Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest and lucrative ways to earn money online. You can start affiliate marketing as a beginner and get some affiliate sales to earn some good money as an affiliate commission – even if you are a beginner without having much experience.
This is the reason why I highly recommend everyone to start with affiliate marketing. The reason being:
- Earning money from affiliate marketing is not rocket science, even a beginner can start earning from affiliate marketing with some basic skills.
- You don’t need to create your own product (you can sell affiliate products that are not your own and still make money).
- You don’t need to have advanced marketing skills and other technical skills to prove yourself – just learn basic affiliate marketing skills (which you’ll learn in this article), and you are good to start earning your first $1000, $10,000, or even more.
- Furthermore, you don’t need to worry about invoicing, customer support, managing a team, and other technical aspects that come along the way of creating and selling a product or service (Oh my god, after creating and selling my own products, I know how complex the process it) – thankfully you don’t have to worry that in affiliate marketing as the product owner does it for you.
If you learn affiliate marketing and do it the right way, you can not only transform people’s lives, but your life as well – earning passive income and getting financial freedom as well as time freedom, the exact reason why you preferred to be an entrepreneur and start your own affiliate business, right?
Wake up in the morning, checking your phone, and getting to know you got a commission!
Awesome feeling! Isn’t it?
Affiliate marketing has the power to make it happen.
Individuals can earn passive income by working from home just by promoting products, while business owners can expand their businesses by affiliate marketing.
Since individuals who join their affiliate programs, do the promotion for them and bring sales for their products or services, in return, they pay you (affiliate marketer) a certain percentage as affiliate commission for the sales you bring in.
Furthermore, when you promote good affiliate products and recommend them to the customers, you transform those people’s lives as you help them ease their lives.
So, people thank you for recommending a product that transforms their lives.
Win-win situation! Right?
So this is the basic concept of affiliate marketing from all three perspectives. However, this post will focus on how an individual can earn passive income through affiliate marketing as a side hustle.
Before we start, here are some affiliate marketing statistics to give you an idea –
- According to mediakix, U.S. affiliate marketing spending increases annually by 10%.
- According to saasscout, affiliate marketing spending is approximately $12 Billion globally.
So, is this multi-billion dollar industry also appealing to you?
Let’s dive in right now…
What is Affiliate Marketing, and how does it work?
- What is Affiliate Marketing, and how does it work?
- Some Common Terms Used in Affiliate Marketing –
- How to Start Affiliate Marketing as a Beginner in 6 Easy Steps?
- 1. Decide the Platforms for Affiliate Marketing
- 2. Choosing the “Right” Niche for Affiliate Marketing
- 3. Finding High-Converting Affiliate Products to Promote
- 4. Get Your Affiliate Marketing System Ready
- 5. Start Creating Content with Irresistible Offer
- 6. Bringing Traffic to Get Affiliate Sales
In Affiliate marketing, there are four parties involved –
- The Merchant –
The merchant can be an individual or a brand that owns a physical or digital product. From creating and managing the product to customer support and satisfaction, a merchant is responsible and will cover all of that. You don’t have to worry about it.
2. The Publisher or the Affiliates –
Generally, the affiliates are the content creators who partner with merchants to grow their businesses. As an affiliate, we promote/recommend/market their products to our audience in various ways and earn a generous commission on each sale we refer.
For example, as a blogger, we add affiliate links for recommended products within the content and get a commission if someone goes through that link and purchases the product.
3. Customers –
The most crucial ingredient of any business is customers. Affiliates help the brand to reach more customers. They work like a bridge between product owner and customer.
Affiliates have an audience to whom they promote the product.
4. Affiliate Networks(optional) –
Affiliate networks make it easy for business owners to manage their affiliates. They take care of tracking clicks, sales, conversion, cookies, etc…
It helps merchants and affiliates to connect with each -other. For example, CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, and Impact Radius are some popular affiliate networks.
In Simple words, As an affiliate, you get an appealing commission on each successful sale that you refer to.
For Example, I’ve recommended Bluehost web hosting in my guide to start a blog. And I get a commission every time when someone signups through my affiliate link.
The beauty of the affiliate marketing module is that you can give your 100% focus on promoting the product. The rest of the things like product management, invoicing, and customer support are managed by the merchant itself.
