Affiliate marketing is something I have been involved in since 2016. A lot has changes since then, but the basics remain the same. If you are looking for a great side hustle to earn passive income, affiliate marketing can be an excellent choice.
This Affiliate marketing for dummies guide aims to give you a detailed overview of what you need to know to get started on the right foot.
Let’s start by looking at the basics.
Affiliate marketing is a form of promotion where a person highlights a product or service offered by a separate business. The marketer receives a payment or commission from the business when sales are made based on the promotional efforts utilized.
When participating in affiliate marketing, you are the affiliate. You are promoting someone with the intention of getting a reward when people buy or use something based on your referrals.
The big reason why affiliate marketing is popular involves more than just the profit potential. It also involves sharing things with people and letting them know more about stuff they are interested in.
When you run a strong marketing campaign, you promote yourself as a reliable source. You send people to a place that offers a product they are not familiar with or a website that they might not have heard of. But they go there because they know you are trustworthy and that you are giving them enough encouragement.
People these days don’t have much faith in advertisers. They want to hear things from everyday people instead. Establish a brilliant marketing campaign and people will trust you in return.
The basic process surrounding affiliate marketing works like this:
The excitement that comes with affiliate marketing is great. The potential profits are inviting. But to make the most out of affiliate marketing, you have to look at a few specific steps for getting into the field.
Start by looking at what you would promote when you get into an affiliate marketing program. It is easier to make money when you promote something that you feel great about. For example, I only promote products that I believe in and use like Wealthy Affiliate.
My interests are in internet marketing and SEO so it makes sense for me to promote these types of products. Think about the particular niche or target that you are interested in. Maybe you might be attracted to topics on weight loss or fitness or perhaps you have a liking for gardening.
Look at your interest in something and think about how well you like it. You will have to build a site around that focus point.
Think about the product or service you would promote. Would you actually use it yourself?
After figuring out what you will focus on, look at how narrow the niche is. By narrowing your reach, you are targeting a smaller group that might be more intrigued by what you are offering. That is, you are targeting only people within a certain segment who really have a strong interest in what you are promoting.
Let’s go to the field of gardening, for instance. A site dedicated to gardening is appealing on its own. One more specialized site about a very specific aspect of that field is even better. You might create a site focusing on desert landscape plants or ornamental vines. Look at how detailed or distinct your focus is so you know what deserves to be targeted.
Look for an affiliate program after you determine the niche you want to get into. Such a setup must be organized to where you can easily promote your work.
It should not be hard for you to find an affiliate program. There are so many resources that offer details on such programs that it would be tough to list them all here.
Be careful when choosing a campaign. Look at the following points when getting into one of these programs:
If you have recently begun selling and generating money from affiliate marketing you will understand the importance of affiliate links, the URL that your visitor chicks on to make a purchase. Once the purchase is completed you are compensated for referring that buyer by way of a commission.
This is a competitive business and marketers are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their SEO, rankings, and ways to use their affiliate links more effectively.
Good marketers also know that thinks like link placement, anchor text, and link cloaking are important factors to take into account when creating a website or product pages.
For the uninitiated, these items can make a big difference to your sales traffic and ultimately your bottom line.
So what exactly are affiliate links?
Here we will take a look at the basics of affiliate links and how you can use them best to create sales.
These are the whole reason for you to generate your website or blog. Affiliate links are quite simply the product URL that your site visitors click to purchase your product or service.
These should be placed strategically throughout your site and combined with calls to action to encourage your site visitors to commit to making a purchase.
Once your website has been created and you have determined the products or your services that you can sell you will need to drive traffic to your site.
These site visitors land on your pages looking for answers or information that they need and if you have provided enough insight they will, hopefully, click on one of your affiliate links and buy an item, making you a commission.
You can advertise your links in various areas to try and generate more traffic to your site which will hopefully lead to more income.
You can make money by placing your links in the following places:
If you are looking on how to get started on affiliate marketing, check out our list of best affiliate marketing courses.
Anchor text is the text that is highlighted and clickable that contains the link to your product. People inherently don’t like to feel that they are being sold something and anchor text is a way of making your affiliate links cleaner and less obvious. Here is an example.
