Today we’re going to take a deep dive into Affiliate Marketing for Beginners.
The goal here is to teach you what affiliate marketing is, all the effective tips and strategies you can use as an affiliate to make more money online and the things you need to avoid at all cost.
Ultimately I want to make this simple and easy for you to understand.
If you can understand what the concept is and how you can use it to grow your blogging business then everything will fall into place.
So with that in mind, let’s jump right into this definitive guide to affiliate marketing for beginners.
Table of Contents
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s or another company’s products.
I like to think of it as you being the middleman of sorts.
As a blogger or internet marketer, there are always going to be some problems your target audience will face as they try to achieve certain goals.
Your duty as an affiliate marketer is to find a solution to that problem then refer people back to it.
Problem -> You -> Solution
It’s a win-win for you and your customer – at least in principle it is.
Unfortunately affiliate marketing has gotten a bad rap over the years because people have used shady tactics to get people to buy crappy products.
If there’s one thing missing from the definition above, it’s the fact that affiliate marketing is based on trust.
If you’re going to promote anything to your audience, it should be because you genuinely believe it will help them and because you have their best interest at heart.
Be honest and open about the fact that you’ll earn a commision from the sales.
People actually appreciate that.
Don’t let your brand or blog have a bad reputation just because you’re trying to squeeze some money out of your visitors.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Let’s start begin with some basic definitions so you can get familiar with the lingo and get a better understanding of how the whole thing works.
Affiliate (or Publisher)
As an affiliate, you refer people back to the different products.
Affiliate Program (Affiliate Network or Advertiser)
This is the owner or creator of the products.
An affiliate “program” could be a single person or a huge company.
The idea is they are the ones in possession of the product and own the full rights to it.
This of course is your target audience. The end user.
How does it Work?
You (the affiliate) place a link to the product on your website, one of your visitors (the consumer) clicks on the link and they are redirected to the product (affiliate network).
If that person makes a purchase using your links, the referral is tracked back to you and you earn a commission for the sale.
So you find a target product, promote it and you get rewarded with a portion of the profits every time you make a sale or generate a lead.
The more people you can get to purchase using your links, the more money you get.
That’s why building trust is very important and should be at the forefront of every affiliate marketing campaign you pursue.
One of the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing and why it is such an attractive method to make money online is because you don’t have to create any products yourself.
If you’re not interested in creating your own products from scratch then this is the ideal option for you to monetize your blog.
Once you’ve launched your blog, it’s possible for you to begin including your affiliate links as soon as you’re ready.
Here is one of my favorite quotes about affiliate marketing:
Sounds awesome right?
However I want you to keep in mind it is not as simple as finding a few products, telling a bunch people about them and hoping everyone will buy.
It also doesn’t imply you need to fill your blog with affiliate links right out the gate.
Affiliate marketing requires just about as much work as any other method you’ll use to make money online.
I’m not telling you this to scare you away but simply because I don’t want you thinking this a means for you to get rich quickly.
Your focus should be on the things that really matter – Value first and creating quality content for your audience.
All online marketing endeavors take some time for you to get decent results and affiliate marketing is no exception.
Please don’t fall victim to any fictitious income reports or set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
What are Affiliate Links?
I’ve mentioned “affiliate links” a few times already but what exactly are they?
An affiliate link is a special link that contains your referral ID or your username.
It’s a link that’s unique to you and it’s what the affiliate programs use to keep track of any referrals you send their way and give you credit for the sale.
The structure of an affiliate link usually resembles something like the image below:
Affiliate links are actually very easy to create and can be done in 1 of 3 ways:
- You can create yours manually
- You can create your links in the Affiliate member area of the program you signed up with
- Your Affiliate program can send the links to you
It ultimately comes down to whichever option the Advertiser or the Affiliate program decides to use.
Some of the best places to post your affiliate links include:
- Your blog (A resource page, within your posts)
- Include them in your videos
- Other visuals (such as photos)
- Email (only if your affiliate program allows you to do so!)
- Within your own courses
- Sidebar Ads
Types Of Affiliate Marketing
There are 3 different types of affiliate marketing all based on the different ways you get paid:
- Pay Per Sale
- Pay Per Click
- Pay Per Lead
1 - Pay Per Sale
This is the most common type of affiliate marketing program.
