Heard about affiliate marketing? Know it’s something you want to do on your site but need some help getting started? This affiliate marketing guide for beginners has been written especially for you!
Affiliate marketing is one of my favourite ways to make money online. This is because:
- It’s largely passive income
- It’s about really helping people
It’s a win/win for both you and your readers.
So if you haven’t started with affiliates on your blog, you’re not sure what it is OR you have started but feel lost or aren’t having the success you would like, let me help!
This tutorial is all about getting started with affiliate marketing and how to earn money from affiliate marketing.
I will walk you through how to do affiliate marketing step-by-step.
You will learn...
- What is Affiliate Marketing (and how does it work)
- How to make money with Affiliate Marketing for beginners
- Step One: How to become an affiliate
- Step Two: Writing articles that really help people solve a problem
- Step Three: Getting the right readers to the articles
- Step Four: Learning and improving
- Best step-by-step Affiliate Marketing training for beginners
- Affiliate Marketing tips for beginners
What is Affiliate Marketing (and how does it work)
Affiliate Marketing for dummies guide 🙂
Affiliate Marketing is the process of promoting someone else’s products in return for a benefit (usually money).
Many of us are using affiliate marketing currently without even realising it.
For example, have you ever shared a discount code or a link to a site or product with a friend where you would get something in return?
I have shared my Airbnb link so my friend gets $25 off their first stay (and I get it too). Or I’ve recommended my bank because they have no fees (and have got a bonus in return).
Anyone can do affiliate marketing!
How does affiliate marketing work?
It really is just recommending some else’s product and service in a way that earns you a commission. This commission is usually a percentage of the sales that you help generate, but it can also be a fixed payment or a payment based on how much traffic or how many leads you send them.
Say you write an article about a new juicer you bought, you could find a company that sells that juicer and has an affiliate program.
You sign up to the affiliate program and they will give you a link you can use in your article to link to where they can buy the juicer.
Now when people click on the link, the company will be able to track what they do when they arrive on their site. When your reader makes a purchase, you’ll receive a commission.
About affiliate marketing cookies
In many affiliate marketing programs there will be a cookie involved as well as the program owner tracking that the reader came from your article.
Say the affiliate program specifies that there is a 30-day cookie. This means that if the people who click on your link buy any time in the next 30 days, you will still receive the commission.
You can use affiliate links in many ways – on your blog, on social media, YouTube, emails etc (some programs have specific rules about what you can and can’t do).
These are the basics of how affiliate marketing works step-by-step. The following diagram shows you the process of how affiliate marketing programs work.
Affiliate marketing can work very well for bloggers as we naturally refer to products and services often and this is a way to monetise this advice.
If you do it well, it’s a total win/win for both you and your readers.
It also means you can do something once (i.e. add the link to your post) and get paid over and over again when your readers click and purchase.
Doesn’t that sound GREAT?
Can you make money with affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing can be highly effective with many audiences. How fast you can make money with affiliate marketing depends on:
- Your current audience
- The types of articles on your site
If you already have content on your site that helps readers solve problems and readers are coming to your site looking for these solutions, then you can make money with affiliate marketing. TODAY.
If you don’t, then you’ll need to work on these items. How to make money with affiliate programs using this process will be explained below.
How much can you make from affiliate marketing?
How long is a piece of string?
The sky is the limit. I have made five figures per month from affiliate marketing on multiple sites in varied niches.
There are sites that make that much each and every day.
It’s impossible to come up with an affiliate marketing average income and how much you can make as it depends on the strategies you use and how much effort you put in. Affiliate marketing is definitely not as simple as adding some links to your articles. That’s why its called affiliate marketing, not affiliate linking.
The good news is that I can show you how to be successful with affiliate marketing and, once you have a good strategy in place, it requires minimal effort from you on an ongoing basis.
How to make money with Affiliate Marketing for beginners
When it comes to how to be a successful affiliate marketer, it is about understanding reader intent.
Reader intent is about understanding why readers are on your site.
Do readers come to your site to read a good story? Or do they have a problem and they are looking for a solution?
If you concentrate on attracting readers that have a problem that you can solve with a blog post and a link to an affiliate, you will make money from affiliate marketing.
You are looking for an overlap between your content, an affiliate and what your readers want. I call this the Affiliate Marketing Sweet Spot.
It’s that simple.
However, it can also be difficult and time consuming to work this out when you are first getting started. You can learn more about finding this sweet spot in my mini-lesson here.
In the rest of this guide, I will walk through how to get started in affiliate marketing step-by-step so you can attract those right readers to the right content with the right affiliate links and calls to action.
Step One: How to become an Affiliate
The first step of how to get into affiliate marketing is to actually become an affiliate. You need to sign up for an affiliate program.
What is an affiliate marketing program?
An affiliate program is simply an agreement between you and a company as to how you will promote their products and services, how this will be tracked and how you will be paid.
A standard affiliate marketing program will tell you:
- How much you will be paid (usually a percentage of the sales you refer)
- What cookie duration exists (how many days after someone clicks on your link can you still be paid for the sale)
- Where you can promote (countries)
- How and when you will be paid
- How you are allowed to promote the affiliate (for example, on your blog, via email, social media, etc)
Once you sign up, you will also get access to links and other resources you can use to promote the products and services.
Affiliate links usually contain a code in them that is unique to you so the program can track the traffic you send them to see if they make any sales.
For example, this is my link to promote Keysearch, my favourite keyword research tool: http://jvz1.com/c/246671/195039
When someone clicks on that link, the Keysearch affiliate program will track when there is a sale and pay me a commission accordingly.
Which affiliate program to join?
There are quite a few factors to take into account when joining an affiliate program, such as where your audience is located (there is no point using a UK brand for a US audience), the commission percentage and how well the brand is known (your readers will be more likely to buy through a company they recognise).
