Step-by-Step Affiliate Marketing for Beginners in 2019
Welcome to my affiliate marketing for beginners guide!
There are far too many people that don’t earn enough money from their regular jobs. Occasionally some are forced to take on part-time jobs just to afford an occasional luxury item or just to get by. Can it really be that hard in the digital age to earn some side cash or to change your profession entirely?
A source of passive income could be the answer to both problems. A steady revenue stream could complement the salary and why not, turn into a full-time business venture that allows more freedom and new experience.
We’re of course talking about affiliate marketing and the impact that it can have to this day. The online world is becoming more and more a part of all our lives. So can this method still generate profit for someone who has no experience in online marketing?
I remember my first commission I made online. This was back in 2016..
It was only about $9 I earned in commissions from Amazon.com, but that $9 meant it was possible to make money online. It gave me a lot of motivation to keep pursing affiliate marketing.
Fast forward and I'm making 4 figures online every month...
Let's Define What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing involves promoting the products and/or services of another company for the purpose of earning a commission.
The commission depends on the affiliate program and its specific rates but usually only applies when you help facilitate a sale.
Someone clicks a link on your website and gets redirected to the seller’s store.
When they buy something, your unique affiliate ID will be logged for proof that you deserve credit for that action.
In the simplest of terms, you act as a middleman between a vendor and a customer.
You don’t actually have products on hand for sale but you can direct customers looking for specific products to the right store.
Let me give you an example
I own a website and write content about dogs. Let's say I'm promoting dog food on my site. Someone is searching Google for ''best dog food for Labradors'' and they land on one of my articles. They click on the link in my article which then takes them to Amazon.com. They buy that dog food and Amazon then pays me a commission because I directed someone from my site to their site and that person made a purchase.
So for as long as that article is on the internet, I will keep making commissions. Do you see how powerful affiliate marketing is.
Affiliate Marketing is A Recurring Income Stream!
Step-by-Step Overview of Affiliate Marketing
Step 1: Choose A Niche
A niche is a specific group of people who are interested in the things you will be promoting.
Start with a topic your are passionate about. For example, let's say you choose Golf. That will be your niche and golf players and enthusiasts will be your target audience.
If you're not an expert in your niche, don't worry! You can still make money even if you don't have experience in a niche.
Step 2: Build A Website
To be able to promote products, you will need to set-up a website. It is so easy these days to build a website.
Wealthy Affiliate offers a 30 second website builder and training where you can set-up an online business in a few seconds.
Step 3: Product Research
Next you want to find profitable products to promote.
So, let's stick with our golf example. You may want to promote golf clubs, golf balls, golf shoes etc.
Let's say you promoting Amazon products on your website, you can check out the Amazon Best Sellers list to see what is popular and the products to your website.
Step 4: Write Content
Once you have chosen the products to promote, you will need to create content for your audience.
Let's say you are promoting a certain golf club. You will then need to write a review of that golf club. People who are looking to purchase that golf club will then search in Google for reviews and hopefully land on the review you have written.
Step 4: Get Traffic (Visitors) To Your Site
After you have chosen your products and have added your affiliate links to your website, you will then need to get visitors to your site.
I prefer using free traffic. That means someone searches for something in Google and they land on your article.
Step 5: Make Sales and Earn Commission
So, lets recap. You will need to choose your niche, build a website around that niche, choose products to promote on your website, write content and get visitors to your content and website.
Once someone visits your site and makes a purchase, then the affiliate program (Amazon for example) will pay you a commission.
Who’s Involved in Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is made up of two branches.
First, you have the vendors and companies that sell products and services. They create an affiliate marketing program to enlist others to do extra promotional work on their behalf and earn commissions based on results.
One of the largest companies that offer this type of program is obviously Amazon. There’s no shortage of websites that post affiliate links which take you to product pages on Amazon.
There are also smaller online stores or marketplaces that develop such programs. If you have an online shoe store or if you sell a variety of herbal products, for example, you can create your own affiliate program and customized links that others can use to sell your products.
The second branch of affiliate marketing is the affiliate marketer, the dealer, or the middleman, whichever analogy you prefer. Now, some affiliate programs are very different but for the most part, they only deal with commissions on sales.
This branch is responsible for promoting products in specific niches by attracting people to their websites. Notice that we said their websites and not the store’s website.
Affiliate marketers have to convince people that reading their content and trusting their expertise will lead to value purchases. This is why an affiliate website usually contains more information about a specific product and niche than websites like Amazon where the transactions actually take place.
People feel that they can get more information from affiliate sites about whether or not a product is worth their money.
