What is Affiliate Marketing & How To Get Started (Beginners)

What is Affiliate Marketing & How To Get Started (Beginners)

 What is Affiliate Marketing & How To Get Started (Beginners)

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommended.

What is Affiliate Marketing

In making money online, affiliate marketing is a skill-based approach, anyone could learn that. It is one of those segments of the online world, that doesn’t require any degree or formal education.

Want to understand what is Affiliate marketing?

Keep reading to learn everything about this popular passive income method.

My Journey with affiliate marketing started in 2008 when I accidentally read about it on a discussion forum. I was surprised to know how something so simple and powerful is not taught in college or very few talks about it.

With this guide, my aim is to help you understand affiliate marketing, so you can apply this technique in any field you are in to make money.

Before, you embark on the journey of understanding affiliate marketing, let me show you the possibilities of affiliate marketing.

Here is a screenshot of one of the affiliate program that I promote:

The above one took about 2 years to accomplish.

And here is another one:

This one was outcome of 2 and half years.

However, the real question is:

How did I achieve this kind of result, and can you do it too?

Well, the key here is your zeal to learn, and how badly you want to live a free life.

I have accomplished all this working only 6-8 hours a day on things that I like. Not even a single day of my online career, has felt like pressure or something I did not wanted to do.

The only thing that create a differentiator is, I did not cheat my way up. Those 6-8 hours of work was complete dedication, and based on my 10 years of experience, I could definitely say:

Anyone with decent IQ could start making $3000-4000 within 6-8 months by regular practicing every day for 2 hours.

How to do this?

Well, We will dwell into details, and more technicalities of affiliate marketing as we move ahead in this free course, but for now, lets learn the basics.

Before that…

If this is your first time here at ShoutMeLoud, you should know that…

In the last 11 years, ShoutMeLoud has inspired millions of lives around the globe to help them earn passive income via blogging and affiliate marketing. 

It would not have been possible if I took the risk of living my day job to pursue my passion. When I think about this, I find it amazing as for how my life unfolded when I took the courage of starting something of my own. I feel this is something you, and others individual should try once to go beyond our limitations.

With this Affiliate marketing guide, I want to provide you all the details about:

  • Basics of Affiliate marketing
  • How Affiliate marketing works
  • How to get started with Affiliate marketing
  • Affiliate marketing Terminologies

This is your go-to guide and you should bookmark this one along with all linked articles to master the art of affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing wherein you refer someone to any online product and when that person buys the product based on your recommendation, you receive a commission.

Every big company like Amazon, Apple, Google have an affiliate program, which is free to join by any individual across the globe. If you did not knew about this, then pay close attention to rest of this guide, my friend, you are about to discover one of the most interesting aspect of making money from home.

This commission varies from $1 to $10,000 depending on what product you are promoting.

Here is how affiliate marketing works in 4 simple steps:

  1. You join an affiliate program (Here is a list to get started)
  2. You pick a product to promote (You will get a unique affiliate link)
  3. You share the link via Social media, Blog, YouTube videos, Facebook ads or any other form
  4. When someone makes a purchase, you earn a handsome affiliate commission.

The below infographic will help you understand the lifecycle of affiliate marketing:

What is Affiliate Marketing

So, in simple words:

Any companies that sell products online, offers an affiliate program, which is free to join. It is as simple as creating an online profile.

You can simply sign up for the program and get your unique tracking link. Now, whenever you are writing about their product, you can simply use this special tracking affiliate link to recommend the company’s site.  If your readers/traffic buys anything by clicking your affiliate link, you will get a commission.

Is it as easy as it sounds?

Yes, and no!

Yes, because of 2 reasons:

  1. Joining an affiliate program
  2. Getting paid

Is super easy. Thanks to advancement in digital marketing, and services like PayPal and Payoneer, this all is automated.

The tough part is, how badly you want this.

To become successful in affiliate marketing, you need to train regularly (Daily). Think of this as learning to play cricket, and the only way you get better by showing up every day on the ground.

And then there is another part, as we gain more responsibilities in life like (job, kids, parents, spouce, weekend parties), we find it hard to dedicate time for acquiring learning new skills.

This is where the question comes:

How badly you want this?

How badly you need this?

If your want or need falls in “unsure” segment, take a 360 view of life, and ask what is that you have to lose and what are the possible gains.

If dedicating 1-2 hours a day for few months could give you financial freedom for life, it doesnot sound like a bad deal.

Moreover, it is proven method that works!

Moving on…

How to Start Affiliate marketing for beginners:

You can get started with Affiliate marketing in many ways.

Here are a few that you can pick from:

  • Start a blog in a targeted niche and use it to promote a product. This is by far the chepest and easiest way to start an affiliate marketing business. For example: Start a blog about Women shoes, Work from home products, and so on.
  • Buy traffic from PPC sites like Google, Facebook, Quora and drive traffic to affiliate products or services. This is called PPC marketing, and those who have taken a basic course of digital marketing, could understand it better. For rest, give it a little time and you will understand this.
  • Create a YouTube channel and promote products.
  • Create an email list by creating a mini-website. An example if Finshots

Here are steps to get started with affiliate marketing via your blog:

This is just a rough highlight, as we move ahead in this free course, you will understand everything in greater depth and length to create your own affiliate marketing system.

