I decided to create this affiliate marketing guide for beginners not as a way to give an “all inclusive” guide, but to show those of you entering the affiliate marketing business all the pieces you need to put together in order to make this really work. Think of this as your affiliate marketing business plan. If you take your time and go through all of the below information and videos, you’ll have a great “overhead view” of what it takes to succeed in affiliate marketing, especially as a beginner. Some of the things you’ll need to do includes:
- Understanding what affiliate marketing is and how it works
- Having the right mindset before starting your affiliate marketing business
- Choosing a niche market and doing industry research
- How to find affiliate products and/or services to sell
- How to develop your first affiliate marketing website
- Ways to send lots of visitors to your website and getting them to click your affiliate links
- What you need to know about affiliate marketing through social media & Other Sources
- How to re-invest profits for fast growth and diversification
Just as a quick forewarning – If you do not intend to spend time going through this guide, don’t even bother. Simply skimming this guide will get you no further than you are today. You must TAKE ACTION. While I can’t promise this guide will make you an expert at any of the above (it won’t), it will give you a great foundation to build upon. Check out the links to additional resources that I’ve supplied, watch the videos I’ve added to this guide, and be serious about actually starting your home based affiliate marketing business. You probably know for certain that is IS possible to make money with affiliate marketing and as someone who earns a 5 figure monthly income from it, I’m as good as anyone to learn this from.
So, let’s get started!
Understanding What Affiliate Marketing Is And How It Works
Affiliate marketing has been around since before the internet existed, so this isn’t something new. Actually, affiliate marketing was around at the birth of the internet, although back then it was mostly to promote porn sites. Things have changed quite a bit.
In short, there are now 10’s of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of affiliate products and services you can sell. Signing up to sell these products and services is usually free. You don’t need to purchase any product ahead of time, you don’t need to ship anything to anyone, you don’t need to have your own payment processing system, and you don’t have to deal with returns or customers service. To better explain how it all works, let me use my own example.
I own the website DogFoodInsider.com and earn money through the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program. After applying to the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program and subsequently being approved, I was given a unique tracking link where I can link to Amazon.com. If someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase, I earn a commission! With Amazon, the commission percentage is generally from 6% to 9% of the sale, depending on how much I’ve sold that month.
So, as you can see, affiliate marketing is rather straightforward. You simply get people to click on a tracking link and if they make a purchase, you get paid. The hard part is finding out how to get people to click on your links and WHERE to post your links. I’ll get into that later in this affiliate marketing guide for beginners.
Think of affiliate marketing as a means for website owners or bloggers to advertise as a means of generating revenue in return for offering free information to anyone who wants or needs it. Just like how television and radio is supported by advertising, so are many websites.
Check out the below video I made on what affiliate marketing is and how it works. You can also check out this article I created that expands more on this subject.
Having The Right Mindset Before Starting Your Affiliate Marketing Business
The majority of websites out there that discuss affiliate marketing proclaim how you can start making piles of money this month (usually if you purchase their crappy training program or e-book, of course). These get-rich-quick claims are bullshit. I hate to be so blunt about it, but that’s the truth. Anyone who tells you affiliate marketing is a way to make an easy or quick buck is lying, probably because they want to sell you something.
The fact is, businesses take time to become profitable. Most brick and mortar businesses take 2 – 3 years and sometimes longer before they see their first penny in profit. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take that long to make money in affiliate marketing even if you’re a beginner. However, you should give it at LEAST 6 to 12 months of hard, honest effort before you can expect to see anything in return. Unlike traditional businesses, you don’t have to quit your day job and you don’t have to invest any real capital to get started, which is awesome. That doesn’t exclude you from the time it will take to learn the ropes and develop something that provides enough value to others that you deserve to get paid for it.
So, please understand right now that if you get started today, you will still be learning next week and you probably won’t be making any money the week after that, either. Or the week after that. However, in one year, you will be one year older. Will you be exactly where you are right now or will you be on your way to quitting your day job? That’s up to you. The patience it takes to wait about a year for real income to start filtering in is the top barrier to entry in this field. Those who stick it out reap the rewards later. If you think about it, a year from now really isn’t THAT far away.
Learn more about how long it REALLY takes to make money with affiliate marketing here. You might also want to read my article discussing whether it’s really possible to become a millionaire in this industry.
Just understand that this is BUSINESS. You’re not “starting a website” and you don’t “just want to make a little extra cash”. You want to start a business. One that will last many years and grow over time while providing you with virtual assets that are more profitable than real estate. If you’re not willing to build a business, stop now. There is enough competition out there who treats affiliate marketing as a business and not just a blog or website. This will take time and effort, but believe me… It’s SO worth it.
Choosing A Niche Market And Doing Industry Research
If you wanted to open a traditional business, such as a convenience store, you would most likely do a ton of research before choosing a store location and opening your doors. But for some reason, when beginners start affiliate marketing, there is usually very little if any research involved. People just set up a free website and start writing about whatever they want without considering the competition, profitability, or enjoyment of whatever topic they decided to go with.
