If you haven’t heard of affiliate marketing, don’t panic, you haven’t missed the boat.

We will cover exactly what affiliate marketing is (for beginners), how you can succeed at it and how much money you can potentially make online through affiliate channels.

Affiliate marketing is pushing another company’s products or services through your own channels, to your existing audience, generating a sale for them and earning commission for your efforts.

Once set up, it is a passive way to get an income, however it does require you to put in a little effort to get it going.

There are four key parts to affiliate marketing:

  1. The affiliate website (your website)
  2. The affiliate network (the links that are created from the advertiser’s website to your own, through which purchases are tracked)
  3. The advertiser (the site whose products you will link to)
  4. The buyer (your captive audience of readers)

Affiliate marketing In a nutshell:

  1. You build your website and pack it full of product reviews or details of products that readers might be interested in purchasing.
  2. The affiliate network hooks you up and supplies you with the link to the affiliate product.
  3. When one of your audience clicks the affiliate link, the affiliate network tracks the referral back to the advertiser’s website through a cookie or pixel they have placed on the audience member’s computer.
  4. When they then make a purchase on the advertiser's site, the cookie tells the advertiser that the customer came via your website, and you earn yourself commission.

1. Pick your niche

You have to know what your niche is in order to select which affiliates you want to build your website around, or include in your current one. Assuming you already have a website and you have a niche selected, this stage shouldn’t be too tough.

If however you have a feeling that there is little money in your niche, consider widening your areas of expertise and interest in order to cast your net further afield and into more lucrative waters.

Whatever topic you choose, it must have enough mileage in it for you to create numerous blog posts about it, we are talking 50-100 or more.

You must be able to create meaningful content around your chosen subject in such a way that it appeals to your target audience and it satisfies Google’s picky autobots.

If you think your niche is already a little crowded i.e. dieting or parenting, consider how you can add value, or where there is a gap in the market that you can slide into.

Consider if there is there enough desire around your niche for people not just to read the content you create, but to click through your links and purchase the products that you are affiliated with?

2. Choosing your affiliate program

This is the part where you find out if your niche has a corresponding affiliate program or not and products for you to plug. Because if there is nothing available, there is no money to be made. In which case, rethink your niche.

Don’t hurry this stage, choosing the right affiliate program is vital to you making an income.

Look at the type of merchants using the affiliate network - it will help you determine how likely you are to make a successful income from your niche. 

Three things to take into consideration:

  1. How much commission should you charge?
  2. Do you want to be associated with the advertiser’s products and services?
  3. What is their support network like? Speak to other sellers and find out, because if something goes wrong you want to know there is someone watching your back.

3. Commission

  • Choose products with commission over 50% and make sure they have a high gravity rating, meaning they are in demand.
  • If using cost per acquisition (CPA) programs, your commission should be over $1. Make sure (before you sign up) that the advertisers aren’t too restrictive in how you promote their products.
  • Where you’re promoting physical products, aim for commissions over $40 to make it worth your while.

4. Produce exceptional content

Here is where the hard work begins.

In order to get people to click the links that you have placed throughout your website, you are going to have to get significant number of eyes on your website. And with the volume of noise that you will be competing against, you must be exceptional to rise above the competition.

Content is king, and you want to be seen as the authority, the go-to guy or gal in your niche. You have to be the place where interested parties can go to read rave reviews, get detailed product information, and if they like the products you discuss, they have to trust you enough to click through to the advertiser’s website and place their order.

Be creative with your content:

  1. Write blog posts on the affiliate products addressing common problems that users have, questions or issues relating to your target audience.
  2. Produce videos detailing the products: show how you use them, how advantageous they are to you and your life. What is unusual about them, what their benefits are - essentially you are sell, sell, sell on behalf of the advertiser.
  3. Create infographics.
  4. Create social media posts, photos, images.

Most of the content you produce will depend entirely on your niche and what your audience expects and wants.

5. Build your audience

Hopefully once you have built your site, created your awesome content and addressed your target audience’s issues they should come flocking to you in droves.

Fingers crossed.

But just in case, to you give you a helping hand:

  1. Promote your content everywhere you can - social media, your blog, your email newsletter, someone else’s website.
  2. Guest post on high ranking blogs that accept guest posts.
  3. SEO your website and all the content on it to boost you up the rankings.
  4. Invest in advertising.