In this top affiliate marketing guide, the aim is to provide a how to affiliate marketing guide that demonstrates what a simple business this is and how anyone can generate a healthy online income from it.
Every day multiple millions of people across the globe are making money with affiliate marketing. Some do it part-time, others make a fulltime living out of it, and some marketers even rake in annual 6 or 7 figure incomes from affiliate marketing.
Let’s see what it’s all about and how it all works.
Why Start An Online Business?
It’s a fair enough question.
When many people think of running a business, they imagine something complex, with lots of employees and massive capital required.
Well, with affiliate marketing you can get started on a shoestring budget and you can start off doing it all yourself.
The best way to learn how to get started is by taking some training.
One of the beauties of doing business online is that overheads are often very low, depending on what you’re doing, and affiliate marketing is the perfect example of such a business.
Also, you gain access to a worldwide marketplace that never sleeps. Every day, more than 3 billion people go online for one purpose or another, so that’s a massive potential customer pool to tap into.
Another reason why so many people like to do business online is that they can do it from the comfort of home.
We’ll get into the advantages of running an affiliate marketing business in more detail in a moment, but first let’s talk about how affiliate marketing actually works.
Copy how I make $1000s a month online!
What Is Affiliate Marketing Exactly?
I always liken affiliate marketing to being an online sales rep.
If you’re a sales rep for a company in the offline world, generally you get paid commissions when you make sales of the company’s products or services. The sales rep doesn’t buy the products first and then try to sell them. He or she simply promotes the products of the business and earns when sales occur.
Well, it’s the same with affiliate marketing. You don’t buy products and try to sell them for a profit. You also don’t have to deal with customers, transactions or shipping.
Basically you act as the middle man, referring customers to a product’s sales page and making a commission if that customer buys something.
How does the company or affiliate network know to credit you with the sale?
When you join any type of affiliate program you’ll be issued with links and banners that are unique to your account. That way, when someone clicks through from your unique link, the company knows you referred that customer and you get the commission.
It really is such a simple process in effect, and that’s why I love affiliate marketing so much.
The Many Advantages of Affiliate Marketing
There really are so many benefits to having an affiliate marketing gig and running a home-based business online. I won’t get into all of those advantages here, but I’ll touch on some of the key benefits.
For me personally, and something that many other people will agree with, is the fact that you can do this from the comfort of home.
In fact, being a mobile online business means you can actually live the true definition of the laptop lifestyle.
Your business is not bound by countries or borders. You can travel to multiple exotic destinations overseas and still work and earn from your business. So long as you have your laptop and an internet connection, you’re good to go.
Even locally you can work in your favourite cafe, the park, down the beach. Wherever you like.
You are your own boss, set your own schedule and pretty much run things as you please.
Also imagine not having to spend time or money commuting to work and back every day. You get to spend more quality time with the people you care about the most, as well as setting yourself up for lifestyle freedom of having both time and money.
This means you simply get to really enjoy life the way it’s meant to be lived.
For simplicity, let’s make a quick list summing up just a few of the many benefits of running an affiliate marketing business:
- You get to be your own boss and work your own hours
- You make all the rules
- No more commute to work and back every day
- Do it part-time, fulltime or even build wealth
- Enjoy a quality of life that only having time and money freedom can provide
- Work from anywhere and live the laptop lifestyle
- Travel overseas and take your business with you
- Gain access to a daily market of more than 3 billion potential customers
- Spend quality time with family and friends
- Do more of what you love
- Make money while you sleep
- Earn both residual and passive income streams (the best kind of income)
- Multiple sources of income for financial security
- And so much more…
Make Money While You Sleep
One point on that list I’d like to touch on a little more is the “make money while you sleep” scenario.
Some people who have never experienced this might think it’s a myth or not possible, but when you’re earning residual and passive income via a global market, it’s more than a possibility. It’s real and it’s actually very easy to do.
Never think with an employee mindset when it comes to doing business online. While you’re asleep, someone in the world is awake and making online purchases. They find your promotion for a certain product, click through and make a purchase, and you wake up in the morning to see you’ve made some money while blissfully asleep in bed.
