A Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing

An introduction to affiliate marketing for beginners

The internet has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the mid 90’s and the dot com crash in 2000 to become an important part of most peoples lives. In the 1990’s there was a real skepticism of purchasing anything online, there were horrible graphics, clunky websites and dial up modems.

Now we have a thriving retail ecosystem that millions of people have used to buy something, we have ultrafast internet speeds, smart mobiles and also a legitimate way of building assets. Yes building or buying a commercial website is a legitimate way to make serious money. Have a look at some of the listings on popular website marketplaces Empire Flippers and Flippa, there are websites being sold for 6 and 7 figures. That’s life changing money for most people!

Building and growing a website is now a serious option for growing your income and your wealth and an important part of this is through affiliate marketing. Below we go through an introduction to affiliate marketing for beginners.

How do websites make money?

Some of the ways a website can make money are below:

  • They can sell a good or service
  • They can earn money via advertising (either pay per click or selling ad space)
  • They can earn money via sponsored posts
  • They can earn money through an email list
  • They can earn money through lead generation
  • They can earn money via video or webinars
  • They can earn money via donations or readers or subscribers
  • They can earn money through memberships or premium content

And the focus of this article,

  • They can earn money via affiliate marketing

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the practise of promoting a product to your readers, viewers or subscribers where the promoter receives a payment or commission for a successful sale. Done the right way (and assuming you have a sufficient audience) this can be an excellent revenue stream for you and your website.

Let’s say you have set up a website in the self improvement niche. You’ve been adding great content to this site, your SEO is on point and you are slowly building a nice little email list and getting people to read your articles or posts.

Now let’s say you’ve come across a great product (such as Brain.fm) in this niche that you love using and you think your readers/subscribers would love and get a lot out of using.

Knowing you have a good base of readers/subscribers who will likely act on your recommendation, you reach out to the product provider and ask if they have an affiliate program. You are in luck they do and even better they have some great advertising material and suggestions on how to maximise your income through their product referral. Your hunch was right, your recommendation was a hit and now you are earning an extra few hundred dollars a month promoting a product you believe in and helps your audience.

That’s affiliate marketing!

It’s a win-win if you are referring quality products to your people however this can also go the other way. There are some website owners that take advantage of their audience and promote goods and services that may pay a great commission that aren’t in the best interests of their audience. 

How can I make money with affiliate marketing?

Success with affiliate marketing will depend on knowing your audiences needs and providing a suitable solution or recommendation. Ideally your audience (preferably sizeable) will be an engaged one, one that you’ll have a good understanding of through your typical reader or subscriber.

You can get an understanding of your audience through the tracking of your more popular articles or videos, through emails topics that have a higher open or click through rate or through the take up of some of your product offerings such as info graphics, opt ins or webinars.

To be successful long term in affiliate marketing will depend on the relationship you have with your audience, the quality of the content you provide and the quality of the affiliate product you either recommend or promote.

While a larger audience is preferable a smaller more devoted audience is sufficient to be successful with affiliate marketing.

With affiliate marketing you want to be authentic and provide product or service referrals or recommendations that will genuinely help your readers or subscribers. That you’re getting an affiliate payment should be a bonus.

Remember reputations are hard won and easily lost, don’t underestimate how easy it is to lose yours if you start promoting rubbish products or services just for the money. Build an affiliate website the right way and you will be rewarded.

Ideas to find potential affiliate products include reaching out to providers of products that you enjoy using or products that have helped you to see if they offer an affiliate program.

If that doesn’t work you can look at popular online retailers such as Amazon and join their affiliate program though be aware that a bigger retailer like Amazon will usually pay a lower affiliate rate than a specialist product or service provider. 

Other ideas for finding potential affiliate opportunities include companies such as Click Bank and CJ (formerly Commission Junction).

How much can a beginner make with affiliate marketing?

It makes sense that if you have a bigger audience you will likely earn more from affiliate marketing. As a beginner it’s likely that your readers or subscribers are small so this will affect your potential affiliate earnings.

