Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Start, Earn and Grow?

If you are here searching for an affiliate marketing for beginners guide, then you know what the term means for sure. It is also possible that you already know about the popular affiliate marketers. Affiliate marketing is the most popular and highest yielding online money making marketing strategy.

I have used all the money making strategies possible and to tell you a fact, Affiliates have been the highest yielding ones. If done properly, you won’t even need to apply for Adsense. It has the highest ROI (returns on investment) among all money making strategies.

Not just this, affiliate marketing is easiest to learn and work upon. You can quickly learn and with some luck you can start making huge money.

Before I proceed with this starter guide on affiliate marketing for beginners, let’s just revise some basics.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Computer, website, e-mail, affiliate marketing for beginners

I have discussed affiliate marketing in brief in several articles in the past. But to summarize everything in one paragraph,

Affiliate marketing is an online marketing practice in which a business rewards its affiliates when they successfully refer customers to its products.

Affiliate marketing is #3 on the list of 20 best ways to make money online.

In affiliate marketing, you can either be a business called merchant, a commission-based platform or network called affiliate network or an affiliate or publisher. For example, I am an affiliate of WP Rocket (merchant) which uses ShareASale (an affiliate network) to make sales.

How does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Let’s assume you register yourself with an Affiliate Network and decide to promote a product which is, say, a Coffee Maker. You promote it with various means like creating websites, posts on your site, PPC advertising, banners and text ads on social networking sites. Now someone clicks on those affiliate links and buys one or more products. Then that will be called a sale through your affiliate link. Once done successfully you will get the commission as fixed by that merchant.

This commission sometimes goes up to 30% to 50% of total sales value, so if you are able to sell a stuff of $100 then you can easily earn a good amount of $30 to $50 per sale as your affiliate commission, happy, the only thing you need to know is how to market that product. Some affiliates like SEMrush offer up to $200 per sale as well.

The basic concept of affiliate marketing is simple to explain. If you have a website, blog, etc., you would host links, banners, or buttons on the site promoting a retail seller. When these ads are clicked on and a purchase is made, you will get a small commission for the sale. Consider the process to be much of a numbers game. The more people that visit the site, the greater the odds of higher click throughs. This, in turn, means you will experience greater amounts of commissions.

Before You Start

I know the eyeballs of some of you who just learned about affiliate marketing are twinkling, yes, this is what you want to do, but hold on, there are a few other things you must understand about affiliate marketing before jumping into it. After all, this post is titled Affiliate Marketing for Beginners for a reason.

  • It’s not that easy as it seems
  • It’s not about spamming people with your affiliate links;

Lots of starters found it to be the easiest way to make money online, they get themselves registered with a couple of affiliate networks promoting a couple of products and soon find it hard to make any sales and give up.

Actually the product you choose and the community in which you promote your affiliate product are the two very important factor. Secondly it’s not about continuing to throw affiliate links at your friends/subscribers, it could be of some value addition and you need to find your customers and then sell them the goods and stuff they want.

You must select affiliate networks that are worth selling and investing your time for. Let’s understand what affiliate networks are and what you should consider while making a selection.

Introduction to Affiliate Networks

Affiliate Networks are a bridge between Merchants and Publishers. In affiliate marketing you just need to promote products and not create your own products. So you need a platform where you meet merchants and select products which you want to promote.

Before signing up to any of the affiliate networks, you can check up on the following things:

  • How good is their support service? If you need to ask any question, are they available to resolve your quarries via email, live chat or by any other way?
  • What sort of information is available in the Knowledge Base or FAQ section? Sometimes you need to learn and earn together.
  • All leading Affiliate Networks now assign a specific Affiliate Manager to each individual Affiliate who joins their network, check out if that is there.
  • Who is promoting that Affiliate Network? Are there any big names pushing it up? This shows how popular that network is among the big boys of the affiliate marketing industry.

Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms

Based on my experience, I recommend the following affiliate networks to join:

  1. ShareASale
  2. Commission Junction
  3. Click Bank
  4. Impact

After signing up with any one of the above affiliate networks, navigate your admin area to get familiar with the reporting functions and try to find out which sort of offers are performing best and which offers are currently available to you. You need to know the pricing model on which you will get paid.

You must also be familiar with the payment method a merchant chooses to pay you for your affiliate efforts;

In Pay Per Impression (CPM) you will get paid for every 1000 Impressions of your merchants advertisement. say the CPM rate is $0.25 and advertisement on your site gets 3000 impressions then you will receive a commission of 1000 x 0.25.

At the Pay Per Click (PPC) rate, you will get paid for every single click that an affiliate advertisement gets. a very simple and straight forward method of payment.

In the Pay Per Sale method, you get commission when visitors click on your affiliate link to land on merchant’s site and buy products. You will only get paid for the actual sale you made through your affiliate link. Well, this is the most commonly used method as every merchant is interested in sale. more then 70% price models are based on the Pay Per Sale method.

Hope by now you have understood affiliate marketing and about affiliate networks and various pricing methods.


How To Promote Affiliates?

