How to Start My Affiliate Marketing Business

Whether you are looking to build a full-time income from home or simply make some extra cash, affiliate marketing is an excellent way to reach these goals. In “How to Start My Affiliate Marketing Business” you’ll learn how to find the best affiliate programs for your business, what tools to use, keywords to target, and where you can advertise.

How to Start My Affiliate Marketing Business will show you how to build your own affiliate marketing business so you too can create the life that you want. The great thing about building an affiliate marketing business is that you can do it in your spare time, or not even relate it to your chosen career.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

This is one of the most common questions we receive, and it’s actually quite simple:

Affiliate marketing is a way for you (the affiliate) to earn a commission for recommending products or services to your friends or readers.

To simplify it, here’s the 5 step process for how to start affiliate marketing:

  1. You find a product you want to promote
  2. Do a search for “product name” affiliate program. If it’s on Amazon, you can also promote it
  3. Sign up for their affiliate program
  4. You get a special link that allows the merchant to track the people who clicked your link
  5. If they buy the product, you get a commission.

Pretty simple, right?

It can get much more advanced, but in this post, we’re just going to start with the fundamentals and get you to the point where you’re ready to make your first commission.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

There are a lot of different ways to track affiliates these days, but all are based on someone clicking your special tracking link.

The most common and basic type of tracking is via a cookie.

When an affiliate link is clicked, a small file called a cookie is stored on the users computer. Then they buy a product, the merchant can see that they were referred by you.

There are also more advanced methods based on the email used or IP address – but we won’t get into those here, we’ll stick to the

Why do affiliate marketing?

Here are two reasons why you should consider doing affiliate marketing: 

1. Low-cost and low-risk

Starting a business means incurring upfront costs for products, employees, equipment, rent, and so on. This makes it risky and expensive. With affiliate marketing, all you need is a website. Even if it doesn’t work out, all you’ve wasted is time and a little bit of money.

2. Easy to scale

A typical salesperson only sells products from one company. As an affiliate marketer, you can promote products from many different companies and earn commissions from all of them. 

How much money can I make as an affiliate marketer?

The simple answer is that there is no limit. It depends on your niche and the amount of work you put in.

The most successful affiliate marketers make six or seven figures a month.

For example, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income made over $100,000 in affiliate commissions in December 2017.

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Ryan Robinson, another affiliate marketer, reported over $19,000 in affiliate revenue in October 2019. Another successful affiliate website—The Wirecutter—made an estimated $10 million in revenue, and was eventually sold to the New York Times for $30 million.

Keep in mind though that these people have done an excellent job building their brand. It’s taken them years of hard work to reach this level.

If you’re just starting out, your checks might look more like this for a while:

amazon check 2

You need to manage your expectations. You won’t earn the big bucks right off the bat, but don’t let this discourage you.

The success of others tells you that with hard work, time, and the right knowledge, you too can potentially reach those levels.

How to get started with affiliate marketing

Follow these seven simple steps.

Decide on a platform

Theoretically, you can do affiliate marketing on any platform. Even Instagram works.

3 instagram affiliate link 2

However, it’s much easier to build an audience and increase your affiliate sales via one of two channels: a blog or YouTube channel.

Starting a blog today is relatively easy and cheap. There are plenty of tutorials online that teach you how to get started. The best part? It’ll likely only cost you a few dollars per month.

Once your site is up, optimize it for search engines so that you have a better chance of ranking. From there, you’re free to add affiliate links in your content. (There is an art to doing this, which we’ll cover later in this guide.)

The other platform is YouTube. Creating and uploading content to YouTube is free, which makes it ideal for many people. Optimize your videos for SEO, and include affiliate links in your description.

 Choose your niche

Let’s be honest: if you’re starting a blog today, you’re facing a ton of competition. Statista estimates that the number of bloggers in the U.S will reach 31.7 million by 2020.

To stand the best chance of success, niche down.

Choose a topic that focuses on a specific category. For example, the topic of “food” is an enormous category. Rather than tackling that, try something more specific, like grilling food.

Keeping your topics tight can help you build a more focused audience and potentially help you rank higher in search engines.

That’s what I did when I built my first site. Instead of talking about “dance” or “hip hop,” I decided to limit myself to just breakdancing. Despite not knowing anything about SEO back then, I managed to rank for a few key terms and generate ~3,000 organic visits per month.

Find affiliate programs to join

There are three types of affiliate programs to choose from.

A. High-paying, low-volume affiliate programs

These are affiliate programs for niche products with high payouts.

For example, ConvertKit’s affiliate program pays almost $700 per month if you send just 80 customers their way. However, as they sell CRM software for small business owners, there’s a limited pool of buyers.

B. Low-paying, high-volume affiliate programs

These are affiliate programs for products with low payouts but mass appeal.

For example, take PS4 games. Lots of people play PS4, but the average cost of a game is only around $50, and affiliate commissions are usually in the single digits. This means you’ll earn $2–3 per sale if you’re lucky.

C. High-paying, high-volume affiliate programs

These are affiliate programs for products with mass appeal, which also pay high commissions.

One example is credit cards.

Everyone needs a credit card, and most people stay with the company for years (sometimes even decades!)

The downside of these types of products is that they attract affiliate marketers with lots of expertise and deep pockets. Some also use spammy tactics that you just can’t compete with.

And since this is a tutorial for beginners, I won’t go any deeper into this.

Just be aware that these programs exist.

Create great content

If you want your affiliate site to succeed, you need to create high-quality content where your affiliate links fit naturally.

Here’s an example. Tim Ferriss interviewed 100+ famous people and asked them this question:

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?

Drive traffic to your affiliate site

You’ve created great content. The next step is to get more people to read it, so they will click on your affiliate links.

Here are three traffic strategies to consider:

A. Paid traffic

This is where you pay for traffic to your site. You can do this using PPC ads.

The advantage of paid traffic is that the moment you start paying, you get traffic.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the practice of optimizing pages to rank high in search engines like Google.

For as long as you can rank high in the search engines for your target keywords, you’ll get consistent and passive traffic.

Build an email list

Email lists allow you to communicate with your readers anytime.

Use them to tell fans about new content and keep them coming back to your site for more. This leads to more affiliate clicks and sales.

Get clicks on your affiliate links

Just because you have an amazing piece of content doesn’t mean people will click on your affiliate links.

Convert clicks to sales

In affiliate marketing, two conversions need to take place for you to make money.

The first conversion is the click to the product page.

You’re 100% in control of this action. Use the tactics above to improve your chances of getting that click.

The second conversion is the visitor purchasing the product. In the case of affiliate marketing, the merchant controls the checkout, and their conversion rates are out of your control.

The trick is to play the game to your advantage and look for merchants with programs that convert well.

Conclusion

When you’re an affiliate marketer, you become a publisher and advertiser all in one. You get paid to sell products or services for other people.

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