Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to start earning money online as a beginner. If done right, it can make you a ton of money. But how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner? What expertise should you have before starting affiliate marketing? Do you need a website for affiliate marketing? How much can you earn?
These are some of the many affiliate marketing questions beginners have. And in this article, we will try to answer most of these questions. We will show you how exactly to start affiliate marketing from scratch, step by step. We will even show you a live example by building a simple but powerful affiliate marketing campaign from scratch. Let’s get started.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a business model where you can make money online promoting other people’s products and services. Here, you don’t need to own the product or service you are promoting. You don’t even need to handle customer support, product packaging, returns etc.
Everything is taken care of by the product vendor. You simply need to send the customer to the product page from a link that is unique to you. Such a link is called ‘affiliate link’.
Whenever a person referred by you makes a purchase, you earn affiliate commissions. Now, the amount of commissions you earn varies from vendor to vendor.
What happens if the visitor you referred doesn’t buy the product the very first time but returns later after a few days and buys the product? You still earn the affiliate commission, provided the purchase has been made well within the cookie period.
Now, what is an affiliate cookie?
What’s an Affiliate Cookie?
A ‘cookie’ is a small piece of data that is saved on the visitor’s computer browser when the person visits a particular website. If a person has arrived at a particular website using your affiliate link, a cookie attributed to you will be saved on that person’s web browser.
If the ‘cookie period’ has been set to 30 days by the affiliate vendor, and if the website visitor returns to the product page and makes the purchase within 30 days, you earn an affiliate commission.
For example, the affiliate cookie duration for Amazon affiliate program is 24 hours. That means the person you referred to the Amazon website should make a purchase within 24 hours for you to earn affiliate commissions.
Some other affiliate programs offer a year-long cookie period. There are even lifetime cookies. The affiliate cookie period varies from vendor to vendor.
Now that was a quick introduction to affiliate marketing for you. Let’s now see what type of affiliate products should you promote as a beginner.
What Affiliate Marketing Products to Promote?
You can promote anything and everything under the sun as long as it has an affiliate program. Affiliate programs available online can be mainly classified into physical products affiliate programs and digital products affiliate programs.
Physical Product Vs Digital Product Affiliate Programs
As the name suggests, physical product affiliate programs are those where you can earn money promoting products that are tangible. Tangible products are those which can be held in hand or felt. These products have form and shape. Products like merchandise, apparel, and other physical goods belong to this category.
Digital product affiliate programs are those where you can earn money promoting and selling intangible products. Intangible products are the products which don’t have a physical form. Software downloads, online courses, webinars, eBooks etc. belong to this category.
Physical Products Affiliate Program
The main advantage of promoting physical products as an affiliate is its higher conversion rate. People like to hold and feel the products they purchase. And that’s why more people find it easy to make the buying decision when it comes to physical products than digital ones.
And that’s also why the percentage of conversion is higher in the case of physical products when compared to digital products. Another advantage of promoting physical products as an affiliate is their low refund rates.
But the biggest disadvantage of joining physical product affiliate programs is their low commission rates. Yes, the commission rates can be considered abysmal when it comes to physical products.
One of the biggest affiliate programs in the world, Amazon, pays only a paltry affiliate commission of 1% for products in some categories. It means you will earn only a dollar as an affiliate commission when a customer you referred purchases goods worth $100.
Digital Products Affiliate Program
As mentioned earlier, the conversions can be lower in the case of digital product affiliate programs. Also, the refund rates are higher for digital purchases.
But the higher affiliate commission rates offered for digital products very well cover the loss in profits caused due to higher refunds and the lower conversion rates.
Yes. The commissions in case of digital products can be as high as 75%-80%. We have even come across digital products that offer 100% affiliate commissions on the front end.
Which Is Better?
We promote both physical and digital products as affiliates. But the one that brings in 90% of our affiliate commissions is the digital products affiliate program. If you want to make money selling physical products, you are going to need a large number of visitors to your offer to make a significant income.
But with digital products, that isn’t the case. If the digital product you promote costs $100 and you are being offered a 75% affiliate commission, you can earn $75 a day even if you make a single affiliate sale every day. And that’s why we prefer promoting digital products over physical products.
