How to start affiliate marketing for beginners

Affiliate marketing is the world’s fastest growing industry and by far the easiest way to make money online.

Affiliate marketing is a popular way for bloggers and content marketers to make additional income. I’m going to show you step by step how you can start affiliate marketing for beginners and then,how to become an affiliate marketer and free affiliate programs from there, start earning some serious money.

How to start affiliate marketing for beginners

how to start affiliate marketing
How to Start Affiliate Marketing in 2022 (7 Simple Steps)
By Jules Costa · Updated Jul 9, 2022
Thousands of independent creators, entrepreneurs, and online publications use affiliate marketing to drive millions in revenue every single month.

So do hugely respected websites such as the New York Times, Forbes and NerdWallet.

And according to Statista, spend on affiliate marketing programs by businesses will grow to $8.2 billion in the US this year. That’s up 76% in the last 6 years alone.

But getting a slice of the billion-dollar pie isn’t as simple as slapping a few affiliate links on your blog.

In fact, most beginners who try affiliate marketing fail to see the financial results they were promised by countless blogs and videos on the internet.

Read on to avoid common mistakes that hold beginners back, plus the most important affiliate marketing tips to help you become successful, sooner.

Here’s our guide to start affiliate marketing the right way:

Research your niche
Choose the right platform
Pick profitable affiliate programs
Create optimized affiliate content
Drive traffic to your affiliate site
Build a simple affiliate marketing funnel
Track and increase your affiliate sales
But first, a few affiliate marketing fundamentals you need to know.

What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a business model where brands share revenue with publishers and content creators in exchange for leads and sales. It works similarly to a salesperson being paid a commission for a successful sale.

The more sales you make, the more money you earn. Affiliate commissions can range from cents on the dollar to hundreds of dollars per referral. Done right, affiliate marketing could help you earn more than your current job or diversify the revenue of an existing content business.

Here’s an overview of how affiliate marketing works:

How Affiliate Marketing Works
You share an affiliate link on your website, blog, or in a social media post
A customer clicks your affiliate link
Customer is redirected to the advertiser website
Customer is tracked as being referred by you through a cookie
Customer makes a purchase
An affiliate network attributes the purchase to you and issues a commission
Commissions appear in your affiliate dashboard
You get paid (!) by the affiliate network
There is no single profile for a successful affiliate marketer. They range from independent entrepreneurs to teams at well-known news outlets and online publications.

And since you aren’t responsible for the delivery of a product or service, affiliate marketing is low risk. You don’t need a degree in marketing or any specific qualifications to be a successful affiliate marketer. With the right resources, almost anyone can generate affiliate revenue.

In today’s world, the success of an affiliate depends heavily on their ability to capture an audience and attract the right kind of traffic. To do that yourself, you need to craft quality content and optimize it for conversion.

And it all starts with understanding and creating affiliate links.

What is an affiliate link?
The main way affiliate marketing works is through affiliate links. Affiliate links are trackable links with a unique URL assigned specifically to you. They help advertisers know that you sent them a specific customer, so they can pay you a commission if that customer makes a purchase.

Here’s an example of the structure of a typical affiliate link:

What is an affiliate link
The most important thing to know as a beginner is that in order to earn a commission, the customer who converts needs to come through your unique affiliate link.

Then there’s the way you earn your commissions. For the most part, there are two main models for earning affiliate revenue:

CPA (Cost Per Action): You earn every time someone from your audience completes an action. Depending on the program, the action could be making a purchase, starting a free trial, or filling out a form with contact information.
CPC (Cost Per Click): You get paid for clicks the advertiser considers to be quality visitors, even if they don’t complete a specific action.
Different affiliate programs will offer different payment models, and some may even pay you for both leads and conversions. We’ll cover how to pick good affiliate programs later in this guide.

