Affiliate Marketing For Beginners
How many times have you seen a screenshot of affilate earnings like this and thought “how is this possible and how can I get my share”?
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Okay, question.. hands up who would love to earn a great passive income from a blog? I reckon most of you have your hands so high in the air you could reach for the stars, why else are you here?
I am going to tell you here and now that in 2020, one of the easiest and best ways of achieving this ambition is through affiliate marketing.
This article is going to guide you step by step through the process that works for me and for countless other people involved in affiliate marketing. It is aimed primarily to show how to do affiliate marketing for beginners.
Table of Contents
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Birds eye view of the participants involved in affiliate marketing
Fundamentally, affiliate marketing describes the process of selling another businesses’ products or services in exchange for a referral commission. There are numerous methods and techniques involved in this but I am going to outline the best technique that works for me.
What I am about to demonstrate are the steps involved in creating a niche content site which is monetised primarily using affiliate links.
Popular Affiliate Marketing Terms & Abbreviations
This is worked out as the total value of your orders over a period of time divided by the number of orders.
This refers to the model where the affiliate get paid for an action performed by the user. The action could be completing a form, survey, registration or even a sale.
Cost per click is used in advertising where the advertiser is charged for each click they receive on an advert.
This is where the affiliate gets paid for each lead that they bring in. It could be just an email or more info like zip code or address.
It actually refers to cost per mille but it means a charge for every thousand impressions that an advert has made. In other words, the advertiser pays for a thousand views of their advert rather than a click.
Advertisers pay for every time an advert appears in a browser window. This is usually in the form of popups and popunders. This is a very cheap method but very un-targeted.
Cost per sale refers to how much the advertiser pays for adverts to make one sale.
This refers to the percentage of total visitors to your site that convert, whether that be a sale or lead or whatever your conversion goal is. e.g. If 2 out of every 100 visitors convert, that is a 2/100 ratio or 2% conversion rate.
This refers to a section or sections on your site where the visitor is asked to make a decision to convert. Usually consisting of an enticing message like “Click here for your instant download”. Usually with a button and/or form.
This is a percentage of people clicking on a link on your site. If 4 people click a link out of every 100 visitors then this is 4/100 = 4% CTR. It is important to see how compelling your links are for the visitor to click on.
EPC refers to how much profit your site generates for every click that it receives. Usually measured over 100 clicks. If your site profits by $20 for every 100 clicks the that is an EPC of (20/100) = $0.20 per click
Pay per Click is used in advertising to refer to the amount spent for 1 click through to your website.
This metric is used to measure the profitability of your website. The formula o calculate this is ROI = Net Profit / Total Investment * 100
This is the prospect or potential buyer of the products or services on offer on a website or blog. Fundamentally, we are all consumers; at some point, we all search for information, products or services online.
The merchant is the company, brand, retailer or product creator. This is the place where the consumer will ultimately buy the product or service that they are interested in. Usually this will be the website selling the product or service.
For example the consumer may be interested in buying a pair of headphones and after some extensive research they find the best deal to be had is on Amazon or Costco. In this example, Amazon or Costco would be the merchant. It could equally be anywhere else, Etsy, Ebay, Target. The list is endless.
If the consumer and merchant are the two slices of bread in a sandwich then the affiliate is the yummy filling! The affiliate can be thought of as the person who leads the consumer gently by the hand toward the merchant. Through enticing content and the fine art of persuasion on the affiliate’s website, the consumer is passed via an affiliate link to the merchants sales page where hopefully, the purchase is made.
The affiliate will then earn a commission from the merchant for that sale. There are other ways for the affiliate to earn a commission. Sometimes the merchant will pay the affiliate for a lead (a signup to their mailing list). This type of transaction is called CPA (cost per action). Depending on the action taken and the niche involved, the payouts can vary from a few cents to hundreds of dollars.
The Affiliate Network
In all affiliate marketing transactions there has to be a consumer, affiliate and merchant but sometimes there is an affiliate network involved as well. Affiliate networks exist to offer a merchant a place for them to find affiliates to sell their products and services. Likewise they offer affiliates the opportunity of finding plenty of offers to promote on their website.
They essentially take the burden away from merchants of finding affiliates and operating an affiliate system. This allows the merchant to concentrate on selling goods in exchange for a commission to the networks. The affiliate will sign up to the network and promote the various affiliate programs on their website. For every sale or lead, the affiliate will receive a commission from the network.
Some of the biggest affiliate networks around right now, include, Commission Junction, Rakuten, Shareasale, Clickbank, JVZoo, Awin and Avangate network. There are many others and also many CPA networks too, like MaxBounty, Clickdealer and Peerfly to name just 3.
