What is affiliate marketing? How much money do affiliate marketers make? Here’s a tremendous post today which will dive deep into the affiliate marketing basics for beginners. By the end of this post, you’ll understand exactly how to make money with affiliate marketing.
You wake up in the morning on your own terms — no alarm clock.
You open your phone and check your email. While you were asleep, you made a handful of sales.
This is the daily reality for a lot of affiliate marketers out there. In fact, I’m making over $8000 every month from this very site!
And it could be your reality too.
Affiliate marketing can be not only lucrative but also a great way to earn passive income with your website.
But, with so much information out there, it can be challenging to figure out how to start affiliate marketing. That’s why I created this guide. Soon you’ll understand exactly how to make money with affiliate marketing.
Below we’ll dive deep into the affiliate marketing basics for beginners. By the end of this post, you’ll know how to do the following things:
- Choose a niche that’ll help you make money faster
- Build out a website that’s ready to monetize from day one
- Learn how affiliate marketing for beginners works
- Find quality affiliate programs with high payouts
- How to monitor and analyze your affiliate results for more revenue
- How to maximize your affiliate payouts and set yourself up for success in the long-term
Let’s jump in, so you can start earning affiliate income!
What is Affiliate Marketing?
You’ve heard the term affiliate marketing thrown around, but what does it actually mean? And wondering how affiliate marketing works?
With affiliate marketing, you promote other people’s products or services, and you receive an affiliate commission when they decide to buy.
Basically, you sign up for an affiliate program, and you’ll have a unique link that you insert into your site. When a visitor clicks this link and goes to your partner site it’ll activate a tracking cookie, so you’ll be rewarded for the sale.
The process is pretty straightforward and simple, but to truly succeed as an affiliate marketer, it takes a ton of work and careful planning.
After all, making money with affiliate marketing isn’t as simple as throwing up a couple of links and watching the commissions roll in. It takes careful planning, well-written content, and consistent work.
Types of Affiliate Marketing
When you sign up for an affiliate program (we dive deep into this below), you’ll receive a unique tracking link. This is how sales are measured, and you can ensure you get paid the proper amount.
However, you can also make money with affiliate marketing even without a customer buying a product.
Here are the three most common types of affiliate payouts:
- Pay Per Sale. Here you make money once they’re complete a purchase. Usually, it’s a flat rate, a percentage of the sale, or a percentage of recurring commissions.
- Pay Per Click. Here you make money just by referring traffic to a partner website.
- Pay Per Lead. Here you’ll make money once you send a lead to a partner site, and they enter their contact information.
The type of affiliate marketing you implement on your site will depend upon the niche you’re in, and the kind of available affiliate programs.
For example, in the technology and online business space, most of the affiliate programs are pay per sale, with either a flat-rate or recurring commission. Down the road, you can even negotiate with affiliate marketing managers for a higher commission.
While, if you have a site in the local lead gen business. Like a site that’s focused on solar panel installations, or home security systems, then you may be getting paid per lead.
How Much Can an Affiliate Website Make?
By now, you’re probably wondering, how much do marketers make who are selling affiliate products?
Well, there is no set amount, and the ranges vary widely.
Mostly it depends on three different factors:
- The industry. Some industries will pay more than others. For example, a lot of SaaS companies will have payouts that range up to 40% of the sale. While other industries might only offer 10% of the sale price.
- The price of the product. Usually, the higher the price of a product, the lower the commission rate will be. For example, Bob’s Watches has an affiliate payout of 10%, but the average sale price is typically over $8,000. Usually, digital goods and software pay higher commissions too.
- The affiliate payouts. The final factor is how much you’ll make per sale. These rates are set by whatever company you partner with. But, the more you make per transaction, the easier it’ll be to generate more revenue.
Here are some examples of successful affiliate sites:
Camper Report reviews and recommends RV and camper related products, and currently generates over six-figures per year.
Expert Photography makes well into the 7-figure range, and a big proportion of that income comes from affiliate sales.
Or, how about The Points Guy, which makes a considerable income via travel and credit card affiliate programs.
By now you should be excited about the potential that affiliate marketing holds and are ready to start building your site.
How to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing
To succeed with affiliate marketing, you need to lay the foundation for success.
