Affiliate marketing has become increasingly popular in helping companies and individuals make relatively easy and even residual money online. It is also one of the most effective performance-based marketing strategies one can use, which means that if you have yet to try out affiliate marketing, you should do so as soon as possible.
That said, affiliate marketing isn't as straightforward as you might think. There are specific skills you need to master to become a pro at affiliate marketing, and that's what we're here to do in this article. Welcome to Affiliate Marketing 101!
Although this topic is rather broad, I am going to do my best to cover the essentials step by step without sounding like every other broken-record out there. So enjoy the article, and don't forget to take some notes as you go.
1. Set your Expectations
Before you get into affiliate marketing, it's important that you understand the time-frame and commitment that goes into this industry.
Depending on your marketing approach, you may be looking at different variables than another affiliate marketer.
Some marketers rely on different methods for traffic than others (like paid advertising). Therefore they can hold different expectations for budget and timeline than you.
For the sake of discussion, I'll mention some different marketing channels in this article, but the tips will primarily focus on written content such as blogs.
That said; blogs have a few options for traffic with the most common of those being SEO to start.
Unless you have an external audience awaiting the launch of your new blog, you can expect that you'll have to start from scratch, and SEO will get you there.
It's reasonable to expect that you will be waiting anywhere from 6-18 months before you see significant rankings and traffic to your blog after consistent posts to the site. So don't get too stressed over a lock of traffic a few months in.
Just keep posting and following best practices and your blog will see success.
2. Choose a Profitable Niche
Choosing a profitable niche can be as simple or as complicated as you make it.
For a quick find of the most profitable affiliate marketing and blog niches, you can do a simple Google search and review some lists for suggestions.
Another option is to join a few affiliate networks and browse their offerings and categories.
A profitable niche is an important foundational step in ensuring the long-term success of your blog.
For a more advanced selection of your niche, you can use a keyword research tool or other tools to do a deep dive on some of your best candidates.
Either looking for low-hanging fruit, significant traffic or low keyword difficulties are just some of the metrics you could use to qualify a selected niche for your blog.
3. Choose Products with a Higher Commission
Once you've got your niche selected, now it's time to start thinking what affiliate program you'll join!
This part can get exciting, because you can start to really see the potential revenue when looking at commissions on these products.
Find products that are strongly related to your chosen niche so that readers are more likely to find interest in the product itself.
Remember; you're not stuck with one product either. You can write about one or as many products as you would like to monetize your blog the way you want to.
4. Know your Products
It's not enough to simply sell a product.
It's important that before you start your digital marketing that you have at least tried the products and services in the past and have some personal opinion of the product itself to go off of.
This way people know that you're not just selling products to them, but rather offering and suggesting products that actually solved a problem for you in real life. This way they can feel confident in their decision if they click your affiliate link and land on a checkout page.
5. Don't Sell. Inform.
To echo the words of the prior section; once you know the product and are ready to create your content, please don't just make your content a 10 minute long infomercial. Chances are, your viewers wont stick around long enough to see the call to action.
The best way to connect with your viewers and attract sales is to simply inform your visitors of the pros and cons of the product, present them with use-cases etc.
Whatever you can do to provide genuine value to them during their stay on your site so that they trust your judgement enough to follow through with a purchase of the product on their own free will.
Although not the primary talk of the article, you should know that articles aren't the only way to earn affiliate commissions.
It's quite common for people who have already built an audience on a particular platform, or who know how to build one; to utilize said audience to earn money.
YouTube is a common platform for people to place affiliate links and earn a commission for their videos.
They take the time to put together a quality video that presents a product or products as a solution to someone's problem. And usually towards the end of the video will direct viewers towards their affiliate links in the description for further investigation of the product (and hopefully a purchase).
7. Social Media
Social media also presents a lot of options for traffic! Both paid and organic traffic are achievable through most forms of social media marketing.
For example, Instagram is incredible (at the time of writing) for getting organic reach and bringing in traffic without spending a dollar.
Other platforms like Facebook are pay-to-play and with either require using some loopholes, or paying for ads to get decent reach--even to your own audience.
Depending on your platform of choice, you may be able to find experts and courses on the best methods for gaining traffic there as well.
