Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Complete Guide 2021

The affiliate marketing industry is EXPLODING in 2021, here is how you can get started today.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online, and right now really is an incredible time to start an affiliate business. But if you’re not really sure what affiliate marketing is and how you can benefit from it, this article is here to teach you affiliate marketing for beginners.

In this guide, you’ll find a straightforward explanation to dispel any confusion and help you get started right away and decide if you want to become an affiliate marketer.

what is affiliate marketing?

 

Let’s first take a look at some common questions all beginner affiliate marketers have.

Affiliate Marketing 101 – Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing has been defined in many ways over the years, but our top Amazon Affiliate blogger Tim Vincent sums it up perfectly:

Tim Vincent

“Affiliate marketing is a method of making money, by which an affiliate marketer (you) creates content that recommends existing products or services to their audience. This content refers that audience, via a special affiliate link, to an online store. If a purchase is then made, a commission from that sale is generated and sent on to you, the affiliate.”

– Tim Vincent

Rinse and repeat.

It sounds easy in theory, and it can be easy if you listen to our advice and do all the right things the first time around. It can be a great way for you to make some extra vacation cash every year.

Imagine what you can do with just $500 extra a month, for a few hours of fun “work” each week! $500 a month is very attainable for any blogger.

It’s also very easy to get completely lost in information overload, not know what to focus on, spread yourself too thin, and ultimately decide it’s more trouble than it’s worth and quit. Believe me, that is the story for a lot of new people – but it doesn’t have to be your story.

 

make money online questions

 

Here is another even simpler definition of what affiliate marketing is:

“Being an affiliate marketer is simply being an online salesman and earning commissions for referring sales.”

– Alchemy Coder

Simple, it’s being an online salesman and earning commissions through affiliate programs. It’s the same old salesman story but moved online for the age of eCommerce.

 

How does affiliate marketing work?

Affiliate marketing is a highly complex concept spanning a wide array of necessary skillsets. Lucky for you, today we’re going to look at a simplified version of how affiliate marketing works.

If you follow down this path and want to learn everything there is to know, you can expand upon this guide as you improve. But for now, this guide covers all you need to know to get started and decide if you want to pursue it.

Here is a simple example of affiliate marketing in action.

Step 1 – the website.You create a website, insert special links that when clicked attach that visitor to your affiliate ID at the merchant’s online store.

affiliate marketing step-by-step

Step 2 – the visitor.

When website readers click on your affiliate links, tagged with your affiliate ID, and they are directed to the merchant’s website to view the affiliate product you linked to.

Step 3 – the purchase.

The visitor decided to purchase the product, and a commission is granted to the affiliate for referring the online sale through that affiliate link.

Step 4 – the commission.

Once the affiliate meets the program’s payment threshold and requirements, the affiliate commissions are released into your bank account or you are mailed a check.

 

Is Affiliate Marketing Easy?

The principles of affiliate marketing are easy to understand – create content, build trust, grow an audience and earn commissions on promoting affiliate products to your readers.

Doing the work takes time and energy, however.

The beauty of the whole process is that the more you do it, the better you get at it and the more momentum your site gets. Doing this continually over time, even when you’re not seeing any significant returns, is hard. Perhaps the hardest parts for beginners are choosing the right niche, targeting the best keywords, and writing compelling copy that entices your audience to click through.

 

Can you really make money with affiliate marketing?

beginner affiliate marketingYes, of course, you can! Affiliate marketing is not a scam and is not a pyramid scheme. It is simply being an online salesman and earning commissions for referring sales. Affiliate marketing is big business and companies worldwide spend billions of dollars a year on it.

Making money online does take time and effort. You never get something for nothing. Remember, there are a lot of marketing schemes out there to be wary of.

 

affiliate marketing faqsHow much do beginner affiliate marketers make?

Beginner affiliate marketers start out making $0. You will not be getting paid hourly for your work anymore, and you have to start from the beginning.

You have to trade getting paid hourly for your work (instant gratification), for maybe getting paid months after you do the work (delayed gratification).

