Getting Started: A Guide to Affiliate Marketing For Beginners
This is a guide to affiliate marketing for beginners, dummies and anyone who is looking to make money online. By the end of this article you will have a great understanding of what affiliate marketing is, how it works, and how you can start and run an online business.
Who is this guide really for?
- people with zero knowledge and/or experience in affiliate marketing (AM)
- anyone who wants to make money on the internet
- people who are willing to learn
- teenagers – adults – the middle aged – senior citizens
- people who hate reading stuff with big words
- basically, EVERYBODY
I have done literally a week’s worth of research for this guide because I want it to be real AWESOME! I want it very detailed, extremely helpful, and most of all: newbie friendly (for beginners).
While going through other AM guides online I found some missing pieces which I will include in here. One main subject a lotta guides are missing is the research part BEFORE starting. For example: how much competition, and how many people are interested in the topic or niche.
Affiliate Marketing For Beginners
Here is what to expect inside this AM guide for newbies:
- Part 1 – Getting to Know What Affiliate Marketing is & How it Works
- A – What is Affiliate Marketing?
- B – Understanding The Process of Making Money Online
- C – Can Anybody REALLY Make Money in Affiliate Marketing?
- Part 2 – The Research
- A – Planning Out Your Online Business – Researching
- B – Niche and Keyword Research
- C- Content Ideas
- Part 3 – Putting it Together
- A – Building Your New Website/Blog
- B – Choosing a Niche
- C – Choosing a Domain Name
- D – Get Your Domain and Hosting
- E – Setting it up + The Framework
- F – Content! (blog posts, pages, images, videos, etc.)
- Part 4 – Getting Traffic
- A – How to Rank in Google (SEO)
- Part 5 – Monetizing Your Site/Blog
- A – The FUN Part – Making Money!
- B – Choosing a Product to Promote and an Affiliate Program
- C – Planning For The Future
You might need some tools for your research. And I will only recommend tools that are free or that offer free trials.
Part 1 – Getting to Know What Affiliate Marketing is & How it Works
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a relationship between a company (also known as merchant/advertiser) and a publisher/affiliate (the person promoting/pushing the product or service and in return receive a percentage. The percentage of the sale is also referred to as a commission.
So, in a sentence, it is when someone who doesn’t have a product of their own and is looking to make money online promotes a bigger company’s product for a percentage of a sale.
How Does it All Work? – Understanding The Process of Making Money Online
I’ll make this as simple as I possibly can:
- Pick a topic (niche)
- Build a website
- Attracting visitors
- Monetizing your site (choosing products and promoting)
So, you build your website/blog around a niche, you get your targeted audience to your website, then you promote a product or service to recommend to your visitors, and when they buy you receive a cut outta every sale you generate.
Can Anybody REALLY Make Money in Affiliate Marketing?
I am sure you have heard or read that anyone can make money promoting a company’s product or service. That’s probably why you’re here, huh?
Well, if you have heard it before, you are gonna here it again. . .
Anyone CAN really make money in affiliate marketing. It doesn’t matter if you have ZERO experience or knowledge on it. You can always learn.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager, in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or even a senior citizen. You can do this! All you would need is a coach or mentor, OR a high quality training program.
Can I do it alone? Yes, you can. But, it will be 99 times harder than if someone is teaching you. Why? Because they know what it takes to become successful, PERIOD.
If you don’t wanna be the 95% who fail at starting an online business, then I suggest you get someone to teach you and show you the necessary steps to starting and running a successful business online.
Anyway, let’s get started!!!
Part 2 – The Research
Planning Out Your Online Business
This is one (if not the most) important part to starting a business online and is the one part most guides out there leave out or is missing. In this part you will:
- check out how much competition you have
- learn how many people are interested in your topic
- planning out your first articles (blogposts/pages)
And to do this you will need a keyword research tool. Don’t worry, there are a couple of free tools out there for you to use.
You can either use Google’s Keyword Planner, The Jaaxy Keyword Tool (which offers a free membership that allows you to perform 30 free searches per month), or the free keyword tool inside Wealthy Affiliate (offers a free starter membership).
If you still don’t feel like signing up for a free account with Jaaxy or Wealthy Affiliate, that’s fine. Google only requires a Google account (it’s free) to use their tool.
In this guide, I will be using Jaaxy.
Niche & Keyword Research
Possibly the most important part that everybody tends to forget. Even the awesome, legitimate training programs sometimes forget to include this subject in their courses. People who create AM guides almost always forget this part too.
