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How to Become an Affiliate Marketer: the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Tips & Guides — 08 Aug 2022

How to become an affiliate marketer?

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How to Become an Affiliate Marketer: the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

A glorious, steady stream of passive income (also known as making money while you sleep) is many an entrepreneur’s dream. 

A dream that can be a reality with affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketers are all over the online space, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a piece of the action. But before you dive in headfirst, preparation is key. To be successful in the competitive affiliate marketing game, just like any other online business, take time to work through the following recommended steps to build a solid foundation for your venture. 

The recommended steps? They’re right here. This is the ultimate beginner’s guide to starting your affiliate marketing enterprise. You’ll learn how to create your own niche, explore the best commission rates, how to find affiliate partners and drive traffic, use marketing tools, and much, much more. The only thing we won’t tell you is how to cap your affiliate income. Because the sky’s the limit. 

Sit tight, it’s time to engage affiliate action mode.     

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

We should probably start with a definition of affiliate marketing

Answering to many names, affiliate marketing (aka referral, associate, or partnership programs) are commission schemes. An affiliate earns commission when a sale is made as a direct result of promoting their partner’s products or services.   

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore some key affiliate marketing terms so that we’re all on the same page:

  • Merchant. The business retailer selling physical products or services. 
  • Affiliate. The third-party promoting the product or service (other names include publisher, associate, or partner). Activities by the affiliate include digital marketing, Google Ads, PPC, email marketing, and high-quality content marketing to drive traffic to the merchant’s products or services.  
  • Affiliate Network. A platform used by merchants and affiliates to manage referral link clicks, sales, and commission payouts.
  • Conversions. Activities defined by generating a sale is a successful conversion. Typically a sale, but they can also be website leads. Successful affiliates are measured by conversion rates and often enjoy high commissions.  
  • Cost per Action (CPA). A specific commission model whereby affiliates earn commission solely for conversions. 
  • Click-through Rate (CTR). The percentage of affiliate links clicked per number of website page impressions. 
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Affiliate marketing is not always just about sales, however. In some affiliate marketing programs, leads count as commission-earning activities, too. More about this later. 

What Does an Affiliate Marketer Do?

Affiliate marketers perform digital marketing strategies to encourage consumers to buy their merchant partners’ products or services. Affiliate marketers promote merchants’ products through various platforms and mediums: 

  • Blogs, tutorials, and optimized website landing pages. 
  • Bespoke YouTube channel videos. 
  • Webinars and podcasts. 
  • Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat, and a million others.
  • Product reviews.
  • Ads to optimize Google search. 
  • Social media banner ads.

The options are almost endless. The key for affiliate marketing work is to target customers on the platforms they’re active on by tailoring content that’s relevant and appropriate for them. Establishing who your target audience is and where they reside online takes a little time to work out. But by trying different approaches, you can work to get the balance right. 

Why Become an Affiliate Marketer?

Need more reasons than earning money while you sleep? Coming right up.  

  • Minimal investment. Get started with affiliate marketing with zero outlay in some cases. No inventory, staff costs, or office space to worry about. 
  • Ultimate flexibility. Work from any location, at a time convenient to you. As a startup business, affiliate marketing is the best scenario to reflect that ideal work-life balance.  
  • Passive income. Okay, we covered this one. But it’s worth mentioning again, as the affiliate marketing model means that you can earn income from marketing activities you ran months ago. Who doesn’t love surprise bank account credits?
  • Limitless options. When you’re an affiliate marketer, you have the power to choose who you work with and when. Fancy trying out a new niche? Go for it. One partnership not working out? Find a new one. You make the decisions. 
  • No customers. A great benefit of being an affiliate marketer is that someone else handles all the customer interactions (such as complaints), whilst you sit back and earn a recurring stream of revenue. 
  • No-commitment trial. Many people try affiliate marketing whilst holding down a regular job. You can too. If you don’t want to quit your day job just yet, why not dip your toe in the water and see if it suits you?
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How Much Do Affiliate Marketers Earn?

If you’ve skipped ahead to this part, we don’t blame you. 

As a rapidly growing industry, affiliate marketing has the potential for uncapped earnings. The fact that affiliate marketing spend is expected to reach $8.2 billion by the end of 2022 should be tempting enough to get involved. 

How much you can personally earn as an affiliate marketer depends on how much time you’ve got to invest in your side hustle, or whether it’s going to be your main gig. 