This means that you have to build online content, and build more on top of it, and build more on top of it, over and over until some pocket change starts to accumulate in your affiliate accounts.

Eventually, dollars start to appear, and if you are a hard and smart worker – after about 6-8 months you will start to see regular affiliate commissions. Some new affiliates start to see a few hundred dollars a month between the 6 to 12 month time period.

It all depends on a lot of factors, however – there are no guarantees you will make anything.

Okay, you wanted a clear answer and I gave you some advice instead.

Here is your clear answer about how much a beginner affiliate marketer makes.

An average brand new affiliate marketer that works smart, hard, and fast, can probably get a website earning between $50 and $250 a month within 6 to 12 months. It usually takes an affiliate marketer over a year to start making any more than a couple of hundred dollars a month.

It’s also good to note that there is no limit to the amount of money you can make. That’s up to you. Some websites make millions of dollars a month.

 

How Long Does it Take to start making money as an affiliate marketer?

First off, know that affiliate marketing is not a quick way to earn money to pay your rent or mortgage next month. When you get started with affiliate marketing, you have to remember that you are not getting paid a set amount for the hours you put into it. You do a lot of work now, to make money later.

How fast you start to earn really does depend on a lot of factors. What topic you choose to create content around, how competitive it is, how much you work, if you work on the correct things, if you create engaging enough content, if your branding is likable enough, just to name a few factors.

You can assume that you will not even make $1 in the first 3 months.

It can take a lot of hours of work before you start to see any serious income, but once you do, the compound effect of all of that work will really begin to pay dividends.

Some affiliates make in excess of $10,000 per month, but many many more make much less. Choose your website topic well, target the right keywords and create quality content and you have the right recipe to make a successful affiliate marketing website.

 

 

What types of affiliate marketing are there, and which are best for beginner affiliate marketers?

Amazon Affiliate Marketing

Love it or loath it, Amazon is the main player in the affiliate marketing industry. Capturing a huge slice of the eCommerce pie and with a colossal product range, Amazon is hands-down the best affiliate marketing for beginners.

amazon affiliate program

There are other affiliate marketing programs out there, for sure, and some of them pay higher commission rates. But it’s very hard to get most of them converting anywhere near as well as Amazon does.

Here, we discuss the question should Amazon affiliates should switch to other affiliate programs. But for affiliate marketing beginners, Amazon really is the best and easiest place to begin and learn all of the required skills.

Once you’ve got to grips with how it all works and the kind of content your audience loves, you can begin to search out other affiliate programs, either via umbrella groups like Awin or through companies directly.

If you’re unsure if a specific company in your niche has an affiliate program, just search ‘company name affiliate program’ and you should get pointed to the right place.

How To Get Started As An Amazon Affiliate

Amazon has a really simple sign-up process, meaning you can get started pretty much straight away. Flesh out your site with a decent amount of content before applying to the Associate’s program. Check out Matt’s in-depth guide for more details.

ppc-pay-per-click-advertising-affiliate-marketing-beginnersDisplay Ads

This is another easy way to monetize your website as a beginner. Using display advertising, or banner ads, on your website can really help to significantly boost your earnings.

If we use Spencer’s Own The Yard site as an example again, in his 2020 annual report, his earnings for December 2020 were $3,755.00 This number splits down into two income streams, $2,543.31 from the Amazon affiliate program and $1,211.84 from Ezoic display ads. This is almost a full third of the monthly earnings for that month.

CPA Offers

CPA offers are another possible source to monetize your website, blog, or email list. When you promote CPA offers, instead of getting paid for referring a successful product sale, you get paid for an action when a person takes an action such as an email list signup. CPA stands for Cost-Per-Action. You get paid per ‘action’ instead of paid per ‘sale’.

Peerfly is great to get started with if you want to explore the world of CPA Offer marketing.

 

How do I get started with affiliate marketing?

So, now you know what affiliate marketing is, how do you go about starting?