Click to read more about this new product HERE.
Click this link to learn more about this new product https://www.amazon.com/Conklin-Herringbone-Rollerball-Golden-CK71012/dp/B003DXB65E/ref=sr_1_1?pf_rd_i=3002949011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=59f8f9da-b6cf-40bc-b151-abfedbe718c2&pf_rd_r=T8DQAMGSVEYJXH7S0M8Y&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-2&pf_rd_t=101&qid=1566755537&refinements=p_74%3A00000-9999%2Cp_36%3A0-9999&s=office-products&sr=1-1
The first example is how anchor text will look when done properly. As you can see it looks much less messy and more aesthetically pleasing to your prospective purchaser than the second link.
Just as you spent time researching your perfect niche for your affiliate marketing website you should also spend some time researching the best products to include on your new website. Anything you choose should be relevant to your niche, bring value to you customer, and solve a problem.
There are no restrictions on how many products you can promote and link to, but make sure they are relevant to your site visitors. Adding products that have no bearing on your chosen niche will just be confusing to you potential customers and may drive them away.
Your choice of product is important as you will be generating content around the items you wish to sell and promote. Here is where a bit of care and an eye for detail can come in useful. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your guests with huge blocks of text that include tons of blue underlined links.
Keep your links tasteful and sparse and relevant to your content. There is no point writing a great piece about phone chargers then incorporating a link to a portable hard drive, even if it is one of your highest commission items.
Links don’t have to be only text either you can include product links on images or in reviews and comparison pages. You can create loads of different content to like ‘how to’s’ or ‘best of’ and even product guides for individual items.
When you are using affiliate links there is an FTC mandated responsibility to let your site visitors know that you may earn money from any purchases made through your website. This is to ensure transparency and fair treatment of your website visitors.
You should use clear language when disclosing the use of affiliate links and place any claims in obvious areas for your readers to see easily.
“This is a professional review blog which receives compensation for product reviewed by the companies who produce them. All products are tested thoroughly and high grades are received only by the best
This blog gets a commission for using “company name” products for the recipes we share with you in our posts. Although we receive a commission for using and linking to their products, all our opinion and suggestions are unbiased.”
If you are feeling a bit confused or unsure about the kind of language you should you in your disclaimers then don’t worry. There are some handly tools available to ensure that you are legally in compliance and keep you on the right side of the law.
Websites like Termly do a fine job of generating legally correct website disclaimers for you so you don’t have to come up with the appropriate verbiage.
There are also several WordPress plugins that you can download to do the task for you too. Try a plugin like WP Affiliate Disclosure to handle your disclaimer needs.
Once you have signed up with the affiliate marketing programs of your choice your will browse through their product catalog to locate items to sell. Once you have decided on your products each one will have a link that is unique to your account.
This is the URL you will use to place the product on your website. Once a visitor clicks the link and make a purchase the affiliate program recognises who the link belongs to and credits that user account with the earned commission from the sale.
The nice part is that once a visitor clicks on the link it generates a tracking cookie. This means that if your site visitor decides not to complete the purchase your information is retained so that if they come back to make the purchase at a later time you will still earth the commission for it.
Most tracking cookies last for a period of 30 days but it can vary so check with your own affiliate partners for their specific duration.
Creating links is the practice of living your content or text to another person’s website. Deep linking is a little different as it means you will link directly to a person’s page, post, or specific item rather than just their website's home page. In effect, your link will lead the follower deeper into the target website to point them at the information they are looking for.
The thinking behind deep linking is that you can use a deep link to push site visitors beyond a website's home page, past the usual top-level pages, and take them to the information or content they are looking for. Once there the idea is that a sale will be made and the site visitor will convert better.
The primary purpose of Affiliate Marketing is to get visitors to your site to click a link and make a sale. These are known as conversions. If you are seeking just a few products you may be able to track your conversions manually but for larger sites, you may want to use Google Analytics or a similar software tool to track your sales.
The percentage of site visitors that commit to making a purchase is known as your conversion rate. It’s also worth noting that tracked conversations don’t have to always be something that is monetary in nature. Many sites track conversions of email sign ups or completing a form. These are set up as goals and tracked in the same manner as sales.
