There have been plenty of changes in affiliate marketing that those not fully involved in the industry are quick to think that affiliate marketing is dead.
Is affiliate marketing really dead?
The landscape has changed but affiliate marketing continues to thrive.
According to Statista, affiliate marketing in the United States alone has grown from US$5.4 billion on 2017 to US$6.8 billion in 2020. It remains a strong influence in sales and eCommerce. It may no longer seem to be at the top of the list of earning online, but if you look at all these influencers, bloggers and vloggers earning through links shared to their viewers and followers, you’ll see that affiliate marketing is alive and well, adapting to the ever-changing dynamics of eCommerce.
We may never see an end to affiliate marketing so long as its lure remains strong. Who can resist passive income, after all?
It is a known fact that affiliate marketing can, and does, bring in big money. Payscale puts the average affiliate marketing passive income at US$51,000 a year, with the bottom 10% of affiliate marketers earning US$37,000 a year.
If you’re just starting out, then you will lose money as part of your investment before you can make that first affiliate marketing sale.
Affiliate marketing is easy, but only after you’ve laid out your foundation. Like any other money-making endeavor, you need to put in the work before you can play as you earn.
To succeed in affiliate marketing, there are a number of crucial steps you must take before you make your first affiliate marketing sale.
And these steps are, well … not as passive as we all think.
The great news is that if you’re determined to make this work and are willing to put in the time and effort, you’re already well on your way to affiliate marketing success.
We've broken down the process into seven steps. These are laid out to help make your first affiliate marketing sale because there is nothing like a first sale to motivate you to keep at it. Following this guide will set you on the right course and have you earning your first commission in no time.
The 7 Steps to your first affiliate marketing sale:
- Choose a niche
- Research affiliate programs
- Build a site
- Produce excellent content
- Build an audience
- Promote affiliate offers
- Rinse, Lather, and Repeat
1. Choose a Niche
“Niche” is defined as the “specific segment of a market for a particular kind of product or service”. To choose a niche means to choose a specific market to target that sells specific products or services. It’s like the specific parts of a food store: the produce section contains vegetables, the meat section has all the meats, the dairy section is filled with dairy products, and so on.
This is the easiest of all the steps laid out here, and easily the first stumbling block of any beginner to affiliate marketing.
Most, if not all, aspiring affiliate marketers end up getting stumped over what niche to pick. Head on to the Affilorama Blog and check out the numerous Niche of the Week posts we have done over the years, and you will see that picking a niche isn’t as easy as simple.
There is a lot riding on this one decision because the next steps follow only after you have decided on a niche. The succeeding steps revolve around it too.
Obviously, if you don't know what your site is about or who you're going to target with it, you can't really build a site around it...can you?
If you’ve already figured this one out, way to go! This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and overwhelming steps, and you’ve gotten past it. You can jump to the next step, but you’re welcome to read through the guiding questions below on picking out a niche. I recommend it, only so that you can absolutely be sure that the niche you have set your sights on is the best possible niche you can start with.
If you don't quite know what your niche is yet, or have absolutely no idea what or how to pick just one from a sea of options… Do not panic!
First, list down ALL topics that you are remotely interested in starting from the one that you are passionate about or are definitely into. Then, proceed to look at each of the topics you wrote down and divide them between “passion” and “money”:
Yes. Passion. What are you passionate about? What do you like to do, read, write, discuss, teach… tweet about?
Is it baking? Woodworking? Do you have an eye for fashion?
It's so much easier to work on something if you're passionate about it. Remember that saying about choosing a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life?
This is that. Affiliate marketing is one of those turn-your-passion-into-profit endeavors.
Take a look at that list and ask yourself which of those topics will you be able to write 20, 25, or even 100 blog posts or videos about? Which of those topics don’t you ever get tired of reading, writing or discussing?
The topic you choose must have enough depth that you can create a lot of content for it. This is important for building an authoritative site, for search engine optimization, and most importantly, for the end user. If you don't have enough content about a topic, you're not going to be taken very seriously as an authority on the topic and it's unlikely you can convince someone to make a purchase from you.
