Thanks to the Internet, the world has changed massively in recent years. Making money online has become much easier nowadays.
There is nothing like building a digital fortune that will make you money while you sleep to grow your wealth quickly.
The point of affiliate marketing is to make tons of profits without any effort, right? After a quick Google search, you might think so, but the truth is a little more complicated.
In this beginner’s guide, we will walk you through the legal steps to get started, warn you about common pitfalls so you can avoid them, and give you step-by-step instructions on how to maximize your earnings.
At the end of this article, if you still find it difficult to get started, perhaps you might consider signing up for some affiliate marketing courses.
Table of Contents
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is basically when you advertise someone else’s products and get a little commission for each sale made through your link. You’ve probably seen “affiliate link” or “sponsored post” on a lot of websites or maybe you’ve even joined an affiliate network yourself.
It’s a way for companies to increase sales and website traffic without spending a lot of money by working with affiliates, like bloggers or YouTubers, who promote their products or services. In return, the affiliates get a percentage of the sales or website traffic they bring in.
It’s not a new concept, but now it’s mostly done online. And according to some stats, it’s becoming more and more popular. In 2022, it’s estimated that people will spend $8.2 billion on affiliate marketing.
What You Need To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing
To get started with affiliate marketing, there are two things you need:
- Make a website or blog about your niche
- Choose affiliate products to promote
Here’s a closer look at each of these:
1. Create a Website or Blog for Your Niche
To make money with affiliate marketing, the first thing you need is a website.
When it comes to building your website, you have tons of options. But we highly recommend using WordPress.
With WordPress, anyone can quickly build a professional-looking website in minutes, even if you don’t know how to code:
Plus, WordPress has more tools to help its sites perform at a higher level than other website builders. That means more functionality across your site and a better user experience (UX) for your visitors.
If you’re interested in making money with affiliate marketing, WordPress is definitely your way to go.
You can read our guide to learn more about how to build a website for affiliate marketing.
Once your website is built, you will need to decide which products you will promote. Here’s the second prerequisite to getting started in affiliate marketing.
2. Choose Affiliate Products to Promote
If you’re struggling to find opportunities, here are three affiliate programs we recommend when starting out. If you have trouble thinking of ones to join on your own, give these a try.
Amazon has a vast selection of products in every conceivable niche. You get credit for anything someone purchases after clicking on your link. This is important. Amazon is skilled at getting customers to buy more items. If someone clicks on your link to a cookbook, then also buys an expensive blender, you receive a commission on both the book and the blender.
However, there are some drawbacks to the Amazon Associates Program, specifically:
- The terms aren’t great. You receive a tiny percentage as commission and only a 24-hour cookie.
- You can’t cloak Amazon links.
- You must make three sales within your first few months as an affiliate, or you will be kicked out. (You can apply again, but you will need to change all the links on your site.)
These restrictions aren’t reasons to discount Amazon as an affiliate partner. We’re both members of the Amazon Associates Program. However, it’s important that you understand and follow Amazon’s rules.
Ultimate Bundles (and similar companies)
The Ultimate Bundles program is popular with bloggers. A bundle is a collection of related products and services offered at a discounted price. There are bundles you can promote in a variety of niches, including blogging, homemaking, business, healthy living, and more.
The Ultimate Bundles team also provides affiliate training. There is typically a webinar with each bundle and assistance creating your marketing plan if desired.
Note that an Ultimate Bundle promotion has a fixed duration. For example, a bundle might be on offer for five days. So you need to plan your marketing efforts to fit with the sale timeline.
Another advantage of Ultimate Bundles is that you receive credit for second-tier affiliates. This is where someone clicks your link and then signs up as an affiliate. You get credit and a small percentage of their sales for the first year.
Be aware that Ultimate Bundles recommends a lot of marketing during a sale, which may not fit your personality (or be what your audience wants). Some people think the bundles are “too good to be true….” Do your own research to decide whether the bundle you plan to promote is of value to your audience.
Other companies like Ultimate Bundles are Infostack and The Bundle Co.
ShareASale (and other networks)
This option is different from the first two. Unlike single affiliate programs, ShareASale is an affiliate network. You sign up on their website and can then apply to individual affiliate programs.