Where there is money there is always a scam. The same is true for affiliate marketing. Over the years hackers and thieves have devised cunning ways to steal or hijack your hard-earned commissions by the use of malware or programs designed to override your tracking cookies.
Link cloaking is a way to hide your links from malicious attacks and protect your earnings. As well as shortening your affiliate links, cloaking will send people to your affiliate site by redirecting them and hiding your tracking IDs. It is a good way of fooling the bad guys so they can’t get at your money.
Another benefit of link cloaking is that it is often used with management software that helps you to list, track and sort your links. This is particularly useful if you have a large affiliate site with hundreds of links.
Understanding how to effectively optimize and use your affiliate marketing links will help you in gaining traffic, helping site visitors find the answers they are looking for, and ultimately drive sales.
The information contained in this article should provide you with a good overview of what affiliate links are, how to use them, and how to make them work best for you.
You don’t necessarily have to use whatever you are marketing. But it should be something that relates to the interest you have.
It might help to try a product or service out if you have the money for doing so. You would be much more invested in the promotional process if you have tried it out and actually enjoy it. Your firsthand experience makes a world of difference.
Ordering a supplement to try out might work, for instance. Writing a journal detailing how you use that supplement and what you feel off of it might help. It gives people an idea of whether or not something is all that appealing. It also works if the product you are promoting is in high demand. Your knowledge of the product gives readers a clear idea of what to expect out of it.
Sharing your experience with a product or service is completely optional. It works best if whatever you discuss is visible and in demand. After all, it might be easier to highlight stuff if you have a strong vested interest in it.
Although getting quality links onto your site can make a real difference when you are promoting someone’s work, you have to think about how you would promote such items. The last thing you want is to make your work look like some blatant and unoriginal advertisement.
There are a few things you could do to promote products through your marketing efforts:
You must have your own website to support your affiliate marketing efforts. Your website is where you will add the affiliate links to.
Your site has to be organized while looking strong. There are a few steps to follow for you to get the most out of your website:
Check on how well you get your site set up before you go live. You need a website that not only looks great but is also easy to manage. After all, you’ve got to keep that site updated regularly if you want people to take your marketing campaign seriously.
Of course, you also have the option to outsource your web creation efforts to another party. It costs extra to do that though. Therefore, sticking with the above plan and making content yourself is the way to go for beginner affiliate marketers.
f you’re struggling to create content for your affiliate site, you are not alone. Creating content is a struggle most affiliate marketers have to deal with. When you’re just starting you are trying to figure out what to write about.
When you have been around for a while, your concern is about running out of things to talk about. So how do you make pages and titles that are juicy enough to get visitors to come to your site? Here we will look at some of the methods you can use to create juicy content for your affiliate website.
The process of getting visitors to buy something from your affiliate marketing links starts well before anyone lands on your site. You need to make sure that you have done your SEO so that your site features high in the search engine results.
How do you do this exactly? I learned this trick from the Gael and Mark from Authority Hacker’s The Authority Site System…
Sharethrough Headline Analyzer is a great tool and rates each of your headlines for maximum impact. The analyzer will return scores for impression and engagement of your headlines and you can adjust the wording to create greater interest.
Everyone knows how to use Google, but most don’t realize just how to use it effectively. I learned this little nugget from the guys at Income School.
First thing you do is enter in your keyword into Google. For example, see what comes up when you Google ‘How to make money online’.
What articles have other people written, can you make yours longer, is there relevant information that has been completely missed, can you improve on the article overall?
A handy tip is to look at the end of the search results page after you have typed in your query. If you scroll to the end of the search results you will see a section titles ‘Searches related to’.
This returns a list of popular related searches and questions that people have asked related to the main search query. These questions can then be taken and used as further subheadings for your own article.
The fact that these questions show up in as related searches mean that they are phrases that people have been looking for on Google so you already know there is some traffic for them. Easy win!
To make your article flow well to think about a list of subheadings and write them out, then you can write content that marries to that specific heading.