And we’re not talking about your mindset (although that is important).
We’re talking about your website.
Below you’ll learn the six things you need to do if you want to make money as an affiliate marketer. Skip any of these steps, and you’ll be making your life much more difficult.
1. Find a Lucrative Niche
Before you get started with affiliate marketing, you’ll need to choose a profitable niche.
Not every niche can be monetized via affiliate marketing. So, if you choose the wrong niche, then you’ll need to explore alternative options to monetize your website.
Your niche will make it much easier to create content and grow your site. It’ll give you a way to differentiate yourself from other sites in your space and give readers a reason to keep coming back.
The moment a visitor lands on your site, they should be able to determine what your site is about, the types of topics you write about, and how you can meet their needs.
With that being said, here’s how you can find the perfect niche for you:
Consider Your Passion, Skills, and Interests
Making money online is a long-term game. If you work hard, you might be able to generate affiliate income within six months. But, for most website owners, it’ll take longer than this.
For this reason, you’ll need to be passionate about your niche. Your passion and commitment are what will help you keep going when times get tough.
Here are some questions to ask to help uncover your passion:
- What types of magazines and books do you read for pleasure?
- What types of blogs are you excited to read every week?
- Do you have any email newsletters you read that you’re eager to open?
- What hobbies do you find yourself researching and buying products in?
Is There Existing Demand in the Niche?
Even if you’re super passionate about a niche, there’s no point in starting an affiliate blog if you can’t monetize it.
You want to find a niche that has overlap between what you’re passionate about, and what can make you money.
Here are a few ways to determine if the market is large enough and there’s money to be made in the niche:
- Are there multiple large-scale print magazines in your niche?
- Are there books in the Amazon marketplace that sell well?
- Is there a handful of Udemy courses dedicated to your niche?
- Can you name (or find) several high traffic blogs in your space?
Are There Affiliate Programs Available?
Finally, you’ll want to do some research to figure out if there are affiliate programs within your niche. You’ll be able to monetize almost any niche with display ads, but the real money online comes from affiliate sales, so you’ll want to ensure there are a handful of products you can promote.
We dive more into affiliate program analysis, and joining affiliate programs below. But, before you move forward you’ll want to ensure there are a handful of relevant products.
Here are a few places you’ll want to browse for affiliate programs/products:
You can also Google “your niche + affiliate program” to uncover additional affiliate programs and potential products to sell.
2. Build a Monetized Site From Day One
Once you’ve landed on a niche that you’re excited about and has profit potential, it’s time to start building your site.
The main things you’ll need are a hosting account and a domain name. Plus, a quality blogging platform behind you. To cut your search short, WordPress is what you should absolutely be using to build out your affiliate site.
Here are a few reasons why:
- WordPress powers over ⅓ of the internet and it built for sites with a lot of content
- There are a variety of useful plugins that can help you monetize your site, find affiliate products, manage affiliate links, and more
- The theme library is massive, so you can find the perfect theme for your affiliate site.
- There’s also a huge plugin library full of useful plugins that’ll help you with SEO, site speed, and more.
Regarding your host and domain name, there are a variety of great beginners hosts out there. But, if you’re looking to get started with a beginner-friendly host that supports WordPress, then go with Bluehost.
Both of these hosts also have a free domain for a year when you sign up. Plus, one-click WordPress install, so you can get your site online all within a single afternoon.
Once you’ve installed WordPress, you’ll need a quality WordPress theme. There are thousands of different themes available, but here are a few resources worth exploring:
There are also a handful of affiliate marketing plugins that’ll make it that much easier to run your affiliate marketing site:
You don’t need to install every plugin above, but browse through their feature lists to find the best plugin for your new site.
3. Find the Right Affiliate Products to Promote
When it comes to promoting affiliate products, not just any product will do. You’ll want to choose products that have a decent commission and are known to sell well.
There’s no point in recommending an affiliate product if it hasn’t been proven to convert. Of course, you won’t know for sure if a product will generate revenue until you’re running traffic to it, but there are a few ways to find products that are proven to sell.
1. Analyze the Amazon Page
If you’re going to become an Amazon affiliate, then you’ll want to ensure that you can promote products that are currently selling pretty well. Even though the commissions offered through Amazon are much lower, you can still build a highly profitable Amazon affiliate site.
