In this guide, I explain how to make money online with affiliate marketing. We will learn the basics of affiliate marketing so that you can start your digital business today and start earning commissions.
You will learn:
- The basics of Affiliate marketing
- How Affiliate marketing works
- How to get started with Affiliate marketing
- Affiliate marketing Terminologies
This page is your go-to guide, and you should bookmark it along with all linked articles to master the art of affiliate marketing.
My goal with this guide is to help you make money online. Secure a sustainable income stream that may become your primary income down the road.
The ability to market is a skill that will allow you to go anywhere.
The 9 steps to get setup with affiliate marketing are:
- Step 1: What To Promote? Pick Your Niche
- Step 2: Who Do You Want To Target? Your Audience
- Step 3: What Will You Market, Programs, Etc
- Step 4: Pick Your Platform, Setup
- Step 5: Create Content
- Step 6: Build And Grow Your Audience
- Step 7: Gain Trust
- Step 8: Make Your Pitch!
- Step 9: Repeat!
If you are not so much of a reader, I also have a video:
Before we jump to the different steps to make money with affiliate marketing, I want to answer some of the basics questions right from the start.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is about getting commissions selling other people’s products and services. You earn money by endorsing products and services.
Examples of known affiliate programs are:
- Amazon Associates Program, earn up to 10%.
- Fiverr if you want to hire someone to do your video ad, review a post, copywriting, etc.
- AWeber (a tool used by… affiliate marketers! See my blog posts about it).
How does it work?
In short: pick something you want to market, get it in front of your audience, get your audience to take some types of actions (purchase, etc.) and get rewarded with a commission on the final sale.
What can you market?
The cool thing is that you can do affiliate marketing for anything. It is ranging from physical products to digital products or services. The list goes on, and it depends on your niche. We will get into it later this post.
High tickets vs low tickets
High and low tickets are fundamental concepts in affiliate marketing, yet overlooked by so many people! Remember this: the effort and money needed to advertise a product that costs $5 or a product that costs $500 is the same.
Imagine you are selling product A that costs $5 vs selling product B that costs $500. If you want to earn at least $5,000 this month, you have to sell 1000 units of product A, assuming you spend nothing on advertising. Averaging 30 sales a day without advertising, that is a lot of work! On the other hand, you’d only have to sell ten units of product B.
The fact is, you have to do the same marketing groundwork for either product. You have to lay the foundations, set up autoresponder messages, get your blog online, etc. So if you’re doing the same work, doesn’t it make sense to do it for more profits? You make more money from the same work when you sell higher ticket products.
Subscription and consumables
A one-time purchase is better than nothing. But what if you could get a commission regularly? Think of promoting memberships and subscriptions (e.g: Aweber). Or simply consumable products.
Can it really be a passive income?
Yes, it can be passive, but it requires effort to get set up. Nothing is entirely passive, but this is as passive as it can be! Once you get things set up and start getting some traffic, it can become passive income. But up until that point, not so much!
How much money can you make?
The sky is the limit. It’s a billion dollars industry. I started with this mindset: “If they can do it, I can do it.”! When you start realizing the potential behind affiliate marketing, this is like the blink has gone off! It is everywhere.
So, how much, Andrew? How much? It highly depends on your goals, are you trying to replace your full income? Is it just a side hustle? It’s up to you on how much money you want to make with affiliate marketing. It varies from a few bucks to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As I’ll explain below, money is just the byproduct of the value you give to others.
How much to get started?
The cool part about affiliate marketing is that you can do it for free. Assuming you have a smartphone and access to the internet! But there are other ways.
If you can afford it, you can invest money in your affiliate business in different ways. It varies from a few bucks to thousands. My first investment was in my education by registering for online training that taught me the foundation of a sustainable digital business. My second investment was to run paid campaigns to promote my content.
You need time, money and effort to build a business. You want to leverage time and effort? Invest money. If you don’t have a lot of money to invest, you need more time and effort!
Do you need to be extrovert?
Not at all! Affiliate marketing doesn’t involve cold calling (solicitation of business) or flyering (distributing flyers to random strangers who pass on a street). You can just do your thing on the side without anyone knowing about it. It’s digital!
Is the market saturated?
It highly depends on what niche you are in and how you reach your audience. You only need a slice of the pie. You don’t need to take over the entire market out there. Go through all of your options.
You don’t have to come up with a unique idea. You have to put you have created in front of the right audience at the right time. That is the main challenge of affiliate marketing.
As an analogy – let’s say you are passionate about coffee. You are ongoing, and you’ve always dreamed of owning a cozy place where people would read and socialize. Would you say not to open your coffee shop because there is Starbucks out there in every major city?
Well, if it’s that easy, what isn’t everyone doing it?
I am not too sure why everyone is not doing it! But with these next steps, I can get you started with affiliate marketing today.
Step 1: what to promote? pick your niche
Promote products and services you are enthusiastic about. Why? Because you want to build a business and life you are passionate about. Every time I am not excited about something, it is harder. It feels like extra commitments. Money is the byproduct of what you bring to society. You will be more willing to learn the ins and outs of your niche. You may know a lot about it already!