For example, if you are writing an article about ‘How to Make Money Online’ then your list of subheadings maybe:
You get the idea. The more subheadings you can think of the more content you will be able to create and as Google favors longer length, informative articles, this will help your blogs to rank higher in search results.
If people are visiting your site they are visiting for a reason. They are looking for information, an answer to a question, or maybe they just say an eye-catching link and followed it.
Once they get to your webpage the trick is to keep them there and hopefully, they will buy something from your affiliate links and earn you some money.
The traffic that is coming to your page will have a better chance of remaining there if you know your audience.
Think about WHO your customer is, WHAT they need, and HOW you can provide it for them. Answering these simple questions will help you greatly in targeting your website content to speak to your specific customers.
Generating killer content is a fantastic way to get and engage with site visitors, and while you can write about anything you want, don’t get too carried away with that artistic license.
Make sure that you verify any facts that you are relating for accuracy. Include references if possible. All in all, make sure that anything you are saying is truthful and accurate.
Part of building a rapport with your audience is about building trust. Showing that you are honest and reliable goes a long way to fostering that relationship with your site visitors.
Inaccurate information will make you look dishonest, or like you are trying to hide something. Worse still it may even imply that you are actively attempting to mislead which will be a killer for your website.
So be transparent, if you got some of your facts from another source or website then say so. If you quoted the words of someone else then give them credit. It will only go towards building your own credibility.
When you are designing content it should be tailored to speak to your audience, but you should also keep the point of each article in mind too. Each post you write should address a specific point or answer a question.
Avoid overly wordy writing that digresses or stray away from the matter at hand. Irrelevant information is of no use to your website visitors so stay on topic and don’t stray. You will risk losing readers if the article becomes unclear or confusing.
Be conscious of how your article flow and design is clearly to lead your reader in a logical flow through the piece and offer them a conclusion at the end. This is also a great place to insert a call to action and include a relevant affiliate link.
Half of writing amazing content is in the editing. Once you have written a piece go back to read and edit it before adding your affiliate links. This is where you have to step outside of yourself and read the content as though you are seeing it fresh for the first time, and through the eyes of your customers.
This is where you need to be brutally honest and critical, remove any wording or paragraphs that are unnecessary. Delete any overused terms or filler words. Gear everything to speak directly and resonate with your site visitors.
This may mean that your 1600 word blog gets reduced to 1100 words but that’s ok as long as it is clean and reads well.
Once you have a nicely written, informative and concise post you can think about adding your affiliate marketing links, but make sure it still flows naturally.
Any traffic that you get to your site will not stick around for long if the information they are seeing is unclear or confusing. A nice uncluttered layout or theme will help visitors to navigate around your site easily and create a smooth experience.
Similarly, the language or working that you use across your site and for blog posts should be clean and uncluttered too. A good rule of thumb is to keep the wording simple, like your average 12 year old could easily comprehend, and use short sentences.
Avoid using anything that sounds like Shakespearean English or that’s so technical NASA would have a hard time deciphering it. You want to engage your customer not overwhelm them so keep it simple and neat.
We have already covered that you should target your writing and topics to your audience while keeping posts clear and concise, but here is where you can dig a little deeper still. Think about unique and specific pain points that your customer has, or identify future issues that they may encounter.
This type of information helps to lead your customers from one place to another. In other words, you can assist them by helping them progress or by making a transition from one point to another. This helps to position you as a reliable authority on the topic at hand. If dome properly it will keep visitors coming back for more.
People like to know who they are dealing with so a nice About page can be helpful to create a human connection with your site visitors.
They will get a feel for who you are, what you do and what you can offer them. It doesn’t hurt to list any experience or special achievements, be careful not to be TOO braggy, that can be hurtful more than helpful.
Once people know who you are and what you are offering to help them, you can incorporate your personality into stories, product listings or reviews. When you have built an audience you can trust then you can build your affiliate links into posts like ‘My Best Picks’ or ‘Jeremy’s favorites’.
This personal connection can go a long way to generating sales once people feel that they know you and trust you as a reputable source of information. This human connection can be expanded to other areas of your site, replying to emails or comments for example.
Beware of overloading your site or blogs with endless amounts of links, Less is more in this case, you want your posts to flow naturally, not look like some kind of link depository filled with blue underlined text. That can be quite off-putting for your visitors and looks messy.
