More and more people are searching for ways to escape their 9-to-5 jobs. And with every trend, there are countless new opportunities and solutions. Building your own online business, for example, is a trend that gets more popular every year. Therefore, you’ve probably heard and read quite a bit about it. You might as well have found out that affiliate marketing is one of the main revenue drivers for many online businesses. So, in this step-by-step guide, we take a very close look at affiliate marketing for beginners.
Table of Contents
- Before getting started in affiliate marketing
- The reality of affiliate marketing
- 5 Steps to making money selling other people’s products
- Step 1 – Decide on your niche
- Step 2 – Build a website and create great content
- Step 3 – Find products that will provide great value to your audience
- Step 4 – Set yourself up as an affiliate
- Step 5 – Start promoting your content and driving traffic
- What to do next
- Downsides of affiliate marketing
- The legal side of affiliate marketing
- Analyze your efforts
- Resources to get started with affiliate marketing for beginners
- Final words
Before Getting Started In Affiliate Marketing
Let’s start off this guide by addressing some basics about affiliate marketing you should be familiar with. First, we talk about basic terminology, and then there is some more information on how much you can earn with affiliate marketing, as well as a brief overview of the technical aspects.
Basic vocabulary – because you need to know the language!
Like most industries, affiliate marketing has its own set of vocabulary. In order to appear (and actually be) professional in this field, you have to know these terms.
- Affiliate – The person who decides to promote a product somebody else has created. In turn, the affiliate receives a portion of the selling price as a commission.
- Affiliate Network – Affiliate networks (or marketplaces) are networks where you as an affiliate can find products to promote. Networks are responsible for creating your links, tracking your sales and paying you.
- Merchant – This refers to the creator(s) of a specific product. Most merchants use affiliate networks to operate their affiliate program. However, there are many merchants out there who operate their own independent program. You will find out more about this later in this article.
- Customer – This is the person (sometimes also called consumer) who buys a product after visiting one of your promotional links.
- Deep Links – Links that drive a visitor to a specific product page as opposed to the general brand homepage. If you want to promote a book on Amazon, for example, then you would not link the main Amazon homepage. You would use a deep link to the exact book you want to promote.
- Tracking – The process necessary to make sure that the sales you have facilitated will be assigned correctly. This is the step that ensures you get the money you deserve.
How much money can you make with affiliate marketing?
So, to give you some motivation and a bright future to work towards here’s some info on how much money you can earn as an affiliate marketer.
To keep this real, though, know that many bloggers don’t make any (significant) money at all in this field. This, however, is largely due to the fact that they are simply lacking the right knowledge or make some fundamental mistakes. If you learn how to do it right, affiliate marketing can be very rewarding, even for beginners.
One famous example is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of makingsenseofcents.com. She has built her blogging empire so she makes over $50,000 per month (!!!) in affiliate income.
This is a rare story in the affiliate marketing world, but let me encourage you a bit more. There are tens of thousands of people making an extra income in the upper 4-figure range every month. Thousands make even 5 figures in monthly affiliate income.
And after reading this affiliate marketing for beginners guide, you will understand the step-by-step process of how you can achieve these numbers for yourself!
Understanding the technical aspects of affiliate marketing
How do affiliates get paid, and how do merchants and affiliate networks know how much to pay their affiliates? Well, the simple answer is: They track the links of each affiliate and know exactly what happens there. If a potential customer clicks your link and buys a product, they will know it happened through your link.
They even track when somebody clicks your link but then decides not to buy and leave the page again. These are very powerful mechanisms when it comes to refining your strategy, as you can use these metrics to find out what works and what doesn’t.
The Reality Of Affiliate Marketing
There are some things you should make clear for yourself before getting into this high-potential field. Especially beginners drop their journey pretty quickly when they don’t see any overnight success. So here is some real-talk for you if you consider getting started in affiliate marketing.
Building an online business takes time. There are many people out there who try to sell you the dream of clicking a few buttons, setting up a magic system, and then live your life at the beaches of Hawaii. Well, very rarely does it happen this way.
