Well, I guess you have heard stories about people making thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars with affiliate marketing.
And you’re wondering whether I can make such money with affiliate marketing?
The simple, short, and straightforward answer to this question would be ‘yes.’
But if you ask me, does everyone make such money with affiliate marketing? Then my answer would be ‘no’.
Because not everyone completely understands what affiliate marketing is and for that exact reason here I am trying to help you in the right way on how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money aka lucrative money. Anyone who is eager to start, be persistent to proceed, and patient to see results can succeed with affiliate marketing.
Definitely, all this takes is the right approach to market your products and establish an audience first. Only then you could see yourself succeeding with affiliate marketing and making money with it.
Hence to clarify your mind and thoughts about affiliate marketing. I have created this guide on how to start affiliate marketing for beginners and help people with relevantly little to no experience in marketing.
Keep in mind that this article will go through the appropriate, insightful, and actionable steps to help you with how to become an affiliate marketer.
What is affiliate marketing?
According to me, affiliate marketing can be described as the process of making money online via commissions for promoting and selling someone else’s products.
Here, you earn money for the referrals which you send to that particular affiliate product. But do keep in mind that, affiliate commissions are earned only when your referral purchases the product, and being that middleman, you get a piece of that sale.
The best part about affiliate marketing is that anyone can learn how to start affiliate marketing and promote any product of their choice via blogs, social media, or even personal referrals.
On paper affiliate marketing sounds simple, non-sassy, and damn easy.
But to be honest, in the beginning, and for the most part of your initial days, you may see no results (or) you might make a couple of hundred dollars in affiliate commission but as I said before, affiliate marketing is a very lucrative business and it is definitely a golden opportunity for people who wanna make passive income.
How does affiliate marketing work?
For people who wanna join the affiliate marketing club, they must need to know how the actual affiliate marketing world works.
I wanna explain (& emphasize) this because most outsiders are not aware of it, as people online are being taught that affiliate marketing is a free money-making system.
Thus when people start to look at affiliate marketing as a free money-making system, they will not be concerned about how affiliate marketing actually works as people are here just for short-term financial benefits.
Finally, they try and try without ever figuring out how affiliate marketing actually works until they fail miserably at it.
That’s one of the reasons why people tend to give up easily on affiliate marketing- because they are unable to see any short-term results.
But if you look at it in another way especially from a long-term/business perspective, you will consider affiliate marketing to be one of the best channels for making money online. In fact, real people have built real businesses out of just using affiliate marketing.
If you’ve read till here, then you would be well-versed with the affiliate marketing definition. (From the above heading)
Understand that affiliate marketing is an arrangement between the seller and affiliate to promote one’s products. Also do remember that this is only gonna work when an affiliate marketer is able to sell more affiliate products, thus resulting in an increase in revenue for the seller.
But apart from sellers and affiliates, there are other parties as well.
Most marketers will tell you affiliate marketing is done with the conjunction of four parties but not complicate things for you. I want to explain how affiliate marketing works just by focusing on three parties which will be:-
- Sellers and product creators
- Affiliate marketers and publishers
Sellers and product creators
Sellers are the actual think tank behind any product. Usually, sellers or product creators could be anyone. To become one, all they ever need is a product in the market.
In the affiliate marketing industry, most of the sellers you come across will be from individual online entrepreneurs to mid-product-based companies (or) big-size international brands.
Also, the product can be anything as long as it can be sold online, you’re good to become an affiliate for it.
Different product creators run their affiliate marketing channels differently.
For example, an individual who is into his own eCommerce business might launch an affiliate program on his own store offering affiliates to come and join on his own terms.
But on the other hand, product creators might choose to list their affiliate products in an affiliate marketplace like ClickBank or Digistore24 and hope to compete with other products on the platform. This should tell you that different sellers work differently in this affiliate marketing system.
Affiliate marketers and publishers
Basically affiliate marketers are the individuals who promote products for commissions.
While this party can sometimes be also known as publishers, but the only difference between the two would be:-
- Affiliate marketers are single individuals like you and me who actively promote products for commissions
- Whereas publishers can be midsize (or) enterprise companies that are responsible for promoting affiliate products and connecting both affiliate marketers and sellers at one marketplace.