It’s also likely the one you’ll deal with as a blogger if you’re recommending other courses, apps, software or any other tools for your audience.
It works just like the name suggests.
The advertiser/affiliate program pays you based on the amount of conversions or sales you can generate.
Meaning the people who click on your links need to actually make a purchase before you earn a commission.
2 - Pay Per Click
As you rightfully guessed, this type of affiliate marketing program is based on the number of clicks your links or ads generate.
The goal is to get as many visitors to click through to the advertisers website.
3 - Pay Per Lead
With this type of affiliate marketing, you get paid for referring potential clients or prospects.
As a PPL affiliate your goal is to get the visitor to complete whatever information is required of them.
It could be a free trial, a signup form, create an account, get a quote, or anything along those lines.
TYPES OF AFFILIATE MARKETING CONT’D
Here’s a little bit more insight into the different types of affiliate marketing from Pat Flynn.
You further classify affiliate marketing into 3 more categories based on how you’re associated with the product.
i – Unattached Affiliate Marketing: where you have no presence and no authority in the niche of the product you’re promoting and there’s no connection between you and the end consumer.
ii – Related Affiliate Marketing: where you have some sort of online presence and you have affiliate links to products related to your niche, but they’re for products you don’t actually use.
iii – Involved Affiliate Marketing: where you’ve used a product or service, truly believe in it, and personally recommend it to your audience.
Can you guess which one of those 3 is the most profitable?
Of course it’s involved affiliate marketing.
Makes perfect sense because that’s the only one that helps you build a healthy relationship with your audience and it allows them to trust you.
Like I mentioned before, your focus should be on value AND quality content before anything else.
P.S. If you’re not sure who Pat Flynn is, you can read more about his story here.
How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
Before we continue, I need to reiterate the fact that Affiliate Marketing isn’t about making fast money or thinking that you’ll just place a ton of links all over your blog and make money in your sleep.
It’s actually quite the contrary.
I understand we’re all sold on the idea that affiliate marketing could be an excellent source of passive income but it’s really not as passive as it sounds.
At least not in the initial stages.
Affiliate marketing isn’t just a one time thing. You need to show up continuously for your audience and you need to recommend products that will actually help them.
Those things take time and effort but in the end they help build a trustworthy relationship with the people who visit your site.
There is a business mnemonic I want you to keep in mind every time you plan on marketing anything, be it online or offline.
It’s known as the AIDA model and it stands for:
- A – Awareness (You need to get your audience’s attention)
- I – Interest (Keep that attention by getting them interested)
- D – Desire (Show them how the product or offer will be of benefit TO THEM!)
- A – Action (Get them to take action on the desire)
If anyone of those steps is missing, you’ll only be making life harder on yourself as an affiliate marketer or for any other thing you do online.
The AIDA Model Explained
Here is how the whole process works:
1 - Awareness
The first thing that needs to happen is people need to be aware of who you are and that your site even exists.
You need to get their attention.
The best way to get attention is by using what I like to refer to as the “shine so bright they can’t miss you” approach. (Learn more about it here)
In other words make it hard for them to miss you.
Think of how billboard advertising works.
The same concept applies here.
The one way to do this as a blogger is with the help of high quality content.
You need content that allows you stand out in traffic and content that helps you build a long term relationship with your audience.
2 - Interest
After you’ve gotten someone’s attention, you need to keep them interested.
There are 2 things you need to remember in this phase:
- People have very short attention spans and
- No one cares about you. Period.
That doesn’t mean your audience isn’t interested in what you have to say but what they’re really looking for is how you’re going to improve their lives.
Most people are only interested in the things that benefit them.
When you’re choosing affiliate products make sure they’re relevant to your niche and that they truly fit your audience’s needs.
Ideally these should be products you’ve tested yourself or at the very least are familiar with because it’ll help with the next step.
3 - Desire
The goal at this stage is to show your audience that the products you recommend will really help them solve any particular problems they may struggle with.
You’re basically telling them “this product is the solution to your problem and this is why you should get it.”
