Steps to Start Affiliate Marketing in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
In this comprehensive guide to affiliate marketing, we're going to show you exactly how to get started with affiliate marketing for complete beginners.
Starting your blog can kick-off as a hobby, but the passive income of a powerful marketing strategy can help you maintain this passion project. To start affiliate marketing is the best way to turn blogging into a successful business model that brings you considerable profit.
Nowadays, affiliate marketing is the primary source of income for many entrepreneurs and independent creators that generate monthly revenue of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, even the most famous websites like Forbes and New York Times engage in affiliate marketing, which proves the profitability of this field.
Statistics show that the worth of affiliate content marketing ideas will increase up to $8.2 billion in the US this year, which ensures a 76% increase from the last six years.
However, despite the optimistic insights from posts and videos online, adding several affiliate links to your page won’t be enough to make a significant profit.
This article will guide you through the necessary steps to affiliate marketing success for beginners!
Affiliate marketing is a fast-growing field where content creators and entrepreneurs provide leads and sales to specific business partners for monetary revenue.
It is the latest and most popular equivalent of brands paying salespeople a commission for successful sales. The more traffic you drive to your affiliates, the better the profit.
When you build a high-quality affiliate website, you get the chance to receive a commission that can range from a few cents to hundreds of dollars per referral. By using the right affiliate marketing tools, you can significantly increase your income and create a new, stable source of revenue for your existing content brand.
Affiliate marketing is a crucial part of every effective marketing strategy that ensures a solid share of profit to the contributors by leveraging the qualities of numerous business participants. Therefore, the most famous affiliate marketing examples work by spreading product marketing tasks across several parties.
The three primarily-involved parties in affiliate marketing are the seller and product creators, the advertiser (i.e., affiliate), and finally—the consumers. To begin affiliate marketing successfully, you need a proper insight into their complex relationship.
Seller and Product Creators
Whether we are talking about solo entrepreneurs or big corporations, the seller is in the position of a merchant, product creator, vendor, or retailer with a particular product to offer on the market. This product can be a material object (e.g., a makeup product) or service (e.g., a makeup tutorial).
The brand that offers the product doesn’t always have to be involved step-by-step in the process. However, the same company can also play the role of the advertiser and double the profit by sharing revenue linked to affiliate marketing.
For instance, an e-commerce merchant in the seller's position can start paying affiliate sites to promote its products to reach a bigger audience. Alternatively, the seller can act as a SaaS company that aims to sell marketing software via affiliate marketers.
The Affiliate Marketer
The affiliate marketer (or publisher) can be an individual or a brand that advertises the creator’s product or service on their website to reach more potential customers. So, essentially, the affiliate marketer emphasizes the advantages and benefits of the product to convince consumers it is worth purchasing.
With successful affiliate marketing KPIs, consumers buy the particular product, and the affiliate gets a portion of the profit.
The first step is learning about the target audience you should market the product to when you start affiliate marketing. This way, you will create a defined personal brand in a specific niche, and you will be able to meet your targeted audience’s expectations.
To reach as many consumers as possible, the affiliate marketer should advertise the product or service on presently-popular channels like social media platforms, YouTube, or blogs.
The goal is to convince consumers that the product will be beneficial and meet their needs to click on the affiliate link and visit the seller’s website. In case of a purchase, the affiliate gets a part of the profit.
Transparency is a crucial factor in every successful marketing campaign, so bear in mind that the customer has to know that you are about to receive a commission off the product as an affiliate. The Federal Trade Commission urges affiliate marketers to disclose the partnership to the retailer so that the consumer objectively decides how much trust they should put in the endorsement.
As an affiliate, you carry no responsibility for the shipping and delivering any product or service—making the whole process low-risk. You don’t require a marketing degree or other formal qualifications to dive into the business. Anyone can become a successful affiliate marketer by possessing the right resources (such as good affiliate tracking software) and outlining a wise strategy.
In the modern marketing industry, your success as an affiliate is closely linked to your knack for capturing the audience’s attention and gaining valuable traffic. To achieve this, you must create high-quality content and focus on its optimization for conversion. One of the unavoidable steps in this journey is learning how affiliate links work.
What Are Affiliate Links?
Affiliate links are the primary factor that influences an affiliate marketing strategy. Essentially, we can define them as trackable links with a specific URL for your affiliate marketing website.
They serve as a signal that shows advertisers which customers you have sent them so that they pay you a commission in case of a conversion. Therefore, every consumer who purchases should arrive via your specific affiliate link.