Usually, affiliate marketplaces aka our publishers are known for the availability of hundreds if not thousands of affiliate programs created by merchants to attract affiliate marketers, make them sign up, and promote those products to their existing audience base.
and if you ask me starting as an individual affiliate is the right way to learn how to start affiliate marketing.
Anyways the publishers, do play an essential bridge role in connecting affiliate marketers and product creators, and by the way, they also do promote those affiliate products by themselves to generate affiliate revenue.
Right Now, there are tons of affiliate marketplaces where you can join and promote affiliate products. But the major established affiliate marketing platforms around the globe are:-
- Commission Junction
Among the above options, you can join any of them, they all are free to register, and the best part is that you can find both digital and physical products to promote within these platforms.
The only difference between you making a sale and you not making a sale is the participation of consumers.
Consumers are the blood of this affiliate marketing system, and without them, there is no revenue generated in the first place.
Being an affiliate marketer, I understood that having an established (& existing) consumer base was easy to sell to rather than finding new consumers each time.
In your case, your existing consumer base could be your Instagram followers (or) email subscribers (or) blog readers.
Once you realize that you have a set of people who are familiar with you and your content and will readily purchase something when you promote them a product, it does really cuts down the huge efforts of marketing and promotions.
Today, there are multiple ways through which you can build an audience for free or paid and later you can easily monetize them through earning affiliate commissions.
No matter which channel you choose, your audience should be niched-down, and the products which you’re planning to promote should be hyper-relevant to them.
On the other hand, consumers today are very aware of the current marketing tactics. So to be more transparent, many affiliate marketers do disclose that they’re affiliated with a product and they do make commissions out of that product.
It’s important to remember that consumers are not paying any higher prices just because they’re buying from you (or) someone who is an affiliate.
In fact affiliate programs incentives affiliate marketers with special discounts (or) offers, which eventually leads to less pricing than the actual product’s price.
Therefore in this way, the whole affiliate marketing system works where everybody is benefiting: sellers, affiliates, and consumers.
What are affiliate links and how to get affiliate links?
I assume by now, you understood how affiliate marketing actually works and what’s your role as an affiliate in this whole affiliate marketing system. Because just the basic understanding of the concept will make sure that you’re on the right track with this guide on how to start affiliate marketing in 2021.
You making sales for someone else products and get commissioned for it is great. But you might ask how are my sales counted (or) tracked?
Remember that there are tens of thousands of affiliate products available for marketers to promote and in fact there will probably be thousands of affiliates promoting the same products as you do.
So how do affiliate programs differentiate each sale and what helps them keep track of each individual’s affiliate sale?
Well, all the answers lie in those affiliate links.
The affiliate links are generally these unique links given to individual affiliates. The link usually contains a referral number (or) tracking username, which helps the system to determine where the actual click came from and which affiliate should be rewarded for any sale.
Therefore if your visitors purchase a product without going through your affiliate links, then you won’t be making any commissions for that sale, as you didn’t refer them.
Each affiliate program works differently in terms of evaluating an affiliate sale and referrals.
For example, affiliate links from Amazon leave cookies for 24hrs on each click. This means when someone clicks on your Amazon affiliate link and lands on the product but doesn’t buy it the very first time; the cookies will stay on their device/browser for one whole day.
Later if your referral buys any product from Amazon within that one day, then you will be credited for that sale, and that’s how you will end up generating affiliate commission for that sale.
While on other platforms like Clickbank and Digistore24, the cookie duration depends upon the platform and also the individual affiliate programs.
Anyways, the process of how to get affiliate links is the same everywhere. To get access to your affiliate links can just follow these steps:-
- Sign up for an affiliate program
- Once you’re approved or given access, go to your affiliate dashboard
- Choose the product which you want to promote
- Click on it and get your affiliate link
How to start an affiliate marketing business?
Before diving into the technicalities of how to start affiliate marketing, the very first thing you need to set straight is your mindset about affiliate marketing.
Sure, affiliate marketing is a great way to make passive income and it can potentially change your financial condition but only if you take it seriously and think of it as a long-term financial option.
Therefore it needs be approached from the perspective of a business.
That’s also the reason why I wanted this guide on how to start affiliate marketing to be detailed, actionable, and insightful.
So, in the end, when you complete reading this article, you should be able to grasp this guide on how to start affiliate marketing even as a beginner and start strategically and make money with it.
