Affiliate Marketing for Dummies: Everything You Need to Know

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways pro bloggers and online marketers make their money.

It can be your main source of income, or just one.​ That’s the beauty of it.

So why is affiliate marketing so popular?

Because it’s easier than most other types of methods.​ You don’t need to create your own product. You don’t need to process and ship any orders. It’s just you and the customer.

​So, in this post, we’re gonna introduce you to the whole affiliate marketing concept. We’ll even explain it in the simplest way possible.

Let’s get started.​

Affiliate Marketing For Dummies: Your Ultimate Guide

Simplified: What Is Affiliate Marketing?

According to Wikipedia, affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.​

They make it sound like something super-advanced, but it’s actually pretty simple.

You promote other people’s products to your audience using specialized links, get a piece of every sale you generate, and boom…affiliate marketing…defined.

It works like this:​

​Affiliate marketing needs 3 different types of people for its “cycle”:

  • The Merchant (the product owner)
  • The Affiliate/Publisher (you)
  • The Customer (the money)

The Merchant is the one who creates the product and has the affiliate program, where all your clicks and sales are tracked.

The Affiliate is the one who markets the Merchant’s product. ​He does everything in his power to get people to click his links and buy the product.

The Customer is obviously where the money comes from. It’s how the Merchant and Affiliate get paid.​

How much do affiliates get paid?

​The exact amount of affiliates get depends on 2 things:

  • The product’s price tag.
  • The commission rate.

Commission rates can be anywhere from 1% to 50%. Sometimes even higher.

What does that mean? you ask.​ It’s the percentage you’d get for every sale you make.

​If the product costs $100 and pays their affiliates 25% per sale (commission rate), then you’d get $25 every time someone buys.


How to Make Money in Affiliate Marketing

You can probably guess it:

To make money with affiliate marketing, you’ll have to get real people​ to buy the product you’re promoting. That’s basically it.

Exactly how you get people to actually listen to your promos and recommendations​, however, isn’t as simple as ABC.

The starting point will depend on where you’re at right now (as of this second).​

But the marketing strategies​ are basically the same.

If you’re a total newbie with no experience at all, then you’ll have to start from scratch.

This means you’ll have to build an audience. 95 out of 100 people do this by starting with a website/blog.​

If you’re a blogger who already has all the website stuff setup and possibly has an audience (or at least some traffic), then you’re ready to learn real affiliate marketing strategies.

So, if you’re a newbie, then jump over to your section by clicking here.

If you’re a blogger, you can jump to your section by clicking here.

1. Affiliate Marketing For Beginners​

OK, so you have no idea what the deal is. Right? You have zero experience.

You have little to no knowledge of affiliate marketing or building websites.

​That means you will have to start from scratch. All the way from the beginning.

​And it’ll go a little something like this, so I suggest you take notes…

​#1: Picking a Niche

What the heck is a niche? you ask…

Some people call it a specific group of people​. Others call it potential customers interested in a certain type of product. A lot of people even define it as a target audience.

These are great definitions.​

But to make it easier to understand, you can look at it as the main topic of your website.

For example, let’s say your website is BAM, your niche would be TV/movie news.

​Or if your website was, your niche is fitness-related.

See? Easy.​

So, how do you choose a niche, AKA the main topic of your soon-to-be website?

For beginners like you, it’s a lot easier than you’d think. So don’t get too nervous.

Most pros that teach affiliate/online marketing recommend newbies to choose something they’re passionate about. Or at least a little interested in.

And I’m one of them.

Why should you choose your passion or interest as your website topic?

​2 reasons:

  • If you don’t, you will get bored and ​eventually quit.
  • If you do, you’ll have more fun working on your site and more motivation to keep doing it consistently.

​That’s right.

Most people eventually stop working on their site when they’re not interested in their niche or topic.

​But when you’re interested, you’ll have that motivation to research relevant topics so you can create your website content.

So, should you just choose your passion or interest straight up?​

Actually, there’s a little more to it than that.​

Most people typically have their passion, and then like a dozen or so other interests. Some of them are probably similar in some way to your passion.

Take me for example…

When I was younger, I loved video games. I started with N64 (remember Goldeneye 007?). Since then, I’ve played with every single console.

My very first site was in the gaming industry. My niche…was custom gaming controllers.

Today, I nearly have a dozen sites. All in niches I’m genuinely interested in.

#2: Starting Your First Website

Starting up a new site is a lot of work.