Podcasts are among the newer channels of affiliate marketing; although not that new at all.
Some platforms such as Apple Podcast have been around for a while, but still have incredibly simple algorithms for their search results. This is a great opportunity for podcasters, as getting your podcast episodes to the top of the search is a matter of the most basic SEO.
Just as we did with YouTube, you'll want to mention your products and where to find your affiliate links towards the end of the video so your listeners can check out the products for themselves.
You can make your podcast sound more professional by going to somewhere like Fiverr to have a intro or outro made, and even have the sound edited by a professional for prices that are way below industry standard.
9. Blog Article
On to my favorite, and the main focus of the remainder of this article--blogs.
Blogs are among the most scalable and affordable methods of marketing, period.
You can really make this as simple or as complicated as you want, but at the end of the day, the more intentional/concentrated effort you put into your blog articles, the better your outcome.
The idea with blogs is that you are typically targeting one main long-tail key phrase per article. This is best practice, but a well written article will cover a range of semantically related keywords to achieve a dual purpose.
Semantic keywords will show Google the relevancy of an article to a search phrase and also allow you to rank for more than just your main keyword.
Some articles will rank for a handful of keywords and some well-written articles will rank for several hundred keywords.
It's just a matter of following best practices and being consistent in your work.
In my opinion, blogs offer the most affordable option for expanding your reach in terms of both time and money.
10. Email Lists
Email lists are often a secondary marketing method as you'll have to acquire their emails from another channel first.
But for the sake of this article, we'll touch on it lightly and assume you have a way to collect emails.
Email marketing is an incredible tactic because your audience knows you and have opted to receive notifications about your brand. You now have access to notify a warm audience directly every time you post a new piece of content.
And their are tons of tactics to increase open rates, and conversions within your content if you take the time to learn them.
Written Content & SEO
11. Getting Started with SEO
Going back now to blogs. Search engine optimization is the most affordable form of marketing for a blog because it can literally be done for free.
It's also completely organic and residual activity, so rather than turning off an ad and completely losing out on future traffic; you can write an article and once it starts pulling in traffic, it will continue until Google believes it's found a better resource.
As an SEO expert myself, I believe that the best way to get started with SEO from very little background is to learn keyword research in depth.
Most of your results are going to come from finding keywords you can rank for, and knowing how to write an article that ranks.
It's important that you invest in a tool like SEMrush or SurferSEO that can handle a lot of the work for you.
These two tools are among my daily drivers. I use SEMrush for all of my initial research and rank tracking, while SurferSEO is my go-to for content optimization and ensuring my articles are high quality, right out the gate.
12. Beating out the Top Articles
Finding articles that you can rank for won't provide results on it's own.
You need a strategic approach to making sure that Google agrees that your article is the most comprehensive content on a given topic.
To do this, you need to take the time to look at the existing results for the search terms and identify gaps in the content. Where can you improve? Where did they fall short?
It seems simple because it really is. But this is just the beginning of a larger strategy.
One other thing that Surfer has recently implemented is "Tasks." With one of the possible tasks being interlinking suggestions. While this technology isn't perfected, it may uncover opportunities that you may not have picked up on yourself to interlink articles and create an effective silo that ranks.
13. Title Optimization
Title optimization is the driving force that will get you clicks to your affiliate site.
You can have the greatest article in the world and it won't mean squat if people don't click your result. So here's how to use your title.
- Always include your main keyword phrase in the title. This is one of the most important ways for Google to initially realize what the article is supposed to be about, and what it should be indexed for (assuming the content matches that intent).
- People are more likely to click titles that start with numbers. And of those people, more people are likely to click an article that starts with an odd number rather than even.
- Using superlatives like "best" or "most affordable" will also increase the likelihood of clicks to your article.
That's not all either.
- For articles that use fluid information (information that can change and should be updated every so often) you would do well to include the year that you wrote or updated it. This makes it relevant to the reader and appear to be up to date with what they are searching.
- Using parenthesis rather than brackets or hyphens rather than bars will also reduce the likelihood of Google changing your title and potentially increase your CTR as well.
14. Description Optimization
Descriptions can be another great way to entice people to click through to your affiliate article while answering questions and showing relevance to the article itself.
It's best if you are clear about the intention of the article, but you can also use this as a way to pique interest.