Especially if you are looking for beginner ways to getting started with affiliate marketing, you should be aware that the smaller your audience is, the smaller your income will be at the beginning. BUT as you manage to grow your audience (= readers, visitors), you can also grow your affiliate income. And then, there’s no ceiling to the potential income you can make. Remember Michelle from the example above. Just don’t make the mistake to think this will happen in 10 days when you haven’t even set up your blog yet.
When you feel discouraged
Here’s a quick motivational perspective for you which helps me a lot whenever I feel discouraged and consider quitting: If you imagine yourself one year from now, you will either have done what needs to be done and be happy about your website generating income. Or you will look back having done nothing and regret that you didn’t follow the necessary steps. The funny thing is that the year will go by, no matter which path you choose!
There will be people who follow the path until they have success with affiliate marketing. And there will be people who think it takes too long because they expected it to be easier. I would love to see that you belong to the first group! So write that reminder down and hang it above your bed now. You can thank me later…
Do you need a course to learn affiliate marketing for beginners?
You can find plenty of information on the internet for free on any given topic. However, you have to make sure that the information is accurate. There are many so-called gurus out there who just repeat what they’ve found online, while they cannot really show any results themselves.
My issue with all these online resources has always been that everything seemed so disorganized. I’ve always had trouble figuring out what to do. As a beginner in affiliate marketing, you simply don’t know all the steps you need to take. This is exactly the reason why I created this article. I wanted to help beginners understand the right steps to get started. Thus, after reading this article, you will be able to start your affiliate business and make your first moves, and probably earn your first income with it (yay)!
However, I took multiple courses to understand the basics and learn the strategies from the pros. I always think that there are few people ready to invest in some basic education. If you are one of those who ARE willing to invest a bit of money (knowing that it will pay for itself a hundredfold!), you will have a head-and-shoulders advantage over your competition.
This fact alone makes the investment in some basic education an absolute no-brainer in my eyes. So, do you need a course to learn the basics of affiliate marketing? No, you don’t. But will it help you see faster and more predictable results? Absolutely!
Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – 5 Steps To Making Money Selling Other People’s Products
Now that you know about the basics and understand how the affiliate business works, let’s get started with the practical part. There are 5 steps you need to take in order to be able to make consistent money with affiliate marketing. I want you to know that I’m always thinking long-term with anything I do. As a result, these 5 steps are laid out in a way that will create a long-term business for you.
I’m not telling you to set up a promotional link, send it to 100 of your friends and have one or two of them buying, because then what?! You will have made some quick money, but that will be the end of the road for you. I present you with a system that will take a little more time to establish. However, once it’s running, your source of income will not dry out overnight.
Step 1 – Decide On Your Niche
First of all, you have to decide on a niche for your affiliate business. If you already have a blog, you should have an idea of what your niche will be, as your blog is probably about a certain topic or a few related topics, too.
If you are just starting out, you can make a fresh decision about which niche you will choose. Keep in mind, however, that the long-term strategy involves publishing a lot of content around your topic. So I would suggest you pick a niche that gets you excited at least a little bit. Otherwise, you might run out of motivation before you see your first dollar coming in.
Most profitable niches
In the online marketing world, there are a few niches that have more earning potential than others. Many bloggers write about which ones are the most profitable niches for blogging and affiliate sales. And mostly, all these bloggers agree on what these topics are. Use this list as guidance so you don’t pick a non-commercial niche and kill your earning potential even before writing the first line of content.
The purpose of this Affiliate Marketing For Beginners step-by-step guide is to provide you with some actionable and reliable information. So if you choose any of the following niches (or any sub-category of those), you are on a good way to make money with your future affiliate marketing efforts:
- Health (Diets, Weight Loss, Food & Recipes, Fitness & Workouts, etc.)
- How To Make Money (Online Business, Side Jobs, Network Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Blogging, etc.)
- Personal Finance (Saving, Money Management, Insurance, Investing, etc.)
- Romance & Dating
- Personal Development
- Beauty & Fashion
Most successful bloggers start a blog in one of these niches. Once their blog is driving good money to the bank, they start a new one in another niche. So, to start out, just pick one area that you could see yourself still write about in a few months from now.