If there is no topic that you’re passionate about, then consider what you’re interested in. What do you want to learn? Are you knowledgeable in a specific field and don’t mind sharing that with the rest of the world?
You will be creating content for your website, so it's best to go with a niche that is easy to create content for. MoneySavingExpert is a great example of a site with a topic for which you would have a never ending supply of content ideas.
Influencers, bloggers and gurus don’t spend as much time over picking a niche. They’ve chosen it even before they started their blogs and YouTube channels. For bloggers, it starts with writing about what they like to write about, sharing what they know about. Consider Lifehack.org. It started as a small blog by one man who wanted to share productivity and management tips. It has now evolved into a site that offers courses, supplements and podcasts on managing and overcoming life’s many challenges.
So go right ahead. Follow your heart.
While following your passion is definitely the recommended option, sometimes the possibility of making money in a profitable niche trumps passion. You might not necessarily know much about your niche, but if it's likely to make you money, you can always learn more about it, right?
KitchenFaucetBlog is clearly a site that was built for profit, not passion. Unless of course there is someone out there with a serious passion for kitchen faucets! ;-)
You can check out the Affilorama Blog for inspiration. Look out for “evergreen niches”. These are niches that are lucrative, and some of them are easy enough to create content for like the weight loss niche.
But how exactly do you know if there’s money in the niche you’re looking at?
Two words: Keyword Research.
Numbers talk, and keyword data do not lie, so we gauge the worth of a niche based on its keywords. It sounds scary and boring but it’s not. It’s actually interesting because it lets you know at the onset how “busy” a niche is.
Whether you go by what you’re passionate about or what you think you’ll earn more from, there are two more things to look at before saying “This is the one” niche for you: competition and demand.
These are two important factors to picking a niche, and you can only make an informed decision if you have looked at all its aspects, including how its main keywords are doing.
There are several profitable niches that are popular among affiliate markets (e.g., weight loss). Before jumping on board with a hugely popular niche, make sure there's enough room for you. That is — will you be able to make money and compete with already established marketers? If not, keep looking.
Get a keyword research application or tool like Traffic Travis or AffiloTools. These will help you check on keywords and their competition. Then, run a search on your niche and see what blogs and other details come up.
Taking the kitchen faucet blog from Step 1, I type in “kitchen faucet” in Google. Search results will mostly be about the different types of faucets for the kitchen, how to clean them, where to buy them, etc.
These are the keywords you use in your keyword search along with your niche.
The above results were from AffiloTools. Certain keywords like “how to fix a leaky faucet” have high volume but low competition. Any keyword specific to a type of faucet has high competition like “portable dishwasher faucet adapter” but not so much when it comes to number of searches.
Overall, this result means there is high competition for specific faucets.
While niches with high competition tend to be lucrative, you might not have enough budget to spend on paid traffic methods in order to get a slice of the market. It takes a unique angle and considerable investment, both in time and money, to make it in highly competitive niches.
If you are up for the challenge, go right ahead. But I suggest you save it for when you have more experience.
The niche you choose might draw enough interest from your audience when it comes to reading and acquiring knowledge, but are they willing to buy relevant products too? Without consumer interest in products, your niche isn't going to make you much money.
Should there be plenty of demand, then expect competition. Don’t shy away from a niche that has both. Lucrative niches like muscle building, self-help and relationship are in demand and competitive but there is always room for a flexible and diligent affiliate.
Keyword research results reveal the demand within the niche. Looking at the above results for “kitchen faucets”, keywords that indicate purchase like searching for specific types of faucets tend to have high competition precisely because it leads to a sale.
You start off with one list of several niches, then narrow it down by looking at the following: passion, money, competition and demand. Hopefully, these guidelines helped you decide on which niche to go into.
The next big question is: are there affiliate programs in the niche you chose? This is obviously a crucial factor to consider. You might come up with an idea for a niche you know a lot about, but are there affiliate programs for the niche? No affiliate program = no sales.