As you grow your affiliate business, it’s ok to promote products you are less interested in.
The website below is an excellent example of choosing a particular niche. The blog is all about “batteries and bulbs.” I don’t imagine a lot of people can be passionate about the subject to create a blog about it. Yet they have about 100 blog posts and a good search engine optimization (SEO). I landed on that site when researching the ideal LED lighting color temperatures for filming a Youtube video.
How do you come up with your niche?
List the things that excite you. What are you passionate about? Then, list the services or products you use to do those things that you love. Go on Google and search for affiliate programs around those things.
Check out this video series for guidance on how to pick up a niche.
I focus on education and self-development niches. Those niches are aligned with my goals and vision of helping people change their life. Check-out this article if you are curious about my story and how I started with affiliate marketing in the first place.
I am a minimalist at heart. I tend to focus on promoting result-based services and educational training (business, personal and self-development, etc.) as opposed to promoting physical products.
If you are reading this, chances are you own a laptop or a phone, and you have an internet connection, which indicates some sort of comfort in life. I seriously doubt an object can change your life fundamentally. However, what if a seminar or training could change your life? This seems like a better investment than an object to me.
Anything you want to learn about is a google search away. There are tons of ideas and opportunities, videos to learn, etc. It’s easy to spread yourself thin and get distracted. It then gets too overwhelming and makes you question why on earth you started this in the first place.
Pieces everything together in a line may be challenging if this is something you have not done before. This is why I am such a big fan of online courses because they help people get focus and directions, instead of wandering on the internet to learn something.
Step 2: who do you want to target? Your audience
“If you market to everyone, you market to no one.” The best marketing is the one that speaks to a particular audience.
I have a separate blog post on this subject that goes into details about how to define and connect with your “audience”, your avatar.
An avatar is a person with a problem that we are going to solve. That person has specific believes and values. This is the person you will be connecting with and who will resonate with what you say and get inspired by your words.
The money will be the byproduct of what you advertise. You get to choose your audience. If your marketing doesn’t connect, your marketing doesn’t convert. Convert into action (a purchase, registration of some sort, etc.).
Who can you see yourself genuinely connecting with?
Think about the people you want to connect with. Maybe just with people like you. In the beginning, it’s easier to think of your audience as yourself. Then you can expand and have multiple avatars. If your avatar is not yourself, don’t assume how your avatar feels. Interview people, watch documentaries, do your research.
Because in the end, your avatar will:
- Sign-up for emails, read what you write.
- Become a loyal follower of yours.
- Become someone that’s going to trust you.
- Where does my avatar hangout? Google? Youtube? Social networks? Websites?
- This will answer the following questions: where do I advertise, where do I reach to my avatar, etc.
- What does my avatar do?
- e.g., if youtube and google: What do they search for? What are the keywords they use?
- Does my avatar have money to spend?
- if he doesn’t, then he won’t buy anything you are promoting. You will be entertaining your audience if anything.
- Which may not be a bad thing to grow a community. Create value for others and gain trust, as we will discuss below. But you need to make sure you get a return down the road for the time, effort and budget (if you decide to) you invest in your affiliate marketing journey.
- Would people spend money in your niche?
My demographic varies from 20 to 40. When I started with affiliate marketing, I chose myself as my customer avatar.
Step 3: what will you market, programs, etc
You can market multiple products that belong to different affiliate programs without being part of an affiliate network.
Known Affiliate Programs & Networks:
- Commission Junction: I am a member of CJ myself since it’s havely used around the web by various companies to manage their affiliate programs.
There are many other affiliate networks out there.
Let’s say you love travelling and chose yourself as your avatar. You could promote travel packages, hotels, cameras, backpacks through Amazon, booking.com, etc. The sky is the limit.
Step 4: pick your platform, setup
I have a separate guide to learn how to create your site.
If you have questions about how to build your website, feel free to ask me as I run a community of Digital Entrepreneurs.
Step 5: Create content
There are different types of content you can use to deliver your message to your audience in the right format.
- Demonstrate how you use specific products and services in your everyday life to achieve success.
- All product reviews: honest and thorough reviews. To practice, I initially started reviewing products on Amazon.com. See my reviewer profile. It was also part of my minimalist diary.
- Expertise style content. Be an authority within your niche. For example, I talk about various things in my blog, such as Digital Marketing.
- Tutorial (or advertorial): how to accomplish something. Write good content to HELP your audience. Always help first.
Take your time to write your content, don’t rush anything. I have seen people with ups and downs but never really reaching a sustainable business. My opinion is that if it takes 1 or 2 years to have a blog content-rich that drives FREE traffic through organic search, so be it.
Don’t rush into ads and marketing. Spending loads of money developing your business. Get there the right way – set yourself up so that when you do start investing time or money, it’s well spent. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. Time is one of our most precious non-renewable resources. This is why building a business around your passions is of the utmost importance.
Don’t be a headless chicken that is trying to guesswork because he is impatient! Taking shortcuts rarely pays off. It’s going to require patience to get there.
Create good habits to create good and unique content. This is the key.