Below we list 7 steps you need to take to get your online business up and running. Remember that it takes a lot of hard work, but by following our guide you will avoid hours of mistakes and wasted time, and be able to focus on what really matters in growing your affiliate marketing income.

Whether you want to just earn $500 extra per month, or make a full-time living – it is the same basic process you need to follow.

Let’s go!

affiliate marketing for beginnersAffiliate Marketing for Beginners: Getting Started Guide

Here is a basic affiliate marketing guide you can follow to help guide you down the right path.

Table of Contents

  1. Step 1: Choose your niche
  2. Step 2: Choose your platform
  3. Step 3: Create great content
  4. Step 4: Drive traffic to your affiliate site
  5. Step 5: Join an affiliate program
  6. Step 6: Monetize your posts and pages
  7. Step 7: Optimize everything to convert clicks into sales

Step 1: Choose your niche

Often a huge stumbling block for both beginners and professional affiliates, choosing the right niche can really make or break your business.

Rather than thinking about which products you can sell to make money, it can be super-helpful to flip this issue on its head and think about how you can best help other people.

We need to get a little psychological for a second here – people tend to search for things online for one of two main reasons:

  1. to solve a problem
  2. to achieve a goal

The question you should be asking yourself is, how can you best help people to do one of the above? Think about what it is that people come to you to ask for advice about.

Let’s say you’re a dietician. Friends are very likely to come to you to ask for your advice on weight loss. This is a highly competitive online market and one that beginners would struggle to break into. But friends may also ask your professional dietician’s opinion on what foods to avoid if they suffer from bloating, or which foods help to reduce acne. These areas are less competitive and can provide a different angle for a dietician to begin an affiliate marketing website.

Once you’ve decided how you could help a certain audience, it’s well worth asking yourself at this point if you can think of enough content for that topic. Grab a pen and paper and brainstorm all of the ideas that come to mind. You’ll need to generate a list of around 50 pieces of content – if this is a struggle at the very beginning then maybe this niche isn’t the best one to choose.

If, however, you’ve identified a possible topic and got a rough list of 50 content ideas – now it’s time to see if that niche can be profitable. This stage is crucial to your ultimate success and skipping this part can lead to a whole heap of wasted effort. It really doesn’t matter how amazing your content is, if there isn’t a lot of traffic in that niche, you’ll struggle to make any significant money.

Places to research include 

  • Facebook forums/groups – search on Facebook to find groups and forums within your chosen topic. How many groups are there, and how many members? How engaged are they? Is there a good online community vibe?
  • Product advertising in Google search – if you type a relevant search term to your niche into Google and a string of product ads appear before the first search result, then this is generally a good sign.
  • Reddit – like on Facebook, there are tonnes of groups and sub-groups on Reddit for all manner of niches. Reddit’s whole premise is to show a network of communities based on people’s interests. It’s a great source when researching which topic to enter into.

Step 2: Choose Your Platform

The medium you choose to base your business on will very much depend on the kind of person you are and your personal preferences. You need to play to your strengths here.

Focus on what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing.

  • If you’re a writer, write.
  • If you prefer video as a means to communicate with your audience, then that’s the way to start.
  • A podcast is a great option if you’re a confident and engaging speaker but don’t like being on video.

Let’s take a look at 3 main types of platforms common for beginner affiliates.

 

Affiliate Marketing Platform #1: Blog

Google has 2 trillion searches per year, which is roughly 6 billion searches every day. These numbers are simply unparalleled online. One of the keys to a successful affiliate marketing blog or site is traffic – the more sets of eyeballs on your content, the bigger your audience of readers will become, and your income with it.

In order to capitalize on this, you’ll need to have a website with a blog.

The blog will allow you to continually add fresh content, targeting specific keywords (more on this shortly), in turn allowing you to attract more people to your site. Regularly adding new content also helps significantly with the way Google ranks sites via its algorithm.

WordPress is the best platform for hosting a blog, which is one of the reasons that 40% of all sites on the internet are powered by it.

A hosting company like A2 will let you register a domain, host your site, and pre-install WordPress on it.

