Affiliate marketing is a popular way for bloggers, website owners, influencers, and basically anyone else to earn income by promoting products and services from other companies.
It works by signing up for affiliate programs and receiving a unique referral link or code. When someone clicks your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you receive a commission, this is usually a percentage of the sale.
Affiliate marketing can be a profitable side hustle if it’s done right. By choosing affiliate products that are a good fit for your audience and platform, you can earn a sizable passive income each month.
Affiliate links can be placed on your website, shared on social media, or promoted through paid advertising using platforms such as Google Ads.
Some influencers even have their own custom discount codes that their audience/followers can use to save money on purchases. However, don’t worry about this when just starting out with this side hustle.
The key is ensuring your audience will find genuine value in the products you recommend.
In short, affiliate marketing is a win-win business model that allows you to earn money by promoting brands, services and products you love.
This article will walk through 5 of the main steps to starting a successful affiliate marketing business from scratch.
Start Affiliate Marketing in a Few Steps
Choose a Niche
Choosing a niche is the first thing you’ll come across when starting out. Focus on an area you're already quite passionate about so you can create targeted content.
Popular niches include:
Don't just chase money, pick a niche you'll genuinely enjoy long-term. Go with one you already know well or are willing to research thoroughly.
While most niches focus on physical products, you can also choose service-based ones like web hosting, VPNs, online courses, etc.
Take time to research potential niches and find one with plenty of products or services to promote.
Find Affiliate Programs
Once you've selected your niche, the next step is researching affiliate marketing programs related to that topic.
A great way to find affiliate programs is by typing the following search phrase in google “[company name] affiliate program”, or you can go to impact.com to find affiliate programs within your niche.
If you’re just looking to promote products, Amazon’s Affiliate Program is probably the place to be.
When looking for programs, keep an eye out for generous commission rates, reliable payments, and affiliate tools that will help you succeed.
Consider signing up for 5-10 programs in your niche to give yourself plenty of opportunities.
For example, if your niche is fitness, search affiliate programs for supplements, workout equipment, activewear, online coaching, and more. If you choose pets, look for pet food, toy, and accessory brands with programs.
Take time browsing all the categories related to your niche. The goal is having a list of affiliate links to products your audience will genuinely be interested in.
Sign Up and Get Custom Links
Once you've researched programs, it's time to sign up and get your unique affiliate links. The signup process is usually very simple, just provide some basic information about yourself and your website or social platforms.
When approved, most of the time you get access to a dashboard where you can find different types of links with various payout systems.
Make sure to thoroughly read the terms so you understand the commission structures.
Some programs require you to have a website to be accepted. But don't worry, you can easily and affordably create a simple website with WordPress.
The special links provided will contain your unique ID so you get credit for resulting sales or leads.
Be sure to only share your own affiliate links, not general product links. This is how you get tracked and paid for referrals.
Promote the Product/Service
Here are some proven tips for effectively promoting your affiliate products and links:
Write in depth reviews and comparisons: Don't just share the link, write a detailed review or comparison of products explaining the pros/cons from your testing and research. This builds trust and interest.
Create roundups and buying guides: Roundup posts like "10 Best Products for X" or buying guides add lots of value for readers while allowing you to naturally include affiliate links.
Share affiliate links on social media: Craft social posts that would genuinely interest your audience rather than blindly spam links. Utilize hashtags related to your niche too.
Run paid ads: You can get very targeted with Facebook/Instagram interests, lookalike audiences, and retargeting to directly promote affiliate products through ads.
Add links to YouTube: If doing video content, have a section in your description with related affiliate links so viewers can easily find them.
Do giveaways and contests: Giveaways that require interacting with your links are a great way to boost engagement. Offer contest entries for those who make purchases.
Send emails: Use email sequences, promotions, and newsletters to share new deals, products, or links with subscribers.
Get creative but always focus on value first over spamming links. Most of the time, spamming will only result in negative consequences.
It's important to track your affiliate marketing performance so you can refine your strategy over time.
Make use of the detailed analytics within your affiliate dashboards to see which links are performing best and generating sales or leads. Many programs also give you data on conversions, click-through rates, and more.
Review these metrics regularly and aim to improve them. For example, if some links aren't getting clicks, try replacing those products with other ones.
You can also run tests with different links, call-to-action copy, or landing pages to see what moves the needle. The data will reveal what's working so you can double down on your most effective tactics.
Just keep experimenting!
To recap, the key steps covered in this article include:
Choosing a profitable niche you're passionate about
Finding reputable affiliate programs related to your niche
Signing up for programs and grabbing your unique affiliate links
Promoting affiliate products & links through content, social media, and paid ads
Tracking your performance and optimizing over time
Keep in mind that success requires patience. But with the right strategic approach, your affiliate income can grow steadily over time.
Don't overcomplicate it, just get started today. Do market research, set up an account with an affiliate network, and begin promoting products that would genuinely help your audience. Consistency, hard work, and continually fine-tuning your process based on data are key.
You can succeed with affiliate marketing if you provide value and stick with it. The opportunity is there, now take it!