It happens to me every day, and it does for multiple millions of other people as well.
Multiple Passive and Residual Income Streams
This is another key point I wanted to expand on as well, because it really is the main ingredient that leads to the ultimate in lifestyle freedom.
When you work for a boss you are effectively trading your time for dollars. Even if you have a job that pays really well, you only earn when you spend time at work.
Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is extremely limiting when it comes to how much money you can potentially make, and also having the free time to really enjoy your life, travel, and whatever else you want to do.
Passive income is where money comes in whether you are doing anything or not. An example might be interest from a bank account. That sort of thing.
Residual income is where you get recurring income, like say from the sale of a book you wrote.
Both types of income are what affiliate marketing really thrives on, and it’s this kind of income that allows you to free up your time, stop exchanging time for money, and also give you the distinct possibility of building true wealth.
Having multiple sources of these 2 incomes also gives you financial security. If one income stream dries up for whatever reason, you have others to keep you going while you build a new income source to replace the one you lost.
This is the true definition of financial freedom.
You also get to do the work once and get paid over and over again.
Do People Really Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?
This is really a very general and potentially open-ended question, as making money with affiliate marketing can depend on so many factors and variables, including the individual involved.
Like anything else in the world, some people succeed while others fail. It really depends on the person, their goals and expectations, and whether you are willing to learn how to do it right with decent training.
Some people quit too soon or decide it’s not for them. Others do it part-time and make some handy cash on the side. Many others, like myself, do it fulltime and make more than a fulltime income from it.
Then there are other marketers – like Neil Patel or Pat Flynn (to name a few) – who make awesome incomes from their affiliate marketing businesses.
The people that tell you affiliate marketing doesn’t work either haven’t tried it, started, but quit too soon (it takes time to see real results), or didn’t seek any training to show them the right way to go about it.
Seriously, anyone can make “some” money from affiliate marketing. It really is not that hard. It’s not even hard to make decent money. You just have to put the effort in, persevere and be patient.
The money will come.
Affiliate Marketing Is Really a 4 Step Process
While there is more to it as you go along, gain experience and look for ways to diversify your talents and earning potential, there really are 4 basic steps to get set up and earning income with affiliate marketing:
- Choose an interest or niche
- Build a website
- Get traffic or visitors
- Make money
Let’s take a brief look at them…
Choose a Niche
A “niche” really just means a particular subject or area of interest narrowed down. The more interested you are in your chosen niche, the better chance you have of success and longevity in your affiliate marketing business.
In reality you can make money from just about any interest there is, and you’ll find that there are lots of products to promote as an affiliate for any niche.
You don’t want your niche to be too broad. The more you narrow it down, the simpler it will be and the more authority and trust you can build.
Something like “weight loss” is very general and broad. It’s more of a whole category rather than a niche. “Losing weight after pregnancy” is a more narrowed down niche in the weight loss category.
That’s just a random example, but you get the idea.
Build a Website
Now that you’ve chosen a niche, you need somewhere to write about your subject matter, as well as promote affiliate products.
Having a website isn’t mandatory. You can do affiliate marketing with say an email list, or simply promoting on social media, in forums, or on YouTube.
However, life is so much easier as an online marketer if you have your very own internet real estate, and that means having your own website.
On your website you can create articles and product reviews related to your niche. You can also host or embed videos, run ads and other promotions, put up an opt in form and build an email list of people interested in your niche.
The list goes on.
You also own your website, so you are effectively building a commodity that can later be sold for a profit if you wish, just like any other type of business.
So really, a website is a must.
Follow the training at Wealthy Affiliate to learn just how easy it is to make your own website. You can join for FREE!
Get Traffic/Website Visitors
Without traffic to your website, videos, social media posts or however you choose to promote as an affiliate, you won’t make any money.
This is vitally important.
TRAFFIC = INCOME
It’s that simple.
Let’s focus on your website. There are a number of ways to get traffic. The cheapest and often the most effective way is to get organic and free traffic from the search engines such as Google.