Established affiliate marketers that have a loyal audience, optimal niches, and deliver high-quality content can earn anywhere from $300 to $3000 per day. This is a very general guideline as there are so many factors to consider, such as your website’s traffic and reach, SEO, products, number of affiliate programs, and niches to name just a few.  

How and When Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

Affiliate commissions are paid when a pre-agreed event occurs, like a conversion, sale, or lead. Different affiliate programs offer varying payment models, depending on the business and product type. For example, referrals for web hosting services would probably class a free trial signup as a pre-agreed event liable for commission.  

Last-click attribution is a common method for affiliate programs. Basically, this is when the affiliate who receives the final click pre-purchase receives the credit. There are also instances when the buying funnel has several stages, so each involved affiliate receives a percentage of the commission. 

Other methods of payouts include:

  • Cost-per-Lead (CPL). Sign-up forms with contact details. The best type of payout method for beginners as lead generation is simpler than selling products.  
  • Cost-per-Click (CPC). Click-throughs from Google ads or other online promotions. This method is typically offered by larger businesses seeking brand awareness. 
  • Cost-per-Mile (CPM). Based on the average reach of a sponsored promotion.
  • Cost-per-Install (CPI) Commission is earned for every install generated from website traffic. This method is commonly seen in the software industry.
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Typically, affiliate marketers receive earnings on a monthly basis via electronic payment. Working with affiliate networks usually ensures a stricter schedule of payouts than directly with merchants. 

Bear in mind that when starting out on the path to becoming a successful affiliate marketer, it takes time to start earning affiliate commission. Establish your business by following this step-by-step guide, but don’t expect great things within just the first six months. Your audience won’t necessarily trust your recommendations straight away, so trust must be earned.

The good news is, by kicking off your affiliate marketing business with plenty of valuable information for your audience and neutral reviews, you’ll soon be the place to go for industry insights.   

It’s crucial to get the foundations right with thoroughly researched affiliate partners, products, niches, and audiences. With that in mind, let’s move on. 

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer

Starting with the basics. To make a name for yourself in the affiliate marketing space, work your way through these steps. 

Decide

Your first task is deciding on your platform and method for affiliate work. 

Options include:

  • Digital content. Including blogging, social media, influencers, and YouTube channel content. Reach out to your target audience with high-quality content to encourage users to buy products. 
  • Review sites for niche topics. Create content to review products and deliver meaningful information to your audience. 
  • Courses and workshops. Ideal for those in the educational space to promote affiliate partnerships with events. 

To begin with, choose a marketing platform that you’re already familiar with. This will help you to create content that resonates with your audience and drive affiliate sales. You’re already learning a brand-new business model, so it’s good to have some familiarity to start with.

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Research

Every affiliate marketer has a niche that they predominantly work in. Thorough research and thought are required to decide on the right niche for your affiliate marketing business. The most successful affiliate marketers are those that promote products in a natural way to their audience. Your chosen niche must be something that you feel inspired by, and an area that you have existing knowledge in. 

Your niche helps you to choose the best company’s products to promote. For example, let’s say you start up a blog about cheese. You’ve always loved cheese and spent many years holidaying in the south of France perusing cheese boards. Cheese is now your niche, and your marketing strategy is to create high-quality content that’s optimized for your cheese-loving audience. 

Your SEO will be on point to drive organic search engine results and entice users to read your blog titled “Cheese Is Life”. Because you have a passion for cheese, this enthusiasm stands out in your blog articles. So when you promote specialist cheese knives, the association is natural and engaging to your audience. 

Social media listening tools are useful for a deeper insight into your audience’s preferences. Use these insights over time to offer even more relevant and valuable products that you know your followers will love. 

To decide on your niche, ask yourself:

  • What subjects am I passionate about?
  • Is there a lot of current competition in this niche?
  • Are there existing affiliate programs that work within my niche?
  • What’s the search volume for my chosen niche?

The most profitable affiliate niche is a combination of three factors: competitiveness, audience size and compelling content. If you get your niche ratio right, the potential is unlimited. 

Choose a Product

You must choose the right products to promote. First and foremost, they must be products that your audience already wants to buy and you’re just giving them a little nudge in the right direction. 

The very best affiliate products are the ones you have personal experience with and are happy to recommend to others. Make a list of products and proceed to the next step, which is checking if the merchant in question has an affiliate program. Simply pop into Google (other search engines are available) ‘affiliate program’ + <your product>. 

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To be 100% confident in the products you choose, consider the following points:

  • You know that the product is high-quality. 
  • The merchant has a solid customer support and refund policy.
  • The purchase process is simple.
  • You have a personal story in relation to your experience with the product.
  • You know that the product will enhance your audiences’ lives.