As you are looking at the competition and demand in a prospective niche, you can check out the affiliate programs in it along with the products you’ll likely promote if you choose the niche. I suggest plotting all this information down on a spreadsheet. That makes it easier to have a bird’s eye view of the niches you have in mind and how they fare in each category.
Additional Resources for Choosing a Niche
Want to learn more about choosing a profitable niche? Here are some excellent resources werecommend for further reading:
- Free Lesson: 7 Steps to Finding Profitable Affiliate Niches
- Free Lesson: Best Niches for Affiliate Marketing
- Free Lesson: How to do Keyword Research
2. Research Affiliate Programs
Once you've decided on a niche, it’s time to find out what’s out there in terms of programs and products to promote. You've probably already done a bit of research for this while researching your niche — now you need to dig deeper.
Choosing an affiliate program will take some work, but don’t be afraid to invest a significant amount of time into it because this is, of course, where your income will come from. Choosing the right program will make it well worth your while!
When choosing an affiliate program, keep these key points in mind:
Products are usually what draws an affiliate marketer into joining the affiliate program. You’d definitely want to promote a product that is not only related to your niche but is popular and has great reviews.
Make Google work hard by researching all information you possibly can about the product before joining its affiliate program. This saves you time from having to join an affiliate program only to find out the product isn’t all that well-received.
See if you can get the return rate and average order rate from the merchants or sellers. It’s best to steer clear of products with high return rates because that generally means that the product is not living up to its claims. Average order rate is one of the reliable indicators of how well a product is doing.
One of the most common questions we get is: Can I promote other products outside of my affiliate network?
Yes, you absolutely can.
You need to be an affiliate of the network that the other product is in, of course. And the other product needs to be in the same niche. At the very least, they should be related. Do not promote self-help products along with food-related ones.
Like with the products, check out its seller, vendor, merchant or creator. That usually means one person or company. Look for reviews. Do they have a good reputation? Do they pay commission on time?
As the younger generation puts it: Are they legit?
There are affiliate networks that include conversion metrics. You can use this to gauge how well a merchant is able to convert visits on their website to sales. New vendors may not have these kinds of statistics yet. Look at their products and how it is doing in the market instead. If it is getting good reviews and they are offering good commission for it, then consider adding it to your roster.
Make sure you sign up for programs that are profitable and generate a sufficient return on investment. Some tips:
- If using ClickBank, products should have over a 50% commission (preferably 60%), and have a high gravity rating (meaning they’re in demand).
- For CPA (cost-per-action) programs, commissions should be over $1, and products shouldn't be overly restrictive in how you can promote them.
- For physical products, look for commissions over $40.
Don’t just look at products that have high commission. Products that have low sales tend to have higher commission rates. There are products that have lower commission rates but sell faster. It might be tempting to go with the product with a higher commission rate, but taking in the big picture, you’d be earning as much or maybe even more, promoting the product with the lower commission rate.
This doesn’t necessarily mean to avoid high commission products. If you know that the product is good or it comes well-recommended, then add it to your list of products to promote. Upsells and recurring commissions are not necessary, but they do add to your overall commission so try to get into programs that have these.
The products and services you will be promoting to your audience must be relevant and good quality. Make sure you believe in them and know everything about them, because this will be crucial to you delivering the sales pitch to your audience. You need to build trust with your audience so make sure the products and services you choose to promote are trustworthy enough.
Ads like the one below often lead to sketchy products — do you want to be associated with a product that promises results that may or may not be true?
Support and Tools
Be sure to check what kind of customer support you can expect from your affiliate program once you have signed up. Do your research online and if possible, speak to other sellers using the program to get their thoughts. Can you speak to someone via phone or Skype or do you have to wait 72 hours for email responses? Be clear on this because you, like their customers, may need support at one point or another.
Look into the kind of materials they provide affiliates. Do they offer banners or email swipes to help you promote their product? How long is their cookie period? Do they offer a way to track sales?