The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing
Benefits to Merchants
Web Traffic Increase
For an online vendor, there are already plenty of ways to generate traffic. It’s usually all about promoting the products, organizing sales, and offering quality content that keeps viewers coming back for more.
The trouble with this is that there’s always another store selling the same stuff and perhaps for the same price. Or lower.
Creating an affiliate program gives you a whole new avenue of drawing traffic to your site. People could be reading articles or checking out product reviews when they see a product link and end up on your store after clicking on the link.
Expanding the Customer Base
Expanding the customer base is not the same as increasing your traffic. Affiliate programs are great for getting your brand or products known in other parts of the world. If you’re looking to become a global business, partnering up with affiliates from different countries is a good way to do it.
Establishing New Relationships with High-Volume Affiliates
High-volume affiliates are important if you want to continue on this marketing path. You need to connect with affiliates that have this down to a science. High-volume websites are guaranteed to provide you with traffic and sales. Establishing a reputation with such entities is also important when you want to expand your business or push certain products.
Obviously, with higher traffic, your potential for increasing your revenue is higher. Although you have to reward affiliates with a commission, you still have your pre-affiliate program customers. You don’t pay your affiliates unless their lead culminates in a sale.
Ok, that’s all very nice but what about you? The little guy that wants to become an affiliate marketer. What’s in it for you? Are the benefits that interesting? Let’s find out.
Benefits to Affiliates
Be Your Own Boss
You would think that the promises of riches are what get serious affiliates interested in this type of business venture. In reality, it’s more likely the appeal of being your own boss and not having to answer to someone else. Being in control of your financial future.
Whether an affiliate website is your main or secondary source of income, it is a source of income that only you control. You decide what to sell and how to sell it. You also get to decide your niche and preferred customer base.
Passive Secondary Income Stream
Having a passive income stream that’s profitable is something that anyone would want. Sure, it starts with some investment in both time and money but with hard work and creativity you can eventually start earning.
If you don’t want to dedicate your whole life to affiliate marketing, that’s ok too. There are plenty of affiliates that don’t pull in more than a couple hundred bucks a month.
And yet, that’s still better than nothing. If you don’t have to lose sleep over managing an affiliate website and you can generate some passive income, you might just be able to afford some new things around the house or maybe an extra vacation.
Learn To Micromanage
It’s generally believed that the first six months of a new affiliate website are the hardest. That’s because during that time you have to check your content and traffic every day. You have to look over stats and graphs to see what’s working and what’s not working for you.
You don’t have to be an expert at this from the beginning. The advantage is that as you learn you get firsthand experience in micromanagement. This is a skill that can serve you in more than one area of your life.
Once your business is up and running, an affiliate website becomes less and less of a hassle to run. You just schedule a couple of hours a week here and there to update your content.
Spend a couple of hours a week doing research on new products that you might want to sell. The first few months are the hardest but once you have a small customer base and steady incoming traffic, things get a lot easier.
Help People Find What They Need
This last one may seem a bit cheesy, but believe it or not a lot of affiliates start out this way. Most put up their blogs to share their opinions or experience on certain topics. If they can come up with good recommendations for products, they’ll do that but not as a main priority.
Still, if you don’t flood your site with affiliate links and if your content is useful enough, you could be doing some folks a big service. Online retailers rarely put enough effort in creating accurate product descriptions. This is your chance to help someone make a more informed purchase.
Why Should You Choose Affiliate Marketing?
1. Passive Income
I love passive income! Active income requires constant investment of time to make money (9-5 job is a good example). Passive income on the other hand will keep generating you income for years to come. That's why I love affiliate marketing. Articles I wrote 4 years ago are still generating me income to this day.
"Don’t fall for any passive income ideas that promise a quick return or require huge amounts of money upfront." — Chris Hogan
2. Low Start-up Costs
You can get started with about $50-$100 for things like website hosting and domain name. You don't need any money for products since you are promoting other people's or companies products. That's why affiliate marketing is a no-brainer in my opinion.
3. Choose Your Own Schedule
Even better than the money for me is the fact I don't have to work a 9-5 job. I choose my own schedule! No more waking up at 5am and then sitting in traffic to get to a job that wants to make you a slave.
If you value your time and want to spend more time with your family, then affiliate marketing is the way to go.
4. No Direct Selling or Recruiting
I'n sure you have heard of MLMs (known as Multi-Level Marketing). I actually review various MLM scams on this website under my Work At Home Reviews section.
The thing with MLMs is that you have to do a lot of direct face-to-face selling and recruiting others in order to build your network so you can earn commissions.
For me personally, I couldn't see myself going out and trying to sell something to somebody or recruit people. That's just not my personality. That's why I like affiliate marketing. Your website does your selling for you.