Moreover, you have the freedom to work from anywhere, anytime.
Some Common Terms Used in Affiliate Marketing –
The following affiliate marketing terms are commonly used most frequently, so it is crucial to understand them if you want to start affiliate marketing. It will also help you to better understand the blog post.
- Affiliate Link – An Affiliate link is a unique link given to each affiliate. It tracks the sales referred by you.
- Affiliate program – As mentioned earlier, an affiliate program is simply a platform that manages affiliates’ data and tracking. Affiliates can see here the number of clicks, sales conversion, get promo materials such as banners and links, and much more …
- Clicks – Clicks is the amount of how many users clicked on your affiliate link to visit that website/landing page of affiliate product.
- Conversion rate- Conversion rate is a ratio of clicks and sales (how many visitors actually purchased or signed up). For example, if 100 people clicked the affiliate link, and you got 9 affiliate sales, that’s 11.1% conversion rate (100 divided by 9).
- Recurring commission – Recurring commission means that you will get a certain amount of commission every time your referral purchases or renews the product. This way, you make passive income. Whereas in one-time commission, you get a generous commission at once.
- Promo material – promo material is a variety of banners, links, etc. that is offered by affiliate programs so that you can use that promo material to promote products easily and drive more clicks & conversions.
- Affiliate Manager – The affiliate manager is a dedicated person to answer/solve your (affiliate marketer) queries, assists you in marketing products efficiently.
With that, let’s jump to the next section.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing as a Beginner in 6 Easy Steps?
To keep it simple and straightforward, I’ve broken down the process into 6 simple steps to starting affiliate marketing as a beginner-
1. Decide the Platforms for Affiliate Marketing
First things First, you need to decide where you want to build your audience? Whom you would recommend affiliate products later.
There are plenty of options such as starting a blog, starting a YouTube channel, starting a podcast show, Instagram page, Facebook groups, LinkedIn, etc. In fact, you can start on any content creation platform.
But I will only recommend you to start with one platform and build an audience first before you jump onto another platform.
Because if you spread yourself too thin on every platform, it’ll become very tough to sustain and grow as a solopreneur in the long run.
Now, you must be wondering which platform should you build an audience on?
You can build an audience on almost any platform of your choice and get some success selling affiliate products and earning affiliate commissions.
But if you want to earn passive income from affiliate marketing, my recommendation would be to start a blog or a YouTube channel.
Because these two platforms are the best to get organic visitors on autopilot (that is, without you having to work every day) and converting them into sales. As you have more flexibility to promote products efficiently.
As in your blog, you can fully optimize and design it for the maximum profits, and YouTube also allows leaving links in the video description and first comment as well.
Whereas in other platforms like Instagram, you can only put a link in the Bio section. So, it is very hard to generate sales with Instagram.
Second, Google and YouTube are respectively the two biggest search engines in the world. Hands Down, visitors from searches convert like nothing else. And there’s a reason for it. People coming from searches are laser targeted, unlike social media newsfeed or other ways.
The third and most important reason is: A blog or YouTube channel is a long term game and good for passive income. Social media platforms keep changing their algorithms, what’s working today might not work next month.
So if you heavily rely on a particular social media, your business is always at risk. However, when it comes to blogging or YouTube channel – I have written blog articles back in 2014 that still brings affiliate sales and commissions.
Similarly, I create and upload videos to YouTube, add affiliate links in the video description, and never touch that again. I can focus on other stuff and as the videos get more views on autopilot, they bring affiliate sales and I make money while sleeping.
So as you can notice, if done right, affiliate marketing can help you earn passive income while sleeping, and starting a blog or creating YouTube videos can certainly help you earn passive income from affiliate marketing.
But which of the two should you choose to build your audience on?
If you’re good at writing then start a blog, write blog posts, guest posts, post on LinkedIn, etc.
And if you’re comfortable creating videos, upload quality videos to YouTube. And the good thing is: you can repurpose and use the same video on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Further, you can also go live on Facebook live, Instagram live, LinkedIn live, etc. and sell through live videos – either on these platforms or through a webinar.
The key here is to play on your strength!
