How To Start Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make passive income online. According to Statista, business spending on affiliate marketing hit $8.2 billion in the U.S. in 2022, and Influencer Marketing Hub estimates that the industry will continue to grow to $15.7 billion by 2024.
If you are an internet marketer with a website you need to monetize, you should consider affiliate marketing. And if you’re feeling clueless about where to start, we got you!
In this blog post, we’ll guide you through how to start affiliate marketing and reap good returns from it.
To start affiliate marketing:
- Choose a niche and the right affiliate program, then set up your affiliate account.
- Understand your target audience and choose high-quality products and services to promote.
- Set SMART goals and have a content calendar to guide you.
- Create your affiliate marketing website and optimize your content for SEO.
- Create engaging content and promote it on social media, email, and paid adverts, among other platforms.
- Always track your efforts by monitoring clicks and sales.
Chapter 1: Getting Started in Affiliate Marketing
- How to Choose a Niche and Find Programs
- Finding the Right Affiliate Program
- Analyze Your Competitors’ Affiliate Programs
- Joining And Setting Up Your Affiliate Account
How to Choose a Niche and Find Programs
Before dipping your feet into the affiliate marketing business, the first thing is to choose a niche and find the right affiliate program.
Your niche is your line or industry of specialization, which will determine the type of products you’ll promote. For instance, you may be an affiliate for finance, health, fitness, digital marketing, or SaaS niches.
How do you identify a profitable niche for affiliate marketing? Here is a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Identify your interests and passions
Start by considering your interests and passions. Affiliate marketing is a business, and you want to run a business and sell products you’re passionate about.
You’ll be more successful promoting products that interest you (and which you even use) instead of something unrelated to your interests.
Step 2: Research popular topics
Once you’ve identified your interests and passions, research popular topics related to those interests. You can use Google Trends, Twitter, or other keyword research tools to identify topics most people are interested in.
Step 3: Analyze your competitors
Next, you’ll need to do some competitive analysis. Research other affiliate marketers in your topic of interest and find out what they’re doing.
You can look at the type of products they promote and identify the most popular ones. Also, identify the products that seem to be selling well.
Step 4: Analyze commission rates
When selecting a niche, it’s essential to consider the commission rates. Companies in different niches will offer different commission rates on their products or services. Ensure you know the range of commissions you’ll earn if you go with a particular niche.
Finding the Right Affiliate Program
After finding the perfect niche for your business, it’s time to choose the right affiliate program. Here are some tips on how to find the right affiliate program:
1. Research popular affiliate programs
The first step is to research the most popular programs already out there. Narrow your research and list down the programs that seem most favorable in terms of commissions, payout rates, and other factors.
2. Read reviews
Once you have your list of potential programs, take time to read reviews about them. Search for program reviews online to see what other marketers say about it. This will help you know whether a program is worth pursuing or whether it would fit your business goals.
3. Evaluate program terms
Next, pay close attention to the terms and conditions outlined by each program.
Every affiliate program has a list of terms and conditions which outline the commission structure, terms for participation, payout schedules, and legal compliance, among others. Understand them before signing up, so you know what’s expected of you as an affiliate.
4. Check payment methods
It’s also important to check out the payment methods offered by each program before you sign up. Most programs offer either PayPal or direct deposit, so ensure you have one of these options before joining a program.
5. Look beyond commission rates
Finally, there are other factors you need to consider beyond the commission rates. Some of them include the following:
- Customer service
- Payment frequency
- Affiliate support
All these factors will significantly affect your experience with any affiliate program you choose to work with.
Analyze Your Competitors’ Affiliate Programs
Like any other business, affiliate marketing requires you to stay in the know about your competitors. You need to take time to research and analyze your competitors for more insights and inspiration.
Here are the things you need to know when researching and analyzing your competitors’ affiliate programs:
1. List down the competitors
The first step is to identify and list your major competitors. You’ll need to do some proactive research here to know who is selling similar products or services as you, who has a presence in the same industry, or who is targeting the same audience demographic.
2. Find out the products they sell
Once you list down your competitors, find out the products they promote and the affiliate programs they work under. Also, find out which products work best for them (the ones that sell more).
3. Analyze their strategies
Next is to analyze the competitors’ strategies. There are several factors to analyze here.
Start by looking at their websites and social media pages and try to find answers to the following questions:
- What kind of content do they use to promote products?
- On what platforms do they market their products?
- How often do they post?
- What kind of language do they use?
- Do they work with bloggers, influencers, and other partners?
4. Analyze performance data
Once you understand your competitor’s strategy well, it’s time to dive deeper into the performance data.
Analyze how their affiliate programs perform to help you make a better decision. You can start by evaluating key metrics such as:
- Commission rate
- Conversion rate
- Average order value (AOV)
- Customer lifetime value (LTV)
- Cost per acquisition (CPA)
This information will also help you decide on the best affiliate program to sign up for.
