This guide is my detailed introduction to affiliate marketing. This contains a number of important affiliate marketing key ideas which may help you to kick start your affiliate marketing career. For anyone working from home affiliate marketing may be a good option for you in more ways than one. This is because affiliate marketing and working from home have overlapping skill sets.
I’m David, I’m an affiliate marketer and I’m the person behind this website.
This guide is my introduction to Affiliate Marketing. It expands the four main affiliate marketing key ideas mentioned in my Start with affiliate marketing, the proper way article.
Why I like Being an Affiliate Marketing Affiliate?
I enjoy having my own Affiliate Marketing business and being my own boss. I like doing my own thing. I love this lifestyle. I am the owner and founder of a few websites.
I am a big fan of Affiliate Marketing. I am also a big fan of using the right tools for the job after learning how to use the tools properly.
To educate yourself in the science and the art of Affiliate Marketing you need to know about different Affiliate Marketing topics from a practical viewpoint. I outline here how I learn about different Affiliate Marketing topics from a practical viewpoint.
My thinking is if I can do this, why not you? I am just like you an ordinary person.
I also know that affiliates need certain skill sets and personal characteristics. I learned a number of these skill sets by doing applicable training.
I also learned a number of skill sets by doing. I have a number of personal characteristics which help me in my affiliate marketing which I am continually working on.
In my opinion, no two successful people in any human activity have the exact same skill set and personal characteristics. Every single person brings something different to the table which can help them develop their skill set and personal characteristics for that human activity if they so wish.
This is also the case with affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is mostly a learned skill set that is mastered with practice assuming a few very important points:
- Your Affiliate Marketing Source: That you are learning affiliate marketing skills from someone who has already done it and that person is able to communicate that information very well (that person is a good trainer and a good teacher). If that person has already done it, why not you?
- Some of Your Attributes: That you have persistence, the ability to keep at it. Remember that Rome was not built in a day.
- Work Smart & Hard: That you are prepared to work hard at it.
For instance they may outline a good affiliate marketing strategy, which you like and you simply follow that strategy. In this case, you did not have to develop the strategy yourself. You just have to check for yourself that you think the strategy is for you and then follow it.
Know that strategies that worked may no longer work for various reasons. Many affiliate marketing strategies depend on Google’s algorithm. Google change this on a continuous basis. So a good strategy some time ago may no longer be a good strategy.
Affiliate marketing is not rocket science. Affiliate marketing is open to anyone who is prepared to learn and work smart.
It is best to learn affiliate marketing strategies that work now for other affiliate marketers and implement those successful strategies that resonate with you the most.
Can You Use a Search Engine? Can You Write and Send an Email?
Some people think that they can not do affiliate marketing. Well, let me ask you a few questions:
- Can you do online research on the internet? If you use a search engine like Google or Bing or Yahoo to help you find things online, then the answer is Yes.
- Can you write a meaningful 200 word plus email and then send that email to someone? Well, most likely if you are reading this, the answer is Yes.
Well then if you can do both of these activities, you can most likely learn how to be an affiliate.
You learned how to do both these activities sometime in the past, right?
It is also possible that you had to setup, configure and trouble-shoot your email environment in order to send emails successfully in the first place.
Of course, affiliates have a much larger skill set however those skills can be learned.
All affiliates have to start from somewhere. Then it is a matter of learning new skills and mastering them over time. Skill sets can be learned, practiced and mastered.
Affiliate marketing is like other activities in life. You need to spend time learning about it, practicing it often enough to master it, and doing it on a regular basis if you expect any progress. Just like any other activity.
What Are the Four Main Steps in Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing involves four main steps. These are:
- Choosing a niche: This could be related to a hobby or passion of yours.
- Creating a website: Using modern tools and know-how, creating a website can be done in less than a minute. You will be able to see a step by step training video which does this. Then you can simply repeat this process yourself and build your own live website that is accessible on the internet.
- Building an audience: Learn how to drive traffic to your website.
- Starting to earn: Once you have traffic and once you have affiliate links on your posts, when people buy using those links, you typically earn an affiliate commission.
Each of these four main steps in affiliate marketing are discussed in more detail later on.
Skill Sets and Ways of Working in Affiliate Marketing
You need a certain skill set and a certain way of working in order to be a success at most things in life. No two people who are a success at anything in life will have the exact same skill set and the exact same way of working. Whatever the skill set and whatever way of working that person has, helps make that person a success in that activity. This is also the case for affiliate marketing.
You need the ability to keep working on this and you need the ability to keep learning.
