Beginners Guide: How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
Published: March 30, 2019 – Updated: November 11, 2020 – By: Aleksander
This guide is intended for beginners looking to start making money from affiliate marketing recurring passively over time.
It is a 3 step guide where I try to explain the basics in the most useful and easy to understand way I can. Actually, it is 4 steps if you count the planning phase.
This guide contains sponsored affiliate links.
- Step 0 – Planning
- Step 0.1 – What niche should you choose?
- Step 0.2 – Tools for finding a niche
- Step 0.3 – What type of website
- Step 1 – Get your own website online
- Step 1.1 – Finding the best web host
- Step 1 .2- Getting a good domain name
- Step 1.3 – Getting your website set up
- Step 2 – Create content over time
- Step 2.1 – Tools for content tips
- Step 2.2 – Affiliate programs for content tips
- Step 2.3 – Writing good quality content
- Step 2.4 – Ranking in search
- Step 2.5 – Internal links
- Step 2.6 – External links
- Step 3 – Monetize and optimize
- Step 3.1 – Finding suitable affiliate programs
- Step 3.2 – Affiliate notice
- Step 3.3 – Optimizing your website
- Step 3.4 – Optimizing your content
- Continuing beyond this guide
Will it work?
I myself have used this strategy to create 5+ profitable websites so far. These generate passive income for me and have made it possible for me to make affiliate marketing my full-time profession.
It is not a prerequisite to know web design or coding to make money using this strategy. However, I have found it useful to learn how to make websites by learning both HTML and CSS as I go.
How much will I have to invest?
You should expect to invest about $100 for 1 year of web hosting and paying for a domain name for a year. This enables you not only to host one website but you could add multiple websites going forward only adding the ~$9/year fee for each domain name.
You could probably get this cost down to $50 if you go with a really cheap web host.
Then again, if you hire freelancers, buy a stock photo site membership, or buy some premium WordPress themes then you would have to spend more.
If you have feedback or questions – please post them in the comments below and I will try to help out if I can.
I have recently discovered Wealthy Affiliate which is a large and seemingly very active community for affiliates online.
I’ll list more resources for further learning at the end of the guide.
Note that this guide contains sponsored affiliate links. I am trying to be useful and profitable at the same time.
Step 0 – Planning
Before you begin you should plan a bit. Think about what niches you would like to focus on from the start. The niche you choose will be the one you write content about and monetize with related affiliate programs.
0.1 What niche should you choose?
You could decide your niches based on what affiliate programs you want to promote and how well those are paying, or you could choose something that interests you and you are passionate about.
Something in the middle is probably the way to go.
Even though some affiliate programs might pay a small CPA (the commission you’ll earn per referred customer) they might be easier to generate sales for compared with some of the high-paying affiliate programs out there. Maybe because of less competition and maybe because they are just easier to convert thanks to things like low cost and high desirability.
I would suggest leaning more towards a niche that you are interested in and that you feel you could do a lot of content writing about.
However, you do not need to feel passionate about the topics before you start. That can come after you have worked a while giving your best.
Passion does not beget commitment, rather commitment begets passion, taught by Alex Mandossian in his podcast All Selling Aside ep. 74
0.2 Tools for finding a niche
When planning what your website niche/topic will be you can use some great free and paid tools to help you come up with ideas.
The best way is probably just doing a google search for the topic and see what comes up. Both the organic search results as well as the suggestions that come up while typing your search phrase.
The main thing is to choose something that a lot (or at least some) of people are searching for in Google as this will be your main source of traffic.
How much competition there is for a search phrase is also really important. The SEMRush tool shows the difficulty and search volume for keyword phrases.
Remember that you are now just researching what topic your website will be about but you could also start thinking about what kind of content that would be suitable. You can use the same tools to research what content to write about on your websites later.
You won’t need to plan everything out before you begin. Some of my best earnings come from niches and Google searches that I did not plan for in advance.
0.3 What type of website
I believe that most of you will begin with a website that is similar to that of a blog. A website that looks great and works well and that you won’t need to custom code or design much, if at all.
If you know how to code or want to learn it, or even if you have money to pay a freelancer you could create something creative and unique with advanced features.
