Affiliate Marketing Basics: Where to Start?

Your alarm goes off at 6 AM. You gulp down breakfast and rush out the door. Then you spend the next hour sitting in traffic, barely managing to make it to work on time. 

Once there, your day consists of endless, mind-numbing reports, meetings, and phone calls. Then you spend another hour in the car trying to get home.

Even worse, it’s the same thing… day after day. When does it end?

Have you thought about getting into affiliate marketing? When done properly, it can be a lucrative side gig, a full-time income, or even a long-term passive income solution for entrepreneurs who want to escape the daily grind.

In fact, Statista reports that brands will be spending about 8.2 billion dollars on affiliate marketing by 2022. That’s an increase of more than 3 billion dollars since 2017. Clearly, now is a great time to tap into the potential of this growing industry.

Learning affiliate marketing basics and implementing them today will put you in a prime position to take advantage of this expected growth. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Get Started

Here are the basic steps required to get started with affiliate marketing:

  1. Decide on a Niche

There’s a lot of competition out there, so choosing the right niche will be key for success. You’ll want to get pretty specific. For example, instead of just recipes, niche it down to something like keto recipes, or even keto dessert recipes.

Be sure to choose something you’re knowledgeable and passionate about so that it’s easier for you to create quality content.

  1. Choose a Platform

Just about any platform works for affiliate marketing, but the two easiest ways to build an audience are with a blog or a YouTube channel. Both options are pretty affordable to set up, and you can find lots of tutorials online to help you get started.

  1. Create High-Quality Content

Once your platform is set up, begin creating and posting useful content in your niche. This will help you begin to build traffic, online credibility, and a relevant audience. Having some initial traffic coming in will make your site more appealing to affiliate programs when you begin applying, too.

  1. Join Affiliate Programs

Once you’ve got your platform set up and have created some quality content in your niche, you can begin applying for affiliate programs. 

Affiliate Marketing Basics: Types of Affiliate Programs

  1. Low-volume, high-commission affiliate programs: This type of program is for niche-specific products that have high commissions. Some of these programs pay hundreds of dollars each month, simply for sending customers their way. However, the target audience will be small, so you’ll have to work harder to get the product in front of the right people
  2. High-volume, low-commission affiliate programs: This type of affiliate program will have a large potential audience, but a lower payout. You might only make $1 or $2 per sale, but there will be a huge audience and a wide variety of products to promote. Amazon affiliates is a great example of this type of program. It’s pretty easy to get approved and you can earn commissions on almost everything Amazon sells. Not only that, but you also earn commissions on other items the consumer purchases through your links, not just the product you recommended.
  3. High-volume, high-commission affiliate programs: This type of program pays high commissions and has mass appeal, such as travel clubs or credit cards. The downside of choosing this type of program is that everyone wants in on it, so there will be lots of competition from skilled marketers with money to spend.

How to Choose an Affiliate Program That’s Right for You

Choosing an affiliate program that’s right for you really comes down to your experience level and niche.

For example, if you’re new to affiliate marketing and want to experiment with different products and tactics to learn what works, a high-volume, low-commission program probably makes the most sense.

If your niche targets businesspeople and professionals, you might go with a low-volume, high-commission program promoting web hosting or software.

There are lots of programs out there, so do your research to see what will work best for your niche and audience. The best place to start looking is with a simple Google search for the “best affiliate programs” in your niche.

Of course, if you already know of a product you would really like to promote, you can approach the brand directly. Even if they don’t already have a program, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they would be willing to start an affiliate relationship with you.

Once you start adding your affiliate links to your content, be sure to publish an affiliate disclosure that meets FTC guidelines.

  1. Add High-Quality SEO Optimized Content Regularly

To be successful with affiliate marketing, you’ll need to add high-quality content to your platform regularly.

Don’t just blindly create top 10 lists, either. Take the time to create content that educates, entertains, and solves the user’s problem. Provide value to your reader

But don’t stop there. You should also go back through your previously published content regularly and update it whenever it makes sense.