Find out what your audience is already buying
Affiliate marketing is all about recommending products to an audience that would really benefit from your recommendation. It’s always about providing value, not about promoting the highest-paying unrelated product to a random audience. You will build trust (which is necessary if you want people to buy from you) only if you show them your genuine intention.
Thus, if you want to know what your audience (or potential audience for beginners) needs to solve the problems they face, here are a few things you can do to find out.
Find out about your audience’s problems and buying decisions
- Conduct a short survey (for existing audiences), either by direct mail or with a survey provider such as Surveymonkey.
- Check out some websites similar to yours, and check out the comments below some of their articles. Usually, this will expose a great deal of insight into your potential customers’ minds.
- Join Facebook groups related to your topic and participate in the conversation. I can assure you that not many people are willing to put in the effort to do this. You could create some pretty decent advantage for yourself that way.
- Check Reddit for threads related to your topic, and pay attention to people’s pain points. If you read something like “I have a website and 50 articles on it, but I can’t get any traffic to my page.”, you should immediately switch to solution-mode and realize that any product about learning how to drive traffic would be helpful to this person (and probably a lot more people).
Step 2 – Build A Website & Create Great Content
In this stage, you set up your business for success. Most of the other affiliate marketing for beginners tips out there do not include this point. Yet, I feel it’s of paramount importance for the health of your future income. My guess is that nobody wants to talk about it because they would have to tell you that you NEED to put in work. Since they don’t want to repel you, they’d rather leave it out. So, facing the possibility that you might leave this guide now, I tell you that you have to put in the work!
This post is called affiliate marketing for beginners for a reason because the steps a beginner needs to take are very different from the steps an established affiliate marketer needs to take. You as a beginner need to build a solid foundation.
Here are the exact steps you need to take
- Decide on a name for your blog and register your domain with a hosting company. Examples for reputable hosting companies would be SiteGround (affiliate link) or Bluehost. This will cost you a small monthly fee, but it’s an absolute necessity. If you decide to leave this part out, you will immediately brand yourself as not committed and unprofessional.
- Install WordPress and find a WordPress theme. Make sure that you use a theme that offers great functionality and is a lightweight theme. This is important if you want your website to be able to rank high in search engines.
- Go to Fiverr.com and have somebody design a logo for your website.
- Start writing content. Remember that your goal is to monetize your website promoting products as an affiliate. So make sure that you write about topics within your niche. To begin, you can simply browse similar blogs and see what they write about. Then write your own version of these topics. Once you have 5-10 articles (depending on how long they are), you can proceed to the next step.
Here’s more guidance for you
Resources – what WordPress theme should I choose?
Personally, I use GeneratePress as my theme, in conjunction with Elementor Pro Page Builder. GeneratePress is a very lightweight theme, and Elementor gives me the ability to design and customize everything the way I want it. You can even get started with the free version of both. However, I would suggest buying Elementor ($49) and going with the free version of GeneratePress at the beginning. This is exactly what I did at the beginning with the YourPassionPays Academy website.
Step 3 – Find Products That Will Provide Great Value To Your Audience
Note that I did not say you should choose products that you want to promote. This is a mistake many people make when just starting out. It’s vitally important in affiliate marketing for beginners, as well as for advanced marketers, that you focus on your audience.
So how can you find products that would be of high value for your readers? There are a few different ways to do this.
Recommend products you know and use yourself
If you are in the online business niche and you want to teach people how to make money with ads, then you probably already know some of the available stuff yourself. Think of everything they would need in order to make money by displaying ads. Here is what you could recommend them (the list is not complete):
- Your hosting provider because they need a host, too.
- Your WordPress theme.
- The tools you use to drive traffic to your website because that’s what they need to do in order to increase ad revenue.
You can apply this approach to any niche by just thinking about what your audience needs in order to reach their goals. Then, all you have to do is recommend them the best (not the highest-paying!) solution for their problems.
Browse affiliate networks for more ideas
Chances are you will find some products or services there that your readers would benefit from a lot. Check out these highly reputable affiliate networks:
Use the Amazon associates program
Just as I write about affiliate marketing for beginners to give you a step-by-step approach to get a handle on this topic, you can take people by the hand as well. Recommend the books you’ve read to learn what you know about your topic. Or find products related to what they want to achieve.
