Affiliate Marketing: Get Started & Making Money

Wondering about getting started with affiliate marketing? When I set out on my journey to start a business many years ago, I came across affiliate marketing. 

I dove in feet first starting with affiliate launches, creating a bunch of different niche sites centering around one product, trying to build an email list and it all got me nowhere, sadly. 

I had it all wrong. 

Instead of taking one piece at a time, I was trying to go at it all at once.

A few years later, affiliate marketing fell in my lap again. I had just started blogging and I came across a superstar blogger who published her five-figure monthly income reports. I must have read through a dozen of her income reports, learning how she made $50,000+ every month from affiliate marketing alone. 

I knew I was taking the wrong approach to this marketing method so I started over.

When she put out training on how she became so successful with affiliate marketing, I invested and bought the course. Just a few weeks later, I made up the cost of the course with affiliate commissions, earning 4X my investment in the course!
And the rest was history.

Today, I have a full understanding of the affiliate marketing process start to finish and it helps me make money referring affiliates every single month, mostly passively. 

In this article, we’re going to cover how to get started with affiliate marketing. You’ll learn what exactly affiliate marketing is, how to start affiliate marketing for beginners, how much money you can make with affiliate marketing, and more. Let’s dive in!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the marketing method of referring to other peoples’ products to earn a commission. It’s like when you sign up for a grocery delivery service that you love and you tell your best friend about it. Then your best friend signs up for the grocery delivery service with your refer-a-friend link, earning you a reward for the referral. That’s affiliate marketing!

Another example is if you referred timekeeping software to small businesses. The timekeeping software costs $100 and you earn a 20% commission (or $20) per sale referred using your affiliate link.

For the month, if you refer 10 sales totalling $1,000, your commission is $200.

You might think $20 per sale or $200 for the month isn’t a lot but you have to think, that’s just one affiliate. If you refer 10 affiliates with the same results and commission structure, your earnings increase by 10X.

10 sales x 10 affiliates = 100 sales per month 

100 sales x $100 = $10,000

20% of $10,000=$2,000 (your commission)

There are smart ways to tackle affiliate marketing to help you get the best results and make the most money from it. We will talk more about it down below.

Why Do People Want to Do Affiliate Marketing?

Once you have the formula down, it’s pretty easy to execute. And then, you can really scale your affiliate marketing business to grow your income exponentially.

It’s a way to make money that’s flexible enough to work as either your side hustle or full-time income. 

As an affiliate marketer, you work for yourself so you’ll be setting your own schedule, being the boss, making the rules, and other perks of being an entrepreneur. Take a look at some of the pros and cons of affiliate marketing.

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

  • Independent work
  • Be the boss
  • Make your own schedule
  • Work from home
  • Unlimited income potential

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

  • Inconsistent pay (especially in the beginning)
  • External factors can impact success
  • No job benefits

How to get started with affiliate marketing?

Here is the step-by-step process to get started with affiliate marketing:

  1. Identify your interests
  2. Choose affiliates
  3. Create a website
  4. Research products and cross-reference with affiliates

This is the exact formula I use that has helped me earn thousands with affiliate marketing.

Identify your Interests

First, identify your interests. It’s important to start with topics you are interested in because if you choose a category you have low interest in, it’s going to be harder to promote that product.

For example, if you are trying to promote products in the fishing niche and you don’t like to fish and have never fished before, it might be hard to talk about fishing products since you have no experience with them. 

Especially if you are discussing fishing products with an audience that is knowledgeable and passionate about fishing. It will feel inauthentic and be clear to the audience that you don’t have a fishing background so you don’t have the expertise to make an appropriate referral.

Make sense?

So, think about what your interests are. What hobbies do you have? What do you do at work? What gets you excited?

Here is a big list of niches to give you some inspiration:

  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Fitness
  • Making money
  • Saving money
  • Wellness
  • Spirituality
  • Knitting
  • Sewing
  • Pets
  • Cleaning
  • Organization
  • Productivity
  • Woodworking
  • Classic cars
  • Motorcycles
  • Tiny homes
  • Landscaping
  • Beauty
  • Fashion
  • Kids and Parenting
  • Babies
  • Consumer electronics
  • Gadgets
  • Real estate

Once you identify your interests, next you’ll move onto choosing affiliates.

Choosing Affiliates

You will pick affiliates according to the niche (your interest) you selected. Every affiliate is different and they will vary based on:

  • Type of referral
  • Commission amount
  • Payout schedule
  • And, other factors

It can be tempting to go for the high paying affiliates only. Don’t be drawn in by this. The first rule of affiliate marketing is to be authentic. So, if a lesser paying affiliate makes better sense for your niche and audience, that will be the better choice.

Where do you find affiliates?

You can find affiliates through private affiliate programs and through networks.

Private affiliate programs are those that are created directly by the merchant. To join, you visit the company website, complete the application and work with them directly for the affiliate marketing program.

An affiliate network is a company that works with hundreds and thousands of merchants to help them execute their affiliate program. So, you’d join an affiliate network, where you can see many different merchant affiliate programs, requirements, details of the affiliate marketing program they offer, and more. You can pick and choose which affiliate you want to promote, apply with that merchant and then start affiliate marketing.