That’s why I recommend you should test and familiarize yourself with the products.
This is where all the features, comparisons and most importantly all the benefits come into play.
(See: Involved Affiliate Marketing)
4 - Action
Now all your hard work finally pays off.
You’re promoting the products, your audience loves it because you’ve established trust and now you can start earning affiliate commissions.
If you can effectively “A.I.D” your visitors, then getting them to take Action will be a lot easier.
That in a nutshell is how you make money with affiliate marketing.
How much money can you make as an Affiliate Marketer
I understand part of the premise of this post is to place a numerical value on how much money you can make with affiliate marketing.
It’s a question every single blogger has asked at some point in their journey so I guess in some way it’s worth asking.
But I won’t even bother trying to give you any numbers here.
The answer is Yes you can make good money with affiliate marketing and yes you can make more than enough money to live a life you’ve always wanted.
Sure it’s a vague response but that’s the reality of how affiliate marketing works.
So instead of focusing just on how much money you can make or some “secret technique”, I’d rather we take a look at some of the best practices you need to follow to increase your chances of being successful.
Successful Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: 10 Best Practices
1 - Start with a Plan
It may seem absurd to think that as an affiliate you need any kind of plan at all.
After all the only thing you’re doing is placing links on your site right?
You need to think of exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish – what’s the goal for your audience and yourself.
Is it something they actually want?
Will it be worth your time and effort?
Do you have a particular income goal in mind?
Those are just a few of the things you need to start asking yourself.
If you think you’re just going to try to wing it, you’ll lack in effort and the results will show.
2 - Quality Content
At this point I think I’m probably obsessed with those words but that’s only because I know it’s the one thing that’s guaranteed to work.
Quality content is an absolute must nowadays.
You can’t get by with lackluster material. Not if you’re tying to get anyone’s attention.
Do your due diligence and find out exactly what issues your target audience is dealing with and what solutions are out there for them.
The goal of any affiliate product is to solve a particular problem and that usually begins with excellent content.
I HAVE A FAVOR TO ASK OF YOU.
This isn’t something a lot of bloggers generally ask for but I’d really appreciate it if you could tell me if there are any areas where I could improve on my content.
It doesn’t have to be anything in-depth. Even just a few words could go a long way.
The reason I ask is so I can continue to write in a manner that not only makes it helpful to you but also makes it easy to understand.
So if you have any constructive suggestions, please leave them for me in the comments section.
3 - Value First
This is basically a continuation of the previous point.
If you focus on providing value to your audience then your affiliate links will come naturally.
I’ll use myself as an example.
I have a post that teaches people how to launch a blog and in it I mention SiteGround (<– affiliate link) because it is a hosting provider I use and I know it’ll help any new bloggers as well.
At that point it just comes naturally and it makes sense to anyone reading the post.
Provide value first and the rest will follow naturally.
(P.S. If you need help starting your own blog, you can get started here)
4 - Be Familiar with Your Products
Ideally you want to recommend products you currently use or have at least tried yourself.
Even if that’s not the case, you need to familiarize yourself with whatever it is you’re recommending.
Your audience trusts you more than they do the big brands and they’re more likely to reach out to you with any questions or issues that arise as they use any products.
You’re the one who made the recommendation after all.
You lose all of that trust if you’re unable to help them or respond to their questions.
5 - Be Honest and Transparent
Don’t try to hide your links or trick your audience into using your affiliate links.
Not only is it dishonest but it’s actually against the law.
The FTC requires you to disclose affiliate links “clearly and conspicuously on your site, so readers can decide how much weight to give your endorsement.”
If your goal is to build credibility and if you’re really serious about making money as an affiliate marketer then you shouldn’t be trying to hide your links anyway.
Truth is most people probably already understand you’ll be getting some kind of compensation.
No need to trick them.
6 - Learn from other Affiliate Marketers or Bloggers
Being new to affiliate marketing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
You actually have the fortune of watching and learning from the leaders in your niche.
Take a look at what they’re doing and how they’re building a loyal audience and following.
You can reach out to them with any questions or ask for their opinions.
