This guide will explain how to start affiliate marketing for beginners.
If you want to get started on affiliate marketing then this guide will be your map.
Refer to it for reaching each step along the way to your new affiliate marketing business.
The 7 steps in this guide are used by affiliate professionals every day. Apply them and you are on your way to results.
And let me be clear here: affiliate marketing IS a real business – if you treat it so, then your journey to affiliate success will be a lot less difficult.
While being a legitimate business, affiliate marketing is an entirely different breed compared to typical businesses. There is no inventory to manage, no employees to hire, and it can be managed from anywhere in the world – all you need is your laptop.
DISCLAIMER: Affiliate marketing businesses, like any other business, will require hard work, dedication, time, and money. Don't expect to get rich quick overnight. It can take months to years to build a profitable affiliate marketing business.
This makes it a business model that enables freedom and flexibility, something so many of us reach for every day.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you earn commission for promoting somebody else’s offer.
For each conversion you make, you get a slice of the pie.
What does affiliate mean?
Essentially, an affiliate is a digital salesperson, someone who engages in affiliate marketing
Typically it works like this:
1. The affiliate finds a product to promote on their online platform.
2. They promote it on their platform with a special link.
3. People buy through that link.
4. The affiliate gets paid for every single purchase made from that link.
Keep in mind that there are many types of affiliate offers, not just physical products.
For example, somebody might be trying to grow their email newsletter list and they look to affiliates for help. Instead of promoting a product, the affiliates would promote this newsletter, and for each signup they would get a commission.
Why become an affiliate marketer?
It’s simple: because it works.
Individuals who effectively follow and implement this guideline can find a profitable, growing business after following each step.
Some affiliates can even make their business their main job.
Though, I cannot guarantee you any level of income from this new venture.
The amount you can make varies tremendously – it all depends on how hard you work, how often you work, how much research you put in, and how effectively you can build an audience that will buy from you.
The good thing about affiliate marketing is that there really is no cap to what you can potentially make.
Without further ado, here are the 7 steps for building your affiliate marketing business:
Step 1: Build Your Platform
Before you start promoting your offer, you need a space to promote from.
The first thing you need to do is to setup your platform.
Theoretically you could operate on any platform, whether it’s YouTube or Yahoo Answers, but each platform is better suited for different types of affiliates.
The most common platform is the WordPress blog, because it’s relatively easy and cheaper to start.
YouTube is also a very common affiliate marketing platform, you could start a YouTube channel that does product reviews.
If your target audience is younger, than you can find success on various social media platforms. These platforms include Instagram, Tiktok, etc.
Facebook groups are also excellent platforms for affiliate marketing.
More seasoned marketers will build email lists as their affiliate marketing platform.
They will also use Quora.
But my personal favorite, like mentioned before, is the WordPress blog.
Compared to the others, it’s the simplest to get started and it’s the most versatile. A blog can work in virtually any kind of niche.
Step 2: Pick a Niche
Now it is time to pick the focus of your affiliate business.
It’s best to pick something that you are familiar with or something that you have an interest in.
Many people have a hard time as an affiliate because they pick a niche they don’t care about.
Imagine writing daily blog posts about something you just don’t like. That would unnecessarily make the process so much more difficult.
Try and pick 10 different niches that you find interest in and then do some research to figure out which niche is the best one for you.
You are looking for something that has high search volume and low competition.
The markets with the highest search to competition ratio are golden.
You can use Google Keyword Planner to conduct the research for this step.
Step 3: Create Content and Routine Traffic
Now that you have a niche, start providing regular content.
This content should be designed with the goal of creating fans and creating a routine flow of traffic that will persist even if you aren’t actively driving it.
Don’t worry about selling anything yet, the content you create here is specifically just to build up your audience.
Post as frequently as possible. Different platforms require different levels of frequency, but no matter which platform you’re on, aim to post at least 2x a week at the bare minimum.
The more you can do the faster you will grow.
Don’t just post boring content nobody will want to see, be creative and share things you think others would like to see.
Here are some ideas for content:
1. Share relevant videos
2. Interview big people in your niche
3. Do product reviews
4. Give tutorials and guides
5. Write a FAQ
6. Give a list of tips
7. Share an interesting experience
8. Curate somebody else’s content
9. Share interesting content from other platforms
10. Rate a list of things in your niche
11. Ask questions on Reddit, FB, or Quora and summarize the answers
12. Share or create a case study
13. Share or create an infographic
14. Recycle old content
15. Host a giveaway
16. Review or share info from a book
17. Create a YouTube or Spotify playlist and share it
18. Respond to somebody else in your community
19. Ask your audience a question and engage with them
20. See what people are asking through Google Trends and respond
21. Write an eBook and promote it
22. Promote a small business/creator
23. Make and share predictions on a topic
24. Create listicles
25. Talk about your successes
26. Talk about your failures
27. Create a quiz
28. Do a “Day in the life of…”
While you are sharing good content, drive traffic to that content so that you can grow your audience.
At this stage don’t focus too much on paid traffic.
Drive very low cost traffic to your content while you are still creating non-promotional content.