To get your blog on the road, it roughly costs you less than $100 for a year (in starting). I’ve already written a step-by-step guide to starting a blog.
With Bluehost, you can start your own blog at only $2.95 per month. In starting, you don’t need to invest in fancy themes, plugins, etc.
I personally recommend you start with a blog because you have full control to customize your page for maximum conversions and lead generation as well.
And if you’re more comfortable creating videos, YouTube is also a good idea and gives awesome conversion rates. And the best part? It is relatively easier to build an audience on YouTube.
The demand for video content is booming and the competition is also lesser than blogging.
Starting a YouTube channel is completely free of cost. You can start creating videos with your phone and a budget mic. I recommend getting a basic mic because users can compromise with video quality, but audio matters the most on YouTube!
If you are interested in starting a YouTube channel, I have got a whole playlist with various how-to tutorial videos on my YouTube channel LearnDigitalwithRahul.
With that, let’s move to the further steps.
2. Choosing the “Right” Niche for Affiliate Marketing
Before starting a blog or a YouTube channel, spending a good time figuring out the best niches is very important.
You might be wondering: What’s a niche?
A niche is basically a very specific subcategory of a broad category.
For example, Business is a very extensive category, and marketing is its subcategory, digital marketing is a subcategory of marketing and blogging is a part of digital marketing. In this case, if your blog only covers blogging, then your niche is blogging.
Most of the niches fall under health, wealth, and relationships, so you can dig deeper into these categories to find out a specific niche.
I have discussed more regarding the most profitable niche in this video:
The beauty of online marketing is that you can target a very specific audience. That’s why you have to focus n a particular niche instead of just randomly creating content.
Most of the beginners make this mistake that they cover multiple niches or a very broad industry like technology. Sadly, we are in an era where E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) matters!
So you need to be very specific with your niche rather than focusing on a broad niche with tons of competition.
Now, Here’s a deal:
You can do affiliate marketing in almost every niche, but not every niche is that profitable.
You need to ensure that the niche has enough potential. In fact, it is very easy to come up with a lot of niche ideas, but choosing the right one is a time-consuming process.
How do you know if the niche is right for you? You should ask yourself the following questions before going for a niche:
- Are there enough people interested in that topic?
- Are there good affiliate products to promote?
- How much they are willing to spend on it?
- How much competition is there, so can you rank as a newbie?
In starting, you should prefer low competition niches even if it’s less profitable, so you can start getting traffic in a short time.
Another irresistible thing is your interest.
If the niche is boring to you, you will quit soon. The topic must hold some of your interest if you want to stay in the long run(at least if you will create content yourself).
When you are interested in a topic, you will spend more time doing thorough research, and you will write or create content more passionately, which will result in better content.
Don’t pick a niche just because it’s profitable, even if you don’t find it interesting. Many newbies make this mistake often, and this is the reason why they quit so early.
Now, let me share a quick method to find out many possible niches –
One of the easiest methods to brainstorm affiliate niches for beginners is Amazon. Amazon is the ocean of affiliate niches. Here’s How it works –
Amazon has products in almost every category, right? So first, you need to head over to Amazon.
Now, look at the “shop by department” section. here are various big categories.
For example, let’s click on Men’s fashion.
So here are its subcategories like clothing, accessories, shoes etc.
Let’s dig down further.
So under the shoe section, you can see there are more specific categories like casual shoes and sports shoes.
It can be your niche.
You need to target a very specific category like this. (at least to start with)
Using this method, you can very easily brainstorm plenty of good niches from Amazon. Amazing! And the best part of this method? There are various products that exist for sure to promote.
In addition, you can check out other marketplaces such as ShareASale and Clickbank.
There are other methods as well to get ideas. In fact, you can just sit down and brainstorm on paper. Or look for products around yourself.
Browse some authority blogs, look at the categories of news sites, or even an easy Google search like “blog niche ideas” work.
Once you’ve created a big list of multiple niche ideas. Now it’s time to shortlist it by profitability and competition, so you can select a better option.
However, it is not a dedicated post to niche research, so I will not go much deeper, but let me explain it in brief.
To determine the profitability of a niche, search volume and product pricing plus commission rates are the two most important factors.