Affiliate Beginner Network Sign Up
Every network is different and of course you do not have to use a network if you are an affiliate as you can find independent affiliate programs run by some merchants. Amazon Associate program is undoubtedly the biggest out of all of them.
If you do go down the network route though, you do have to go through a bit of scrutiny when signing up for them. Some of them are easy to get accepted to but some are quite difficult, especially the CPA networks. Here is a list of prerequisites you should aim to achieve before you sign up to most networks especially with regard to beginners to affiliate marketing.
- Have your own niche website or blog with content on.
- Aim to get some sales from the less stringent affiliate networks or programs first.
- In the networks or programs you are accepted in, build a relationship with the network manager. This could be a simple Skype message every now and again but ask them for tips and advice and build a rapport.
Do not stress over this at this point, there are plenty of opportunities out there for budding affiliates to earn their first commission without having to endure an inquistion from the more stringent networks just yet.
What is an Affiliate Link?
An affiliate link is simply a normal URL that when clicked on by the consumer will send them to the merchants website. The only difference is that when the affiliate signs up for the affiliate program from the merchant, (via a network or not) they get a unique link to put on their website.
This unique link will usually place a cookie on the consumer’s computer that will tell the merchant that this affiliate sent the consumer to the merchants site. If that consumer makes a purchase either immediately or at a later date (not always the case) then the cookie will ensure that the affiliate gets a commission for that referral.
Here is an example of an affiliate link from the Clickbank network. This has been encrypted to obscure who the affiliate is. This link is unique to just one affiliate and will ensure that they get the commission from any sale made through it.
Beginner's Guide to Affiliate Marketing in 8 Simple Steps
How To Choose Your Niche?
This is one of the most crucial steps you will take in this process. Your efforts will either fly or fail depending on what you choose. I don’t want this to scare you or put you off. If you follow this advice you give yourself the best chance of succeeding.
There is just one small myth that I need to address first. Many people will tell you that you should create a blog based around your passion or hobby. Of course the logic behind this is sound.
If your passion is watching paint dry on a wall, you might find yourself creating a ton of content for your blog but nobody is going to come visiting! My only advice on it is this. if your passion fits into the following criteria then by all means go for it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.
What is a Niche?
The term niche relates to a small and specialised group of people with a common passion for the same products, services, interests and hobbies. For example, where cars can be thought of as a big wide market, people interested in just BMW M3’s are considered a niche market in cars.
Criteria for Choosing a Profitable Niche for Affiliate Marketing
Choosing a Good Domain Name
Don’t get too hung up on this step. Ultimately a good domain name is one that can be brandable and memorable. There is certainly very little if any SEO benefit to a domain name. If your niche is golf simulator projection screens then a good brandable domain might be bestgolfsimscreens.com
What you do need to do is register your domain name at a domain registrar. It doesn’t cost much for a year. Usually around $9 annually. Here are a list of the popular registrars.
Choosing a Good Web Hosting Service
This is going to be the biggest expense you will face but trust me when I say that a good web host is worth its weight in gold! When I say “biggest expense” it is still reasonably cheap, especially in comparison to when I started out about 15 years ago.
A good webhost will provide you with 24/7 support (you will need it) and will have fast servers. There are many to choose from on the market and here are a few of the best ones.
A lot of them will offer you a free domain as well when you sign up so this could save you a bit of money.
Sign Up for Some Affiliate Networks
I mentioned earlier in the article that you should initially choose to sign up for the easier affiliate networks and programs first. This will be guided in some sense by the niche you have decided upon.
You should definitely sign up for Amazon’s associate program as this covers pretty much every niche. You should also sign up for Clickbank because there are a great variety of niches covered on there also with good commissions! In no particular order, here are the networks you should go for.
Amazon.com (Sign up for different countries also especially UK and Canada)
Search for Affiliate Niche Products and Services
When researching your niche you need to find the hottest products and services that will appeal to your target market.
To do this visit some niche specific forums, Facebook groups and Reddit groups and make yourself known amongst these people. Mingle with them and get to know their likes, desires and passions and more importantly, the products they buy.
Armed with this information, spend some time searching the networks and Google for these products affiliate programs and sign up for them.
WordPress is supplied free of charge as part of the package for all the popular web hosting solutions out there. However, each web host has their own procedure when it comes to installation.
Here are the basic steps required if you choose Bluehost as your web host and its very simple.
Once you have WordPress installed, you now need to make it look and behave the way you want it to. To do this pick a nice WordPress theme that fits the look and feel you want.