Here are some ways you can drive low cost traffic to your early content:
1. Write guest posts for other blogs
2. Pay influencers in your niche to promote your content
3. Go on podcasts in your niche as a guest
4. Optimize SEO
5. Use keyword research
6. Encourage sharing of your content to go viral
7. Launch a giveaway
The goal with this traffic is to build a small community of die hard fans who will come back to you for each post you make.
Once you have a community, you can leverage it to take your business to the next level.
Even a community of 50 engaged people is enough to get your business going.
Step 4: Research and Pick Offers
After your have a platform and an audience that engages with it, you can start to monetize your content.
There are hundreds of thousands of offers you can find online, but only a few will bring you profit.
When researching ask yourself these questions:
1. Does this offer bring in enough commission for it to profit?
2. Can I picture myself using this product?
3. Is this a reliable offer?
4. Is this an offer I can scale?
5. Is this an offer that will continue to make me money after I promoted it?
If you said yes to these 5 questions, then that specific promotion is the right one for you.
Essentially, you’re looking for a promotion that makes more than it costs to promote, that your audience will like and purchase, that has minimal issues so that it won’t damage your reputation, that you are able to scale, and that will continue to bring in profits months after you have promoted it.
There are 3 main types promotions:
1. Pay per sale – you simply get a commission from every sale you generate
2. Pay per lead – you get a payment for every lead you generate for the business you’re helping. A lead is someone who gives out their information, like their phone number and email address, to a company.
3. Pay per click – you get a small payment for each click. This payment method is great for high traffic sites, just funnel your traffic into your pay per click affiliate link for money
The best way to find affiliate offers to promote is through an affiliate network, which is basically a search engine for you to find affiliate offers. Here are some of my favorites:
1. ClickBank – One of the biggest affiliate networks out there with offers in virtually every niche
2. JVZoo – An affiliate network dedicated to digital/info products
3. Udemy – Technically not an affiliate network. It’s a course website, though there is an affiliate program that allows you to promote whatever courses you want.
4. CJ Affiliate – A large affiliate network that has offers from some of the biggest brands, like Lowe’s, Office Depot, etc.
5. Market Health – An affiliate network specializing in health and beauty
6. Amazon Affiliate Program – Promote any product on Amazon for a commission. Amazon affiliate marketing is great for tech affiliates.
7. Fiverr – A marketplace for services. They have an affiliate program enabling you to promote any service on the site for commission.
While these are only a small fraction of affiliate programs out there, I believe these are some of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
Step 5: Promote Your Offers
Once you have a handful of offers picked out from one of the hundreds of affiliate networks out there, promote them to your audience.
This is where your content gets monetized and you can start seeing commissions come in.
Depending on your platform, there are thousands of ways to promote your offers. A YouTuber would approach this step differently than a blogger.
With that being said, there are some rules to promotion that remain constant throughout any platform.
The most important rule is the 80/20 rule.
Starting out, never do hard promotional content without providing any value.
Create content that is 80% value and 20% promotion.
Nobody wants to be sold to. Nobody is going to watch a video or open a blog post that they know is just an ad.
To avoid this and get sales, make content that is interesting and then strategically insert your promo in ways that won’t scare away your audience but will evoke purchases.
It’s important that you have at least a dozen offers to promote at first.
You want to promote these consistently for at least a month while driving paid traffic for at least a month to gain valuable data.
Not every offer will yield you the same results. In fact, most offers you promote will not bring you profit.
Only a small fraction of your offers will bring you success, and by testing out as many as you can in the beginning, you can get some insight on what works and then weed out the rest.
At this point you need to get serious about driving traffic.
You can’t sell something unless there is a person there to sell to.
Here are some of my favorite ways to drive paid traffic to an affiliate site:
1. YouTube ads
2. Instagram story ads
3. Facebook retargeting ads
4. Paying big influencers
5. Paid email traffic
6. Paying big podcasts
Consistently drive serious traffic to your promo for at least a month before analyzing the stats and optimizing.
Step 6: Optimize
After a month of traffic to your affiliate platform, you should have enough data to make some improvements.
You may find that some offers were absolute flops, so you kill them.
You may find that some were total winners, keep them.
You may find that some offers flopped in a certain format but won in another one, kill that format.
Keep testing different products and different angles until you find a certain promotion that is consistently profitable.
Step 7: Scale
After finding a winning promotion, scale it.
If you find a certain piece of content brings in $10 for every $1 spent on it, throw money at it and watch your business grow.
At this point, you can sit on this machine you’ve built and make money without even thinking about it. Nice!
But, if you want to reach for the sky and grow even more, take your profit and run some more experiments.
Try more offers.
In new niches.
With different content.
On different platforms. Test, grow the winners, kill the losers, and watch your affiliate empire explode before your very eyes.
This guide is just your starting point. You reference it in terms of modeling your affiliate business, but it is not comprehensive in the slightest.
Refer to my other posts for more detail on the specifics.
You can learn:
• The pros and cons of different platforms
• Different strategies for traffic
• Persuasion tactics for more sales
• How to build a profitable website for your affiliate marketing
• Where to find the most lucrative offers
• And a lot more…