You might already know this but I’m a huge fan of affiliate marketing and making money online with it. It’s the best way to generate income for your blog as a new or newish blogger (and when you become an expert too).
You probably have a lot of questions like how affiliate marketing works, what affiliate marketing is, or how to make money with affiliate marketing.
I explain all those things in this guide.
Affiliate marketing is a wonderful way to make money with your website. So I created this beginners guide here to help you understand what affiliate marketing is and how it works.
I tried to explain everything as simply as possible. If you have any questions in the end, ask me them in the comment box below.
Affiliate Marketing 101: A beginners guide on how affiliate marketing works
What is affiliate marketing?
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is when you promote other peoples (or businesses) products or service.
If you have your own product (like a book you wrote), and you promote it, you are promoting your own product (no kidding right :P).
However, if you get other people to promote your book for you, these people are called “affiliates” of your product.
Here’s a common example of affiliate marketing: You have a mommy blog and you write a blog post about how to encourage babies to speak sooner. In this blog post, you educate your readers on this topic and then leave a link in your blog post that when clicked, your reader will be sent to a website that sells baby training courses.
If your reader purchases the baby training course, you will earn a commission.
You are what is called the “affiliate” because you are affiliating yourself with the product.
So again, when you promote other people’s products & services, you are an affiliate who is performing affiliate marketing.
I hope that makes sense.
How to make money as an affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing is easier said than done.
However, once you get the hang of how it works, you’ll probably realize that it’s actually not that hard. I think the hardest part is getting your first few sales. When you succeed with a few sales, you’ll firstly see that it works! And you just need to duplicate your success again and again.
Making money with affiliate marketing starts to become a routine and it just gets easier and easier over time.
The rest of this blog post will talk about the process of how to become an affiliate marketer and succeeding as one!
Affiliate marketing programs & affiliate marketing companies
In order to promote products and services, you will need to join affiliate networks.
This is the first step to becoming an affiliate marketer.
Affiliate networks are websites that have many vendors (businesses) who are looking for people to promote their products and services. These vendors (also called advertisers) want to be a part of affiliate networks because people like you and me who want to make money affiliate marketing join these networks to find vendors to promote on our websites.
In a nutshell, affiliate networks bring together advertisers (businesses) and promoters (you and me).
How to join an affiliate network
To join an affiliate marketing network, you will almost always need a working website. Your website also needs to be real and legitimate. Most affiliate networks will manually approve new applicants. Part of the process usually involves visiting your website. They want to make sure your website is a real website and not something spammy or distasteful.
You don’t need an established website or have a lot of traffic or even be making any money to get accepted into affiliate networks. Though these things can help increase your odds of being approved, it’s not necessary.
What you do want to do is make sure your website has the right pages on it (an about page, privacy page, and disclaimer page). Has some content on it that’s valuable (people find it useful). With these things, you should be accepted to most (if not all) of the main networks out there.
What are the best affiliate networks to join?
I wrote a separate blog post just on this topic. I go over the main affiliate networks you can and should apply for. You can see that blog post here.
How to start affiliate marketing
Once you’ve applied for and have been accepted into affiliate networks (congrats btw!), your next step is to apply for the specific affiliate program you want to promote.
The affiliate network houses all the individual affiliate programs. Getting accepted into an affiliate network doesn’t mean you can begin promote every vendor (affiliate program) they have unfortunately.
You will need to apply individually to each specific affiliate program you want to promote. You can search/discover these specific vendors within your network.
Here’s an example: You are a travel blogger and have just been accepted into the Commission Junction affiliate network. Awesome! Now that you’re in, you will want to search all the vendors they have listed under the “travel” category. When you see a vendor that you want to promote, you apply for it (usually just by clicking the “apply” button).
And that’s it.
Most of the time your application will go through a manual review process. The vendor may check your website to see if it’s relevant to their product/service. Or to make sure the quality of your website is up to their standards. Or whatever guidelines they have for manually reviewing applicants.
And sometime some vendors will have automatic approvals. So anybody who applies will get accepted. You won’t know until you apply.
How long does it take for an affiliate program to approve you?
It can take a day to several weeks to get a response. It’s a bit annoying actually. But that’s just how it goes. Overall though, if you apply for a affiliate program and the program is clearly related to your blog, you should have a good approval success rate.
For example, you have a travel blog and you apply to become an affiliate for Expedia. You basically have a 100% success rate here, so long as your travel blog is legit.
Remember, these vendors want YOU to promote them. They make more money when they have more promoters. They just don’t want a bad image (like a distasteful blog promoting their products) or a scammy website promoting their products.
Having said that, some vendors are just more picky and have stricter approval guidelines. An example would be finance related affiliate programs. They don’t want just anybody promoting their credit card offers. Even if your blog is about personal finance, you may not be accepted.
Overall, don’t get caught up about being approved or not. When you see a program you want to be a part of, apply for it.
How affiliate networks track your sales
In order to get credited for your referrals, you will need to create an affiliate link. You’ll place this link on your website for visitors to see and click on.
In reality, you will be a part of many affiliate programs. You will be promoting them on many different blog posts. And you will want to do what’s called “deep linking”, which means referring readers to a specific page on a vendors website instead of sending readers just to the homepage.
Deep linking increases conversions (makes you more money).
