Here is the thing: Blogging costs money. Sending emails to your subscribers cost money. Yeah, buddy, it isn’t free. Creating content actually cost money, blog visuals cost money.
These costs add up. If you don’t find a way to make the most of visitors coming to your website, you might not have enough money to renew your website hosting and continue meeting your blogging costs.
Many blogs die off, the majority being because of piling costs that could no longer make sense incurring.
One way to monetize your blog is through affiliate marketing. In this affiliate marketing guide I’m gonna show you how to start affiliate marketing in a step by step format, so stay with me.
Use the table of content below to jump to specific sections of the article. I'll cover:
What’s Affiliate Marketing?
So let’s break it down:
Affiliate marketing is a popular online monetization model that many merchants and bloggers have adopted to grow their income. As an affiliate, you are paid to promote a product on a commission basis.
It’s a commission based marketing, where, you as an affiliate, is paid a commission for every sale you make promoting a product, or for an action that someone you refer takes on the partner’s website.
Brands leverage the audience that affiliate marketers have built over the years to reach new markets and make sales that they probably wouldn’t have, otherwise. This is a win-win for the two partners as the merchant gets a new customer and the publisher gets their own share of the pie.
You choose the products you want to promote and earn a good amount of every sale made through your link. Typically, this is usually between 30-50% commission for most digital products and SaaS. Physical goods such as Amazon associates usually pay much less, often less than 10%
You get to promote the products that you are using and genuinely love. For instance, your web host provider. Are they any good?
To get you started, I recommend you take on an affiliate marketing mini-course or grab an ebook on the same.
I suggest Ana’s affiliate marketing bundle as it has everything you need as an affiliate marketer, including highly-paying affiliate programs to join
This bundle consists of four products:
- 50+ pages Affiliate marketing eBook
- Video tutorials
- The Affiliate Programs Masterlist consisting of 600+ affiliate programs you can join and start promoting
- Two case studies teaching you exactly how they started with affiliate marketing
- Invitation to a private Facebook community focused on affiliate marketing.
I recommend this because it is also the most affordable affiliate marketing bundle that I have found quite useful.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
When you sign up as an affiliate of a particular brand, you’re given marketing assets. These are unique product links, images and banners. You can then place these marketing assets on your website. You can include affiliate links when mentioning these brands in your posts.
These unique links are tracked and reported on your affiliate dashboard. You will be able to see the clicks, conversion rates and actions that determine your earnings.
A useful term that you will come across when finding affiliate products is the cookie period or cookie duration. This refers to the time limit within which you are eligible to earn a commission from your referral after they have clicked your link.
For instance, a 30 days cookie period means that, if someone clicks on your affiliate link, and doesn’t buy from the partner immediately, but returns within 30 days and completes a purchase, the commission will still be attributed to you.
Some affiliate programs have long cookie duration e.g. 90 days or 365 days or even more, while others like Amazon associates only have a 24 hours cookie period
How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?
Affiliate marketers can accrue commissions based on four models
- Pay Per Sale (Cost Per Action): This is the standard model of affiliate marketing that many merchants use. This means for you to earn a commission, your referral has to make a purchase of your partner’s products
- Pay per leads. This is a model that rewards you for generating leads for your partners. To earn a commission, your referrals have either to sign up for a free trial, subscribe to a list or book a demo. Most merchants will then pay you a standard pay per sale commission if this referral ends up making a purchase later on. There are several pay per leads programs you can try.
- Pay Per Click. Well, if you run Google ads then you know what PPCs mean. There are programs that reward you for directing your traffic to their websites. Your referrals don’t have to take any action on the partner’s site for you to be rewarded. Well, these programs will pay you a few cents but if you have huge traffic this can be easy income to generate.
In terms of pay, Pay per sale pay more, followed by pay per lead while pay per click pay way less. However, with Pay per lead, you get to lock your referral and you will get commissions if they end up making a purchase down the line.
Remember, once someone opts in, they are put into a funnel that warms them up and hence more likely to purchase the product or service, earning you a commission
Getting it Right
Now, if you are starting a blog, my advice is to start with the end in mind. Create a digital product if you already have the expertise, even before you launch a blog. Explore affiliate programs you will be promoting and make sure they align with your overall blogging strategy.
When you have all these synchronized, it’s no surprising making your first sale on the first day of launching your blog
Why Affiliate Marketing?
There are several ways of making money online. Why should you add affiliate marketing into the mix? The truth is, online income is unpredictable, and so you want to have at least three sustainable models.