The main advantage of joining a network is that you log in to one site and have access to many different merchants. ShareASale currently has over 15,000 merchants you can choose from. You can find something for almost any audience.
ShareASale is popular with online marketers because many well-known programs are only available through their network. These include Tailwind, WP Engine, and OptinMonster.
As with any option, there are downsides to ShareASale:
- The website is convoluted and can be hard to navigate.
- Each program has unique terms, so read everything closely. There are so many merchants that it can be difficult to find what you want to promote.
- There is a minimum payout ($50).
Oher affiliate networks include ClickBank and CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction).
Learn more: 20 Best High Ticket Affiliate Programs
How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing
Since you have a website and are a member of an affiliate network, now is the right time to monetize your site with affiliate marketing.
Step 1. Promoting your affiliate product
Building your web traffic is very important to the success of your affiliate marketing program. It all starts with the use of the right content. Your affiliate website deserves nothing but useful content. If your visitors land on your website and they can’t find a useful commission, then you can forget about earning an affiliate commission.
When you post useful and valuable content on your website and you deploy the right monetization techniques, you increase your chance of getting more affiliate income.
You don’t have to be in a race to publish the best content, all you need to do is to publish generic content that attends to the needs of your readers, and the reason is that if someone can take his or her time to read your content, then the chances of them clicking your product link to buy the affiliate product are very high.
Make use of short and long-tail keywords in your content- these are keywords that mention the product or its usefulness in your web content. Do not make use of some ridiculous sales pitches in your content, make sure you provide awesome information that emphasizes the usefulness of the products you are promoting, and people will eventually purchase a product found on the website.
Excellent content can be described as the main ingredient in selling an affiliate product, hence do not waste the time of your readers, some good tips about generating traffic on your affiliate web pages are;
- How to use a product,
- How I used the product,
- The results I got from using a product,
- Why this product is better than the other products.
Once you have generated this content, you can close each page with an invitation to the reader to review an offer, and then they can get to see the affiliate offer on the website.
You may want to write reviews and tutorials about the product that you have actually tested. Do not think your website is not working if you are not getting the right amount of traffic at the beginning, keep doing what you are doing, and eventually the results will follow.
1. Best types of affiliate marketing content
Video tutorials: The first form of content you should be focusing on is video tutorials since creating videos about the products you are promoting is a pretty certain way of increasing your sales and in these videos, the focus is on showing how certain products are used. Do not forget to include an affiliate link somewhere nearby. Video content can allow you to achieve pretty good conversion rates and it is a pretty good form for everyone, from beginners to experts.
Ebooks: Since people like reading eBooks, you should be using them to solve customers’ problems and opportunities to include your affiliate links. As long as Ebooks are good and as long as they are providing sufficient value, you can count on them to influence a lot of readers to follow the affiliate links and to take action on making a purchase.
Case studies: You can also use case studies in which you will be giving a detailed overview of a product. This content should cover all that is necessary to know about a certain product and it should do it well so that the audience wouldn’t have to go elsewhere to get any additional information. This is possibly the toughest form of content to create and it does require the most effort, but it will pay off and it will be worth the effort as long as it is done well.
Affiliate product comparisons: The point of this is comparing two products that are actually quite similar instead of comparing products that are complete opposites and by doing that you are able to really talk about the characteristics of the product and to show how much you actually know. At the end of this demonstration, you should give a clear and unambiguous conclusion so that the readers would without a doubt know what to buy and which action to take.
Product reviews: One type of content that you can’t do without and which pretty much every affiliate marketer depends on are reviews of products. Just take a look at any successful affiliate marketer’s website and you are likely and you will see that that person often writes product reviews.
The simple reason for doing this is the fact that reviews work pretty well. Product reviews provide readers with a better understanding of what you are offering and the reviews are actually the quite convenient and inoffensive manner of providing affiliate links. Reviews simply work, but only if they are honest and without biases so that the audience could make an informed decision that would ultimately benefit them.
You should also be mentioning some of the negatives of the products since this way you will come across as more trustworthy. When you earn the trust of your audience, then you can be sure that you will be making some sales. You should also have used the product yourself before you actually go selling it.