What is keyword research? It is when you are trying to find out what your target audience is searching for/typing in the search engines.
Why is this part so important, Julian? Because you will need to know if people are interested in the niche AND to find out if the competition is too great.
Let me put it to you this way:
Let’s say you pick the ? niche. And they go for about $20 a piece while only about 500 people search for it every month. At $20 you would earn, on average, 5% per sale you generate. Which equals up to 1 measly dollar. Times that buy 500 people = $500 per month which would be very impossible to do.
Probably about 100 – 300 could potentially visit your site and even then would be difficult to convert them all. So you would likely be looking at around $100 per month. And to me, that is not worth it! If there were at least 1500 – 3000 people searching for it every month, then maybe. $1500 per month isn’t a bad payday.
So, anyway. . .
Niche research. You can follow me if you want to. Here’s how I would do it:
Write down a list of my favourite things along with 10-20 other topics. Using “Pages” for Mac, I setup a table chart (you can use whatever you would like for this part) and filled it in like this:
Next, 1 by 1 (or in Jaaxy’s case, 5 by 5), stick em into a keyword research tool and take note of their data.
The monthly searches (“Avg” second column) and the competition (“QSR” fourth column). You can also note if the domain extension (.com/.net/.org) is available (the last column under “domains”) if you’d like.
The number of monthly searches you should be targeting for is 1,500+.
Important Note: In a completely separate blank page, make a list of at least 10-20 other keywords for each topic you got from your research for content ideas.
In this case, I searched for “best wireless routers” and found out that 8,179 people, on average, search for that term every month. Not bad. In fact, that is awesome!
Notice in the image below, Jaaxy (free) does the “Alphabet Soup Technique” AND can also find out if there are available affiliate programs in the niche you’re in. You can also run 5 searches at once to speed up your research instead of having to do it 1 by 1.
Next, you will fill out your list or table with the data you got and it will start to look something like this:
And your keyword research would go something like this:
First, you pick some keywords. Have them at at least 50 searches per month, 300 or less competition (QSR in Jaaxy), and SEO Power of 80-85 or more. You can also write down which domain extensions are available, in any (that’s the .com, etc.).
Keyword/green – Monthly searches/yellow – Competition/orange – SEO Power/purple – Domains/blue
Now you can do this with every topic/niche you have planned. Rinse and repeat.
The Next Step – Finding Out if it Will be Hard to Beat Google’s First Page Results
Google’s first page results? What the heck are you talking about?
Let me explain. If you want a shot at ranking in the first page of Google, it will be easier IF at least 2 or 3 out of the 10 have Page Authorities under 30. If they all have an authority rank of 30+ then your chances at the first page are pretty low.
To check the authority of a website, you will need:
- Open Site Explorer at Moz.com (free), other free site explorers are at ahrefs.com and majestic.com
- Your main (niche) keywords
Now, with your main keywords, 1 by 1 type them into Google and hit search.
Then, you will wanna grab the whole URLs of results numbers 1 through 10.
Put them into the Open Site Explorer, hit search, and check out their page authority, like this:
Write down the Page Authority and remember, anything higher than 30 will be hard to out rank.
Do this with all your main keywords (as they are your niche ideas). You can also do this with your other keywords later.
And when you have found a niche that has first page rankings with Google plus a page authority of 30 or less, write them all down.
Planning Out Your First 10 Articles
After you got your numbers from your niche research and your keyword research, you should now have a few niche possibilities and some keywords to go with each one of them.
The next thing you should do is to get some content (articles) ideas out of them.
For example, “Best Wireless Routers,” this would be your main target because it has the most searches. Here are a couple ideas of posts/pages you can write about the keyword:
- “Best Wireless Routers: The Best Place to Get Your Own”
- “5 Things That Make The Best Wireless Routers Better Than The Rest”
Something like that. You can think of stuff on your own, with and from your own keywords/niche and research.
So now. . .
Looking at your list of keywords, pick out 5-10 (including your main keyword) keywords and think of ideas you can write about. A good article (post/page) would have 2,000+ words for your main keyword, and 1,000+ words for the other ones.
If you think you can’t write a 1,000 word article, then aim for at least 500 words. With practice, you will get a lot better at writing. I used to have the hardest time writing even 250-300 words. And now, I can write up a 1,000+ word post and have fun doing it.
Now, as soon as you’ve got all your research done it will be time for the next step.
Here’s what you should have done at this point:
- 5-10 ideas for a niche/topic for you to choose from later, PLUS the data to go with it
- 10-ish other keywords per niche/topic
- Determined which niches are possible to outrank
- Some ideas for content
Now it is time for the next step: putting it all together.
