Will Affiliate Marketing Die in 2020

Affiliate Marketing For Beginners: 7 Steps To Success

Interested in getting into the billion dollar affiliate marketing industry? This guide will get you started.

According to Statista, affiliate marketing business spend in the US will reach $ 8.2 billion by 2022.

Get started today and you will be in a good position to take advantage of it.

In this guide, you'll learn how to get started with affiliate marketing in seven steps:

  1. Decide on a platform
  2. Choose your niche
  3. Find affiliate programs to join
  4. Create great content
  5. Drive traffic to your affiliate website
  6. Get clicks on your affiliate links
  7. Convert clicks into sales

But before we get started, let's cover a few basics.


What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when you promote other companies' products. When someone buys through your affiliate link, you get a commission.

As an affiliate, you are a seller for the company. You help with a sale, the company rewards you.

The best thing about affiliate marketing is that you can do it on a large scale. A typical salesperson only sells products from one company. As an affiliate, you can promote products from many different companies and receive commissions from all of them.

How does affiliate marketing work?

The dealer gives each partner a unique link so that they can keep track of who was responsible for a sale. The link usually looks something like this:

When someone clicks on this link, a small file called a "cookie" is stored on their device.

An affiliate cookie does two things:

  1. It helps the dealer to match the seller with the right person;
  2. It includes (usually) an expiration date so you get paid even if the buyer delays their purchase.

Here is an example of how this works.

Imagine a reader visiting your post on the best winter jackets. He clicks on one of your partner links, which leads him to a product on Amazon.

But then it occurs to him that he has to pick up his daughter from school. So he leaves his house, picks up his daughter, has dinner and finally goes back to Amazon, where he finds the product again.

Since he is already on the Amazon, he decides to buy ski equipment as well.

Here's the good news. Since he had previously clicked on your affiliate link, a cookie was saved on his device. Since Amazon has a 24-hour cookie duration, you will be rewarded for both the winter jacket and the ski equipment - even if you did not advertise the latter.

How Much Money Can I Earn As An Affiliate?

The simple answer is that there are no limits. It depends on your niche and the amount of work you put in.

The most successful affiliates earn six or seven figure sums a month.

For example, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income earned over $ 100,000 in affiliate commissions in December 2017.

Another affiliate marketer, Ryan Robinson, reported over $ 19,000 in revenue in October 2019. Another successful affiliate website - The Wirecutter - generated an estimated $ 10 million in revenue and was eventually sold to the New York Times for $ 30 million.

Keep in mind, however, that these people did an excellent job building their brand. It took her years of hard work to reach this level.

If you're just starting out, your checks might look more like this for a while:

What Sam Oh took on one of his partner sites.

You have to keep your expectations in check. You won't make big bucks right away, but don't let that discourage you.

The success of others tells you that with hard work, time, and the right knowledge, you too can potentially reach this level.

How do you start affiliate marketing?

Follow these seven simple steps.

  1. Decide on a platform
  2. Choose your niche
  3. Find affiliate programs to join
  4. Create great content
  5. Drive traffic to your affiliate website
  6. Get clicks on your affiliate links
  7. Convert clicks into sales

Step # 1: decide on a platform

In theory, affiliate marketing can be done on any platform. Even Instagram works.

However, it's much easier to build an audience and increase your affiliate sales through either of two channels - a blog or a YouTube channel.

Starting a blog today is relatively easy and inexpensive. There are plenty of tutorials online to show you how to get started. And the best? It will likely only cost you a few bucks a month.

Once your website is online, optimize it for search engines so you have a better chance of ranking. After that, you are free to include affiliate links in your content. (There is an art of doing this that we will discuss later in this guide).

The other platform is YouTube. Content creation and uploading on YouTube is free, which makes it an ideal solution for many people. Optimize your videos for SEO and include affiliate links in your description.

One of my favorite examples is on BookTube, where various YouTubers review books:

Please note that you must disclose that you are using affiliate links. The Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) (and corresponding European and German bodies) require you to be transparent about receiving income from a referral.

If you're using a blog, create a standalone page or add it to your website footer as follows:

If you do it on YouTube, add it to your description:

Affiliate links in one of PewDiePie's YouTube videos

You will likely get more clicks from a blog than a YouTube video. Because of this, most of the following will be examples for a blog.

Step # 2: find your niche

Let's face it: if you start a blog today, expect a lot of competition. Statista estimates the number of bloggers in the US will rise to 31.7 million by 2020.

To have the best chance of success, one has to focus on one niche.


Choose a topic that suits itself focused on a specific category. For example, the subject of "food" is a huge category. Instead of dealing with it, try something more specific, like grilling food.