While you’re here, here are a couple more key affiliate marketing terms you should get familiar with. These will also help you pick affiliate programs with a high earning potential:

Cookies: Cookies are small files that are stored on a customer’s device when they click an affiliate link. They help businesses and affiliate networks remember that you referred the customer to them, so they can give you a commission later on.
Cookie duration: Cookies typically have expiration dates. Affiliate links tend to have expiration dates between 15 to 30 days, but they can run for as little as 24 hours up to a year or more. Cookie duration matters to affiliate marketers because customers may come back to a purchase days or weeks after a customer first clicks on an affiliate link.
Affiliate networks: Brands typically set up their affiliate programs on third party platforms called Affiliate Networks. These platforms bring brands and affiliate marketers together. There are dozens of affiliate networks, with the most popular including Impact, Flexoffers, Clickbank, PartnerStack and Rakuten.
Is affiliate marketing worth it?
As an affiliate marketer, your earning potential is unlimited. And how many people can say that?

How much you earn depends on you, your chosen niche and your ability to optimize your content and revenue streams. But that doesn’t mean that most affiliate marketers end up becoming online millionaires.

According to PayScale, the average Affiliate Marketer earns between $3,000 and $6,000 per month (or, $36K to $72K annually).

Affiliate Marketer Salary
And the top 1% of earners generate tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. They tend to be full-time affiliate marketers with dedicated teams, and several years of experience.

But you don’t have to go full-throttle to create a sustainable business. The best part of affiliate marketing is that it can supplement your 9-5 income from day one.

And with enough patience and dedication — replace it entirely.

7 steps to get started with affiliate marketing
The biggest, open secret to affiliate marketing is that your earning potential is highly dependent on the niche you choose. That is, what kind of audience you want to serve and the types of products that audience needs to buy. So you need to know what to look for in a niche before launching your affiliate marketing business.

Here are the steps you need to get right from the beginning:

Step 1. Choose a niche based on research
Rushing to catch the latest fads can lead to trouble when these trends end faster than they appear (fidget spinners, anyone?).

Doing niche research is the best thing you can do to make sure your affiliate business has high earning potential and will make money for years to come.

In the process, you’ll analyze the competitive landscape, learn about affiliate programs available in your niche, and be able to create a sustainable affiliate marketing strategy and content plan.

Here’s an overview of the niche research process:

Niche Research
If you’re looking for niche ideas, there are plenty of free niche research tools that will help you get the ball rolling. Just quickly, here are three popular tools for niche research:

Google Trends – Trending topics and searches, organized by geography
Answer Socrates – Find out which questions people type into Google
Exploding Topics – A Google Trends alternative with curated results
That said, if you’re starting affiliate marketing with no money or a small budget, I recommend picking a topic you’re passionate about. That way, you won’t get bored or hate your niche when you’re writing 50+ articles on the topic.

But a topic you like isn’t enough — it needs to be able to make money.

Again, tools like Google Trends are good for vetting niches that you discover and making sure they’re not just passing trends. In all likelihood, you’re going to want to choose an evergreen niche which generates income all year, every year.

Finally, it’s also important to understand the competition to find your entry point into the market.

You might want to start a blog about web hosting (one of the most lucrative affiliate niches), but the amount of capital and content it takes to compete might be out of reach for beginners.

Look for medium-competition niches, where there are a few established players, but you can better serve a smaller audience, distinguish yourself, and expand later on.

For example, instead of “web hosting” for everyone, you could start with “salon website builder” and focus on teaching professionals in the beauty industry. By starting niche, you can build a tight-knit community around your brand and even gain an advantage in ranking on Google.

Further reading: Niche Research: 5 Steps to Finding Profitable Affiliate Niches

Step 2. Choose the right platform
With a niche in mind, it’s time to decide where to host your affiliate content and what type of content you want to create.

There are two main choices for affiliates starting out: a website or a YouTube channel.

YouTube can be an excellent place to grow an audience, build a brand, and promote affiliate products to an audience that trusts your recommendations.

But there are some downsides to starting with only a YouTube channel:

Video takes longer to produce than written content. Which limits the amount of content you can create when starting your project.
Videos are harder to outsource. Especially if you’re the face of the channel, it means you’ll need to be involved with every video.
Harder to grow your email list. YouTube doesn’t have a built-in way to collect email subscribers. Yet email is one of the most effective channels for affiliate marketing.
YouTube channels tend to make less affiliate money. There’s simply more friction to getting clicks on your affiliate links from a video compared to a well-optimized blog post.
Ultimately, it’s great to have both a website and YouTube. Embedding videos on an affiliate website is also an excellent way to boost conversion. But if you’re a total beginner, you’ll probably find it easier to start affiliate marketing with a blog.