An example might be someone searching "best SEO tactic 2022." And you might have what you believe to be the most effective SEO tactic in your article. So you include in your meta description "The most effective SEO tactic in 2022 is..."
This makes it so that the reader will click into the article to finish reading and answer their question.
15. Keep them Reading
Now that you have some traffic coming to the site, it's important that they stay.
Getting your viewer to the page is only half the battle. Now you have to keep them interested long enough to answer their question, and even better; browse the site.
There are a variety of ways that we can try to hold your readers' attention. From changing the the tone of the writing, to the design of the site; you are serving a specific demographic and it's up to you to cater to their interests so that they convert to sales.
A properly optimized site should load quickly so that your site visitor doesn't get tired of waiting and leave. There are tons of ways to do this, but my recommendation is to consider a platform that does most of the work for you.
I've found that WordPress is rather bulky. You have to be careful of the themes you use because they may not be optimal for load speeds and plugins my bloat the site even for simple functionality.
My recommendation (and many other professionals agree) is to use Webflow. Their platform has a clean HTML/CSS output and offers the option to minify your code on publishing.
The sites are lean, fast, and have very few limitations from what I've found. You can build simple, attractive sites, or bold sites with complex interactions and animations.
Once you have a site that loads rather quick and looks professional, I find that the writing style and content format have major impact on people's interaction with the site.
Don't use fonts smaller than 16 and keep a generous line height to give your text some breathing room and less intimidating to read.
16. Writing for Snippets
Writing for snippets is another fun opportunity to bring in traffic.
If you are not familiar; a "Featured Snippet" is when Google takes content from a site and features it before the first result to provide a faster answer to the user's question.
This is prime real estate on the SERPS and we want to get as many of those as possible since they tend to take up more of the page.
How do you know if you are ranking for a SERP and how do you get new ones?
That's easy. Tools like SEMrush with have ways to visualize whether or not you have ranked for a snippet and even better yet, will show you opportunities for snippets based on content you have already written, and keywords you are tracking.
Time Saving Tips
17. Leverage Advanced Tools
Really quick here, I just want to lay out some of the tools that I use to save the most time on my affiliate marketing projects.
- Wealthy Affiliate
- SEO Powersuite
- Closers Copy
- Text Royal
Getting the Most Out of your Site
18. Engage your Audience
Now that you are getting some content up on the site, it's time to start making the most of what you've got!
Make sure that your site has ways for your community to communicate with you and other users on the site.
Comment sections, reactions, share buttons etc.
Really anything that you can do to encourage your audience to stay on the page, interact, and encourage other interactions by showing that there are people behind the brand.
19. Put in the Hours
This one seems so simple, but can be difficult after a few months of posting with no real results. But remember that this stuff is building in the background. This period is crucial for filling out the site and really making it feel complete. It wouldn't be worth having people come to the site if they are going to leave right away anyways.
While that may not be a bad thing; it does help with conversions and first impressions to have a nice spread of content for your visitors to choose from.
Keep plugging away, posting, learning etc. to better yourself and your blog. Just make sure you are intentional about posting and act regularly. This work WILL pay off in the end with affiliate sales.
20. Testing and Optimization
This step really comes after you start getting traffic consistently. Not necessarily conversions, but rather the overall traffic.
At this point, you can start analyzing some of your users' behavior and optimize for conversions based on actual data rather than guess-and-check.
There are free tools like Microsoft Clarity, which I recently started using and am liking a lot, and there are also paid options like Hotjar (which I have yet to try).
Google analytics is also a great tool to show where users land, how they got there, choices they make, paths they follow etc.
Using tools like these will likely lead to more educated decisions regarding alterations to the site like colors, font sizes, layouts, affiliate link placement etc. Eventually giving us a higher conversion rate because we've optimized based on actual data from our visitors.
21. Tracking your Success
Last but not least, it's very important that you take the time to track your progress and the work you've done. This will give you important insights to what is working, what is not, and potentially uncover some very useful data for you and your business.
Affiliate marketing can be a great way to make some extra money, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become successful. These 21 tips will help you get on the right track and start making money with affiliate marketing. Don’t forget to put in the effort and stay focused, and you could see amazing results. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!