Many people get into content creation—making videos, writing blog posts, and even posting on social media—because they want to make money online. For a lot of people, this usually means building an audience and becoming an influencer.
In my opinion, being an influencer who relies solely on securing brand sponsorships isn’t the best way to go. It’s also not the fastest. It may take you a very long time to build up a big enough audience to actually see your first dollar.
Fortunately, there is an easier, faster way: affiliate marketing!
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a lucrative and relatively easy way to make money online. As an affiliate, you sell other people’s products for a commission.
This means you don’t have to create a product or offer customer support. Your only real job is to promote the product.
What’s even better is that you can set up your business in a way that everything practically runs on autopilot. Once you set it up, you can make money for several months, or possibly even years, with very little maintenance.
Is affiliate marketing legit?
Some people feel like making money with affiliate marketing sounds to good to be true. Some think it must be a scam or that you can only make a few bucks here and there.
Let me tell you, affiliate marketing is real. I don’t really have the biggest audiences and I’ve and admittedly I haven’t done all that I really could, but I’ve made at least several hundred dollars promoting various affiliate products.
If you’re able to build our leverage a large audience over time, you can definitely make a living of selling products as an affiliate.
Why you should get started with affiliate marketing right now
The best part about affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to wait until you have a certain amount of traffic or a certain amount of followers to get started. If you start creating content and you know you want to monetize with affiliate marketing, you should start building those foundations right away!
You’ll also have things in place to start making money while you’re in the process of growing. So instead of waiting until you have 10,000 page views before you make your first dollar, it’s possible you can do that way before them. While it’s true that it will take more time to make sales when you don’t have much traffic, that doesn’t mean that you’ll make NO sales.
Here’s an example. Let’s say only 100 people have seen a post. Your content successful convinces one of those 100 people that they need a product you’re using in that blog post or video.
If you have an affiliate link there already, you can make money off that sale. If you don’t have the link, then they still buy the item, and you don’t get anything for it. You’ve basically promoted that product for free.
As you can see, it’s important to have pieces in place even before you feel like you’re 100% ready. There are still opportunities to make money and as you grow, you can make more and more.
How to start with affiliate marketing in 7 steps
So let’s take a look at some steps you can take to get started with affiliate marketing right now, even if you don’t have a website yet. Follow this 7-step strategy and you’ll be well on your way towards making money with affiliate marketing.
Step 1: Decide on a niche
This is certainly one of the most critical steps for success in affiliate marketing. If you choose a niche that’s too large, there’s likely to be too much competition for success to come easily. On the other hand, if you choose a niche that’s too small and you’ll never have enough customers to be really profitable.
If you already have a blog, website, or YouTube channel, you probably already have a niche picked out and you’ve got the added benefit of having an audience already.
In this case, try to think of something that’s related to the content you already create. You can also ask your audience what needs they have so you can focus on helping them find products and services to match.
So here are a few quick tips for choosing a solid niche:
- Sell solutions – What is a common challenge that many people have that you know how to solve? If you’re familiar with the dilemma, it will be easier to market products that offer a solution.
- Cater to cherished hobbies – What topics are you knowledgeable about that many are fanatical about? Promote products related to popular hobbies and activities.
- Meet an emotional need – What are people afraid of? Most of us are afraid of being alone, missing out on the good things in life, or not being successful. Sell a product that aims to resolve those fears.
The three most successful niches tend to be love, money, and health. Narrow one of these broad topics down to a sub-topic. For example, in the love niche, sub-topics can include getting back your “ex,” finding “the one,” dating success, and many more. You can narrow it even further by catering to one gender.
Step 2: Discover good keywords
Spend some time researching good keywords in your niche. These keywords will be the cornerstone of your marketing plans and all of your marketing efforts will revolve around these keywords.
The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is one of the most popular methods of discovering popular keywords that people use when looking for information or products in a niche. However, it can be a bit troublesome to sign up for and last time I used it you needed to be running ads to get accurate numbers.
So I usually use Ubersuggest for all my keyword research. The free version works well, but since I use it A LOT, I upgraded to the $29 plan.
What you’re looking for are keywords related to your niche that is getting a significant number of searches, but for which there is not too much competition. The Google keyword tool is pretty self-explanatory when it comes to these numbers. A good minimum is 1,500 searches per month.
You should also focus on keywords with buyer intent. This means keywords that you would search for when doing research about a product. People are often looking for reviews, comparisons, and best-of lists.
Step 3: Choose a product
Next you need to choose a product. This might be one product or many, depending on your content strategy.
You might choose to focus all of your content on one product, such as teaching people how to use Photoshop. Your main product in this scenario would be Photoshop subscriptions. But you could also advertise plugins, templates, and other tools as well.