There are several reasons why you may want to opt for affiliate marketing, including:
Now, we only use the term passive income here at the PennyMatters to refer to income that needs initial momentum and can then be scaled without much input afterwards. For instance, once you’ve written a product review and ranked it on page one of Google, you can continue making money even if you don’t add another post about the product for the next decade. This is the beauty of affiliate marketing. The groundwork is demanding, but once you are done, you can sit, relax and enjoy.
No Maintenance cost
Read customer support. This is where affiliate marketing beats digital products. While selling your own digital products such as online courses and mastermind classes, you need to be there to answer student questions and concerns. With affiliate marketing, support is left on your partners end, thus giving you more time to scale your business either by creating more content or building links.
Work from Home (Or anywhere)
Affiliate marketing can guarantee you a stable monthly income after a few months of trying it. This way you can work entirely from home without the need of looking for a job. This means, you can save those 2hours a day travelling to and from workplace and invest them somewhere else, like in spending time with your family.
Cost-Effective to Start
To start affiliate marketing, all you need is to sign up for affiliate programs and start recommending it to your friends, colleagues, or work colleagues. Yes, you actually don’t need a website. You can promote your links on social media or offline. However, if you want a sustainable business model, then you can grab hosting and start building your website very easily.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing for Beginners in 7 Actionable Steps
Let me now take you through 7 simple and actionable steps to starting niched affiliate marketing
1: Discover a Profitable Niche
You will be blogging a lot, so you need to choose a niche that you are passionate about and that is profitable in the long run. The key here is to go super niche. Knowing what you want to blog about for affiliate marketing can be tricky, but I suggest you carry out the following exercise
- Write down all topics you are passionate about. Don’t think of monetization at this stage (anything generic, kids, pets, dogs, nature, wildlife, dreams, talents, home décor, juice recipes, travels, book reviews, movies etc.) Aim to have at least 21 items
- Narrow down to your favorite 7. These should be topics you are well versed about or at least, excited to explore more
- The final phase is determining profitability of these 7. Remember, these are still generic and you will have to niche down even further. To check profitability of each, just do quick search to see if you can find online courses, books, software, products around them.
- Settle on one. Now you are almost there, but now write down every subtopic around this topic. For instance, if you settle on Pets, you may list pets food, cats, dogs etc.
- From your list above, determine one that is profitable, and exciting for you.
It may be a gamble at first, but as you go through this process, you will begin to uncover topical ideas that you had never thought before. This is a discovering process, so you approach it with no ideas in mind.
2: Brand Your Business.
The right branding is important from the word go. You’ve come up with a niche, and now is time to name your business. If you can find a domain name that carries your min keywords the better. You want your brand to pop, so short but catchy names do magic. Use a tool like Namemesh for ideas. Simply enter your main keyword and you will get suggestion of domain names that are available for registration.
After you’ve found your catchy name, then head over to Bluehost and register it for free when you purchase web hosting through them. Alternatively, you can register your domain on Namecheap if you want to manage all your domains from one place and then go to Bluehost or your preferred web hosting company to start building the site.
Other assets that your business need include:
- Brand logo
- Social media assets
- Website mockups etc.
3: Build Your Website
This will be the heart and soul of your affiliate marketing. You don’t need a complicated site, but you want to ensure that the site is user friendly and dynamic. Factor in SEO from the beginning.
Follow these quick steps to build an awesome affiliate website in an afternoon (or over the weekend)
- Signup for affordable hosting at Bluehost
- Install WordPress using Bluehost One-Click Install
- Login to your site and install Astra free theme
- Install Elementor page builder to help you build amazing websites without lifting a finger
- Install recommended plugins (Pretty links, WP Fast Cache, Askimet,
- Install and Setup SEO plugin by Rankmath (better option to Yoast SEO)
- Create your core pages
4: Set up Main and Legal Pages
Before you even start blogging for affiliate promotions, you need to ensure that your website is ready. Until you have the legal side of your business set up, you are not ready to welcome any visitor to your site. With the enactment of the GDPR law, you now need to make full disclosures on your website if you will be serving visitors from the EU countries.
You also need to set up some of the core pages of your website.
Home: This is the main landing page and you want to optimize it for two things: Conversion and authority. Most sites have a hero section above the fold that focuses on a free download or email course. As an affiliate, your offer is one that will be directly connected to your main promotion. For instance, if your main promotion is a web hosting company, then your offer can be a guide to or an email course on starting a blog.