  1. Start a blog
  2. Select a profitable industry and then pick a niche for your blog
  3. Choose the affiliate products that you can promote
  4. Create content around those products
  5. Drive traffic to your website/affiliate post
  6. Use email-marketing services to capture email of visitors
  7. Create email-sequence to automate the funnel (We will discuss this in details soon)
  8. Focus on driving more traffic and repeating the process.

The reason blogging is one of the most effective ways to get started with affiliate marketing is because it requires minimum investment and you can learn everything around it in no time. From here on, what really matters it how much dedication, time and smart work you put in to grow your affiliate business.

Affiliate marketing terminologies:

Here are some of the common terms associated with affiliate marketing:

  • Affiliates: Publishers like you and me who are using affiliate program links to promote and make sales.
  • Affiliate marketplace: There are many marketplaces like Shareasale, CJ, and Clickbank. These work as central databases for affiliate programs in different niches.
  • Affiliate software: Software used by companies to create an affiliate program for their product.
  • Affiliate link: Special tracking link offered by your affiliate program to track the progress of your affiliate promotion.
  • Affiliate ID: Similar to the affiliate link, but many affiliate programs offer a unique ID which you can add to any page of the product site.
  • Payment mode: Different affiliate programs offer different methods of payment.
    • Example: Cheque, wire transfer, PayPal, and others.
  • Affiliate Manager/OPM: Many companies have dedicated affiliate managers to help publishers earn more by giving them optimization tips.
  • Commission percentage/amount: The amount or percentage you will be receiving in affiliate income from every sale.
  • 2-tier affiliate marketing: This is a great way of making money from an affiliate program. With this method, you recommend that others join affiliate programs, and you receive a commission when a sub-affiliate makes a sale (similar to MLM or multi-level marketing). This income is also known as a sub-affiliate commission.
  • Landing pages: A unique product sales or demo page used for the purpose of increasing sales. Most of the programs that you will be promoting have many landing pages, and you can run A/B testing to see which pages convert best for you.
  • Custom affiliate income/account: Unlike a generic affiliate account, many companies offer custom affiliate income to people making the most affiliate sales for them.
  • Link clocking: Most of the affiliate tracking links are ugly. Using a link clocking technique like URL shorteners, Thirsty Affiliates, etc., you can turn ugly links into links that can be read and understood by your readers.
  • Custom coupons: Many programs allow affiliates to create custom coupons which are also used to track sales. Custom discount coupons help you to increase affiliate sales as well.

For companies offering an affiliate program, this is one of the best ways to receive free promotion, thus saving substantially on advertising.

For example, whenever you see coupons or discount links, most of the time these are affiliate links, and when you make a purchase, webmasters make money.

Every affiliate program has a set TOS.

For example, payout condition, cookie policy and so on.

Let me explain cookie policy as it’s intermediate level topic but will give you an idea about the possibilities of affiliate marketing.

Many of the affiliate product offer 30-150 days cookie period, which means that if a visitor clicks your affiliate link to land on an affiliate product, now even if they don’t buy anything immediately, but re-visit the site in next 30-150 days, you will earn an affiliate commission.

How to find new Affiliate Program to join?

Finding a new affiliate program is challenging, and if you do it right, you will increase your chances of earning huge.

Here are a few ways to find new affiliate programs:

  • Affiliate Network and marketing platform: There are affiliate networks and marketplaces that would help you find new affiliate programs.
  • Affiliatizer: This is a chrome addon that would help you find the new affiliate program.
  • Competitor analysis: Analyze the top websites in the niche you are targeting, and make a list of affiliate products they promote. This will help you find high value and profitable affiliate products.

Affiliate Marketing: FAQ

At this point, you should have a basic understanding of what affiliate marketing is and how it works.

Now, let me answer some of the common questions asked by webmasters and marketers about affiliate marketing:

How much money you can make as an affiliate marketer?

“Limitless”.
There are affiliate marketers who are making millions of dollars a month via affiliate marketing. I personally make more than $30000/month from Affiliate marketing. Below you could see a screenshot of my earnings from one such affiliate program:

The key here is how you are approaching the whole process. Are you using a blog or using PPC to market affiliate products. The one that I have been using from the past 10 years, is via blogging. This has been the most effective one so far.

 

Is it important to have a blog for affiliate promotion?

Not necessarily, but a blog is really the best promotional tool. With that said, you can always use methods such as PPC or advertising to promote a product.
This is another popular method to grow in affiliate marketing. For me, the best way to make the most out of affiliate marketing opportunities is to have a blog. Learn how to start a blog here.

How much does it cost to join an affiliate program?

