A guide to affiliate marketing for beginners. Do you want to become an affiliate marketer but don’t know where to start?
Don’t worry; I’ve been there too.
Affiliate marketing can be a great way to make extra cash on the side or as a full-time business. But it takes a lot of hard work to learn the ropes and start making money.
In this guide, I will teach you everything you need to know about affiliate marketing for beginners.
I will cover the basics, the pros and cons, and how much money affiliates can make. I will give you tips so you can avoid the common mistakes people make when they start affiliate marketing.
Let’s get right to it.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is earning money online by recommending other brands’ products on your website, social media, or email list. When customers buy the products you suggest, you earn a commission.
More and more businesses are turning to affiliate marketing as a way to increase their income. Just consider these statistics:
- 84% of businesses use affiliate programs. (Mediakix)
- The affiliate marketing industry is worth more than $17 billion (Kinsta)
- Searches for “affiliate marketing”, Worldwide have grown by more than 200% since 2015. (Google Trends)
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing requires two key participants: The Merchant (also called the Product Owner) and the Affiliate Marketer (sometimes called the Publisher). Additionally, other groups come into play, which we’ll get to shortly.
In its most common form, affiliate marketing works like this;
- The affiliate promotes the merchant’s products using affiliate links.
- Customers click on the affiliate’s links.
- The affiliate links are tracked by the merchant using a unique affiliate id.
- The merchant pays the affiliate marketer a commission for every successful sale.
The Key Players In Affiliate Marketing.
It is important for affiliate marketing beginners to understand who the different groups are in this marketing system.
There are three core players (occasionally four) in this marketing model. Let’s look a little deeper at this relationship.
1. Merchant (Product Owner/Seller).
The Merchant is the brand with something to sell.
The merchant doesn’t have to be a big brand. It can be a marketing-savvy solo entrepreneur. Katya Varbanova, the founder of Viral Marketing Stars®, uses affiliates to grow her customer base.
2. Affiliate (Publisher)
Also known as Publishers, can be individuals or companies. Affiliates promote the merchants’ products to an audience. If customers buy the products, the affiliate makes a commission from the merchants’ affiliate program.
3. Customer (Consumer)
The customer or consumer takes out their wallet and buys the merchant’s product. The customer is the most crucial party in the mix. Without the customer, there can be no sales for affiliate programs and no commissions for affiliates.
4. Affiliate Network (optional).
The affiliate network plays a vital role in the relationship between affiliates and merchants. They manage the technical aspects of an affiliate program, such as making sure affiliates get credit for sales they generate. In some cases, the merchant will operate their own affiliate network.
Affiliate marketing is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme! Don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight.
Should You Start Affiliate Marketing?
Now that you know more about the fundamentals, is this a good opportunity for you?
Here are some excellent reasons you should get started with affiliate marketing;
1. Low-risk startup.
Minimal upfront costs and no special skills. You can sign up for an affiliate network, find a product to promote, and start marketing.
2. Unlimited earnings.
Earn a commission on every sale. There is no limit to your earning potential. Unlike working a 9 to 5 job where your boss will always control how much you get paid.
You can work from anywhere, at times that best suit your lifestyle, and choose the products you want to promote.
4. Long Lasting.
According to a study by InfluenceMarketingHub, 8 out of 10 firms have an affiliate marketing program. Affiliate marketing has been around for a long time and is gaining momentum.
Companies are spending more on this type of marketing than ever before. Statista states total affiliate marketing expenditure in the United States is expected to rise to $8.2 billion from $5.4 billion in 2017.
Pros & Cons Of Affiliate Marketing.
Types of Affiliate Marketing.
Let’s have a chat about the different types of affiliate marketing. They are distinguished by the amount of involvement you have with the products being promoted.
In an unattached model, you have no involvement with the product you are promoting. You have no prior experience with the industry and can’t make any claims about the product’s usefulness.
You have experience with the product and an audience in a related niche. You are a reliable and trustworthy source that can direct traffic to the seller’s products.
In this scenario, it is easier to generate sales because the affiliate has an existing audience. The affiliate also risks losing that audience if the affiliate recommends a bad product.
Your personal experience with the product makes your audience confident to purchase that product.
The affiliate says, ‘As an authority in this niche, I vouch for this product and its capabilities. You can trust me when I say it will deliver a great experience.’