There’s a lot to do before the actual start-up. And even more after (where you’ll have to set everything up).​

The process of it all goes something like this:

  • Coming up with a solid domain/website name. Harder than you’d think.
  • Choosing + purchasing a reliable web hosting provider. (This is how your website will be live for everybody to visit)
  • Setting up your website’s design, content framework, etc. Lots to do here. But not as hard as you think.

I know…definitely a lot of work to do.​ But’s it is very doable. In fact, you can probably get this one in a few hours. A day at most.

#3: Create a Mix of Different Types of Content

Content is what makes a website or blog different from others. That, and the design, of course.

Content is how you’ll get people to visit your site. And people is how you’ll make your affiliate money.

So what kind of content will you need to create?

There are 2 types of content in general:

  • Informational
  • Promotional

Informational content is the type of content that informs the reader. You know, content that teaches them something. Solves one of their problems.

This can be:​

  • How-to’s
  • Ultimate Guides
  • List Posts (aka listicles)
  • Roundup Posts
  • Tutorials

A good example would be our post called How to Choose a Good Affiliate Program or even our post on 22 affiliate marketing mistakes.​

As for promotional content, ​this is stuff that promotes an affiliate product. You create it to make money, while also giving value to the reader.

This can be:​

  • Review Posts – where you review a single product
  • Comparison Posts – where you compare multiple products (of the same use)
  • Product Roundup Posts – where you round up a certain number of products (of the same use)
  • Tools/Resources Page – where you roundup all your favorite tools

A good example of this would be our Thrive Content Builder Review or our 11 list building plugins post.​

#4: Get REAL People to the Site

Getting traffic to your site is hard work. But it’s like blood. Without it, your website will die.

Traffic is where your money comes from.

So how will you drive traffic to your site?

There are dozens and dozens of ways to do this. But where the traffic comes from is usually one of these 3 sources:

  • Search engines (like Google and Pinterest)
  • Social Media Sites (like Facebook and Twitter)
  • Other People’s Sites (like The Huffington Post and Forbes)

How you get traffic from one of these depends on what methods you use.

For instance, if you want traffic from Google, which by the way is the best way to get free website visitors, then you’ll need to get into SEO (search engine optimization).

If you want social media traffic, like from Facebook for instance, then you’d get into Facebook marketing.

If you want traffic from other people’s sites, then guest blogging would be the way to go.

Most affiliates and bloggers start with basic SEO. That means setting up an SEO plugin, setting up Google Analytics and Search Console, and create high-quality, SEO-friendly blog posts that target long-tail keywords.

SEO traffic can take a while. Even if your content is well-optimized. That’s why you’ll have to get into link building.

There are a lot of ways to build high-quality links. Some methods are tougher than others. But there are some easy techniques​.

That’s basically it.

  • You pick your niche/topic.
  • You build/setup your website.
  • You create high-quality content.
  • You get real people to visit your site.

The money will come the content. Particularly the promotional content.

But if you wanna take it a step further, then you would build an email list.​

When you have a decent amount of email subscribers, you’ll be able to market affiliate products to them and earn some serious coin.

Stuart Walker from Niche Hacks made over $5K off a single affiliate product in less than a week because of his mailing list.

Pro Tip: Start building an email list from day one.

2. Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers​

If you already have a blog and would simply like to use affiliate marketing for monetization, then this section is for you.

Affiliate marketing is a little simpler for bloggers because you don’t have to worry about stuff like choosing niches and building websites from scratch.

For you, you can get right down to the marketing. Assuming you’ve got content and some traffic, of course.

So, how do you make money blogging through affiliate marketing?

There’s more than one way to do this. But it really all ​comes down to either your email or your blog.

Using your blog will require some content. It can be one of the following:

  • Review Posts – where you review a single product
  • Comparison Posts – where you compare multiple products (of the same use)
  • Product Roundup Posts – where you round up a certain number of products (of the same use)
  • Tools/Resources Page – where you round up all your favorite tools

Note: We have a great list of affiliate content types here.

So the steps to making some affiliate money are:

  • Find out your readers’ problems.
  • Find a product (or products) that can solve their problems.
  • Join its affiliate program(s) and get your affiliate link(s).
  • Choose one of the post types mentioned above to promote the product(s).
  • Send traffic to that post.
  • Watch the money flow in.

​As for email, you’d be marketing your affiliate products to your subscribers. So to do this, you’d need to:

  • Start and grow your email list.
  • Find out what their problems are.
  • Find a product that can solve their problems.
  • Let them know about the product via email.

That’s basically it.