In general, there are two primary models for earning profit in affiliate marketing:
- CPC (cost per click) - you profit from every click by relevant visitors, even if they don’t take any particular action. It can be anything from image and video ads to social media posts;
- CPA (cost per action) - you profit from every action from your audience on your affiliate marketing website. Depending on your contract, this can include purchasing, trying a free trial, or submitting contact information.
Other Key Affiliate Marketing Terms
We got acquainted with affiliate links, but that’s only scratching the surface.
Let’s also go through some additional affiliate marketing terms that will help you generate significant profit from your strategy:
- Affiliate networks - most product-creating brands start their affiliate programs on third-party platforms known as affiliate networks. These networks serve to help companies connect with like-minded affiliate marketers. You can choose to join one of many affiliate networks on the market—the most popular ones being Clickbank, Rakuten, Flexoffers, Impact, and PartnerStack;
- Cookies - small files stored on the visitor’s computer or smartphone when they engage with your affiliate link. They ensure that business partners and affiliate networks are aware that your referral led to the purchase of their product so that you get the desired commission;
- Cookie duration - the cookies usually come with expiration dates. The expiration dates of cookies are essential in affiliate marketing because consumers may initially click on an affiliate link and then come back to purchase the product days or weeks after. While the expiration dates of affiliate links tend to vary between two weeks and a month, they can run for up to a year or more.
Benefits of Starting Affiliate Marketing
Personal Experience With the Product
Having a prior first-hand experience with the product or service in question gives you a remarkable insight into its benefits and advantages. When you have purchased the item or got a review copy, you can skip the part where you need to browse other people’s opinions on the product. Instead, you can outline your honest review and list the pros and cons of the product from your unique perspective.
Affiliate marketing that involves your personal experience with the product is more ethical and makes your review more reliable. Furthermore, when you own a copy of the product, you can always contact the seller and make additional inquiries about any areas of concern.
There are several options for advertising a product you have personally used, from making unboxing videos with detailed reviews to running a case study with your findings on the product.
Previous Knowledge in Affiliate Marketing
Having prior experience in affiliate marketing will give you a better perspective for your campaign and put you in a favorable position where you will profit from advertising the product. If you are a beginner in this field, you should first get familiar with the basics and learn the most common working strategies.
Affiliate marketing principles aren’t hard to grasp, but you will have to dedicate significant time to understanding the main strategies. Starting an affiliate marketing strategy with no prior experience or basic knowledge is a recipe for failure and loss of capital.
Responsive Email List
Despite more modern platforms for commercial exposure, email remains a vital medium in affiliate marketing. An extensive, active email list gives you an advantage in affiliate marketing because you can market the products to your email subscribers. HubSpot’s statistics have proven that email engagement has increased by 78% in the last year, demonstrating the importance of email marketing.
High Traffic Numbers
The importance of this factor is a no-brainer—the higher your traffic numbers are, the wider the audience that reaches your content, including affiliate links in it.
Solid traffic numbers make the whole process easier and more profitable. They are often closely linked to having an active, stable audience on social media accounts and other platforms. Plus, they will bring you worthwhile income.
If you struggle with your affiliate marketing traffic numbers, you will need to look up well-proven tactics for affiliate offers and invest time and money in improving your prospects.
How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing?
There are seven main steps to a successful affiliate marketing strategy to take as a beginner, and they are:
- Deciding on a platform;
- Narrowing down your niche;
- Joining relevant affiliate programs;
- Creating high-quality content;
- Boosting your traffic;
- Increasing your click and conversion rates.
Decide on a Platform
It is possible to begin affiliate marketing via any platform, even social media like Twitter. However, blogging or making YouTube videos are the easiest ways to reach a bigger audience and increase your affiliate sales.
Nowadays, it is relatively affordable and straightforward to start a blog. You can access many tutorials online and learn the basics of creating an affiliate marketing website. Maintaining your page will cost you a few dollars per month on average.
As soon as you create your affiliate marketing website, you should work on the optimization so that it’s ranked higher in the search engine results. Once you set up your SEO strategy, it’s time to throw affiliate links.
As for your YouTube channel, you can create and upload your video content on this platform for free. Your videos should meet the usual SEO standards, and the description can include your affiliate links.
Choose a Niche
Affiliate marketing is a hectic field, so you should be prepared to face a vast competition as a beginner. Choosing a specific and profitable enough niche is the key to success.