Something to bear in mind when choosing products is the customer journey. You might find a great product, but on further investigation, you discover that the buying process is less than ideal. This will undoubtedly put off prospective buyers. This is why it’s essential to thoroughly test the purchase interactions before recommending products to your audience. 

This is all well and good but what if you don’t have experience with a product that you want to promote as part of your affiliate business? Firstly, check out affiliate marketplaces such as ClickBank for inspiration, as well as affiliate networks to find affiliate products and offers. 

Affiliate networks offer access to thousands of potential affiliate partners, automation tools for payouts, analytics, and even educational training. Check them out and consider forging affiliate marketing relationships if the conditions are right. And of course, there’s always Amazon. 

Amazon products are a great entry-level step into finding your first affiliate products. Consider becoming an Amazon affiliate before progressing to other avenues of affiliate marketing and programs. Amazon associates in the ecommerce industry may not earn the big bucks, but it’s a great starting point. 

Investigate

In other words, more research. You can’t under-research for your shiny new affiliate business. Investigate existing affiliate marketers and get a good grip on how the whole affiliate website shebang works. 

Delve into how competitive your chosen niche is and what your potential competitors are doing. Their affiliate sites and blogs are a treasure trove of information, so don’t skip this bit.

investigate

 

Goal-setting

Preparing for success in the affiliate marketing business world requires goal-setting just like any other venture. Create a business plan that aligns with your affiliate marketing strategies laying out your goals for the next five years. 

Consider areas such as marketing budget, review dates, and milestones you’d like to achieve. If, for example, you see yourself working with three affiliate programs within the first year of trading as an affiliate marketer, make a note. Your business’s goals will change over time as you become more experienced in affiliate marketing, but it’s imperative to have goals to work towards and keep your motivation high. 

Invest 

Which areas of your new affiliate marketing business require investment? Kicking off an affiliate marketing business doesn’t require much in the way of investment, especially if you plan to go down the blogging route. Many affiliates start with a WordPress CMS website and the relevant plugins, and off they go. 

However, you may decide to invest in Google Ads to promote your affiliate products, so this spending will need to be factored into your overall budget. 

Select a Channel

Now you’ve got to grips with your niche, products, and platforms, it’s time to choose the best channels. Check out different merchant programs and their offerings. Different payout methods suit different niches, so be sure to align yourself with appropriate affiliate partners

If you decide you’re better suited to working with affiliate networks, establish what level of support they offer, along with their terms of contract. In the early days, take all the support you can get. Make like a sponge and absorb all information offered. 

There are three main types of affiliate programs to choose from. When making your choice, consider the best approach for your business. 

  • High-paying, low-volume. Website builder Elementor’s affiliate program is an example of this payout model, currently offering affiliates 50% per sale. 
  • Low-paying, high-volume. Typically an ecommerce model like Amazon Associatescommission rates top out at 10% for affiliates.
  • High-paying, high-volume. CRM and marketing automation guru ActiveCampaign pay affiliates a recurring commission rate of up to 30%. 

A consumer-based business model is well suited to low-paying, high-volume affiliate programs, whereas a business audience works better with a high-paying, low-volume scheme. 

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Boost Traffic

Regardless of your niche and products, to generate a sustainable income from affiliate marketing, you need online traffic and plenty of it. Optimization is key in terms of SEO, digital content, and audience targeting. 

Research and focus on keywords relevant to your niche to drive quality traffic to your referral marketing activities. Be aware that a blog on a brand new website is going to take some time to be recognized by search engines

Your options for getting plenty of eyes on your content are:

  • SEO. Research keywords to ensure you’re targeting the right audience and use the content on your blog and resource pages to drive traffic. 
  • Email marketing. Build an email list from the off so you can send out relevant information to your audience about new content, recommended products and to encourage sales. Place simple sign-up forms on your website to encourage traction. 
  • PPC ads. Consider PPC ads carefully as they will quickly eat into your marketing budget. 
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If you’re going down the blogging route, you’ll need a substantial number of blog articles to start generating some website traffic. Shoot for around 20 to begin with and build from there. 

Assess

A big part of being an affiliate marketer is constantly testing and assessing your marketing methods. You want to be sure that your audience is continually engaging with your content and finding value in what you deliver. 

In addition to assessing content, check the most fruitful channels for your business model and A/B test to ensure your digital marketing efforts are in the right places.  

It’s worth checking out your competition on a regular basis, too. See how they’re engaging with their audiences, the types of content they post and seek tips to improve your own content offerings. 