 

youtube-video-affiliate-marketing-platform

Affiliate Marketing Platform #2: Video

It may surprise you to know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world with around 2 billion users per month. If you’re comfortable in front of a video camera, YouTube is the perfect platform for you to use.

Despite that, it’s still crucial to have a blog alongside your YouTube channel, with each feeding into the other. As mentioned above, the sheer number of people searching for content via Google is something you need to tap into as an affiliate marketer. As well as that, a website allows you to build an email list.

This is vitally important.

If YouTube were to stop running overnight, you’ve lost your business. With a website and an email list, you have a lifetime asset that you can market to over and over again.

Affiliate Marketing Platform #3: Podcast

The podcast arena has expanded rapidly in recent years, with recent statistics suggesting there are over 1.7 million podcast shows. So if you have a passion and talent for creating audio content, and it fits your niche, then this is the way to go for you. The same caveat about having a website alongside also applies, though. Build that email list!

Step 3: Create & Publish Engaging Content

affiliate marketing content-creation content marketing

 

It is important that you can create very high-quality content. Website visitors are extremely fickle and will leave your website in an instant for the slightest reason. You need to create content that people are searching for and make it engaging. Not just average, but better than all of your competitors.

Of course, meeting both of these criteria starts with keyword research.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is a vital skill. The simplest way of describing it is that keywords are the words that people type into a search engine. And keyword research allows you to see data such as:

  • How many times that keyword phrase is searched each month
  • Similar keyword searches related to the keyword phrase
  • How competitive that phrase is (i.e. how hard is it to get a blog post that targets that keyword phrase onto the first page of Google?)
  • The SERP (search engine results page) list for each keyword phrase. This can be useful to analyze the competition your post would be up against. For example, by checking the word count for each of the top ten articles, you can get a good idea of how many words your article should be.

It’s possible to do keyword research using a free tool such as Ubersuggest, but better and more accurate results come from paid-for tools. The guys at Authority Hacker have written an excellent post that runs through the options.

affiliate marketing seo

According to an AHRefs report, 90% of pages get ZERO organic search traffic from Google. This statistic is frightening and can be off-putting but, done right, keyword research can help you to be in the 10% of pages that do get traffic. Keyword research is one of those aspects of affiliate marketing that beginners should look to invest some money in, in order to give themselves the best chance of success.

Create SEO friendly content

Combined with your keyword research, using an SEO tool such as Rank Math will ensure your blog posts have a much better chance of ranking for your chosen keyword.

Create engaging content for your readers.

Your content should be:

  • Original
  • Highly useful, highly valuable
  • Top-quality

If you’re anything like me, when you first start you’ll be very slow and awkward. Your first articles will take days to write and you’ll wonder how you’ll ever write enough. Your first videos may well look a little awkward, and your first podcasts might not turn out exactly as you wanted them to.

None of that matters at first. The most important thing is that you TAKE ACTION and get some content published. Just get it published.

But believe me, keep going and you’ll get quicker and more professional as your experience grows. Like anything, these things are a craft.

In terms of your website content, as an affiliate marketer, you’ll need to learn and develop both content writing skills to describe the product you’re recommending, and copywriting skills to persuade your readers to take action from your content. The two things work together and it takes time to get it right.

The beauty is you can go back over your old content and apply the new skills and techniques you’ve learned to refine and maximize each post’s potential.

Build Trust with your readers and a recognizable brand

affiliate-marketing-create-a-trustworthy-brandAs I mentioned earlier, building trust with your audience is key. Trust will mean that your readers are more likely to click through from your affiliate link and potentially buy the product you’re recommending. More than that though, trust will also help you to build loyalty. Your readers will be more likely to sign up for your newsletter if they trust you.

If they do that they’re more likely to return to your website for more help and recommendations when they need help or advice with something connected to your niche. This all helps to build a brand.

Step 4: Drive traffic to your affiliate site

Publishing blog posts, videos, or podcast episodes is not enough on its own to make a successful affiliate marketing website. You have to promote it and drive traffic to it. Eventually, you will start gaining some momentum.

affiliate-marketing-for-beginners-traffic-generation

Gaining momentum is the hard part, but once you get some, the compounding effect will accelerate your growth.