You should center your topic around a specific category. For example, “cosmetics” is too vast of a term for an affiliate marketing blog. Instead, you need to go for something more specific, such as “skincare cosmetics.”
A fair share of affiliate marketers struggles with inconsistency. Therefore, if you choose a topic you’re passionate enough about, you will be more resilient in your ups and downs. Also, you don’t have to be an expert in your chosen niche—documenting your acquired knowledge is quite enough for starters.
Join Affiliate Programs
There are two models of affiliate programs to choose from—one with low sales volume and high commissions and another with high sales volume and low commissions.
If you want to reach a business audience, it is wise to choose the former and go for some of the most popular programs, such as those for web hosting and software. If you aim to reach more consumers, you should opt for the second model.
If you have a specific product in mind and don’t consider public affiliate programs as your option, contact the sellers for a potential affiliate partnership.
Create High-Quality Content
The most crucial step toward a successful affiliate marketing campaign is creating high-quality content and including your affiliate links naturally. For instance, we recommend you don’t only single out generic Amazon’s best sellers in your content. Instead, you should dig deeper and find authentic solutions to your visitors’ problems.
Actual first-hand experience with your advertising product guarantees more trust and higher engagement with your affiliate links. Don’t hesitate to purchase the affiliate product and give it a test run.
Boost Your Traffic
Creating great content isn’t enough for affiliate marketing success—you need to attract a broader audience to read it and click on your affiliate links. There are three main strategies to consider: paid traffic, SEO, and email lists.
With this strategy, you invest money in raising traffic to your site. PPC (pay per click) and PPA (pay per action) ads are the most common paid traffic forms.
The good thing about paid traffic is that your traffic immediately starts increasing after payment. On the flip side, running ads can hinder your profits since you will likely lose money as an advertiser before gaining profit.
In general, ads are a recommendable traffic strategy for acclaimed members of high-paying affiliate programs. Beginners in affiliate marketing who work with low commission programs (such as Amazon Associates) and are yet to build a stable marketing budget would find it hardly affordable.
Search engine optimization is the practice of creating websites that cater to the Google Search algorithm. Ranking high in the search engine results for your target keywords makes your website more visible and accessible to your target audience. A strong SEO strategy will bring you consistent and passive traffic.
SEO is not only about satisfying algorithm standards but also about understanding the search intents of your target audience and focusing on the topics they are searching for.
Having an email list enables you to get in touch with your readers at any point and inform them about the new content they can expect when they come back to your site. This way, you will bump up the number of clicks and sales, leading to more profit.
Increase Your Click and Conversion Rates
High-quality content alone isn’t bound to get clicks on your affiliate links. There are several technical factors you need to take into account, like link placement, context, callouts, and conversion types.
Below we’ve provided an overview of each factor:
You should place your affiliate links in a balanced way in parts of your content where visitors are most likely to scroll. Ensure you don’t save all your affiliate links for the bottom of the page or overstuff them in the introduction text.
Always put the links in context and avoid being spammy. For instance, if you are writing an article about the best anti-aging skin-care products, you should start your introduction by quickly explaining the topic and stating the product names you’ll include in the text.
Creating readable content with natural usage of your keywords is vital for the impression you leave on your audience. Visitors will be more willing to click on any affiliate links when they come across easily readable content.
Including callouts in your websites, such as boxes, tables, and buttons, can visually attract your audience by making your content look more skimmable. For example, you can use boxes with product links in your affiliate marketing content.
Types of Conversions
Two types of conversions are crucial for making a profit in affiliate marketing. The first one is clicks to the merchant’s website. It is your responsibility to improve the chances of attracting visitors to click your affiliate links. The second type of conversion is visitors taking action on the merchant’s website, i.e., purchasing the product. Merchants are usually in control of the checkout.
To make the best out of your affiliate marketing website, you should aim for collaborations with merchants that have programs with solid conversions. The best way to achieve this is by asking relevant questions, using your intuition in the business, and consulting public income reports.
Is It Possible to Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money?
The primary purpose of affiliate marketing is to build partnerships with sellers who want to promote their products and services for a convenient commission. However, the upfront costs (for buying a domain name, e-commerce hosting, attending educational courses, etc.) can make this business quite challenging for beginners.
Nevertheless, following the essential points in this guide makes it possible to make money from affiliate marketing without upfront expenses. Many affiliate marketers have started their journey without substantial initial investments—the only necessary sacrifice you need to make is time, effort, and dedication.
So, don’t hesitate to decide about your niche and join this profitable field!