WHEN IS YOUTUBE A BETTER CHOICE?

YouTube is probably a better choice when you’re entering an ultra-competitive niche. For instance, if you want to promote credit cards or teach your audience about email marketing. Since video is a more complex medium to master, that also means there’s less competition and you can lean more on your personality to build trust and stand out.

Step 3. Pick profitable affiliate programs
Signing up for affiliate programs is easy. But spreading yourself too thin is one of the top affiliate marketing mistakes beginners make.

You want to start with a finite number of affiliate programs with good commissions, solid conversions, and reliable demand.

Here are three key ways to pick a good affiliate program:

Choose a good affiliate program
First, assess earning potential
Affiliate programs vary greatly in terms of payment scale. Some programs offer a few cents per conversion. Others pay out hundreds of dollars for a single lead.

Programs with lower payouts are often easier to join and promote, which makes them appealing but require a higher number of sales for the same amount of revenue.

Here are the three main ways to make your affiliate math “work out”:

High volume, low commissions. This includes most Amazon affiliate sites. To earn $5,000 per month from 5% commissions, you need to generate $100,000 in revenue for Amazon. If the average customer spends $100, that’s 1,000 orders to reach $5K in earnings. To do well here, you usually need a lot of traffic (meaning, a lot of content).
Low volume, high commissions. For example, luxury affiliate programs (expensive watches or luxury fashion) and photography affiliate programs (expensive camera equipment). Both are more niche, but require fewer conversions to reach a revenue goal.
High volume, high commissions (…and high competition). Financial affiliate programs (like credit cards and bank accounts), or SaaS affiliate programs (like web hosting and email marketing tools) are both good examples. These programs are so profitable, you may struggle to compete.
While you’re at it, check the affiliate program’s cookie duration. Longer cookie durations (over 30 days) give you time to get your audience to a buying decision.

Shorter cookie periods can still be effective for those customers who have already made the decision to buy. If you choose to work with programs with shorter cookie durations, be sure that your content targets people later in the buying journey.

I’ll explain how the buyer’s journey fits into affiliate marketing in a second.

Second, assess the competition
Some competition can be a good sign. If other people are doing well in the niche, there’s a good chance you can too. The easiest way to find competitors is to simply google for the kinds of search terms you’d love your website to show up for.

Then, check which affiliate programs your competitors are promoting most heavily on those pages. Find out what terms they offer, and how to join the program.

This is one of the most effective ways to vet affiliate programs, as long as your competitors are further along than you are.

BEWARE A LACK OF COMPETITION

No competition might sound like a good thing, but usually means the niche is not viable. Or worse, they’ve already tried, failed, and moved on. But if there are clearly other people making money in a niche, it’s a signal that you can as well.

Third, evaluate brand alignment and reputation
You are building your own brand and image at the same time as you’re promoting the products and services of other businesses. Be selective in choosing who you represent. Working with businesses that don’t align with your brand leads to audience mistrust and harm your brand long term.

You also want to check that the brand you’re promoting is likely to convert. That means looking at their sales pages, mobile-friendly design, and other online reviews. Think about what you would consider when buying the product as a consumer.

Now that you’ve selected some affiliate programs in your well-researched niche, it’s time to create content.

Step 4. Create optimized affiliate content
None of the previous steps matter if you don’t have high-quality content that converts.

Creating content for affiliate marketing is more than simply adding links to an existing blog post. You need to help your audience make a decision on a product or service, directly on your website, through strong copywriting and appealing design.

Some examples of high-converting affiliate marketing content include:

Affiliate Content Examples
Product reviews: Nearly 97% of consumers look at online reviews before making a purchase decision, so product reviews are a staple amongst affiliate marketers.
Product roundups: Roundups based on a specific theme or category lead different readers to relevant products and diversify your revenue away from a single link.
Product comparisons These are similar to product reviews but place similar products side-by-side to highlight pros and cons. Product comparisons are extremely helpful to orient audiences.
Resource pages: Resource pages are compilations of your favourite tools and resources. Resource pages that focus on solving a problem for your audience won’t be the highest converting pages but will help to present you as an expert to your audience and gather all of your affiliate links in one place.
Tutorials: Tutorials are an opportunity to highlight exactly how a product works in an easy step-by-step process. Customers are likely to trust and buy a product when they can see exactly how it will work for them.
Ebooks: Topics don’t always fit into a nice blog post or or email. This is where ebooks come in. They give you an opportunity to do a deep dive into a topic. As a bonus, you can use the ebook as a lead magnet to build your email list.
Affiliate content also goes by other names, such as commerce content. But no matter what you call it, don’t forget to include an affiliate disclosure which informs your audience that you may earn a commission if they buy from your links.