For example, the site 10 Beasts was able to generate six-figures in its first 8 months online, mostly through the Amazon affiliate program.
No matter your niche, you’ll be able to uncover some products that are worth promoting.
For example, let’s say you’re creating a blog about backpacking, camping, and hiking. Fire up Amazon, and we’ll see what kind of products we can promote.
Here’s an example of a product that’s selling well and at a reasonable price:
With over 7,000 reviews and ranking #1 in the camping tents section, we know this product is selling well.
Keep poking around your desired niche and make sure there’s a handful of related products you can promote.
2. Check out Clickbank Gravity
Another way to check the profit viability of your niche is to head over to Clickbank. Clickbank is an affiliate marketplace for digital products.
Once you’re on the site, find your chosen niche. In this case, let’s say we’re in the health and fitness niche.
What we’re looking for are products that have a high ‘Gravity’ score (this tells you how well the product is selling) and a solid income per sale price. If you find a handful of products that fit these metrics and will integrate with your content, then you’ve got a solid niche.
3. Mine Keyword Data
You can analyze keyword data to see if there’s actual interest in a product you want to promote or write an article about. This won’t tell you how well the product converts, but it will show you if people are searching for the product.
To do this, fire up your favorite keyword tool and type in the product name or a related keyword.
In this case, we’re using the free tool UberSuggest:
As you can see from the image above, the keyword “best 3d printer” has decent keyword volume, along with traffic from additional buyer-related phrases, like “best 3d printer under 500” and “best 3d printer cheap”.
4. Join High-Paying Affiliate Networks
There are all kinds of affiliate networks and affiliate programs out there. But, if you’re looking to make the most money out of the gate, then it makes sense to join affiliate programs that have a high payout.
There are probably thousands of different affiliate programs out there. But, some offer better products and services with higher-paying commissions than others.
Although these high-paying affiliate marketing programs might not be the perfect fit for your niche they’re worth mentioning nonetheless:
- Bluehost. One time payouts start at $65, with a 45-day cookie window.
- Hostinger. Affiliates can earn between $60 to $150 per sale.
- BigCommerce. An eCommerce platform that offers 200% payouts on the sale.
- Weebly. A website builder that offers a 30% recurring commission.
- TripAdvisor. A travel site with a 50% commission and 14-day cookie.
- Ace Fitness. A fitness site that offers an 8% commission on total sales.
- Buzzsprout. A podcast host that offers a 20% recurring payout.
- Thinkific. An online course platform that offers a 20% recurring payout.
Beyond these affiliate programs here are some of the best affiliate marketing programs that are worth joining:
You can also uncover additional affiliate programs by searching for “your niche + affiliate program.” For example, in the backpacking example above, we could also sign up for affiliate programs from major retailers like REI and Patagonia, both of which are available through AvantLink.
5. Create Epic Well-Written Content
Now that you’ve built your site and know what types of products you’re going to promote, it’s time to start creating content.
Creating affiliate content is going to be a little different than a standard blog post. The ultimate goal of affiliate-style content is to encourage your reader to click through to the product or service you’re promoting.
There are a few main types of affiliate content you’ll be creating:
Standard Product Review
With review-style content, your visitor is in the research phase. They’re still not sure if they’re ready to buy, but they’re gathering information about the product or software to see if it’s right for them.
This is educational type content, but will also highlight pertinent information that may sway the reader one way or another.
For example, here’s a Bluehost hosting review right here on this site:
Product Comparison Post
A comparison post will compare the pros and cons of two different products. When you’re creating this style of content, your goal is to illuminate the advantages and disadvantages of certain products, so your visitor can choose between the two.
This can be a very lucrative content type. Your visitor is just about ready to buy, and they’ve narrowed their choice down to two options.
It’s your job to show them which option is best for their needs.
Here’s an example of a comparison post that compares two different email marketing softwares:
Best Of Roundup Posts
Roundup posts are the typical “Best Cheap Wireless Routers” posts you’ll find online. This style of post can be incredibly profitable as the keywords this type of posts target are very buyer oriented.
When a visitor is searching for “best backpacking backpacks,” “best running shoes,” or “best accounting software,” they’re in the research phase and are very close to actually buying something.
