If you are on this site, chances are pretty good that you are interested in making money with affiliate marketing. But the question I get asked a lot is “how do you start affiliate marketing”?
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to earn extra income. It has received a lot of negative press because of unscrupulous marketers that give the business model a bad name.
There are certainly a lot of bad actors out there. But that does not take away from the awesome opportunity for earning income from the comfort of your home that affiliate marketing provides.
Affiliate marketing in itself is a simple concept. It is basically providing your readers solutions to their problems. If you have gained their trust, they will reward you by buying the products that you suggest to them. When they buy through your link, you get a commission. That is affiliate marketing in a nutshell.
While the concept is simple, the implementation requires a minimum amount of knowledge. Don’t worry, you do not need to be a technical guru. In fact, you don’t really need to be technical at all! The knowledge required is not hard. There are step by step tutorials all over the net to help you navigate each skill.
In this post, I will outline the 4 steps you need to start affiliate marketing. Let’s go!
1ST THINGS FIRST – WHO THIS IS NOT FOR!
Before I jump into the steps. I want to clear the air about a couple things:
1- Affiliate Marketing is not a get-rich-quick model. If you are looking for a get-rich-quick promise, affiliate marketing is not it. Anyone that promises you riches with little work in a matter of hours, days or weeks is scamming you.
Remember when I mentioned affiliate marketing getting a bad rap in the intro of this post? Well that is what I mean.
There are crooked people that know how to play on emotions. They prey on desperate people that need money and make ridiculous promises. Unfortunately, their scams are effective more often than not. This makes the broad public very skeptical of any online money making opportunities.
If you need money right now, or if you can’t dedicate a few bucks to your business right now, I do not suggest that you jump into affiliate marketing. Perhaps a part-time job for a short while will serve you better.
2- Affiliate Marketing is not hard but it requires hard work. You have to be willing to dedicate time to your business. This means time to work on your business daily. You need to take massive action in a consistent manner. You also have to dedicate yourself over a long period of time. You need patience!
If you give the model 3 to 6 months to mature and start bearing fruit, you will not be disappointed. You have to be willing to put in massive action without seeing a single cent!
If you are patient and work on your business consistently, you will see the benefits in spades. You will start to earn dependable and meaningful income month after month. You can join the professional affiliate marketers that make a great living from the comfort of their homes!
I don’t mean to be a debbie downer, but I don’t want to BS you either. Now that we have cleared the air let’s move on!
4 SIMPLE STEPS TO START AFFILIATE MARKETING
The steps are super simple. As I mentioned earlier, the model itself is easy.
- 1- Pick a Niche
- 2- Build a blog
- 3- Attract loyal readers
- 4- Monetize your blog and make money
While the model is easy, the individual steps require a bit of knowledge. The steps are not complicated. There are a bunch of resources out there. The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff. I will go through each step in a little more detail next.
1) PICK A NICHE
This is a crucial part of the model. Unfortunately, a lot of new affiliate marketers get hung up on the concept. They make it harder than it needs to be. This causes them to overthink and leads to analysis paralysis. Don’t fall into that!
A Niche is simply a segment of the population. To narrow it down a bit further, it is a segment of the population that shares certain interests, needs or problems.
People that enjoy fishing are a niche. People with acne, looking for a natural solution to their problem are a niche. If you are reading this article, you are part of a group of people looking to earn an income online through affiliate marketing. You (and I) are part of that niche.
I hope you get the idea. Picking a niche means picking a target audience. It is not hard to do. Think about for 15 minutes and make a decision. I have learned through an affiliate marketing program that I belong to that ANY niche can make you money!
There are 2 school of thought as to whether you should pick a niche you are passionate about, or not.
I am not sure that it matters that much but I will give you the argument for picking a niche that you know a lot about and that you are passionate about. You can decide if that is the way you want to go.
Picking a niche you are passionate about will give you a great base of knowledge on the subject. You will need to research less than if you did not know anything about the subject. In addition, you will find it a lot easier to stick with the topic if you love it.