To make money with affiliate programs, the ideal is that the program:
- Is for a well-recognised brand (so your readers have already heard of it)
- It services the georgraphic location of the majority of your audience
- It has a big commission percentage
- It has a long cookie duration
The good news is that most affiliate programs will take on beginners and it doesn’t matter if your traffic is low. It is still worth applying.
A good starting point is to look at what products and services you already promote on your blog and look for affiliate programs you could use for them.
Deciding which affiliate marketing programs to join can be time consuming and confusing at first, so I have a full tutorial to get you started here.
Best affiliate marketing programs for beginners
The best affiliate programs to make money when starting out can be:
- Amazon. Amazon is just so good at converting people which means as long as you can get people there, you are likely to make some money. You can sign up to the Amazon US program here (you will need to sign up to each country’s program individually if you have an international audience). You can read more about making money with Amazon here.
- CJ. This is an affiliate marketplace which means you just have to sign up once and you can access hundreds of different affiliate programs with many different companies. You are likely to find something on here!
- Commission Factory. This is another affiliate marketplace which I especially recommend if you have an Australian audience.
Step Two: Writing articles that really help people solve a problem
The easiest way to make money from affiliates is to write articles that will help your readers to solve a problem using a product or service that you can link to with an affiliate link.
This doesn’t have to be a huge problem. It can be as simple as helping them pick a great hotel for their next trip or a cleaning product that will help them get a red wine stain out of their carpet.
If you can write articles that advise your readers on what they need to do to solve their problems with handy affiliate links, you will be well on your way to affiliate marketing success.
Step Three: Getting the right readers to the articles
Writing fabulous articles will only get you so far – you need to make sure the right people see them.
This is where we think about reader intent again. This really the key on how to make money online with affiliate marketing.
Your target audience for a post with affiliate links (i.e. people you want to come read your post) is people who want to buy something. Now. Or in the near future.
This is why you don’t need huge traffic to make good money from affiliate marketing. You just need those people who want to buy and just need your help to work out what.
In step two, you created articles to help readers solve problems. Now, you have to get your articles in front of the readers who need to solve these problems.
You can do this in many ways – via search engines, your social media channels or your email list.
The important thing is that you have a plan to get your articles in front of the right people.
For affiliate focused articles, nothing beats using keywords and SEO to get traffic. This is because you can tell the reader intent by the keywords that people use. So you can target keywords that will attract people who want to buy something.
I also discuss how to find keywords and use SEO to drive traffic here.
You can also use the strategies that you’re currently using to get traffic to your blog posts. However, remember who your target audience for affiliate posts is and only work on attracting them to your blog.
Look back up at the Affiliate Marketing Sweet Spot diagram above. You need to concentrate on hitting that X spot.
This is how to make money as an affiliate.
Step Four: Learning and improving
If you can nail the first three steps, you will start seeing some sweet affiliate commissions coming your way.
However, to really hit those top levels of affiliate income, the best way to learn affiliate marketing is by tracking how you are doing, learning from this and always trying to improve.
Note: If you are currently just looking for a guide to step-by-step affiliate marketing for beginners, you can skip this section and come back to it after you have been using affiliates for a month or two.
How to do this?
Key Affiliate Marketing Data to Track:
- Page views on your affiliate posts
- Number of clicks on your affiliate links
- Conversion rate – how many people who click on your links buy (your affiliate program should be able to tell you this)
I recommend recording this every month.
This is how you can spot where there is a problem with your affiliate earnings. For example, if your page views are low, you need to work on step three. If your clicks are low, work on how you position your affiliate links in your articles.
You always want to be working out what is working well on your site and what isn’t – and then using this information to improve income across your whole site.
Need more help? Best step-by-step Affiliate Marketing training for beginners
I hope you have found this guide on how to start affiliate marketing for beginners useful. However, there is only so much I can explain in a blog post.
If you are looking for the best affiliate marketing training, I recommend that you sign up to my online course by clicking here.
If you would prefer to copy my proven affiliate marketing strategies and learn affiliate marketing step-by-step, you can find the best affiliate marketing course, Affiliate Marketing Freedom, here.
This affiliate marketing course is completely online and you can complete it at your own pace. You’ll also get lifetime access to a private Facebook support group.
Affiliate Marketing tips for beginners
I asked successful affiliate marketing bloggers for their top tips for Affiliate Marketing beginners:
- Add a call to action to your affiliate links – I saw a huge boost in commissions when I started saying statements like “click here for more info” instead of just linking to an affiliate – Silke from Happiness And Things.
- I have started using my articles with hotel affiliates as bargaining chips for sponsored/paid stays at hotels. Having affiliate links gives me the real number of bookings I am sending the hotels so I can tell them, “People reading my post actually booked your hotel 5 times last month”. Agoda even gives you the booking number so they know I’m not lying. This helped me convince a few luxury hotels (USD2000+ a night) to host me. Nobody can dispute the ROI you are bringing them – Mar from Singapore N Beyond.
- Selecting the right affiliate marketing programs for your blog and your audience is key. You don’t need a huge number of them, just the right ones for the problem that you’re solving for your reader. Understanding this and changing my strategy to support it means my affiliate posts perform effectively and on an ongoing basis. – Sarah from ASocialNomad
- Learn how to find great keywords for your posts and get search engine traffic. I find traffic from Google leads to the highest affiliate commisions – Jack from Queer In The World.
Affiliate marketing can be highly effective and is the best way to monetise your blog if you want a hands-off monetisation strategy that can literally earn you money as you sleep.
It does take work to get started with affiliate marketing and it can feel overwhelming at the beginning. However, if you can understand and implement the 4-steps above, you will be a successful affiliate marketing expert in no time!