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Complete beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing success

You will hear it time and again that affiliate marketing is the best way to make money online. I am no guru, but I have been side hustling in affiliate marketing for a number of years now in everything from ClickBank to gambling systems to Halloween costumes! So, over the coming months, I’ll be doing a number of posts on how to make the most out of affiliate marketing starting with the complete beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a method of performance-based marketing whereby you act as a marketer on behalf of a seller or merchant. Affiliates have to showcase the product or service of the business they are associated with and get a nice juicy bonus in return

You market that product in return for a commission every time it sells or you direct a lead to that business.  In order to do this, we, as marketers, have to drive traffic to those offers. The more traffic you drive the more likely it has of converting. However, simply buying traffic (yes, you can do that!) won’t work. In the complete beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing, we’ll touch upon how you can drive traffic, but it is an area that deserves a full post.

Why Is Affiliate Marketing A Good Side Hustle?

Let’s break it down into some simple, easy to understand points:

  • It is easy to pick up and get started, even with NO MONEY
  • It can be RUN FROM HOME or ANYWHERE in the world
  • It can generate 100% PASSIVE income
  • You don’t have to deal with customers
  • You can generate one-off or recurring payments
  • Somebody else creates the sales process and closes the customers

What type of traffic should I send to affiliate products?

As a complete beginner to affiliate marketing or a beginner to websites, this is probably the biggest concern for you. The high-level answer is simple. It is targeted traffic. As I said, simply buying traffic won’t work unless you get extremely lucky.

You need to be sending traffic to products that are interested in it. People who want to buy it. That way half of your job has been done for you. If someone has been searching for dog training ebooks the likelihood is that if you offer them a dog training ebook at a reasonable process through an affiliate offer they are going to jump at the chance.

What’s the best way to sell?

Well, as with most things offering a good service is the best starting point. Yes, as you progress you will learn other techniques to help push products, but hands-down the number one way to drive traffic to a product is with content that offers genuine value with relevance to that niche. You can supplement that with Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc, but the starting point should be with a website. As part of the complete beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing a simple approach would be:

  • Create the blog or website
  • Choose the industry and niche down
  • Research products in the niche you can easily review and promote
  • Sign up for the popular affiliate program
  • Find affiliate programs for other products you like to review
  • Create content in the form of review posts, tutorials, emails, resource pages, and other things and use the affiliate link
  • Optimize the pages and track rankings in the search engines
  • Rinse and repeat

How do I build a website?

It’s not that difficult once you get the hang off it and there are plenty of tools to help you. You don’t need to be able to code or do graphic design. You can get a simple website up and running in no time at all. I highly recommend using WordPress. It is so versatile. It can do pretty much anything from simple blogs, to professional shops to online communities. The following steps are a must:

  • Choose a Domain Name for your website. Something close to your niche for example in the dog training niche something like PugTrainingSecrets.com. I personally use either Godaddy or Sitegrounds for my domain name purchases.
  • Choose your hosting. I personally go with Sitegrounds as they are the highest rated wordpress host. If Sitegrounds doesn’t take your fancy then Bluehost have always been good to me.
complete beginner's guide to affiliate marketing hosting - sitegrounds

How do I choose a niche for affiliate marketing?

A big factor in affiliate marketing is choosing the niche you wish to represent. I will start with saying that if you are going to make something a long-term side hustle or even job then you should be interested in that area otherwise you will now be able to give it the time and effort that is needed. There are different ways to look at what you sell:

  • Do you sell high volume low cost?
  • Do you sell low volume high costs?
  • Do you sell somewhere in-between?

Selling high volume low cost means you need to sell a lot of the product to generate a decent return and you need to continue to do so. Selling low volume high cost may mean you could get away with 1 sale a month or even just 5-6 a year! Somewhere in between is where most people fall. This will help focus your niche.