It’s even possible for you to build healthy relationships with them by recommending their products or services.
Use all those things to your advantage.
7 - Keep It Clean (Avoid Overstuffing)
It’s tempting to feel like you need to place affiliate links all over your blog but doing less is actually more in this case.
Too many links makes your content look spammy and could end up working against you instead.
It’s actually a good practice for you to create some sort of Resources page where you house all your recommended products.
That helps keep things organized and makes it more accessible to your visitors.
8 - Grow Your Email List
A high quality mailing list is one of the most important aspects for any affiliate marketer.
It’s the best way to build an audience that’ll be interested in anything you have to offer.
Email marketing is a whole other subject on its own but your takeaway for now is that everything we’ve just covered also apply to your emails:
- Don’t stuff your emails full of affiliate links.
- Provide value first and always.
- Focus on building relationships instead of just trying to sell to your subscribers.
9 - Keep Up with Current Trends
Things change all the time.
Products change, people’s preferences change, and marketing strategies change consistently.
You need to keep up with any new trends so you can continue to grow your revenue.
10 - Keep track of Your Progress
You should always keep track of how well your efforts are paying off.
If no one is clicking on your links, it’s up to you to figure out why.
If they’re clicking, why aren’t they converting?
What about your site’s traffic?
The list of analytics goes on and on.
The point is if you’re not aware of what isn’t working then how do you improve on it?
Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners
Keep in mind the affiliate program(s) you choose to join will ultimately come down to your niche and your audience’s preferences.
Also you should NEVER have to pay to join an advertiser or affiliate program.
Some programs may require you to purchase their products first or have some other qualification requirements but never an outright fee you have to pay.
As you begin to do your research, don’t feel compelled to just pick the first affiliate program you across.
It’s important you make sure it’s the right fit.
Here are a few guidelines to help you select the right affiliate program:
How to Select the Best Affiliate Marketing Program
1 - Niche Related
Always choose an affiliate program or product that truly represents your niche.
You may not own the product but as soon as you start promoting it to your audience, you essentially become part of that brand.
2 - Payment
Understand their payment structure.
There is nothing more hurtful than not getting paid for your hard work.
3 - Ask Questions
Make sure the company is the right fit for you.
If you are unsure about anything then you should always ask questions before you sign up.
If anyone is hesitant to give you direct answers you’re better off staying away.
4 - Ethics
Make sure the company is ethical and that they have the right integrity.
They should always meet your expectations and those of your audience as well.
The last thing you want is to gain someone’s trust only for them to find out later on you’ve been recommending some shady products.
5 - Tools for Success
Ideally the company should provide you with the necessary tools to help you be successful or at the very least be reachable when you need help.
This may vary for different niches but don’t get suckered in only to find out there isn’t any kind of support.
6 - Peer-to-Peer Conversation
It doesn’t hurt to find other affiliates of the company or program you want to join and have discussions with them.
Ask them any relevant questions and if they are truly a representative of the product, they will be very helpful.
List of Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners
While all those programs are a great place to get started, you should always try to do your best to build direct relationships with the companies or brands themselves.
The insights, the payments and the amount of help you get from a one-to-one relationship is often better.
This is where research really comes in handy.
Pick a niche for your blog, find the top companies within that niche you’d like to work with and you’d often find that most of them have their own affiliate programs you can join directly.
Also most bloggers often have courses for which they’re constantly seeking more affiliates to help them promote to larger audiences.
That’s something you can take advantage of.
You can also do a Google search for “your niche + affiliate programs” to find more.
For example if you’re a food or health blogger, you can search Google for “meal prep affiliate programs” and you’ll get a decent list.
Benefits of Affiliate Marketing
Now that you have an understanding of how it works let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should consider becoming an affiliate marketer:
1 - Income Potential
Let’s face it.
blogger business, you’re always looking for ways to increase your revenue.
That income is what allows your business to grow and helps you serve your audience better.
Affiliate Marketing could help you with that – be it supplemental income or potentially a full-time income.
It all comes down to how much effort you’re willing to put into it.
2 - Performance Based Rewards
The more effort you put into your content and providing value, the bigger your income potential.