5. No Experience Required
I started with no experience. I didn't know what affiliate marketing was and I certainly didn't know how to build a website.
Affiliate marketing is so easy these days. You DO NOT need any experience or knowledge how to build a website.
The Wealthy Affiliate training program teaches you everything you need to know. It's also free to get started!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Much Do You Need to Get Started?
The initial investment depends on the type of traffic that you have in mind. Do you want to be able to generate your own traffic or do you want to pay for traffic? The truth is you don't need to pay for traffic. If you have useful content on your site, the traffic will come.
There are a lot of tools that can go into your business too. Some are optional and others are must-haves. Depending on what you think you need, you may need more or less capital.
Domain names are tricky. They can be super cheap but also very expensive, especially if you want a name that will attract visitors on its own. You can get a domain name from Bluehost for about $12 per year.
Hosting can cost between $4 and $20 a month from Bluehost. For a startup you probably won’t need to go any higher. However, if you decide to invest hundreds of dollars in traffic from the start, you might need more expensive hosting services from the get-go.
Using a CMS (content management system, like WordPress) is free. Or at least it should be if you’re doing it right. There’s no reason to pay to use any platforms when you’re just starting out.
Templates and Plugins
Admittedly most free plugins and templates look cheesy at best. Some are so hard to load that they don’t make sense to use on a high-traffic website, let alone an affiliate site.
However, if you think you can make your visitors focus more on the content and products and overlook the simple web design, then you’re in luck. You may be able to start your venture with a $0 investment in templates, themes, plugins, and other fancy tricks.
Email collections can cost you around $15 a month. There are some that are nearly free, but if you’re looking for quality you have to pay a premium.
Investing in yourself and expanding your knowledge is key. You can choose to go for free online courses are premium courses. The online course that actually helped me make 4 figures online every month is Wealthy Affiliate. You can also read my review of the training platform HERE.
It's not just a course, but a community of over 800,000 people that are always interacting and sharing ideas. It's also free to get started which is $0 a month or a premium
Truth be told, you could get your online business up and running with a $50 to $100 investment.
2. Do I Have To Be Shady to Make Money in Affiliate Marketing?
There’s no denying that a lot of affiliate marketing networks at least appear to be shady. That’s why there are so many dedicated sites that try to expose them to the public, like my site! I created mydailyincomeonline.com because I was scammed on several occasions.
Be honest in everything you do!
You can establish trust by focusing more on what people need than on pushing what you think they need. As your credibility soars, so will your sales eventually.
It all comes down to how you want to make money from affiliate marketing. Are you playing the long game or do you want to get rich quick? As you should know by now, get-rich-quick schemes rarely pan out.
3. How Much Money Can Affiliate Marketers Make?
It’s not uncommon these days to think that affiliate marketers are a dying breed. The boom is long gone but the industry is far from dead. In recent years, online sales have skyrocketed because we tend to be online 24/7, connected with all our gadgets.
Affiliate Marketing is an 6.8 billion dollar industry!
Affiliate marketers can still earn a good living. Just don’t expect it to be easy at first. There’s money to be made but there’s also fierce competition depending on your niche.
Determining the potential income is very difficult. Multiple factors are involved, such as niche, audience, content, site ranking, affiliate program rates, and so much more.
Another reason why it’s hard to make estimates is because some products are seasonal. There are plenty of affiliates that generate massive sales over the holidays and have a slower time the rest of the year.
But yes, it is definitely possible to make four figures or more each month.
What Skill Does It Take to Become Successful in Affiliate Marketing?
In order to succeed in affiliate marketing you need a couple of skills actually. You don’t need to be an expert in all of them. But it’s better to have a variety of skills than being an expert in just one.
Problem-solving is essential to any affiliate marketer. Being able to tackle unexpected issues can be the difference between earning money and bleeding money.
Consider unexpected competition in your niche. The faster you figure out how to tackle these issues, the faster you’ll be back on track to earning money.
Creativity is somewhat optional. If you have money to invest and have others create your content and manage your websites and campaigns, then you don’t have to be as creative.
However, when you’re trying to make as much profit as you can with minimal investment, having a creative mind pays off.
Your mission is now to sell people products. You need convincing ads, informative landing pages, etc. Your site should have content that draws not just readers in but actual buyers.
If people stop by just to read a review or a story, that’s not good business. To find the perfect balance between informative content and marketing content, you need to be creative.
You can study competitor sites that are doing better than yours or the basics of copywriting and marketing.
Most people confuse decision-making with problem-solving. They can be similar in that they both require logical thinking.