There is no charge for joining an affiliate program, however, your total cost depends on what promotion technique you are using. For example, a blog post doesn’t cost a dime, but PPC marketing, email marketing, and advertising come with various price tags.

What qualifications do I need to become an affiliate marketer?

There is literally no qualification required to become an affiliate marketer, though having good copywriting skills and marketing skills will be an added advantage.

Is affiliate marketing harmful or illegal?

No, it is neither harmful nor illegal, as you will simply be using the affiliate link provided to you rather than a direct link to link to any site.
However, in certain jurisdiction, you are supposed to disclose that you may be compensated for endorsing the product. Read our guide on Affiliate disclosure to learn more about it.

How do I find an affiliate link for any product?

Not all companies offer an affiliate program, of course, but for those that do offer affiliate programs, you can check their website for related information. When searching, be sure to check the company’s FAQ page if they have one.

Another way to find this information is to do a simple Google search. For example, one could place the following phrase into Google Search:  “(product name) + affiliate program”. (Replace “product name” with the name of the product you are promoting.) There is an interesting chrome addon called Affilitizer is available which makes this process easy.

This should bring you to a landing page. Many companies use an affiliate marketplace like ShareASale, CJ, or Clickbank. These are free to use and you can create a free account.

How do I find new products to promote?

Affiliate marketplaces such as those mentioned above are the best places to start your affiliate marketing research. You can browse your niche and see the top performing affiliate programs.

Alternatively, you can keep an eye on blogs in your niche and see which products they are promoting and what methods they are using.

Affiliate marketing and AdSense: Can we use both?

Yes, you can use both as affiliate marketing does not violate any AdSense TOS. In fact, for me, affiliate marketing works better than Adsense, and that is one reason you see fewer AdSense ads here at ShoutMeLoud.

How do I get started with Affiliate marketing?

Here at ShoutMeLoud, I and many guest authors have covered some of the best guides to help you to understand in depth about getting started, and some of the pros and cons.

I hope this beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing will help you get started. If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section below.

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Keyword Research for SEO – The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Keyword Research for SEO – The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Keyword Research for SEO – The Ultimate Guide For Beginners (2020)

keyword research for seo

Use the proper keyword and you will get more search engine traffic…

Optimize your website keywords and you will reach your business goals…

How many times have you gotten such advices in your journey as a business owner or wannabe SEO?

Probably a lot.

That’s because keywords and keyword research are the first things you should learn about when you want to grow your online business using search engine optimization.

I have been in your situation a long back, and I know how fruitful keyword research could be for anyone like you or me.

And hence,

This guide is written for a beginner like you to understand the most fundamental concept of SEO – keyword research.

Keyword research

Even if you never understood what is the purpose of keyword research, and how do you actually do it, this guide will help you understand every aspect of it.

My goal today is to help you learn about:

  1. What is Keyword research?
  2. What is the importance of Keyword research?
  3. How Keyword research could benefit you?
  4. How to perform Keyword research?

Let’s start with the basics…

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding keywords that would drive targeted traffic to your business. Mostly, this is done by identifying how your target users are finding a website like yours.

Let me simplify it,

when we are looking for a solution to any of our problems, we use a search engine like “Google” “Duckduckgo” to find an answer to that.

We expect the search engine to give us a solution within the first page of search, which is also known as SERP (Search engine results page).

Keyword research helps us to identify those “phrases”, “words”, “queries”, that the mass is asking using a search engine.

As a business or even a blog, when we know what kind of queries users (mass) are asking via search engines, we can optimize or create new pages, helping users to find the answer, and use that traffic to grow our business.

Alternatively, using the same keywords (queries) you can also run PPC ads on platform like Google ads or Facebook ads, to drive traffic to yours or your client websites.

In technical words;

The purpose of Keyword research is to find those “topic”, “ideas” and assign a business value to it, which is commonly used by your target audience. Another way to look at Keyword research is: It helps you to discover those questions and queries which your target customers are asking on the web, and gives you the advantage to speak the language your customer will understand.

Let us understand this with an example:

A simple example is, let’s say a recently became father wants to buy a stroller for his kid. He uses this query “Best baby stroller” in Google search, to find the best brand. Something like this…

Since Google search is smart, it auto-populates a lot of frequently used queries to help the father ask the right question.

Now, depending on the father location, and his understanding, he will stick with his query, or perhaps pick one that is suggested by Google.

Now, search engine keeps a log of how many times these queries are being asked by millions of users around the globe.

The process of keyword research shows the most popular query, along with geo-location, and the number of times these queries has been asked within a specific time (ex: 30 days).

Now, as a business owner, these stats would help you understand which of these queries, you should answer on your website, and in turn, it will help users to discover your website, and the solution.

The solution ultimately helps owners to drive more targeted traffic from search engines, which converts into direct sales, ad sales or even as an affiliate sales.

Well, this is how a keyword research helps.

With a little preparation, you could drive significant traffic to your blog or business and hence make most out of your hard work.

