September 16, 2021

How to Start Affiliate Marketing – Complete Guide For Beginners 2021

Have you ever wondered how to make passive income online legitimately and with little stress? Affiliate marketing is one of the most recommended approaches to making money online with relative ease. Starting a successful affiliate marketing business, however, requires some basic knowledge of what affiliate marketing is and how it works.

So if you are a beginner looking to make money online with affiliate marketing, then this guide is for you. In it I will detail what affiliate marketing is, and how to succeed as an affiliate marketer.  I will also answer the following questions fully:

  1. What is affiliate marketing?
  2. How does affiliate marketing work?
  3. What do I need to start affiliate marketing business and how do I know which products to promote?
  4. What promotion methods are most effective and how do I get customers to buy what I promote?  
  5. How much can I make with affiliate marketing? and
  6. Can I quit my job for this business?
  7. Conclusion

First things first, let’s start from the very beginning

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Simply put, affiliate marketing is the act of recommending a product or service from a company to a potential customer who upon the purchase of that product by the customer, the affiliate earns a commission for the referral service.

From the above we can see that three key players are involved in the affiliate marketing business:

  • The affiliate (marketer or referrer),
  • The merchant or affiliate network (managers of products and services to be sold) and
  • The buyer.

Let’s further break this down.

  • The affiliate: This could be anyone. Likely someone who has used a product, liked it and wants to tell others about it. The affiliate can use any means suitable to share this information. As a business however, the affiliate uses modern communication platform with the widest possible audience coverage to spread words about the product or service. This could be a personal website or blog, a social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram or even Quora or paid promotion using Google ads or Facebook ads.
  • The merchant or affiliate network: This is responsible for managing all necessary details of the products or services to be sold including prices, reviews, return policy (if any) etc. They maintain product and handle delivery to customers who buy. This could be any business that sells a product or service online. They are also responsible for managing the technology that glues the affiliate, the buyer and the seller together.
  • The buyer is simply the buyer.

This video explains the concept clearly for a better understanding.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

It is important to know how it works as a beginner as this will help to prevent wrong claims and avert multiples issues along the way. Affiliate marketing and commission earning is made possible by something called an affiliate link that is given to the affiliate upon signing up and been approved by the merchant or affiliate network. The link can be attached to a banner, an image, included in a blog post or social media post, and shared with the affiliate’s audience.

When a potential buyer clicks the link and visits the website on their mobile device or computer, a tiny piece of tracking code called a cookie is dropped on their device(s) to uniquely tie the affiliate to that customer. When a purchase is made by the customer, the affiliate network knows exactly who referred the customer using the information provided by the cookie and then credits the affiliate with the agreed commission and the deal is concluded and repeated all over again. An example will be handy here.

Richard is a passionate and experienced photographer who also blogs about his profession. He has shared many great stories about his photography on his blog. Let’s say richardsphotography.com/blog. Richard now wants to earn an extra income from the side with his blog. Naturally, as a photographer, he is an authority when it comes to camera quality or tripod stands and their brands so he checks up with Nikon and Sony Cybershot and discovers that if he refers a customer to buy their camera, he gets a 15% commission.  Sony however says their affiliate network partner is Commission Junction (cj.com) but that Amazon affiliates also promote their cameras. So Richard heads to cj.com and on arrival, the first thing he is shown is the use of cookies.

“We and our partners use techniques such as cookies to store and/or access information on a device and provide personalised ads and content, ad and content measurement, audience insights, and product development. Precise geolocation and information about device characteristics can be used.”

Richard proceeds to sign up with them and logs into his dashboard, searches for Nikon cameras, sees the particular model he has so enjoyed for a long time, and copies the unique affiliate links.

In his blog post, he not only has an inviting photo of a Nikon camera on his blog just to rave about the camera quality. Instead, he has an image embedded with his unique affiliate links that is a potential money generator which when clicked by any of his teeming fans and a product is purchased, Richard is paid his commission.

How long can a cookie stay on a potential customer’s digital device? This is primarily determined by two factors:

  1. The set duration by the affiliate network e.g. cj.com. It is worthy to note that the affiliate network can set how long a cookie stays on a potential customer’s device. The longer it stays, the better it is for the affiliate because whenever the customer eventually decide to buy, as long as the cookie is still on their device and valid, he gets his commission from that customer’s purchase.
  2. The actions of the potential buyer. A potential buyer can manually clear their cookies with no ill intent towards the affiliate. They can also use some applications to do so In which case, the affiliate gets no commission for the purchase.

What Do I Need To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business?

To venture into affiliate marketing, you need the right mindset. Affiliate marketing is not a financial quick-fix scheme, it comes with a responsibility; providing real value which in this case is reliable and authentic advice to your audience. To begin, follow this four-step process.