There is an art to this, but if you follow the training I did, it’ll teach you how to do it right so you get love from the SERPS (search engines).
Other ways to get traffic are by running paid advertising campaigns, like buying Google Ads or Facebook Ads.
You can even indulge in one of the many traffic exchange networks online, but I really don’t recommend those as most of the traffic is junk and therefore useless.
The end result of the first 3 steps is you’ll earn money, but only if you’ve monetised your site with affiliate links and offers, which we’ll talk more about in the next section.
Step 4 is really where all the fun happens. After all, this is a business and you want to make money from it.
Let’s Talk About Affiliate Programs
In order to succeed as an affiliate marketer you need some affiliate offers to promote that are relevant to your niche. One of the easiest ways to find some stuff is to type something like the following into Google…
niche + affiliate program
Other ways is to join one of the many affiliate networks that have loads of vendors to choose from. A quick list could include:
- Share A Sale
- Amazon Associates
There are a lot of affiliate networks out there, and you can find products and services for any niche imaginable.
Often you’ll find yourself joining up with a company that’s independent of any affiliate network. They’ll have their own affiliate program just for their products and services and they’ll pay you directly when you earn commissions.
Whichever way you go (and you’ll likely end up joining multiple networks and affiliate programs over time), each vendor will supply you with at least one unique affiliate link that identifies you as the referring affiliate.
Most will also supply graphics, banners, email swipe copy to send your email your list, and even social media posts that you can post on Facebook and Twitter with your affiliate link embedded.
When you join up with any affiliate program through any vendor, details of the program will be laid out for you, including the value of commissions you can earn, payment methods to receive your commissions, as well as payment schedules.
Getting That All-Important Traffic
We touched on this earlier, but I wanted to talk a bit more about it because traffic is just so important to your business. Like I said, you won’t make any money without traffic.
The more free traffic to your website you can generate, the better, as any sales you make will be all profit. When it comes to getting search engine traffic, you want to try and make Google your best friend by following the very best SEO (search engine optimisation) practices.
How do you know how to accomplish that?
By following training that shows you how.
The next best method in my opinion is paid traffic, in particular Facebook Ads. This is not something I would advise doing when you’re first starting out. Master the art of getting free traffic first, then branch out into paid advertising if you want to.
The reason I don’t recommend doing it straight away is because it obviously costs money. Wait until your business is earning some income, then learn how to master the art of various paid traffic methods.
You will lose some money learning, testing and optimising your advertising campaigns before you get profitable with it, so you need an advertising budget to play with.
Once you have refined a campaign that’s paying a good ROI, then paid traffic is the quickest way to make money as an affiliate marketer.
Other ways to get traffic to your website or videos is through the various social media platforms, or joining relevant groups and forums on the internet. Many people like writing and answering questions on Quora as a way to generate traffic.
Keyword Research Is Vital
When it comes to search engine traffic, keyword research plays a huge role. Even if you’re focusing on promoting via YouTube videos, did you know that YouTube is considered the 2nd biggest search engine next to Google?
In order for people to find your content, they type in keywords. The better your content ranks for those keywords, the higher up in the search results you’ll be, and therefore get more visits to your content.
Effective keyword research isn’t that hard once you understand the process and what you’re looking for. This is where a great keyword research tool comes in so handy.
I won’t get right into the art of keyword research here, as that’s a post all on its own, but just know that it’s a vital facet of your business to master if you want to make the most out of free traffic.
Now while a website post, for example, might primarily target one particular keyword phrase, as you write out the content, it will naturally be filled with other keywords you can potentially rank well for. Everything you write is essentially a keyword phrase.
Promoting As An Affiliate
We’ve already touched on this, but let’s expand on it a little further.
One of the best ways to promote products and services as an affiliate is via your own website and by writing relevant content that you readers find helpful, entertaining, or adds value to them in some way.
Video is another highly effective way of getting your message across and can also be used to demonstrate how a product you’re promoting actually works.