The process of optimizing your keyword for search engine is called “On Page SEO“.

That’s a topic for advanced users, but today we dwell deep into the keyword research.

Performing keyword research, help you experience the business in a record time. Since, you are using data with your emotions, it would help you maximize your work.

Let’s understand this with an example…

Earlier I talked about a father looking to buy a “Stroller” for his son. Now, lets assume you are a business who is into selling baby stroller. (You could be anyone, and replace baby stroller with your product).

By using keyword research tools, we could find data like which keyword “Also known as queries, question, search term” a parent is using on a search engine to find a solution.

The following result is from a tool called “SEMrush“, that shows similar queries with a lot of data as shown below:

Let’s try to understand what’s happening in this image. (Even if you don’t understand 100%, don’t worry as this is normal for a beginner.)

  1. Keyword: This is the query users are asking to find the best baby stroller. When doing SEO, this is the phrase that we “target”, so we often call this as “target keyword” or “Focus keyword”.
  2. Volume: This tells you roughly how many people are searching for that particular keyword in a given month. This is a very important metric as even if you assume a search term will be popular, search data will tell you otherwise. In the above example, you can see two similar keywords which have a considerable difference in monthly search volume:
    • Best rated baby stroller: 140 searches/month
    • Best rated baby stroller 201930 searches/month
  3. Trend: This one helps you to see if the keyword trend is going up (more people are searching) or going down (fewer people are searching). For example, iPhone 11 Pro could be a popular term in 2019-2020, but as a new iPhone is released, this term will lose value. You will understand this in-depth, as we move ahead in our keyword research guide.
  4. Keyword difficulty: This is an important metric that helps you understand, how difficult or easy it is going to be rank for a target keyword on the first page of Google. These tools, compare all the existing ranking pages for things like “On page SEO”, “Backlink profile”, “domain authority” and a few others, to rank such queries. The lower the rank is, easier it would be to rank for.

Like this, there are many matrices you will be getting when you start with Keyword research.

Im nutshell, Keyword research helps you to make data driven decision. In case if you not aware, data is the new oil.

Before we move ahead,

Do read my earlier guide on difference between SEO keywords and queries, it will help you create a better mindset for keyword research.

Moving ahead, lets look at the benefits of keyword resarch.

What are the Importance of Keyword research?

Not all keywords are equal, and lets try to quantify this. The process of Keyword research could help your business (Blog, ecommerce, service or any other) in the following ways:

  1. Keyword research helps you understand the language used by your target audience on a search engine. We typically use Google search as a base, since its the biggest search engine.
  2. It helps you discover untapped queries, that could directly help you get paid customers from organic searches such as Google search, Baidu and others.
  3. Engaged audience: The audience that you will be receiving is already hot (ready to buy), and you will get high engagement in the form of comments, sharing or even as a sale.
  4. Market and customer trend: Periodically, performing Keyword research will help you to understand in which direction the market and customers are heading.
  5. Competitive advantage: Incorporating keywords and SEO before your competitors, will give you a solid advantage. If done right, in a less crowded niche, it could help you earn a lot of backlinks as a first mover advantage.
  6. Reduce PPC Cost: Keywords SEO will help you drive those traffic for free, which a business, usually pay for in the form of PPC. Such organic ranking could significantly reduce your business digital marketing cost.
  7. More Ad revenue: Marketers and bloggers who rely on income from Google AdSense or Media.net, they could use the Keyword research to find high CPC keywords and thus increase their ad revenue significantly, with the same effort.

There are many more advantages of Keyword research, the above few are the prime one.

Here is a less known fact about Keyword research:

A lot of people mistake keyword research as the process of finding only high volume keywords, which is not the fact.

The task of you as an SEO is to remove those keywords which are not going to benefit your business in any way. Moreover, after finding profitable keywords, you will also learn how do you prioritize them for maximum benefits in shorter span.

The good thing about Keyword research skills is, once you put this into practice, it just keeps getting better.

Now, its time to get into the technicality of KW research.

Types of Keywords based on the users intent

Moving ahead with our previous example “Baby stroller”, a parent could ask this question with different intent. For example:

  • A parent could ask to understand how to pick a baby stroller.
  • A parent just wants to know which one is #1 baby stroller in today’s time.
  • A parent is ready to buy best baby stroller right away.
  • A doctor could be using this query for his research.

Do you see, how the same query meant different when used for different purpose. This is what is known as search intent.

This brings to the point, Keywords could be sub-divided into different types, based on the users’ intent.

These are the 4 most common type:

  1. Commercial keywords
  2. Transactional keywords
  3. Informational Keywords
  4. Navigational Keywords

These 4 types determine, which keyword is directly going to affect your revenue. This is also closely related to content funnel (TOFU, MOFU, BOFU), which is a learning for some other day.

Keyword could also be categorised in a few other ways, such as…

Number of words:

  • Short tail Keywords a.k.a Head Keywords: (Ex: Baby stroller)
  • Long-tail keywords. (Ex: Best baby stroller in Australia)

Also check out: Long tail keywords finder tools

What do you need for Keyword research?