Don’t write a review about something which you have never had any experience with. After using the product, you will have an idea of whether you are satisfied or not, and only then can you write a review. The audience and readers will be more likely to buy if they actually see some results of the products being used.
Learn more blogging tips to create content that caters to the needs of your audience.
2. Tips on getting more traffic to your website an affiliate offers
- Write guest posts on your rival’s websites where you believe your potential customers might be.
- Constantly share your content on your social media pages. Do not just share once and leave, make sure you share content as many times as you can, especially when the content is always relevant to everyday problems.
- Create a free downloadable PDF content file that should link back to the contents on your website.
- Send a newsletter or email alert to your followers’ ad readers especially when you have posted new content. This is one of the best to generate new email lists and ensure that you stay connected to your online visitors.
- Make sure you create more similar web pages and generate even more content. There is no rule that says contents are too much on your website, as long as they keep yielding positive results.
- Make sure you check every link on your pages, to be sure that they are not broken and are always working.
3. Using your social media profiles to promote your affiliate products
If you are not already registered on some social networks, this could be the right time to do so. Top social networks where you can market your affiliate products are; YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Do not appear too promotional with your social media content, but focus on posting relevant content that your affiliate product can solve. If you promote a tanning cream, for instance, you should write content about the dangers of not applying tanning creams, and at the end suggest products that provide the best tanning results and protection of skin from ultra-violet radiation.
Using the same advertisement for your social network pays best. For instance, you can share your YouTube videos about the products you promote, on your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages.
Similarly, you can include your YouTube video links inside your Twitter and Facebook content. This is an effective link-sharing method as it gives your followers access to all your content regardless of which social network site they are using.
You need to encourage your followers on social media to get alerts or notifications when new content is released. This will ensure that they don’t miss out on any vital information.
Learn more about how to use social media for affiliate marketing.
Step 2: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search traffic is what will by large have an effect on if you will be making money with affiliate marketing. Increasing your traffic organically is one certain way of making more money in this business, no need to make things any more complicated. To learn more, you can read our guide on search engine marketing.
How many products you promote is what has a direct impact on how much cash you will be made from affiliate marketing. You should know your audience and promote your products based on what they want.
To be successful in making sales, your focus should be around organic traffic since such people from the search engine are more converting visitors since those people are already in the buying phase of the buying process and therefore it is easier to convince them and to sell to them. That is why you should learn how to optimise SEO.
1. Use keywords to optimize SEO
The main way you can increase your traffic is by focusing on keyword research and finding the proper keywords. If you are good at keyword research, then you can ensure that you will be getting a lot of traffic.
Do not be one of the people who just write about what they want to write about without doing any keyword research beforehand, but you also don’t want to deal with highly competitive keywords early on since you will find it very difficult to rank that way.
In order to do SEO properly and to really make money, you need to understand the main types of keywords. There are keywords that are based on the information and there are also keywords that are based on actually having the intention of buying something.
Keywords based on information: An example of keywords based on information would be typing something like “What is digital marketing”, while keyword-based around buying intent would be “Best digital marketing course” and in the latter, there exists an intent of actually going through with the purchase.
In order to be successful, you need to know how to combine both of these types of keywords. People that are typing in keywords that are based on information don’t have any intention of buying anything yet and therefore it is not advisable to make advances on such people.
On the other hand, people that are typing in keywords based around buying intent have already made a decision that they are going to purchase something and to those people, it will be easier to sell directly.
Keywords based on information should be used to educate your audience about the products you are promoting. For that reason, it is necessary to clearly define your audience and to be aware of them so that you could have an idea of products you would like to promote to them and which products would be most suited for the occasion.
Finding the right keywords for your website becomes a lot easier once you have this knowledge. Using the right keywords is what will increase your search engine traffic. More search traffic is what will bring in more sales. You should be making attempts to find the keywords based on the information so that you could educate more people about your products and about what you are offering.
Keywords based on buying intent: You also need to make an attempt to discover the most ideal keywords that are based on buying intent since these are the keywords that ultimately lead to sales. You can’t go wrong with writing a lot of reviews about products since that way you will draw in people that are searching the reviews of various products.
This way you are accomplishing two goals, you are providing the necessary knowledge to your visitors and you are also earning money by selling your affiliate products via the affiliate links which you are using strategically.