Not everyone is comfortable being in front of the camera, but really anyone can do it with a bit of practice and having a script to follow.
Social media is also another great way to promote affiliate offers, but just don’t overdo it. With Facebook, it’s best to create a page for your affiliate marketing business and promote via that page, rather than cramming your personal feed with ads and promotions.
Consider also using Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
Guest posting on other marketers’ websites with a link back to your own site will help with traffic as well as credibility and SEO.
At the end of the day you want to make money from your online affiliate marketing gig, so you need to effectively monetise your content, whatever your content may be.
I mostly create written content, so let’s focus on that for now.
What you don’t want to do is cram affiliate links into every single website post you create.
For starters, the search engines don’t like too many affiliate links and may just see your site as a bridging site for affiliate products rather than valuable and helpful content. This can negatively affect rankings and your website’s trust factor.
Also, you need to think about your visitors and readers. They don’t want to feel like every word you have written is designed to get them to buy something.
As an example, if you have a main affiliate product you promote, write a detailed review of that product, then point readers to that review page via your other content. Put all your affiliate links in this one review, and keep in Google’s good graces.
Text links tend to work better than banners. While banners are okay, readers tend to suffer from “banner blindness” because banners are so common on just about every website you visit.
I like to use of combination of text links and banners for my affiliate offers, but I sincerely believe text links are more effective.
On another point when it comes to monetising a website, most website templates will have space down the side bar where you can place ads. Try to keep these to a minimum, as too many options can be both distracting as well as ineffectual.
Give people too many choices and they’ll likely choose none.
Quality Content Always Wins
No matter what you’re promoting or how you’re trying to promote it, quality content will always win the day.
Not only do the search engines love quality content, but so too do your visitors.
“Quality” doesn’t mean to say that you have to be some sort of genius writer or the world’s best at creating videos. It doesn’t actually mean that at all.
Sure, you want to do your best job when it comes to content creation, but quality really means you are offering value to your visitors. Some of that value is achieved through content length, but more importantly, the message you are delivering.
To make money in this business you can’t just simply sell people. You have to help them in one way or another.
That might mean offering a solution to a problem, helping them make an informed purchasing decision, giving them motivation to succeed, offering tips on how to improve at something.
If you can help people in some way, the money will follow as a natural by product.
Offer value in your content and the dollars will come naturally.
Although there are many forms of content you can create, one of the most effective is to write product reviews.
No matter what your niche is there will be many relevant products you can write reviews on or create video product reviews about.
What’s so great about product reviews for affiliate marketers?
They convert well!
When people search for a particular product, they are generally further along in the buying cycle and often just seeking a little bit more information before making the commitment to purchase that product.
Guess what? They happen upon your product review, feel convinced to move forward, then click through on your affiliate link and buy the product.
You just made yourself a commission.
Product reviews tend to rank better in search results too, as people searching for a product name help boost the rankings of that product name.
More general content can still rank well and convert, but product reviews definitely work the best overall in my own experience.
Start Building An Email List – Early
Why start an email list?
Because it’s another way to get in touch with potential customers. Not only that, you can turn people on your email list into repeat customers.
Normally when someone visits your website and then leaves, you don’t know who they are or how to ever get in touch with them again. When you build an email list it gives you the ability to stay in contact with people who have shown an interest in your site and its content.
You can read a detailed post I wrote on email lists here and how to go about building one.
Briefly, though, in order to get people to hand over their email address, you need to offer them something free; such as an eBook, cheat sheet, discounts, or anything that you think people might want that’s relevant to your chosen niche.
“The money is in the list” is a very common phrase you hear around internet marketing traps, and that’s because it’s true.
Don’t Do Affiliate Marketing Just for the Money
I mentioned earlier that first and foremost as affiliate marketers we need to provide value and help our visitors in one way or another. The money will always follow.
The moment you start putting making money first, your readers will pick up on this right away because your content will naturally be slanted towards selling to them so you can get the sale, get the money.
No one really likes to be sold to. That’s just the way it is. Leave the main selling for your central product reviews that highlight the benefits and features of your main affiliate offers.