Real affiliate marketers… the ones who treat affiliate marketing as the BUSINESS it is, do research before starting their websites or blogs. The more time you spend on choosing the best niche now, the less time you will waste later. You might be able to build the nicest looking website with the best possible content about “weight loss”, but in an industry so competitive, nobody will ever see your site and you won’t make any sales.
So, how do you perform industry research? You must perform what is called “keyword research”. This is basically where you go out and learn what people are searching for in search engines. The goal is to find a niche topic that you are interested in, that is easy to monetize, and with little competition.
Now, doing industry research in itself is a huge undertaking and is probably the single most important part of your journey. Without a solid foundation for your business, the whole thing will collapse.
What I recommend doing is heading over to this website and going through their fantastic tutorials for affiliate marketers who are just beginning. You can sign up for a free account there and once you sign up, they will walk you through all of this research by providing you with videos and lessons on how to properly find the best niche. Simply scroll down where it says “start new project” and you can get started for free. Highly recommended.
As I stated earlier, this affiliate marketing guide for beginners is not designed to make you an expert. The above resource will make you an expert in industry research and that is extremely important. Give it a shot, it’s free!
Here’s a quit video on how to create a “website blueprint” that I think you’ll find very helpful.
How To Find Affiliate Products Or Services To Sell
These free training videos will walk you through how to find affiliate products and services to sell that will be profitable. You will even learn how to find data on existing sales from existing affiliate marketers to determine things like conversion rates and how much affiliate marketers are making on average per sale.
But believe it or not, finding an affiliate product or service to promote is the easy part. Let’s take my DogFoodInsider.com site as an example. If I wanted to find an affiliate program in the dog food niche, all I’d have to do is go to Google and type in ‘Dog Food Affiliate Program’ and I’m greeted with pages of affiliate programs I can join for free. You can do the same thing for just about anything – sports, travel, health, hobbies, or anything else.
There are also services such as ClickBank.com, ShareaSale.com, and CommissionJunction.com that act as “hubs” for affiliate marketers and businesses seeking to increase their sales through affiliate marketing. These services offer thousands of programs you can sign up for at no cost.
There are some ethical issues at hand though. There are a lot of really crappy affiliate products and services that exist only to make people money and those you refer just basically get ripped off without receiving any real value. I prefer to only recommend products and services I either would purchase myself, have purchased myself, or am a current customer. If I wouldn’t recommend it to my own friends and family, I won’t recommend it on my websites. I believe it is extremely important to only promote products and services you truly believe in. It’ll help you sleep better at night and it’s just the right thing to do anyway.
Check out the below video on how to find great products and services on ClickBank, one of the services I recommended above.
How To Develop Your First Affiliate Marketing Website
For most new affiliate marketers, WordPress is a dream world. I should mention that there are many ways to promote your affiliate links and advertisements, but developing a high traffic website with lots of excellent content that attracts free search engine traffic is without a doubt the most profitable method of affiliate marketing. These days, you don’t need to be a programmer or developer to create kick-butt websites where you can start creating awesome content that provides real value to your website visitors (as I hope THIS article is doing for you).
There are many places where you can develop a nice looking website such as Wix.com, Weebly.com, Web.com, Site Build It, and many others. However, my top recommendation is to create a WordPress website for more reasons than I can list here.
So, how do you know how to develop a WordPress website if you’re a newbie? No problem! There are hundreds if not THOUSANDS of free e-books and videos on how to do this. If you already signed up for a free account here, that’s pretty much all you’ll need. Just go through those videos and you’ll have your own site up and running very quickly. But you don’t really need to sign up for any training programs to learn how to build a WordPress website. The below video is pretty lengthy, but you’ll basically be watching over someones shoulder as they build out a great looking and functioning website. Simply do what they do and you’ll be online in a day.
If you don’t like the way the above video teaches how to develop a WordPress site, just go to YouTube and type in “how to build a WordPress website” and you’ll be greeted with a huge number of these tutorials. Just pick the one you are most comfortable with!
Ways To Send Lots Of Visitors To Your Website And Get Them To Click On Your Affiliate Links
Now that you have a website up and running, it’s time to get some eyeballs onto your site and promote some affiliate products. Unfortunately, this is where things start to take time. You can’t just write a small handful of articles and expect a hoard of traffic that will click on your links and make you money. You have to prove yourself first. I follow a very simple method to do just that. It’s called CTPM.
C = Content
T = Traffic
P = Pre-Sell
M = MONETIZE!
It works like this…
By developing one-of-a-kind CONTENT that truly helps people, you will, over time, begin to gain TRAFFIC from search engines and by people sharing your info with other blogs, on social media, in forums, etc. Once you begin gaining that free TRAFFIC you can then PRE-SELL. How do you pre-sell? By providing fantastic content with the intention to help others. When people feel as though you are helping them, they are much more likely to click on your ads, recommendations, and affiliate links. Pre-selling is basically a way of lowering peoples guard, so that when they do click on your affiliate links, they are essentially ready to buy already. You just let you affiliate partner close the deal, at which point, you MONETIZE!
