When first encountering affiliate marketing it may seem extremely daunting.
All kinds of terminology such as SEO, meta tags, keywords, and anchor text.
Lots of new skills to learn such as, how to build a website, how to market effectively on social media, how to get ranked in search engines,
The list seems endless and very technical.
Truth be told, yes there is a lot to learn, but most aspects tend to overlap.
You will find that as you learn one aspect, you are also learning others because they are all interconnected.
So let’s take a look at affiliate marketing for beginners.
Beginners Guide To Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing in its most basic form is simply referring potential customers to a product via links
The affiliate creates content on their website or social media account, includes links to a third party site that sells the products and sends as many people as possible through the links.
Any sales that are generated from the people who clicked through the links will earn the affiliate a commission, usually a percentage.
Bob creates an article about fishing and adds some of his affiliate links to the article content.
The links, when clicked, forwards the reader to a third party website that sells fishing equipment.
The affiliate program pays Bob 10% on any revenue his referred traffic produces.
Jim visits Bobs site, reads the article, and clicks through a link that leads him to the third party website.
Jim ends up spending $300 on some new fishing gear.
Bob, because he is the affiliate credited for the sale, when Jim came through one of his links, earns 10% or $30 commission.
Not bad! You may be thinking.
Now take a moment to consider that Bob’s website and social media have thousands of visitors per month.
Granted, not everyone click through his links, and not everyone that does click through ends up buying anything from the third party website.
However, Bob may only need a few people a day purchasing through his affiliate links in order for him to earn a good living.
After all, if Bob can drive $3000 in sales through his affiliate links, he would be earning $300 per day.
This equates to $300 x 365 days = $109500 per year income.
What is also great is that the articles work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for Bob.
He literally earns money while he sleeps, and the articles may well continue earning for years past the date they were originally written.
Now take a moment to consider that Bobs website/blog has 125 articles and he adds more each week.
Sure, not all perform equally.
Some only get a little bit of traffic, some get zero traffic, others get hundreds of visitors per day.
But, it is simply a case of, the more people that go through the links, the more chances of achieving sales.
The more sales achieved equals more money coming in via commission.
If you want to see more examples then visit this article.
So why do online retailers offer affiliate programs if they can just do it themselves and keep all the money?
Quite simply, consider the affiliate as a performance paid sales person.
If their referral doesn’t spend any money with the third party, then they do not cost the online retailer any money via commission.
Also, although the online retailer may have a team of web staff maintaining their website and use paid online advertising to draw traffic. It still doesn’t compare to having an army of affiliates trying to push traffic to your website.
Web staff cost money and paid advertising can get very expensive with no guarantee of sales from advert referred traffic.
The affiliates cost nothing unless they refer traffic that produces revenue.
Everyone wins in that situation.
The third party website earns money from traffic they may never have reached on their own.
The affiliate earns commission.
The customer finds products and brands they may not have encountered had they not visited the affiliates website and been referred to them.
*It should be noted that the customer does not pay extra because it was an affiliate referral sale. The price is same as if they visited the site without an affiliate link.
A simple Google search informed me that affiliates currently produce 16% of all online sales and that affiliate marketing is now responsible for around 1% of the UK GDP! (Source Awin.com)
Another quick search revealed that the online, e-commerce, market in 2018 produced $517 Billion in the U.S. alone (Source digitalcommerce360.com)
It is also growing at an amazing rate with regards to total retail sales as more and more people prefer to shop online.
Total online global retail sales for 2018 came in at around 2.8 Trillion with it expected to reach 4.8 Trillion by 2021 (Source statista.com)
More retailers are investing heavily into e-commerce platforms and will be integrating affiliate programs into their online strategy in the coming years.
You can also bet your last dollar that this will cause a flood of people into affiliate marketing once the word of the sheer scale of money potential spreads.
This is why I am advising people now to learn affiliate marketing and be ahead of the herd.
Many people will want a slice of the pie once they realize that it’s an almost $5 Trillion pie we are talking about within a few years.
The biggest online retailer is without doubt Amazon.
The infrastructure that facilitates their online sales is simply staggering…
Take a look at this brief video from the Amazon YouTube channel.
But did you know Amazon was one of the first to implement an affiliate program back in 1996?