Sending Traffic to Your Site: SEO Basics for Affiliates

Now that you’re adding quality content regularly and incorporating your affiliate links, it’s time to get that content in front of your audience. Most importantly, you’ll want to begin building SEO into your content right from day one.

Here are some SEO basics for affiliates that you’ll want to master right away:

  • Understand your target audience. Learn what their problems are and what they’re searching for. Then, find keywords related to your niche and those topics.
  • Do a competitor analysis to see what other affiliates in your niche are doing. Take inspiration from what’s working for them and learn from what isn’t. 
  • Create content that aligns with your keywords and search intent. Stay on topic to increase relevancy.
  • Spend time creating meta descriptions that will entice users to click on your content. They don’t influence ranking, but they do influence whether users click on your content or someone else’s.
  • Create descriptive, compelling titles that include a keyword.
  • Include images in your content and optimize them with keyword-rich descriptive titles and alternative text.
  • Headings (H2, H3, etc.) are crucial for breaking up the text and making it easier to read. They’re also the perfect place to include descriptive keywords that will help search engines understand your content.
  • Don’t forget about the technical stuff, like adding internal links, optimizing page speed, and building backlinks to your site.

Paid Ads vs SEO vs Email/Social Media: How are they different?

There are basically three ways to drive traffic to your site: paid ads, SEO, and email/social media. You’ll probably get the best results if you use a combination of all three methods. Here’s how they compare:

  • Paid ads on Google and Social Media: Paid ads will get you traffic right away, as long as you’ve got the budget for it. It’s a good short-term strategy, especially if you want to rank for some highly competitive keywords.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): The benefits of SEO will compound over time, so it’s essential for long-term sustainability.
  • Email and social media: Building an email list and social media following takes time, but they allow you to communicate with your readers anytime, so it’s worth the effort.

Effective Link Placement

No matter how amazing your content is, you won’t make any money if people don’t click on your links. Here’s what you need to think about:

  • Link Placement: Link placement is key. Affiliate links placed in the intro can look spammy, while links at the bottom of the page might not get seen. Affiliate links should be placed naturally throughout the body of your content.
  • Callouts: Placing your links in callouts, such as boxes, tables, or buttons, will attract the reader’s attention and make your content easier to digest.

Link Management for Affiliates

Managing your links properly is an essential affiliate marketing basic to master early on. Over time, you might become affiliated with dozens of brands and gather links to 100s, if not thousands of products. If you don’t learn how to manage your links, you will quickly become disorganized and overwhelmed.

A good link management tool will allow you to set up your links once and then edit and track them from one centralized location throughout all of your content. Without it, you would have to go in and find each link individually and make necessary edits manually. As you grow, that will become a monumental task.

Your link management tool should also allow you to import and export your links between all of your affiliate sites. It will also notify you when a link is broken, or a product is out of stock. It will even monetize links for you automatically, so you never miss out on a commission.

You can also use your link management tool to send traffic to multiple destinations from the same link. This is incredibly valuable for A/B split testing on your landing pages. Simply specify which percentage of users you want to send to each landing page, assess which one converts better, and make adjustments accordingly.

You can also create custom short links with a good link management tool. Custom short links can be used to increase brand recognition, create trust, and boost click-through rates. You can even create custom domains associated with specific campaigns and analyze your data on one centralized dashboard.

When it comes to affiliate marketing basics, a link management system is a must. It’s an incredible time-saver. The earlier you set it up, the more organized and effective you’ll be as you grow.

Conversion Boosting Strategies for Affiliate Marketers

In affiliate marketing, you need to accomplish two separate conversions to earn your commission.

First, you’ve got to get the reader to click on the product link on your site. You have complete control over what the user sees, and you can use strategies to increase your chances of getting that conversion.

