Have you heard about this thing called Affiliate Marketing?
You likely came across the online business method by reading a favorite blog. Maybe you noticed someone talk about it in a Facebook group. Or, heard it mentioned by a favorite YouTube vlogger.
This post covers everything affiliate marketing.
By its end, you’ll have a firm understand about what it is and how so many are using this online business opportunity to make real money online.
Our Affiliate Marketing Guide: A Free, Step-by-Step for Beginners
Affiliate marketing has a long history dating all the way back to 1989!
Before the Web, people were doing some form of affiliate marketing when they received compensation for their referrals. But, this business opportunity really came around when William J. Tobin setup the first affiliate program on the Net.
Not long after came wildly-popular affiliate programs like Amazon Associates. And, some of the best affiliate networks still going today, CJ Affiliate and Clickbank.
Today, affiliate marketing powers 16% of all e-commerce sales.
Want to get in on this?
Let’s explore the affiliate marketing – by sharing the main steps giving you an awesome overview. And, a little encouragement to explore this amazing way to make money online.
1. Finding the Best Affiliate Marketing Niches for You
The basics of affiliate marketing are rooted in your niche selection.
Think of your niche as the unique market within a bigger market – for example:
- 80’s neon apparel vs clothing
- Gaming laptops vs computers
- Calico cats vs pets
This smaller selection means less competition from big brands having millions of dollars in research, resources, and, of course, advertising. Yes, there are fewer customers. But, there are billions of Web users meaning even the smallest niche has a great opportunity to make money.
What are some popular affiliate markets?
- Web Services
- Consumer Electronics
Each of these house affiliate niches within their industry and markets.
- Religious dating (Dating)
- Maternity pants (Clothing)
- Neon eyeliner (Makeup)
- Small business taxes (Legal)
- Video game streaming (Entertainment)
- Online data storage (Web Services)
- Gaming mice (Consumer Electronics)
There are millions of potential affiliate marketing business ideas when you explore the markets. Use our guide to finding a niche to explore the opportunities in the products, services, and brands you love.
2. Finding Affiliate Marketing Top Products and Promotional Ideas
The best part of affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to create a product.
You’re not confined to a single product catalog.
There are two items to consider, however, when picking from the seemingly unlimited options:
- Are there related products people normally buy?
- Are these products people are actually buying?
Answering the first question is the idea of a price point strategy.
Think of it like this:
- Low-price item
- Mid-price item
- High-price item
The mid-price item is your primary promotion as this satisfies criteria to maximize your affiliate commissions. This includes product price around $50 – $100 and lots of reviews. This mid-tier price returns ample revenue considering most programs pay 5-10% commissions.
The low and high-priced items are there for window shoppers and whales. These low-price items are the people not quite ready to invest fully. The high-end items are there for people with big bucks to spend.
How do you choose a product for your affiliate promotions?
Easy, you look at what’s selling (#2 of our questions).
Using Top Sellers Lists to Find Affiliate Products
One of the easiest ways to find products that sell is looking at top-sellers on platforms like:
…and other major ecommerce stores.
These top selling product lists tell you exactly what people are buying.
Plus, these online stores will share the related products people buy giving you plenty of extra ideas and promotions.
Using Google Trends to Find Affiliate Products
Alternatively, you can use Google Trends to find niches revealing which direction the market is going. If you notice, there’s an uptick in interest then you may be on the cusp of a prime niche! Compare this data with what’s selling, and you’ll have a good idea of which products best fit your affiliate promotions.
Using Keyword Research to Find Affiliate Products
Keyword research tools are a great way to find affiliate products using real-world data.
Load up a tool and plug in your niche – then look for the following:
- Monthly searches
If you notice a product or service receiving 100 – 1K, or 1K – 10K, with low competition then you may have found a great product to promote. You may only sell a few out of all those visits (conversion rates) but the low competition makes it easier to rank in Google!
Verifying Your Affiliate Product Selection
You’ll want to verify your selection before committing to content and promotion.
Verifying your affiliate products helps you understand:
- The target markets and who’s buying
- Who’s your competition and how they’re performing
- Whether people are really buying the item
This will save you a great deal of time and trouble.
It’s the idea that if you fail, then fail fast so you can start the next project. You don’t want to spend months creating content only later realizing no one wants to buy what you’re promoting!
3. Affiliate Marketing Research and Competitive Analysis
Put some time into the affiliate marketing research to succeed in this business opportunity.
Researching the competition is a shortcut to affiliate marketing – because:
- You’ll know what they’re promoting
- You’ll know what pages are working for them
- You’ll know how they’re spending money
- You’ll know how they reach their followers
It’s like being given the keys to the niche, a way to do affiliate marketing without spending money on expensive research and testing. They’ve done it for you!
Affiliate Marketing and Advertising
Do you notice your competition advertising for certain terms in Google and on social? If so, then you can bet what they’re promoting is making them money. They wouldn’t spend top dollar to advertise if it wasn’t, after all.