One of the key reasons for their success, and still a large factor, is their affiliate program.
*I will go into detail about affiliate programs including the Amazon Associates program further into this article.
What Do I Need To Start Affiliate Marketing?
As an overview I will list the very basics and describe each in it’s own section as we progress through the article.
Choose a niche.
Research affiliate programs.
Set up a website/blog.
Set up social media.
Drive traffic to your site.
Learn advanced techniques.
Choose a Niche
First of all you need to decide what kind of niche you are going to be in.
A niche is the topic you are producing content and promoting products for.
Pretty much any topic you can think of will have affiliate programs available for you to join and promote.
Examples of an affiliate niche
As you can see that is a pretty varied list.
You can also work in what is called a “deep niche”
A deep niche is a more specific topic targeted at a more defined audience/customer base.
Examples of deep niche topics
Weight Loss — For women over 40
Beauty — For people with sensitive skin.
Fishing — Tips for lake fishing.
Cars — Care and repair tips for diesel engine cars.
Camping — Cold climate camping tips and gear.
Video Games — Reviews and tips for MMO games.
Fashion — Products for tall people.
Pet Care — Care tips and products for German Shepherds.
When choosing a niche, you need to consider the following factors
How much do you know about it?
You should choose something that you actually have knowledge about to share that people may find useful.
There is no point choosing something just because you see money in it.
The reason for this is two-fold.
First of all, if you do not know much about your topic you are going to struggle to write any articles, and those you write will be either light on useful information or flat out inaccurate.
Second of all, affiliate marketing involves a lot of writing.
It can be blog posts, social media posts, even e-books.
You may end up writing literally hundreds of articles, each thousands of words long.
When faced with that task you had better be passionate and enjoy the niche you have chosen, otherwise you are not going to be motivated to create content such as articles on a regular basis.
I have written an article on how to choose a niche
The next step is to research the keywords relevant to your chosen niche.
Keywords are what people type into search engines such as Google in order to find relevant information.
For example, a person may type in “Dog training”, and they would then be presented a list of websites by Google that are considered to be the best and most relevant results for that search query.
A deep niche keyword search, or what is known as “long tail keywords”, would be “How to train a German Shepherd puppy.”
Usually a search will produce a lot of results, sometimes millions, listed page after page.
However, how many people do you know that search past the first page of results?
The aim of keywords is to get your site to rank as close as possible to the number one slot on page 1 of search results.
Obviously the top slot is best, but do not consider rank 2, 3, or 4 as a bad result, they still get traffic.
Do not settle for being on page 2 or 3 though, always aim for page 1.
Researching keywords will give you an idea of what people are searching for with regards to your chosen niche and also the competition from other sites.
For example, a quick search for “Dog Training” in Google gave me 1,850,000,000 results….1.85 Billion!
Another quick search for “How to train a German Shepherd puppy” produced 12,400,000 results…12.4 million.
I then put the terms into a keyword tool I use.
A keyword tool is a piece software that tells you how many times keywords are searched for per month and how many people may end up visiting your site if it is the top result.
Dog Training — Average searches 12499 — Average traffic for first page rankings — 2125
How to train a German Shepherd puppy — Average searches 331 — Average traffic for first page rankings — 57
Keywords will also be very influential in the domain name you choose for your website.
The keyword tool I use is called Jaaxy and it can be found at the Wealthy Affiliate website I will describe below.
I have written an article that goes further in depth on keywords and choosing a domain name.
Find Affiliate Programs
The next thing you should do is research around to see what kind of affiliate programs are available and what kind of commissions or bounties they offer.
I suggest this because the amount of affiliate programs and what they pay out can vary significantly from niche to niche.
Typically, the commission is percentage based and is dictated by the literal sales volume you generate.
A 10% commission affiliate program will earn you some nice returns if you are either selling high ticket items or moving a lot of smaller priced items.
Commission percentages can vary from literally 1 or 2% up to 50% and higher.
Again this depends on the niche and products.
A bounty is usually paid for an action.
For example, a few years ago I knew of very high profile credit card companies paying $250 per person, referred through affiliate links, that signed up and qualified for a credit card.
They did not have to spend a penny for you to get paid, simply filling out the form on the credit card website and if they got approved the affiliate received $250 each person.