You should be using a combination of keywords based on the information and the keywords based on buying intent since people don’t purchase on the web from someone they don’t know and for that reason, you cant be using only the keywords that are based around buying intent.
Keywords based on buying intent are the ones that you want to be using when you recognize an opportunity based on the activity on the blog. The combination of these types of keywords is something you should know how to gauge based on your experience and doing so will improve your ranking on search engines over time which will lead you to more sales.
2. Use SEO tools properly
There are certain resources that you should be using in order to make sure that your SEO is as good as it could be. If you use the following tools and resources properly, you are bound to see improvements in your affiliate marketing business. Definitely, don’t sleep on these tools if you want to be successful.
- Google Keyword Planner is a widely recognized and used tool that is also free and marketers from all around use them to discover keywords and search terms. All that is required in order to use Keyword planner is to have a Google Adwords account and you can start finding keywords just like the best of them.
- SEMrush is yet another tool you should be using and it is the tool that will help you keep track of your competition. SEMrush will help you realize which of the keywords are bringing in the most results to your competition and it will also aid you in realizing which are the ideal products to be selling to your audience.
- Long Tail Pro is one tool that makes discovering these long-tail keywords pretty easy. This tool can find the best keywords for any market. Long-tail keywords are what you should be using in order to get more search traffic. Longtail keywords are longer keywords and they are more specific than the short-tail keywords. For example, “affiliate marketing” is a short tail keyword, while affiliate marketing for absolute beginners” would be a long-tail keyword and these long-tail keywords are easier to rank for.
- MOZ keeps being touted as one of the best SEO tools that are actually used by experts. Moz can actually show you how your website is doing and it can give you recommendations and pointers about what you can actually do as far as improvements are concerned. MOZ can even tell you how you can improve each page via its page optimization feature and it does it in a very user-friendly way such as telling you which keywords to use or which image would be most appropriate.
- Ubersuggest is the tool that can be used to research keywords and to also figure out the intent that is behind those keywords. Ubersuggest will help you with using the appropriate keywords for your website and it will provide you with suggestions. It gets even better, this tool is free and there is nothing stopping you from using it.
- Google Trends has been around for a while, but it still isn’t utilized by many people as much as it should and you would be wise not to make that same mistake. Google Trends can give you a background on each keyword and it can also inform you about trends regarding a certain topic or a niche.
3. Analyse competitive content
Next, in order to improve the SEO of your affiliate website, you should be analyzing the competitive content and this will help you with on-page SEO. In order to do this, you have to top websites and blogs for the keywords you are interested in targeting and you should analyze and see how they are designed around certain keywords.
You should be analyzing if they have keywords in important places such as the title, subheading, URL, meta descriptions, sales copy, etc. By doing an analysis of this kind you can get an understanding of what may be lacking and what you could do in order to position yourself for these keywords. SEMrush is an invaluable tool to accomplish this.
Just like analyzing your competitors, you should also analyze your own website and your posts. Use Google Analytics in order to find out which blog posts are providing you with the most traffic and also try to find out to what point are those posts optimized for some important keywords and why are they getting the success that they are getting. If you can successfully determine the reason for your success, then you can extract that and come up with a formula for repeating that success.
Know which SEO elements are the most essential and always remember to focus on those. Make sure to scan for and to recognize an opportunity to insert your main keyword into the content unsuspiciously. However, don’t use any keyword in a weird and offputting way.
The main keyword should also be used in your title. You can attach an alt tag to every image that you use and make sure to use the main keyword as those alt tags. Your main keyword should also be part of the URL.
Learn more about how to optimise SEO for affiliate marketing.
Step 3: Building An Email List For Affiliate Marketing
There are many reasons why email marketing works so well and one of them is the fact that you can personalize your messages and you can send that directly to the inboxes of your potential customers. You have permission to send emails as long as someone has joined your email list, but you should not abuse this and it is ideal when people are actually happy and curious when you send them an email.
You want to be welcome in their inboxes. If someone has given you their email address, then that means that a certain person is already interested and that they already have a reasonable amount of trust in a product or a brand. Email marketing is what generates additional traffic and it also forms loyalty.