On the other hand, you might have a large blog with different posts on related, but varied topics. You can review and recommend a variety of different products that fit with those different topics.
You can be an affiliate for physical or digital products with tons of different companies. Some are under affiliate networks, like ShareASale and Impact, and others manage their own affiliate programs.
You can find affiliate program for a specific brand or product by doing a quick Google search or searching through the merchants of an affiliate network.
Step 4: Get a domain name (if needed)
You might be interested in affiliate marketing, but don’t have a website yet. That’s fine!
I’d suggest getting one just so you have a link that you can send people that can act as a centralized hub for all your content about your chosen product.
Most people use a blog but you can also use a social media page, like a Facebook group or a Pinterest account. You can also use a page builder like LeadPages or even utilize the website builder in MailerLite to create landing pages to house your affiliate links.
For best results, I strongly recommend keeping a blog because this will make your content easier to find and Google loves regularly updated websites, anyway.
Whichever you decide, you’re going to need a domain to point to that page and also to use with whatever email service you set up. If you’re creating content online, you should have an email list to collect subscribers so you can let them know whenever you have something new for them.
You have the option of picking a domain that’s specific to your product type, like bestcameralenses.com or something. This is something I’ve seen done before, but haven’t really tested out myself since I prefer to build a regular website ecosystem. If you’re like me, you may consider thinking a bit about the type of website you want to build and the content you want to create.
Step 5: Build your website
Now you’ve got all the necessary parts to start building your website. Don’t worry about it being absolutely PERFECT because you can make updates over time.
The easiest way to a full-blown website is by using WordPress software. You can get it free at wordpress.org and look over the tutorials about how to upload the software to your hosting. Most hosting companies also have “1-click” installation for WordPress.
Post content on your site regularly every day for the first couple of weeks, and then 2 or 3 times a week thereafter. This will keep your readers and the search engines coming back for more.
Put a newsletter sign-up form on your website and communicate with your subscribers regularly. Your subscribers are your list and your list is like gold. Cultivate a relationship with them and they’ll buy from you time and time again.
To create your newsletter and forms, you can use MailerLite or ConvertKit to run your email list for free or cheap (starting at $9 per month).
Also remember to include a notice for any sponsored posts and any posts that include affiliate links. This is required by law in many countries, so you can get in trouble if you’re using affiliate links without it being known that you’re being compensated for sharing the link.
Step 6: Share your content
Now that your website/page is up, you need to work on marketing that site.
Share on social media, add to YouTube video descriptions, and post Pins on Pinterest. Don’t forget to send emails to your subscribers regularly, too!
Hook your website up to Ubersuggest and make sure you regularly optimize for new keywords that your site shows up under so you can boost your search rankings in Google.
Marketing is almost always the hardest part, but if you create quality content, utilize the right SEO for your platform (like Google or YouTube SEO), and collab with other creators, you can build your content brand and your income by growing your audience.
Step 7: Keep creating and marketing your affiliate content
Simply setting up your website and promoting it a few times are unlikely to create a large amount of income, if any at all. It’s going to be a steady going process that will happen slowly over time rather than instantly overnight. Do it right, and you can create a long-term income source instead of a one time success.
It’s best to promote several products, each with either their own corresponding website or blog posts, videos, and social media posts. You can stay within the same niche or create several websites for different niches.
Once you have a process that works for you, it becomes easy to replicate over and over again. Keep in mind that some of your content might fail to make money, but others may make a lot of money. Use these insights to plan for future promotions and select products that your audience will love.
Bonus Step 8: Outsource
Running a website and creating all the content can be time-consuming, especially if you want to run multiple sites. However, it’s also possible to outsource a lot of the work.
Many successful affiliate marketers hire someone to build their websites. You can also hire people to write the articles as well as create graphics and videos. The most important part is to make sure you find profitable keywords and products and create content around them.
Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
Making money with affiliate marketing isn’t as difficult as you might think. More people are doing it than you may realize, as well!
It’s true that it will take some time to build your audience and create a trustworthy brand, but in the end, the freedom your newfound income will afford you is totally worth it.
Make sure you have a niche and products that appeal to a good number of customers. Remember that someone has to actually buy the product for you to make any money.
As you grow your affiliate site, take note of what works for you and what doesn’t. The process definitely lends itself to constant improvement.
So if you’re serious about trying affiliate marketing, don’t wait! This is especially true if you’re already creating content on your blog, YouTube channel, or anywhere else.
Anyone with a platform can do affiliate marketing, whether you’re new to the game or you’ve been building an audience for years. Just remember that the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to see some results!