Where to Start Affiliate Marketing – Step by Step Guide
If you are looking to start affiliate marketing you have a big choice to make... Where to start!???
There are lots of options to choose, and unfortunately they are not all equal. While one option might be good for one person another option might be better for the next.
In this article I'll be going over the main choices you have at hand, what might be better for some people and what is my recommendation for the majority of those looking into this.
It's not a secret that most people who get involved in affiliate marketing fail. I don't have any statistics to base this statement off of, but having been involved in affiliate marketing since 2015 I know this to be the truth.
There are a lot of bad choices you can potentially make that will end up being nothing more than a waste of time. And worse yet, there are so many scams plaguing the online money making world that you could also potentially fall victim to one of these.
It's no wonder you are looking for good information on where to get started affiliate marketing. This is something everyone should do.
Should you create a website, market affiliate products on social media, post links in some forum, start a Youtube channel, get involved in email marketing?
We'll get into all of this, but first let's briefly go over what exactly affiliate marketing is.
Affiliate marketing in a nutshell
Affiliate marketing is when you sell other people's stuff and earn commissions doing so. Well, you aren't actually 'selling'. You are just promoting products online and earn commissions when you help make a sale.
Here's how it works:
- You promote a product you like with your unique affiliate link
- Someone clicks on your link and is directed to the seller's website, such as Amazon for example
- They purchase the awesome squeaky dog toy you were promoting
- You get paid a commission for helping make that sale
It's a rather simple business model and is easy to get started with, which is why it is a popular choice among people looking to make money online. Not only that, but it also requires little to no startup cost.
Sound like what you thought it was and are you still interested?
Let's discuss your options...
*You can jump to the next section titled "the best route to take" if you want to know your best option.
5. Social Media
One of the easiest ways to start affiliate marketing is to promote products through social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- although not the most effective for most.
Most people have personal Facebook pages and you can promote any sort of affiliate product you would like to. But, it's within the best practices to not be overly "salesy". No one is going to click on an affiliate link that is being pushed down their throat.
Be helpful and place your affiliate links naturally.
Facebook Groups and Pages:
If you don't want to promote on your personal Facebook page you can also go the route of posting in groups or even on a branded page. I'm sure not everyone wants to annoy their friends with product promotions. And besides, most people don't have a massive social media following that is going to lead to much success, which would make this option not a very good choice.
If you were to create a Facebook Page this would be more for keeping your audience updated on your brand. And you don't have to have a company to create a page like this. You could create a page centered around funny cat videos and call it Daily Dose of Cats (probably already taken). If you did this you could attract followers by a variety of different means and subtly promote cat products.
Groups are more for interaction, which makes complete sense. Your options here are to simply join a Facebook group that has to do with a topic you like (there are groups for everything: hiking, makeup, pets, gadgets, and probably even belly dancing) and promote products within it. HOWEVER, you have to be careful with this because it is an easy way to get kicked out. If there is a topic you have a lot of enthusiasm over you may want to think about creating your own group. This way you make the roles.
Youtube is so big that it get's its own little section in my article. And besides, it doesn't really fully fall into the social media category, although some people consider it social media.
Affiliate marketing via Youtube can be very effective. When it comes to purchasing products online there is a problem... You can't feel and touch the products! But watching a video about a product can really help. Not only that, but people are more willing to trust someone who they can see and hear rather than just read what someone wrote.
In fact, there is a good chance you looked up where you should start affiliate marketing on Youtube to begin with.
But there is a problem. The problem is that this just isn't meant for everyone, which is the reason I don't have a Youtube channel where I broadcast my face everywhere and promote affiliate products. Not everyone wants to get behind a camera or a on a webcam.
However, if you do there is certainly plenty of potential. The highest paid Youtuber of 2018 was a 7 year old who brought in $22 million. His channel is called Ryan Toys Review and although much of his income nowadays comes from exclusive deals he (his parents) makes with big companies, affiliate marketing no doubt contributes to some of this figure.