MailChimp is what you want to start with and what you want to get familiar with in order to make big bucks with email marketing. MailChimp is the platform that gives you the option of sending several thousands of emails at one time.
You can also track and analyze your metrics and then vary your approach based on them. It is also surprisingly simple and just with a little practice, you can be sending email campaigns just like the best of them.
Signing up for MailChimp is completely free and it will remain free until you collect 2000 subscribers, although when you reach those numbers, upgrading to a higher quality package shouldn’t be a problem.
This is a really budget-friendly way of getting started. After you have signed up for MailChimp, you can create and send out your first campaign by following the steps below:
- Click “Create a List”. In order to start building an audience, the only thing you should click on is to “Create a List” and this will be where all the email addresses will be kept and stored. By keeping track of your list, you will be able to identify who are your most valuable customers. You can, for example, see who opens your emails more than others. The list tells you how your customers behave and that way you can determine who your most valuable customers are.
- Create a signup form. The signup form is a window that is placed on your website and that window is what gives visitors the option of providing their contact details. MailChimp provides you with several options of doing so. In order to place a form onto a website, it is necessary to select an embedded form. MailChimp also gives you the option of designing and stylizing your signup form. When you are done, then you are provided with a piece of code that you will be using to put the signup form on your website, so make sure you keep it safe.
- Embed your website. If your website is on WordPress, then you can simply download the MailChimp plugin which will give you a plethora of options to place your signup form on your website. On the off chance that you are hosting the website by yourself and not using WordPress, in that case, you can simply paste your code into the HTML file. That is all there is to it. Each and every time someone uses that form to sign up for an email list, the contact info will go directly into your list.
- Send a test. Every time you send out a campaign, make sure to send a test first. It is good to have a separate email address just for receiving that test. Make sure to check out what the message looks like on a couple of different browsers and also on a couple of different devices, even though MailChimp allows you to preview what the email will look like.
- Send out the campaign. Select to start a new campaign from the main menu, and even though there are several types, you are best off by sticking with the standard campaigns and that is the one which you should be using most of the time. If there are any images that you want to use, then you simply upload them and the same applies to social media content and videos.
After a campaign is sent, all that is left is checking the stats and MailChimp makes that really easy by making them real-time and that means that you will start seeing the metrics as soon as a couple of hours after your emails are sent.
In order to get to the point of your career where you are sending out thousands of emails, it is necessary to have what is called a lead magnet. A lead magnet is an extra piece of value that you are offering to your audience in exchange for their email address.
The content of the lead magnet can range from an eBook to a piece of software. Whatever it is, it has to have enough value for your target audience so that they would make a decision to give away their email address and that is one more reason why it is necessary to know your audience.
Now that you have your lead magnet, it is still necessary to set it up on your site and to set up the system which will provide new members with links to their lead magnets. In order to do so, you will head over to the page where you will click to create a new sign-up form and this time you will choose to create a general form.
Now you will be creating a so-called “Thank You” page and this is essentially where your audience will be redirected after they have filled out the signup box.
On this page, they should be able to clearly see the link which will lead them to a lead magnet after they click on it. After you set up this system, MailChimp will be doing the rest and the work of sending out thousands of emails.
You can read our guide to learn more tips on email marketing.
Step 4: Earning Money from YouTube
Below I’ll go over some tips and techniques to help you easily create a YouTube channel, create valuable content, build an audience, and earn revenue from your videos. You can also read this beginner guide about how to make money on Youtube.
The first thing you need to do before starting a YouTube channel is research. You have to take a look at the different types of content available on YouTube and look for topics that interest you and seem doable. See what works in reaching people and what doesn’t. You also have to do your research on the competition.
Check out all the channels available that are already doing what you intend to do. See what kind of subscribers they have, what sort of videos they post, and how (if at all) they interact with the subscribers.
You have to decide on at least two or more topics so that you have the chance to pick the best one for your channel. Don’t choose something that already has a lot of videos and subscribers. You need something that is still a relatively new topic and one where there are not many videos on it.
Don’t choose something that is drab and dull, and go for topics that are intriguing. The basic idea is to show people something that they have yet to come across before or show them something better than what they already have seen.