If you summarize your topics closely, you can build a more focused audience and potentially rank higher in search engines.

That's exactly what I did when I built my first website. Instead of talking about “dance” or “hip-hop”, I decided to limit myself to breakdancing. Although I didn't know anything about SEO at the time, I managed to rank some key terms and generate ~ 3,000 organic visits per month.

My website's search traffic before I let the domain expire.

Later, when you've covered most of this category and built traffic to these sites, you can expand into other areas.

If you're the primary person in charge of content creation, pick something that interests you.

Many partner sites die due to a lack of consistency. If you can get excited about a topic, at least it's easier to move on when it gets difficult.

Don't worry if you are not an expert in the field. As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, "Document, don't create." Documenting what you've learned can produce great content and attract people who are interested in tracking your progress.

If you're outsourcing the content, then it's better to work with seasoned experts in the niche. Experts can help you create high-quality, trustworthy work, which can lead to more traffic, engaged visitors, and more affiliate sales.

Step # 3: Find Affiliate Programs That You Can Join

There are three types of affiliate programs that you can choose from.

A. High paying, low volume affiliate programs

These are niche product affiliate programs with high rewards.

For example, ConvertKit's affiliate program pays nearly $ 700 a month if you only send 80 customers to them. However, since they sell CRM software to small business owners, there are limited buyers.

ConvertKits affiliate program.

Programs with high commissions also tend to have more competition. Since you are likely just starting out, making a decent amount of money will be quite a challenge when you compete against skilled marketers with deep pockets.

B. Low Paid, High Volume Affiliate Programs

These are affiliate programs for products with low payouts, but which are suitable for the masses.

Take PS4 games, for example. Lots of people play PS4, but the average cost of a game is only around $ 50 and affiliate commissions are typically in the single digits. This means that with a little luck you will earn 2 to 3 euros per sale.

The rewarding quality of these types of programs is that they usually have a lot of products for sale. Take Amazon's affiliate program, for example. You can earn up to 10% commission on almost everything Amazon sells.

The other good thing about this is that you often get commissions on the entire value of the purchase, not just on the product you recommend.

In order for this type of affiliate program to pay off, you need a high level of traffic.

C. Highly paid, high volume affiliate programs

These are affiliate programs for products with great appeal that also pay high commissions.

Credit cards are an example.

Everyone needs a credit card, and most people stay with the company for years (sometimes decades!).

The downside to these types of products is that they attract affiliate marketers with a lot of expertise and deep pockets. Some also employ spammy tactics that are simply beyond competition.

And since this is a beginner's tutorial, I won't go into detail about it.

Just be aware that these programs exist.

So how do you decide which affiliate programs to join?

This depends on the niche and your level of expertise.

If you're targeting consumers, you'll likely go for the second model, with low commissions and higher sales volume.

If you're targeting a business audience, you'll likely go for the first model: high-paying, low-volume programs. The most popular programs here are programs for software and web hosting products.

The best way to find these affiliate programs is through a Google search.

Ryan Robinsons's earnings from software and hosting company affiliate programs.

Alternatively, you can enter a competing affiliate website into Ahrefs' Site Explorer and report over referring domains walk.

For example, I know that Pat Flynn promotes a number of software products on his Smart Passive Income website. A look at the linked domains report shows that Pat links to Aweber quite often.

If you click on the triangle “Left on target” you will see that Pat is a partner.

All it takes is a quick Google search to find an application form for this affiliate program.

However, if there's a product that you really want to promote that doesn't have a public affiliate program, reach out to the company and ask if they would be willing to partner with you.

Step # 4: create great content

If your affiliate website is to be successful, you need to create quality content that your affiliate links will naturally fit into.

Here is an example. Tim Ferriss interviewed over 100 famous people and asked them this question:

What purchase of $ 100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?

He published the answers in a blog post and added affiliate links for the mentioned products:

Judging by the comments, his fans loved it.

This is what you need to mimic when creating content for your affiliate website.

Don't just blindly curate products from Amazon's bestsellers. Go through the extra effort to make sure your content solves the visitor's problem.

And how? When you create reviews, actually buy the product and test it. This is exactly what the Wirecutter website did, which explains its success.

If you don't have the money to buy every single product, you can always start with what you already have at home. For example, if you have a tech blog, you can write reviews of the gadgets you already own.

Step # 5: Drive Traffic to Your Affiliate Website

You made great content. The next step is to get more people to read them so they can click on your affiliate links.

Here are three traffic strategies to consider:

A. Paid traffic.

Here you pay for the traffic to your website. You can do this with PPC ads.