Search volume helps you to estimate how many visitors you can attract and the interest of people, whereas product pricing is good to estimate the revenue you can generate.
Let’s do the maths –
Assuming that you can get 30k monthly visitors per month and only 1% of them actually convert. And the average product pricing is around $150 with a commission rate of 2.5%, which leads to around $3.75 per sale. This way, you would be earning $1125 each month.
Just a rough estimation!!
You also need to ensure that the niche has enough space, i.e. are there enough keywords to target and their search volume? How broad a niche is?
Next, to estimate the competition, you have to look at the other blogs that are ranking well in the niche.
- Look at the age of these websites. There are a lot of free tools to do so, like Smallseotools. Outranking authority sites is harder. It is a great signal if new websites are doing well on search results.
- Look at the quality of the content of the top-ranking pages. You have a very good chance if the pages with poor quality are ranking well.
- Look at the backlinks of top-ranking pages (with the help of SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush) so it would give you an idea of SEO efforts. In starting, you should try to find out keywords on which people are ranking with very few to zero backlinks.
- Low-value pages such as forum sites are also a good signal that the competition is less.
I leave it just here, and that leads us to the next step in affiliate marketing.
3. Finding High-Converting Affiliate Products to Promote
In affiliate marketing, the selection of profitable affiliate products plays a vital role. Doesn’t matter how awesome your content marketing strategy is, it won’t work if the product sucks.
In fact, a great product sells automatically, you just need to spread some words about it.
Before promoting or recommending any product, make sure that –
- It is highly relevant and solves a real problem. For example, if someone wants to start a self-hosted blog, he/she needs web hosting so you can recommend a secure, and speedy hosting company with good customer support.
- The product is reliable and of high quality.
- It falls under their budget. For example, if I recommend an agency tool to solopreneurs or beginners, they mostly can’t afford it and even if they do, it’s not worth it.
So your goal should be guiding them by recommending products that truly solve their problem and makes life easier, rather than making their lives more complex.
Apart from this, you also need to look at the commission rates. It takes almost the same amount of effort to promote $10 commission/sale products as it does to promote $100 commission/sale products.
That’s why you should choose a High-Ticket Affiliate Program as your primary affiliate product to make money.
You might be wondering:
What are high-ticket affiliate programs?
High ticket affiliate programs refer to affiliate programs that offer very high commission per sale or lifetime time recurring commission.
For example, hosting affiliate programs can be considered as High ticket affiliate programs because you usually get $50+ commission/sale.
Recurring commissions mean that you will receive a commission every time your referral orders new products or renews his/her subscription, which earns you a passive income for your affiliate marketing efforts.
You refer once and keep earning as long as they don’t cancel their subscriptions. For example, the SEMRush affiliate program pays a 40% lifetime recurring commission.
While you shouldn’t ignore less profit margin products completely, you can use them as a supporting revenue source.
Think of your entire affiliate marketing revenue as a container that you have to fill. You can consider high ticket affiliate products as big stones, while products with less profit margin as small pebbles.
In addition, I also recommend you use the product yourself first before you start promoting products as affiliates.
When you do that, you not only get a feel and experience of the product yourself which ultimately helps in promotion and marketing, but also it makes you more credible and suitable to spread words about it.
Having hands-on experience clearly shows your personal feel and experience in the content, which helps you stand out in the crowd when compared to other affiliate competitors.
How to Find Affiliate Products in Your Niche?
Even a simple Google search works. Just google “your niche” + affiliate programs.
Sidenote: If you’re in the digital marketing space, then check out these 50 high-paying affiliate programs.
I recommend you analyse some popular blogs in your space and check what’s working for them. This is one of the easiest ways to find high-performing products for promotion.
Next, you can also browse Amazon products in any niche.
Similarly, there are other marketplaces like ShareASale & Clickbank to explore profitable Physical & Digital Affiliate products.
Now, that you have found your affiliate products to promote and ensure that those affiliate products are high paying and profitable, let’s move to the next step to start affiliate marketing.
4. Get Your Affiliate Marketing System Ready
You’ve chosen the products you want to promote, so be sure you have an affiliate marketing system in place.
Most newbie affiliate marketers don’t have a proper affiliate marketing strategy and they just spam people by posting ugly looking affiliate links here and there.