If you want to make more money and serve your audience at the highest level, it will take some time to build up your credibility. But if you stick with it and only recommend products/brands you genuinely believe in, it will pay off in the long run.
How Affiliate Marketers Get Paid.
There are lots of affiliate programs out there with different payout models. Choose one that aligns with your strengths as a marketer and with the needs of your audience.
1. Pay per sale.
If you promote a product and someone buys it, you get paid a percentage of the sale. For example, if I recommend GetLasso to bloggers who want to increase their affiliate income, and someone buys it using my link, I earn a commission from that sale.
2. Pay per click (PPC).
Affiliate programs use this method to increase brand awareness. You receive money for each click from your affiliate link—regardless of whether it results in a purchase.
PPC pays you for the number of people who click on an ad on your marketing platform. The more people you send to the company’s website from that advertisement, the more you get paid.
You probably won’t come across this too often.
3. Pay per lead.
You get paid by the affiliate program for every lead you generate. This could be in the form of a sign-up, a subscription, or any other type of customer action. It is a popular payout system for beginners because it is easier to generate a lead than to sell something.
4. Pay per install.
Receive a commission for every software installation that occurs from your affiliate link. You create content on your website that encourages visitors to get and install mobile apps and software.
5. Pay per action.
Get paid every time you help a seller complete a specific task, like making a purchase or signing up for a software demo. Used by affiliate programs because it can be used for different kinds of offers: getting people to sign up for newsletters, clicks, contact requests, form submissions, and more.
6. Sponsored Content.
You are paid by an affiliate program to produce content. This could be in the form of a blog post, video, or social media post. You will carefully select which products to promote to ensure they are relevant to your audience and align with their values.
How Much Do Affiliates Make?
How much money do affiliate marketers make? This question often comes up, and there is no easy answer.
It depends on the affiliate products you promote, your niche, and how hard you work.
However, some general trends can give us an idea of how much affiliates can earn.
YouTuber and professional blogger Adam Enfroy made over $1 million in under two years with no money spent on advertising. The Wirecutter, a well-known gadget review website, generated over $150 million. Tom Blake the man behind “This Online World” has taken his side hustle to a full-time earner making over $92k per year.
Not everyone will have the same wild success as Adam Enfroy or Tom Blake, but every affiliate marketing beginner has the possibility to create these results if they understand how to do affiliate marketing correctly from the beginning, work hard and never give up.
Check out these stats on affiliate earnings;
- 9% of affiliate marketers earn more than $50,000 per year. (Investopedia)
- An STM survey found, 81.2% of affiliate marketers are making over $20K per year. (STM)
- On average, affiliates are earning $89,162 per year. (Glassdoor)
It is important to remember that actual earnings may vary wildly, especially as a newbie affiliate marketer.
Popular Affiliate Marketing Channels.
There are many ways to promote products and services. Some marketers focus on one channel while others try out a variety of them.
Blogging is still the best platform for creating content as an affiliate. It is proven to build trust with an audience and grow your authority.
Use blog content to direct people to your affiliate links. 64.48% of affiliate marketers generate traffic by blogging (Awin). Marketers rely on good content to boost their campaigns, reduce their ad spending and generate better-quality leads.
2. Social Media.
Use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to drive people to affiliate links or blog postings. This is an excellent method to build a large following while gaining trust and credibility among your followers.
3. Email Marketing.
Not the newest method, but email marketing is still one of the best ways to reach potential customers. With its ability to target people who are already interested in you, this marketing type should be a go-to for your business.
Emails provide a perfect opportunity to share rich content related to whatever you’re promoting.
Read this article to find out which are the best autoresponders for affiliate marketing.
4. Influencer Marketing.
This newer form of affiliate marketing has taken the industry by storm recently. Affiliate marketers collaborate with social media influencers to promote their products. Not only will this help you build trust and credibility with your followers, but it’s also an excellent way to build relationships in your industry with influential people.
5. Coupon Sites.
Affiliate marketers use coupon codes to introduce potential customers to new products or services. By providing discounts, you are more likely to interest people in what you have to offer and generate repeat business.
6. Large Media Sites.
Large media sites reel in an immense volume of traffic. These platforms tend to have product reviews and comparisons, many of which are affiliate products. They serve as a library of social proof for their services and items. Usually, these sites advance goods through banners and contextual affiliate links.