#1. Choose the right niche

When it comes to affiliate marketing, there are a number of different niche options for you to choose from. Whether you’re just getting started in marketing products and services, or you’re looking to add affiliate products and services that complement something you already promote to a consumer base, there is an affiliate marketing niche out there for you. But which niche should you go with? What are the top options available to you? Choosing the best niche for affiliate marketing is not always an easy task.

According to Hustler, 5 of the best affiliate marketing niches are Technology, Health, Digital Marketing, Relationships, and Personal Finance. Let’s take a look at what each of these has to offer.

  • Technology: With this affiliate marketing niche, there are a ton of different products you can promote. From physical products to digital products for example, laptops and computers, drones, DSLR cameras, computer software, web hosting, mobile applications etc.
  • Health: When it comes to promoting affiliate products in the health niche, there are a few different directions you can go. Some health-related affiliate marketing options include vitamins and supplements, essential oils, workout equipment etc.
  • Digital Marketing: This is a huge affiliate niche and offers many different choices for those who want to make some additional income from this marketing avenue. As you might imagine, this niche is a B2B or business-to-business affiliate niche, meaning you’ll be marketing the affiliate products to other businesses, rather than individuals. Some affiliate program options in the digital marketing niche include social media management tools, email marketing software, landing pages or web development software etc.
  • Relationships: Love, relationships, and marriage is another top affiliate marketing niche. Unlike digital marketing, this niche is more likely to target the individual than a business. Relationship-based products are framed around helping individuals building relationships and improve relationships. Some affiliate marketing options include dating websites, relationship coaching programs, relationship e-books and more.
  • Personal Finance: The final top affiliate marketing niche we’ll discuss is personal finance. This is a profitable affiliate niche because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to save money and thrive financially? You could promote credit cards, income tax programs, credit score websites etc.

As you can see, there is a broad range of affiliate marketing program options. When choosing your affiliate marketing niche, however, prioritize programs that complement your existing products or services, or programs that offer products and services that you’re passionate about and believe offer true value to customers. The more you believe in and value a program, the easier it will be for you to market and communicate the benefits to your target audience.

#2. Identify companies and networks with affiliate programs in your niche

Once you have defined your niche, it’s time to identify companies and networks within that niche that has an affiliate program. Make a list of all companies in your niche, and then narrow that list down to the ones that would complement your business or your affiliate marketing strategy the best. In fact, it’s best to promote any amongst your list that happens to be a product you have already used and love. Banking on your experience in using that product it will be naturally easy to sell the same to others out there because conviction is a contagious feeling.

If a product you use does not seem to have a direct affiliate program, then you may turn to the networks to expand your search horizon. I recall using a domain name and web hosting service for a while and fell in love with them, when I researched to know if they have an affiliate program for a recommendation, they pointed me to three popular networks that manage their affiliate program. So if you don’t seem to find one with a product you use, mail them and ask if there is any affiliate program for that product. Better still, research affiliate networks around you and go to their products link to see what is on offer.

Some reputable affiliate networks include Clickbank, CJ Affiliate, Amazon Associate Program, ShareaSale.

#3. Set up your affiliate business structure

This is usually done in two steps

  • Your personal preparation to venture into affiliate marketing business and.

Affiliate marketing will require some basics such as a running website or blog with reasonable readership or a thriving social media handle such as a Facebook Page, Group, or stories that attract lots of visitors that could turn to be potential buyers. Or maybe you are a good writer on medium or Quora and usually, your articles and answers get thousands of views on these platforms. Whatever channels bring you the highest publicity, polish it and set it up for marketing.

From experience, however, bloggers have more control of what and how their content is published and monetized and so has proven to be one of the best channels for starting and running an affiliate marketing business. If you have no coding experience, then don’t worry WordPress content management system is sufficient to get you started. Better still, you can head to Fiverr and hire affordable professionals to design your blog for you and you could be up and running in no time.

When you are done with designing your blog, you will need to set it up by getting a hosting company. For this, you can use any reliable hosting firm like Namecheap or Bluehost. I currently use Namecheap and have not found their service wanting at all. Namecheap offers one of the best deals in the market currently in the domain name and web hosting space. You can get a free domain right now if buying a hosting package with them.

  • Your relationship with affiliate marketing merchants or networks. Let’s look at them in details.

Your relationship with affiliate marketing merchants or networks. Becoming an affiliate requires some registration, documentation, approval, and account setup by either the affiliate merchants or the network. You will apply, be approved, and provide some information for your payment to be processed. Thereafter, instructions on how to use the platform and a summary of policies such as payouts will be sent to you.  Marketing tools like banners, links, sidebar graphics, landing pages, etc will also be provided to ease your journey.