Here’s an example: You have a travel blog and are a part of many different travel affiliate programs. Like Expedia, Priceline, Enterprise Rent a Car, Tripadvisor, and Kayak. You write a blog post about your 2 week trip to Paris. In this blog post, you sprinkle your affiliate link in places that make sense. So when readers read your blog post and see that you used Expedia to book your hotel, they may click that Expedia affiliate link to check Expedia out, and book a hotel. if they do, you will get credited with the referral (and make money!)
Learning how to do this effectively takes time. But as I mentioned earlier, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty straight forward from there. And you just do it over and over again to make more money.
How to make money with affiliate marketing
There’s an important distinction between affiliate marketing and selling.
When you are the product owner and you promote your own product, you are selling your product. The keyword here is “selling”.
I see a lot of affiliate marketers make the mistake of selling the affiliate product. You don’t “sell” affiliate products. That’s the job of the product owner. To sell the product.
Your job as an affiliate is to promote a product or service by “referring” people. That is, you are pointing them in a specific direction.
This means your job is to warm your readers up to the idea of buying the product or service. A couple ways to do this is to educate them on the benefits of the product or demonstrating how you used it and how it has helped you.
So when they click your affiliate link and land on the sales page, they are already “warmed up” to the idea of buying it and are more likely do so because of that.
That’s the key thing in making money as an affiliate marketer. Getting really good at warming people up to the idea of buying something. This is called pre-selling. It’s perhaps the most important affiliate marketing skill. It’s something you’ll learn to do over time.
As a beginner, I recommend focusing on speaking truthfully about how you feel about a product and how it can benefit your reader. Come from the heart and speak in a personal tone. This is relatable way to communicate and will help build trust and likability, both of which are super important things to succeed as an affiliate marketer.
To summarize the above: Educate your reader about the product/service. And then refer them to the sales page with your affiliate link. Let the sales page do the selling.
What are affiliate marketing commissions like?
Earnings depend on what you are promoting. Your affiliate network will tell you what each affiliate program pays out.
For a lot of things, you get a small percentage of the overall sales amount. Like 3-15% for example.
- Amazon pays anywhere from 1%-8%.
- Many clothing companies pay 10-15% or so.
- Travel related programs pay 3% to 10%. Or have a fixed dollar amount per referral, like booking pays $14 per referral.
- A affiliate network like Clickbank can pay 50%-75% per sale. They are a digital product marketplace.
- There are affiliate networks that pay $50 to $200 for a referral. A credit card referral can pay upwards of $100 and a Forex trading referral could pay $200 in commissions.
It definitely ranges as you can see.
How much money can you make with affiliate marketing?
You can make a lot of money with affiliate marketing. It can definitely be the main source of income on your website.
How much money you make will depend on how much traffic your website gets and how focused your content is on topics people spend money on.
But generally speaking, making a full time income with affiliate marketing is very reasonable. Many people make most of their blog income using affiliate marketing.
How do you get paid?
Affiliate networks will track your earnings. You can track your performance as well by seeing what is being clicked and how good your conversion rates are.
Once you reach a certain threshold ($100 is common), they will send you your payment. Check, paypal, or a wire transfer are popular ways they pay you.
Also, there’s something called a “net30” which networks like to use. Basically it means that they will pay you 30 days after you have earned your commissions. I think they do this because if there are any returns/refunds, they can deduct it from what they owe you.
10 Affiliate marketing tips to get you started
- Promote higher paying products and services // Generally speaking, it’s easier to make money selling fewer expensive items than selling many inexpensive items. Try to promote more expensive items and get good at that. You will likely find you’ll make more money this way.
- Include more affiliate links in your blog posts // Generally speaking (again lol), the more affiliate links you have, the higher chance your reader will click on it which could lead to more referral sales. You want to balance your blog post between having a tasteful amount of affiliate links and looking too spammy.
- Get that cookie // Most affiliate programs work by placing a cookie on your readers browser. This cookie can last 1 day or 30 days or forever. Basically, most people do not buy the first time they look at something. However, if they do come back later to buy it, and they are within the cookie period (30 days for example), you will still get credited for the referral.
- Get your readers curious // To encourage clicks, and ultimate to get that cookie placed on their computer, get them curious enough that they want to click the link.
- More traffic means more revenue // This rule is almost always true. The more people that visit your blog post, the more likely it is they will click your affiliate links and buy something. Traffic is key in making money with affiliate marketing.
- Trust is king // Trust is like everything. When people trust you, they will take your recommendations without even really checking out the product. They bought it simply because you said it was good. Trust is king.
- Be a problem solver // Focus your content on solving problems. Because people pay a lot of money to solve problems. And products and services solve problems. So get really good at showing people how a product/service can help solve their problems.
- Promote a lot, but not everything // You want to promote a wide range of affiliate products. But you don’t want to just promote anything. Promote something you would use yourself. If you promote junk you will lose trust.
- Grab those emails // Promoting affiliate products through email is your best friend. Your best readers will subscribe. These people are the most likely to buy whatever you recommend. So you want to create an email list where you can consistently promote thing to them tastefully and when it makes sense to do so.
- Recommend, not sell // Remember, an affiliate marketer educates and then recommends a product/service that can help readers. Your job isn’t to persuade readers to buy. That’s the sales pages job. Warm them and let the sales page do its job.
Any questions about affiliate marketing?
I’ll constantly be updating this affiliate marketing guide. Your comments and questions will help me add more value to this blog post.
So please do ask questions! I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Just use the comment box below.