Once you’ve chosen a content format, it’s time to optimize the page for conversion.

Conversion 101 for new affiliates
Here are some of the most important ways you can do that without a ton of complicated plugins.

Button placement: Good button placement and design is particularly important for getting people to respond to your call to action, whether that be to sign up, subscribe, or learn more. Button placement should be noticeable, with CTAs that spark interest like “Read more reviews”, “Check the price”, and “See more photos”.

Here’s an example of a product review with a prominent button above the fold of the browser:

Affiliate Landing Page Example
Early buttons in the content make it easy for people who are convinced to scroll to the top and click-through to the affiliate offer.
Callouts: Also called text boxes, these visually separate important information from the rest of the blog. You can use them for compelling quotes or statistics that influence your visitor’s decision in their buyer journey.

Here’s an example from Themeisle’s review of Elementor:

Social Proof Example
Positive reviews and install count both act as social proof that this product works great.

Graphs, charts, and comparison tables: As much as quality written content is necessary, visual summaries of information are just as important. Give users a glance overview of key details by including graphs and charts.

Here’s an example from a site comparing smart watches for kids:

Affiliate Landing Page Example
Images: People often make purchase decisions based on emotion. Images that reinforce a particular feeling embodied by your content nudge readers towards converting. Even better if you can include photos of the results a product has helped you to achieve.

For example, in this makeup review, the author shows themselves trying each product:

Affiliate Landing Page Example
Images of the product being used or the results of products help illustrate the benefits.
Banners: Banners may be eye-catching and stand out, but they also are easily ignored due to a “banner blindness” and people tend to ignore banners entirely. You can include them, but make sure to have plenty of tasteful text links and buttons — those will be your main conversion drivers.

Popups: Although controversy surrounds popups because they can be annoying, they are also highly effective at converting your readers. Each popup is an opportunity to recapture audience members through strategies like discount codes and limited time offers.

Step 5. Drive traffic to your affiliate site
Now it’s time to drive traffic to your carefully selected offer. This can be done through social media platforms, SEO blog posts, and email lists.

The key is you want to either reach people who are looking to buy, or capture their email address to educate and inform readers before prompting the purchase.

Here are some of the best free traffic sources for affiliate marketing:

Free traffic sources for affiliate marketing
Social media sites like Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and Reddit are all great free traffic sources for affiliate marketing, but they do require some time and effort to make them work.

But the most successful affiliates also invest in growing traffic through SEO.

By targeting buyer intent keywords, you can reach visitors who are heading to Google right before making a purchase. Using this technique, it’s much easier to get clicks on your affiliate links and earn commissions than trying to sell to people who aren’t ready to buy.

Another free traffic source we can’t recommend enough is affiliate marketing through email.

The direct nature of emails means tailored messages are delivered straight to your prospects’ inbox. This helps them learn more about a product and moves them towards a buying decision.

Email works great for regular product curations, sharing time-sensitive deals, and reinforcing your top recommendations to your audience.

Step 6. Build a simple affiliate marketing funnel
An affiliate marketing funnel is a carefully laid out process that guides users from the start of their buyer journey to the point where they are a repeat customer.

Funnels are critical if you need to take an audience who isn’t ready to buy (such as most visitors from Pinterest or other “inspiration”-based channels), and warm them up to your brand and offer.

By using a funnel, the reader sticks with you through all the stages of the buyer’s journey. Even if they joined you weeks or months before they’re ready to make a purchase.

Here’s how you can visualize the buyer’s journey:

Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey consists of four main stages:

Awareness: The prospect notices and identifies their problem
Consideration: The prospect considers possible solutions to their problem
Conversion: The prospect makes a purchase decision and thereby becomes a customer
Loyalty: A positive customer experience leads to trust and repeat purchases
Here’s how to practically implement a simple funnel, so you can convert cold traffic into customers.