Going over all these categories can be confusing. Making a list on a spreadsheet will help you organize the products you’re looking at and check them against the above guidelines. Keep in mind too that you are not restricted to promoting just one product. You can start with 2 or 3, and again, they need to be in the same niche.
Of the above categories, it’s really the product itself that will dictate if you’ll join its affiliate program or not. This is particularly true if you have experience with the product or someone you know vouches for it. If you don’t, then the above guide will help narrow the list for you.
Additional Resources to Find the Right Affiliate Program
We've given you a few quick tips to help you choose an affiliate program that is right for you. For more information, be sure to check out the following:
- Free Lesson: How to Find Affiliate Programs
- Free Lesson: How to Choose an Affiliate Program
- Free Lesson: 10 Alternatives to ClickBank
- Free Lesson: How to Use CJ Affiliate by Conversant (Formerly Commission Junction)
3. Build a Site
Steps 1 and 2 are all about research and figuring out what's possible and profitable. Now, it's time to start putting your research into action.
If you already have a website, then great! You just need to tweak it. Maybe work on the theme a bit to get it ready for the content you will add later on. Check those plugins, if you have them, and make sure they and the site is updated and all that.
Don’t panic if you don’t have a website or don’t know anything about building one. Fortunately, building a site isn’t as complicated or labor-intensive as it was in the past. There are plenty of platforms you can build your website on. Before jumping into the nitty-gritty of website building, decide on a domain name and hosting first.
Your domain is the address for your website (e.g., www.affilorama.com) so this is the first thing you will need to do when setting up your site. Considering there are millions of websites on the internet, it's possible that the domain name you want may already be taken by someone else. So make sure you have several options in mind. Be sure to read our advice on how to choose a good domain name.
It’s best to have a domain name that has the “key” words: words that best describe your website. Something that you can turn into a brand in the future. Pardon the shameless plug but take “Affilorama” for example. There is no “affiliate marketing” anywhere on this domain, but it is a brand that is now linked to affiliate marketing.
Get a .com, and avoid dashes as much as you can. You want a domain name that is short and easy to remember. Just like Affilorama.com *wink*
If your domain is your address, hosting is like the actual house within which your site will live. It's your own little slice of the internet — the place where all your website files live. Hosting is very affordable these days, so don't unnecessarily scrimp on costs. Go with a reputable, reliable provider because your affiliate marketing business depends on it.
For more details on how to choose a reliable host, make sure to read our free lesson on What to Look for in a Hosting Provider. Some affordable and reliable hosting providers we recommend are GoDaddy, HostGator and BlueHost.
If you purchase your domain and hosting from different companies, you will need to link the two together. Don't panic, it's a simple process. Check out our lesson: Linking your Domain with Your Hosting.
Before deciding on the hosting, consider the content management system or the website builder you will use. These are applications that will help build the site for you and provide the admin interface where you will upload themes and other content. Some of these, like Wix and Webnode, include hosting in their packages.
Following are 5 popular website builders. Each has their own pros and cons. Personally, I prefer the typical domain name + hosting + Wordpress combo. But to each his own.
This is probably the most popular website building platform today. It’s not new, but it is one of the easiest to build a website on. With its wide range of themes and plugins, you can turn your website from a blog to an online store with a few tweaks.
If you're a newbie to building sites, the easiest way to set up a site is by using WordPress. The WordPress CMS is very easy to use and while coding skills can come in handy, for the most part you will not require any tech knowledge to set up your site.
Most good hosting providers have a one-click install option for Wordpress too. Installation is straightforward, quick and does not cost anything extra.
You’ve probably seen their ad on YouTube. If you haven’t come across it, then just head to their website and see for yourself how simple it is to build a website using this platform’s drag and drop system.
You can choose to use the unique Wix ADI. It is a design intelligence system that creates the website for you based on information you provide. You can have your website built according to your preferences in a matter of minutes.
The only downside to this ease of use is you cannot take your Wix website and have it hosted somewhere else.
This is another website builder that boasts pretty, mobile-responsive templates and an intuitive user interface. Like with any of the other site building platforms mentioned here, beginners will need to spend some time learning all its various features.