About Page. This will be your most visited page and so you want to have it ready and optimized. People visiting here wants a story. Serve them one that’s yours and relevant to them. Your About page is really about the both of you. You and your reader. Don’t take the larger piece of the pie. Here, include an optin form to your main offer as well. Stats indicate that there is a higher conversion in this page. Well, your story convinces people that you are in a better position to teach them what they need to learn in your industry.
Contact Page. Give people a way to reach you. Here a simple contact form will do. Only collect the details that you really need for the services that you offer. I like to design the contact page to align with the overall design of the site. You can look at one for Mysson.co for inspiration.
Terms and Conditions: Here you detail what you expect from your audience and what they can expect from you. This is most relevant when offering services and digital products but still you may need one even when you only have a blog. This page is important as it safeguards your intellectual property and restrict legal liabilities, if you ever run into issues.
Affiliate Disclosure. Depending how your website is structured, you may need a separate page to outline how you make money with your site. You may include this information in your General Disclosure page
Also, if you are totally new in the affiliate space, I recommend you understand what these 21 affiliate marketing terms mean so as to prepare accordingly.
5: Signup for Affiliate Programs
To start making money with affiliate marketing, you need affiliate programs to promote. You want to find products that are most relevant and useful to your audience. Begin with the products you are using yourself, find the ones you love and see if they have an affiliate program.
Most websites will include a link to their affiliate program page in their footer section, so be sure to check it there. You can also find relevant products using affiliate networks such as Flexoffers, Impact Radius, Rakuten, Shareasale and Awin.
To learn more, read my 7 ways to finding best affiliate programs and products to promote
6: Display Affiliate Banners on Your Website
Most of these affiliate programs will offer you banners that you can place on your website and earn a commission. This is perhaps the easiest way of doing affiliate promotion. You can display the banners on the sidebar or set them to display within content.
When you copy the embed code and paste it on your website, these banners are often seen as ads by adblockers and so if your readers have adblockers enabled, your banners will not been displayed. Now your affiliate programs are not ads, and so they shouldn’t be blocked.
To counter this, we grab the banner image, save it and then upload it to our website. We then display this using a widget and link it to our cloaked affiliate link. To create friendly affiliate links, we use the free Pretty links plugin.
7: Create Affiliate Posts:
Now, this is where the real work of affiliate marketing goes into.
You need to create content that targets your top affiliates. These could be list posts, how-to guide, product reviews, tutorial videos or an affiliate funnel. Crafting these content will take much of your time, but it’s an investment. If you want to, you can outsource content writing to help you scale faster and have a marketing budget.
Types of affiliate content to create:
- A list post containing some of your affiliates. For instance, 7 Best web hosting companies for WordPress, or 13 best WordPress plugins for Bloggers
- A resource page containing tools and resources for your industry
- Product Reviews
- Product comparisons eg Elementor vs Thrive Architect
- How to Guides: e.g: How to Build an Online Store With WordPress
Where to Find Best Affiliate Programs to Join?
Finding profitable affiliate programs to join can be quite a hustle since only certain programs are good for certain niches. Luckily, if you purchase the bundle above, then you already have a list of over 500+ programs.
If you didn’t then you can still access her list separately here
Below are some of the ways to find best programs you can promote.
1: Join Individual affiliate programs:
Various brands and bloggers run their own affiliate products. Simply visit brands’ websites and check to see if they have listed their affiliate programs.
2: Join affiliate networks
Affiliate networks have tons of brands that you can join from within the network
You want to do some digging to ensure that the affiliate networks you join have relevant and quality offers that you can promote to your audience.
Some of the best affiliate Networks include:
- CJ (Formerly Commision Junction)
- Rakuten (Formerly Linkshare)
3: Search for lists of affiliate programs
Use queries such as affiliate programs for bloggers, affiliate programs for fashion bloggers, recurring affiliate programs, top affiliate programs etc. to easily find curated lists of affiliate programs that you can join and start making money online.
4. Affiliate Marketing Programs Master lists and Bundles
This is perhaps the easiest way to find individual affiliate programs to promote for your niche, whether self-hosted or from a network.
These affiliate programs are put together by experienced affiliate marketers and are often segmented into several niches. This way, you can easily find profitable programs for your niche quickly.
You can expect these lists to cost anywhere from $20 to $49.
While there are many options, we have found Ana’s Masterlist to be quite comprehensive. It contains nearly 600 affiliate programs segmented into 17+ niches. You can explore to see if your niche is included and purchase it below for only $29
There you have it, 7 steps on how to start affiliate marketing for beginners, and make money online. I hope you are now ready to make that move finally. Doing affiliate marketing? Tell us what strategies have worked for you. Did you take an online course before starting?