No matter your niche, you’ll be able to find a handful of products that you can include in a roundup-style affiliate post.
Here’s an example of a best backpacking tents roundup post:
You can insert affiliate links into content that’s not solely focused on reviewing a product or service. For example, if you’re creating a how-to post and you utilize specific tools or products to get the job done, then you can include affiliate links here too.
For example, in our How to Start a Blog post you’ll find a few affiliate links:
6. Monitor and Track Your Success
Once you’ve created your affiliate content, placed your links, and are starting to get traffic it’s time to monitor how your affiliate sales are going.
By monitoring your links and seeing what’s converting the best you’ll be able to better optimize your content and make more money.
With the right data you’ll be able to optimize your content around the affiliate products that are actually selling and bringing your site revenue.
One of the best ways to do this is with the WordPress plugin, Thirsty Affiliates.
This plugin does a lot of things, but it also gives you useful link data so you can see the number of clicks that each link generates and correlate that with the total number of sales.
This will tell you which affiliate programs are converting the best and that your audience is most likely to purchase.
How to Make the Most Money With Affiliate Marketing
By implementing all of the above tips you’ll be on your way towards creating an affiliate site that generates a great income.
The tips below will help you achieve long-term success, while helping you generate affiliate income as fast as possible.
1. Play the Long-Term Game
The first words of wisdom here are to be patient. We all want to put up a website and start making money that same day. But, it doesn’t work that way.
You need to build authority and build trust in the eyes of Google (if you want your site to rank), and this takes time.
A lot of people online sell the idea of overnight success, but this is usually far from reality. When you see someone succeed online it’s the result of years of consistent work.
If you do everything above and lay the foundation for success, then it’s only a matter of time until your site starts to generate a full-time income.
2. Choose High Paying Affiliate Programs
We mentioned this above, but it’s easier to make money with high-paying affiliate programs, compared to ones with lower fees.
Think about it, when you’re just starting out, your traffic levels will be lower. So, you’re going to be targeting less competitive keywords and probably receive less traffic.
If you’re getting less traffic, then you’ll still want to profit, so find higher paying affiliate programs that align with your content. Sure, you’ll be sending less referral traffic overall, but you can still make decent money since the payouts are higher.
3. Go for Targeted Traffic
When you’re building your first affiliate site and doing keyword research, you’ll probably come across some high volume keywords.
You think, “If I could only rank for that, I’d be set.” Although those traffic numbers would be nice, ranking for keywords like that might not bring you that much money.
When it comes to affiliate content, a lot of the money is made with buyer-oriented keywords. These are keywords like:
- ”blendtec 575 blender reviews”
- ”best osprey backpack for travel”
- ”best hosting for podcast”
- ”ahrefs vs semrush”
When someone types these into Google and comes across your site, they’re in a buying mood. They’re in the product research and potentially purchasing stage. This means they’re much more likely to read your post, click your affiliate link, and buy what you recommended.
Plus, keywords like these are long-tail, which means there will be less competition.
4. Grow Your Audience & Promote Yourself
The adage, “build it and they will come” couldn’t be more false. If you want to generate traffic for your site and make money with affiliate marketing, then you need to put in the work.
This means creating high-quality content that’s better than what’s currently ranking. It means optimizing your site, so the search engines know what your site is about. Means growing your social media presence and audience across multiple networks. It means learning about SEO to rank your content higher in the search engines.
This post is just the beginning of your path as a successful affiliate.
If you’re looking to generate more traffic, grow your social media, and online authority, then check out some of the other articles on this site:
- How to Start a Blog
- 10 Smart New Strategies to Build High-Quality Backlinks in 2020
- 11 Proven Strategies to Get 1000+ Visitors Per Day
- 7 Ways to Promote Your E-commerce Product without Being Salesy
In Closing: Becoming a Wealthy Affiliate Marketer
Making money as an affiliate is definitely possible. It’s very possible to earn a full-time living from affiliate marketing.
In fact, I make over $8000 every single month from this site alone. All from the power of affiliate marketing!
Hopefully, this how to make money with affiliate marketing for beginners guide has inspired you to take action and build your first affiliate site.
Your dreams of a full-time passive income can become a reality.
All you need to do is follow the steps above, and take consistent action.