2. Basics of Copyrights
YouTube is a huge platform where millions of people share videos. Obviously, sometimes similar-looking content can run into copyright-related problems. You need to know that you are protected by copyright if you upload original content, and if you upload someone else’s original content, they are protected by copyright.
YouTube has a very strict and vigilant copyright enforcement process, and if you come across a video that has stolen your content, you can send a complaint to YouTube, and they will take care of the issue.
Sometimes, you can buy content legally from someone else. YouTube has a Content ID tool that searches and blocks videos that contain material from someone else’s video(s). If you have legal rights to the content that you didn’t actually create but bought from someone else, you can challenge this, and YouTube will look into the issue.
Another important concept to wrap your head around is the “Fair Use” clause. This clause allows people on YouTube to comment on, criticize, or remix your video in whatever way they want. You cannot take down such a video by sending them a copyright infringement notice.
They’ll just send you a counter-notification. You can get into trouble for misusing the copyright infringement notification feature. I’m sure you have seen a sea of spoofs and also a river of bad comments. All this is part of YouTube, and you have to embrace it if you wish to use YouTube to your advantage.
3. Finding Your Niche
The great thing about finding your niche and making videos about it is that you are actually interested in the topic, and this makes it that much easier for you to create the video. You are more driven and passionate about it. You can connect better with the fans. All of this leads to a higher success rate.
So, instead of following the herd, try and make videos about something that you love and care about. You may think that a particular topic is too obscure to be liked by too many people, but sometimes it’s surprising how many people are interested in such topics.
There is no point in giving people something that they have already seen. Try offbeat topics and things that will easily grab people’s attention. You cannot play it safe if you wish to make it big. Choose topics that you think will draw in crowds that like to view different things.
4. Favoring Series Over Oneshots
See, one-off videos are great, and they can help you get a lot of views in a short amount of time if they go viral, but they are not really sustainable. Your views graph on YouTube will spike suddenly and then fall rapidly if you only have one popular one-off video. It is like being a one-hit-wonder. You will have one popular song or video that people will love, and then you will disappear because nothing else will click with the audience.
On the other hand, series or shows can be quite powerful in helping you gain and keep your subscribers. If you create a recurrent theme and keep your viewers excited every time, you can have a loyal fan base that constantly grows and eagerly waits for your videos.
You will see that it is possible for people to jump from one video to another, and all your videos will be displayed on the right-hand side of the page. So, you will have the chance to present a lot of videos to the same viewer. This will increase your reach and get more and more people to see what you have and get them to subscribe.
The best way to make your audience enjoy the video is to make them feel like they are actually a part of it! Interactivity is all about making your videos two-dimensional instead of just one. If people feel like it’s one-sided, they won’t connect as well with the video, and even if they do, they won’t be too compelled to wait for another video.
YouTube, fortunately, is a very interactive platform. You can answer fan questions, take suggestions from them, feature their videos or channels in yours, and even ask them questions. These are some great ways to involve them and make them feel like a part of your channel.
Pay attention to the audience’s likes and dislikes. Interacting with your audience gives them the feeling that you care about their opinions. You must ask them to tell you what they want so that you can create it for them.
Once you start to please the audience, they will start liking your channel more and more. All you have to do is please your audience in order to get them to subscribe to you. Don’t simply provoke your subscribers to all fight with each other. That might cost you your viewers. Make it as fun and interactive as possible and get more and more people to watch your videos and subscribe to you.
If you are getting into affiliate marketing to get rich quick, you’d better take your hard-earned money to a casino nearby. Affiliate marketing does not work that way. You would not open a restaurant hoping to make $20,000 on the first day either. At least we hope not, because 99% of the time that will not be the case. So you should not expect that with affiliate marketing either. Prepare yourself for a slow and gradual process where you build up income over time, rather than expecting a huge instant payday.
When you start affiliate marketing, you will have many failures in the beginning. You will try things that just will not work. That’s the nature of life and business. When it comes to online marketing, one of the most important factors is getting enough visitors to your offers.
That takes time, and you also have to learn how to present things properly to get people to buy. You probably will not hit the bull’s eye right away, so you’ll need to be persistent, make adjustments, and try several times before you succeed. If you are not persistent, it will not work.