If you’re in the fitness niche, for example, you could place some affiliate links about nutrition supplements or your protein powder of choice. Just ask yourself what would really improve the situation of the people in your audience.
Find out more about the Amazon Associates program by reading my Complete Beginner’s Guide on How To Start Affiliate Marketing With Amazon.
Recommend Online Courses You’ve Taken
This is a great one because even if you are a beginner in affiliate marketing, these products have a huge earning potential. Online products like courses, ebooks, etc. usually pay between 30% to 50% commissions, sometimes even higher. So again, if one of these courses or ebooks has helped you tremendously earlier on your journey, your readers might be happy about your recommendation. Just make sure you don’t promote something you don’t know or don’t like as much. Remember that building trust is much more important than making a quick sale!
Step 4 – Set Yourself Up As An Affiliate With Your Chosen Networks And Merchants
This step is pretty easy. The affiliate networks mentioned above have a very straight-forward signup process. Simply go to their websites and sign up. Networks usually don’t have any entry limitations such as minimum monthly readers or so. You can sign up as an affiliate with them right from the start of your career.
When signing up with Amazon, however, make sure that you already have a bit of traffic going on (about 20-50 visitors a day will do). This step will make sure that you comply with their requirements for new affiliates to complete 3 sales within a 180-day period. Although that shouldn’t be a problem, and we’re aiming at much higher numbers anyway, you can just delay your signup with them a little, so there’s no trouble later on.
Signing up with an independent merchant
This can be a tricky part of affiliate marketing for beginners as independent merchants have special requirements most of the time. Independent merchants are people or companies who have a website and a brand built around themselves. Moreover, they have created products that affiliates sell for them.
Their most important focus is to maintain the good name of their brand. And one way to do this is by only accepting affiliate partners who make their products appear in a good environment. If your weight loss course was reviewed and promoted by an adult gambling page, it would rather harm your reputation.
The most common requirement these merchants have is for the partner to have an active website. Furthermore, they want to see that your content is related to their course in any way (see the gambling example above!). Lastly, you should also make sure that you have some content on your website. I would not address any independent merchant before I have at least 5 relevant articles published.
Step 5 – Start Promoting Your Content And Driving Traffic (Strategies In Affiliate Marketing For Beginners)
This is a numbers game now. And it’s the reason why it’s easier to jumpstart an affiliate marketing career with an existing audience than it is to start in affiliate marketing for beginners. The good thing, however, is that by growing your visitors, you also grow your income from now on. As a result, you have your monthly income in your own hands!
Let’s explore some tactics to get started driving traffic to your blog posts. The tactics I present here are the ones that worked best for me when I started out. There are countless more ways to drive traffic, but I don’t want you to be paralyzed by too many options. Simply pick one or a few of the following strategies and start seeing your first visitors coming to your website!
Write a review or testimonial article about your affiliate product
What do you do when you find a course that might help you solve a particular problem? You most likely go to Google and type in something like “Course Name review” to find out what other people say about it. Well, you can write such an article yourself.
Review articles are a high-converting form of content because they really go into detail about a product. Usually, they answer every question a potential buyer might have. At the same time, the present reasons why it’s a good idea to buy the product throughout the article.
Email funnels and sequences aiming at affiliate sales
If you’re a beginner at affiliate marketing and don’t have an email list yet, this strategy is probably not the right one for you now. (However, you should start building an email list immediately!)
A great way to sell affiliate products – especially higher-priced ones – is by leading potential buyers through a dedicated email funnel. The more expensive a product is, the more trust you need to build to make people buy. If your audience trusts you, they will believe in your recommendations and follow your suggestions. This is why building trust is so important, and much more important than making a quick sale.
The way this works is by first giving people a lot of information about a certain topic for free. You want to provide a lot of value and show your visitors that you really know what you’re talking about. Ideally, your free content is offering some basic solutions to the problem that is also the topic of your affiliate product. After they go through your funnel of free tips, they might want to dive in deeper or feel they need more information. This is when they will pay for the product you recommend at the end.
