How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing

What is Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when a web retailer pays you a commission for traffic or sales generated from your referrals.

It’s like classic advertising, but less intrusive. Instead of promoting a product with visual advertisements, like this:

Classic banner advertising

You embed the product link in your content, like this:

Affiliate advertising

In the image above, the affiliate partner is Amazon and the product is an outdoor speaker.

You need to know the basics with how affiliate marketing works:

  1. You recommend a product or service to your audience through your website, blog, or email list.
  2. Your audience members purchase the product or service using your affiliate link.
  3. You are paid a commission for the sales made using your affiliate link.

Different affiliate programs use different payment terms.

Pay Per Click (PPC): You make money based on the number of visitors who click your affiliate link and are redirected to the advertiser’s website.

Pay Per Sale (PPS): You make money when a purchase is completed. The advertiser pays you a percentage of the sale. Depending on the advertiser, you may even get a part of recurring sales, for example, when someone who used your link renews their subscription.

Pay Per Lead (PPL): You make money when the visitor provides his/her contact info on the advertiser website.

Now that you understand the basics, let’s see how you can get started earning money from affiliate sales.

Step 1 – Choose a Niche

Before you start building your site, you’ll need to decide which niche you’re going to target.

It’s difficult to make a good site if you don’t know what it’s about. This is the hardest step in the process. Choosing the right niche is critical to everything else that follows.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself when figuring out your niche:

  • What topics am I passionate about?

If you’re already interested in a topic, you’ll find it easier to work on. And you may already be knowledgeable, so writing posts sharing that knowledge will be easier and helpful to your audience. For example, if you have a passion about gardening, you might choose a niche like “how to raise your own vegetables.”

  • Is there money in this niche?

Not every passion is a gateway to big money. And you don’t always need a burning passion to build a good, useful site. Do some research to see if there is already interest in the niche you are considering. If There a lot of related items for sale on Amazon or Google Trends (trends.google.com) shows a healthy amount of search activity, then there’s likely an opportunity there for you.

  • Is there a topic I could see myself easily writing 25, 50, or 100 blog posts about?

The topic you choose needs enough depth that you can create a lot of content for it. You want to build an authoritative site both for search engine optimization and for your end user. If you can’t generate a lot of content you won’t be taken seriously, fewer people will follow your links and make purchases based on the information you provide.

  • What’s the existing competition like for affiliate marketers in this niche?

There are many profitable niches that are also popular among affiliate markets (e.g., weight loss). Make sure there’s enough room for you. Ask yourself if you will be able to compete with already established marketers? If not, move on. 

  • Are there affiliate programs available in this niche?

This one is obvious, but crucial. If you come up with an idea for a niche you know a lot about, but there aren’t any related affiliate programs, you won’t make money that way. Maybe you can monetize your idea in a different way, but if there aren’t any related affiliate program, you won’t make any sales.  

Step 2 – Find the Right Affiliate Network

Hopefully, you’ve already done a little bit of research on this step when choosing you niche. But now it’s time to dig deeper. One of the best ways to choose your affiliate products is by signing up with an affiliate network.

Affiliate networks are businesses that connect affiliate marketers and merchants so both can earn more money. You can use affiliate networks to make better product selections to promote on your site.

There are many affiliate networks out there, but here are a few of the most popular.

One of the main benefits of affiliate networks is the data they have on how well a product sell. You can then use that data to pick the best programs to promote.

As you decide which products and services you will be promoting, make sure that they are relevant and good quality. If you choose items to promote that you audience will be interested in and that will fulfill their needs, then you’re more likely to make sales. Building trust with your audience is work, so make sure you choose trustworthy products and services to promote.

Step 3 – Build your website

Now that you’ve done your homework, you can put your knowledge into action. Building a website isn’t as hard as it used to be. With WordPress you don’t need expert coding skills to make a professional looking site. And with a huge community any problems you might run in to can usually be solved with a quick Google search.

To get your site up and running follow these easy steps:

  • Buy a domain.

Your domain is the address for your website (e.g., www.hugemoneyideas.com). Have a few options in mind for your domain name as it’s possible that the one you want may already be taken. Here’s some good advice on how to choose a good domain name

There are several places you can buy a domain, such as GoDaddy and NameCheap. Website hosts can often register your name too (and might offer discounts to register with them).

  • Purchase and set up hosting. 

Hosting is where the files of your website reside. Hosting is very affordable these days. Pay for the hosting you need, but don’t necessarily go with the cheapest option. Choose a reputable, reliable provider. The performance of your site and your affiliate marketing business depends on having a good host. The hosting providers we recommend Hostinger, because they are affordable, reliable, and fast. It’s the host we use for this site!

If you purchase your domain and hosting from different companies, you will need to link the two together. Don’t worry, it’s a simple process.

  • Install WordPress.

Once your hosting is set up, you need to install a content management system (CMS) for your site. We recommend WordPress because it is easy to use and a beginner can quite quickly figure out how it works. Most good hosting providers will have a one-click install option for WordPress. So in a matter of minutes you will have WordPress installed on your site. 

  • Install your theme.

A WordPress theme provides all the styling of a site that you see on the front end. There are thousands of themes available both paid and free. Choosing one might seem daunting at first. Our advice is to go with something simple and easy to customize. You can always change it later. 