For example, your goal for the coming fortnight might be to write 10 quality posts for your website. Your goal is something that you have an element of control over. You will typically have control over your “writing content” schedule. Just don’t stop when you have written those 10 quality posts for your website. Of course, you need to keep setting your goals on a regular basis. Writing quality posts for your website is completely different to writing essays, especially if you want your writing content to rank in the search engines to allow you to make applicable recommendations.
If you have persistence skills and the ability to keep learning, affiliate marketing may be for you.
Some people put up a simple e-commerce website and have loads of product links. This is not unique content. There are loads of other websites with similar content and so the search engines can not rank that content on that website. At best, little traffic, few customers, you get the idea.
I am assuming here that traffic coming from search engines is the only source of traffic.
A shop in the offline physical world might put up a simple e-commerce website with this approach and be successful, because they already have the email details of their offline physical world shop and are able to drive traffic to their e-commerce website using those emails that the offline physical world obtained. This is a brilliant approach for that business. That is a completely different ball game to affiliate marketing for people like you and me.
Some people put up a simple website and write three or four general articles with little unique content and then expect to make a living from those few articles. The search engines if they can see the content can see that it is general and not unique and therefore the search engines do not rank those articles resulting in little or no traffic with of course at best a few sales.
It is a lot more that that. A lot more.
Putting up a simple website and writing a few articles is a great start however for that website to be a success it needs more unique quality content that people are actually searching for.
Affiliate Marketing has some great things going for it. The thrill of receiving “you make a sale” emails is exciting. The thrill of receiving “you’ve got money” emails is exciting. The fact that you control your time is exciting. With this I do not have to leave my house in the morning to work as I do a lot of my affiliate marketing activities at home. I could do them in the local coffee shop however I much prefer to do them at home.
I do my thing in my own time frame without being concerned about what other people are doing or not doing. I personally find that a great plus.
I do not have to go out into the offline world to meet people to discuss my affiliate business, so my time is not spent on non-productive work going to non-productive meetings nor attending non-productive meetings.
Anyway, I simply build out great content on my websites in my own time frame.
Right now as you are reading this I could be fast asleep getting my beauty sleep or enjoying a walk in the countryside or enjoying looking over a lake or enjoying time with my family. Ah, happy days. 🙂 🙂
Imagine in the near future people could be reading content from your niche website when you are fast asleep or when you are enjoying time with your family or when you are doing something else that you love. Of course for that to happen you will need to do some focussed effort on your part.
I also keep in touch with other affiliates to find out what is working for them. Then I can try out any applicable approach myself and see if that approach also works for me. If it works for them there is usually no reason why it does not work for me.
Below I am going to talk about certain affiliate activities.
Learning and practicing Affiliate Marketing techniques requires a certain skill set and includes the following activities:
“Writing content” activity
Affiliate Marketing has some great things going for it. Once you have a “writing content” routine in place, some affiliate marketers can write a number of quality posts a week.
When you consider how much work goes into writing just one quality post, you understand why this is such an achievement.
It is important to point out that writing content that you want ranked in the search engines that has enough traffic to justify you writing the content is way different to writing an essay.
Different affiliates do things in different ways however there is usually some sort of keyword search phrase that needs to be found that has got some good related statistics around it.
If these stats are no good, there may be no point in writing the post because the search engines will not rank it and without this, there is no hope of getting decent traffic unless you use alternative methods which may cost money. Keyword research is therefore an important step.
“Keyword research” activity
The next stage is to do some research on the keyword itself (keyword in this sense may be a phrase) along with other applicable information. Then you need to write the article itself. You want to find out the likely traffic that searched on that keyword over the last while to determine if it is worth your while to write a post. You also want to determine how many other websites are using that keyword.
An example of keyword research
According to a keyword research tool I used, I discovered that the keyword “fashion” attracts 275,960 searches a month.
If I managed to get my article ranked in Google on the first page I might expect to get 46,914 monthly visitors for that keyword.
This keyword has a number of considerations for me:
- This would be very hard for me to rank under
- I would end up very low that I just will not get any traffic
“Fashion” is also way too general, it needs to be way more targeted for it to stand some sort of chance.
I also need a keyword that has got some sort of “buyer intent”.
Using my keyword research tool, I noticed the following suggestion: “fashionable laptop bags for women”.
So I dig into that a bit.
I discovered that this has 338 searches a month.
If I managed to get my article ranked in Google on the first page I might expect to get 58 monthly visitors for that keyword. As this is above 30 it looks look.
I discover that the number of competing websites using this keyword is 40, so it would be in the running if I had a website in a fashion related niche. As this is below 50 it looks good.
Why is this good I hear you ask?