One of the easiest ways to go about affiliate marketing on Youtube would be to do product reviews. It is pretty straightforward -- you review a product and include an affiliate link so that people can purchase it below the video. You see this kind of thing all the time.
You could also choose other ways to market products. For example you could do a "how to" video on hitting a baseball and promote some product that is supposed to help with this.
If you do go the Youtube route try to remain as relaxed as possible and speak in a conversational tone, as if you are talking directly to someone. This can be difficult at first but you will get better.
3. Forums (Reddit)
Yes, that is a post about two cats fighting pictured above. More cats on the internet... Of course.
But anyways... Another option you have is to do affiliate marketing on forums like Reddit. This would be similar to doing it within a Facebook group, since online forums are places where people share their ideas and views.
It's another free way to do affiliate marketing but of course it isn't nearly as easy as it may seem.
You can't just go around posting affiliate links. They will be marked as spam and your account will be banned. Subreddit moderators have the most leeway when it comes to posting links like this but even they can't go crazy doing it.
It is also "frowned upon" to do too much self promotion. So if you are planning on linking a bunch to your own website or Youtube channel, which then promotes a product, that isn't a good idea UNLESS you are providing helpful content. But as a general rule of thumb it is stated that 10% or less of your reddit postings should have self promotion.
According to a quote on reddit:
- "It's perfectly fine to be a redditor with a website, it's not okay to be a website with a reddit account." - Confucius
Ya... apparently Confucius said that... lol.
If you are going to pair affiliate marketing with Reddit, it is best to do indirect affiliate marketing which would be when you link to your own website or something, as discussed above. Just be sure not to overdue it and be helpful. It's all about being helpful.
2. Email Marketing
I'm sure we've all gotten emails at one point or another that were promoting products -- as in affiliate marketing. Many promotional emails frustrate us to no end and often are deleted without even being opened.
However, email marketing in conjunction with affiliate marketing is yet another path one could take. It's pretty self explanatory -- you send out emails with affiliate links in them to your subscriber base. And of course you don't want to bombard people with promotions. Always focus on helping and providing value first.
The problem: Most people looking into affiliate marketing are just getting started and don't have an email list, which is a list of email subscribers you can blast emails out to with an autoresponder like Aweber or Getresponse. It's true that you could buy one but this would require a fair cost and if you don't have experience in email marketing it likely isn't going to turn out too good.
Having been involved in affiliate marketing myself for years now, I've seen many people really ramp up their affiliate earnings when they started to incorporate email marketing into their daily work routine.
Again, this is not going to be a starting point for most people, but it is an option that is worth mentioning -- and it's an option that you can actually mesh together with having your own website, which I'll talk about now...
1. Website *
Number 1 on the list is affiliate marketing with your own website. This is pretty much a requirement if you want to be successful unless you have some massive Facebook following or Youtube subscriber base, which most of us do not.
The idea is simple: You create a website, attract visitors to it and promote affiliate products. But of course it is a bit more complicated than that, as I will get into.
The Best Route to Take
As mentioned, creating your own website and affiliate marketing from there is what I would suggest for the majority of people out there. In fact, even if you do have a lot of followers on Facebook or a big Youtube subscriber base, I would still recommend it.
Lots of upsides to having your own site
There are a lot of upsides to having your own website.
First off... A lot of affiliate programs actually require that you have a website before you are approved. So in some cases this is a must.
Second, you have total control over your site and what you promote. Unlike promoting on Youtube, Facebook and on forums, you don't have to follow a bunch of guidelines. It is your website and you own it.
You can make your website as spammy with affiliate links as you want to -- although this is definitely not suggested because it likely will not convert well.
A Website is the cornerstone of online business
It all starts with a good website. Even if you have a big Youtube channel or Facebook following you can promote to, having your own site and promoting it can be a gamechanger. This is why you see so many social media icons and Youtubers with their own sites nowadays.