Your skills, budget, and imagination are probably the three most limiting factors here.
Step 1 – Get your own website online
The first step would be to get your own website where you can publish content and affiliate marketing links.
1.1 Finding the best web host
I myself use Liquid Web to host most of my websites. After being unsatisfied with the quality and speed of my support requests at multiple hosts, I decided that the slightly more expensive web hosting plans by Liquid Web made sense. This host guarantees 59 second response times by their 24/7 online live tech support based in the USA. They even have copyrighted the phrase “The most helpful humans in web hosting”.
If you are a beginner with a limited budget though, I would recommend going with a cheaper web host that costs around $5 per month. Please check out WHCompare (which is a recent website project of mine, not yet profitable). It lets you compare 200+ web hosting plans easily.
You could also use the domain name registrar as first your web host (see the link to Namecheap below) – they are really cheap!
If you want to create multiple websites you should go with a web hosting plan that does not have a limit to how many websites you can create, like even some of the cheapest web hosting plans do.
Creating multiple websites does require more work, but it also increases your number of tickets to win.
1.2 Getting a good domain name
Once you have a web hosting account you need a domain name. Unless you got one for free with your web hosting purchase. I would suggest registering your domain name from Namecheap which offers free whois privacy and the cheapest prices I know of.
Having whois privacy can really help avoid some of the email spam you’ll get without it.
When registering a domain name I would suggest making it as memorable and as short and easy to type as possible. It should also make sense for what the website is about.
Two techniques I use are:
- Creating new words based on the content the website will have. For instance, a website with “online store information” might become ostorei.com. That’s an actual example of a site of mine. I did the same for a website with “online store lists”. That became ostorel.com. Try to use lots of vocals so the domain/brand is easily pronounceable.
- The other way I find good domains is by combining three words. Most of the two and one-word domains are taken, but there are still three-word domains available. Even though these are not that short they can be easy to remember and even contain a keyword or two. Two actual examples for websites of mine are “Brands of Luxury” and “Best Brands on Earth”. Both of these .com domains were available. I’ve also used this technique for several other easy to remember brands/domains.
1.3 Getting your website set up
Once you have a domain name and a web hosting account you would need to connect the two and install WordPress.
You can find tons of guides doing this online so I won’t cover that technical topic here. You could even ask the great live support at Namecheap, or your web host if you get stuck.
Once your website is online and WordPress is installed you can find a web design of choice and install it easily yourself. There are lots of free web designs to choose from at the WordPress theme directory but note that some of them require a premium upgrade for full functionality.
You could also check out the 100% free themes that I have made. These are intended for quick setup, quick loading times, SEO friendliness, and lots of call to action buttons for affiliate marketing.
If you are prepared to pay like $50 for a high-quality theme you could buy one from one of the huge online marketplaces like ThemeForest.
Step 2 – Create content over time & get noticed by Google
Once you have your first WordPress website up and running you can start adding content.
2.1 Tools for content tips
As mentioned in the planning phase you can use certain tools to discover opportunities for what keywords to target with your content. You can use the same tools for tips on what content to write.
I use Google Trends (free), SEMRush (FREE & paid), Answer The Public (FREE & paid), and of course Google search. Ubersuggest is an alternative to SEMRush that is completely free (not free anymore, unfortunately).
I use these tools both to get ideas for what to write about in the first place and also for what sub-topics the content should cover.
2.2 Affiliate programs for content tips
This is one of my favorite ways to get inspired for what content to write. It is actually as simple as finding an affiliate program that looks amazing for a great product or service and then thinking about how one could generate sales for it by writing related content.
This could also be a way to brainstorm totally new website ideas.
2.3 Writing good quality content
As there is a ton of content being published on the internet every day you should try to create quality that captivates readers and satisfies them.
This means that you should write with good grammar, use pictures, and possibly videos where suitable. You should also use a lot of sub-headers and frequent paragraphs.
The opposite would be to write long texts with small letters with just a few paragraphs and headers.
The latter would result in your readers spending less time reading your article.
