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Heard about affiliate marketing? Know it’s something you want to do on your site but need some help getting started? Asking the question can I make money with affiliate marketing? 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.
In fact, making money through affiliate marketing was the most common way bloggers monetised their blogs in our income survey (see the results here for how much bloggers earn and how).
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! In this post I’ll show you how to get started with affiliate marketing and how to make money online through affiliate marketing even if you’re just getting started with affiliates.
This tutorial is all about getting started with affiliate marketing and how to earn money from affiliate marketing.
I 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). That’s one great example of how to make money from affiliate marketing.
Anyone can make money online as an affiliate! In this beginners guide to making money in affiliate marketing, I’ll step you through it all!
How does affiliate marketing work?
If you’re wondering how affiliates make money, 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. This is how to make money using affiliate marketing.
About affiliate marketing cookies
Cookies (sadly not the chocolate kind) are an essential ingredient in how to make money using affiliate programs. When you’re just starting to earn money through affiliate marketing, you don’t need to have detailed knowledge of how cookies work, but it is important to be aware of how they work at a high level as often times no cookie = no affiliate commissions.
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).
Basics of making money online affiliate marketing for beginners
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.
One of the biggest reasons why many bloggers are keen to learn more about how to make money on affiliate marketing is because it allows you to 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 2024
When it comes to how to be a successful affiliate marketer, it is about understanding reader intent – this is another key piece to how to make money through affiliate marketing that gets overlooked a lot.
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. Hitting this sweet spot is the easiest, most profitable and the best way to make money with affiliate marketing.
It’s that simple.
Finding that sweet spot is the most essential ingredient when it comes to how to make money in affiliate marketing, but it’s a spot that many people miss and many affiliate money making guides overlook.
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.
Consider this a mini how to – affiliate marketing for beginners guide.
Step One: How to Become an Affiliate
If you’re wondering about affiliate marketing – how to get started, the very first step of how to get into affiliate marketing is to actually become an affiliate. You will need to learn how to make money with affiliate programs by signing up.
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 situation is that the program:
- Is for a well-recognised brand (so your readers have already heard of it)
- It services the geographic 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
When you’re a beginner, often it is easiest to make money using affiliate programs that are managed through an affiliate marketplace. An affiliate marketplace allows you to sign up once and apply to various brand affiliate programs to make money online from multiple brands via a single account. I have listed some of the more popular affiliate marketplaces below.
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.
When it comes to affiliate marketing for newbies – affiliate marketplaces are often great ways in which to get access to affiliate marketing tools and programs. Often times as a beginner making money with affiliate marketing programs, it is difficult to get to payout thresholds.
Affiliate marketplaces usually combine your brand affiliate marketing money so that you can get paid more quickly. This means that if you link to multiple affiliates within the marketplace, they can all help you reach the payout threshold.
So, if your question is how fast can you make money with affiliate marketing then you should look at affiliate marketplaces that carry brands that you wish to work with.
Here are some of the main affiliate marketplaces that are great for getting started making money with affiliate marketing.
- Travelpayouts. This is the best option for travel bloggers.
- 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.
Affiliate marketplaces are a great way to make money online affiliate marketing, they often always provide access to more tools and marketing services that individual affiliate marketing programs may not have. All these programs and affiliate marketplaces enable you to make money from affiliate marketing for free. There is no charge or cost to join
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. How to make money from affiliate marketing can be as simple as that. Helping your readers to find solutions to problems.
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.
To take this to the next level, I highly recommend you fo my Scale Your Affiliate Earnings In 7 Days free email challenge here. I walk you through exactly how to track, improve and scale once you start earning some affiliate income.
Is Affiliate Marketing for beginners?
I often get asked in the DNW group how soon it’s possible to start making money online affiliate marketing, and if it’s worth trying to start making money as an affiliate from the very beginning, or if new bloggers should wait until they have first built up traffic.
It’s the classic chicken and egg scenario.
You will need traffic to start making money as an affiliate on a larger scale. However, my opinion is that the best time to learn how to earn money with affiliate marketing is at the very beginning. Learning how to earn money through affiliate marketing from the beginning of your blogging journey will not only help you monetise, but it will also help you be more intentional with your content and working out how to help your audience in the best way possible.
There are some affiliate programs which have minimum traffic thresholds, but there are also many that don’t. If you’re just exploring how to earn money on affiliate programs, then I recommend picking one or two affiliate programs that are suited to your blog and audience and starting from there.
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 commissions – Jack from Queer In The World.
- To get started with affiliate marketing, keep it simple! It’s totally possible to get started make money with affiliate marketing for free without investing in expensive software and plugins. The best way to start as a beginner is to start with one or two affiliate partners that you think are well suited to your audience and start from there. If you’re not sure which to choose, one of the best ways to make money with affiliate marketing is to have a look at what questions you get from readers or some common challenges your ideal audience might need help with that are related to your blog topic – Ellie from Soul Travel India
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. I hope this post on “how to make money with affiliate marketing” has answered any questions you might have about how to make money from affiliate programs.
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!
Sharing step by step affiliate marketing for beginners is important to me as understanding affiliate marketing how to make money has been such a successful strategy for my own blogging journey.
Don’t forget you can always ask any questions you have about making money with affiliate programs in the comments or in the DigitalNomadwannabe Facebook Group!