Analyze

After you’ve been slaving away over your computer for around six weeks, it’s time to analyze what’s happening. Intuitive analytics tools from Affise analyze your marketing campaigns and highlights the areas to optimize. 

Analyze your current results compared to your initial business plan to see the state of play. Check your Google Ad statistics to ensure that your ad efforts are paying off and that you’re reaching the people that are most likely to click your affiliate links. 

Google Analytics is a platform that you can use to inspect every aspect of your marketing efforts. Bounce rates, time on page, locations, browsers, and user-used devices must all be explored to ascertain success in each area. 

Use all the analytics data at your disposal to make informed business decisions. That’s when you take the reins and drive more conversions. Unstructured data can be managed through applications like Affise BI.   

Consider your tactics constantly to evaluate your ROI. It may be that blogging isn’t the best route for your business. Domain authority for new websites and blogs takes time to build, in comparison to product promotion pages that you can generate traffic towards quickly with PPC ads. But we’re just playing devil’s advocate here. The point is, always seek to make improvements and look for alternative options to drive more affiliate sales.

anlyze marketing campaign

 

Expand

Only consider scaling up your affiliate business when you’re happy with each stage. After regular analysis and assessment of all your strategies, you can start to scale affiliate partner relations with new affiliate programs and products. 

Be patient. It’ll take time before you start seeing meaningful results and profits. In the meantime, work with your tried and tested strategies and build those foundations for a solid affiliate venture. 

8 Tips on How to Become a Good Affiliate Marketer

Now that we’ve covered the logistics of becoming an affiliate marketer, how do you become good at it? Read on for eight tips to level up your affiliate marketing game.  

Establish a Rapport With the Audience

Your audience isn’t going to follow your recommendations if you don’t present a trustworthy image. When people click on your affiliate links, they’re doing so because they believe in your opinion. 

You generate authority in your industry by constantly delivering high-quality, relevant content, good advice, and useful information. Social media posts that encourage interaction are great for engagement and show your audience that you’re a real person behind the content. 

Make sure to interact with all your social media comments to establish familiarity. There’s nothing worse than post after post, promoting products with zero interaction. 

Select Products and Campaigns Meticulously

Careful product selection is crucial for gaining your audience’s trust. One dodgy offer and your reputation could be at risk. Thoroughly vet all merchants and products so you’re 100% confident of a valuable proposition for your audience. 

Affiliate With Multiple Merchants

Different products in the same niche will work to increase your profits and offer your followers new and exciting products. Seek opportunities with alternative reputable brands to scale up your business successfully. 

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Diversify Your Channels

Once you’re confident with one channel, start to diversify. Blogging is just one area you can explore, but by using other approaches such as email marketing, banner ads, and social media activities, you expand your horizons and potential reach. Don’t forget to continually assess and analyze new channels for maximum ROI and ensure new campaigns are working for you.  

Utilize Various Channels

Using various channels simultaneously will boost your brand’s digital presence and encourage users to trust you. Different channels require different content, however. Conduct thorough research to deliver the best content on various channels for maximum results. 

Establish Links Precisely

To encourage Google to rank your business highly, offer your services for guest blog posts with a cheeky link back. Quality links serve to establish authority within your niche and forge new valuable business connections.

Use the Best Keywords

Using the most relevant keywords for your niche and business model is one of the best things you can do for your fledgling business. Keyword tools and your competitors are your best friend here. Check out the keywords that your competitors use to get a feel for relevance and appropriateness. 

A combination of low competition but high-value keywords with high-quality affiliate content is what’s going to drive traffic to your website and boost search engine rankings. 

Provide Neutral Reviews

Product reviews are successful at sales generation but remember – honest and neutral content is key here. When creating product reviews, it’s no good to be overly enthusiastic or negative about a product. Your audience will immediately sense if you’re being disingenuous and it’ll do your reputation more harm than good. 

Here are some tips to help with neutral reviews: 

  • Ensuring recommendations are clear and easy to read.
  • Including a headline with a researched and relevant keyword.
  • Providing simple links directing users to where they can purchase the product.
  • Delivering an honest experience with the product. 
neutral reviews

 

Protect Your Brand

When coming up with your brand name, think carefully about what you offer, as your business name should reflect it. A brand name must be catchy and memorable as well as relatable. Appealing to your audience’s emotions is a great tool when thinking up a brand name. 