Let’s do this!
Check out an awesome article on this topic by Dom Wells @ HumanProofDesigns.com for a little more info.
Part 3 – Putting it Together
In part 3, you will be:
- choosing a niche,
- choosing a domain name,
- building and setting up your new website,
- introduced to SEO (search engine optimization),
- and building out the first few posts/pages of your site
Planning Out Your New Website/Blog
Now that you’ve got some data to work with, the work part is now on. Before you build your new site or blog, there are just 2 more things to do. Choose your niche with the help of your research, and coming up with a domain name.
Choosing a Niche (Topic)
Looking at your research, determine which niche has a combo of:
- highest monthly searches +
- your knowledge on the topic +
- Google’s first page results
After you’ve done it all you can choose your niche. Here’s how I would do it:
I’d choose the one that:
- Has at least 2 or 3 low competition (Google’s first page with page authorities of less than 30).
- 1,500 or more monthly searches.
- Have decent knowledge on.
Here’s an example,
Lets say the niche I have most interest and knowledge in has 1,500+ searches per month PLUS the top ten results in Google for that keyword has 3 (or more) websites with page authorities of 30 or less. Then THAT is the one I am going with.
Choosing a Domain Name
Some tips to think about when deciding on a domain name:
i. Aim For a .com
When someone thinks about a website or blog they usually immediately think .com, right? I bet you do too. But, if you can’t find a .com, then a .net and a .org will do just fine.
Others include: .info – .co – .ws – and more.
ii. Brandable vs. Keyword-Rich
A keyword-rich domain would look something like this: HowToMakeMoneyOnline.com or LearnAffiliateMarketingOnline.com
A brandable domain would look something like this: MakeMoneyWithJulian.com or LearnAndEarn.com
Both are acceptable. It has been said that a keyword-rich domain name has a faster or better chance at ranking in Google.
It has also been said that keyword-rich URLs are getting less and less important.
Personally, I would go for something more brandable. That way you can expand in the future.
iii. Make it shorter easy to remember – easy to type – easy to read
If you had something like: HowToGainFollowersOnFacebookTwitterPinterestAndLinkedin.com, someone could easily make typos and you’d end up losing visitors.
What if it happens 50-100 times a month? Bad news!
iv. Hyphens vs. No Hyphens
There are some pros and cons to this one.
Pros to a hyphenated domain name (DN):
- If a domain name is already taken, you can easily put a hyphen somewhere in the middle
- It has been said that a hyphenated DN with keywords can be seen by Google better
- Potential visitors can forget there was a hyphen or forget where it is
- a-hyphenated-domain-name-looks-super-spammy-and weird
Pros for a non-hyphenated DN:
- looks better if it is short
- more popular
- easier to remember
- if you have a super long DN it will be extremely easy to forget and/or misspell
The same goes for numbers. Example:
how2cre8onlinewealth.com – someone visits your site, likes what he sees and is planning to come back later. When he decides to come back he forgets how to spell it. Maybe he goes to “howtocre8onlinewealth.com” or how2createonlinewealth.com” and you lose a visitor/potential customer.
v. Avoid Trademarked Names
This should be obvious. DO NOT include a name of a company in your DN. Some CAN be acceptable, but you will just have to look it up.
What do you recommend, Julian? Hmm? If I were you I would pick something that is more brandable because there is the possibility of expansion in the future. And people will remember you. Also, try to avoid hyphens and numbers.
Getting Your New Domain Name and Hosting
I get my domain names at Namecheap.com. At $10 per year it really is cheap. And for hosting, I choose Wealthy Affiliate. Wealthy Affiliate also has SiteRubix.com, which is a free website builder with WordPress. New members are allowed to build 2 sites for free.
So you may wanna check them out.
Here’s what I think you should do right now so that it’ll be way easier on you:
- Use the free SiteRubix website builder because you can always transfer it to a paid domain name later (I will show you how sometime, just ask)
If you choose to do this, you can simply type whatever domain name below:
(it could be pretty much anything because you will be moving it later, this is just to BUILD out your site)
So after typing in your DN you should be at a screen that looks like this:
So fill it out, choose any kind of theme (you can change it later), and hit the “build my site” button.
This will bring you here:
(Simply click the “Log Me In” button)
NOTE: You do not necessarily need to use SiteRubix since almost everywhere you choose to build your site or blog will have WordPress. I will show you how to get started with WordPress below.
And then you will be here:
Setting it up – The Framework
Now it’s time to setup your site. Here’s what you’re gonna do:
Delete the default comments and pages.