Of course you can promote to a degree in all of your content, but keep it to a minimum for the most part.
Focus first on helping, then on the money. If you do it right you won’t even have to think too much about the money side of the business, as it will naturally start to flow in as you create more and more quality content and your traffic increases.
TRAFFIC > HELPFUL CONTENT > MONEY
Why Some People Fail At Affiliate Marketing
This is not a part of the guide I want to dwell on, but it’s worth bearing in mind some of the main reasons why people fail at this relatively simple business. This will help you avoid being one of those failures yourself.
Firstly, the internet is full of get rich quick schemes that promise the world. These are just a fantasy and set people up with false expectations. Most of these platforms are either outright scams, or designed to do nothing more than relieve you of your hard-earned money.
Affiliate marketing is a real business, and it works, but it’s not a get rich quick scheme.
Anything worthwhile takes time to build and mature. So first you have to realise that this will take time and effort before the decent money starts rolling in.
And if you do it right the money will roll in. You just need patience and perseverance.
Believe me, if you want to create your dream life and live complete lifestyle freedom, then affiliate marketing is one of the very best vehicles to get you to that utopian destination.
Basically, the main reason why people fail at affiliate marketing is they quit too soon. Another very common reason is maybe they tried it and realised it wasn’t for them.
Or, people tend to jump from one online opportunity to the next without ever giving something enough of a chance to start actually working and producing income.
Yet another very common reason why people fail is they didn’t really know what they were doing and had no direction.
How do you find that direction and learn what to do?
That’s covered in the final section of this guide.
Quality Training Is the Blueprint and Shortcut To Success!
The best and most sure fire way to ensure success in this business is to seek out training created by people who have already done it and are living the lifestyle you want to live.
This business can achieve all of your desires if you want success badly enough.
A lot depends on you, but just as important, you need to be shown the right way to go about it.
Why go it alone and shoot in the dark, using the hit and miss approach to try and find online success? There’s no need to. That path is fraught with frustration and likely failure. Even if you do manage to succeed on your own, likely you would have made numerous mistakes along the way that cost you a lot of valuable time.
Quality training is not only a blueprint laid out to send you on your way to success, but it’s also a shortcut, saving you time and frustration.
There are many resources online to help you learn affiliate marketing, but one of the best I’ve found is the training at Wealthy Affiliate. It’s the training I did, so I can vouch first hand that it really does work.
Click the banner below to read my detailed review of Wealthy Affiliate and what they offer. It’s well worth a look and Wealthy Affiliate is FREE to join!
Latest posts by Darren Burton (see all)
- Is Lotto Profits a Scam or Not? Read This First! - August 27, 2019
- How to Boost Your Website’s Affiliate Sales - November 22, 2018
- Top Affiliate Marketing Guide for Making Money Online - September 12, 2018
This is an informative and educative article I must say. I have recently joined Wealthy Affliate and still learning a lot from it. But sometimes I still feel like the concept of affliate marketing is still blurry to me. But after reading your article I have come to know many things about it. You have given such nice tips on starting an online business. Moreover I liked the scenario of making money while sleeping of yours. I am thinking to create a website of my own to post my blogs. But how can I choose the best niche for me? I will be looking forward for this kind of more informative articles from you.
Thank you for writing this helpful article.
My advice is don’t just follow the money when choosing a niche. You can make money in most niches, so focus on something you have an interest it. It’ll be better for you and better for your readers. Your goal is to help people and the money will follow.
You can make money while you sleep by doing this. I do, and actually millions of other people do. There’s no reason why you can’t be one of them.
Best of luck!
Very good information. I do not like the pop ups at all. I know that when I am doing research online I click out of a site that has pop ups. Other than that, I like your site, it's well laid out, and I like your article on affiliate marketing. Lots of great information for the reader. Hopefully you are doing well out of it and making the kind of money we all hope to make as affiliates.
Hi Stephen, thanks for dropping by.