Rules Of Ethical Affiliate Marketing.
Becoming an affiliate marketer is easy, it’s one of the reasons I recommend affiliate marketing for beginners. But, because it is so easy, many people come into the industry with bad intentions.
Always putting the customers’ needs first, only working with reputable sellers and affiliate programs, and giving your audience the most value you possibly can.
Follow these rules in every decision you make — Golden Rules Of Ethical Affiliate Marketing;
1. Genuine Honesty.
Be honest about any product you are paid to promote (which is also the law). Consumers are not dimwitted. If they sense that you are not being honest, they will turn off to whatever you have to say.
It is ok if you don’t know the answer. If you aren’t a “guru,” say so. If meat is your favorite food and you believe vegans come from another plant, it’s ok to say so. You’ll have better connections with your audience if you’re honest.
2. Serve First.
Don’t be in a hurry to start selling, give your audience value first. Your number one priority should be giving your audience what they need.
Every time you make a decision, ask yourself, ‘will this help the people I am trying to serve’? If not, then don’t do it!
Of course, you want your company to earn money – but you will need to build trust with your audience first if you hope to make significant sales.
3. Be Selective.
Don’t link barf! Only promote items you’ve researched, tested, and believe in. You may have to turn down an opportunity because it doesn’t meet your audience’s requirements, but this is ok. It will pay off tenfold in the long run. Everything about your credibility with your customers is essential.
Affiliate Marketing In 6 Easy Steps.
As a beginner, this strategy will make you more likely to succeed as an affiliate marketer.
1. Pick A Platform.
Choose a platform to establish an audience.
Blogging and YouTube are the two most effective platforms. Decide on one and start using it.
Getting to know your potential customers helps you understand their needs on a deeper level and build trust. In addition, hearing about their difficulties offers valuable ideas about new products geared toward removing those barriers.
So what are some ways you can nurture the trust of this audience quicker?
Tips To Gain Trust Quicker.
Find Your Audience
Find out where your target audience hangs out and start adding value to the discussion there. Facebook Groups, Slack channels, and Reddit subreddits are all excellent places to meet an audience.
Share your life
Your audience needs to see that you’re relatable. Share parts of your life that have nothing to do with affiliate marketing or your niche. For example, I am married and have a French Bulldog puppy. I post pictures of us together because it represents who I am as a person.
Be a storyteller
People love stories, fact! We can get so wrapped up in them that we forget about the world around us.
Your audience wants to know where you started, how you got to where you are now, and what challenges you’ve faced along the way.
Find a product that provides a solution to their problems.
If you don’t have an audience or don’t know their problems, go back to Step Two!
The affiliate landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years. In the past, it was enough to find a product that paid well, had high conversion rates, and drive paid traffic to it. Nowadays, consumers are far savvier, and they will do their research. You must choose a product that meets the audience’s needs, does what it claims to do, and can be trusted.
Test the product. Make sure it does what it’s supposed to.
People will see right through you if you don’t believe in the product. Only to promote products you have used and are happy with.
You need to provide proof, so document everything! The good things and the things that they could do better. Take screenshots, write down your thoughts, and track your results. This will help you know if this product is a dud or if it’s worth promoting to your audience.
5. Create Content.
Create content to show your audience, but only if you’re happy with the product.
Your content should educate, entertain, and inspire your audience.
You start promoting it to your audience after you are confident in the product.
By now your audience trusts you and is more likely to listen to your suggestions rather than tune you out entirely.
Now all you have to do is give them a way to click on your links.
We call these sales links Calls To Action (CTA). They are the words and phrases used to get your audience to take action. For example, ‘Sign Up Now.’
Tips For The Perfect CTA
Here are a few things to keep in mind when crafting your CTAs;
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Quick Tips
Go from zero to hero as an affiliate marketer with these 17 affiliate marketing for beginners quick tips;
1. Only partner with reliable product owners.
Choose a product to promote that has excellent customer reviews, provides good affiliate support, and solves your audience’s problem.
2. Test, test, and test again.
Do your research before promoting any product – make sure it does what it claims to do and that the experience will wow your audience.
3. Set up a blog.
Blogging is the best way to build an affiliate business that will generate passive income in the long run.
