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If you have heard about the joys of passive income, you have probably wondered how to start affiliate marketing yourself. Read on to learn how to generate income through an affiliate marketing network with our trusted strategies.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

This how-to guide reveals the six steps to starting affiliate marketing, as well as our favorite tools to help you along the way.

  • Find your niche. Discovering the right niche is essential to your affiliate marketing business’s success
  • Start your niche. Here we’ll talk about building your site with a strong foundation
  • Create good content. Content is king, and your affiliate marketing strategy is no different
  • Promote your content. Build a loyal following with promotion strategies
  • Become an affiliate. Time to join an affiliate network and earn your first sale
  • Generate income. Repeat the content creation process to bring in revenue

Step 1. Find Your Niche

This is the most important step on the list, and it will determine how much success you will be able to have further down the line in affiliate marketing.

Your niche needs to be something you are passionate and hungry to learn more about. You could be creating tons of blog posts about this topic in the future!

Your niche also needs to be something that isn’t too popular, otherwise it may be hard for new visitors to find you on Google.

It may also be difficult to create valuable content in a space that is too competitive.

Reading business books, mountain biking, and pottery are all topics that could be your niche. But they are very popular around the world, and there is likely a lot of content online about them already.

Here’s the thing: this doesn’t mean that you have to think of a niche that is super specific and weird. Sure, you can choose competitive hula-hooping or Italian cinema if that floats your boat.

But all you really need to do is find a niche within a niche that has a strong following.

Having trouble finding a niche? You can use our handy (and free) list of 1,452 profitable niches to point you in the right direction.

Niche Products vs. Services/Information Products

Marketing Products as an Affiliate

Before you decide on which niche you want to move forward with, it’s time for a clarification.

A niche does not have to be a physical product. Books, info courses, and memberships are all great options.

If you have a product in mind, remember that there are a lot of people doing the same thing. Any sale you make will also have to account for the cost of manufacturing and shipping that product. This means that commissions may be lower for certain products.

Does this mean you should stay away from marketing physical products? No way! Try to pick a product with a higher price point, low competition, and a good commission rate.

Marketing Services and Information Products as an Affiliate

Instead of products, you can market an information product like a course created by a marketer, or a service product like software.

Information products and services often see higher commissions than physical products. Next time you find an online SEO tool or email software that you love using, explore the affiliate opportunities that could exist with them.

Finding the Right Niche: Measuring Volume

Now, how do you really know how large a following is online? Thankfully, there’s a wide range of online tools that we can use to answer this question.

First, to find out how much interest there is for your niche online, you need to determine the search volume for specific terms. A blogging tool like the Moz keyword explorer is a great way to get started. 

Here is a how-to for using the Moz tool to test the relevancy and monthly volume for your specific keywords. The best thing is that, even if your idea doesn’t seem to have that much traffic, Moz will suggest other keyword ideas for you!

Step 2. Start Your Site

Many affiliate marketers use WordPress as the Content Management System (CMS) to build their site. WordPress is the global leader for creating and operating blogs, and there are many great tools you can use to make the process easy.

Building a WordPress blog from the ground up can take some time the first time, but there are plenty of resources available online. We recommend following these steps first.

Purchasing a Domain

Thinking of a creative and catchy domain name for your site can be a challenge. It is even more challenging finding a domain that someone else hasn’t already taken.

Try searching for underused domains on Google Domains or GoDaddy. But make sure to set an alert for when you need to renew, or you risk losing the domain name.

Purchasing Hosting

Once you purchase your domain, it is time to find hosting for your site. We recommend going with a reputable hosting provider like WP Engine or Flywheel.

Hosting is more important than a good domain, as a shady hosting provider can put your entire affiliate marketing business at risk.

Installing a WordPress Theme

Your WordPress theme will affect how your audience sees your site. There are a world of options to choose from, but here are a few of our favorites.

XTheme

This theme is one of the best that WordPress offers. It is especially good to use for blog-based sites, as it comes with pre-designed page layouts for blogs and has easy-to-use tools to add content.

This is a paid WordPress theme, but at a reasonable price of $59 (USD) for 6 months. If there is anything that you should be comfortable investing in while starting your site, it’s making sure your site has a great look and feel.

AffiloTheme

The AffiloTheme is customizable, and made for affiliate marketers. It’s a great way to learn the affiliate marketing process quickly, although it provides fewer options than XTheme. 

Elementor

Although it isn’t a theme, Elementor builds pages using a simple drag-and-drop editor if you already have a theme that you want more control over. It is WordPress’s most popular page builder.