For actual niche’s start by thinking about things that you are interested in and problems that need to be solved. Some good starting niches would be:

  • Health & Fitness
  • Pets
  • Making Money Online
  • Sports
  • Personal Coaching
  • Dating
  • Anything you can think of really

The above are all very high-level or category-level suggestions. I would then start breaking these down into sub-categories and further. For example, you may go for Pets, which may take you to Dogs then Shih Tzu’s then treats, training or toys – the alliteration was not intended, but it worked!

How do I find affiliate marketing offers?

Finding affiliate offers is the easy part. They are everywhere. In the complete beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing, we will look at a number of networks. An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between affiliate marketers and merchants and sellers.

An affiliate network lets business and product owners advertise their affiliate programs with all the relevant information needed on how to earn money with them so that marketers can easily search through them and then promote to the target market.

There are a few big networks out there that anyone can start with. In our complete beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing, we’ll touch briefly on Clickbank, Commission Junction, Amazon Affiliates (obviously not strictly a network) and direct affiliation as they are three of the biggest networks out there and offer very different styles of affiliate marketing. Whilst direct affiliation is an alternative route that works for lots of things you come across in your day to day lives.

Affiliate Marketing with ClickBank

ClickBank is the largest affiliate marketplace out there and is a starting point for everyone. Whatever you want to sell, whatever your chose niche there will be something out there for you. ClickBank is a trusted and proven affiliate marketplace.

They offer commissions as high as 75% of the product you are selling, some with recurring commissions (the holy grail) and have products that are low and high-volume sellers. They give you all the information you could possibly want including whether that product is selling well or receiving lots of returns. Essential information to know.

The great thing with ClickBank is that the good products come with all the information you could need to get started including email templates, reviews, banners etc.

Clickbank is very much aimed at products that come from small businesses. Typically, online digital products. These tend not to be high street names or brands, but don’t let that put you off. Clickbank has been going for 20+ years now, reached over 200 million customers.

Affiliate Marketing with Commission Junction

On the other hand, we have Commission Junction or CJ.com, that works directly with well know brands and traditional stores to provide services. With over 20 years of experience as well working with clients like the IHG Hotel Group, Barnes & Noble, GoDaddy and Priceline to name but a few.

Commissions tend not to be as high with CJ.com, although some can be very good, but what you do get is that you are sending people to recognised brands that they are interested in. You’ve already over come the number one hurdle of internet sale, trust.

Affiliate Marketing with Amazon Affiliates

This is a big one! Yes, Jeff Bezos’ is quite happy for you to drive even more traffic to Amazon. The Amazon Affiliates model had to get a mention. It is incredibly easy to start with and you can find all manner of products to sell. This is a perfect way to sell from niche websites.

You simply use the affiliate link as you would with any other method, however, the great thing about sending traffic towards Amazon is that you get credit if they purchase anything within 24 hrs, this is quite well known, however, what is less known is that if you create a special link that sends the product to the checkout cart then it lasts 90 days. That’s amazing. I buy from Amazon every few days! To re-iterate that is for anything.

So, let’s say you have directed traffic for a small value offer such as a light bulb (I don’t know why), but they end up buying a DSLR Camera. You get commission on both.

Affiliate Marketing directly with a Product Owner

The final area we will look at is direct partnerships with brands. Not all product owners choose to utilise an affiliate marketplace or a network. Organisations like this tend to fall into a sweet spot where they aren’t quite high street brands, but they are unknowns.

For example, many hosting sites control their own affiliate programs as do website theme creators. A great benefit of this is that if you are doing well for a direct partnership you have much chance of being able to negotiate a preferential deal or increased commissions.

The Wrap Up

I hope that the complete beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing has been a good introduction to affiliate marketing. This is not meant to give you all the answers but whet your appetite and give you a greater understanding. We’ll go into much more detail as we continue with this series.

Thanks for reading. Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed the post and pin the image below to Pinterest!

Background of a lady sitting on a yacht with text stating The Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing and a sub heading of How to become an affiliate ninja
About Author

Tall Guy FI is a personal finance blogger who Has successfully defeated credit card debt, paid off his student loan, paid off his mortgage and is now focused on Financial Independence. His goal is to be able to help others out along their way by helping them to learn how to Earn, Save, Invest & FIRE!

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