Here at ShoutDreams, I follow a unique style of researching keywords.

You need the following things for performing Keyword research:

  1. A tool (free or paid) for researching keywords
  2. A list of Seed Words or a list of SEO competitive domains/businesses. (More on this further)
  3. Using seed words to create a list of SEO keywords or using competitive websites to find profitable keywords
  4. A document (excel or similar) to capture, and cleanup the keyword.
  5. A system to delegate the final keywords for production ( Creating blog articles, eBooks, video content, product page)
  6. Measuring the ranking using a keyword rank tracking tool.

Once you incorporate keyword research as your business marketing process, it helps you grow organically.

This the exact steps I follow to drive more than 15 million page-views every year and earn close to 1 million USD every year. This website “ShoutMeLoud” is bext example of outcome of Keyword research process.

After 10 years of implementation, I define the steps of Keyword research as:

  1. Research
  2. Cleanup
  3. Execute/Delegate
  4. Monitor
  5. Optimize

These 5 steps will cover all the aspect of keyword research.

Now, I believe you and me are on the same page, and its time to learn how to do the keyword research.

3 Different ways to do Keyword research:

There are various techniques you could follow for researching SEO Keywords. Let’s look at some of the most popular once, which could be executed by even a newbie.

1. Find a competitor or top site keyword:

This is perhaps the easiest way to find keywords that are already working for an existing website. In this, process, we identify 2-3 websites which are the top in the niche we are targeting. For example: “best Baby stroller”

 

 

A quick Google search has shown the results from these top 3 websites. You could repeat the process for your target keyword, and once you have identified the top 3-4 winning websites, head to SEMRush, which is a keyword research tool.

On the SEMRush dashboard, enter the domain name that you identified from Google search and use it to find keywords that the domain is ranking for.

SEMRush will show you all the vital details like:

 

 
  • Which keyword is driving maximum traffic to the particular website
  • The volume, traffic %, KD, Keyword position
  • Which page on the website is getting traffic for which keyword

SEMrush also gives you an option to filter keywords based on various factors. If you need a more detailed guide on this, let me know in the comment section below.

And like this, within minutes you have found the Pandora box of profitable keyword for your business.

2. Using Keyword Gap to find easy wins

This is one underutilized Keyword research technique that could help you find keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you are not. This is idle for an existing website to find low hanging fruits.

3. Using Seed Words for researching Keywords

This is idle for any new and existing website alike. This is more time consuming than the above two methods, but this will help you discover unique keywords that no one is targeting.

You can use this method by using and Keyword research tools or even a long tail keyword tool.

We will again use SEMRush for a better understanding of this method.

  • Head over to SEMrush
  • Click on Keyword Magic Tool

 

 

Enter your seed keyword and select the primary country that you are targeting.

Now, click on Search and within a few seconds, SEMRush will generate a ton of keywords from your seed keyword.

 

 

You can filter the keywords based on various parameters such as:

  • Exact match will include the exact match of the phrase ‘baby stroller’ with the same words order. So you will get ‘buy baby stroller’, ‘where to buy baby stroller’, ‘buy baby stroller in San Francisco’, etc.
  • Broad match will include all forms of the words ‘buy’ and ‘new’ and will suggest variations of the word order. So you will get all keywords from exact match plus ‘‘buy the newest baby stroller’, ‘buy baby stroller new’, ‘buy super-new baby stroller in New York’, etc.
  • Phrase Match
  • Related Keywords

You can do the same thing using the Google Keyword Planner tool (GKP), which is free. The only downside is, Keyword planner tool by Google is created for PPC and is not super friendly for SEO keyword research. However, for anyone who is running on a shoestring budget, the Keyword planner tool by Google is idle.

Note: In this guide, I used SEMrush, as an example because this is my go to Keyword research tools. However, you could always use similar tools such as KWFinder to achieve the same.

The above steps, will help you to capture the primary keyword. Now, once you have the vital piece of data, you need to do a few things such as:

  1. Create the cluster of similar keyword
  2. Create a SEO plan like to create new content or product pages, website structure
  3. Measuring it, and optimizing it.

I will be talking about keyword clustering, and creating a SEO plan in the upcoming guides.

For now, I hope this guide helped you to understand what is keyword research, and how actually you could do keyword research.

I understand this is an extensive topic, and you might be having a few questions. Do utilize the comment section to ask your questions related to Keyword research.

Also, if you are an experienced SEO, feel free to share your way of performing keyword research by commenting below.

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Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Make Your First Affiliate Marketing Sale in 7 Steps

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Make Your First Affiliate Marketing Sale in 7 Steps

7 Steps to Earning Your First Affiliate Commission

We’ve broken down the process into seven steps for affiliate marketing beginners. Following this guide will set you on the right course and have you earning your first commission in no time.

1. Choose a Niche

Before you even begin building your first site, you’ll need to decide which niche you’re going to target.