Get started with your brand name by:

  • Creating a list of specific keywords relevant to your business
  • Visualizing the kind of business you want 
  • Considering adjectives that describe your business 
  • Thinking about the products you offer 
  • Starting brainstorming sessions

Platforms Affiliate Marketers Could Explore

Next up are eleven platforms that you can explore to find affiliate programs and partners to work with. Did somebody say scale up?  

Industry Forums or Communities

Industry forums are a great place to find potential affiliate partners. Communities like this are full of businesses and people that work in your niche, so it won’t be too hard to find a good partnership or affiliate program that’s a good fit.  

Influencers

Influencers are growing in number by the minute and dominate social media. Through the power of social posts, informative content, and podcasts, affiliate influencers are highly-regarded in their own right by successfully recommending products for lucrative commissions.

Use Social Media

Social media is a playground for affiliate marketing activities. Companies often use social media channels to advertise their affiliate programs. The ones you find on social media easily indicate that they already have a solid brand awareness strategy in place, making them ideal partners. 

Word of Mouth

When you’ve been in the affiliate marketing industry a while, as long as you’ve followed all the steps to only promote genuine products and have a loyal following, word of mouth is a great tool to find interested affiliate partners

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Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks are a goldmine of potential marketing partners. Offering you a community of like-minded affiliate businesses to forge connections and find programs to be involved with. 

Niche Bloggers

Blogging is a great tool to drive organic search engine traffic, often for long-tail keywords and frequently asked questions. Investigate niche bloggers that hyper-target your niche well, as you’ll have an extremely receptive audience. 

Content on blogs must always deliver value to the consumer. Thinking about the problems your users have, and how they can be solved by recommending your affiliate partners‘ products are a wonderful way to start a blog.

Industry Experts

Experts in your industry are a great help when you’re seeking new affiliate programs or partners. Take advantage of their expertise in your chosen niche

Conferences

Conferences relevant to your industry are great for making new business connections which can lead to new affiliate partnerships. 

Print Publications

Depending on your area and niche, print publications are worth looking at for ideas for new products and partnerships to add to your repertoire. 

Online Ads

Check out online ads for prospective affiliate partnership programs. Many businesses opt for online ads on social media channels to draw in affiliates. 

Affiliate Recruitment Agencies

Affiliate recruitment agencies are specialized affiliate managers who assist by connecting you with the ideal affiliate partner and providing referrals with similar businesses. 

For startup affiliate businesses like yours, affiliate recruitment agencies offer major benefits. Because they are specifically tailored to new businesses, it’s easier to partner with the right connections. Connections that will help scale your affiliate business using expert knowledge of the industry. 

Become an Affiliate Marketer With Affise Reach

To get your affiliate marketing gig off the ground quickly, why not become an affiliate marketer with the power of Affise Reach behind you?

Affise Reach is a global platform where affiliate marketers and networks can partner with top brands and agencies. Use the potential to expand your partnerships and get rapid access to the most profitable offers.

2 Main Marketplaces 

Working from two main marketplaces, this is how it works:

Affise Brands

Explore offers from advertisers as an overview of commission and payment terms. Affise brands find and recruit the most valuable partners to drive high-quality traffic to your website, increase brand awareness and generate leads. Affiliate networks or agencies apply to the advertiser and register with them if accepted.

Affise Vendors

Perfect for merchants and brands, Affise Vendors is a database of affiliate networks, publishers, and marketing agencies. Connect with top brands quickly and save time looking for new advertisers. 

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Listings in the Affise Vendors database help you get noticed by the most appealing and profitable advertisers.

Ideal for all affiliate marketing businesses, beginning your journey with Affise Reach means that you have the support of a global organization that will get you started on the right track. 

Take the stress out of finding the right partners and maximize your productivity and affiliate sales.  

Conclusion

There’s a lot of information here, but worthwhile stuff to digest before embarking upon your affiliate business adventure. To ensure the maximum chance of success, take your time to:

  • Establish your niche
  • Check the competition of potential niches 
  • Thoroughly test and research products 
  • Partner with legitimate businesses 
  • Verify payout terms 
  • Have fun!

The last one is important. You’re considering taking a leap of faith into the affiliate marketing world because you’re probably tired of the nine-to-five lifestyle, and want a better work-life balance. 

This is your chance to create a business and make it your very own. Good luck!

Try Affise Reach today. Access 1000+ networks and agencies to drive high-quality traffic and get new customers.

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Robert Audzeyeu

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Digital Marketing Manager

Robert is Digital Marketer, who passionately believes in integrating Sales and Marketing into coordinated programs, in which each activity has a defined purpose, an expected result, and ultimately leads to a measurable revenue outcome.

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