You need good decision-making skills in order to start and develop your business. Decision-making is responsible for the choices that you make, from picking your niche to how you want to generate leads.
Familiarizing yourself with logic trees and decision matrices is a good place to start. Don’t expect to master either overnight. If you’re new to this kind of online marketing it will take a while for you to put two and two together.
This could stand for everything from productivity to discipline and all else in between. How you organize your schedule is important. It may seem easy to allocate a specific amount of hours each day to managing your business, but not everyone can do it.
You need to figure out when you’re the most motivated or the most efficient during the day. You also need to decide whether you have access to enough data. A lot of people waste half a day managing their affiliate websites and accomplish little to nothing.
Domain Name and Hosting
Getting a domain name is pretty straightforward. You just use one of the many trusted registers and buy one. Hosting is what makes getting into affiliate marketing a bit more difficult.
There are various hosting services out there. It’s hard to tell the difference among the competitors since most hosting services offer very different payment plans and features. Just look at the different pricing plans from Bluehost as compared to those of GoDaddy.
This is where some technical knowledge might come in handy.
What hosting does for you is allow your site to communicate with everyone on the internet. The domain name is nothing more than a unique IP address for your website, not unlike a street address is for a house.
When you’re looking for hosting options there are a few key features you need to keep in mind.
Bandwidth and Storage
Depending on how heavy your website is, you need to estimate how much bandwidth you’ll need from your host. Video content takes up a lot of space. The more visitors you have that access it, the wider the bandwidth needs to be.
You want your hosting service to be reliable but also with plenty of resources. Sudden surges in traffic can cause your site to slow down and potentially drive customers away.
Type of Hosting
There are three main types of hosting that you should focus on.
Shared hosting is cost-effective but comes with limited features. There are limits on how and how much to upload. There might also be restrictions on the types of programs that you can run on the server.
Although your data is stored with data from other sites in the same place, it’s still a decent starting point. After all, you won’t expect much traffic or attacks in the early stages.
Physical hosting means that your service provider gives you a dedicated physical machine. This usually involves a data center so it often beats putting up your own server at home.
You don’t have to worry about sharing the space with other companies or about maintenance, cooling, buying a dedicated server, and electricity costs.
Virtual Private Server Hosting (VPS)
VPS is almost in the middle between shared hosting and physical hosting. It has an average monthly cost, not too cheap and not too expensive, and a good number of features and functionality.
VPS stores your data in a virtual machine. You may think it’s the same as shared hosting – multiple data banks on one server. In reality, the performance of VPS hosting is far superior even though the same machine hosts multiple companies’ websites.
Creating a virtual private server allows the provider to better allocate resources according to the client’s specific needs. This also allows them to remove some limitations or restrictions on software that you want to use.
A lot of newbie affiliate marketers have a hard time assessing their traffic needs. If you don’t have a good game plan going in, it’s easy to underestimate or overestimate the amount of incoming traffic.
This leads to two unfortunate mistakes. Either you end up paying a premium for bandwidth you don’t need or you experience crashes when you have a surge in visitors.
The latter is not as easily fixed as you may think. There are plenty of hosting services that don’t have enough resources to allow you to upgrade. Therefore, you could end up being limited in traffic and earnings by your choice of host.
Choosing a reputable provider guarantees both scalability and uptime. Bluehost has some interesting monthly plans that appeal to entry-level and high-volume affiliate marketers. They also offer good upgrade paths for when you’re ready to take the business to a new level.
Ease of use
When you buy the services of a hosting company, most of the maintenance work is handled by them. However, not all hosting services employ highly skilled individuals.
If you want to make sure that things run as smooth as possible, bandwidth is not your main concern. You need to assess the quality of the customer service before you settle on a provider. This is one area in particular where Bluehost excels.
You also need to make sure that there’s plenty of online documentation available to support setting up your site. Not all hosting services offer assistance during the initial launch. A lot of them just provide maintenance and monitoring.
It’s not a given that the more you pay the more you get in return. Not when it comes to web hosting anyway. If you look closely at some of the most popular hosting services, you’ll notice that although some payment plans are similar they don’t always offer the same features or put up the same limitations.
Content Management System (CMS)
CMS is a software program that allows people to create and manage their digital content. A CMS platform such as WordPress allows people to design and organize a website in order to draw in traffic and generate sales.
Right now, WordPress is the market leader when it comes to affiliate marketing. I actually use WordPress on this website.
One of the reasons is obviously the diversity of their free hosting and free templates. You can create a blog with a few simple clicks, add your content, insert affiliate links, and wait for the money to come in.
A CMS platform is almost always needed for affiliate marketing. It allows anyone, even those with limited technical knowledge, to customize the design, optimize the loading times, monitor statistics, and update content frequently.
