Starting an affiliate marketing website is a lucrative way to earn money on the internet. Take Adam Enfroy, a well-known affiliate marketer and blogger, for example. He pulls in $80,950 every month just from affiliate revenue.
The process of affiliate marketing is easier compared to selling products or services online. You basically share a link and earn commissions when people purchase the brand’s product through it.
But it’s not just about knowing how affiliate marketing works. To succeed, your affiliate website needs good planning and strategies.
In this article, we’ll walk through a step-by-step guide on how to build your first affiliate website.
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Do You Need a Website to Become an Affiliate?
Nope, most companies won’t require their partners to have a website for joining their affiliate program. All you need to make money with affiliate marketing is:
- An audience
- An affiliate program
- A way to share affiliate links
Lots of influencers who create content and do well financially don’t bother with a website. They usually promote brands directly to their audience through social media or rely on sponsored content for income.
While you can make a living this way, having a website or blog comes with extra perks, even if you’re already a popular social media sensation.
Why Create an Affiliate Marketing Website?
Though it’s not a prerequisite to join any affiliate program, there are some benefits of owning an affiliate website for your online business:
1. Ownership over your content
When you own a website’s domain, it’s like having a piece of the internet that belongs to you. However, social media is a bit different. Your posts on social platforms aren’t really yours—they belong to the companies and shareholders running those sites. Imagine it as building your business on rented land.
If you rely solely on social media, it can put limits on your business growth.
Why? Because you’re at the mercy of external factors like changes in ownership, policies, algorithms, and pricing. Remember those times when you checked your social media and everything looked different due to updates? No one can stop that, and you might get a heads-up, but change is inevitable.
The unpredictable nature of social media platforms can be a headache. As a content creator, it doesn’t just frustrate you—it directly impacts your income. A founder of a digital media company, Joe Speiser, experienced a whopping $100 million loss after Facebook’s big algorithm changes in 2018.
It’s a cautionary tale of what can happen when you go all-in on social media.
2. Get more traffic with SEO
If you focus on sharing your content mainly on social media platforms, it becomes difficult to improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) standing in a specific subject.
Social media posts aren’t indexed by search engines, making it harder to generate a steady stream of passive income from well-received articles.
3. Control your costs for better budgeting
Setting up a social media profile is free, but just creating it doesn’t guarantee people will see your content. In the past, posts could naturally reach the top of people’s feeds, but things have changed.
Today, most social media platforms operate on a “pay-to-play” basis. To be seen, you have to invest in targeted ads and boosted posts. Over time, this can get expensive.
On the other hand, having a website involves upfront development costs. However, after that, expenses are relatively low for hosting and maintenance. This allows you to concentrate on driving traffic through other means like email and search engines.
While social media is great for marketing, it’s not the best “home” for your online presence.
How to Build an Affiliate Website in 8 Steps
It’s easier than you think to earn an income from affiliate marketing. As long as you have wifi and a laptop, you’re on the way to go. To get stated, follow these steps:
- Pick a topic
- Get a domain
- Build your site
- Begin publishing
- Join affiliate programs
- Add affiliate links
- Bring in visitors
- Regularly post good content
Step 1: Pick a topic
First, think about what you enjoy writing about. A website is nothing without content. However, content creation is tiring and time-consuming. So, pick a topic that genuinely interests you. Since you’ll be creating content regularly, it’s crucial to stay engaged. Consistency and a unique voice are key to growing your website’s audience.
Spend a few minutes to jot down a list of your hobbies. It could be anything from running to collecting toy robots, quilting, or growing spicy peppers. Even if these seem niche, they can make great topics for an affiliate website.
Choosing a specific focus allows you to:
- Understand your audience better
- Address your audience’s challenges
- Build expertise in a particular subject
- Recommend products that match your audience’s interests
If you’re already creating content in a specific niche, that’s a bonus. Just create a website around your chosen topic and use content from platforms like YouTube or podcasts to fill your site.
Step 2: Get a domain name
Choosing a domain name is like picking an address for your website. Let your website’s main theme guide your choice. Here are some ideas:
- If you’re into growing chilis, maybe go for something fun like HotPepperCity.com.
- For a quilting blog, a straightforward choice could be FransQuiltBlog.com.
To see if your desired name is available, use a hosting site like:
- Go Daddy
Just pick your favorite, search for available names, and make your purchase within a few minutes. If you’re using Shopify to build your website, it’s convenient to use their hosting service.