Build your affiliate links into your writing naturally so it flows easily. Make subtle suggestions rather than hitting guests in the face with your affiliate product offerings.
People don’t like to think that they are being forced into a purchase so the idea here is to gently suggest rather than TELL people what to click on.
While you may think that covering very broad topics and offering lots of products will give you more opportunities to generate sales, that is actually a misconception.
People get confused by too much information and feel overwhelmed. Much better to identify a niche and set up your affiliate links around that niche.
How can you narrow down your search and identify a niche that people are actually looking for and interested in?
Simple, let’s go back to Google again and type in “best <product category>” and see what shows up.
For example, lets look for “best pens” and see what happens:
There you go, a bunch of different niches that you can research more on decide to attack.
As part of understanding your audience, and selecting your ideal niche, level you should also be considering what products or services you will incorporate on your website. If your website is about computer tech or Ai then including links to sell kid’s toys will be of no benefit at all.
There are many affiliate networks to choose from that sell a wide range of items or specialize in one area. Take a critical look at your product and service offerings before deciding exactly what, how, and where to incorporate them by way of affiliate links.
Speaking of those links, the last thing people want to be confronted by is pages of super obvious sales links to your products.
It looks messy and tacky for one thing and for another the overt sales pitch will most likely drive away any site visitors.
Opt instead for using a link shortener like bit.ly or Amazon’s own link shortener.
If your not promoting an Amazon product, it is even better is to use a free WordPress plugin like Pretty Links instead.
Here is how a normal affiliate link looks like:
Here is an affiliate link using Pretty Links:
See! Looks much better, doesn’t it? This technique will allow you to add your affiliate links to your blogs or posts in a much more natural manner.
If writing and content creation really isn’t your strong point you could think about outsourcing your work to have it generated by a professional writer or freelancer. The cost is relatively cheap and if you really don’t have the ability to create good content then the benefits should outweigh the money you pay.
As we have already established, presenting your site visitors with sub-par or badly written content will be counterproductive, especially if you are wanting them to click on your affiliate links and buy a product or service.
Better to get your content done for you then you can simply add the affiliate links yourself strategically throughout the piece.
To engage the services of a professional writer you could look online and search services like Fiverr or Upwork.
Always check reviews and ask for sample pieces so that you may see the quality of writing you will be getting.
By the time you have finished with the steps listed above, you should come out with a well written, informative and clear piece of writing that you can use to incorporate whatever affiliate links you wish.
In recent years, affiliate marketing has rapidly seeped into nearly every branch of business. It has changed the way we promote a brand and has created an exciting way to earn passive income from anywhere.
In the US alone, affiliate marketing spending is estimated to compound at a 10% rate annually and is expected to grow over the $6. 8 billion mark in 2020 (Source: Rakuten). It’s difficult to ignore this opportunity and to not want a slice of this humongous pie.
You probably have read tons of information about affiliate marketing online. Chances are you have been told how easy it is, how you can make lots of money, and how you can reap all of the lifestyle benefits associated with it.
However, before you jump straight onto the bandwagon, you need to ask yourself: What are the disadvantages of affiliate marketing?
I have organized the list of disadvantages by different components of affiliate marketing, separating out what you can actually control and what you can’t.
Wherever possible, I put my own two cents in about what can be done to curtail the disadvantages.
Before we move on, let’s define what affiliate marketing is. Affiliate marketing is a mutual partnership between merchants and affiliates, which runs on a performance-based reward system.
An affiliate will be rewarded with the agreed referral fee (commission) based on a set of measures such as per click, per lead, or per sales.
To begin, let’s look at the most crucial element of running a successful affiliate marketing business – YOU. Although it may sound like everyone can do it, not everyone can be successful at it.
In affiliate marketing, choosing the right field and products is crucial for your success. With millions of products and services out there, many newbies find themselves stranded from the beginning in their attempt to affiliate market.
It is a daunting process to pick a niche and the associated products to promote. Many feel confused and unable to tell good products from rubbish ones. For long-term success, it is vital that you have a plan and strategy; both require some deliberation.