And plenty of features it has: built-in SEO tools, plenty of integration with other apps that are great for blogging and eCommerce, and image formatting.
Squarespace websites are limited to a one-tier navigation which isn’t a negative unless you are expanding the content on your website, or you’re transitioning to a multilingual site. There’s also feedback that it’s pages, despite being responsive, have low loading speed which affects user experience and page rankings.
Like Wix, Weebly is a drag-and-drop site builder. Unlike Wix, you can transfer your website to a different web host.
It has similar features with Wix and Squarespace: integrated SEO functions, responsive templates, and third-party integrations. Despite its numerous features, Weebly does not overwhelm. There is still a learning curve to it, but its user-friendly interface allows you to build and publish in no time.
It seems drag-and-drop is the way to go for site building platforms. It does make customizing and designing relatively easy for the average user.
Webnode is no different. It has a drag-and-drop function that lets you add sections and various content to your pages. There are responsive templates you can use. What makes Webnode stand out from the rest is its multilingual feature. Your one site can be available in different languages.
Multilingual support is Webnode’s unique feature. The rest are either at par or just below the usual offerings of similar website builders.
Any of the above will help you get your site off the ground. Once you have the site up, you can add in a theme which provides all the styling of a site that you (and your audience) see on the front end. There are thousands of themes available, so choosing one might seem daunting at first. Our advice: go with something simple and easy to customize. You can always change it later.
Additional Resources for Building Your Site
For more information on building your first affiliate marketing website, we recommend the following resources:
- Free Lesson: Affiliate Website Building
- Free Lesson: 7 Crucial Site Building Mistakes You Need to Fix
- From the Affilorama Blog: How to Build an Affiliate Website using WordPress
4. Produce Excellent Content
Now that your site is set up and you’ve joined an affiliate program, you’re ready to begin perhaps the most time-consuming (but potentially rewarding) part of the affiliate business: Producing content.
This is where the overused but truer-than-ever phrase “content is king” comes into play.
Your goal for your site will be to establish it as an authority site in your niche, and the main way to do this is to consistently produce unique, high-quality content.
“Authority site” sounds like a tall order.
Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It starts by adding a piece of content daily. Or maybe, week by week. The important thing is to keep on producing and publishing relevant content on your website.
Creating blog content is a useful and effective way to consistently build content on a site. Take out your keyword search results and that keyword tool again. They are your handy helpers in gathering topics for the articles you will publish on your website.
Do keyword research to figure out what it is that your audience is interested in and are searching for online. Check out other blogs and websites that belong to the same niche, forums, even social media posts. What are they publishing, discussing, or posting about?
From these keywords, you can form topics and write (or have someone write for you) various content. The type of content you create for your website will largely depend on your niche, as certain types of content perform better in some niches than others.
Below are the more common content types you can create for your affiliate marketing website:
Your affiliate site model could be based on writing reviews about different products or services that belong to the niche your site is in. This is a common model and if done well, can prove very useful in generating affiliate income.
KitchenFaucetBlog.com publishes reviews of several different kinds of faucets. These reviews help their readers make the best decision about the product they want to buy. After reading a review on their site, if the user clicks through to the product/service using the affiliate link, The KitchenFaucetBlog.com will earn a commission.
If you’ve tried some of the products in your niche, then great. You can write these reviews based on your own experience. If you haven’t, then you can check with the merchant or vendor. Maybe they can give you an affiliate copy so you can write that review. You can research customer reviews so you can form a general opinion of the product.
Common Problems, Questions or Issues relevant to your target market
This is another area where keyword research comes in handy. In searching for top keywords in your site’s niche, you’ll find common topics and questions. These are usually answered by using the product. You can write articles tackling these common issues.
Take a quick look at the keyword search results for “faucet” earlier. At the very top of the results, we see “how to fix a leaky faucet”. It has high volume meaning this is a search phrase that is used quite often.
It is a common problem for people looking for faucets. Maybe they want to know if they can still fix that leaky faucet or get it replaced.