5. Compare programs side-by-side
After analyzing your competitor’s affiliate program(s), compare them with your program. This will give you more insight into what works best for your business.
Look at the critical differences between the two programs— such as commission structure or payment terms— that could significantly impact your competition levels.
Joining And Setting Up Your Affiliate Account
Once you’ve analyzed your competitors’ affiliate programs and selected one for your business, you’ll need to go ahead and join the program.
You join by opening their official website and setting up your affiliate account. For instance, if you want to join the Amazon Associates program, you’ll open the affiliate-program.amazon.com website from where you can create your account.
- Most programs require you to fill out a simple application form with basic information such as your name, email address, and website URL.
- Then, you’ll need to accept the terms of service and provide payment information if necessary.
- Some programs may require additional steps like submitting tax forms or providing proof of identity before being approved as an affiliate partner.
After filling in all the information and submitting your application, you should receive confirmation within 24 hours informing you that your account has been approved. Once approved, you’ll have access to a platform to create tracking links and manage payments from the program.
- You’ll need to generate affiliate links for your site or blog posts that link back to the products or services you’ll be marketing.
- You can usually find these links in your account dashboard once it’s been approved by the program administrators.
- When people click on these links and make purchases, you’ll receive commissions from those sales – depending on the structure of the commission system offered by your affiliate program.
Chapter 2: Creating a Successful Affiliate Marketing Strategy
- Identifying Your Target Audience
- Choosing the Right Products or Services to Promote
- Setting Clear and Realistic Goals
- Creating a Content Calendar and Plan
Identifying Your Target Audience
For your affiliate marketing efforts to be successful, it’s essential to put a well-crafted strategy in place.
The first step to crafting an effective affiliate marketing strategy is identifying your target audience. Think about who would be most interested in the line of products you want to promote and their needs.
To identify your target audience, begin by researching potential customers online (e.g., on social media) and exploring their questions about your products or services.
You’ll also need to define them based on demographics such as:
- Physical location
- Economic status
- Education level
Once you know your target audience, creating content that resonates with them while promoting your products will be easier.
Choosing the Right Products or Services to Promote
As an affiliate marketer, you want to promote products and services that appeal to your target audience and help meet their needs. On the other hand, you want to promote products that will attract higher conversions and earn you a decent commission.
Here are some tips to guide you in choosing the right products or services to promote as an affiliate:
1. Understand your audience’s needs
The best way to choose the right product or service is by understanding your target audience’s needs. Understand their likes, dislikes, and current interests and preferences.
You can use surveys, focus groups, and interviews to get this information to settle on products that solve their deepest needs.
2. Research your options
Once you understand your target audience and their needs well, it’s time to start researching potential products to promote.
Look for brands that align with your values and offer quality products or services at competitive prices. Also, check the company’s website and social media accounts for any red flags or problems that could turn off potential buyers.
3. Look for quality products
When choosing what product or service to promote, it’s important to focus on high-quality products that offer value to customers. Check customer reviews and product ratings to understand how customers have embraced the product before choosing to promote it.
4. Research the company you’re promoting
Once you have identified a potential product or service that aligns with your audience’s needs, research the company behind it.
Is it a company with a good reputation? Do they have favorable support policies, shipping times, and return policies? What commission rates do they offer? This will help you work with a trustworthy company.
5. Check out the competition
What types of products are your competitors promoting? What kind of results have they achieved so far? Studying what others in your space are doing can inform your decisions and help you select the best option for higher returns.
Setting Clear and Realistic Goals
It takes careful planning and goal setting to be successful in any business— and so it is with affiliate marketing. Before you start running your business and promoting your products of choice, it’s essential to set clear and realistic goals.
Always set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals so you can focus and maximize your affiliate marketing efforts.
- S (Specific): Be specific when outlining your goals. State precisely what you need to accomplish and avoid generalizing things. (e.g., Increase website traffic by 10%)
- M (Measurable): Ensure your goal is measurable and has metrics that are easy to track (e.g., the number of website visits or the number of sales)
- A (Achievable): Always set achievable goals. If it seems too lofty or unrealistic, revise it so that it’s still challenging but not overstretching. Break large-scale goals into smaller chunks that are easier to manage over time.
- R (Relevant): Ensure the goals you set are relevant. Prioritize the most important goals to help you reach your long-term objectives for success.
- T(Time-bound): Always take a timeline for each goal, so you stay motivated and accountable throughout the process. (e.g., Increase website traffic by 10% in six months).
Once you set SMART goals for your affiliate business, keeping track of progress throughout the process is important.
Use tools like Google Analytics to help you monitor progress and stay focused on achieving those goals. This will help you know what’s working best and adjust your efforts accordingly.
