If you’re here, you probably know what’s affiliate marketing. There’s not much to say, either: you
just promote products from other companies and brands to make money off sales commissions,
Affiliate marketing is a bit more than that. Sure, the basics are quite straightforward: you’re basically an outsourced marketing department. However, there’s more to it than merely
grabbing an affiliate link and sending it to people.
You need to build a website, create content, nurture mailing lists, and more.
That first step is a noticeable hurdle for a lot of people, however; not everyone has the tech knowledge to build a site from scratch.
Don’t worry, that’s what I’ll help you with today.
Is affiliate marketing for you?
Before we even start, I want you to make sure whether or not you really want to start an affiliate marketing business.
You probably do, but a lot of people fall prey to those gurus saying it’s easy money, and trust me, it’s not as simple as that.
Affiliate marketing requires extensive marketing knowledge. You don’t really need to be a specialist in anything—although that helps a lot—but you need a varied array of tools and strategies at your disposal: social media, paid ads, SEO, and email marketing are only the basics.
You can find all the knowledge you need on the internet, but you need to be willing to learn a lot and improve constantly for as long as you can. There’s no real “end of the line” when it comes to affiliate marketing expertise.
You also need to understand that hard work is always tied to patience.
You’ll have to work really hard for a while, and that “while” can last for more than a while—if you catch my drift.
In other words, making money—especially good money—takes time with affiliate marketing.
Yes, it’s true that you can make passive income basically on autopilot once everything is ready, but it’ll take time before “everything is ready.” You need to be patient and not give up if you fail a couple of times.
If you want a quick buck, affiliate marketing isn’t for you.
You’ll need to invest money on this. There’s no way around it; every business venture requires investment, and affiliate marketing isn’t different. You’ll have to pay to get your website up and running, and then you’ll likely want to spend more money on tools to make the road smoother.
Luckily, I have a few recommendations to help you save quite a bit of money. You can get your entire website up and running for less than $6 or even $3 every month. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll never spend money again.
You can definitely start and last a good while just by paying $3 monthly with my advice—just don’t think this has to be a lifetime.
You should always consider investing in better tools, which often cost money; this can make you even more money than the free alternatives, so they’re
worth at least a look.
What I’m trying to say is: saving money right now doesn’t mean you should avoid investing more for the rest of your life.
Find your niche
The first step before even starting to plan your website is to find your niche. That’s because almost your entire business plan will build on this foundation: your products, web design, audience, and even your content.
A niche is basically a category containing different products. Health, fitness, music, and education are niches; diet supplements, weights, music software, and courses are products within those niches.
Therefore, choosing a niche is like choosing a tree.
Each branch is a product, and the leaves are your audience, content, and—overall—how you’ll tackle the business.
We can go for an example here: let’s say we go for music niche.
Which music-related products can we offer?
Music courses, production courses, musical software, and instruments are the first ones that come to mind.
What content do musicians like?
Music theory, learning tips, best music software available today, and best instruments for beginners are good ideas for content.
Just like that, just choosing our niche gives us the building blocks for our business. You can check out other musical websites if you want to gather ideas for your design, and even your
keywords depend on your niche and products.
I mean it: find YOUR niche
What I’m trying to say there is that you want to feel like the niche is yours: go for something you
enjoy and feel passionate about. It simply makes your life a whole lot easier.
You’ll feel more motivated to learn, write compelling content, and even try out and understand
your products’ in’s and out’s.
The best way to be a successful affiliate marketer is to become an expert in your field and the products you’re offering; when you’re passionate about your niche,
that will be something you’ll want to do anyways.
Now, that’s the most common reason other people give you for finding a niche you like. I have
one that’s just as good: you’re basically your audience.
“What do you mean?”
Well, if you go for a niche you love, you’re probably a regular consumer in that niche—or at least aspire to be one. That means you likely think similarly to the people you want to target when marketing and selling your products.
Depending on how passionate you are, thinking “What would I like to learn or buy?” could go a long way to help you out.
What you’ll need for your website
Let’s get practical now: the first 2 steps to build your website.
Before you hop into any site builder or CMS platform, you’ll need to host your website; to host your website, you also need a domain name that will house your website.
Don’t worry, I’ll tell you exactly how you can do those things; I know it can be quite intimidating.
I’ll even throw in my own tips to help you save quite a bit of money.
Let’s go into the specifics, then.
A domain name is just your website’s URL. If you want to visit a website, you enter its domain into your browser’s address bar: facebook.com, google.com, amazon.com… You get the idea.