FUNNEL OR NO FUNNEL?

It’s possible to send customers directly to the affiliate website through single pieces of content, especially with low-ticket offers that have straightforward value propositions. Funnels are an especially suitable strategy for high-ticket affiliate programs that require a longer education period before customers are ready to buy.

Stage 1. Collect leads through email affiliate marketing
After a visitor lands on your website, it’s time to convert them to an email list using free offer opt-ins. This can be a downloadable PDF guide, email course, resource library, or other gated content.

Getting started with email might sound intimidating, but it’s an early investment you won’t regret.

Read our related post about affiliate marketing through emails for how to get started, step by step.

Further reading: Email Affiliate Marketing: How To Use Emails To Boost Your Affiliate Revenue

Stage 2. Send leads to affiliate landing pages
Once a prospect is on your email list, you have better control over their buyer’s journey to guide them as needed and fill in the gaps. This is your opportunity to provide information specific to where they are in their journey.

Emails about yourself, the results a product helped you to achieve, testimonials from other buyers, tutorials and guides can all help the prospect become confident enough to make a purchase.

Once they’re ready, you can link to your affiliate landing page. These are yet another space to connect with your audience, encourage them to move to the buying stage, and help you build trust before your prospect lands on the advertiser’s sales page.

Stage 3. Optimize your funnel
What makes marketing funnels incredibly helpful is they show you where to adjust and improve your processes. With a funnel, you can pinpoint the exact stage where someone drops off the journey.

When you know that, tweak it to provide an improved process for the next person through the funnel.

Stage 4. Bag repeat sales by emailing your list regularly
Customers that have made their way through the funnel are still good prospects for other offers.

Your email list now gives you the opportunity to provide additional email content that will lead them through a new buyer’s journey and guide them through the funnel for a different product.

Further reading: How to Build a High-Converting Affiliate Marketing Funnel in 5 Steps

Step 7. Track and increase your affiliate revenue
Finally, it’s time to talk tracking.

Proper tracking is one of the most important aspects of successful affiliate marketing.

It’s the difference between fumbling around aimlessly in the dark for your keys, or taking a step back and turning on a light switch.

Giving yourself visibility into what’s working and what isn’t in your affiliate marketing strategy is what helps you make more money, faster, and with fewer pieces of content.

And there is no better time than the very beginning of your affiliate website to set up a system that will scale with you. Here are the two main ways to level up your affiliate strategy with tracking:

First, get basic affiliate tracking in place
There are two types of affiliate tracking:

Tracking a network does for you (attributing your sales and tellling you which products people bought through your links)
Tracking you have to do for yourself (figuring out which pages, affiliate links, text and visual elements are converting).
To handle the second case, you can use SubID tracking. SubIDs are additional data that you attach to your affiliate link, which ultimately gets recorded next to every conversion that results from that exact link.

Typically, a SubID is a query parameter you can add onto existing affiliate links. Here’s how SubIDs fit into your affiliate links:

How SubIds Work
If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, SubIDs work similarly to the utm_campaign parameter.

For more information on SubIDs, read our guide to SubID tracking for affiliates. It’s a little technical, but you’ll be grateful you set it up right from the beginning.

You can also forego doing this manually, and use an affiliate marketing tool like Affilimate to fully automate this process.

Then, start to run some tests
Now that you have tracking in place, the first step is to choose which blog post you want to run tests on. Consideration needs to be given to high traffic posts, posts with new traffic, posts with high intent but low RPM (revenue per thousand visitors).

Once you’ve chosen your blog post, run tests to assess its performance and how it can improve. Here are some ideas for tests you can run on your affiliate content:

Adding comparison tables
Switching the text on call-to-action buttons
Inserting links to alternative affiliate products
Decluttering by removing links that aren’t yielding any conversions
Testing different link text
You can test which techniques are converting by using unique SubIDs. You want to assess not only whether the new elements are causing more clicks and revenue, but also how much the piece of content is generating relative to the number of viewers.