Here is a brief list of methods generally used to promote an affiliate product:

Blog

If you are a blogger then you can use your blog as a platform to promote your affiliate products related to your blog niche. For example, if you are a tech blogger who writes about the latest digital technology then you can easily promote digital products by endorsing them in articles. Many bloggers who blog about blogging tips and latest development in web 2.0 often promote products related to web hosting, WordPress plugins, themes, website templates, and other stuff related to website building or blogging.

Email Marketing

This is by far the best method that works for affiliate product promotions, provided you have a large list of subscribers. You can categorize your list on the basis of subscriber interest and send them affiliate’s promotional offers. When they click on the affiliate links in the emails and then buy those affiliate products with your affiliate link, you will get paid commissions. Collecting and establishing a huge subscriber base is a difficult task. An affiliate with a large email subscriber list base rakes in millions of dollars by simply writing promotional and effective copies to sell affiliate products to their subscribers.

Niche websites

If you are a Tech or Education blogger who knows that a particular affiliate network is showing a particular Coffee Maker as a hot selling product then what would you do? You simply cannot write a post about coffee makers on your tech/education blog. You can rather create a niche website on coffee makers, fill that website with articles about the history of coffee, what sort of coffee is available in different countries, how people cultivate coffee, the latest techniques added in coffee making and then write in detail about your affiliate product, a Coffee Maker.

The best thing about niche sites is that you don’t need to update it daily as you do in the case of your blog. You need to devote your time once while creating it, filling it with necessary keywords and then all you need is to gain traffic to these sites. You have to do a thorough study of competitive keywords and market your affiliate products.

PPC Search Engines advertising

For more competitive keywords, you can invest some money in Google Ads to gain targeted traffic to your pages. You will need to spend some money creating a PPC campaign for your affiliate product to advertise it through paid search.

In this, you bid for certain keywords related to your affiliate products and your pages appear in the sponsored link area when someone searches for a bid keyword. If they click on your PPC ad you will get paid after a successful sale.

Social Networking

Affiliates use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. to promote affiliate products. Facebook ads have proven to be a better source for affiliates to rake in huge affiliate money. You must have noticed various affiliates tweeting about products with their affiliate links. You will also find various Facebook groups promoting their affiliates. OptinMonster has an article on how to use Social Networks to do Affiliate Marketing. Have a read here.

Forum

I have never used this method to promote affiliate products, but forums provide you with better opportunities to promote affiliate offers. People search and ask in discussion forums about their needs for a particular product.

So now we have a better understanding about how to promote affiliate offers using various methods. You can use one or all, whichever suits you better.

Is Affiliate Marketing Right for me?

Is affiliate marketing worth the effort to get involved with? Everyone will have a different answer to this question based on their experiences. However, it is also true that there are people who make millions of dollars using Affiliate Marketing — and then there are some who make nothing.

There are many values and benefits to working with affiliate marketing networks and merchants. As I said earlier, affiliate marketing is an easy venture to launch, it is not complicated to manage, and with the right effort, it can reap huge rewards.

How to be Successful in Affiliate Marketing?

Being successful with affiliate marketing is not easy. Sure, the concept of affiliate marketing is easy. That is a good thing. However, like any legitimate business, a lot of legwork needs to be employed. When working with a website, first and foremost, you need a website and blog that is visually impressive to visitors and contains valuable and worthwhile content. Spam blogs and websites designed to promote affiliate marketing ads are unlikely to be successful.

Also, you will need to generate traffic and a lot of it since conversion rates will be in the 1-2% range. That means only 1-2% of your visitors will actually click through your affiliate links so you need to really boost traffic. 1-2% of 100,000 is a lot more than 1-2% of 1,000.

You definitely need to match the affiliate programs you select with the content and theme of your website. This is because you want to offer advertisements that will prove appealing to those that visit the site. For example, if you have a sports blog you will want sports and “guy related” affiliate banners. Incongruities between the ads and the content will sink the whole venture.

Experiment with your business

There is no shortcut to success and the same is true in the case of Affiliate Marketing. If your earlier strategies aren’t working, try a new one. If one niche isn’t working out for you, go for three or four niches or even a dozen. Experimentation is the only thing that can help your failing affiliate business. These kind of things are usually the most common ones and should always be in your plans. Use apps, WordPress plugins, or whatever you find — just try everything you can.

Psst, here is a list of the best Amazon Affiliate Plugins for WordPress.

Offer Something in Return

You should look for new ways to advertise, even if you are selling the same niche products. Try to offer your readers something exclusive. I will take a case study of John Chow. John Chow is an affiliate of HostGator. He provides free WordPress website installation for any purchases that you make using his referral link. You might wonder why he does this?

There are some affiliates that pay way more than you can imagine. HostGator offers $65 to $120 per sale to its affiliates. Installing WordPress on any purchase will be a matter of just a few minutes. I guess, for a worth of $30 of time John Chow earns $120: a net profit of $90 per sale. Since John is an acclaimed WP expert and buyers are getting more than what they wished for, they opt for it.

John has been extremely successful with this and even HostGator approves these kinds of initiatives.