This model requires you to produce a lot of content on your chosen topic. If you hate it or if you are not interested in it (doing it only for the $$$) you will find it hard to stay motivated. Your content will suffer because your lack of patience will come through your work.
All the arguments above are valid. But it does not mean that you cannot become a subject matter expert on something that you are not familiar with. If you put your mind to it, you can become an expert on any subject. If you are disciplined, you can crank out top-notch content for months or years without fail.
I will say that for your first niche, it can be helpful to know about it a bit. Specifically, it is helpful for you to know the pain points of the members of that niche. Remember that solving the problems of your niche is how you will make your money online.
So you decide whether you will pick a niche you know a lot about or not. As I said before, think on it for 15 minutes and make a choice.
Now that we covered niche selection, let’s go to the next step!
2) BUILD A BLOG
You need a platform to engage the folks in your chosen niche. This is usually where people freak out and think that they need some amazing technical skills to build a blog or website. The truth is that you do not need to be a computer science college major, or a webmaster to create a blog.
The appeal of blogs is that they are easy to start. This simplicity is really what has democratized access to online audiences. Platforms have been developed to make the process accessible to everyone, from a 10-year old to a ninety-year old Great Grandma.
So take a deep breath and know that this second step is not a show stopper. You can you tube it and find hundreds of videos that will walk you through the process step-by-step. One of the most popular website building platforms is Weebly. They even offer a free service for one website! Click Here to go to Weebly and start building your website.
WordPress is possibly the biggest and best platform to build a blog for affiliate marketing. It offers amazing flexibility and almost endless functionalities that can be leveraged in every way possible.
It requires a bit of knowledge because it has a back office. But the knowledge is easy to gain. You don’t need to know everything, just enough to get your site going. The rest you can learn along the way, mostly through google.
Check out this video that shows you how to get a wordpress site built in 30 seconds!
Now that you have a platform to engage your chosen niche, you need to attract a loyal following! That is the next step.
3) ATTRACT LOYAL READERS
This is where the hard work and patience come into play. This is also where most people give up after a couple of weeks. Worse, they give up after 3 or 4 months of work without anything to show for it.
This last group of people are the ones that were literally at touching distance from regular online income. But they gave up! What a shame.
If you know what you are getting into and if you are determined to succeed, you will be successful.
You need to produce original, engaging and helpful content to your readers. You also need to produce A LOT of it! Be prepared to write tons of articles. If you don’t like to write, find/pay someone to do it for you.
Even if you don’t like to write, I suggest that you write the first batch of posts yourself. You need to do this in order to learn exactly how to write effective posts. Only with this in-depth knowledge will you be able to successfully outsource it. Also, if you outsource your content from the beginning you will be unable to give accurate and effective directions to your article writers. This can be costly and detrimental to your business.
Now, writing posts is not the only possible way to create valuable content. How to videos are awesome content that people love to consume. Your social media is also an avenue for producing content.
There are a ton of ways to generate content. You can pick one, two, three or a combination of many different methods.
The bottom line is that it needs to be original, engaging and helpful. If not, you don’t stand a chance!
Let me talk about helpful content. Get ready ‘cause I getting on my soap box. Never forget why you are doing this in the first place. It is not to sell stuff to people to make money. It is to provide valuable content and helpful solutions to problems. If your readers have gained enough trust in you, they will buy the services or “solutions” that you provide.
When looking at products, services or physical products to offer to your readers, keep their best interest in mind. Don’t decide on one product over another one because it offers you a bigger commission! You will make a few bucks at the beginning but eventually your readers will lose trust. They will stop buying through your links!
Pick products and services that are the best fit for your readers regardless of the commission amount. If the best solution you find has no commission (a rare occurrence), then you give them that solution. You will make a commission some other time.
I am off my soap box! The bottom line is that you never want to break trust with your audience. It is a business killer!
Now that you have amazing content how do you make money? That is the part that everyone wants to know about. So here it goes!
4) MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR BLOG
All the hard work that you have done comes down to this moment! You finally get to earn some financial benefit from your hard work. There are a ton of ways to monetize. Since this is an affiliate marketing blog, I will focus on that in depth.
One of the other ways to monetize your blog is through Ads and banners. You can “rent out space” to other companies where they put their ads on your blog. You get paid for that real estate just like a brick and mortar business would pay for a billboard on the side of the highway.
Back to Affiliate Marketing. I purposely did not go through what Affiliate marketing is and how it works. I assumed that you know about it since you are reading this blog. As an overview, you are promoting other people’s products to your audience in exchange for a commission.
You have to decide what you want to offer your customers:
1- Physical products: These can be the highest converting sales on your site. If you are selling Amazon products then even better. These are easier to sell because they are tangible. The downside is that the commissions for physical products are usually quite low. The commissions are usually less than 10%.
But remember that your first duty is to your readers, not your pocket. The Amazon affiliate program is the best for you to start with if you want to focus on physical products.
2- Services: This is another very popular type of monetization. Basically you offer services like article writing, dog sitting, painting, website creation……. This is the furthest from a passive income but it is extremely effective. If you have a service business, this is the way to go.
The reason why I say it is not passive is because you are still trading time for money. But this is not a bad thing. If you are successful, like many online service providers are, you will generate a ton of online revenue and you will be your own boss.
3- Digital products: These are solutions that are designed to be delivered digitally to your readers. Think of a PDF course on how to train your puppy. Maybe it is a membership site that your readers will sign up for. It could be a video course o how to fix lawn mowers.
The opportunities are endless. One of the benefits of selling digital products is that the commissions are usually much more generous than the commissions received for physical products. They range around 25-75% of the cost. I will give you some good affiliate marketing programs to look at. They have thousands of products. Make sure you investigate a product thoroughly before you suggest it to your readers:
There are many others but these 3 are good ones to start getting familiar with. You will need to create an account. All of them will ask you for the address of your blog so make sure you have one.
THE ONE RESOURCE THAT WILL PROPEL YOUR AFFILIATE MARKETING BUSINESS
I have shared the 4 steps necessary to starting an affiliate marketing business. While the model is quite simple, the steps do have a few challenging action items. As I mentioned before, they are not difficult. You can definitely do this, but some guidance will make it easier and put you on the path the earning money online that much faster.
Did you like the video that I shared in this post? Could you use step-by-step instructions like that for every step of the process?
As I mentioned, I am part of an online community of affiliate marketers. This community is really a program with every resource you will need to make it online. It is called Wealthy Affiliate. It has been around since 2005 with a membership of over 1 million marketers.
Some of the biggest names in affiliate marketing belong to this community and you can join in for free! Now there is a paid membership, but you can join the as a free starter member and enjoy some very significant benefits.
You will have access to 10 classes that will take you step by step through the process of selecting a niche, creating your site, and adding valuable content. Here are the free courses you will have access to as a free member:
- Getting Rolling
- Understanding how to make money online
- Choose a niche
- Building your own Niche Site
- Setting Up Your Website
- Getting Your Site Ready for Search Engines
- Creating Your Initial Website Content
- Creating Custom Menus on Your Website
- Understanding Keywords
- Congrats and Next Steps
You will also have access to the website builder offered to all members. You will be able to build 2 free websites. This is allows to put everything you learned into practice.
As I mentioned, it is free. There is no need to enter a credit card number. Once you join as a free member, there is no time limit to upgrade. There really is nothing to lose!
I hope you take advantage of the free offer. If you don’t it is ok too. As I mentioned, you can go online and search for every step listed above. You will find many resources. Some will be scams, but some will be good. With enough diligence you will find the right guidance.
Whichever way you go, please know that affiliate marketing works! It is one of the most effective ways to get out of the rat race and to finally become financially independent. Stick with it, be patient and never let anyone tell you that it is a waste of time. If you do, you will be rewarded with the life you always dreamed of!
To your success online!