Pre-Built Sites

If you aren’t interested in building a site through WordPress, there are still other options, like using a pre-built site.

Building a site can be a time-consuming activity. This time is usually better spent creating blog posts and promoting them to your network.

Also, starting a site can lead to unexpectedly high costs if you are unsure about what tools to use. Building a complex site from scratch can cost several thousand dollars, and these costs increase as you grow.

At Brand Builders, we create fully functional websites built for affiliate marketing in under 24 hours. We make these sites for a profitable niche, so you can be sure your investment has the potential to earn you income later on.

Step 3. Creating Good Content 

Good content is the foundation of a great site, so be sure to follow industry best practices for creating blog content.

You can also find a writer who can create this content for you. We recommend that you create several blog posts per week to stay relevant. We recommend producing the best content possible, so some of these might hit the 2,000-3,000 word range

Keep an eye on competitors in your niche to see what kinds of layouts, graphics, and posts seem to work well for them.

Producing high-quality content consistently can be a challenge. Here are a few ideas of blog post formats that visitors like to read!

Blog Post Ideas

Product Reviews & Comparisons

This is the most common way to create content for affiliate sites, as it focuses on the products that you are trying to earn commission on. 

Most industries see new product releases throughout the year, so it is a great way to engage people looking to learn about how a product performs. 

Listicles

You probably notice lots of these on the internet, and it’s for good reason. Lists perform well for SEO, and they are a great way to increase the range of products you can earn revenue from.

On the other hand, the surge in popularity of listicles has led to some sites creating low-quality content that erodes reader trust. Be sure to follow these best practices when creating lists of your own: 

  • Use attention-grabbing headlines, but don’t stray too far into clickbait territory! Always deliver on what you advertise.
  • Never pad your lists with entries that don’t add value.
  • Use quality images and link out to valuable content to engage your readers.

Tutorials

When people have a problem that they want to solve, there is nothing better than a step-by-step guide to help them reach a solution – just like this blog post!

Be sure to provide clear directions and use video and original images to ensure your visitors are able to follow along to your advice.

You can use multiple affiliate links in a single tutorial. For example, show how you stay productive while writing blog posts with time tracking software and your favorite editing tool.

Describe your productivity hacks with a storytelling angle to keep your visitors engaged all the way through.

Guest Posts

If you notice someone else in your niche (or a similar niche) who is creating great content, realize that it is a great opportunity to grow your network.

By writing guest posts for each other’s sites, you can link out to each other and improve both of your SEO rankings. You can benefit off of each other’s reputation, and expose each other’s followers to new content that they will enjoy and benefit from.

Evergreen Content

The key to affiliate marketing is creating content that has a long shelf life. Evergreen content is content that remains relevant to readers regardless of the news cycle or season. Think about solving problems that people will always have, like productivity hacks or how to keep an indoor plant alive.

Other Content Ideas

Video

Video is one of the most effective ways to get a message across online, and is becoming popular in digital marketing for its high conversion rates. 

There are many ways to use video to tell the story of a product, including vlogging, screen sharing and live demonstrations.

Most cellular phones have the ability to create videos that are good quality, and visitors trust advice made in a do-it-yourself style.

WordPress Tools That Amplify Your Content

Aside from the written part of your site, there are many ways that you can use WordPress tools to make your content more engaging.

Here are a few of our favorite WordPress tools and plugins.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a must-have for all WordPress websites, especially if you are entering the world of affiliate marketing.

Yoast allows you to optimize your posts for SEO by selecting page titles and descriptions, indexing, and giving you a final SEO rating.

Automatic Post Scheduler

Have you gotten ahead of the game and prepared content for your site, but are unsure how you should schedule it for the coming weeks? This posting tool automatically schedules out your publishing dates so that you won’t need to spend time doing it yourself. 

SEO Friendly Images

Adding alt and title tags to images can be one of the least exciting tasks of running a blog. Let this tool do it for you, and save more time for what matters most.

Step 4. Promote Your Content

Now it’s time to take the first steps to promote your website content. This means making it easier to find your site on the web through search engine optimization (SEO).

Here are the most important first steps for making your site SEO-friendly.

SEO First Steps

Google Search Console

You will need to sign up for Google Webmasters tools, also known as the Google Search Console. Here is a how-to guide that walks you through the process of signing up.

Sitemaps

You can think of sitemaps like a table of contents that makes it easier for Google to understand how your site’s information fits together.

A tool like Yoast SEO will allow you to generate a sitemap for free. We discuss Yoast – and why it is a must-have for your site – in the next section. 