If you’re just starting out, use a free theme like OceanWP, Astra, or ColorMag. If you need extra features later on you can always upgrade to a paid version or a different theme entirely.

  • Create content.

It’s finally time to create content for your site. Remember to create relevant and interesting content that’s’ engaging enough to keep your audience coming back. You should also ensure the site content takes advantage of search engine optimization techniques. We have more details about content creation in Step 4. 

Check out these tutorials if you need help building your site:

Step 4 – Create Quality Content

Once your site is up and running you need to create quality content to attract an audience. Some affiliate networks require you to have a certain amount of content, site traffic, and monthly views before they’ll accept you as an affiliate partner. You should make content creation your top priority.

How much content do you need to get started?

A good rule is to have 5 quality pieces of content with more scheduled for later. The two most popular types of content are blogs and videos. Place your affiliate link where they’ll get the most exposure. It’s a good idea to promote your affiliate products early on in your content. Most of your audience won’t read or watch your entire post or video. So, make sure they see it early.

For blogs, that means within the first 25% of the post. For videos, it’s usually within the first minute of the recording.

Whether you produce blogs or videos, keep in mind that your content should consist of one or more the follow kinds of content

  • Product reviews.

You can create thorough, honest reviews of the products or services you are promoting. Done correctly, this can be a very successful model to generating income.

For example, DroneZon.com provides reviews on the latest drones from a variety of manufactures. Visitors read their reviews and decide what drone is best for them. If the visitor clicks their affiliate link and makes a purchase, DronZon.com will earn a commission.

  • Blog posts that answer common problems, questions or issues of interest to your target market.

Blog posts that answer questions or solve a common problem for users are what a lot of visitors will be searching for. Do some keyword research to see what your audience already wants to know and write a post that answers that question or addresses that problem. Check out your competitors, forums, and social media to find good questions to answer on your blog.

For example, TheStuccoGuy.com has detailed posts on how to repair stucco with great pictures to illustrate his process. He has more posts that answer all kinds of stucco related questions in authoritative detail. 

  • Evergreen content.

You can also provide information that will never age and remain useful for your audience. This is commonly called evergreen content. It’s important to carry out thorough keyword research before planning evergreen content for your site. The proper usage of keywords will be key to generating traffic.

For example, SuperWeddings.com provides useful info whether you’re organizing a wedding today or next year. Their content is separated into categories to make it very convenient for the reader to find what they’re looking for. This is also very good for SEO. 

  • Informational products.

You can choose to give away a free informational product, like an e-book or a mini-course. Have your readers provide their email address to receive the product from you. Then use that to build your email list and sell to them via email marketing. An informational product can create interest in the physical product you’re trying to sell.

The type of content you create will depend on your niche. Certain types of content perform better in some niches than others. Look to your competitors to see what they use. You can follow their lead or try a different tactic to capture those visitors they are missing.

It may be tempting to purchase generic content to fill up your site. But that is NOT an effective method to build your site. In the long run it won’t help you to position yourself as an expert in your niche (and ultimately means less traffic and fewer sales).

Step 5 – Build your Audience

Once you begin producing quality content, you will want that content to get noticed. There are a few ways to get this done.

Hopefully, your content has already been geared to take advantage of SEO techniques. It’s important to make sure organic search becomes an important source of traffic for your site.

Learn about SEO yourself or hire a good SEO marketer to help you maximize on-page and off-page SEO opportunities for your site. This is one of the best methods to getting consistent traffic to your site.

  • Promote your content via social media.

One easy method to start building an audience for a website is via social media. Depending on your niche, you can use FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and several other niche and location-specific networks. Using those platforms to build trust and even create a community will go a long way in helping you promote your products and services.

  • Build an email list.

Email marketing is alive and well. An email list is crucial for every affiliate marketer. Try starting your email list with a lead magnet, like the information products mentioned previously. You can even just encourage your audience to sign up for a newsletter or your updates. You can then send your new content to them via email and direct them to your affiliate offers.

  • Invest in paid advertising.

You can use paid advertising to generate additional traffic to your site which can drive more sales. When you first start out, try paid advertising on social media, as these networks tend to be more affordable. Depending on your niche and the cost of your keywords, Google AdWords could also be a good option to drive some paid traffic to your site.

Step 6 – Repeat steps 4 and 5

Your ongoing work as an affiliate marketer will be to repeat steps 4 and 5 on a continual basis. Building a site up to where it can make you consistent income takes work. You must be willing to consistently create, promote, market, innovate and sell. But you can do it!

Review of Key Points

It can feel overwhelming to start earning money from affiliate marketing. Setting up your site to building your reputation takes time and effort. But once you’ve made that first sale, all the hard work will be worth it!

Making your first affiliate commission requires work but if you break it all down into manageable steps, it won’t seem so overwhelming at all. Here’s a quick recap of what you need to do:

  1. Choose a niche.
  2. Find the Right Affiliate Network
  3. Build your website.
  4. Create Quality Content.
  5. Build your audience.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 on a continual basis!

Put in the work, and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of your first sale. 

Do you feel overwhelmed about making your first affiliate sale? What’s holding you back from getting started? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll be happy to help. 

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