#4: Start Promoting Your Chosen Affiliate Offers

The fact is that everything boils down to this very point selling. Get this wrong, and your business will fail. The main idea is to promote an affiliate product or service through many channels until you find what works and stick with it. After all the hard work of researching a niche, choosing a product, finding merchants or networks, setting up your channels, etc. you are faced with the market. Ultimately, you can only earn from affiliate marketing when someone believes in your brand and decides to follow through with your recommendation by clicking and buying the products. It, therefore, means that your content marketing strategy will be the bedrock of your affiliate marketing business.

Many affiliates never get past this point especially when the initial efforts seem to be yielding no result. But to succeed as an affiliate marketer, selling you must do. You have to employ all in your arsenal to convince your audience to click that link albeit in a less intrusive manner.

What Promotion Methods Are Most Effective And How Do I Get Customers To Buy What I Promote?  

So what promotion methods and techniques have proven effective? Listed below are 15 ways you can utilize right now to make your affiliate marketing promotion successful in no particular order.

  • Email marketing
  • Youtube marketing
  • Forums
  • Tiktok
  • Reddit
  • Medium
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook Groups
  • Instagram
  • Blogging with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Answering questions on Quora
  • Paid advertising
  • Google Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Pinterest Ads
  • Instagram Ads
  • Native Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Youtube Ads

Let’s now look at the dos and don’ts of promotion for the affiliate marketer.

Always think quality. The fastest recipe for failure in this business is recommending a product of inferior quality. Doing this you lose the trust of your audience quickly and going forward, they look elsewhere. There is a better approach, and that is don’t focus on making money at all costs by jettisoning their loyalty.

There will always be new products launched in most niches. Some of this line of products are so frequent and appealing that if you jump on them and start selling for fear of missing out (FOMO) you miss a very vital key. Sadly, most of these products are below per in terms of quality. Especially in the make money online niche. It is always best for you to try these products out before recommending them to your audience. One way to do this is to request a sample of a product from a merchant for trial especially if it is a digital product like a course or tutorial. You could cold mail them, stating who you are what you do and the following you command in your niche. Should they decline, buy the product and try it if you so love it or move on.

Don’ts

  • Don’t come across as a desperate marketer who is only interested in extracting money from your audience. This can be done in plastering everywhere around your blog with too many ads that distracts readers.
  • Don’t be lazy in content creation and value provision
  • Don’t promote offers you cannot speak about convincingly
  • Don’t fall in love with your chosen offers. When an offer doesn’t seem to click with your audience let it go.
  • Don’t destroy your hard earn reputation by promoting a defective product and deceiving your audience.

Dos

  • Use natural conversational tone when talking to your audience.
  • Produce high value content to convince them that you are a person of value and authority worth listening to on the subject matter
  • Try a variety of methods to reach and expand your audience
  • Develop a funneling system of directing all traffic to the point of maximum impact – your blog for instance from where all products are promoted.
  • Be consistent with your content production.

How Much Can I Make With Affiliate Marketing?

This is determined by many factors. The merchant the network you work with, the products you promote and the prices, the percentage commission on the product, your commitment to the business, and knowledge of the niche you are in, etc. Other factors include your skillset in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), sales funnels, website building, copywriting and proofreading backlinking and domain authority, location of the bulk of your audience, and of course your popularity on social media platforms.  

A combination of or lack of these skills could make or mar one’s success in this business. Truth be told, affiliate marketing can be a difficult endeavor especially for beginners. Patience is key if success is desired. This is what got top affiliate marketers to where they are today. Therefore, results can vary widely and no singular formula could accurately predict one’s level of success. However, with diligence, perseverance, and consistent effort, the result is sure to come.

Can I Quit My Job Now For This Business?

Short answer, not just yet. Except for those who had no jobs and were just fiddling around on the internet, no affiliate marketer simply dumped their jobs and walked straight into the business from the get-go. For most, it was a side hustle that only became a full-time job after the pay equaled, doubled, or quintupled their day job’s pay. Except of course you are tired of your job and want to quit anyways whether you do affiliate marketing or not, in which case I wish you Godspeed.

There is a high possibility though that you will quit your job, if you keep at it with all you’ve got, someday and not so long from now, you will enjoy financial freedom without the pressures of the 9-5.

Conclusion

Affiliate Marketing can be a very rewarding endeavor if done right. The right niche, the right product, the right merchant and network, the right marketing and promotion, and ultimately, the right mindset. A lot of affiliate marketers out there are just out to make a buck here and there. This is quickly revealed by discerning customers. Therefore, set yourself apart and stand out. Give them value at every turn. Don’t speak marketing always when communicating with them. Reflect some humanity in your approach, after all, you are human and they are too.

Alex Porobe

Alex has been a freelancer, working for an organisation and also runs his own business part time. He discovered that his real passion is teaching wealth creation on the internet in a simple and understandable way. He currently runs the Alex Porobe Digital Wealth Academy where he produces both freemium and premium online courses to help many take advantage of the opportunities on the internet.

1 Response

  1. bliss says:

    great write up.
    helpful in remote job search

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