With a long word keyword of “fashionable laptop bags for women” and with “low competition”, if you write good content backed up with good SEO techniques (which is discussed elsewhere in this article), chances are high that your article will get ranked by the search engines for this long word keyword.
The article will naturally include other related words that the search engines will also rank. When traffic arrives via the search engine results (the technical term is SERPs which stands for Search Engine Results Position) for the long word keyword, the search engines “notice” and if the search engines “think” that you helped those real world readers, they will give you additional SEO juice which is all good.
Back to the keyword, the keyword is “fashionable laptop bags for women” so the following heading “3 fashionable laptop bags for women” makes a lot of sense.
This would be displayed in the Search Engine Results Positions (SERPs) so people looking for fashionable laptop bags would know exactly what the article is about and be more likely to want to read the highly relevant article.
Assuming that ladies are the only readers of this type of content may be a mistake as I am sure that “fashionable laptop bags for women” would make good practical gifts.
The title also suggests a “buying intent” if the 3 bags discussed have good quality, good prices, good delivery and are a well known brand. People reaching the article by way of a search engine would most likely expect the article to discuss each of those 3 bags in turn with an affiliate link for each bag.
Here we are assuming that this article is going to be written for a new website in a fashion niche that may be further drilled down to “bags for women”.
We further assume that the affiliate is a lady who is fashion conscious and really fond of her bags, and that she is extremely knowledgeable about this, her passion.
We also assume that she finds a number of other great keywords and writes articles for them so that after a few months, she has a number of great posts on her website and is starting to get some real traction.
“Search Engine Optimization” activity
You need to include your Search Engine Optimization techniques into this as well. SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization. SEO is getting your website as ready for the search engines as you can, to help them rank your content higher. Your SEO techniques will evolve over time. However it is much better to learn about SEO techniques and then apply them when applicable.
“Adding images” activity
Your post will most likely need to include a few applicable images, so help convey your content and to help keep interest in the post.
No one wants to read 1200 words with no images on a website blog. So you need sources for images, both free images and paid images. Then you need to include them in your website.
“Setting up website” activities
This includes determining a domain name (An example is google.com) that you like for your niche website and buying that domain name for a year or more.
You need to decide on a “design” for your website. You basically select a “design” that you like the best from a list. The “content” is separated from the “design” which typically gives great flexibility if you decide to change the “design”. I have changed the “design” quite often on my websites and I find this flexibility great.
Below you will see an image of three different “designs”:
Some Great Pros of Affiliate Marketing
Here are some great pros of affiliate marketing:-
- You do not have inventory. You do not have to buy inventory. You do not have to store inventory.
- You do not ship the products. You do not have to invest time to ship the products with its associated activities and its associated costs.
- Your decide and work to your schedule. You work at your own pace. You decide when to start and end work. You do not have to start work at 7:00 am unless you want to.
- You can work anywhere anytime there is an internet connection with your laptop.
- You get to develop your website the way you want it. You get to write content on things that you want to.
There are more great advantages of affiliate marketing however these are the main ones.
What Is This Affiliate Marketing Thing All About?
With affiliate marketing, you can become an affiliate for different businesses. The most well known one worldwide is probably Amazon.
You might even have brought from Amazon and an affiliate earned a commission on that sale. So you know that the concept works. Of course, Amazon is only one of many businesses worldwide that use affiliates.
How Does an Affiliate Earn?
This is the real question that you want answered, don’t you?
For instance, let’s say you were looking for a book on self improvement however did not have a particular book in mind.
An ordinary person just like you and me put up a website and wrote an article on the extremely popular book “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie.
You did your online research, putting in various terms into your favourite search engine, and one of the results led you to an interesting page talking about the book, about how the author of that page found that book helpful in their life and you decided to buy the book from the link on that page.
When you completed the process to buy that book, that ordinary person who wrote that article discussing that book will have typically earned an affiliate commission from that sale.
This is one way that an affiliate earns.
The main idea is that you select a highly targeted lucrative niche that you are highly passionate about and where people are looking to buy related products or services after reading your good quality related content.
You build a website with good quality related content for this niche that gets ranked by the search engines that brings in visitors to your site, who read your content and a percentage of these visitors to your niche website take you up on your recommendations and buy. You then typically earn an affiliate commission.
This is one affiliate marketing process.
Why Be an Affiliate?
If you write good quality content that helps people that gets ranked by the search engines you get traffic. There are over 4,400,000,000 people worldwide who are active internet users and there are over 40,000 search queries per second worldwide on Google alone.
Google processes over 40,000 search queries per second on average which translates to over 3,500,000,000 searches per day worldwide. Remember these are real people putting real search queries into Google that expect answers which answers their search queries.