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So here is what you can do. Try provoking your readers with something that is free. If they buy something using your referral links, provide them with something, like a free e-book or something like that.

This will entice readers to go for your referral. I have not analyzed the data but one of the top affiliate experts in India, Siddharth Sharma, says that this increases the chance of purchases by up to 3 times. He adds,

This will not only add to your income but will also boost your website’s traffic as the buyers will visit your site again and again. For some products, this may be a gray area, but if you are promoting SEMrush and HostGator like products where the commissions are very high, you can surely give your readers something to cherish.

Siddharth Sharma aka Sanu Siddharth

Show discounts

Affiliate marketing is different for different people. It is full of endless tricks that you can use to increase your sales. One such trick is to find and place offers with the highest discounts. People love discounts. If a product is priced originally at $999 but is selling at $199, then that will sell better if a product that was originally priced at $399 and now being sold at $199. The percentage discount matters. So, if you are trying to promote an affiliate product, try to show the highest discount possible — no matter what the original price is.

Sell Cheaper Items

One more trick is to sell cheaper products. Earphones will sell easier than mobile phones. Cheaper products have higher conversion and lowest chances of product order cancelations. With more sales, you can earn higher. This is somehow the core concept of Amazon Affiliate Marketing. I sold over 1100 under $9 items this Black Friday. As you are just a blogger and not a celebrity — people can only take your words for $9 to $90 and not for $900. Even if you are a pro-pro-blogger, you’re not IGN or CNET(even these sites fail to sell high), if you are thinking high of yourself.

Promote with Context

I suggest adding product reviews and personal opinions in articles related to affiliate products. More information will help your readers decide whether or not to buy the specific products. If you are really willing to sell a product in high quantity, make sure to shower with all the praises you have.

Here is an example of a successful affiliate post with context that made me over 1000 dollars this holiday season.

Review Products to Sell Better

I have written an article on how to write better product reviews. You can refer to this article to learn how to really write reviews for your affiliate products. Better writers sell better products using their reviews. If you don’t have that writing power, try hiring a content marketing or affiliate marketing agency.

Here is the WP Rocket Review that has made me more than a dozen sales since I wrote this.

Agencies can help you quickly start your affiliate business. Additionally, you can ask an expert like me. If you have questions, just use the comment form and I will be more than happy to answer your queries.

Difficulty Levels

Many are asking, is all this a difficult process? Once again, affiliate marketing is extremely simple in concept, theory, and even execution. It has not been designed to be overly difficult. That is why it remains so greatly popular. However, the only way you are going to be successful is if you perform daily effort to make your website as best as it can be and drive traffic to the site. If you try to take shortcuts or do not put the needed effort into the process, you will not make any money with it. It is as simple as that.

Legitimate Paths to Success

The most legitimate paths to success entail signing on with reliable, established affiliate marketing programs while also perennially educating yourself about the industry (this blog is a great resource). Never fall behind or become lax. Doing so will undermine your success potential more than anything else.

The world of affiliate marketing is one that presents the opportunity for great rewards. Those that hope to amass great fortunes definitely have the potential to do so. The key here is to put in the right effort and commitment. As the old saying goes, you get out of this what you put into it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need to create products to enter into the affiliate marketing business?

No, you don’t need to, all you have to do is to register yourself with some merchants, service providers or affiliate networks and choose the product of your interest or which you think is potential for promoting; using various tools and methods which have been explained in this post.

Do I need to invest some money to get started in affiliate marketing?

I will not say that affiliate marketing costs nothing as everything has an opportunity cost, but for jumping into affiliate marketing you don’t need to sell your house, don’t even need a website or blog for that matter.

Minimum Investment Required

  • If you wish to promote affiliate products through a static website or blog – the cost for a domain name registration and hosting charges, which comes to approximately $70 ($10 for domain + approximately $60 for hosting space ).
  • If you wish to promote your affiliate marketing products with email campaign promotion all you need to spend is the email marketing service cost. Here is the guide to Email Marketing for beginners.
  • If you promote products through Social networking sites then you already know that social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook cost nothing but take lots of your time. This is still worth your time.
  • Forum posting costs nothing but some forums require you to pay a membership fee before posting affiliate promotion threads.
  • If you really want to do big in affiliate marketing and are eyeing on PPC marketing for your affiliate products then surely you need to spend a good amount to get started. People blow up a part of their hard-earned investment in learning it so it’s not advisable to go for PPC until you learn the art of doing it.

This article is now available in an improved PDF ebook format! Download it here

Best Affiliate Marketing Courses

If you are willing to take your affiliate marketing skills to a new level, here are some courses that I recommend:

  1. Email & Affiliate Marketing Mastermind
  2. Affiliate Marketing Course (Free) – 7 Steps To Become An Affiliate (johanneslarsson.com)
  3. Beginner Affiliate Marketing To Start In 1 Day – For 2021 | Udemy
  4. Affiliate Marketing Foundations (lynda.com)
  5. The Authority Site System (authorityhacker.com)
  6. Pathway to Passive  | Affilorama

That’s all for now. Check out my other guides.

Gaurav Tiwari

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