4. Use social media to amplify your reach.
Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are great for building an audience and generating traffic for your affiliate promotions.
5. Don’t spam.
Spamming people (link barfing) with affiliate links is a surefire way to turn an audience off and lose their trust.
6. Create quality content.
Promote products in a way that is helpful, informative, and entertaining to your audience, and make sure the product you’re promoting is worth their time and attention.
7. Keep learning and evolving.
The marketing landscape is constantly changing, so stay current on the latest trends and strategies.
8. Have patience.
Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme, so don’t expect to see immediate results. Building a successful business takes time, effort, and consistency.
9. Build a business.
Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on creating a business not selling a product or making a pretty blog. Think strategically and use data.
10. Use strong CTAs.
Your ultimate goal is to get people to take action on your affiliate links. Use strong CTAs that stand out from the rest of your content.
11. Be Transparent.
Affiliate marketing is a relationship business, so be upfront with your audience. Let potential customers know who you are, what you’re promoting, and why you’re promoting it.
12. Offer value.
Success is about providing value to your audience. Promote products that will help save them money and time.
13. High-value, low-risk offers.
Offer a lot of value without requiring anything in return. You’re telling your audience that they aren’t required to commit. This builds trust and in the long-term increases sales.
14. Recommend good products.
Only promote products you believe in that would solve a problem for your audience.
15. Urgency and FOMO in your CTAs.
Use scarcity tactics in your CTAs to increase urgency and encourage people to take action (buy) quickly.
16. Get Creative.
Think outside the box and get creative with how you promote affiliate products. There are endless possibilities, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
17. Track your results.
Use affiliate marketing tools to see which products convert the most sales to market them better.
Mistakes Beginner Affiliates Make.
The most frequent blunders I encounter with affiliate marketing beginners are;
- The products they promote
- Target audience (or lack of one)
- Lack of business/financial learning
Promoting the wrong products.
Ensure that your recommended products are relevant to your audience’s needs. Products that will be able to resolve their issues as a result of this.
Not learning how affiliate marketing works.
It’s a tricky business and takes time to figure out the ropes. Don’t expect results if you don’t try to learn how it works.
Quantity over quality.
It’s tempting to try and promote as many affiliate products as possible to increase sales, but this often leads to low-quality content that will turn people off.
Not building an audience.
Your affiliate efforts are doomed from the start without an audience. Use social media, blogging, and other forms of content distribution to build an audience of people interested in what you have to say.
Giving up too quickly.
Don’t expect overnight success. Building a successful business takes time, effort, and consistency.
Tools For Affiliate Marketing Beginners.
You will need a few tools when starting as a beginner affiliate marketer. Here s a list of the top affiliate tools for beginners.
Don’t obsess over your tools. Add to your toolkit as your business grows, and your needs increase.
GetResponse – This service allows you to create and send newsletters, autoresponders, and other automated emails.
ClickFunnels – A landing page builder that helps you create high-converting landing pages for your affiliate products.
CartFlows – A WordPress plugin that makes it easy to make sales funnels on a WordPress site.
If you are looking for sales funnel software, check out this complete list of the Best Sales Funnel Software.
Thrive Leads – A powerful lead generation plugin for WordPress that helps you increase your conversion rate.
Google Analytics – A free web analytics tool that lets you track the traffic and behavior of your website visitors.
Crazy Egg – An online heat map tool showing where your website visitors click and scroll on your pages. Help with better positioning your affiliate links.
Sumo – Suite of tools that help you grow your website’s traffic and engagement levels.
Ahrefs – Backlink analysis tool that helps you find new link-building opportunities for your affiliate websites.
Bitly – A URL shortening service that gives you detailed insights into how well your affiliate links perform.
EverWebinar – A webinar platform that allows you to host live or automated webinars.
Planoly – A social media management platform that lets you manage all your social media accounts in one place.
Provesource – Social proof tool that helps you increase your conversion rate by displaying customer testimonials, reviews, and other forms of social proof on your website.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to start an online business. It’s relatively easy to set up, and many affiliate programs are available. However, it’s essential to understand the benefits and risks beforehand.
As a beginner, building an audience on a platform you are comfortable using, identifying a niche market, selecting affiliate products, and creating compelling content is key. With dedication and hard work, anyone can thrive in affiliate marketing.