Again, you can use a tool like ours to automate this process without resorting to gluing together data from multiple sources in complicated spreadsheets:

Automate SubID tracking
Running successful tests is also one of the most effective ways to invest in and flip websites, once you’ve developed a feel for it.

Get these two strategies right from the beginning, and you’re several steps ahead of most affiliate marketers today.

how to become an affiliate marketer

1. Choose a Niche

Every affiliate marketer has a niche in which they try to influence their audience. But if you’re too greedy and try to speak to too many niches, you could risk overextending and making your efforts ineffective.

So finding out who you’re going to target is the essential first step. But just because it comes first doesn’t make it easy.

Choosing your niche is one of the most crucial parts of starting your affiliate marketing efforts. The wrong niche will make it harder to sell, and the right niche will make it easier.

Finding your niche is one of the most crucial parts of starting your affiliate marketing efforts. The wrong niche will make it harder to sell, and the right niche will make it easier.

So how do you find out which niche is the best one for you?

To start with, you can do a short self-assessment. As affiliate marketers are meant to be reliable advocates for a product or brand, you want to make sure that you are in the right headspace.

Start by asking questions like:

  • What topics am I passionate about?
  • Do people search for my chosen niche?
  • Will demand for my niche stay consistent?
  • Is there a lot of competition for my niche?
  • Are there affiliate programs that work within my chosen niche?

These questions will help you find out if the product you’re considering is something you want to promote regularly. No matter what type of affiliate marketing tactic you ultimately choose, these are the make or break questions.

It should also be said that passion shouldn’t be the only reason why you become an affiliate marketer. A site like KitchenFaucetDivas probably didn’t start as a project of passion, but that doesn’t make it any less profitable.

affiliate programs

Someone has to write those reviews, right?

So keep in mind that finding the right affiliate products to sell isn’t always about fun. It’s about profit.

Len Markidan of Podia says,

finding the right product

“If you don’t genuinely think that a product will improve people’s lives, don’t sell it! This is critical to long-term success as an affiliate. It only takes one bad recommendation to lose someone forever. But by taking the time to do your research, try every product you’re thinking about promoting, and think carefully about whether it’s a good fit for your audience, you can build a successful business by being a trusted source of useful recommendations.”

2. Evaluate Market Demand

It’s also important to evaluate the market demand for your affiliate niche. Doing so will help you identify items that consumers are willing to pay for. With that knowledge, you can start marketing products that convert shoppers, earning you commissions.

To start assessing demand for a product, the best place to go is usually a tool like Google Trends. This tells you how often Google users search for a particular topic on a 0-100 scale. It also gives you a regional breakdown, and some suggested topics as well.

For example, let’s see how many people actually search for the phrase ‘kitchen faucet’ on Google:

It’s relatively consistent since the past 5 years. That means those kitchen faucet reviews have a good potential to make money through affiliate marketing.

So whatever niche you’re considering, start by plugging it in and seeing if there’s consistent demand. This is one of the most consistent tests you can run when determining which affiliate products to sell. Many affiliate marketing items will have moderate degrees of consistency, with spikes around the holidays.

3. Analyze the Competition

The next step is to determine whether or not there’s a lot of competition in your chosen niche, and there are a couple of ways to go about this.

A simple way is to use a keyword research tool like Ubersuggest to help you see how competitive particular Google searches are.

Let’s keep running with this kitchen faucet example, to show you how it works. Start by plugging in your search term, and then click ‘Look Up’ to see the results.

As you can see, on the right side of the results you’ll see an indicator that says ‘Competition’. On Ubersuggest, this indicator ranges from 0-1, with 1 being the highest level of competition.

So with just a few clicks, you can find out what you’re up against in your niche. You can also see a variety of suggested searches that are related to your niche, as well as how competitive they are.

The second way to research competition levels is to use a service like Clickbank. For this purpose, click on the Affiliate Marketplace option on the home screen.  

From there, you’ll see an option to input a search term. Again using the kitchen faucet as an example, here’s how you use this feature:

In the search results, you’ll see a section that I’ve highlighted in the example above called Gravity. On ClickBank, Gravity is a measurement of how high demand is for a product that’s on a 100 point scale. The lower the Gravity, the harder it will be to sell your product.