The more useful and relevant articles, videos, and podcasts you publish, the more people will find your content. And the more people you’ll add to your email list.

Here are a few ways to drive traffic to your affiliate website, video channel, or podcast. Remember, each way has pros and cons, and they all require hard work and patience.

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Grow your social media audiences, and post links back to your content with affiliate links.
  • Answer questions in forums
  • Industry outreach to your peers
  • HARO – Help A Reporter Out.
  • Answer relevant questions on Quora, with links back to your engaging useful content.
  • Join and take part in communities.

Once you gain some momentum and start ranking for a few keywords, your business and earnings can really begin to compound. Affiliate marketing is all about making commissions over and over from your published creative work.

Step 5: Join an affiliate marketing program

Now that you have some great content published and are getting regular traffic, it’s time to monetize your content with an affiliate program. It’s time to officially become an affiliate!

There are a few reasons you don’t monetize the content right away. The first reason is that without regular traffic, you earn so little it is not significant. Second, this helps you focus on creating your engaging content – because without that you will not make any money.

Focus on great engaging content, monetized with relevant quality offers & products, and the money will come.

There is a huge number of affiliate programs you can join. There are almost as many affiliate programs as there are companies – but here are some popular ones to get you started.

And here is a list of more affiliate programs to explore.

If you want to check if a company has an affiliate program or not, search Google for the company name and “affiliates” or “affiliate program”. You may be surprised to see how many online stores run affiliate programs. Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Chewie – they all have them.

Step 6: Monetize your posts and pages

monetize-blog-postsOnce you have signed up for an affiliate program, it’s time to monetize the content on your blog. How you add links to your affiliate products depends on what affiliate programs you use.

Since the Amazon Associate’s program is one of the easiest and best for new affiliates to start with, we’ll discuss a few ways to add Amazon affiliate links to your WordPress website or blog.

Amazon provides you with a plain text affiliate link and image links with their SiteStripe bar. You just visit the website when logged into your affiliate account, and you will see the bar at the top of the screen where you can grab your affiliate link.

Amazon also provides some product widgets and banners, but these tend to not convert very well and often do not look very good.

What is a better alternative to Amazon’s SiteStripe links?

Amazon affiliate WordPress plugins are a great alternative. They have a range of different features. They can help you earn more faster.

We developed AmaLinks Pro exactly for this.

We have a wide array of features that can help you earn more faster. Did you know that new Amazon affiliates do not get access to the Product Advertising API right away? That matters because most Amazon affiliate plugins require API access to work at all.

Not AmaLinks Pro.

Here are some of the product showcase boxes you can add to your posts and pages with AmaLinks Pro. Using product displays like these instead of plain text links can greatly increase your earnings.

amalinks-pro-showcase-simple

Our No-API mode is perfect for Amazon affiliates without API access. You can use it to add beautiful high-converting product showcase boxes, product comparison tables, and more without the API. Then when you do get access, you can add your API keys and now search Amazon for products to promote right within your WordPress dashboard!

Not only that but with an active API connection, you can even pull up-to-date prices and the Amazon Prime status. This is great information to show to your website visitors to entice them to click over to learn more, and your affiliate cookie is set.

Step 7: Optimize everything to convert clicks into sales

Most likely, your content is not as great as you think it is, and it’s not your fault. When you first publish your content, you do not know how it will be received by your audience and by the search engines, namely Google. You have to publish it, collect data about how well it is being consumed by your audience, and make regular small adjustments. This is called optimizing. Everything needs to be optimized. Content optimization. Search engine optimization. Conversion optimization. Performance optimization. Image optimization.

That’s just to name a few. Do not let it overwhelm you though, the idea is that you can pick away at it, making regular small optimizations, and they will compound over time until you are successful.