How many of these are opportunities for affiliates to put their answers to these questions in front of those people?
Think about this for a few moments.
Even better would be to think about this for a few minutes and what they may mean to you when you are building your niche website.
These are huge numbers and deserve an element of careful thought when you consider what these huge figures could mean to you when you are building your niche website.
The opportunities are very real for affiliates who understand this and take appropriate action steps:
1: Doing highly focussed keyword research to identify “questions” to answer.
2: Writing highly focussed content that answers those “questions”.
3: Getting content ranked high enough to get at this highly focussed traffic.
4: Having ways of earning from that highly focussed traffic once they are reading those answers to those “questions”.
Here I guide you through all these appropriate action steps at a high level.
One of the really cool things about affiliate marketing is that you as the affiliate do not have to invent, develop, manufacture and store products or services to promote.
You simply promote other businesses products or services. So the opportunities are very real if you take focussed actions and for this I truly recommend that you learn affiliate marketing in a well structured way so that you can benefit in a real way from this.
This does require real work however the potential that is out there makes this worthwhile.
Choosing a Niche
Now that you know the huge numbers of search queries that the search engines provide every day you want a way to put your content in front of that traffic with the aim of converting that traffic to buying from affiliate links on your webpage for which you get an affiliate commission.
Your content needs to be unique and of high quality. So you need to select a topic that you are already very passionate and very knowledgeable about.
This topic has a number of problems that you know the solutions to which other people are searching for. Because of your passion and knowledge, you already may know which products work and which do not, based on your experience. You could write product reviews outlining your thoughts about the product based on your findings or your experiences or both.
The topic you select is your niche. Some examples of niches include fashion, sports, health & beauty and travel. There are many more.
There are some niches are new affiliate marketers may be advised to stay away from. These are niches that have an element of “Your Money or Your Life”. This is anything that Google perceives as affecting finance or health. Google seems to make it harder for websites to rank in these type of niches.
These example niches are at a high level. Your niche needs to drill down a bit so that you are seen as an authority in that niche after you write a number of posts talking about that niche. Your posts will typically provide advice, solutions to problems and product reviews in that niche. Most if not all of your posts will target a “keyword” which you will target after doing keyword research. This is discussed in more detail later on and includes an example which makes this clearer.
Creating a Website
As an affiliate you need your own website. Doing it without your own website is going to be very difficult. Having your own website gives you additional flexibility and additional options and is in my opinion, way more professional than not having your own website. Your website acts as your brand and as your platform and you have way more control over your own website.
Creating a website is no longer a huge project in its own right. Thank goodness.
Twenty years ago, you had to be a technical computer guru to create your own website. Now many webhosts offer this functionally with their hosting.
Building an Audience
The next step is to build an audience. For this you need to learn solid affiliate marketing concepts and techniques including proven ways to drive traffic to your website. Once you learn these ways, then you need to actually practice these proven ways.
There are free ways and paid ways. The initial focus is on the free ways and if you like, you can do the paid ways later.
You need to learn and do these ways, You basically keep at it until you mastered it. For me, this involves false starts. After you learn the applicable theory, you may need to confirm that the concept is still valid, and if it is still valid, then you need to practice, practice and practice until it becomes second nature for you. And remember, a Google algorithm change may affect the validity of that concept.
Of course, you do not do any way that you yourself are not comfortable with. For instance, you focus on the free ways first because if you focussed on the paid ways first, you could spend a lot of money with little return if any.
Most if not all of the techniques, both free and paid for ones involve time and effort.
However some of the free techniques have the potential to be evergreen. This is where the content you write is always relevant, today and for the future.
This content is interesting, relevant and timeless. A review post talking about the latest Apple device may do well for the next three to twelve months, but in twelve months time it may be completely useless.
A review post talking about some strong hardwearing boots made by a long established trusted market leader is interesting, relevant and timeless for today, next week and most likely in ten years time.
Evergreen content and non evergreen content
I think that a review post using the keyword “fashionable laptop bags for women” with the heading “3 fashionable laptop bags for women” can be evergreen with a bit of additional thought.
Ladies are going to want fashionable laptop bags for as long as laptops are around, so we make the assumption that laptops are going to be around for the next 10 years at least which I think is reasonable.
The 3 fashionable laptop bags for women in this case would be made by 3 different long established trusted market leaders that are likely to be still around in 10 years.
In this case the heading might become “3 timeless fashionable laptop bags for women”. The article itself might talk about a number of timeless attributes that the bags need to have that make these timeless fashionable laptop bags for women.
These timeless attributes would be qualities that would be considered timeless by a lot of fashionable conscious ladies.