The advantage of paid traffic is that you start getting traffic from the moment you pay.

However, there are some drawbacks as well.

First, showing ads will cut your profits. It's normal for advertisers to lose money before they make it ... if they ever do.

You need to be realistic about how long it will take to optimize a campaign for paid traffic.

Second, once you stop paying for ads, your traffic will stop.

In general, ads are a great strategy for traffic if you're part of a high-paying affiliate program and can convert the numbers accordingly.

However, if you're completely new to paid marketing and don't have a marketing budget (or work with lower-commission programs like Amazon Associates) then it might not be a good idea.

B. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the practice of optimizing pages to get high rankings on search engines like Google.

As long as you can achieve a high ranking in the search engines for your target keyword, you will get consistent and passive traffic.

In its simplest form, SEO is about:

  • Understand what your target audience is looking for;
  • Creating content around these topics (blog entries, product pages, etc.);
  • Take care of the "technical" things to get this content up in the search engines (which includes building links).

Learn the basics in this video:


C. Build an email list

Email lists allow you to communicate with your readers at any time.

Use them to let your fans know about new content and get them to keep coming back to your site. This leads to more affiliate clicks and sales.

You can even send affiliate email advertisements directly to your list:

An email advertisement with an affiliate link

To create an email list, you need to get readers to sign up on your website. That usually means offering something valuable.

At Ahrefs, we show an inset at the end of each article:

Some websites like Gear Patrol also have a "Subscribe" link in their navigation bar:

But there are many different options. You can also offer a free e-book, e-mail course, and so on.

All you need is some creativity.

Step # 6: Get Clicks on Your Affiliate Links

Just because you have fantastic content doesn't mean people will click on your affiliate links.

There are a few things to keep in mind.

A. Link placement

If all of your affiliate links are at the bottom of the page that is rarely scrolled, then only a few clicks will be made.

On the other hand, if you link every other word in your introduction, the post will be considered spam.

You need to balance the placement of the link with the other factors listed below.

B. Context

Let's say you wrote an article about the best kitchen knives under $ 50.

Your introduction probably shouldn't look like this:

Today I am discussing the best chef's knives.

The links look out of context and are spammy.

This would make more sense:

Today I am discussing three different chef's knives that you can buy on Amazon for less than 50 euros.These are: Product Name 1, Product Name 2 and Product Name 3

C. Interferers

The use of "disruptors" such as buttons, tables and boxes can help to attract the attention of your readers and to make the article clearer.

For example, the Wirecutter uses eye-catching boxes with product links when they present a top selection.

PC Mag takes a different approach and uses a comparison table of buttons:

Step # 7: Convert Clicks into Sales

In affiliate marketing, there must be two conversions in order for you to be able to make money.

The first conversion is the click on the product page.

You have 100% control over this action. Use the strategies above to improve your chances of a click.

The second conversion is the visitor who buys the product. In the case of affiliate marketing, the merchant controls the order and checkout process, and these conversion rates are beyond your control.

The trick is to play the game to your advantage and look for vendors with programs that convert well.

Here are a few ways to find them:

A. Reports Sales Reports

If people are making decent money from an affiliate program, then the product is likely to convert well.

How do you know if people are making money?

Check out the Public Income Reports where bloggers publicly reveal how much money they are making from their affiliate businesses.

You can find these reports on Google.

For example, if you search for “Amazon Affiliate Income Report,” you'll see a few blog posts showing how bloggers made money as Amazon affiliates.

It looks like a blogger made $ 7,300 in a single month on commissions from Amazon.

If you're in the same niche, you can also take a look at where they're getting other affiliate income from and possibly promoting the same products.

B. Asking questions

If there's not a lot of information about an affiliate program you want to join, sign up and ask questions.

For example, you could find out what the average conversion rates are or what the top earners' monthly commissions are.

This can help you figure out if the affiliate program is worth promoting.

C. Use your intuition

Sometimes it's best to follow your gut instinct.

If the program or product you are looking at feels “off”, or if you would never personally recommend the product to a friend or family member, then don't promote it.

Final thoughts

No affiliate marketing wheel has been reinvented here. These are the basics, and putting them into practice will get you off to a great start.

Just don't expect life changing sales or the freedom to quit the 9 ‑ to ‑ 5 overnight. Affiliate marketing takes time.

First, focus on making your first affiliate sale. As your website grows, set new goals and keep experimenting.

This is how you build a website that will eventually generate a decent income.

Do you still have questions? Let me know in the comments or ping me on Twitter.

Translated by sehrausch.de: Search engine & conversion optimization, online marketing & paid advertising. A perfect fit from a single source.