Another main reason why WordPress is the go-to CMS platform is its user-friendly SEO implementation. The platform comes with the Yoast SEO tool that helps you customize your content for better rankings.
You can also integrate it with Google Analytics which gives you access to loads of information on your dashboard. From there you can rethink your approach on how to target specific customers, keep them satisfied, and how to turn them into returning customers.
SEO and Keyword Research
Where Does SEO Fit In?
Using the proper amount of SEO on your website can make or break your career as an affiliate marketer. There are usually two ways to go about this.
The first and most commonly used method is called a sniper site. This involves using very specific keywords that help you get noticed in search engine result pages. Most affiliates use this method to clearly highlight their interests on the main page.
The second method is a bit more subtle. Let’s say you want to appear as an authority in a certain field. Be it men’s fashion or motorcycle engineering.
You’ll still want to use enough keywords in your content to get noticed during searches. However, you don’t just rely on keywords to bring you traffic and generate sales.
This method involves covering your niche from a more or less objective point of view. It focuses on cleaner landing pages that aren’t stuffed with keywords. It relies more on posts and sub-pages that target keywords.
How Do You Pick Your Keywords?
Before you start inventing keywords, it’s a good idea to do some research first. Check your direct competition and see what words or phrases pop up often which might make them rank higher with Google.
The domain name is still important if you want short URLs but the new Google indexing focuses more on your actual content than on the keywords in your URLs.
Here’s an example of a long tail keyword that you may find useful.
‘Best leather wallet’ vs. ‘Best leather wallet with RFID for men’
If you were to go with the first option, you probably thought that short is better for searches. While that may be the case sometimes, don’t underestimate long tail keywords, ever.
Using option one will most likely make you compete with tons of other affiliate websites. Option two, although longer, is just as easy to sneak into a text. It also offers some new parameters that people might look for.
Whenever someone looks for something specific, they tend to type in a longer phrase in the search engine. If you use long tail keywords, your site might just rank higher because more matching words are part of your content.
Avoiding keyword stuffing is also important for two reasons. Number one, keyword stuffing can anger Google and cause you to drop in rankings.
Number two, keyword stuffing annoys almost everyone. In the past, this was a sure method of getting a traffic increase fast. But these days potential customers care more about quality than quantity. Don’t think that everyone buys a product of the first 3 pages that pop up in a Google search.
Writing Content Your Audience Will Love
In following up on how to avoid keyword stuffing and how to promote quality over quantity, there are some other things you should know. Small articles are indeed more scan-able by your audience. At the same time, you can’t rely on 300 word pieces to promote just any product.
If you want to sell tennis balls, you don’t need too much content. If you’re looking to promote gaming computers or guitars, then you will need to add some more valuable information on those pages.
The more complex the product, the more attention it deserves. It’s easy to think that a knowledgeable reader will just move on to the next page if you flood them with information they already know.
That’s not necessarily the case. In fact, you’re more likely to gain your audience’s respect since they can confirm that you’ve done your research and aren’t just fishing for clicks.
Besides, people that already know the general info on a specific topic can easily scan a lengthy article and read just the parts that they want to know more about.
Now that we’ve established what you should write, it’s time to discuss how to actually write it. Obviously, if you’re an expert in your niche, doing the articles yourself is a great way to save money. It will also be time-consuming.
If you want to outsource content creation then you need to be sure that you’re using a reputable team. It also helps if you are very specific about what you want to deliver to your audience. Being open to suggestions is also good because you never know when someone has the edge on you in something.
You may be a world class expert in your field. Does that mean that having the info is the same as writing a good description? Not always. Sometimes you need someone with less knowledge than you but with more skill when it comes to arranging the text, adding subtle keywords, and highlighting important sections.
Force-feeding people products is easy and every vendor can do that. People turn to affiliate sites or expert blogs to find out why they should buy that product from a specific vendor. Relating to your reader’s needs and problems with your content has a higher chance of getting you those commissions. Write content that solves a problem a person has. If you do that, you will always have traffic that converts into commissions.
Affiliate marketing is a legitimate way for vendors, bloggers or authority-website owners to help each other. The large online retailers don’t have enough space to promote all their products equally to all visitors. Because of this they create affiliate programs, knowing that there are people out there that communicate with potential customers on a daily basis.
The marketers get in on the action if they manage to facilitate sales. They offer the information not found on the vendor or manufacturer’s website. They offer readers in-depth reviews that can help them decide whether or not to trust a product.
It’s a win-win for everyone really since vendors get more exposure, affiliates get to earn some income, and customers get to access more valuable information before committing to a specific brand or product.
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