Obviously, if you don’t know what your site is about or who you’re going to target with it, you can’t really build a site around it…can you? 

If you’ve already figured this one out, way to go! This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and overwhelming steps.

If you don’t quite know what your niche is yet, here’s some advice that you might find useful. 

Some key questions to ask yourself when determining your niche are:

  • What topics am I already passionate about?

It’s much easier to work on something if you’re passionate about it. Plus, when you have a passion, you’re usually quite knowledgeable about it too, so that definitely helps. For example if you have a passion about about makeup, your niche of choice might be makeup related, too. 

  • Is there money in this niche?

While following your passion is definitely the recommended option, sometimes the possibility of making money in a profitable niche trumps passion. So, you might not necessarily know much about your niche, but if it’s likely to make you money, you can always learn more about it, right? 

For example, KitchenFaucetDivas is clearly a site that was built for profit, not passion. Unless of course there is someone out there with a serious passion for kitchen faucets! 😉 

  • What topic could I see myself easily writing 25, 50, or 100 blog posts about?

The topic you choose must have enough depth that you can create a lot of content for it. This is important for building an authoritative site, for search engine optimization, and most importantly, for the end user. If you don’t have enough content about a topic, you’re not going to be taken very seriously as an authority on the topic and it’s unlikely you can convince someone to make a purchase from you. 

MoneySavingExpert is a great example of a site with a topic for which you would have a never ending supply of content ideas. 

  • Is there room in this niche for another affiliate marketer?

There are several profitable niches that are also very popular among affiliate markets (e.g., weight loss). Before jumping on board with a hugely popular niche, make sure there’s enough room for you. That is — will you be able to make money and compete with already established marketers? If not, keep looking. 

  • Is there enough interest in/demand for products in this niche?

The niche you choose might draw enough interest from your audience when it comes to reading and acquiring knowledge, but are they willing to buy relevant products too? Without consumer interest in products, your niche isn’t going to make you much money. 

  • Are there affiliate programs available in this niche?

This is obviously a crucial factor to consider. You might come up with an idea for a niche you know a lot about, but are there affiliate programs for the niche? No affiliate program = no sales. Time to look for a different niche. 

Additional Resources for Choosing a Niche

Want to learn more about choosing a profitable niche? Here are some excellent resources we recommend for further reading:

2. Research Affiliate Programs

Once you’ve decided on a niche, it’s time to find out what’s out there in terms of programs and products to promote. You’ve probably already done a bit of research for this while researching your niche — now you need to dig deeper. 

Choosing an affiliate program will take some work, but don’t be afraid to invest a significant amount of time into it because this is, of course, where your income will come from. Choosing the right program will make it well worth your while!

When choosing an affiliate program, keep these key points in mind:

  • What type of merchants use the program/ affiliate network? 

You want to make sure other similar sellers are also using the network, as this can help you gauge your likelihood of success with the particular program.

  • How much commission are you likely to make from the products?

Make sure you sign up for programs that are profitable and generate a sufficient return in on investment. Some tips:

  • If using ClickBank, products should have over a 50% commission (preferably 60%), and have a high gravity rating (meaning they’re in demand).
  • For CPA (cost-per-action) programs, commissions should be over $1, and products shouldn’t be overly restrictive in how you can promote them.
  • For physical products, look for commissions over $40.  
  • Do you want to be associated with the products and services?

The products and services you will be promoting to your audience must be relevant and good quality. Make sure you believe in them and know everything about them, because this will be crucial to you delivering the sales pitch to your audience. You need to build trust with your audience so make sure the products and services you choose to promote are trustworthy enough. 

Ads like the one below often lead to sketchy products — do you want to be associated with a product that promises results that may or may not be true?

  • What kind of support does the program provide?

Be sure to check what kind of customer support you can expect from your affiliate program once you have signed up. Do your research online and if possible, speak to other sellers using the program to get their thoughts. Can you speak to someone via phone or Skype or do you have to wait 72 hours for email responses? Be clear on this because trust me, you will need support at one point or another. 

3. Build a Site

Steps 1 and 2 are all about research and figuring out what’s possible and profitable. Now, it’s time to start putting your research into action. 

Assuming you don’t already have a website built, this will be the next step. Fortunately, building a site isn’t as complicated or labor-intensive as it was in the past.

If you’re a newbie to building sites, the easiest way to set up a site is by using WordPress. The WordPress CMS is very easy to use and while coding skills can come in handy, for the most part you will not require any tech knowledge to set up your site. 

You need to follow a few steps to have your site up and running:

  • Buy a domain.

Your domain is the address for your website (e.g., www.affilorama.com) so this is the first thing you will need to do when setting up your site. Considering there are millions of websites on the internet, it’s possible that the domain name you want may already be taken by someone else. So make sure you have several options in mind. Be sure to read our advice on how to choose a good domain name

There are several places you can buy a domain, including well-known options are: GoDaddy and NameCheap

If your domain is your address, hosting is like the actual house within which your site will live. It’s your own little slice of the internet — the place where all your website files live. Hosting is very affordable these days, so don’t unnecessarily scrimp on costs. Go with a reputable, reliable provider because your affiliate marketing business depends on it. 