While it’s quite simple, it’s also a very important element to consider when you’re building your website.
Your domain name is basically your business’ name as well; it wouldn’t make sense to name your affiliate website “Tom’s Pet Care & Accessories” and host it under a domain like
“successadvisor.com” or “followyourdreams.com”.
You should always aim for a domain name that’s as close to your business’ name as possible.
It’s preferable to avoid hyphens whenever you can, but it won’t break your SEO as other people
say; it’s also better to go for a common extension like .com whenever possible.
Once you have an idea of what you want your domain to be, you need to go to a domain registrar.
It’s just where you register your domain so that no one else can use it; this is likely the place you’ll use to verify whether or not your desired domain is available.
This could cost you around $10 or $15 every year—give or take depending on where you get it.
You can average that to $1 monthly; it’s not a big set back, is it? Well, you can also get a free domain depending on your web host.
A web host basically keeps your website and content stored in their own servers, and they’re responsible for keeping it live and existing on the internet.
Therefore, finding a good web host is critical if you want to succeed as an affiliate marketer—or any online business.
When looking for a web host, you want to consider how modern is the technology and practices they use, their loading speed, uptime, and security measures. Of course, I also recommend you look for good customer support, regardless of your experience.
Now, this is where I give you my personal recommendation: Bluehost.
You can get discounted hosting for as little as $2.95 on the Basic plan, which is more than enough for anyone starting
What’s even better is that you’ll get a free domain when you create a Bluehost account, so you’ll save even more money.
Getting started is just as easy as visiting their main website, choosing a plan, creating an account, and paying. That’s literally the entire process; you’ll only have to fill out 2 forms: your
personal and payment details.
Once you pay for your hosting term, you’re free to start working on your website.
Of course, Bluehost isn’t the only hosting company, and you might already have a favorite.
However, not all hosting services offer free domains, and some only do so for some hosting plans.
Make sure you read their conditions and plan features before you decide to go for any hosting solution.
Content management system
Finally, the best way to create an affiliate marketing website is to go for a CMS; this stands for Content Management System, and they’re basically platforms you can use to create, publish, and manage different types of content.
My personal recommendation here is WordPress, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
It’s easily the most popular—and flexible—solution available right now, and it’s completely free: both the basic platform and many of the themes and plugins available.
WordPress and Bluehost also integrate seamlessly; the latter is even the former’s recommendation. Bluehost installs WordPress automatically after you create your account, too.
However, let me clarify something: you want to use WordPress.org, not WordPress.com.
That’s because the latter is a free hosting service instead of the open-source CMS platform everyone knows and loves.
The reason I don’t recommend WordPress’ free hosting is that your website will be a subdomain.
Instead of looking like, say, “genericaffiliatesite.com”, it’ll be “genericaffiliatesite.wordpress.com”. That might look like nothing since it’s free, but it can actually mess up your branding and even search engine ranking.
Let’s get to WordPress
Now that you’ve installed WordPress, you’re pretty much good to go.
Your first step should be to choose your theme; these are similar to site templates with predefined layouts and designs you can customize.
Make sure to get familiarized with your user dashboard; it might be somewhat intimidating at first, but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem after a short while. Once you’re ready to launch your website, hit the corresponding button.
Then, you want to create your website’s title and its own description.
These are basically what you’ll see when your website appears on search engines. You’ll also activate any plugin you download through this dashboard.
Now, when it comes to content, WordPress basically divides it into 2 categories: posts and pages.
Pages are essentially your website’s section. These include your homepage, contact section, “about” page, terms and policies, and even product pages for online stores—but that’s not our concern in this article.
WordPress doesn’t make it too difficult to create pages from scratch thanks to its themes, but you can also download page builders to make things even easier.
If you’re experienced with coding and programming, you can also customize your pages even further.
I’d recommend you set up the main pages before you start publishing content, especially since you want to be as clear as possible about you being an affiliate marketer right from the get-go.
On the other hand, Posts are quite similar to pages, but they refer to your actual blog posts and articles. Once your main website is up and running, this is where you’ll spend most of your time working.
Posts let you edit your content in a similar fashion to programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
You can choose fonts and size for your text, categorize it into heading types and paragraphs, create lists, insert images, and most importantly, add hyperlinks to your text, among other things.
You’re also free to save your posts as drafts and come back to them later, and if you add Yoast SEO—or a similar tool—you can even edit its SEO in real-time by specifying your keywords and receiving live revisions and suggestions to make your text better.