Affiliate marketing links pasted here and there won’t get you good conversion rates, and when you won’t see the desired results, you’ll end up getting frustrated.
Also, your blog post is not going to convert all your visitors at their first visit, and once they leave your website, they are more likely to not make a comeback again.
Your biggest challenge in this online business is bringing traffic, so you cannot afford to waste it and lose potential customers.
That’s why you should start building an email list from day one and stay in touch regularly to create a loyal audience.
Sounds like a lot of work…. :(, Right?
Thanks to various easy to use email marketing tools available in the market, email marketing has become much simpler than ever before.
I remember those old days when I started using building an email list, I had to go through countless blog posts and support articles to get my email marketing up and running.
I know how frustrating it was as a beginner.
But now, things have changed, email marketing tools like ConvertKit has made it so simple even for a beginner.
And the good thing is: now, your email marketing can be automated to the maximum extent so that you can invest more time in bringing more traffic and less time in worrying about the tech and automation.
In fact, you can automate all these processes, from collecting email addresses to delivering lead magnets and sending email sequences.
You only need 2 tools as a beginner to automate the process:-
- Lead Generation Tool or Landing Page Builder – It helps to convert visitors into leads. These tools let you easily capture emails through attractive pop-ups, banners, landing pages, forms, etc. ClickFunnels is a leading funnel building software which works amazing as my go-to tool for landing pages, sales funnels, and lead generation or lead squeeze page.
- Email Marketing/Automation tool – You can’t send follow-up emails to everyone manually at all. Right? So, you need an email marketing tool to automate lead magnet delivery, send personalized emails, create automated sequence follow-ups, and much more.
I’ll refer you to my ultimate guide to email marketing to dig deeper and start your email marketing campaign in the next few minutes for free.
And that’s all you need to set up your affiliate marketing system. Just 2 tools only. Pretty simple, right?
Yes, it is simple.
The more tools you use, the more complex it becomes. You spend more time on technicalities than doing actual work.
I don’t want you to waste your time on useless activities that don’t align with your goals. So do yourself a favour and start with just these tools – I’m sure you’ll save a lot of time which you can utilize to make more affiliate earning.
5. Start Creating Content with Irresistible Offer
The next step to get affiliate marketing going is to start the content creation process, as content marketing is the most popular strategy to drive traffic for beginner affiliate marketers.
Not just any content, but the content that attracts the right audience.
Once you’ve figured out the niche and products to promote, it’s time to start creating high-quality content with the proper content strategy in place.
When I say high-quality content, I mean that it should be useful, unique, credible, engaging, and persuasive.
There are two primary types of content:-
- Informational Content – that provides information such as How to, what, why tips, etc.
- Transactional or Commercial Content – that encourages transactions such as reviews, comparison, tutorials, etc.
There should be a good mix of informational and commercial content. To build an audience, you need to focus more on adding value by creating informational content.
If a user lands on your site and there’s only commercial content in maximum quantity, it will leave a bad impression.
It is true that commercial keywords like reviews and discount converts very well once ranked in top positions.
But you know what? Informational content can also bring in a flood of sales. Think about explaining “how to start a blog”, web hosting sells on autopilot if the answer is comprehensive.
On the other hand, buyer intent keywords generate passive sales once ranked in top positions of search engine rankings.
Some most popular buyer intent modifiers are –
- Best (product round-up)
- x “vs” y (comparison)
Users searching for these types of keywords are ready to buy, and your content can encourage them to take action.
Buyer intent keywords usually have less search volume and high competition, but they have the power to skyrocket conversions – which is something you should consider while creating content for your affiliate marketing strategy.
And once you have got an idea of your content strategy for affiliate marketing, it’s time to proceed to the next step in your affiliate marketing journey.
6. Bringing Traffic to Get Affiliate Sales
Creating content only won’t take you too far in your affiliate marketing journey. In fact, only content creation isn’t much useful if it is not reaching your target audience.
So you have to drive targeted traffic to your content.
In affiliate marketing, the quality of traffic, i.e. relevant and targeted traffic, actually matters instead of the quantity of traffic.
You know what? There are over 7 million blog posts published every single day. That’s why the “Publish & Pray” approach does not work anymore.