Getting Started Guide: Conclusion

If you follow that basic process, you will be making a huge step in the right direction, and be well on your way to earning money with affiliate marketing as soon and as much as possible. Affiliate marketing is a fun exciting industry, and not without its dark side. Be careful as there are many less than reputable scammers just looking to take your money. Always do your own due diligence. Make smart decisions, not fast decisions.

Eventually, you will learn 80% of what you need to know to be successful and will develop a complete view of what affiliate marketing is and can be. Then you will be able to sort out the scammers from the real people who really do only want to help. We are out there.

Affiliate Marketing Example Websites

Okay. To give you some inspiration, let’s take a look at 3 fantastic affiliate marketing website examples. These have been chosen to inspire and inform, showcasing affiliate marketing for beginners in some real-life examples.

Pressure Washer Reviewer

pressurewasherreviewer

I’m based in the UK and came across Pressure Washer Reviewer whilst searching for, yep, you guessed it, a pressure washer!

I was initially impressed with the website design, and, as I read some of the reviews it became clear that a lot of research had gone into the well-written content. These factors made me feel that I could trust the site, which, as I’ll come onto a little later, is absolutely vital for the success of an affiliate marketing website.

Although I haven’t bought a pressure washer yet, I’ve bookmarked this guide and will go back to it when I make the purchase soon. It’s a great example of a round-up review post that pre-sells the products very well.

HomeGrounds

homegrounds affiliate marketing website example

A treasure trove for coffee lovers, HomeGrounds has carved for itself a beautiful corner of the online coffee niche. I’m in the market for a stove-top espresso maker, and this guide is so useful in answering the questions I had that I’ll definitely be referring to it again to make my purchase once I’ve finally decided which one to buy.

Own the Yard

own the yard affiliate marketing example website

owntheyard.com is a website built by affiliate marketing expert Spencer Haws. Launched in September 2018, the site now earns in excess of $2500 per month. Admittedly, Spencer spent a lot of money outsourcing much of the work, but owntheyard.com really does showcase what an affiliate website can generate and it’s a great example of affiliate marketing for beginners to draw inspiration from.

As you can see from these three examples, the diversity of niches and the potential to create valuable content for those audiences is vast.

Feeling fired up? Wondering how to get started? Read on…

amalinks pro table builder add-on

How AmaLinks Pro Can Help Your Affiliate Earnings To Grow, Fast.

If you’re going to spend a stack of hours each week creating content for your site, you need that content to work as hard as possible to generate money. As such, any money you spend on tools that help you to increase your click-through rate and, by turn, your conversion rate should be seen as an investment, rather than a cost.

There are some elements of an affiliate marketing business that really are worth spending a little money on. Like keyword research that we mentioned earlier, investing a little in a tool that can significantly increase your click-through rate (CTR) will both catapult your profits and pay for itself many times over.

amalinkspro-product-showcases-increase-conversions

Let’s take a very basic example.

Let’s say one of your pages is getting 100 views per month. Of those 100 views, 10 of those readers click through to the vendor.

And of those 10 who click through, one of those people buys the product.

This gives you a conversion rate of 1%.

If you can boost that middle number of 10 so that 20 of those initial 100 to click through, you stand a good chance of doubling your conversion rate to 2%. Effectively doubling your money.

Offering a suite of beautiful product showcase boxes, comparison tables, and fully customizable call-to-action (CTA) buttons, AmaLinks Pro is designed to help in just this way.

And recent findings (here, here, and here) prove that it really does work, with one website owner reporting an increase in CTR of a staggering 386%!

To see AmaLinks Pro in action, head over to our demo page. For a deeper look at how AmaLinks Pro can genuinely help you to build your affiliate marketing business, check out the full features here.

Now Is The Time To Start…

I truly hope you’ve found this post useful in explaining affiliate marketing for total beginners. Now really is a great time to start to build an extra income stream for you and your family. Whether you are a hobby blogger or just looking for a new hobby, affiliate marketing is fun and exciting. And who doesn’t want extra money every month?

So go ahead and get started. If not now, then when? Follow these steps and you’ll be on the right track.

Questions?

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