Try doing this:
- Search for your niche and products in Google and Social looking for ads
- Make a note about which brands/business are advertising
- Click on the ad and look at the page thinking “can I promote this item, too?”
This affiliate marketing hack even lets you pick up keywords and topics you may have missed. You could later use those headlines and topics when creating content.
Affiliate Marketing and Reddit
Affiliate marketing on Reddit is sort of a 50/50 because its community has a strong push-back with overly promotional people. Yet, it’s still there and it’s a treasure trove of great insights.
- Visit Reddit and using the navigation to find communities about your niche
- Sort the Subreddit community by ‘top posts’ looking for product mentions
- Use the search function to look for conversations about products and services
- Note which are the recurring themes and heavily mentioned items
There you go, you now have a small list of competitors and products worth promoting.
Affiliate Marketing and Email Marketing
Notice how most blogs have email newsletters? This is to keep people updated but also promote.
Do a deep dive into your favorite blog’s newsletters – and the competitions:
- Sign up using a new email
- Archive each post as they come through
- Review the sequence and what they talk about
- Take notes about what products are promoted
These affiliate marketing email examples become a great launching point for your own list. They also reveal those commonly promoted products you could promote, too!
Affiliate Marketing and Google
Use Google – search for:
- Your “niche” + “Income report” to find affiliates sharing what’s working for them
- Your “product” + “review” to find who’s ranking and how good their content is
Once you know the affiliate marketing basics, you start to notice how common it is. Hover over the links in these reviews and look for affiliate links. These look like theirsite.com/recommends/… giving you plenty of information to work with especially if you see the post shared thousands of times!
4. How to Find and Join Affiliate Programs
Okay, you have a great idea of the products you want to promote and the competition.
It’s time to join affiliate programs offering the products!
How to Find Affiliate Programs
There are thousands of affiliate programs, some better than others.
You can find affiliate programs by:
- Browsing affiliate program directories looking for your niche and hot brands
- Doing a Google search for “Brand” + “Affiliate Program”
- Looking at what the competition is promoting and seeking those same promotions
You could always email a company asking if they provide an affiliate program, too.
Affiliate Program Considerations
What are the main things to look for when joining affiliate programs?
- Commissions – How much you’ll get paid if someone buys the product/service
- Cookie Length – How long you have for someone to buy the product
- Support – If the program includes affiliate management to answer questions
- Creative – The banners and promotional materials
- Payment – How frequently they pay and by what means
Other considerations are how well the brand is known. And, if they have longevity (they’re not a fly-by-night operation that won’t be around in a year’s time).
You’ll want to check reviews, too, as this will help you avoid common affiliate scams.
Joining the Affiliate Program
Joining affiliate programs is the same as signing up for a social media or website account.
You’ll usually provide:
- Contact details
- Website details
Many affiliate programs are instant approval letting you grab affiliate links and begin promoting right away. Others have a vetting process taking a few days as they review your information.
You may need to input your tax information when joining, too. Else, set a reminder to include this once you’re given full access to the dashboard.
This is a great time to put together an affiliate disclaimer.
The disclaimer is a template you’ll use to notify people you’re receiving a commission. This could be a blurb at the start of your article. Or, a page somewhere on your site, usually the ‘Disclaimer’ page.
5. Build an Affiliate Marketing Website, Blog, or Store (Plus, How to Without a Website)
There are many affiliate marketing platforms you can use to promote products and services. Each has their pros and cons mainly with the price and time investment.
An affiliate blog, for example, may take months of hard work before you see high traffic and conversions. Doing affiliate marketing on Facebook as a promotional channel can show immediate results though doesn’t provide the longevity of creating content like reviews.
Despite all this, we recommend starting a blog (see our guide) for a few reasons:
- You control the brand and message
- The traffic comes to you instead of some other site
Think of it like building a business – this is your platform to create and share content, build a community, and really do whatever you please!
Let’s look at a few affiliate marketing examples of how you can get those products to your audience:
Affiliate blogging is taking your current blog and creating money-making pages.
These are pages on your blog like:
- Shopping lists
You’re including your affiliate links to the products and services on each of these posts or pages. It can become a recurring theme of you referencing the products when covering blog topics.
Affiliate Marketing with a Niche Site
Affiliate love building niche sites because they’re highly focused.
A niche site:
- Stay on topic and doesn’t drift into unrelated markets
- Lets you refine the content and optimize it like crazy
- Attracts the right kind of visitors to your site
Niche sites are perfect for someone wanting to create something without spending too much time. You can create 10 – 15 great content pieces, optimize it, and sit back. If the site takes off, then you can come back and start building it up!
You could realistically create a couple of these sites creating multiple income streams. Or, focus on building an authority niche site becoming a major player in the market.