This is one of the questions that KitchenFaucetBlog.com answers in their blog. They take this one step further by publishing how-tos for specific types of kitchen faucets.
If you are building a site that has the potential for information that will never age and remain useful for your audience, you have the opportunity to create what is known as evergreen content.
Again, extensive keyword research plays a major role here. You need to have done that research before you can map out a solid content plan. Your site could hugely benefit from the proper usage of keywords within evergreen content.
The content on Super Weddings is useful whether you're organizing a wedding today or next year. All the content on the site is created accordingly. To make things easier for the audience, it is separated into categories to make it very convenient for the reader to find what they're looking for. This, of course, is also great for SEO.
Giving away a free informational product such as an ebook, an email series or a mini-course is a popular tactic many affiliate marketers use. Usually, your readers will have to provide their email addresses to receive the product from you. You can then use this to sell to them via email marketing.
Additionally, an informational product can generate interest in the actual product you're trying to sell. If your product is popular enough and brings enough traffic to your site, you could also monetize the traffic in other ways, such as AdSense.
One example is this free ebook we offer when you subscribe to our mailing list. We will then be able to send our new subscribers valuable content along with affiliate offers.
You can take any of the above content types and present them in video form, but this type of content works best in product reviews and product comparisons. Another option is to create a video sales letter or an informational video on the product you’re promoting.
Just like any of the other content types, the goal here is to give information or promote a product then lead that traffic to your squeeze page or directly to the affiliate offer. The video is just like any other blogpost or article. The difference is it is in video format. To post it on YouTube or not is entirely up to you. You can keep the videos on your website, but that would be a waste of a good opportunity to get more traffic. YouTube, after all, is a great source of traffic, second to Facebook, with 1.9 billion users.
The type of content you create for your website will largely depend on your niche, as certain types of content perform better in some niches than others.
Writer or not, this will all sound either boring or daunting or both. Whichever way you feel, it spells hard work.
And it is.
Regardless of how you feel towards content creation, do not be tempted in purchasing generic content. It is NOT an effective method to build your site. While it may be appealing to populate your site this way, in the long run it won’t help you to position yourself as an expert in your niche (and ultimately means less traffic and fewer sales).
If you’re going to purchase content, then you might as well invest in hiring a writer who will write content specific and unique to your website. Check out the additional references below for information on how to hire writers and the other types of content you can place on your website.
Additional Resources for Creating Your Content
- Free Lesson: Content Creation
- From the Affilorama Blog: 3 Content Marketing Tips for the Busy Affiliate
- From the Affilorama Blog: 3 Good Reasons to Try iWriter
5. Build an Audience
Building an audience for your site will, in some ways, follow naturally once you start producing excellent content. An interested audience will not only bring you consistent traffic, but also result in consistent sales for you.
So how do you start building an audience for a completely new site? Here are some ideas:
Promote your content via social media
The easiest and most common way to start building an audience for a website is via social media. Depending on your niche and industry, you can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and several other niche and location-specific networks.
Building up an engaged and interested following on social media is a great opportunity to build relationships and once you have their trust, promote your products and services to them.
Before you can get into any of that, you need to start with your site’s Facebook page, an Instagram account or YouTube account. Maybe you need to have all three, but make sure that you have at least one of these.
Social media marketing is a must these days as it is one of the solid ways to not just build an audience. You can tap into these platforms and filter that traffic on to your landing pages or webpages.
Going back to KitchenFaucetBlog.com, we see that it has a serviceable Facebook page created early last year. There, and on its more distinguished Pinterest page where it has over 6,000 followers, it connects with the audience by sharing links to its content. Engaged readers then visit the website, where they read content and no doubt make purchases.
While your site is still new, it's a good idea to start capitalizing on someone else's audience. Continue focusing on building your own content, but also considering writing content for a few big, high-traffic blogs that are relevant for your niche. By writing content for a bigger site, you are able to get in front of another audience and showcase your expertise on a particular topic. This will eventually lead to more traffic to your site, as well.