Of course, an affiliate marketer using this keyword might have variations of this keyword that make it less evergreen. A title could be “3 new fashionable laptop bags for women this year”.
The challenge with this is that it effectively in my view has a limited time frame but during that limited time frame may be quite successful.
And I assume that an affiliate marketer with such a title and knowledge would write another post with a similar title a year or so from now.
Know that both of these articles with the same “basic” keyword may end up competing against each other in the search engines, so the targeted keyword for the second article would be a slightly different keyword after doing more keyword research to find out a good keyword to use.
If say the word “new” is used in both titles, people wouldn’t be too surprised if completely different fashionable laptop bags are discussed in these articles as fashion is changing all the time as well.
Of course, writing evergreen content is more challenging and more interesting in the first place. Depending on your niche and your strategy, which can change over time as you become more knowledgeable in affiliate marketing, it may or may not make sense to write evergreen content.
It could for instance make a lot of sense to write both evergreen content and non evergreen content.
If the content is high quality in SEO terms and in real reader terms (a real human being finds the content interesting and relevant), then there is the potential for the search engines to send traffic for quite a while.
You of course in the meantime, keep publishing more good unique content so that you are not reliant on a small subset of posts that the search engines send traffic to.
The search engines keep changing their algorithms, your posts keep changing their ranks in the search engines and so on. Nothing stands still in life and this is also the case with affiliate marketing.
The usual advice is to master the free ways of attracting traffic to your website before you look at paid ways. With paid ways, unless you know exactly what you are doing, it is possible to spend a lot of money without a decent return.
And once that money is spent, it is gone. You see why I opt for the usual advice which is to use the free ways of attracting traffic and then build on that knowledge, expertise and experience.
There are usually different ways to learn how to do things. Some effective and others not. This is also the case with affiliate marketing. You can learn the really hard way out in the “school of hard knocks” where you try out different ways with no reference or little reference to how other people do it, whether they are successful or not. I do not think that is a good approach. I wish you good luck with that approach.
A much better approach is to do some solid affiliate training ideally online and when you have time. Then to practice what you learned so that the information and techniques become second nature to you. It is also fair to say that there may be some techniques that just don’t really appeal to you. That is okay. You want to find techniques that appeal to you and that also work effectively for you.
Starting to Earn
The next step is to start earning.
When you have an amount of good unique relevant content on your website, you can apply to applicable affiliate programs and join them.
A number of affiliate programs will allow you to become an affiliate for them without having a website with good unique relevant content.
Within your content, you add affiliate links from the companies that you have an affiliate association with, like for example, Amazon.
With enough traffic and assuming that your affiliate links within your website content are for products that your traffic wants, people will buy these products using your affiliate links and when they do, you typically earn money from those sales.
Some styles of posts are more effective than others. For instance an “information” post about something may not result in sales but may result in giving you visitors who might explore your website further which may result in sales.
Review types of posts may be very effective. List types of posts may also be effective, like the “3 fashionable laptop bags for women” keyword/heading discussed earlier.
Writing articles on a niche website or indeed niche websites that are highly targeted on applicable keywords is key. There is an extremely high number of people using the internet every day. The search engines process a huge number of search queries every second.
The search engine results are displayed to the person making the search query. This person selects from these search engine results. Reads/skims a few of those articles and potentially buys and affiliate marketers potentially earn.
This is a business model that works.
Affiliate marketing is a way for people all over the world who have access to the internet to made it in the wonderful world of affiliate marketing.
As I have already explained, it does take an amount of effort and you need solid practical know-how.
Please also know that it typically will require an amount of time. If you know nothing or little about affiliate marketing now, don’t expect to be making a full time income from this for some time.
I do not know how long that time may take for you as there are too many variables involved.
Affiliate marketing is like other activities in life. You need to spend time learning about it, practicing it often enough to master it, and doing it on a regular basis if you expect any progress.
Just like any other activity. Affiliates, especially new affiliates should in my view spend a lot of time on their affiliate education, affiliate training, on the job affiliate training and actual affiliate job experience before “climbing up the ladder”.
However if you are looking for a way to make it and are prepared to learn and to work at it, this could be exactly what you are looking for.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide and that its content resonates with you.
I want to make you aware that there are a lot of benefits associated with affiliate marketing, this is the result of a lot of hard focussed work.
Building up an online business using affiliate marketing as your vehicle is a great idea however you do need to be aware that it is not necessary the easiest or the fastest way to make money, especially in the beginning when you are learning about affiliate marketing.
To learn about affiliate marketing you do need proper affiliate marketing education and proper affiliate marketing training in order to increase the odds of success for you.