To help you here I have structured a step-by-step approach that you can follow to become an affiliate marketer.
- Step 1: Join an affiliate marketplace
- Step 2: Choose a niche and find your affiliate products
- Step 3: Create a marketing play to promote
- Step 4: Scale up your affiliate marketing business
Step 1: Join an affiliate marketplace
Currently, there are dozens of affiliate marketplaces which you can find, and all of them would be pretty damn easy to join. To sign up all you ever gonna need will be your little details like:-
- Email ID
- Phone number (optional)
- Your website (optional)
- Bank account details/Paypal ID
For example, Amazon offers not more than 10-15% commission for each affiliate sale, while on the other hand, platforms like ClickBank may provide you with digital products where it will be happy to pay 90% in commissions.
But to be honest commission rates are not everything, actually the products that you are gonna promote will hold the key to whether you can get any sales (or) not.
So, instead of jumping on to the very first affiliate marketplace you see, you need to think like an experienced affiliate marketer and need to debate on few things like:-
Physical products v/s digital products
There is a frequent debate between affiliate marketers in terms of choosing whether they should promote a physical product (or) a digital product?
And trust me this debate is legit when you’re trying to learn how to start affiliate marketing and looking to make a career out of it.
Both products have their own advantages and edges. It’s up to individual affiliate marketers to choose what they want to promote and should also keep in mind to whom they are promoting.
The most important factor which drives what you should promote is the niche that you’re in and the audience with whom you’re operating. Since affiliate marketing is all about promoting, your products need to be relevant to whom you’re promoting.
Once you know your target consumer, it would become easier to decide which kind of product is easy to promote.
If we talk about physical products, the most prominent affiliate marketplace for physical products is Amazon. It is evident to expect that there will be tens of thousands of products to promote across multiple categories.
If you decide to promote physical products, you can leverage the wide availability of these products on Amazon, and also Amazon is recognized by everyone.
Therefore people trust the site, and this makes it easier to complete transactions when you redirect your referrals to Amazon’s product page.
On the other hand, if you go with digital products…
You will find that commission rates are over the roof, and here most of the digital products will be courses and software which come up with multiple upsells and downsells, which means you will be credited with commissions for each further transactions too.
Once you decide on either physical products or digital products. Later you need to sign up on any of the affiliate marketplaces of your choice to become a legit affiliate marketer.
How to sign up for Amazon associates?
Amazon Associates is an affiliate program where affiliates from across the globe can sign up and become an affiliate for Amazon products.
Amazon promises up to 10% of commissions, and as we know, Amazon is the hub for every physical item online. So as an Amazon affiliate, you don’t need to look for any other affiliate marketplace for physical products.
To open an account in Amazon associates, you need things like:-
- Email ID
- Personal details like phone number and address
- Website to quality for the program
- Bank details for payouts
After submission you have to wait for a couple of days (or) weeks to get a reply from their team. Most of the people who learn how to start affiliate marketing will join Amazon associate as the platform is simple, effective, and promising.
Once you have been approved for the account, you can simply log into the Amazon associates dashboard and search for any categories/products and just like that you can get your affiliate links within the dashboard to promote them across your channels.
How to sign up for Clickbank?
ClickBank is a trustable affiliate marketplace running around for two decades, and according to their homepage, they have paid close to $4 billion in affiliate commissions.
Since most of the products on Clickbank are digital products, you’re more likely to receive higher commission rates, and usually, their commission rates will vary between 30%-70%.
To sign up for Clickbank, you need to be among one of the Clickbank supported countries (or) you will have to find a way to sign up using Paypal.
After you’ve successfully created an account on ClickBank, you get instant access to their dashboard where you can choose any category from the marketplace and click on your product choices to get access to their affiliate links.
Step 2: Choose a niche and find your affiliate products
I know, right now, this advice might sound lame but trust me, if you ever want to do something online then you need to grow an audience.
You’ll need a niche where dedicated and interested people on a specific subject can follow you and show their interest in what you promote.
So far, according to my experience, I found (& knew) that these niches are profitable for affiliate marketing:-
- Make money online
But today, you can’t just choose any broad niche like food, diet, and love.
Because there are already a million blogs and influencers in those niches doing affiliate marketing and as a marketer, you need to be more specific and narrow with the topics to cut down the competition.