Some affordable and reliable hosting providers we recommend are GoDaddy, HostGator and BlueHost

  • Install WordPress.

Once your hosting is set up, you need to install a content management system (CMS) for your site. We recommend WordPress because it is easy to use and a beginner (like you!) can quite quickly figure out how it works. Most good hosting providers will have a one-click install option for WordPress, which means it will only take you a couple of minutes and you will have WordPress installed on your site. 

  • Install your theme.

A WordPress theme provides all the styling of a site that you (and your audience) see on the front end. There are thousands of themes available, so choosing one might seem daunting at start. Our advice: go with something simple and easy to customize. You can always change it later. 

The AffiloTheme is a great option. Completely customizable, and built specifically for affiliate marketers, you can use this WordPress theme to bypass much of the initial learning curve other affiliate marketers will experience. You can also search for themes on a site like Theme Forest. 

  • Create content.

Finally, once your site is ready, it’s time to create content for it. The content you create must be relevant to your niche but also interesting and engaging enough to keep your audience coming back. You should also ensure the site content is search engine-friendly. More details about content creation in Step 4. 

4. Produce Excellent Content

Now that your site is set up and you’ve joined an affiliate program, you’re ready to begin perhaps the most time-consuming (but potentially rewarding) part of the affiliate business: Producing content.

This is where the overused but truer-than-ever phrase “content is king” comes into play.

Your goal for your site will be to establish it as an authority site in your niche, and the main way to do this is to consistently produce unique, high-quality content.

This could consist of:

  • Product reviews.

Your affiliate site model could be based off writing reviews about different products or services. This is a common model and if done well, can prove very useful in generating affiliate income.

For example, The Wire Cutter is focused on writing reviews of several different kinds of products and helping their readers make the best decision about the product they want to buy. After reading a review on their site, if the user clicks through to the product/service using the affiliate link, The Wire Cutter will earn a commission from. 

  • Blog posts that address common problems, questions or issues relevant to your target market.

Creating blog content is a very useful and effective way of consistently building content on a site. When creating blog posts, it’s a good idea to do some keyword research to figure out what it is that your audience is interested in and searching for online. Also, be sure to research competitors, forums and social media to narrow down on topics for your blog. 

For example, Security Guard Training HQ has a very extensive blog on a variety of topics relevant for anyone interested in security guard training, jobs and more. 

  • Evergreen content.

If you are building a site that has the potential for information that will never age and remain useful for your audience, you have the opportunity to create what is known as evergreen content. It’s important to carry out extensive keyword research before planning any evergreen content for a site like this, as your site could hugely benefit from the proper usage of keywords within such content. 

For example, the content on Super Weddings is useful whether you’re organizing a wedding today or next year. All the content on the site is created accordingly. To make things easier for the audience, it is separated into categories to make it very convenient for the reader to find what they’re looking for. This, of course, is also very good for SEO. 

  • Informational products.

Giving away a free informational product such as an e-book, an email series or a mini-course is a popular tactic many affiliate marketers use. Usually, your readers will have to provide their email addresses to receive the product from you. You can then use this to sell to them via email marketing. Additionally, an informational product can generate interest in the actual product you’re trying to sell. If your product is popular enough and brings enough traffic to your site, you could also monetize the traffic in other ways, such as AdSense.

A good example is DatingMetrics, where you’re tempted with a Free Texting Crash Course in exchange for your email. The real marketing will begin once the user has downloaded this course. 

The type of content you create for your website will largely depend on your niche, as certain types of content perform better in some niches than others.

Remember: Purchasing generic content is NOT an effective method to build your site. While it may be tempting to populate your site this way, in the long run it won’t help you to position yourself as an expert in your niche (and ultimately means less traffic and fewer sales).

5. Build an Audience

Building an audience for your site will, in some ways, follow naturally once you start producing excellent content. An interested audience will not only bring you consistent traffic, but also result in consistent sales for you. 

So how do you start building an audience for a completely new site? Here are some ideas: 

  • Promote your content via social media.

The easiest and most common way to start building an audience for a website is via social media. Depending on your niche and industry, you can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and several other niche and location-specific networks. Building up an engaged and interested following on social media is a great opportunity to build relationships and once you have their trust, promote your products and services to them. 

I’ll use MoneySavingExpert.com as an example again. The site has over 154,000 likes on its Facebook page and it connects with the audience by sharing links to content but also asking money-saving/budgeting related questions. The highly engaged readers then visit the website, where they read content and no doubt make purchases.

  • Guest post on high-traffic blogs.

While your site is still new, it’s a good idea to start capitalizing on someone else’s audience. Continue focusing on building your own content, but also considering writing content for a few big, high-traffic blogs that are relevant for your niche. By writing content for a bigger site, you are able to get in front of another audience and showcase your expertise on a particular topic. This will eventually lead to more traffic to your site, as well. 