There are many themes available both paid and free. I like to use a free theme that comes with WordPress and then use a plugin called Elementor which is amazing for laying out your pages the way you like. It is also really easy to use. You also need to install various plugins to optimise and enhance your site.
Create Great Content
I mentioned earlier in the article that the affiliate is like the yummy filling in a sandwich that brings together the two slices of bread (consumer and merchant). The content you put on your site IS that yummy filling.
It is the job of your content to not only be engaging and compelling but to also draw the consumer into the funnel that will turn them into a buyer via your affiliate link.
There are many ways of achieving this ultimate goal and many types of content that can do this. The two main types of content are reviews and tutorials. These can take the form of written articles and/or videos.
Affiliate Product Reviews
Product reviews are a great technique to draw the consumer toward your affiliate link. The beauty of this is that if somebody is looking for a review of a product then they are just one step away from buying that product and need a review to help them take that next step.
A review should consist of :-
Obviously this last point will be your affiliate links to the places selling the product.
Comparison tables of competing products are another good way of engaging the consumer and can draw them toward your affilaite links.
Videos that demonstrate the product are also a good way of getting the attention of the consumer.
The best way is obviously to create these reviews yourself and test the products but many affiliates will collate info from the web and find videos on Youtube. It can work but is not as effective as doing it yourself.
Tutorials are a very effective way of enticing the consumer. These are especially effective with software tools.
For example, you are promoting a new keyword tool and your tutorial shows how you uncover some incredible untapped keywords. I have done this myself multiple times and get some very impressive results as an affiliate.
Video tutorials are the best technique for this in my opinion.
Your best bet is to search what is already out there in your niche and see what your competitors are doing. Do not copy them as that is unethical but you must certainly use them for inspiration.
You should note down what they are doing well and what could be improved. You should then use that as the basis for your content.
Here are some good examples of great affiliate content..
SEO for your Content
I take you back to an earlier point I made about your niche has to be something that people are searching for on Google or other search engines.
When I say niche, I mean the keywords associated with that niche. If your niche is electric tools then you need to find the keywords people are using to search for things in that niche, like a “DeWalt 18v cordless drill review”.
When creating your content you need to pay attention to the SEO aspects of your content.
There are many good keyword tools on the market, some are free and some are paid. Obviously the paid ones have a few more bells and whistles. Here are my personal recommendations.
Google Keyword Planner
Drive Traffic to Your Site
All the steps I have shown you are equally as important as each other but this last step is the ultimate step that will be the difference between success and failure.
Without visitors, your site will just sit there out in Internetland gathering virtual dust and cobwebs. That first affiliate commission will remain just a dream, so how do you drive traffic to your content and turn those visitors into buyers?
Types of Web Traffic
Cheap PPC (Pay per Click) Traffic
The quickest way to bring people into your site is undoubtedly to pay for traffic and the are multiple places where you do this.
PPC traffic refers to “Pay Per Click” traffic but there are many other formssimilar to this, Pay per view or impressions. Pretty much all of them require you to create an advert. Here are the main PPC traffic sources
SEO Organic Traffic
SEO traffic is the organic traffic your site will receive when it is listed on the search engines (especially Google). SEO or search engine optimisation is a course all on its own but the fundamentals all boil down to a few things.
What are backlinks? They are links that other site owners put on their web pages that link to a page on your site. They are vital to your SEO campaign because they are like votes of confidence in your content from the outside world.
They basically say to Google that your content is good and relevant and I am linking to it to show other people that it is good and relevant. Good backlinks from good websites will help push your webpages up from the depths of Google’s search results to the top 10 results.
Getting visitors from the organic listings is the best approach when starting out and you should learn SEO principles.
Build a Mailing List
Your new affiliate site will be amazing but there is one more really important step that will boost your affiliate commissions into the stratosphere and that step is to build a mailing list.
The best way of doing this is to create a simple little PDF report that you can use as a giveaway in exchange for their email address.
Think of the intent of someone visiting your webpage and match the report to it. For example, if someone visits your site looking for a review of a “ACME Fish Oil Supplements”, your report could be about “Top 10 Fish Oil Supplements Benefits – How They Changed My Life!”.
Thousands of people will sign up to your list and you can then market to them whenever you like for FREE!
You will need a mailing list provider and many offer free or cheap trials. Ultimately it is another expense but one that will pay you back a thousand times over. Here are some of the best providers.
Affiliate marketing is the best way by far of earning a passive income. It may take some work to setup but once the machine is rolling it can bring you commissions day after day, year after year with a bit of maintenance and fresh content.