Anyways here are the basic rules of thumb to choose a niche:-
- Your niche should be profitable. To validate its profitability, you can search for popular influencers and blogs in your niche. Once you know people are frequently promoting products related to a niche, then you can assume that particular niche is making them money.
- Also a niche should be something within your interests. Because if you want to stick for a long time doing affiliate marketing, you need to be passionate, focused, and prepare yourself for the long haul.
I assume now that you have cleared your head around choosing a niche. If still not, then you will be just promoting random products in random categories without ever sticking to one.
Once you finalize your niche, you need to choose your initial affiliate products to promote, which could be found in your selected affiliate marketplace.
The best ways to find a suitable product in your niche is by checking the stats regarding your product sales.
In most affiliate marketplaces, you will be given stats of some sorts to figure out which product is the best selling among all.
- On Amazon, you can go to the top seller’s section of your particular category, and go for top-selling products as they have been proven to sell well.
- On platforms like Clickbank, you’ll be given individual product stats from which you can determine whether a particular product would be profitable (or) not to promote.
There you go, once you have your sweet niche and top-selling products to get the promotions rolling. All you have to do is market your affiliate products and make sales to become a professional affiliate marketer.
Step 3: Create your marketing play to promote
Till now, everything you learnt regarding how to start affiliate marketing was not even 40%.
The majority of your success with affiliate marketing will depend only on how you will market your products to get sales and how you’ll turn up yourself to make thousands of dollars in commissions.
Right now, there are multiple ways to promote an affiliate product, but since we are looking to start an affiliate marketing business.
To stay in the affiliate marketing game for a long haul and reap the commission benefits later. You need to show your commitment through your investment of money and time.
I don’t know if you still get it or not, what I am implying is to choose a marketing play for your affiliate products and the only way you can get any success with affiliate marketing is by investing both of your money and time into marketing.
So to help you with that, I want to share the three popular ways to make money with affiliate marketing as a beginner.
Start a blog: write product reviews, comparison articles, and content around your affiliate niche
Starting a blog in today’s time and era is very simple, and don’t worry if you’re new to this. You can just follow my guide on how to start a blog and make money with it.
In that guide I have outlined every little detail from coming up with your blog idea to getting traffic.
A blog is definitely a great way to make money with affiliate marketing. Because once you start the blog you know what niche you’re in and this makes it easier for you to write content and promote niche affiliate products.
Right now, there are hundreds if not thousands of websites online which only rely on affiliate revenue. So I would recommend you to find one in your niche and replicate what they did to get that success.
Here replicating doesn’t mean copying, take inspiration from their approach and that will help you along in terms of learning how to start an affiliate marketing business from scratch.
For example, I searched for ‘best amazon running shoes’, and I came across this site called ‘Brostrick’. In their article, you can see all the links pointing to running shoes are Amazon links, and most of the site (Brostrick) is around affiliate products.
If I am planning to start a blog in the same niche, then I would do keyword research for Brostrick.com to bring in easy to rank list of keywords using Ahrefs, Structure my site accordingly, publish regular content on it, and promote my products using similar strategies to Brostrick.
Therefore you can search for websites that are already doing affiliate marketing in your niche, and once you find them. You can replicate their structure and strategies.
In my opinion, if you choose to write about affiliate products then the best articles to write would be are:-
- Review articles (Ex:- Instant pot review)
- Comparison articles (Ex:- Instant pot vs air fryer)
- Information content around your affiliate niche/products (Ex:- why instant pot is not sealing, what instant pot do I have, what instant pot setting is high pressure etc.)
Build a landing page around your affiliate products
Landing pages and sales funnels are the newest forms of marketing. Be it generating sales or generating leads, landing pages are the best way to do it and if you compare it to a blog, building a whole sales funnel is a lot easier than creating a blog and maintaining it.
But before I dive deeper, let me share with you what landing pages actually are?
Landing pages are static web pages whose whole purpose is to generate an action when someone lands on that page. That action could be anything from capturing someone’s email (or) getting a sale from the visitor.
You also need to know that landing pages are a part of a sales funnel process where leads are bought in to nurture and convert into consumers. For better understanding you can look at this image below:-
The best part about landing pages and sales funnels is that once you set them up and build constant traffic, you can completely automate the whole process and that’s how you can generate affiliate income on complete autopilot.