If we reuse our example of a traveller blog, you could talk about every single travel you do. Tips and tricks. But also – how to learn the basics of a foreign language, for example, to make your way through a country. The cultural differences. A colleague of mine had taken classes about how to behave in Japan when going to places to drink tea traditionally. Write about the best hotels, tourist attractions, etc. Or maybe what you extract from travelling? How do you finance your travels? If you use a drone to shoot your videos or pictures, what’s on the market? Maybe a guide to buying a drone or a camera, what people have to pay attention to.
Step 6: Build and grow your audience
Now let’s talk about building your audience.
So far, you have your content. But it’s like opening a store in the middle of the desert. No one knows you are there!
They are different types of traffic, namely paid traffic (via paid ads) vs free traffic (via organic search).
Both methods involve keyword research, at some point in time. My advice will be different than most people here. For paid traffic, there is some keyword research involved before advertising. For free content, there is some keyword research involved as part of optimizing your content for search engines (SEO). However, this can come as a second phase. First, focus on creating content. You can focus on optimizing specific blog posts later.
A technic is to evaluate what works with paid marketing and then refine that content with keyword analysis later on. Food for thoughts: paid marketing in “underdeveloped” countries is cheaper. Yet, it can get you clicks, likes and comments.
If you feel nervous, don’t worry because there are training that teach you how to do this. It’s a lot easier than you think. But it requires consistency and dedication.
Build your list – leads
Once you have that traffic, you need a form on your website, to turn them into a loyal subscriber (a lead).
Most people don’t buy the 1st time they hear about something. This is why you need to keep a genuine relationship with people.
The quality of your list matters too. For example, if you are promoting products for professional athletes, don’t build a stay-at-home mum list that doesn’t care about this. This is why the customer avatar matters. Take care of one type of individual. And then build on it.
The money is not in the count of subscribers on the list. It’s in the quality of that list and the relationship to it.
Step 7: gain trust
My mum used to hold Tupperware parties when I was a kid. While this is technically called referral marketing (and not affiliate marketing), the idea is the same. You promote someone else product and make money out of it. She’d gather friends, family and neighbours into her home and demo Tupperware product line.
Do you know what was so compelling about these Tupperware meetups? People my mother invited trusted her. They knew she wouldn’t lie to them. And that she wouldn’t be selling something she didn’t use and tried herself beforehand. This is the number one value to keep in mind as an honest affiliate marketer.
Those principles apply to affiliate marketing. You invite people into your digital home, your online real estate, you legitimately gain their trust and demo them what products and services work for you.
As opposed to running a digital business like affiliate marketing, if my mother didn’t show up, she was not selling anything. While when it comes to an online business, computers work for you 24/7. And that’s the beautify of it. This is why affiliate marketing can become a passive income.
Be customer-obsessed. Think of your customers as friends of friends. As if a friend had referred a customer to you.
Whether you blog or post on social media, you need to earn the trust of your audience the right way, no trick. So that when it comes time to be able to talk about the products you market, it doesn’t seem as shady and weird! They know whatever you talk about has THEIR interest in mind.
So how do you get your audience to trust you?
Create value, be interactive. Give away free information that will change the life of your audience. Be vulnerable.
Create content for others, even before any form of transaction happens. Well, except for getting an email, as you need this to build a continuing relationship. You want to show them that you care about their success. And, if you aren’t going to care about their success, your affiliate marketing business, your business overall, is not going to pan out.
I want to help you guys to make money online with affiliate marketing. This is why I have decided to build a community that you can join.
Step 8: make your pitch!
Remember, people are looking for value, not to be pitched. When 80% of your content is giving, you can do 20% of asking! Don’t blast it up on the screen. Blend it with your content. The pitch will come naturally if this is something you use and recommend. You don’t want it to come off as spammy.
You can provide extra support for what you are promoting. You need to help your audience and reinforce trust.
Step 9: repeat!
The best way to move through this part of building your business, regardless of how you feel and what people may say, is to take CONSISTENT actions toward your goals every day!
Other business models
If you feel like affiliate marketing is not for you; there are other options.
Other business models are:
- Sell your products: import or create. Importing products from China, for example, and working with factories.
- Amazon FBA
The fact is, we’re in the midst of a digital revolution. Almost everything is online. From shopping to relationships, you can find it all on the internet. So, it doesn’t seem absurd that we can also make a living online!
The beauty of an online business is that it runs around the clock, whether you’re at your desk or not. The doors are always open, meaning the sales can roll while you spend more of your precious time on the things you love.
If you made it this far, you are seriously thinking about starting an affiliate marketing business. I’d recommend you to watch this complimentary video series from a mentor of mine, Stuart.
I have learned over the shoulders from other successful affiliate marketers. And encourage others to do so via my community of digital entrepreneurs.
If you are genuinely trying to help people, the money will come.
The money will be a byproduct of you, adding value to society. It doesn’t matter if it’s in affiliate marketing, e-commerce, coaching, etc. The business model isn’t that important. What matters is that you set out to identify the goal, the vision, the mission.
Don’t set expectations too high to make money right off the beginning. It takes time – but if you do it the right way, it will pay off.
If you liked this post, consider giving it a thumbs up below. If you have questions or want me to dive deeper into a concept, ask me in the comments section.