This is a good thing because as long as you continue to show up for your audience, you’ll be continuously rewarded.
3 - Low Barriers to Entry
Since you don’t really have to create your own products, it’s much easier for you to get started as an affiliate marketer.
There are very few obstacles and no huge upfront costs for you to get started.
All you need is a platform to promote the products and you’re good to go.
4 - Unlimited Options
You can promote as many products as you see fit as long as they’re of value to your audience.
Here’s a word of caution.
Just because you have no limitations doesn’t mean you should go overboard.
Select the right group of products and focus on those instead of spreading yourself thin.
It’s easier to create excellent content with a few products than it is with every product you come across.
5 - Build Authority
Affiliate programs are often appreciative of anyone who’s able to help them get a lot of sales.
You can use that to build healthy business relationships and even negotiate higher commissions.
All of that helps build your authority within your niche.
6 - Convenience & Flexibility
You have the freedom to work from anywhere and at your own convenience.
Also you’re not locked into any commitments so you’re free to make changes as you see fit for your brand and your audience.
10 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes You Need to Avoid
These are some common mistakes you need to avoid at all cost:
1 - Money First
Don’t make the mistake of focusing only on the money instead of your audience.
You can place a million affiliate links on your blog but if nobody appreciates your content, it won’t matter.
It’s your responsibility to take care of your audience’s needs first.
Then and only then will you be rewarded in return.
You are there to help not sell!
2 - No Research
Lack of research will only end up hurting you in the long run.
You need to familiarize yourself with the problems within your niche and the products you’re recommending.
The idea isn’t for you to have all the answers but you need to be resourceful.
3 - Low Quality Content
If you can’t keep people interested, you’ll have a hard time getting your blog anywhere.
The quality of your content is the major thing your audience cares about and it’s the best way to get repeat visitors.
4 - Not focusing on SEO & List Building
If you want more traffic to your site, you need to work on SEO. (Search Engine Optimization)
And if you want repeat customers, you need to build a high quality email list.
Those 2 things are critical to the success of any longterm business.
5 - Promoting Poor Products
If you don’t trust a product or it doesn’t do as it says, please do not promote it to your audience.
The only reputation you’ll be hurting is yours.
6 - Promoting Too Many (Similar) Products
This is where the good meets with the bad.
Having unlimited options is a good thing but sometimes doing too much can be bad. Especially when you start promoting irrelevant products.
It’s a good practice to work on one thing, scale your sales or commissions before you move on to the next.
It’s not that you can’t have more than one affiliate product but there really is no need to promote 2 products that serve the same purpose.
Too many options only makes it harder for people to choose.
7 - Failing to Experiment & Improve
This is why it’s very important for you to keep track of your affiliate metrics and your site’s analytics as a whole.
If you don’t know what isn’t working then there’s no way for you to make improvements.
What’s even worse is finding something that isn’t getting you any results and making no changes at all.
You need to stay on top of all your key metrics and adapt to any changes as they come by.
8 - Ignoring Your Audience
Yes there are people out there who fail to listen to or respond to their audience.
They focus on generating a sale and that’s it.
Don’t be one of those people.
9 - Spamming Your Links
You don’t have to place your affiliate links all over the place.
It’s for reasons like this that affiliate marketing gets such a bad rap.
10 - Not Learning from Others
If you’re looking for a “blueprint to success”, just take a look at what the leaders in your niche are doing.
The information is often right there infront of us to see yet we decide to turn a blind eye.
Why wouldn’t you want to learn from someone who’s already achieving the results you want?
The important takeaway from all of this is you need to do your due diligence.
Like it or not, your audience’s needs should always be at the forefront of what you do.
You’re there to help, not sell.
The more value you can provide, the more money you will make.
Which leads me to…
The "Poster Boy" Formula
I came across The Poster Boy Formula from Bryan Harris’ blog (Videofruit).
In it he talks about how he used the formula to get valuable backlinks, build longterm business relationships and grow his blog traffic to the tune of 10,000 readers.
I won’t dive into all the specifics about the post because you can read more about it here but it basically tells us you need to be well – the Poster Boy.
Here’s how it works:
- Find the brands or companies within your niche that can help solve a particular problem for your audience.