I seriously think that without mentioning landing pages in this guide on how to start affiliate marketing, I thought this content piece would have been incomplete.
Because currently selling products through landing pages has become a boom. May it be ecommerce stores, normal blogs or a local business, everybody is looking to build landing pages for their business or brand.
The best place to start creating landing pages would be ClickFunnels, they are one of the leading landing page builders, and trust me with ClickFunnels, you could do anything that you want in terms of landing pages.
Their software/tool is pretty easy to use and there are hundreds of affiliate marketers already using it for the same purpose.
To create your first landing page, I would advise you to check for the other existing landing pages which promote similar affiliate products to you.
If you have no idea how to design a landing page, then you can build generic landing pages using the templates available in ClickFunnels.
With landing pages, the intention is to collect leads and redirect your traffic to the product page.
As people sign up on your landing page, you can collect their email IDs in email autoresponders and use them for email marketing.
Once you create a constant flow of traffic on your landing pages, you can easily create an email sequence to re-target your leads, and that’s how your sales funnels would be completely automated.
Use Instagram to build a following and promote your affiliate products
Instagram is among the top social media platforms with daily traffic of 500 million users. There is a ton of potential for every individual to score on Instagram.
Since people are now more active on social media platforms than ever, promoting affiliate products on Instagram is an excellent move.
Unlike starting a blog and building landing pages, marketing via Instagram doesn’t need financial investment. All it needs is your consistent efforts to create content, engage with your community, build a following, and promote your affiliate products.
As Instagram is available for everyone, there are already thousands of influencers hopping onto the scene and are doing affiliate marketing while also making money with it.
Even on Instagram having a niche account is important, because it helps you cut down the efforts to competing with everybody and you only have to outgrow big accounts in your niche.
But still, it doesn’t matter how much you niche-down, there will be high competition on Instagram to build a following and grow as a brand.
Thus due to the high number of users, building a following is becoming more challenging on Instagram, but it’s not impossible for you. To promote products on Instagram, you need to be strategic with your approach.
To get your Instagram marketing off the grounds, you can follow these steps:-
- Create a username relevant to your affiliate niche (Or you can use your personal name as your brand)
- Upload a clean logo and update the bio with keywords of your niche
- Plan and create content that is engaging and captivating for your followers
- Use 25-30 hashtags in each post and publish 3-4 content pieces every day
- Mix your content types with reels, IGTV videos, Insta stories, carousels, and normal videos on Instagram for better reach.
- Also, engage with other (top & trending) Instagram posts especially follow top influencers in your niche and connect with new people in their post’s comment sections
- Collab with multiple influencers, create content and promote your content with shoutouts
- Once you grow to a couple of thousand followers on Instagram, reach out to your most loyal followers and promote your affiliate products to them.
Despite having less than10k followers, you can create a quality audience for your content and if you succeed to do so then you would be amazed to see traction on your affiliate products.
Step 4: Scale up your affiliate marketing business with three additional strategies
In any business, the majority of your initial profits should go into reinvesting into your business and marketing plans. Also the same goes around here as well, once you generate a couple of hundred dollars through affiliate commissions.
You need to every penny into paid marketing strategies to scale up your process for more promotions.
The affiliate marketers who make $1000’s each day (or) every week use paid strategies and long-term strategies to get to that point.
With no hesitation, I would say that I want you to do the same once you get your initial affiliate commissions.
To build and scale up your affiliate marketing business implement these strategies
Launch a live webinar (Educate your audience and discuss about your products)
Webinars are currently the newest form of millennial marketing. From top brands to local entrepreneurs, everybody is aiming to start a webinar and build their branding to the next level just by launching engaging webinars.
It is said that communicational webinars have a conversation rate of 67%, and today, there is no other marketing channel that is as promising, persuasive, and profitable as live/automated webinars.
Webinars are definitely an excellent means of communication where a set of interesting niche audience can join and engage with your content.
With the help of current tools in the market, you can even pre-record your webinar sessions and schedule them later while still keeping the webinar real, live, and engaging.
Don’t worry if you never conducted or created a webinar before. Tools like WebinarJan, Demio, and Livestorm will help you create your first ever webinar, and trust me they are damn simple to understand and use. You can sign up for their free trials and start building your first webinar right now.