When you combine all of these approaches, you should be able to get an adequate view of how well your chosen niche will perform. Too much competition and not enough demand is a recipe for disaster, so be diligent in this process.

An excellent example of an affiliate marketer that’s clearly done their homework in their niche is the highly successful site the Points Guy. The site centers around travel-oriented reviews and guides, but also provides curated news updates for those already on the go. They also promote credit cards, which is where they make their money.

the points guy website revenue

This site gets more than 2.5 million unique monthly visitors, and for every successful card signed up for, they receive anywhere from $50-$400. As both the travel industry and the credit card industry can be competitive, this is the kind of success that makes you pay attention.

And to round out their approach, they also run ads for their content to help bring in more traffic and make more money.

At the very least, this shows the importance of finding the right affiliate products to sell in your niche. Get this step right, and you’ll be giving yourself the best chance to make some money as an affiliate marketer.

4. Research Affiliate Programs

After you’ve picked a niche, it’s time to find out which program out there can help you promote products in your niche. This is where you take a step deeper into your study of how to become an affiliate marketer.

Affiliate marketing programs are sites that act as the middleman between merchants and affiliates. Since it can be hard for merchants and affiliates to find each other, these sites act as a gateway for the relationship to begin.

With that, I’ll bring up some key questions that you’ll need to have answered while you’re figuring out how to become an affiliate marketer. This is an essential checklist that you should consider before you proceed with a particular program.

  • What merchants are using the affiliate program you’re looking at?
  • How much commission are you likely to make from your program?
  • Do you want to be associated with the program, and the brands selling through it?
  • What kind of support does the program provide you with?

Keep in mind that this is another step that can make or break your success as an affiliate marketer. In other words, your program is the bridge that helps you find profitable partnerships. Don’t skip out on it.

5. Pick Your Affiliate Marketing Methods

Two most popular methods that affiliate marketers adopt include:

  1. Making websites like blogs or marketplaces.
  2. Running paid ads.

While these are only a couple of options, they’re the best way to do affiliate marketing. So, we’ll break down how to set up each.

First up, let’s build a website.

While there’s some discussion over whether or not affiliates need a website at all, there are so many benefits that it’s almost pointless not to make one when you’re trying to get the knack of how to do affiliate marketing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working with low or high commision affiliate programs, websites can help you be successful.

Plus, if you want to look for affiliate marketing jobs in the future, having your own affiliate site is a perfect resume builder.

So when you search for ways to build a website, you’re going to get a lot of competing opinions about which option is the best. Should you go with a free option like Wix or WordPress.com, or is it better to build your own by using a hosting service?

While the ultimate hosting choice is up to you, you’ll want to find one that offers a reliable service and a good experience all around.

Many of these hosting companies offer:

  • Reliable hosting
  • A domain name
  • A professional email address

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process of starting a website, some of these services even offer step-by-step tutorials on their site that help get you started.

If you’re starting a blog, your best bet is to find a template theme that helps you create a friendly user experience. There are thousands of themes to choose from, so pick the one that suits you best.

Once you host your site and pick a theme, all you have left to do is design it to your liking. You can use custom or stock photos, and make sure that it’s clear what your site has to offer your audience.

From there, it’s time to start creating the content you want to share with your audience.

6. Create and Publish Top-Notch Content

The phrase ‘content is king’ gets thrown around a lot in marketing, and there’s a good reason for that. In many ways, the Internet is just a collection of content. If you don’t contribute, people have no reason to come to you. 

As we’ve already seen, that content can be as simple as this blog post. How you ultimately deliver value is up to you.

But what types of content can you create that will help you stand out as a trustworthy and valuable affiliate marketer? Even if you’ve got the right niche and a flawless website, you need something to build your audience.

When considering what type of content to create, you’ve got a lot of options. In fact, one blog compiled 113 different types of content that can be created and shared. With all that variety, where do you start?

While to some degree this boils down to the ideas that interest you the most, there are at least three good starting places familiar to affiliate marketers. These can ultimately lead to success, so we’ll dive into each.

Product Reviews

One of the most effective content strategies is to write reviews for different products and services in their niche. Brands are always looking for product reviews that convert customers, so this can be a profitable place to start.

When done well, it can provide a seamless transition into affiliate marketing efforts, and can be a great way to generate income..