Be ready to face rejection after rejection. Landing a guest post is challenging, but the rewards outweigh the inconvenience. You’re aiming for traffic here, but you’re also getting recognition within the niche.
The key to getting one, aside from having a strong gut to weather out rejection, is good research. Starting with finding authority sites in your niche. Then going deep and researching what each site is about: what posts or articles they usually publish, is there a forum, who were their previous guest bloggers, etc.
It’ll be easier to pitch a guest post (and get a yes) if you come to these websites with a solid idea for an article that adds value to their website.
Build an email list
Let no one tell you that email marketing is dead. As with affiliate marketing, the strategies may have changed, but this is still a viable method to build an audience.
An email list is crucial for every affiliate marketer. It is not just so you can have regular site visitors. This is a list of people you can easily promote affiliate offers to directly through email.
You can start building up your email list with a lead magnet (like the information products mentioned previously) or even just by encouraging your audience to sign up for your updates. You can then push your content to this audience via email and also direct them to your affiliate offers. Don't be sleazy about the sales, but if you build up enough trust with your email audience; when the time comes, they will not mind purchasing a product from you.
Basic SEO techniques
This is why keyword research remains an integral part of not just affiliate marketing websites, but of all websites. Organic search remains an important source of traffic for any website, so it's important that you optimize your website for search engines as well. When creating your content, you must always do so keeping the reader in mind first, but don't forget to follow a few basic SEO principles as well.
Learn SEO yourself or hire a good SEO marketer to help you maximize on-page and off-page SEO opportunities for your site. If your site starts to appear in search results for terms relevant to your niche, it will be a huge boost towards building your audience (and your sales)!
Many affiliate marketers use paid advertising to generate additional traffic to their site and drive more sales. Paid advertising on social media is often a good place to start, as these networks tend to be more affordable.
You may also want to consider taking out inexpensive banner ads on small niche sites. Depending on your niche, Google Ads could also be a good option to drive some paid traffic to your site.
It is easy to get carried away when doing paid advertising. Having a spreadsheet of the paid advertising methods and the budget you have for each will help you stay on track.
Building an audience takes time and consistent effort. There is no one sure-fire way of getting a lot of followers. It is a mix of various methods, paid and otherwise, that will help build your site’s online presence.
Additional Resources for Building Your Audience
If you're interested in learning more about how to build an audience and start generating traffic for your site, check out the following resources:
6. Promote Affiliate Offers
Finally, the part we’ve all been waiting for!
This is where things really kick into high gear. Many fly-by-night affiliates will jump right to this step and bypass steps 1 to 5 completely. And this is what will set you apart.
Once you’ve shown that you can offer something of value in your niche, it’s time to continue adding value by promoting products that will be useful and helpful for your audience.
You can promote your offers in a number of ways. It will depend on the type of site you've built and also what you're selling. Some ideas include:
Write honest, real reviews about products. Build up trust with your audience, and remember that they rely on your opinion. Don't just point out all the positives of a product and gloss over the negatives. An honest opinion will be valued. Add compelling images and make mention of useful features, specifications and other details.
Your product review can then link to the page (with your affiliate ID attached), where your audience can make a purchase if they're interested. If they do, hooray! You've made your first sale.
You can create similar content in video format. Post it on YouTube, with the link to the affiliate offer or your landing page on the description field of the video.
You can put up banners on your site, to promote your affiliate offers. Most affiliate programs will usually provide their own creatives when you sign up for their offers. All you have to do is insert the banner on a highly trafficked page (your affiliate tracking is usually embedded within the code). Banner ads in the right locations can do a great job of driving sales.
Below are some examples of banners we provides to our affiliates.
“Call-to-action” or CTA, as the name suggests, compels site visitors to take action and click on the link or button where they will be taken to another webpage to either purchase or subscribe. CTA is not limited to affiliate marketing websites. There is CTA in practically any website.
And yes, there are CTA buttons and links on the KitchenFaucetBlog.
Similar to “call-to-action” links, in-text links are a common way to promote offers.