Creating a Content Calendar and Plan
Creating a content calendar is one of the best ways to plan and set your affiliate marketing business for success. This is a schedule you use to organize content and plan what, when, where, and how you post it.
How do you create a content calendar?
- Step 1: Start by deciding what type of content you’ll create around your products (e.g., blog posts, videos, podcasts). It’s always best to use multiple content formats.
- Step 2: Identity which days of the week are best suited for each type of post (e.g., videos on Mondays and blog posts on Thursdays).
- Step 3: Set specific timelines for each post so that you or your team knows when to complete every piece of content.
- Step 4: Assemble all the necessary data, such as images, text, videos, affiliate information, URLs, or product descriptions, so everything is ready before each deadline.
- Step 5: Create your calendar using Google Sheets, Excel Spreadsheet, or your program of choice. Create columns for each of the data you collected in Step 4. Then fill in these columns with all the relevant information for each campaign.
Also, create a column for dates and deadlines to monitor progress easily. Make sure everything is accurate before you start implementing your plan.
Chapter 3: Building an Affiliate Marketing Presence
- Tips for Creating a Website or Blog
- Optimizing for SEO
- Writing Engaging Content
- Creating and Using Affiliate Links
Tips for Creating a Website or Blog
As an affiliate marketer, it’s important to have a website or blog to use as a platform for your affiliate marketing efforts.
But how do you go about creating one?
1. Choose a website platform
The first step is to choose a suitable website platform for your site. There are numerous options you can choose from depending on factors such as:
- Ease of use
- Mobile optimization
- Security features
- Customer support
Some of them include WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Blogger. It’s important to do some research before making your decision to ensure that your chosen platform meets your needs.
2. Choose a domain and name and hosting plan
Once you find a suitable platform, you’ll need to choose and register a domain name for your site. Your domain name is how you want your site to be known—this will be your site address, e.g., consumerfix.com).
You’ll then need to find a suitable web hosting plan. A host is a platform that will ‘house’ your website and make it accessible to anyone on the internet. You can find a host from our list of the best web hosting providers of 2023. You can also use our web hosting advisor to help you choose the perfect host for your site needs.
3. Design your site
After finding a hosting plan, you’ll need to create your account and design your website. You can use one of the 15 Top WordPress Themes for Every Niche your chosen platform provides or hire a web designer to customize it for you.
Ensure the design is easy to navigate and responsive to desktop and mobile devices.
The overall look should be visually appealing, with colors complementing each other.
4. Create and publish content
Once your website is up and running, you can create and publish content to promote your products and services.
Ensure each content contains keywords related to your products so that search engines can find them and direct organic traffic to your affiliate website.
Optimizing for SEO
Creating content for your affiliate website is not enough.
Nobody will read your content and click on your affiliate links if they can’t find it through search engines. And that is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in.
SEO is the backbone of every successful website or blog. As an affiliate marketer, you should know how to optimize your website and content for search engines to attract traffic and earn more commission.
Some of the key SEO strategies to increase your website ranking include:
These are the words or phrases people use when looking for content or products related to yours.
Luckily, there are several keyword research tools you can use to collect keywords before creating content. Some of them include Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, and Ahref Keyword Explorer.
Once you have a list of relevant keywords, incorporate them in your content titles, subheadings, URL addresses, copy text, and other places where search engines can see them.
Optimize meta tags and descriptions
Include meta tags and descriptions on every page of your website that concisely describes each page’s content. Search engines use these tags to determine which pages are most relevant when someone searches.
Keep content fresh and relevant
Search engines love fresh content. It’s therefore important to regularly post new content on your site with up-to-date information on the latest industry trends and related products.
Utilize link-building techniques
Link building involves creating backlinks from other websites back to yours to drive traffic and increase rankings. These can increase your website’s authority by showing that other websites trust it enough to link back to it.
Writing Engaging Content
When writing content for your blog, you need to ensure the content is engaging, informative, and capable of driving conversions. Not many website owners know how to write content that attracts and retains readers.
Let’s look at some things you need to do to make your content engaging and appealing to your blog readers:
- Craft engaging titles: The title is the first thing readers see when they come across your blog post. Your titles, therefore, need to be attention-grabbing and entice them to click on the article and read more.
- Tell Stories: People love stories! If there’s a way for you to incorporate storytelling into your blog post, then do it rather than just listing facts or features.
- Use subheadings and formatting: Use subheadings throughout your content to break up long blocks of text. Subheadings make it easier for readers to scan through quickly and pick out key points. Also, consider using bold fonts and bullet points where possible to highlight important points at a glance.
- Include relevant media: Use visual features like images, videos, and infographics to make your content more visually appealing to your readers. They keep readers engaged and make them understand your content more easily.
- Make it personal: Personalize your content by including real-life stories or anecdotes rather than plain marketing jargon.
Creating and Using Affiliate Links
Once you’ve recreated and published content on your website, you need to create affiliate links and add them to your content.