All you need is 50 people in your niche who are more open to talk, listen, and share their ideologies regarding your content. Thus if you promote one high-end affiliate product in such webinars it can result in earning thousands of dollars in affiliate commission per month.
Well now you know that webinars are awesome, but how to figure out what you wanna do in webinars?
To help you with that I will share some key points which you need to mention during your webinars and also at the same time promote your affiliate products seamlessly:-
- Remember our aim with webinars is to promote affiliate marketing products. The primary focus should be given to the product throughout the webinar
- To do it right, you need to specify the product’s Unique Selling Points (USP’s) to captivate the audience
- You can share how the product helped you and how it can help them too
- Answer a bunch of QnA’s about the product
- Offer freebies during the webinars and end your webinar with a CTA (Call-To-Action) to make your audience buy the affiliate product
The most important thing about webinars is that you shouldn’t go hard with selling because it makes an awkward impression that you’re only trying to sell something to your audience and trust me people don’t like that.
Instead, you need to start a webinar on a very personal note and proceed with connecting relevant things to your affiliate product and your audience.
For example, If I was planning to promote an e-commerce business course in my webinars. Then I would follow these steps:-
- Start with an introduction of whom I am and what’s my relationship with ecommerce
- I will share what’s the market scope of doing an ecommerce business and probably will have a slideshow showing detailed stats as to why ecommerce businesses are a promising career and financial path.
- Next, I would step into my past experiences and what problems I faced with launching an ecommerce business
- I would invite people to ask me questions about e-commerce business and their issues in the field.
- After the Q&A session, I will share the benefits of the course that most people in the webinars can be related to.
- In the end, I will proceed with how my affiliate product helped me solve my ecommerce business problem and right then, I will finish the session with a CTA on my product and also a unique bonus giveaway from my end to incentivize the purchase. (The bonus could be anything from ebook to personal live session with my affiliate consumers)
Run PPC Ads and Facebook Ads to drastically increase traction
Paid advertising is one of the exponential ways to grow your affiliate marketing business and make thousands of dollars each day in commissions.
As an affiliate marketer, you need to understand that both Facebook and Google ads work differently.
- Facebook ads targets audiences based on their interests, and it is up to you to warm your audience and get them to buy your products. Apart from that, Facebook is very strict with running ads on affiliate marketing products. So don’t be surprised if your ads/ad account gets suspended for violating their stern policies.
- On the other hand, Google ads let you targets audiences based on keywords, and this means that you don’t need to warm up your audience every time. Also, PPC ads are more compatible with affiliate marketing strategies.
From an affiliate marketer’s point of view, Facebook ads are much cheaper compared to Google ads. That’s the reason why you can start running ads on Facebook first if you have a smaller budget and later on, you can give a shot on PPC ads.
No matter where you run ads, you should have few things cleared while promoting affiliate products and those should be:-
- Your ultimate goal with ads is either sales (or) leads
- If there are no sales, at least try to increase your sign-ups
- Always check ROI (Return on Investment) for your ads
- Have multiple ad sets for three types of audience (cold, warm, and hot)
Build your email list and automate your marketing campaigns
Even after decades, emails are still considered one of the best marketing channels to reach people and grow your business. It is said that today over 4 billion people use emails daily, and your little efforts with emails can bring excellent results for your affiliate marketing business.
People who are mostly learning how to start affiliate marketing might not show interest in building an email list because it takes time. For the most initial part, you can expect no affiliate income from email marketing.
Many affiliate marketers take email marketing seriously and I personally know marketers with over 1,00,000+ email lists and they make most of their revenues by just sending emails frequently to their list.
Thus, you can’t deny the fact that emails are valuable. Also, the best part about email marketing is that you can completely automate this whole process once you set up your email autoresponder sequences.
I would recommend Aweber for beginner affiliate marketers because they offer free access to their tools for up to 500 subscribers.
Also, Aweber is a very basic and easy to use email marketing tool. You can eventually start an email marketing campaign within 20-30 minutes after signing up.
Once you have email marketing software like Aweber intact. It’s all about leveraging the power of emails for affiliate marketing, and before you do that:-
- Make sure that you have all email sequences set up for both cold and warm audience
- Connect your email marketing tool with the landing page/sign up forms