In fact, I highly recommended you invest only 20% of your time in creating and 80% of the time in promotion and marketing it.
Now, there are various types of website traffic you need to know about:
- Organic Traffic: Traffic that comes organically from search engines
- Direct Traffic: People who directly visited your site, this comes from authority, credibility, and brand value
- Referral Traffic: Traffic coming due to people clicking links on another website i.e. blogs, forums, etc.
- Social Traffic: Traffic from social media platforms
- And Paid Traffic: Traffic coming from paid ads and other forms of paid marketing.
Hands down, the quality and consistency of organic traffic from search engines like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and YouTube etc. are unmatched.
Here’s a fact:
In search/organic traffic, people come to you for solutions whereas, in other types of traffic, you reach out to people.
Which leads to appealing conversion rates.
So, How can you get more search traffic for more sales in affiliate marketing?
Focus more on “S.E.O.”
Have you heard this term ever before?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which refers to the efforts to rank your website higher in search engines like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo & YouTube.
It is the most effective and fruitful way to drive traffic to a blog or website.
However, SEO is a long-term strategy, and it takes time to see any impact on rankings. Your website isn’t going to generate any traffic from search engines in the initial stage.
Also, you should not depend on only one source of traffic because things may change at any time. Especially when it comes to SEO, a usual algorithm update can change your rankings significantly if you are indulged in the grey hat or black hat SEO practices.
That’s why you need to develop and build a secondary audience from several other types of traffic sources as well.
So be active on social media platforms, leverage Quora & other forums, build an email list, do outreach, etc. to get better results, faster growth and also future-proof your business from unseen pitfalls.
Many pro affiliate marketers also include paid marketing methods in their strategy. Even I run paid ads to my best-converting funnels.
The idea is to put $1 in paid ads and get $2 or even $3 in return, thus making you more profit. And that happens when you build a high converting sales funnel and guide your customer journey through a well-oiled marketing path and sales strategy.
You can learn more about this concept by watching this free training. And this concept is truly amazing.
But if you are a beginner in the affiliate marketing business, I would not suggest the paid marketing way to start. Don’t play with paid ads until you master free methods and start generating affiliate sales with free marketing methods.
Check out my previous guide about 25 ways to get more blog traffic.
How long does it take to make money with Affiliate Marketing?
It depends on your strategy and level of expertise. If you are a complete beginner and starting with affiliate marketing, don’t expect anything, at least for the first few weeks.
Can Affiliate Marketing be done without a website?
Yes, you can absolutely do it without a website. In fact, you can start on any platform, even on Instagram.
But starting a blog is one of the most profitable and long-term strategic options.
How much do Affiliate Links pay?
Affiliate links only help to track the sales referred by you. In fact, the amount of commissions you earn when someone clicks your affiliate link and makes a purchase varies from product to product.
How much money you can make through Affiliate Marketing?
The more sales you can refer, the more commission you will get. The higher the commission per sale, the fewer sales you need to make. In short,
Your Revenue = Traffic X Conversion rates X Commission/sale
Affiliate marketers make from nothing to up to 5 or even 6 figures USD per month.
You can start affiliate marketing by following these six simple steps. And if you do it right, you should expect to start earning affiliate commissions within a few weeks.
Yes, it wouldn’t happen overnight. Getting affiliate sales and earning money from affiliate marketing requires plenty of time and effort before you see any success.
But overall, it is a great monetization strategy and can help you generate passive income through your blog – which is like a blessing for solopreneurs like us.
A lot of new bloggers include affiliate marketing in their monetization strategy, but many of them fail.
Because they quit very soon!
So be patient and keep working!
You need to keep learning and putting in the effort consistently. And After a certain amount of time, you would have added a new good income source.
And at the end, let me remind you again that never ever promote or recommend any product just for the shake of commission if it’s not offering a better solution for your audience. Think of long-term!
The more value you add to other people’s lives, the more money you make in the long run.
I hope this step-by-step ultimate guide to affiliate marketing helps you get started with affiliate marketing. If not, you may read my download and read my free e-book named “Affiliate Sales Mastery“.
If you have got any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below, and I’ll be more than happy to help you.