Links Tool

This tool allows you to access a report about internal links, which link different pages within your site, and external links, which are the opposite! Both are important to your site’s success, but external links are the most valuable. 

Google will favor your site when external links from strong and authoritative sites point back to yours. Here is a backlink article explaining this in detail.

Social Sharing

You should share your content through your existing social channels. If you prefer to use these channels for personal use, then you can create new ones to engage with your followers.

Your immediate network will help to gain traction when you start your site, at least until you gain more traffic from organic searches.

You can use a tool like Loomly to promote traffic through all of your social channels at once, leaving you more time to create content!

Email List

Email is one of the highest-converting digital marketing channels for a reason. Think of your subscribers as your trusted inner circle, who have taken action to show they want to hear what you have to say.

You can send weekly content updates or special offers to your email list. This provides them more value than if they check in on your site every now and then.

Be sure to follow these guidelines, and above all, respect the trust that you have gained when your followers give you their email address.

  • Don’t send too many emails. Less is more when you have gained a spot in someone’s inbox.
  • Ensure your emails are concise, mobile friendly, and don’t include more than 2-3 affiliate links.
  • Above all, make sure your email provides them enough value for them to continue being on your mailing list.

Step 5. Become an Affiliate

The thing that frustrates new affiliate marketers is that it can take a lot of leg work before you can succeed as an affiliate.

There is a lot of work that goes into creating content and building a following – but this is a good thing, because it means not just anyone can succeed online. If you consistently make good content in your niche, you will see success later on. There is no formula for “getting rich quick.” 

It is time to join the affiliate network of your choice.

With networks like Amazon, if you jump the gun before you have a consistent enough following, you can be removed from the network for having low sales.

Now, it is important to research which affiliate network is best for your site. There are a lot of options out there, but here are our recommendations:

Amazon Affiliate Network

North America’s largest ecommerce company has helped bring a lot of attention to affiliate marketing with their network. They have a large product base to choose from, but there is also a large amount of competition. 

This network may be right for you if you have a strong niche, and if that niche has a good range of products for sale on Amazon.

Skimlinks

Skimlinks features an easy-to-use WordPress plugin and a large network of merchant affiliate programs. 

Skimlinks is different because it turns your product mentions and merchant links into affiliate links in an easier way. This leaves you more time to create great content.

ClickBank

ClickBank is an established affiliate network for information products like e-books and software. There is a wide range of products to sell on the platform, and it is an easy place to start trying to earn money without a complicated signup process.

Step 6. Generate Income

At last, the step you have been waiting for! 

Many aspiring affiliates imagine making sales with their feet kicked up without thinking about the first steps. But now that you see the importance of niche selection and strong site building, it’s time to move along.

Disclaimers for Affiliate Marketing

First, be sure to educate yourself about the terms and conditions that apply to your affiliate network.

Otherwise, you run the chance of losing your status if you run afoul of the rules.

This will include using a disclaimer for blog posts and content where affiliate links are being used. A disclaimer can be a simple message like this:

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

It is also a good idea to mention that you are only advertising products that you believe in, otherwise you risk alienating your visitors.

Affiliate ID Links

When you sign up for an affiliate network, you will receive an Affiliate ID. You will then add this ID at the end of outbound links that you use to advertise products on your site. When someone makes a purchase, you make a predefined commission.

So, now that you have started earning your first commissions, you may think it’s time to take a break and let the affiliate links do their work, right? Well, not quite.

Rinse, Lather, and Repeat

Building sustainable income from your site will depend on repeating steps 3 to 6. You will need to keep creating great content long-term. You will also need to ensure that you are using the best content promotion techniques, and keeping an eye out for new affiliate networks that will work with you.

The “passive” part of passive income comes when you have found the right mix of these steps. Keep in mind that competing sites will always be eating away at your revenue, and your visitors will continue to expect strong content.

Maintaining Content

Updating your blog posts so that they stay relevant is a great way to ensure that your site keeps ranking. For a product comparison post, this could mean adding new products and showing how they have improved upon the earlier editions.

Be sure to add a disclaimer to your post when you make edits so that your visitors are aware that you are keeping your content current.

Conclusion

Now that you have this step-by-step guide to start affiliate marketing, we hope that you have the tools and confidence to get started. Don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can refer to it throughout your affiliate marketing journey!

Always remember that the world of affiliate marketing is constantly changing. You will need to keep up with new strategies to find success. If you want help, you can book a free coaching call with one of our team. We’ll look at your business and make sure you aren’t going to lose.

Keep an eye on trends in affiliate marketing right here with the Brand Builders blog, and with our products like premium content and pre-built sites. 

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