2.4 Ranking in search
Once you start writing and publishing content on your website the Google spiders will start crawling your website and it will consider adding it to their search results. This is a pretty slow process and takes some time, but once you start to rank the traffic will be pretty sticky, and tend to keep coming in day after day, month after month.
Getting traffic from search could take like 6 months initially and the optimization you do could take months to show results. You should start seeing a little bit of traffic not too long after your website goes live though.
One of the most important things for increasing that traffic is to have a high click-through rate from the Google search results to your website and having that visit solve the question that brought the searchers to Google. If your visitors click the back button in the browser and look for another website in the search result instead, your rankings might decline.
Therefore you want your content to be thorough and to be able to solve searcher’s questions. You can always try to improve and optimize your content for this over time.
Keep an eye on bounce rate and time on site metrics in Google Analytics.
Linking your content to each other with internal links is important to rank in the search engines, and for sending your traffic to more than one page on your website.
2.5 Internal links
Linking is especially important for similar content and getting that to rank. For instance, if you write a blog post about “how to buy a Tesla Model 3”, then you could also write posts about “how it is to drive a Tesla Model 3” and “what new Tesla owners should know about winter and EVs”, and then link all of those posts to one another. Both useful for search engine spiders, as well as for your readers.
I believe internal linking this way amplifies all of these posts.
2.6 External links
One of the things most professional SEOs is agreeing is that getting good links pointing to your website, as well as having good content on your website are two of the most important things to get free search engine traffic over time.
Some content writers actually spend more time promoting their content and trying to get other sites to link to it, than actually writing it. If you do or not know that it is at least important to do some promoting for some of your content.
To me, the most important factor is trying to get websites with similar audiences and topics to you to link to your content or home page. You would most likely need to do a contact a lot of websites (unless you know someone with similar websites as yours already) to get someone to link to you.
Having at least a couple of incoming external links is very important, and once you get that you should start seeing some traffic trickling in organically from related search terms.
Step 3 – Monetize & optimize
Congrats on getting to step 3 – You are already well on your way to making money with affiliate marketing, and you have probably learned a lot already!
Now it is time to optimize your website. It is also time to begin making money from affiliate programs.
3.1 Finding suitable affiliate programs
You should start looking for affiliate programs suitable to promote on your websites and in your content. You should try with multiple affiliate programs and see which makes the most money for you.
You can also start creating content specifically written to promote an affiliate program as long as it is somewhat relevant to the topics of your website.
Take a look at the list of what I think are the best affiliate programs for beginners.
3.2 Affiliate notice
3.3 Optimizing your website
When optimizing your websites you should try to improve your website loading speed. I use the excellent free tool called GTMetrix. It will benchmark your site and potentially give you lots of tips for where you can improve.
You could also use the rather new and amazing tool built by Google called Lighthouse.
3.4 Optimizing your content
When optimizing content after it has started getting traffic from Google I use the free tool called Google Search Console. It will show you for what search terms you get traffic from. It does also show you for what search terms your website is currently ranking for but not getting traffic for.
You’ll probably get some great ideas for what search phrases to optimize for a little more. You could change titles and meta descriptions for higher click-through rates from the search engine result pages, or add more content to your posts for specific phrases and keywords to try and rank higher for those searches.
A prerequisite for using Google Search Console and having any data to analyze is that Google has already noticed your website and started to include it.
Continuing beyond this guide
This is just a pretty short beginner’s guide. Hopefully, it can show you how to get started. I would strongly suggest reading and researching more as you are continuing with your affiliate marketing efforts!
More affiliate marketing guides
- Free Affiliate Marketing Training – This beginner’s guide is written by the CEO over at High Paying Affiliate Programs. You will also find lots of great high paying affiliate programs reviewed at his website.
Check out these resources
These are amazing free resources online that I believe you can benefit greatly from when using this strategy to make money online passively.
- SEMRush @ YouTube (FREE SEO & paid marketing videos)
- Experts on the Wire (SEO podcast)
- Wealthy Affiliate (Paid affiliate marketing community)
For more resources, please check out my list with 20+ top resources for affiliate marketing online.
Thanks for reading
Thanks for reading and good luck. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.