- With a website you can...
- Get free traffic from Google, Bing and Yahoo
- Promote a Facebook page or vice versa
- Get traffic from a Youtube channel if you have one
- Get people to sign up for an email list and then do email marketing
- Monetize traffic in other ways such as with banner ads
There is a lot you can do.
How It All Works:
Most people are starting out from scratch without the help of a popular Facebook page or Youtube account, so I'll be assuming you are one of these people -- which is completely fine. I also started out this way.
The basic process of how this all works is shown here...
- Customer - Potential customers search on Google, Yahoo and Bing all the time. They are out there, and with a website you can pull them in and hopefully convert them -- to commissions that is.
- Your Site - Your website that you create will have rich content and attracts people searching online. They visit your site and click on affiliate links you have.
- Customer Buys Product - They are then directed to the seller's website and end up purchasing the product.
- You Make Money - You earn a commission of the sales you help drive in.
The great thing about getting traffic to your website from search engines like Google is that it is 100% free.
The bad thing is that it takes time. This is certainly not something that you can do and start making money with in a week. I know, it's unfortunate but it is true. It can however lead to a reliable and steady income over time.
Don't worry, I'll get into how exactly you will be getting traffic from the search engines in a second. But before all of that, you first need to get things set up. So let's go over this first...
Setting Things Up
Okay, you need a website... But where to start?
You need a domain and hosting, which there are lots of options for.
My Recommendation: Bluehost
Not only does Bluehost provide better rated hosting than the others, but it is also among the most affordable and easiest.
And not only is the hosting good, but they also offer free domain registration and everything starting at just $2.95/mo (as I'm writing this) which is insane. It is the top recommended hosting service by WordPress for a reason.
There are several options for getting started, but all you need to start out is the $2.95/mo one...
After you choose your package you will be prompted to enter your domain name. If you already own one you can enter it or you can choose a new domain name that you would like to buy, which is included with the price mentioned above...
Important: Before Buying a Domain
Before you choose a domain name put some thought into this. Preferably the domain name should have something to do with what your website is going to be about, although it doesn't really have to.
- If you are going to make a website about golfing and your name is Todd, you could call it ToddsGolfing.com
- If you will be making your site about dog walking you could name it WalkingOnAllFours.com
Now these are just examples and they might not even be available, but you get the point. Your domain can be anything. You can go with something straightforward or something more creative. You choose.
Got a domain in mind? Good.
After you choose your domain on Bluehost you will enter some information to create your account.
After all that is out of the way, it is time to install WordPress, which could be described as the website framework you will be using. This is very popular for content focused websites, which is what you will be creating. And... It is FREE. Can't beat that.
Installing WordPress is very easy so I'm not going to go over it. You will see how to do it inside Bluehost. It is a 1-click automated process. After that your website will be read for you to start working on.
Getting Traffic & Making Money
Now that you have your website up and ready to go, it's time to create some content. This is how you will be getting free traffic from the search engines, such as Google.
You can write about anything that you'd like related to your website topic.
Example: If your site is about dogs some things you could write about include...
- The top 10 dog toys
- Dog life jackets (yes this is a thing)
- How to keep your dog in your yard
- Exercises for old dogs
Writing content like reviews, "how to" guides, and top 10 lists are pretty popular. But you are by no means limited to just these.
Doing Keyword Research
Before each article that you write you are going to want to find a specific keyword to target. The idea is to target the exact keywords that people are searching for in Google.
But how do you find this out? You can't just go randomly write a bunch of content. What you need is a 'keyword research tool'.
There are different options out there but I use a keyword research tool called Jaaxy. You can type different keywords in and analyze the stats of that particular keyword as well as related keywords. This way you know how many people are searching for that keyword and how hard it is going to be to rank for it, because not all keywords are the same.