When starting out with online affiliate marketing or building a website focus on creating good content and ideally content that is going rank well in search engines. Reach out to others to promote your content, go above and beyond with your product recommendations.

If you are getting anywhere near $1,000 per month by the end of your first year in the online world you’ve had a great first year. Affiliate earnings also grow exponentially so while it can be a struggle early on the more you stick with it the quicker the increase will be and that monthly income of $1,000 can increase to $2,000 in no time at all!

Remember affiliate marketing should be an extension of what you are currently providing your audience. Build your audience, build your reputation and your affiliate earnings will grow.

How do I start affiliate marketing?

Again if you are a beginner the focus should be building your audience. Create that content, look at building links where you have time though focus the majority of your time on quality content!

After you have started to build your audience then you can start looking at ways to improve revenue for your website, usually through advertising or affiliate marketing. As mentioned above find products or services that suit your current niche or your current audience. If you need to find out more about your audience, start working on this as soon as possible.

The better your relationship and understanding of your audience the better your website will become and the more revenue you will generate.

Look at brands that you use in your life that you think could help your audience, find out if they have affiliate programs. Look to affiliate marketplaces or forums to find other potential affiliates products or programs.

Tips to succeed with affiliate marketing

1. Select a niche that is conducive to success

Building a website around the finance niche or the homewares niche will give you more affiliate options than if you created a website around the snails breeding niche. Not that potential affiliate opportunities should be the main reason you build a website in a particular niche however when planning out a website, potential revenue stream need to be looked at of which affiliate marketing could be part of this revenue strategy.

2. Always create great content

This one is a no brainer however it’s amazing the amount of people that enter the online world and want to put out average content yet expect amazing results. Even amazing content is no guarantee for success however great content will go a long way to your success.

Providing great content will also improve the chances that your content is shared or promoted by others, potentially increasing your revenue potential.

3. Regularly engage your readers, subscribers, listeners or viewers

A carefully cultivated support network is your ultimate weapon in the success of affiliate marketing. Even if you only have a small amount of readers or subscribers if they are more engaged then the affiliate potential will be good.

Really drill into your website affiliates. What are your most popular articles or videos? What topics tend to be the most downloaded podcast episodes? What are your email open rates like with your subscribers, which topics tend to be opened more?

4. Make sure your website is optimized to capture email subscribers

Ideally you are in a niche that is suitable for email marketing given a well cultivated email listed can be a great boost to your affiliate marketing earnings.

If this is you, have your website optimized to capture email subscribers.

This means having your homepage, content, opt in pages all optimized for email subscribers. Look for ways to boost your subscribers by running competitions for your existing readers to share to new potential subscribers or reach out to others in a similar or overlapping niche where you can provide a solution and hopefully receive additional readers or subscribers.

Other ideas to grow your subscribers can be to create info graphics or webinars. Also as important is to regularly cull your list, keep it lean. Also give your new subscribers an indication of what they can expect being part of your email list and also don’t go over the top in sending too many emails.

5. Don’t flood your content with affiliate promotions

Build your audience the right way and keep treating them the right way. Have the right mix of informational content and affiliate or reviews content. Favour information over constant promotions and you will be rewarded.

Also when recommending a product through affiliate content go deep, very deep. The more detailed the review or recommendations (and knowing your audience) will likely significantly improve your affiliate revenue.   

6. Make sure your product choice your are marketing is authentic

People will see through you quite quickly if you are trying to flog crap stuff. You will lose your hard earned credibility and reputation. To maintain regularly affiliate revenue only recommend products or services that will benefit your audience.

As you get more into the affiliate world you will find that some products and services offer significant affiliate commissions however the product offering may not be up to scratch. Don’t sell out and don’t go for the cheap buck. Only promote products that work for your or your audience.

Affiliate marketing should be an important part of any online passive income stream however it needs to be built organically. Push too much too soon or too regularly onto your audience and there is a big chance your audience could desert you.

Focus on building a quality affiliate website (or video channel) and gradually build your audience. Understand what reasons introduced your audience to your website or content and also what content of yours is the most popular. Find organic (to your audience) goods and services and what your levels of affiliate income grow!