Affiliate Marketing with an Online Store
Another popular option for affiliate marketing is building an Amazon affiliate store. Or, pairing up with an online retailer and essentially recreating a store using their products for your catalog.
This follows the same idea behind the niche site in which you:
- Create money-pages aka the product pages
- Offer supporting information like tutorials and lists on the blog
- Optimize the pages for search and social
Making an affiliate store is like running one without ever having to own inventory. You could later expand this site through drop shipping. Or, sourcing the products and swapping the promotions for what you have in inventory making even more money if it takes off!
Affiliate Marketing with Email Newsletters
Email newsletters are one of the best ways to make money because you own the list.
Here’s how it would work – you:
- Sign up for an email marketing service
- Create a sequence like a free email course or download
- Promote the list via email signature, forums, social media, and landing pages
The email newsletter becomes the blog.
This gives you complete control of the content and promotions. Each email you send could be self-contained sharing great information and insights. Then, include an affiliate promotion from time-to-time when you have something awesome to recommend.
Affiliate Marketing without a Website
Of course, you don’t need a website to explore the affiliate marketing basics. There are many affiliate marketers using their Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter social profiles as a platform.
Those using social media engage an audience as they’ve always done through great content, fun media & posts, and general chit-chat. But, they’ll also include a “shout-out” including an affiliate link in the description. Or, use reviews or show off a product also promoting through their referral links.
6. Creating Great Affiliate Marketing Articles and Content
What do we mean by great content?
It’s a mixture of things:
- Satisfies a need, solves a problem, or is highly-entertaining
- Optimized for search engines and sounds enticing to social users
- Covers the topic thoroughly while providing extra resources
Great content is one of the key components of affiliate marketing strategies. It creates the foundation for almost all your promotional efforts!
We’re not here to tell you what to write for your blog or social efforts. That content wholly depends on the community you’ve built. Here are 50 content ideas to get started.
A few tips and tricks for taking an idea and making it awesome:
- Aim to write 1,000 – 1,500 words since Google loves long content
- Include lots of pictures to give your readers a “break” while reading
- Format the post so it’s easy to read and so people can scan/jump around
Look at how your competition is creating content. Or, follow some of the big blogs and news sites seeing how they format articles, cover topics, and include media.
A big deal with affiliate blogging and writing, in general, is creating lots of content, regularly.
- Gives something fresh for your readers
- Provides another page to get in Google
- Lets you link around the website
Not good at writing?
You could always try using content creation services, or record video instead.
7. Building Affiliate Marketing Traffic
Affiliate marketing traffic is the “key” to making all this work.
Without it, no one’s reading your content and no one’s buying what you’re promoting.
There are easy ways to get traffic, then there are efforts that’ll take a long time with bigger payoffs.
We’ve covered this topic extensively – see:
But, the general idea is this:
- Create great content for your audience optimizing it for search engines and social
- Get it out there by promoting it to your community and asking them to share
- Send an update to your email list pointing people to the content
- Use social media tools to schedule and promote content when you’re busy
- Work with other bloggers and influencers to get in front of a larger audience
Any platform you’re on is another way to get traffic because it’s another place to use your connections to build great relationships helping your content spread.
See, also, our guide to traffic generation for other tips and tricks. Or, how to do social media marketing to maximize platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and others.
8. Promoting Affiliate Products and Growing the Business
The final question on your mind… “How to promote affiliate products”.
Technically, you’ve been promoting them all along with your use of content and social media. But, there are a bunch of ways to scale the efforts and really grow the business if you’re willing.
Scaling and selling more can:
- Help you reach higher affiliate commission payouts
- Give you access to more resources and hard-to-join programs
- Get brands coming to you to promote items
This is the process of going from affiliate to super affiliate.
It’s like being the Rockstar in your niche.
What are some things you can do to grow an affiliate business?
- Invest – Reinvest affiliate earnings into content creation and SEO services helping your site reach higher Google rankings.
- Tools – Buying tools and helpful resources saving time and frustration when researching and developing your site, content, and outreach.
- Hire – Bringing talent on to do content creation and social media management so you can spend more time doing what you love.
- Expand – Grow beyond your niche and start tackling the bigger markets by using your influence and authority to land better promotional deals.
- Premiums – Creating paid resources like ebooks or tools for your niche and audience creating a new income stream using what you know.
You could choose to walk away, too with an exit strategy.
All this time, you’ve been building skills in website creation, promotion, and search. You now have the skills to offer freelance or consulting services! Or, join up with fellow bloggers and affiliates creating a mega-site combining skills and talent.
How awesome is that?
Ready to Start Affiliate Marketing?
We’ve laid out an extensive affiliate marketing guide, wouldn’t you agree?
The real question becomes…
Are you ready to start?
Take a deep dive into affiliate marketing and explore what it offers. See how you could fit it into your current social media profiles. Or, explore building a niche site or affiliate blogging. There’s tons of opportunity to make money with affiliate marketing if you put in the effort!