Affiliate programs are widespread now and are usually ran by a third party affiliate network or “in house” by the vendor themselves.
Here are some examples of affiliate networks.
Here are some examples of “in house” affiliate networks.
Set Up A Website
Once you have completed the steps above you are going to want to set up a website.
Websites typically come in three main formats.
A blog is a type of site that is updated on a regular basis with new posts.
New posts may be added monthly, weekly, daily, or even multiple times per day in some cases.
A static page website is usually not updated on a regular basis.
A restaurant website with fixed details such as menu, location, etc would have fixed pages.
A mixed site has fixed pages and also a blog post section.
It may have fixed pages such as training courses as well as periodic blog posts.
There are plenty of website platforms out there for you to try and many offer free options and also paid premium plans with more features.
Website software varies from pretty simple editor tools, advanced software that gives the user more creative freedom, and WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) drag and drop editors.
Here is a video from the Weebly YouTube channel that displays a drag and drop editor.
I personally use WordPress and have used it on this very site as I find it is the most flexible platform for customization.
Set Up Social Media
The next step you will need to complete is to set up your social media presence.
Social media is an amazing way to draw traffic to your website/blog and not only will it help your site rank in Google, it will also provide you with traffic while you wait to rank.
There are many different social media platforms available, but to be honest, the main ones dwarf the others in user base.
For example, Facebook has 2.32 Billion active monthly users. (source statista.com)
You should choose a user name that is as close as possible, identical being the ideal, as your domain name/brand name.
If the user names you want are not available then perhaps add a number or another related word to the user name.
Social media is a crucial part of online business, any business if the truth be known, and you should aim to treat it as such.
*Remember, social media is meant for social interaction, not just a mouthpiece to blast out links and push for sales.
Social Media Tips
Interact with your users and provide value.
Post interesting content that your readers will enjoy and find useful.
Answer genuine comments but do not get caught up in debates or arguments with trolls.
It puts reader attention on the argument rather than your content, so it is really detrimental to your online efforts.
Post on a regular basis but do not spam.
Be consistent with your posts but do not over post just for the sake of posting.
Use the analytics on each platform to see when your posts are providing the most results.
Scale your posting efforts around these times to maximize the effectiveness of your posts.
Be sure to like and comment on other peoples posts.
Remember to put your website address in your bio.
Top Social Media Sites
When it comes to making money on your website there are various ways that can be used alongside each other in order to maximize your returns.
We have touched upon affiliate marketing of course, but you can also make money from ad revenue.
Ad revenue is generated by joining an advertising network such as Google Ads
*Do this after you have built your site and added some content.
If approved you will be able to access code that you can cut and paste on to your website/blog.
This code will automatically generate ads for you.
If anyone clicks on the ads you receive part of the advertising fee
Another popular advertising revenue company is Taboola
I have not used them myself, but they seem to be quite widespread across the internet.
I have gone into detail on how to add additional monetization techniques to your site in the article below.
Drive Traffic To Your Website
You can build the greatest website and fill it with amazing content but it pointless if nobody ever visits the site.
You need traffic!
Traffic is the term used to describe website visitors.
There are many ways to drive traffic to your website, we will look at a few below.
Search engines such as Google provide what is known as “organic traffic”
This is traffic from search results when someone types a search request.
As I mentioned earlier, most people rarely go past the first page of results.
So it is every websites aim to come top in search engine results for their keywords.
The process to achieve this is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Learning SEO is a very important, if not THE most important skill you must learn for affiliate marketing.
Search engine results can produce thousands, if not tens of thousands, of visitors to your website each month.
Your site can also rank for various keywords, not just the main ones you aim for.
This can lead to even more traffic to your site.
I will tell you where to learn SEO below.
Social media is a very effective way to get traffic to your site.
Consider the fact that you can build a following who is eager to view your content (that’s why they follow you)
These people are targeted traffic because they are following you because they are interested in your niche and what you have to say.
If you build a large following on social media it is possible to get better traffic results than you would from search engine results.
Also, if you create a post and it ends up going viral, you may have immense amounts of traffic flood through your links in a very short space of time.
Earlier I mentioned Google AdSense where you can earn money from placing ads on your site.
You can also be on the other side of the bargain.