Some things you can do to boost conversions on your site include:

  • Create evergreen content and optimize it for SEO. This will increase your conversions over time.
  • Incorporate an exit-intent pop-up on posts or pages that talk about a specific product. Set it up as a final CTA for users to make the purchase, sign up for a free trial, or whatever else you want them to do from that page.
  • Last-click attribution can be a problem for affiliates, depending on where your user is in the buyer’s journey. Use a link management tool to offer your readers “choice pages” with multiple purchase options to increase your chances of getting credit for the sale.
  • Use optimized images of the products throughout your content. Be sure they include your affiliate link.
  • Add CTAs throughout your site, such as “Sign Up for Your Free Trial Here,” or “Read More Reviews Here,” or “Shop Here.” Be specific to grab attention and encourage visitors to act.
  • Publish unique content, detailed reviews, and honest comparisons. Be unique.
  • When promoting products, include tutorials and walkthroughs, along with the pros and cons.
  • Whenever possible, try the product for yourself and share your experiences.
  • Make sure your site is performing optimally, including site speed, navigation, and mobile responsiveness.

The second conversion takes place on the merchant’s website. The user has to actually make the purchase based on what they see when they land on the page. You don’t have any control over that.

That means you’ll want to look for merchants with high conversion rates. You can do this by looking at public income reports to see which programs affiliates are making money from. You can also ask the merchant directly what their conversion rate is.

But most of all, use your own common sense. Do they have a good-looking website with a marketable product? Would you purchase from their site or recommend it to someone you care about? If not, don’t waste your time promoting their product.

Affiliate Marketing Basics: Frequently Asked Questions

What is affiliate marketing?

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is the process by which an affiliate earns a commission for sharing another brand’s products or services with their audience. Basically, the affiliate finds a product they want to promote and approaches the brand about becoming an affiliate. 

Once approved, the affiliate promotes the product on their website, social media, YouTube channel, and/or other platforms. The brand pays the affiliate a commission on each sale made through the affiliate’s personal affiliate links.

How does affiliate marketing work?

The three key parties involved in an affiliate marketing relationship are:

  • The Seller: The seller can be anyone who has a product or service to offer, from a small business to a giant corporation.
  • The Affiliate: The affiliate is the person who promotes the seller’s product or service to their audience using special affiliate links. The affiliate earns a commission from the seller each time a purchase is made through one of his or her personal affiliate links.
  • The Consumer: The consumer is anyone in the affiliate’s audience who clicks on an affiliate link and makes a purchase. The commission that the affiliate earns comes from the purchase price, so the consumer isn’t paying anything extra.

How much money can you make with affiliate marketing?

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that it’s totally scalable. You can promote products from many different brands or just one. 

The amount of money you make depends on how much work you put in. You also have complete control over which products you promote and which programs you participate in.

At the end of the day, the income potential is virtually limitless, depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to put in.

So, what’s the catch? 

The affiliate has to get the products in front of a relevant audience who is ready to convert. It’s not as easy as you might think, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Building up an affiliate income takes time… possibly years.

Wrapping Things Up: Next Steps

We’ve only outlined the affiliate marketing basics here. Following them will get you off to a great start, but there’s a lot more you can do to promote your affiliate links. 

Remember that you’re building a brand and that takes time. As your platform grows, you can experiment with new and creative ideas to see what works for your niche and audience. 

For example, try sharing your links and content on other platforms to increase your reach. If you started out with a blog, try creating video reviews on YouTube. Many affiliates even find great success on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. It just depends on your niche and target market.

Look for new and unique ways to promote your pillar products. You might set up a Facebook group where people can interact with you and with each other, ask questions, and talk about their experiences. 

Or, maybe do giveaways or hold contests on your social media to build your audience and get people interested. You can also approach the brands you represent about offering special promo codes around the holidays or other special events.

Over time, you will gradually build up a platform that generates virtually limitless passive income… all from the comfort of your own home.

Author bio:

Donna Maurer

As an experienced content creator, Donna has covered numerous topics in the realms of marketing & advertising. She has written for various publications and can often be found conducting research for her latest article on her. Donna spends her free time exploring New York City, where her days are filled with new life experiences and adventures to write about!