Which is better, private affiliate or affiliate network?

Both options offer benefits. Private affiliates tend to pay better. Because they aren’t in a network, they don’t have to pay a third party to execute their affiliate program, which leaves more money on the table that they can use to pay you, in affiliate commissions.

But, affiliate networks can be faster and easier to join. And, you will have access to many affiliate programs so you can start and hit the ground running, after you join the network.

What are examples of affiliate networks?

The Amazon Associates program is the affiliate network for Amazon. Amazon is one of the leading marketplaces in the world where you can buy just about everything from bed comforters to pet food, baby clothes and almost everything in between.

Amazon is great because just about every niche can refer to products that can be found on Amazon. And because Amazon is so well known and trusted, it’s one of the easier networks to refer products to.

Other affiliate networks to consider: 

The best way to find affiliate networks

From my experience, the best way to find affiliates is to do product/company research on what you want to market, find the product/company, and then simply Google, “ Company name affiliate program”. This will show you if they run affiliate programs independently or they are using networks like the above mentioned.

This method also saves time and room in your inbox from affiliate networks you aren’t using. 

Build a Website

Next, you will create a website. Creating a website is super important because it’s going to be the place where you spread your message about affiliates and refer your audience to the affiliate program.

It’s super easy to build a website and it can be done in under an hour.

First, get hosting. We recommend Siteground. Siteground has hosting packages starting at $3.95/month and you can even get a domain and domain email plus more, all through signing up for your hosting plan with them.

Next, connect WordPress. WordPress is the platform that helps you run your website. On WordPress you can do things like write articles, install plugins to help with website speed, website layout, and more.

Then, apply a website theme. Free themes can be found right on WordPress under Appearance. You can also invest in paid themes. Here are some places to check out for paid themes:

Lastly, write content, publish and launch your website.

Research Products and Cross-Reference with Affiliates

In this step, it’s all about product research. There will probably be many affiliate products in your niche. How do you pick which one to promote?

There are some things to keep in mind here.

First, you want to ensure that the product is solving a problem. 

Why?

Well, people with problems search for solutions. So, you want your affiliate product to solve a pain point that the consumer has.
For example, an ergonomic keyboard helps people who use keyboards avoid wrist pain.

When you settle on products to promote, make sure you review referral caps, payout policy, and all the details of the program.

In a nutshell, you want to know if there are any limitations to how you promote, how you’ll get paid, how often you’ll get paid, and anything else to look out for.

Examples of limitations to promote might be “no social media promotion.” This means the merchant does not want their product promoted on social networks.

Another example of a limitation might be “no email list promotion,” which means the merchant does not want their product shared in an email newsletter to an email list.

If you aren’t careful and don’t watch out for limitations, you could accidentally promote through a non-approved method and risk getting kicked out of the affiliate program and/or not getting paid.

If you’re promoting many products, you can get organized by tracking your affiliates in a simple spreadsheet to keep you on track with payment, approved promotional methods, and more.

How can beginners be successful with affiliate marketing?

As a beginner, once you find your interest, identify affiliates and create your website, some tips to follow to help you get results include:

  • Using SEO to rank your content
  • Sharing your website and content on social media
  • Launching a link building campaign to get backlinks on other websites

This process can take time so you’ve got to be patient here.

SEO or search engine optimization is how your website will be found on search engines, like Google. So, if you have a hiking niche website and you are writing articles about hiking, when users type related hiking keywords into Google, you want your website to show up on the first page of the results.

There are many tactics you can take to help your content be found on the first page of search results, like some we’ll be sharing down below. The more organic search traffic you can get to your affiliate website, the more potential affiliate commissions you can earn.

Next, sharing your content on social media is a given. It’s a step that a lot of affiliate marketers forget but it’s one of the top ways the super affiliate who earns $50,000+ per month that I shared above, has gotten her success. She shares on social networks like Twitter, Pinterest, and others.

For a quick win, try social media, while a strong long-term strategy is to keep improving your SEO.

Launching a link building campaign is one of the ways you can improve your website SEO. If you can get links on other websites bringing those visitors to your site, you get more traffic AND Google will be more favourable to your site, helping your content rank better in search results.

How do you get links on other sites?

You can guest post, which means you’ll write an article for another site. You can also reach out to the site owner to share a resource and ask if they will share on their site. 

Link building is how this affiliate marketer was able to start earning $30,000/month from his content site in under a year!

How much can you make with affiliate marketing?

The income potential with affiliate marketing is boundless. You can make a lot of money. Top affiliate marketers make millions per year. Beginners can start making three to four figures per month in their first year although some make much more, showcased by examples shared above. 

That’s one of the things you will love about affiliate marketing. You can make unlimited income AND you can make this income passive or semi-passive in nature like I do with my affiliate marketing efforts.

Conclusion

This wraps up our introduction to getting started with affiliate marketing. To recap, we shared:

  • The definition of affiliate marketing
  • Why people want to do affiliate marketing
  • Pros and cons of affiliate marketing
  • The 4-step process to get started with affiliate marketing and,
  • How beginners can be successful
  • How much money you can make with affiliate marketing

What do you think?

If you’ll be starting affiliate marketing, share the niche you’ll be exploring, down below. We’d love to hear from you!

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