For example, TheBestVPN is a site that reviews the most popular Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, on the market. For audiences interested in cybersecurity and ensuring the protection of their information, this type of website is a goldmine of information.  

With each review, there’s an option for readers to go to the site and learn more about the VPN. As you might expect, this link is an affiliate link that attributes each referred buyer to TheBestVPN’s website.

free affiliate programs

SENDINBLUE

This is a full-service digital marketing solution that allows businesses to interact with clients through email marketing, SMS, chat, marketing automation, CRM and other channels. With over 175,000 users across the world, this user-friendly tool is gaining traction fast.

They offer two distinct high paying affiliate programs: one for bloggers and one for agencies.

Their free and inexpensive pricing plans make it a highly appealing revenue opportunity for email marketing publishers and bloggers.

You’ll earn $100 every time you refer a paying client.

You will so get the opportunity to join a network with top affiliates, such as Capterra, CodeinWP, WPBeginner, emailtooltester and emailvendorselection.

While Sendinblue does payout in euros, the affiliate marketing program is available to American citizens and your affiliate commission will be converted to the current currency rate at the time of payment.

  • Commission: When a referred user creates a free account, you get €5 and if that user buys a subscription, you earn €100.
  • Cookie life: 90 days

Join Sendinblue Affiliate Program Now

TEACHABLE

This is a platform that enables you to develop and sell an attractive online course. It is one of the most well-known e-learning platforms, with over 18 million students and 186 thousand active lessons. Even better, it’s highly recommended by thought leaders like Pat Flynn.

Teachable is a flexible platform for people who want to teach online on their terms (learn more in our full Teachable review). There’s no shortage of topics to teach, from Facebook advertising to cake decorating instructions.

Every month, affiliates can earn a recurring 30% in commission rate on the monthly subscription fee of any subscriber who uses their unique affiliate marketing link.

Plans cost from $29 to $499 per month so you can earn up to $150 for each sale you make.

  • Commission: 30% recurring
  • Cookie life: 90 days

Join Teachable Affiliate Program Now

ISPRING

iSpring provides tools for eLearning content. These tools exists so you can design courses and train users. iSpring Suite is their most popular product, an award-winning authoring software that allows the creation of engaging quizzes, role-plays, video tutorials, online courses and ebooks.

It has a user-friendly design that is easily understandable to anybody (the software acts as a PowerPoint add-on) and is suitable for any learning need.

That is why it has become so popular among people from a variety of disciplines, including corporate instructional designers and university professors.

iSpring Suite and iSpring Suite Max are their affiliate program’s products, which  respectively come at $770 and $970.

As a result, you may earn up to $1000 per month if you send in 10 or more clients each month. 

You’ll get paid your verified commissions every four months.

  • Commission: 10% per sale
  • Cookie life: 90 days

Join iSpring Affiliate Program Now

BIGCOMMERCE

BigCommerce is an online store builder that has been in operation since 2009, powering thousands of eCommerce stores in over 150 countries. The fashion, automotive, manufacturing, food, and health industries are just a few of the many fields that benefit from its solution.

You’ll get 200% of the referred client’s first monthly payment (up to $500 per customer!) or $1,500 for each company customer you bring over.

  • Commission: 200% or $1,500 for each enterprise client
  • Cookie life: 90 days

Join BigCommerce Affiliate Program Now

SHOPIFY

Shopify has established itself as a market leader in the drop shipping industry, with over 500,000 Shopify stores across the world.

Everything you need to get your store up and running is included with Shopify. This includes website builders, analytics tools, payment processing, shopping carts, web hosting and store management solutions.

If your target market is focused on eCommerce and requires assistance with setting up an online store, Shopify’s affiliate program may be a good fit.

Affiliates receive a commission of up to 200% on the cost of a monthly subscription. And you get a $2,000 bounty payment when someone you referred signs up for a Shopify Plus account.

You also receive more than just commissions as a Shopify Affiliate. Aside from the money, you get priority Shopify support and free Shopify content to use to advertise to your audience.

It is entirely free to join the program but there is a drawback. This affiliate platform can only target people who sell products online and don’t already have an eCommerce platform to do so.

  • Commission: 200%
  • Cookie life: 30 days

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