Affiliate marketing for beginners with Youtube videos
Youtube videos are a great way to promote affiliate products. I’m sure you have seen a lot of review videos on Youtube. They exist about pretty much anything, and there is one big advantage with video as opposed to a written article:
You can show people how the product you are promoting works. For example, you could make a screen-capture video, walking people through your favorite software. Or you can shoot a quick make-up tutorial and then use your affiliate link to send people to the special lipstick you use in the video.
Video has the ability to build more trust more quickly because people can see you or hear your voice. So, if you like being in front of a camera, then this might be a great traffic and promotion strategy for you.
This last item on our list doesn’t suit every product and niche. For some products, though, it might be a great complementary strategy. The idea is to promote your affiliate products on live events that are related to your product.
Do you know Tupperware? They make use of this system. Associates set up “Tupper Partys” where they have a presentation in a small group of people, and then everybody buys the products that they like. This model doesn’t particularly work using links, but you can simply adjust it to make it work in the online world, too.
You would talk about a product (in private, in a presentation, etc.), and then have people sign up for it on the spot. You could have an iPad at hand with the checkout page already loaded, for example. There are many creative ways to make use of live events to sell affiliate products. Just find out if this is something that fits your niche.
The last strategy probably doesn’t even belong in an article about affiliate marketing for beginners. Still, I wanted to give you some advanced ideas as well to spark your inspiration.
These are the 5 steps of affiliate marketing for beginners – Now what?
Now that you’ve read this article up to this point, you are equipped with all the knowledge you need. You could start right now setting up your website, write articles and start promoting them. Nonetheless, there are some more things I want to address. Since this is the ultimate step-by-step guide on affiliate marketing for beginners, I want to include everything.
Here are some final paragraphs that will make your beginner’s journey even easier. I really want you to succeed in this affiliate marketing game. It can make such a huge difference in your life. Imagine what a relief it would be to have a few hundred or even a few thousand extra dollars every month. So let me help you achieve this goal!
What are the best products to promote with affiliate marketing as a beginner?
Depending on your niche, the easiest and best stuff to promote in the beginning are the following types of products:
- Online Courses (high potential earnings)
- Software or Apps (high potential earnings, possibly recurring monthly income)
- Digital Downloads (like ebooks, audiobooks, etc.)
The exact choice of products, again, depends on your niche and your audience. I want to stress once more that you should pick products or services that will bring the most value to your readers. This will eventually lead to more sales and more trust.
The Downsides Of Affiliate Marketing
To give you a complete step-by-step guide, you should also be informed about the downsides of affiliate marketing. They might affect your choices down the road, so I want to leave you properly informed from the beginning.
Payout thresholds at affiliate networks
Be aware that most affiliate networks have payout thresholds. This means that you will only receive a payment when you have earned a certain amount of money. The threshold is different for every platform, and it could be between $50 to $300. So when you made your first affiliate sale, make some more, as otherwise, you will not see the money in your bank.
Affiliate commissions are held back for a period of 30-90 days, depending on your industry, platform, and product. This is due to the fact that people can request refunds during that period. To prevent any complicated transaction battles, affiliate networks simply keep your commissions until they will certainly stay in your account.
Some products or networks pay super-low commissions
Take the Amazon associates program, for example. Their products aren’t digital, but products that have a by-piece manufacturing and shipping cost. Margins for the manufacturers are already low per piece, which is why they cannot offer you high commissions. For Amazon affiliate recommendations, you get something between 1-10% in commissions, depending on the product category.
Therefore, low-paying programs like Amazon should never be the main focus in affiliate marketing for beginners. You should rather think of them as additional income sources that will make you a few dollars here and a few dollars there.
That is why I have compiled a list of recommended products to start with earlier in this article. This way you can make sure that you see fast results and can grow your revenue to a solid income stream quickly.
Losing sales to another affiliate
The way affiliate tracking works is that your affiliate links are valid as long as there is no other affiliate after you. If you promote a product, and your visitor is reading some more reviews on a product, he’s probably going to click on another affiliate link after clicking on yours. That will erase your cookie and disqualify you from receiving the commission.
You might have played a major role in the buying decision of a particular customer. Still, somebody else will receive the commission. This is not exactly fair, but due to technical restrictions, there’s simply no way to solve this issue yet. On the other hand, other affiliates will most likely also lose sales on you, so over time, it will average out.
Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – Know The Legal Side
There are some very specific laws on affiliate marketing that you absolutely HAVE TO be aware of. These laws vary by country, by state, and some even by continent. I highly suggest you do proper research on the legal situation of affiliate marketing in your area.
Most of these laws are just about which information you are required to present when promoting affiliate links. If you don’t comply with the law, you are in danger to be sued. And my guess is you don’t want to be sued, so just make sure you’ve got all that covered.
Furthermore, make sure that all the tools you’re using allow affiliate marketing. The email marketing software MailChimp, for example, explicitly doesn’t allow affiliate marketing using its service. (It allows using affiliate links, though, which is kind of confusing. You can find more information on that on their website if you plan using MailChimp.)
Analyze Your Efforts So You Know What Works And What Doesn’t
The most important aspect of long-term success is to constantly evaluate your tactics. To do that, you should absolutely make sure to track your links and analyze their performance.
For example, if you are promoting an online course, you might put an affiliate link at the beginning of your review article. You might also put your affiliate link at the bottom. To find out which one of those two converts better, you should use tracking. Thus, you will be able to identify which strategies generally work better, and aim your future efforts at using more of these tactics.
This strategy is quite advance if you are just starting out. However, I want to inform you upfront what’s awaiting you down the road. And if you want to implement these analytics from the beginning, simply install the WordPress plugin Shortlinks by Pretty Links. You can find it in the plugin directory when you conduct a search for Pretty Links. Find the plugin by Blair Williams and install it.
Affiliate Marketing Resources For Beginners
In this section, I want to put links to all the tools you will need to start your affiliate marketing journey. I will give you my best recommendations, based on my own experiences and the knowledge I could gather since starting out. Note that some of the following links are affiliate links. Once you click any of these and make a purchase, I will receive a commission (you see the full circle now?). Of course, this doesn’t change the purchase price for you. Commissions are paid in full by the merchant.
Hosting – I would suggest using SiteGround. They have great support, great security and are incredibly fast when it comes to page speed.
WordPress Theme – As I’ve already described above, I’m using the GeneratePress theme in combination with Elementor Page Builder Pro, and this is exactly what I would also suggest you do. I’ve tried a lot (Divi, WP Bakery, several paid themes), and this is where I settled. You’ll be set up for success with this combination.
YoastSEO Plugin – This plugin will help you write content that’s also potentially winning at ranking in Google. It’s a must-have plugin with well over 1 million downloads, which speaks for itself. There’s a free version of YoastSEO that will be more than enough for you to get started.
If you are just starting out, you might want a free service to begin with. The only viable option for this is MailChimp. Keep in mind that you have to comply with MailChimp’s rules regarding affiliate marketing.
However, at some point, you will have to upgrade to a paid service (which is a good sign, because you will make a lot more money than this will cost you). The service I would recommend to use then is ConvertKit. ConvertKit was built by a former professional blogger to specifically fit the needs of bloggers.
Logo and design work
For creating your logo and any future designs you might want to have created, I would recommend using Fiverr.com
For creating your own social media graphics or banners, as well as a multitude of other graphics, you can take a look at canva.com. This is especially a great website if you want to get creative, plus the service is free to use!
You can find the complete list of tools I recommend on the Resources page of this website.
Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – Final Words
You now have everything you need to start your own affiliate marketing journey. You can go out there, create your website, find your product to promote, and earn money. Of course, I also invite you to browse this website and find some more information on specific topics around affiliate marketing. Other than that, there’s only one more thing to say:
If you’ve made it to this point, I congratulate you! You are among the few people who actually take the time and gather some valuable knowledge to take your life in your own hands. That is what the YourPassionPays Academy is all about, and I’m really excited to see where your journey will take you!
Please go to the comment section and let me know if this article was helpful to you. At the end of the day, I’m writing this to help future affiliate marketers find their way to success. Success in this field means the ability to change your life and break out of the ongoing chase for money. It will enable you to live life on your own terms. And I would love to see you do just that!
Did my Affiliate Marketing For Beginners Step-by-Step Guide help you? Let me know in the comments! I want to hear from you.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a commission when you make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please refer to my full disclaimer for more info.