A good starting point would be to think of what your passion is and what you are good at. Do some research, identify your target market, and figure out how you can solve their problems by offering your products and services.
When you are in the affiliate business, you are essentially a freelancer. On the positive side, it gives you the freedom to decide how and when you work. However, you will often find yourself working in isolation, which can be discouraging.
If you plan to get into this business full-time, you will need to be disciplined enough with your time and work plan. It is too easy to slack off or veer off track. Even if you are in it part-time, most people are exhausted after a long day at work to stay focused on their part-time business.
Many newbies flock to affiliate marketing with the illusion of making fast money online. The harsh truth is you will not be earning anytime soon as it takes some time to establish your presence online.
You may want to create a new website to promote your affiliate products. If done correctly, it can take four to six months before the search engines begin ranking your newly built website (source: ClickBurst SEO).
Then, it’s waiting for the customers to visit your website, and hopefully, they click on your affiliate links and make a purchase.
Don’t expect three- or four-digit earnings in the first six to twelve months. It is very possible that you will earn nothing in the first few months, and that’s when most people give up. It’s a nerve-wracking phase; many are guilty of checking their earnings report several times a day, if not every hour.
Persistency and patience are some of the key traits you need to succeed in this business.
Affiliate marketing is more than just copying and pasting affiliate links. It entails more effort than you think. To build an affiliate business that can support you on a full-time basis will require computer knowledge, SEO skills, lots of content, planning, and consistent effort.
Many YouTubers boast about how easy it is to generate passive income and how much they are making monthly. Seemingly they are not telling you the full story about the hard work they have put in to get to where they are.
Depending on your niche and marketing approach, there are reviews and articles to be written, sales funnels to be set up, videos to be recorded, and social media platforms to be monitored.
For a sustainable affiliate marketing venture, you will need to prove yourself as the authoritative person in your specialty field. This helps build trust and give your audience the confidence to click on your affiliate offers and make a purchase.
Unless you are someone famous or a celebrity, this authenticity won’t come overnight. Work needs to be put in to build your followers, retain them, and turn them into your customers. Build your business with passion and integrity so it will become one that lasts for many years to come.
Affiliates are rewarded a performance-based remuneration, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how good you are. If you ask someone for a range of affiliate marketing potential, they might tell you that it’s between zero to unlimited dollars.
It is hard to estimate how much income you can make as some factors are beyond your control. If your marketing tactic is effective and you generate many sales through your links, your earnings naturally go up. But if you fail to bring in traffic and sales, you will earn nothing despite the work and money you have put in.
Furthermore, if you are just starting out, affiliate marketing cannot be relied upon as a stable source of income.
Before you launch your affiliate business, be prepared to accept the fact that your earnings can be irregular and variable. Don’t quit your day job yet if you don’t have enough savings to get you through the transition.
In most affiliate marketing relationships, the merchants are only responsible for paying a referral fee when a purchase is made. This means all marketing efforts and expenses are borne by the affiliates. Compared to other businesses, affiliate marketing requires relatively minimal start-up costs.
In the beginning, the operating costs are insignificant. You work from home, save money on transportation, and only have the basics such as electricity, Internet, web domain, and hosting to cover.
As competition heats up, you might be tempted to enroll in a course, buy high-quality video equipment for YouTube videos, purchase a sales funnel software, hire content writers, or use paid advertising.
The costs add up, and if you are just getting started, your income is very likely to be small and sporadic. You could lose money if your effort does not bring any sales.
The potential for you to earn money from affiliate marketing program is there if you put your mind to it. Just like anything else, it all depends on how much time and effort you are willing to invest into learning and doing.
The concept of affiliate marketing is simple. You give people information on something that they want to know more about. It only makes sense that you offer info to people that want learn something that they will benefit from
Plan your affiliate marketing campaign carefully. Be certain you look at how you are promoting your work and that you are sharing information that is interesting and attractive to your readers.
Good luck and hopefully after reading this article you will no longer be an affiliate marketing dummy!
Hustle Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Hustle Life also participates in affiliate programs with Thrivecart, Clickbank, Clickfunnels, and other sites. Hustle Life is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.