- Test out the products for yourself and document your experience.
- Reach out to those companies and tell them how it worked for you and the results you got.
- Offer to write a detailed case study of how you used that product and have them share it to their audience.
That’s it. That’s all you have to do.
Now of course it does take some time and effort but the formula itself is pretty straightforward and it’s something you can do even if you’re just starting from scratch.
The beauty about it is it’s replicable and it’s extremely valuable to your audience, the brand(s) and ultimately yourself.
That is exactly Involved Affiliate Marketing in action.
Better yet that is Involved “Business“ Marketing in action.
And look at what it resulted in:
- More traffic
- More email subscribers
- Niche authority
- Business relationships
- More income
The Final Verdict: High quality valuable content will take your business a long way.
Affiliate Marketing on Amazon
Before I end this topic, I want to touch on a little bit about Affiliate Marketing on Amazon.
Everyone is aware of the marketing giant that Amazon is and lots of people have been making money online thanks to them.
You can do things like:
- Amazon FBA
- Amazon Associates Affiliate Program
The latter being what I want to talk about.
I already included it as one of the affiliate marketing programs you should take advantage of as a blogger.
There are so many different categories to choose from and so many products that could definitely be helpful to your audience.
It’s also free to join and there really isn’t any screening process.
The only major requirement is that you get a referral sale within 6 months of signing up for the program.
While all of that sounds great, I bring up this section because everything you’ve read thus far is also applicable to any product you choose to promote from Amazon.
Since it’s so easy to join you might be tempted to find random products and place them all over your site.
In some instances that may work but not so much if you’re building a personal or niche brand.
People want to see how those Amazon products worked for you and how they could be of benefit to them.
At the very least, put some effort into learning about the product(s) you’re promoting.
It’s really worth it.
Also very important is the fact that you should ALWAYS abide by Amazon’s Associate Program Policies.
There are certain things you can and can’t do. So stick to the rules and avoid getting on their bad side.
Final Thoughts on Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
Affiliate Marketing is definitely a great opportunity for any blogger or internet marketer to grow their revenue and their business as a result.
If you’re a beginner it may seem like a daunting task but it’s definitely possible for you to succeed as long as you follow a strategic approach.
You can simplify the process into the following steps:
- Create excellent content
- Provide value
- Build Trust
- Promote your content
Emphasis on building trust and a good rapport.
Don’t try to trick anyone.
Show them the benefits of what you’re promoting and how it will genuinely help.
Like with most things online, growing your affiliate income will take some time.
That’s totally okay because you’re in this for the long term.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and I’m happy that you’re excited to join the world of affiliate marketing.
As always if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
You’re also welcome to share any thoughts you have in the comments section below.
Frequently asked questions on Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products.
You find a niche-related product, place the affiliate links on your site, visitors click on the links and are sent to the merchant site then you earn a commission for any sales you generate.
All you need to get started as an affiliate marketer is a platform on which to promote your products.
You build your blog or website and use your affiliate links along with excellent content to make money online.
You can make a lot of money or no money at all.
There are successful affiliate marketers who make well into 6 or 7 figures.
The amount of money you make depends on the amount of value you can provide to your audience and your ability to show them that the product or service will be of benefit to them.
There are no huge upfront costs for you to become an affiliate marketer.
The only investments required are the ones you’ll need to start a blog.
However if you want to start affiliate marketing with no money at all, then you focus on things like YouTube, social media, online forums or you could even use free blogging platforms.
The only problem is those platforms have their own policies you have to adhere to and it can be difficult for you to monetize them as you’d like.
Here are a few ways you can do affiliate marketing without a website:
- PPC Advertising
- Social Media Platforms
- Online Chat Forums (if allowed)
- Ebooks (by placing links within)
There is a simple 5 step formula you can use to make money with affiliate marketing:
- Create high quality content
- Use that content to provide value to your audience
- Build trust
- Promote your content
However each one of those steps requires time, effort and a lot of research.
So if you’re asking whether you can get rich quickly, the answer is No.
You need to put in the hard work to get the results you want.
Ready to Launch Your Own Affiliate Marketing Blog?
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