Notice how monetizing comes last? Most beginning affiliate marketers try to monetize first and that’s what sets them up for failure before they even get started. When you’re first starting, you should be thinking, “how can I help others with my website or blog” instead of asking “how can I make money fast!?”
What it all really boils down to is the “C” in the CTPM process. Content, content, content. The more the better and you really can never have too much. The more content you have, the better chance you’ll get website traffic and the better chance you have to make a sale. Quite honestly, if you don’t like to write or create high quality videos that an audience will enjoy or benefit from, affiliate marketing is not for you.
So, how long does it take to gain enough traffic to earn a full time living? About 6 to 12 months. It could take longer and it might be shorter depending on how much time you spend on it. You should definitely shoot for a MINIMUM of 100 high quality content pages before you should expect to see much of anything in terms of traffic and revenue.
To help give you a better idea of how long it takes, I would like to show you my personal website traffic numbers in the below video. Check it out.
Check out the related article “How Long Does It Take To Rank In Google” here.
What You Need To Know About Affiliate Marketing Through Social Media And Other Sources
I can’t tell you how many affiliate marketing guides for beginners state that you don’t need to have a website. It just irritates me. While TECHNICALLY it’s true that you don’t need a website, it is very unrealistic to not have a website and you would be skipping out on the single most profitable advertising method that just about every successful affiliate marketer uses.
Social media and even paid advertising has their place, but as a new affiliate marketer, your #1 goal should be to make a website or blog profitable. Once you have a bunch of people coming to your website or blog, everything is easier. You already have lots of traffic and followers, so building social media accounts, email marketing, or even re-investing into paid advertising campaigns will be much easier after you’ve already built a great site.
One of the biggest things you’ll see the “guru’s” saying is that you should diversify by using as many advertising methods as possible. This is very true, but you can’t master everything all at once. To start off with, get a great website going. After that, get into email marketing and social media. If I had to pick just one social media network to start off on, it would be an easy decision to pick YouTube. A distant second would be Facebook followed by Twitter. Some visually heavy niches would also benefit from Pinterest. The truth about social media, however, is that your conversion rates will be NOTHING like what you get through a website or blog. It’s not even close.
Do you absolutely NEED a website to be an affiliate marketer? For me personally? The answer is a resounding yes. I’m not saying it’s impossible to earn a full time living with affiliate marketing without a website, but I think it’s highly unlikely and probably the exception instead of the norm. Nothing beats a kick butt website that attracts thousands of visitors every single day for free from search engines. Nothing.
How To Re-Invest Profits For Fast Growth And Diversification
What will you do with the first $500 you make from affiliate marketing? Take a nice vacation? Pay some bills? Help bring down a credit card balance? WRONG!
As a beginning affiliate marketer, your main goal should be to RE-INVEST as much as you possibly can. From the time I earned my first $7 affiliate commission, I began re-investing it. When you do that, growth becomes explosive and you can actually earn a full-time living much faster than if you simply put the money into your bank account.
I personally re-invest the majority of my investments into having content written for me. My favorite two services to outsource content writing is Constant-Content.com and Elance.com. Don’t you think it’s time to start paying people to make YOU rich instead of having a business pay you to make THEM rich? The only way you can get others to make you rich is if you pay them somehow. Using profits gained through your affiliate marketing business so that your business basically pays for its own growth is a phenomenal thing that far too people take advantage of. It’s a very important part of my personal business strategy. In addition to hiring writers, you can hire programmers to make your website better, hire social media managers, virtual assistants, purchase other websites, have more websites built for you, etc. My DogFoodInsider.com website, for example, is a site that has been almost entirely outsourced. As that makes me money, I have more money to invest in another site, then another, than another, etc. It just gets bigger and bigger!
So before you go out and spend your first affiliate commission check, try to think longer term. What if you could turn that initial $500 into $1,000? And that into $5,000? And that into $10,000? And so on.
Invest in YOURSELF.
Wow, so nearly 3,500 words later and we’ve finally reached the end of this affiliate marketing guide for beginners. As I stated early on, this is not meant to be an all-inclusive guide that will make you an expert, but rather, it should help you get a good handle on what it REALLY takes to make money online through an affiliate marketing BUSINESS.
If you want a more detailed step-by-step approach, check this out. You can find hundreds of free videos there and a lot of free resources to help you as you build your business. Those resources are designed specifically for beginners who are just entering affiliate marketing and provides a much more inclusive guide to get up and running.
Good luck and just remember… It might not be as easy as many make it out to be, but making a full time living online with affiliate marketing really IS possible. There’s no reason to believe you can’t do it.
Good luck to ya!