Activate your plugins.
The PUBLISH button is on the right side.
For more help and support and awesome tutorials for beginners with WordPress, check out WPbeginner.com.
Choosing a Theme
WordPress has 1,000’s of themes to choose from. In fact, I think there are so many themes that it is easy to get distracted (looking at every theme you like).
( Appearance>Themes on the right side of your Dashboard)
When you are picking out a theme, think simple. A simple white background with blank text is easier for the eyes, and a black bold-ish navigation (menu) bar seem to work alright. Don’t go all out.
Who’s gonna read you stuff? People. What if they don’t like what you write? They probably won’t be coming back. So, what are you gonna be focusing on when you’re writing? That’s right, QUALITY.
A decent article these days have about 700-1500 words. I usually go for at least 1000 words. And you should too.
You should also avoid duplicate content. Meaning NEVER copy someone else’s stuff.
Here’s how I write my stuff:
- First, of course, I look for a keyword
- Then I come up with a title that would draw people in
- Next, before actually writing, I create 5-10 subheadings/titles
- And then I look for at least 1 image that will go with my article
- Then I start writing
Part 4 – Getting Traffic to Your Site/Blog
There are a few ways to drive traffic to your site. Google is a big source of traffic and so is social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Great ways to get traffic to your site:
- Go Social
- Focus on On Page SEO
- Go After Keywords With LOW Competition
- Paid Traffic
Here are some great articles from the web on how to get traffic:
- Blogging Aid’s 5 Traffic Methods That Work
- Wordstream’s 25 Ways to Increase Traffic
- Forbes’ 39 Ideas for Traffic
- Moz’s Article on Traffic (has recently been updated)
How to Rank in Google – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – On Page SEO
Google holds at least 66% of search engine traffic (probably more) and is every blog’s dream of ranking number 1. It is pretty difficult to get that #1 spot, but with some On Page SEO and keywords that have low competition, I am sure you can get there.
SEO is basically optimizing your content (articles, images, etc.) so that Google (and other search engines) will rank your stuff on their results pages.
Getting Your Site Ready For SEO
There are 2 different WordPress plugins that help with SEO, the All in One SEO and the SEO by Yoast. They both are basically the same, doing the same. Yoast is said to be a little more advanced, while the All in One is beginner-friendly.
And since this guide is for beginners, we’ll go with the All in One SEO plugin, which happens to be the default SEO plugin for the SiteRubix site builder.
If you followed me and used SiteRubix you should have already activated the All in One SEO. We are now going to set it up. It won’t take long.
So all you have to do is fill out a couple areas,your home title and your home description (for now). Don’t forget to click on the “Update Settings” button when you are done.
Now you are closer to getting indexed by Google. Here are Google’s ranking factors Brian Dean @ Backlinko did up. Great read, by the way.
So when you can, I’d recommend getting those setup as soon as possible. They’re essential.
Part 5 – The FUN Part – Making Money!
Making money on your website isn’t something I would worry about YET. I would wait until you get at least a little bit of traffic before trying to make money.
So please, if you are brand new to affiliate marketing, DO NOT add affiliate links to your site right away. Most affiliate programs don’t accept applications from people with new sites anyway.
How to Find and Choose an Affiliate Program
The easiest way to find affiliate programs is to do a quick Google search: “yourniche” + affiliate programs OR “yourproduct” + affiliate programs.
How to choose one? Here’s what I would do.
First, I would find out what my visitors really want, like what types of brands are they interested in. I would also browse around the web to see which products and services are getting positive reviews from real customers.
After figuring out what product I wanna promote, I would then look up all the affiliate programs. Some things to look out for when choosing are commission rates, positive reviews, on-time delivery, and competition.
Here are the most popular affiliate networks:
- CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
- Amazon Associates
ReveNews published an awesome article on this subject.
Google will then start taking you seriously. Resulting in a high rank, which equals traffic and making money.
Now that the guide to affiliate marketing for beginners is complete, it is time for you to go out there and start your own online business.
So I will leave you with some additional reading:
- 8 Important Affiliate Marketing Tips
- 22 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
- How to Promote Affiliate Products
- How to Write Product Reviews
- How to Write Comparison Reviews
- 5 Must-Use Affiliate Marketing Tools
- 3 Ways to Generate Affiliate Sales
And if you have any questions or comments on our subject, then use the comment form below and leave me one. I will get back to you as soon as I can.
If you think you need a lot of help, I’d recommend checking out Wealthy Affiliate.