an affiliate marketer you’re a solutions provider and not a salesperson.
If every post or email you write reads like an advertisement or just another sales pitch your website visitors, social media followers, and email subscribers will soon lose interest in anything you have to say.
Before writing any piece of content you should have a clear goal of why you’re writing it and what outcome you would like to achieve.
In the case of affiliate marketing your goal is that a visitor would click on your affiliate link and make a purchase from the merchant you’re promoting so you can earn a commission from the sale.
What you would like to achieve is for him or her to click on the link as if it’s his or her decision to do so in the first place and not because of you.
You want to gently guide your visitors towards a certain action that you would like them to take without them knowing it. You want them to take ownership and responsibility for their actions and decisions.
AIDA is an acronym that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
Whether you’re writing an article for your blog or an email to your subscribers, always keep AIDA in mind.
Attention – You need to grab the attention of people so they will click on your blog post or open your email. You can accomplish this by using a strong headline or title that stands out.
Interest – Your opening paragraph should always entice your readers to continue reading. They should feel it’s relevant to them and that they can gain a lot by reading your content.
Desire – While reading your content you want your readers to feel a desire to learn more about the topic you’re writing about. It should be like a good book that they can’t put down.
Action – Don’t assume your readers will automatically comply with what you want them to do. Make it easy for them by giving them the next logical step to follow, such as:
“For more information, click here” with “click here” being the anchor text for your affiliate link.
You have to tell them what to do next.
Anchor text is less discreet than posting full and often ugly-looking affiliate links on your website. And, it’s easy to blend such links into the body of your article.
You should also use anchor text to link to other internal pages on your website as well as some authority sites, if relevant, as this will normally boost your rankings in Google which means more free organic traffic for your site.
As previously mentioned, the FTC expects you to disclose that you’re getting compensated as an affiliate. This does not only apply to social media posts but also to your own website.
You should add a disclaimer at the bottom of every post or in the footer of your website mentioning that your posts may contain affiliate links and that if someone clicks on them that you may receive some compensation from a third party merchant.
Here is an example of what this text may look like:
“The articles on this website may contain affiliate links. Without any cost to you, when clicking on these links you are helping to support the further development of this website.”
You want to be the go-to person for people looking for information or solutions in your niche. You want to build up a fan base that is eager to follow you.
The more credibility you have, the less resistance you will face when you recommend third party solutions to your fan base.
Don’t limit your content creation to only writing informative articles.
Here are two other options you can use:
People love reading reviews, and how a certain product or service compares to others.
Writing high quality reviews and product or service comparisons can do a lot to boost your image as an authority figure in your niche.
Another great way you can position yourself as an authority figure is through content curation.
Look for relevant news articles in your niche that are posted by respected, authority sites.
What you have to do is to add your own voice to what they are reporting. Post a short extract or quote from such a news article on your own site, with a link back to the original source, and add your own spin to it. Use your own headline.
For example, you may agree with the story but mention other factors that they did not cover. You may also disagree with their conclusions and write your own conclusion or summary.
If you do not enjoy writing or feel you’re not able to write high quality content, don’t worry. BrandBuilders have you covered and can provide you with premium content that’s expertly written. Click here for more information on the packages we offer.
Most affiliate marketers use both paid traffic and free traffic to get visitors. Paid traffic can be quite expensive, and since you’re a beginner it’s advisable that you start with free traffic sources for that should be more than adequate.
Below are some of the best free traffic methods or sources you can use to drive traffic to your affiliate links.
It falls outside the scope of this article to go into details on how you should make the best use of these platforms.
The most important thing to remember is to always abide by the rules of these platforms so make sure you familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of every site you use.
By ranking on the first page of Google for your selected keywords you can get a significant amount of traffic. There are many good resources on the Internet that can give you SEO advice.
The top social media platforms you should consider using are:
There are many question and answer sites on the Internet that can drive huge amounts of free traffic to your site but the most important one by far is Quora.
Here are a couple of tips to help you get started on Quora:
– When answering questions, always aim to provide value.
– Your answer should be at least a couple of paragraphs long.
– Your answers should be unique so don’t copy and paste answers when answering similar questions.
– Quora does not like affiliate links. Link to your site or another platform such as YouTube.
– Only insert links in your answers if they are relevant and necessary.
Podcasts are very popular. It’s a great way to drive traffic to your site and establish yourself as an authority in your niche at the same time.
Below are some of the best podcast hosting sites for you to consider.
Good podcast hosting sites are not free but you can normally sign up for a free trial to discover if it’s worth it before making a commitment to pay for the service.
By submitting guest posts to authority sites in your niche you can get a lot of free traffic to your site and it may also boost your credibility due to your perceived association with the site.
The best way to find suitable sites is to search for the following keywords in Google:
Just replace [niche] with your actual niche. For example, if you’re in the cooking niche, your search query will be:
You can also narrow your search to find bloggers that already accept guest posts by using the following search query:
“submit a guest post” + [niche]
Some blogs are extremely popular while others get very little traffic. It’s a good idea to make a list of potential blogs and to look them up on SimilarWeb to get an idea of how much traffic they receive.
Note that not all bloggers are looking for guest posts and that many of the more popular blogs will not even answer your enquiry about submitting a guest post to them. Some blogs may also charge a fee before they accept a guest post.
If they do accept guest posts, your post will have to be very high quality and 100% original. You will normally not be allowed to promote yourself or any affiliate program you belong to but will be allowed to add a short bio about yourself with a link to your website.
In order to get the most out of affiliate marketing you need to know what’s working. You need to know how much traffic you’re getting to your website as well as your traffic sources.
Google Analytics is a great tool for showing you the number of people that visit your website as well as how they found your website. It will show you which sites send the most traffic to your website.
This is a very handy tool that allows you to track custom campaigns in Google Analytics. For example, Google Analytics may show you that you’ve received 1,000 visitors from Facebook in the last month.
By using Campaign URL Builder you will be able to see how many visitors you have received per Facebook post so you know which posts are the most effective.
Campaign URL Builder will work with most sites but will not work with Pinterest.
Since this tool creates very long URLs you may want to use a URL shortener such as Bitly to shorten your URLs, especially for sites like Twitter.
Once you are able to monitor your traffic statistics you will be in a better position to make informed decisions on how you can further optimize your results.
Affiliate marketing is constantly evolving. This article focused on affiliate marketing for beginners and although it should help you to get off to a good start, there’s more to learn before you can become a top affiliate marketer.
Here is a free 10-day crash course on how to take your affiliate earnings to the next level. Simply click here now to sign up for it.
You can also sign up for a free coaching call to make sure that you don’t lose in your online business.