You can be the advertiser.
To do this you would join a platform such as Google Ads
You would create the ad you want displayed, then choose the keywords you are targeting, and assign the daily budget you are willing to spend on ads.
Paid advertising is a complex topic so please view my article below on driving traffic as it is covered in greater detail there.
Affiliate Marketing Frequently Asked Questions
Can you actually make money affiliate marketing?
As I have mentioned, I personally do well from online marketing and have met people who make literally millions of dollars per year.
As with anything, you have to set goals that are realistic to begin with.
You can use affiliate marketing to make a little extra money each month to pay bills, clear debt, or just live a little better.
You can also build an online business with the aim of replacing your job income so you can then work for yourself and enjoy the freedom that it brings.
If you wish to become a millionaire from affiliate marketing, then by all means aim to do so, just be aware that you will have to work hard to achieve it.
Affiliate marketing is not a “get rich quick” scheme as I stated earlier in this article.
It takes time, patience, and the acquiring and honing of a relevant skill set.
But, make no mistake, if you learn what is needed, put in the time and effort, work effectively, you can earn whatever amount you want.
The only people who gripe about affiliate marketing not being good to earn money are the people who expect to “get rich quick” or achieve success far above their efforts.
Does it take a lot of money to start?
It is possible to start affiliate marketing with no initial outlay of money.
You could find a free blogging platform, create a site, then aim to drive traffic via social media.
Although this can be done, it is seriously restricted in its ability to compete with a site that has its own keyword rich domain name and is put together using premium paid software.
The costs of starting affiliate marketing properly are minimal when compared to any other business I know of.
Typical costs are, purchasing a domain, joining a premium website/blog platform, hosting for your site, then add in any other costs such as premium templates, stock photos etc.
*Below I will show you where you can get all of this bundled into one.
What skills do I need?
You would be surprised at how much you may already know!
Most of us use the internet on a daily basis, so you are more aware of what makes a good website than you may realize.
You almost certainly have used at least one of the top social media platforms along the way, so you may have a firmer grip on that aspect than you currently realize.
The main skill you will need to learn is SEO.
This skill is essential and core to affiliate marketing, or any kind of online marketing to be honest.
*Below I will show you where to learn SEO in great detail and how to implement it effectively.
How long does it take to start earning money?
Honestly, this is a difficult question to answer accurately.
It is dictated by a whole range of aspects.
The niche you are in and how competitive it is.
How fast you create quality content that is search engine optimized to rank and provide traffic.
How well you leverage social media.
How hard you are prepared to work to find success.
Make no mistake, there are people out there who start affiliate marketing and work so hard and effectively in a short space of time that they achieve success quickly.
They may rank quickly for a competitive keyword or have a social media post go viral.
For example I have a friend who, although experienced in online marketing, had just started a project and had a post go viral.
The post achieved almost 300,000 views in around 2-3 days if I remember correctly.
It was, however, a flash in the pan, and although all his posts are very successful, none have reached anywhere near the views that specific post did.
So, as you can see, putting a time frame on success is tricky, and to be fair, pure guesswork if the truth be known.
Where can I learn the best techniques for success?
I can only truly recommend the platform I used to learn affiliate marketing, and that is Wealthy Affiliate.
I have been a member of Wealthy Affiliate for years and only found true success when I started following their training.
I tried various course and also trawled around the internet looking for free information.
Truth be told, I earned some money before I joined Wealthy Affiliate but I didn’t achieve anything note worthy or consistent until I implemented their techniques.
They offer a free trial for you to have a look around their site.
It really is worth taking a look because I have spent years with them and have yet found any other source of affiliate training to rival them let alone beat them.
I have also written an article that describes their platform and all of its features and benefits should you wish to read deeper before joining.
*The description of Wealthy Affiliate is at the bottom of the article should you wish to just scroll to that part.
If you are ready to start learning today…
If you are serious about affiliate marketing and learning how to make money online, then you should just take advantage of the free membership at Wealthy Affiliate straight away.
If you are spending time researching the topic then it would be far more efficient and effective to go straight to the best affiliate marketing platform available.
Learn the details and benefits of this free course in the what is wealthy affiliate guide
I hope you enjoyed this article and please feel free to share it with your friends and followers on social media!