  • Build an email list.

Let no one tell you that email marketing is dead. An email list is crucial for every affiliate marketer. You can start building up your email list with a lead magnet (like the information products mentioned previously) or even just by encouraging your audience to sign up for your updates. You can then push your content to this audience via email and also direct them to your affiliate offers. Don’t be sleazy about the sales, but if you build up enough trust with your email audience; when the time comes, they will not mind purchasing a product from you. 

  • Use basic SEO techniques to increase search engine traffic to your site.

Organic search remains an important source of traffic for any website, so it’s important that you optimize your website for search engines as well. When creating your content, you must always do so keeping the reader in mind first, but don’t forget to follow a few basic SEO principles as well.

Learn SEO yourself or hire a good SEO marketer to help you maximize on-page and off-page SEO opportunities for your site. If your site starts to appear in search results for terms relevant to your niche, it will be a huge boost towards building your audience (and your sales)!

  • Invest in paid advertising.

Many affiliate marketers use paid advertising to generate additional traffic to their site and drive more sales. Paid advertising on social media is often a good place to start, as these networks tend to be more affordable.You may also want to consider taking out inexpensive banner ads on small niche sites. Depending on your niche, Google AdWords could also be a good option to drive some paid traffic to your site.

6. Promote Affiliate Offers

Finally, the part we’ve all been waiting for!

This, my friends, is where things really kick into high gear. Many fly-by-night affiliates will jump right to this step and bypass steps 1–5 completely. And this is what will set you apart.

Once you’ve shown that you can offer something of value in your niche, it’s time to continue adding value by promoting products that will be useful and helpful for your audience.

You can promote your offers in a number of ways. It will depend on the type of site you’ve built and also what you’re selling. Some ideas include:

  • Product reviews.

Write honest, real reviews about products. Build up trust with your audience, and remember that they rely on your opinion. Don’t just point out all the positives of a product and gloss over the negatives. An honest opinion will be valued. Add compelling images and make mention of useful features, specifications and other details. 

Your product review can then link to the page (with your affiliate ID attached), where your audience can make a purchase if they’re interested. If do, hooray! You’ve made your first sale. 

  • Banner ads.

You can put up banners on your site, to promote your affiliate offers. Most affiliate programs will usually provide their own creatives when you sign up for their offers. All you have to do is insert the banner on a highly trafficked page (your affiliate tracking is usually embedded within the code). Banner ads in the right locations can do a great job of driving sales.  

Below are some examples of banners that Templatic provides to its affiliates. 

  • In-text content links.

This is a very common way to promote offers. For example, you will often see a blog post with links to certain products or services. If the reader clicks through and makes a purchase, the blog owner will make a commission. These in-text links blend in with other content on your site and are a great way of promoting an offer within your content, without being over-the-top salesy with banners. 

  • Email promotions.

If you have built up an email list, you could also promote your affiliate offers via email promotions. Just make sure you build up a relationship with your audience first instead of going for the hard sell straightaway. The emails you send out must contain your affiliate links to products so when your audience click through. the sale is attributed to you. 

  • Discounts and giveaways. 

Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. For example, if you’re an Amazon Associate and the site have a big Holiday Sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience. 

When promoting affiliate offers, just make sure you are fully aware of all the terms and conditions attached to your affiliate program. Some programs can be strict about how they allow you to promote their products. For example, some may limit you to banner ads and links only, while others will allow you to use paid advertising, but won’t allow email marketing

Also, make sure you have a disclaimer on your website that advises your audience that you may have links that promote affiliate offers. This is necessary for several affiliate programs and also a basic courtesy to your website visitors. In the U.S., the FTC mandates disclosure for affiliate marketers (and anyone issuing endorsements), as well. 

7. Rinse, Lather, and Repeat

Now that you’re done with Steps 1 – 6, Step 7 is simply to keep doing what you’re doing. Yes, seriously!

Your ongoing work as an affiliate marketer will be to repeat steps 4 – 6 on a continual basis. Building a site up to a point where it can make you consistent income takes a bit of work and you must be willing to constantly create, promote, market, innovate and of course, sell. 

Review of Key Points

It can feel overwhelming to do all the necessary work involved in setting up your site and building your reputation. But trust me, once you’ve made that first sale, all the hard work will be worth it!

To sum it all up, making your first affiliate commission requires a bit of work but if you break it all down and follow it step by step, it won’t seem so overwhelming at all. Here’s a quick recap of what you need to do:

  1. Choose your niche.
  2. Research different affiliate programs and products.
  3. Build a site.
  4. Produce excellent content.
  5. Build an audience.
  6. Promote your affiliate product(s).
  7. Repeat steps #4–7 on a continual basis!

As you can see, there is a tried-and-true strategy when it comes to affiliate marketing for beginners. Put in the work, and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of your first sale. 

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