In the example below you can see that I looked up the stats for the keyword "best organic protein powder"…
Don't worry… Keyword research is not very difficult by any means. In fact, it helps you find lots of new topics to write about that you might not have thought of normally. It can be a big help and is definitely a necessity when trying to get free traffic from the search engines.
When you are creating content try to be as helpful as possible. Don't think so much about the money you are trying to make. Focus on helping the visitor and think about the information they are looking for.
You certainly do not have to be an English teacher or journalist to be able to write good content. It's best to write in a more conversational tone. No one wants to read an essay, or at least I sure as heck don't think so.
Once you have some good content up on your site it is time to move forward with the process of making money.
Now you are going to want to find some affiliate programs that have products you can promote. Amazon sells pretty much everything so that is always a good choice when just starting out, although they don't pay very high commissions.
You can search for other affiliate programs in your niche by simply using Google and searching for 'your niche + affiliate program'. So for example: 'dog toys + affiliate program'.
Signing up for affiliate programs is free.... ALWAYS FREE. So if you come across some program that is requiring you to pay, get out of there while you can. It's probably a scam.
Incorporating Affiliate Links
When you are putting affiliate links into your content you want to make it as natural as possible. Don't bombard the reader with a bunch of "click here", "buy it now", etc., although these phrases can be used sparingly and are effective.
You always have to think about what your readers might think as you are creating content and placing affiliate links.
That said, there really is no right or wrong way to go about doing it. Below you can see 3 different examples I found on different affiliate websites when I was Googling for the best dog toys. The one website uses simple "view on Amazon" text as their affiliate link, the next provides 3 different buttons with affiliate links that a reader can click on to buy on different websites, and the last has a simple "buy from Amazon.com" button.
Other Revenue Streams
One of the upsides to doing affiliate marketing through your own website, as already mentioned, is the fact that you can create multiple different revenue streams, besides just that of affiliate marketing.
One other very popular option for people who have their own websites is advertising services like Google AdSense. Basically what you would do to make money with AdSense is simply place a code on your website and then Google AdSense will display relevant ads to your website visitors, which you would make money from.
And of course there is big money to be made in email marketing, and when you have your own website you can collect people's emails by getting them to opt into newsletters and such.
Okay, so let's do a brief recap here…
Affiliate marketing is simply when you promote other people's stuff and earn commissions when you help drive in a sale. There are multiple ways to go about doing this and having your own website is what I would recommend.
The goal is to choose a specific topic you want your website to be about and to write content about that specific topic, which will attract visitors who are searching on Google and the other search engines if you do your keyword research correctly with the use of keyword research tools such as Jaaxy.
After getting your website up off the ground and creating some good content, you then can look into affiliate programs that have products related to what your website is all about. Then you're going to want to insert affiliate links naturally, but without coming across as too "salesy".
And that's pretty much it for the most part. Then you just rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.
Once you get the hang of it really is not that difficult, but I understand how it can seem very overwhelming when you're just starting out. I also see that there is a lot of room for potential error and being led down the wrong path.
If you are looking to start out the right way and want some guidance showing you step-by-step how to get through this entire process of…
- Choosing a website topic
- Building your website
- Writing content
- Monetizing that content
- And more
And if you want access to everything it all in one bundle, including a free website and access to the Jaaxy keyword research tool that I use, then I would highly suggest creating a free account at Wealthy Affiliate.
In a nutshell, Wealthy Affiliate is a step-by-step training platform for affiliate marketers that provide you with everything you need to get started. And best of all, they offer a free membership for beginners were you can get started at no cost.
*If you do join Wealthy Affiliate you will get a free website and hosting through them, which means you can ignore what I wrote above about buying your domain and website hosting.
The reason I'm such a fan of Wealthy Affiliate, besides the fact that is the only "all-in-one" platform of its kind, is because this is where I started out and there is no doubt it has led to my success.
You can also read my full review of Wealthy Affiliate here.
This was quite a long article so I'm sure there are at least some questions you might have. Feel free to ask them below in the comment section I will get back to you soon 🙂