Create unique tracking URLs for each promotion or product and make it as short as possible. Long URLs are more difficult for people to remember or type out correctly.
To create an affiliate link, you simply take the affiliate ID provided by your affiliate program and add them to the URL of your post or page.
Here, ‘tips21’ is the affiliate ID.
You also can use link cloaking software to cloak your links and make them more trustworthy and easier to track.
There are two most popular types of affiliate links you can create and use on your website:
- Text links: These are HTML hyperlinks that direct customers to the merchant’s website when they click on them. They are less visually appealing but often have the highest conversion rates.
- Banners and ads
These are large graphical elements you can place anywhere on your website to draw attention and direct customers to specific products. They are more visually appealing than text links.
(See the Grammarly banner in the text below).
For text links, always ensure they are relevant and blend in naturally with other web content, so they don’t appear forced.
If you’re using banners and ad links, place them strategically so readers can easily find and click on them. Also, ensure they match the look and feel of your website so they don’t appear misplaced.
Chapter 4: Driving Traffic to Your Affiliate Marketing Website
Using Social Media and Other Platforms
An affiliate website with low traffic is less likely to drive conversions and generate good revenue. As an affiliate marketer, one of the best ways to drive traffic to your affiliate marketing website is through social media.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn have billions of users from which you can drive traffic to your website.
- Start by analyzing and picking platforms where most of your target customers are found, then share engaging, informative, relevant content to pique their interest.
- Ensure your content is high-quality, and post it regularly, so people know when new content is available.
- Also, engage with your audience by responding to comments, liking posts or photos, and commenting on accounts related to your niche.
These are great ways to connect with potential customers and get them interested in what you offer.
In addition to social media, you can utilize other strategies like email marketing, paid adverts, and networking with other influencers.
Utilizing several platforms gives you more opportunities to share affiliate links, increasing the chances of generating leads.
Chapter 5: Tracking Your Affiliate Marketing Success
How to Monitor Clicks and Sales
As an affiliate marketer, tracking clicks and sales should be an essential part of your business. This helps you know how many people are clicking on your links, where they’re coming from, and how many are converting into paying customers.
Here are some of the most effective ways to monitor clicks and sales from your affiliate links:
1. Using tracking links
A tracking link allows you to track the performance of a specific link or campaign. For instance, when advertising a product on Google Ads, you can use a tracking link to measure how many people clicked on the ad and how many actually bought the product.
2. Using analytics platforms
You can use popular analytics platforms like Google Analytics or Clicky Analytics to track user behavior like page visits, time spent on each page, location, and device used. This information will help you know how effective your campaigns are.
3. Use Conversion Tracking Software
Conversion tracking software, like Voluum, LinkTrust, and LeadDyno, can also help you track conversions— from when someone clicks on an affiliate link to when they make a purchase.
You can use them to track conversions from all networks to ensure each affiliate link gets paid accordingly.
Voluum tracker, for example, has had 100% tracking server uptime since 2015, meaning that every click on your affiliate link is safely recorded.
With the right affiliate marketing tools in place, it’s easy to monitor your affiliate data and use it to improve your performance. You can also make informed decisions about the efficacy of your marketing campaigns.
Chapter 6: Staying Ahead in Affiliate Marketing
Continuously Learning and Experimenting for Growth
Like in any other business, it’s important to stay on top of industry trends and best practices as an affiliate marketer.
This will help you align your marketing efforts with the latest trends to maximize your efforts. It will also help you stay ahead of your competitors and beat them in the game.
One of the best ways to stay ahead is to learn and experiment with new things continuously. You can learn new industry trends through the following:
- Joining online forums
- Following influencers on social media
- Following popular industry newsletters and blogs
- Subscribing to podcasts and videos
- Attending affiliate marketing conferences and events
- Testing new technologies and platforms
These methods will help you learn new strategies, tactics, and resources that could benefit your efforts and boost your conversion rate. Consequently, you’ll earn more money and be a happy affiliate marketer!
Affiliate marketing is a lucrative business that can earn you a decent income online. If you’ve been thinking of starting an affiliate marketing business, now you have everything you need to get started.
All you need to do is choose a niche, find an affiliate program, and choose the perfect products or services to promote. You can then utilize the strategies discussed in this article to create high-quality content and promote your site for higher conversions.
What are you waiting for? Create your affiliate marketing website right away and start your affiliate marketing journey today.
Next Steps: What Now?
Now that you know how to start affiliate marketing, here are some practical steps you can take from this article:
- Find the Best Web Hosting for your website.
- Find the best WordPress hosting for your WordPress site.
- Build your website using our list of the best website builders of 2023.
- Use our web host advisorto identify the best hosting for your website.
Further Reading – Useful Resources
Here are some valuable resources you can read to learn more about starting and running your affiliate marketing business.