Step 3: Build your site
You have different options for building your affiliate marketing site, and it doesn’t always require hiring a web designer. Many hosting services, such as Shopify and Squarespace, provide user-friendly tools for DIY website building. Even if you’re a beginner, you can have a professional-looking site up in just a few hours.
Squarespace has its own tools, while other services may use WordPress, a popular free open-source software used by 43 percent of the web. Some CRM platforms like HubSpot even offer free logo makers.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend newbies to hire a web designer on Fiverr or Upwork, especially if you don’t know coding. They might charge you a hefty price for creating a fancy website that could turn out to have hidden technical issues. Keep things simple, especially when you haven’t made any money from the website yet.
Regardless of the method you choose, make sure to pick a layout that reflects your brand and is easy for users to navigate. According to some stats on Amazon Web Services, 88 percent of website visitors are not likely to return after a poor experience.
You can improve your user experience by:
- Choosing a responsive, mobile-friendly layout.
- Regularly checking your website’s loading speed.
- Keeping your pages clutter-free to highlight your content.
Looking for ideas? Check out some successful websites in your industry to get inspiration for creating a high-quality user experience.
Step 4: Begin publishing
No matter which hosting service or publishing platform you choose, take some time to understand how it works. Don’t worry; it’s not complicated. Most hosting services, such as Bluehost, have step-by-step tutorials to guide you through their systems. There is also site support to answer your questions.
In fact, most content management systems (CMS) are easy to use. When I started my first website, I knew very little about coding, but it only took me a few minutes to figure out how to publish a post, add links, and include photos and videos.
Before moving on to the next step, try writing and publishing a few posts. Figure out article formats that feel natural and repeatable. More importantly, develop your unique voice—let it be your voice that captures the interest of readers who want to learn about your niche and connect with them. ChatGPT is a helpful writing tool, but people may not prefer AI-generated content.
Remember, you’re creating content about your passion, so find a way to let that passion shine through.
Step 5: Join affiliate programs
Believe it or not, you’re now just one step away from earning affiliate commissions through your website. Once you’ve selected the right affiliate program, you can start making money. It’s wise to choose one that fits well with your niche.
For instance, let’s look at Derek Simnett, a vegan fitness and lifestyle educator. He promotes Vedge Nutrition protein supplements as an affiliate because it aligns with his goals and content. This way, he earns money by endorsing products he believes in.
There are two ways to find suitable affiliate programs in your niche: direct and through marketplaces.
If you already know of brands in your niche with affiliate programs, you can directly sign up for them (usually free). Alternatively, you can use an affiliate program marketplace or network to explore and sign up for various programs.
Affiliate networks provide new marketers with free and easy access to thousands of reputable affiliate programs. They cover brands in different niches.
Some examples include
- Amazon Associates
- CJ (Commission Junction)
- Rakuten Advertising.
While these are reliable options, consider factors like reputation, commission rate, and earnings per click (EPC) when choosing a program. A program might have a low commission rate but a high EPC, making it still worthwhile to join.
You can also check out my list of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
Now that you’ve joined a brand’s affiliate program or network, it’s time to make money!
Brands make it easy. They provide lists of products to choose from. Just select the ones that match your audience.
The brand gives you special links. These links are unique to you and include tracking info. When someone clicks your link, the brand knows it came from you. You can also customize their links using tools like Pretty Links to make them appear more natural.
You can insert these links into your content, whether it’s a blog post, video, or any content you create. It’s also a good idea to change the URL of the product’s official website to an affiliate link. It’s a bit of a hack, but it’s completely legitimate. People often prefer clicking on official sites.
After they click it, cookies are saved, and you earn a commission when they make a purchase. It’s a win-win situation and doesn’t cost them anything.
Step 7: Bring in visitors
Having more people visit your website opens up more chances for successful sales. As an affiliate publisher, each sale translates to more commissions for you. Even if the new visitors don’t buy anything right away, you’ve grabbed the attention of someone who might make a purchase in the future.
Develop a strong plan to boost your content. Invest in natural marketing methods to get more traffic to your website.
Here’re some popular traffic methods:
Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to bring free, natural traffic to your website. This involves using popular keywords that connect with your audience. The more effort you put into organic search, the more traffic you’ll attract.