I totally understand what you say about the pop ups. I don’t really like them myself, but they are effective. It took me 3 years before I ever tried them on my site because I wasn’t keen on pop ups, but they do get results. It’s almost like a necessary evil.
Anyway, apart from those pop ups, I’m glad you liked the post and my site.
I think that you cover all the aspects of affiliate marketing quite well but some more specific and in depth strategies may need to be used to garner traffic. You will need to do a lot of action trying different things to see if they work. Did you start getting traffic with paid ads or did you get a little traffic organically first?
I went for organic traffic first and it’s still my main form of traffic. Yes, there is quite a lot to learn about each aspect of affiliate marketing, traffic and everything else that goes along with it. What are your thoughts on traffic strategies? Any tips for our readers?
This is indeed a thoroughly written affiliate marketing guide. I believe thus is the most comprehensive guide I have seen recently. And yes, the beauty of online business like affiliate marketing and some few others is the ability to make sales even when yiu are actively sleeping. It's a beauty. That and the location flexibility involved are some of the major reasons why I love online businesses.
Thanks very much. Glad you found some value in the guide. Affiliate marketing really can lead to multiple sources of passive income, and that’s what I like about it so much. It’s that point that I try to get across to others – the kind of lifestyle it can give you.
Very informative. What I like most about affiliate marketing is the fact that there is no real limitations to how much money you could make. Also, you can work from anywhere. That is what made me become affiliate marketer. I had my share of ups and downs, but at the moment I am doing quite good.
I wish I read to your article when I was starting.
That is one of the great things about doing stuff online, is that you can work from anywhere and there really is no limit on how much you can make, because you’re not trading time for dollars. Glad to hear it’s going well for you.
Thank you for sharing your useful insights. I fully agree with you that there are so many advantages of online money making. Training is of key importance to me too as I always knew that otherwise we cannot succeed. Nowadays there exists a worldwide marketplace which is not full yet so there is enough place for newbies as well here! I think most of us would like to have passive income.Thank you for showing the simple 4 step process. Do you think by using keywords you can generate traffic to our webpages? So if somebody doesn’t want to pay for traffic, do you think he can be successful as well?
Many people are successful with free traffic, but it’s a slower process and less guaranteed than with paid traffic. Advantages of paid traffic is instant results (as in traffic), but it can take a lot of fine tuning to get your ads profitable. The downside is you need an advertising budget.
It’s more than possible to make a great online income with free search engine traffic, and yes, keywords play a pivotal role and getting that traffic.
Nice to be on your site with full of information and guides to affiliate marketing. You mentioned Neil patel he is my mentor as well. Affiliate marketing is make things simple when you understand the whole misery behind it and as a newbie you will find it difficult to get things started as you wish. But with the help of tools available on wealthy affiliate even if you are beginner who ready to learn such person will not pass rought path before he/she can succeed in affiliate marketing.
My journey in affiliate marketing were so sloppy because I pass through wrong channel until I found wealthy affiliate who shown me the right direction to achieve with affiliate marketing.
Of all affiliate netwoks you mentioned, I prefer Clickbank and amazon because they are friendly and no restriction. In general I enjoy reading your article. Thank you to have time to create this undiluted information.
Sounds like you’re well on your way, John, but still researching to learn new information about affiliate marketing, which is what I do too. Always learning, which is the best way to stay ahead of the game in this business.
I have recently come back to Wealthy Affiliate after several years. I was in an odd place years ago when I looked at it the first time, and it didn’t click with me then. I was still chasing the fast money.
I am happy to say I have grown past that and it didn’t cost me (too) much. I am back at WA and the relief of being among like-minded people is immense.
I appreciate your points and agree with them. The quick money online is either a scam or a scheme, neither of which I want to be dragged into.
The training at Wealthy Affiliate is exceptional and thorough. It gives you just enough in each lesson to move into the next lesson without overwhelming you.
I love the community and the camaraderie that exists there. It just can’t be duplicated or faked.
Thanks for these tips, and take care,
(Getting submitting too quickly error)
Great to see you back on board at WA, Gwendolyn. The community is definitely one of the best aspects. Cheers.