You will often see blog posts with links to certain products or services.If the reader clicks through and makes a purchase, the blog owner will make a commission. These in-text links blend in with other content on your site and are a great way of promoting an offer within your content, without being over-the-top salesy with banners.
If you have built up an email list, you could also promote your affiliate offers via email promotions. Just make sure you build up a relationship with your audience first instead of going for the hard sell straight away. The emails you send out must contain your affiliate links to products so when your audience clicks through, the sale is attributed to you.
Below is one of the many emails I receive from Total Money Magnetism. Their newsletters do not just give information, but it links to either their affiliate offer or to a content on their website.
Discounts and Giveaways
Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. You’d usually see these more on online stores as shown on the image below, but digital products go on sale too from time to time.
If you're a Masterclass affiliate, for example, and the site has an upcoming or ongoing sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience.
Merchants or vendors usually inform their affiliates through email of upcoming events or special offers. Make sure that you are up to date so you can readily pass the information on to your site visitors and subscribers .
When promoting affiliate offers, make sure you are fully aware of all the terms and conditions attached to your affiliate program. Some programs can be strict about how they allow you to promote their products. Some may limit you to banner ads and links only, while others will allow you to use paid advertising, but won't allow email marketing.
Also, make sure you have a disclaimer on your website that advises your audience that you may have links that promote affiliate offers. This is necessary for several affiliate programs and also a basic courtesy to your website visitors. In the U.S., the FTC mandates disclosure for affiliate marketers (and anyone issuing endorsements), as well.
Additional Resources for Promoting Your Offers
7. Rinse, Lather, and Repeat
Now that you're done with Steps 1 to 6, Step 7 is simply to keep doing what you're doing. Rinse, lather, repeat!
Your ongoing work as an affiliate marketer will be to repeat steps 4 to 6 on a continual basis. Building a site up to a point where it can make you consistent income takes a bit of work and you must be willing to constantly create, promote, market, innovate and of course, sell.
When your website gets a steady stream of visitors and you’re able to convert those into regular sales is when you can ease up a bit. It’s difficult to see it right now, what with all these steps you need to do, but it does get better once you get past the learning curve.
Review of Key Points
It can feel overwhelming to do all the necessary work involved in setting up your site and building your reputation. But trust me, once you’ve made that first sale, all the hard work will be worth it!
To sum it all up, making your first affiliate commission requires a bit of work but if you break it all down and follow it step by step, it won't seem so overwhelming at all. Here's a quick recap of what you need to do:
- Choose your niche.
- Research different affiliate programs and products.
- Build a site.
- Produce excellent content.
- Build an audience.
- Promote your affiliate product(s).
- Repeat steps #4 to 7 on a continual basis!
As you can see, there is a tried-and-true strategy when it comes to affiliate marketing for beginners. Put in the work, and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of your first sale.
Affiliate Marketing Basics
Following the above steps, and depending on the niche, beginner affiliate marketers will see a profit of a few hundred dollars a month. This could grow to a few hundred DAILY to a thousand or more a month as the website progresses.
Keeping in mind that affiliate marketing is like any business endeavor, it will take time before you start seeing the ROI.
This varies as this is based on the commission of each individual product. A popular product may only give US$10 commission for each sale, but if it is a high-selling item then it’s possible to earn more from this product over a product with a higher commission but lower saleability.
Yes, you can do affiliate marketing without a website. It is going to be difficult though. Investing in having a website will allow you to promote more products, and do so on a long-term basis.
It could be any number of reasons, but the most common is “analysis paralysis”. Most get stuck on picking a niche or selecting a domain name. Each of the steps we’ve laid out above comes with its own sets of challenges, and it’s when they are unable to get past these challenges that they quit.
Some states in the US require affiliate marketers to pay taxes. We suggest contacting a local accountant or legal counsel. They will be able to better advise you if you need to or not.
Do you feel overwhelmed about making that first affiliate sale? What’s holding you back from getting started? Let us know in the comments below and we'll be happy to help.