According to BrightEdge research, over half (53.3%) of all web traffic comes from organic search. Before getting too excited about the stats, keep in mind that most users only click on the first few results of their search.
In other words, it’s likely that you have to optimize your website to outrank your competitors. Now, SEO is tricky, and Google launches algorithm updates every quarter. So, it’s not possible for a newbie to understand every aspect of SEO. Take some time to learn more about it on SEO channels such as Semrush and Neil Patel.
Basically, SEO is all about high-quality content and backlinks. So, for the moment, keep these tips in mind for your SEO practice to get more traffic:
- Don’t pivot from your niche.
- Create high-quality and helpful content.
- Build internal links for relevant posts.
- Promote your blog posts on social media to grab attention and possible backlinks.
You can also check out my guide on affiliate marketing SEO.
Even if your main website is your content hub, don’t ignore social media. Find out where your audience hangs out and create a profile there.
Social media is great for getting your content seen and driving traffic to your website. In 2022, people spent around 147 minutes on social media each day. Marketers love it because it boosts exposure and brings more visitors to their sites.
Did you know how Nathan Chan, Foundr’s owner, attracts so much attention? He simply keeps publishing inspiring business quotes. And that’s actually how I discovered Foundr.
Build an Email List
Email marketing is a great way for publishers to promote products. On average, for every $1 spent, there’s a return of $38.
When you have a good email list, you can provide more value to your audience and boost your authority in your niche. Even if they don’t buy things right from your emails, the traffic they bring to your website is valuable. To engage your subscribers, your email content can include:
- Industry reports or news
- Links to new blog posts
- Interview roundups or summaries
- Behind-the-scenes glimpses of your life or business
- Promotional deals (occasionally)
- Free digital downloads
If you’re looking to build an email list without spending money, several email marketing software providers offer free plans. Check out options like Shopify Email, Mailchimp, and MailerLite to find the one that suits you best.
Once you’ve gained trust with your audience, you can explore promoting high-ticket affiliate programs. These programs give you the chance to earn significant commissions per sale.
Write guest posts
Did you know that you can expand your reach by writing guest posts on other websites in your field? Though it sounds odd to crate content for someone else’s site without getting a pay, guest posting can actually boost your website traffic. This is because it introduces your content to a new audience.
Apart from direct traffic increase, guest posting offers other advantages like:
- Connecting with a Wider Audience: You can potentially gain more followers as your content reaches a broader audience.
- Building Relationships: It helps in forming connections with other content creators in your niche.
- Establishing Authority: By demonstrating your expertise in guest posts, you establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.
- SEO Benefits: Guest posting contributes to growing your domain authority and enhancing your overall SEO efforts.
Take a look at Search Engine Journal, the renowned SEO magazine. On its website, you’ll discover numerous guest posts from experts. For instance, in a blog post, VIP contributor Corey Morris authored an article about an SEO campaign, showcasing his expertise.
As you scroll down to the article’s bottom, you’ll notice a link back to his website, Voltage, a digital marketing company. If you’re impressed with his knowledge, you’re likely to bookmark his website and revisit it.
Step 8: Regularly Post Good Content
If you want to stand out in the world of affiliate publishing, consistently delivering top-notch content is essential.
Consider using a content calendar that aligns with your goals, outlining what you’ll publish each day. When thinking about the types of content, include:
- Product Reviews
- Tips and Tricks
When developing your content strategy, also remember to consider a keyword strategy. After all, even high-quality content can get lost in the noise if it isn’t optimized for search results.
If you encounter writer’s block, keep the ideas flowing by:
- Offering solutions to common problems your audience faces
- Discussing new research and trends
- Making lists of products that solve specific problems
- Comparing recently released products
- Sharing success stories and case studies
- Creating content based on the season
Remember when we mentioned finding your voice? Well, that voice builds trust with your audience. When your audience trusts you, they’re more likely to click on the products you recommend.
This trust is the pathway to boosting your affiliate revenue. Keep those quality posts coming!
Starting an affiliate marketing website is a fantastic online business idea, requiring only a small upfront investment to build a site. This makes it an excellent way to generate passive income.
With an affiliate website, establishing your online presence becomes easier. To get started, choose the right niche and website type. Afterward, select hosting and focus on producing high-quality content. You can follow our tips to create an SEO-friendly website that attracts more visitors.