The ideal posting schedule doesn’t exist, at least not universally. Some people post daily—even several posts per day—and others post once every week. Your best schedule depends on your preference and available time.
What really matters is sticking to a schedule. If you’re limited on time, it’s better to post once or twice every week if you can stick to that schedule consistently. It might delay things, but it’s a lot better than posting 3 posts in a day, then forgetting about it for an entire week before posting 5 and repeating the process.
If you can write 6 posts in a day, but no all the time, it’d be better just to keep them as drafts and still publish a couple every week. This way, you’ll usually have unpublished content, and it’ll be easier to come up with new topics.
Don’t worry, once you start making better money from your website, you’ll be used to it, and it’ll start feeling like part of your regular schedule. This is the ideal scenario.
A few tips to grow your website
Alright, so your website is up and running, and you’re starting to work on your own posting schedule. You’ve planted the seeds, and now it’s time to make sure your business flourishes the way you need it to.
Well, I’d like to tell you that you’ve gone through the most important part, but there’s still a significant amount of work to do.
You need to turn this website into a money-making machine, and chances are you are still lacking skills and tools to make the most out of your website.
SEO, social media, and other marketing approaches are important to drive traffic to your site and offers, and as I said, learning never stops.
Let’s go through a few recommendations to ensure you’re doing your best.
It’s not strictly a sales website
Now, affiliate marketing is definitely focused on selling, but the way you sell as an affiliate marketer is a lot different from how other people would do it.
You don’t want your website to feel like a sales brochure or page.
A lot of affiliate marketers tend to design their websites with this mentality, and that’s a great way to kill your business.
You need to sell your products to make money, yes. What you don’t want to do is constantly remind your visitors that you’re selling something and push them to buy.
That takes us to our most important recommendation.
Valuable content is important
Affiliate marketing is all about promoting your products via meaningful content.
That’s why blogging is the most popular affiliate marketing strategy.
It lets you provide good content for your potential customers, and this makes it so that your readers end up being the ones looking
for your links.
Let me give you an example.
If you’re affiliated to something like a page builder, then you don’t want to create an article explaining why your product is amazing and everyone should buy it from your links.
You could provide a guide on how to create attractive pages for a specific niche, and between the tips and steps, you recommend your page builder as a solution.
You could also make lists of the best products available in your niche or for the problems you’re looking to solve. Between the entries, you recommend your product.
Maybe you’re affiliated to an online course; then, you could compare it with other courses while highlighting why it’s a great option.
The same goes for everything you’re selling. Focus on which problems your products solve and target your content towards these problems while recommending your offer as one of the solutions.
Don’t think it’s different to any other business
I’ve said it before, and I’ll do it again: affiliate marketing isn’t a quick buck. It’s no different from creating an online store, running a marketing agency, set up a retail store, etc.
You get the point, it’s a lot cheaper for sure, but it’s not—in any way—easier or less serious than any other business venture.
That means you need to take it seriously if you want to succeed. Yes, I’m talking about dedicating enough time and effort to it, don’t just work on it “whenever you feel like it”.
You need to schedule your time for posting, research, updates, etc. Even if you can only do it a few hours
per week, make sure you stick to it.
The same goes for your expectations.
Money will come quicker if you work more—and better— even if you dedicate entire days to it every week, it might still be a while before you start making good money.
You don’t want to give up because it’s been months and it still doesn’t make you any money. It just means you need to assess what you might be doing wrong and keep going.
Branch out to new products
People tend to think that sticking to a single product is the best approach. It’s definitely the easiest way to become an expert at your product, but you’re giving up too many opportunities to justify this advantage.
Affiliate programs are prone to their owners’ changes. Your partner company might decide to change its terms, commissions, or even kill the product altogether.
You have no control over this issue, and the best way to offset these problems is just to switch products as soon as possible.
Don’t neglect training
Finally, you want to learn as much as you can.
Try to dedicate as much time as you can to learn new marketing tactics, stay up-to-date on any SEO changes from Google, and even read every update to the policies on the marketing platforms you’re using.
If you can, consider investing in a good course to speed things up. It’ll save you lots of time having to look for guides and tutorials manually, and they might even explain concepts you didn’t even consider.
Building an affiliate marketing website isn’t as difficult as it might seem. In fact, you could have it up and running in a day or two, but you need to stop procrastinating and do it. It doesn’t require you killing your wallet, yet it doesn’t mean you can take your business lightly.
Make sure to stick to a schedule and keep working if you really want to succeed.