Having said that, many of our friends are earning six figures affiliate commissions online promoting obscure physical products. So the only way to find out what works for you is by really trying it out.
What Expertise Should You Have to Start Affiliate Marketing?
You don’t need to have any specialised skill or expertise to get into the affiliate marketing business. All you need to know is how to operate a computer. We are not talking about coding and programming. You just need to have basic operating skills.
We have come across many really successful affiliate marketers some of who had had only a basic education. So your level of education or a college degree you hold is irrelevant when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Now let’s see how to get started with your affiliate marketing business.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing?
The very first step that needs to be accomplished by you when starting an affiliate marketing business, is choosing a niche. A niche can be described as a small section of big industry or market.
If internet marketing is a big industry you can refer to ‘affiliate marketing’ as a niche. Similarly, if weight loss is considered a big market, ‘weight loss for women’ can be considered a niche. We are sure you got what we are trying to say here.
Now, we have talked a lot about niche selection and research at many places on this blog. So we will not go into those details here. If you want to know more about the same, please read our how to choose a niche article.
Please remember that you need to choose a niche in which you have passion and knowledge. Even if you don’t have the necessary knowledge, you should have the will and drive to learn more about the topic. Without those things, failure is inevitable.
Here are some examples of affiliate marketing niches to get you started.
- Photography tips
- Travel hacks
- Home security
- Baby monitors
- Dog training
- Weight loss equipment
- Weight loss for teens
- Email marketing
- Work at home moms
- Small business ideas
- Economical travel
- Luxury travel
- Herbal tea
- Online dating tips for men
- Online dating tips for women
- Pregnancy guide
- Online coupons website
- Debt repayment
- Dental Health
- Dietary Supplements
- Men’s Health
- Mental Health
- Sleep and Dreams
- Spiritual Health
- Strength Training
Signing Up for Affiliate Programs
Once you have chosen the affiliate marketing niche and decided what type of affiliate product to promote, it is time to search for affiliate programs in your niche.
If you have decided to promote physical products, Amazon associates program can be a great place for you to start. But please remember that Amazon has recently slashed it’s affiliate commission rates. ShareASale is another affiliate platform that has both physical and digital products catalogue.
Whatever niche you choose to promote, if you are promoting digital products, the best place to start as an affiliate is ClickBank. ClickBank has thousands of digital products from a variety of niches.
Be it dog training, internet marketing, dating, green energy, or any other mainstream niche, they have got a digital product for most niches you can think of. They have recently started adding physical products to their affiliate categories. So you can also choose from a handful of physical products available on ClickBank to promote if you want to go that route.
We have written a detailed article about the ClickBank affiliate program. If you want to learn how to make money promoting ClickBank products, please read our ClickBank affiliate marketing guide.
Now let’s see some of the popular affiliate programs which you can join for free and start promoting.
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partner Network
- Different web hosting affiliate programs
- GetResponse affiliate program
- Rakuten advertising
Once you sign up for the affiliate program, choose the product you want to promote and get your affiliate link. Now it is this affiliate link you need to promote at different places online. Whenever a person clicks your link, visits the product page and purchases the product, you get a commission.
We are going to show you how to build a simple affiliate campaign and promote your offer, in the end. Before that let’s have a look at the different ways available for us to promote affiliate products online.
Promoting Your Affiliate Link
There are many ways to promote your affiliate links. Some of them are effective while many of them are not. Frankly speaking, most beginner affiliates fail to make money online even after trying for months. That’s because they don’t approach affiliate marketing the right way.
What most beginner affiliate marketers fail to understand is that simply placing your affiliate links all over the internet isn’t enough to make money with affiliate marketing.
To make a person click through your affiliate link and buy a product, you need to add value to your proposition. You need to tell the person why he or she should click through your link and why is it important for them to do so. Simply bombarding your prospects with affiliate links isn’t going to do the trick.
But how do we add value?
By giving a ton of free content before presenting your offer. And this can be done through the medium of blogging, social media, YouTube, Webinars etc.
Blogging is arguably the easiest and the best way to build an audience and promote your affiliate offers. This is our favourite way of doing affiliate promotions. People who visit your blog through search engines are highly targeted. They are sincerely looking for specific information and are already in the buying mindset.
With a blog, you can start creating unique content about certain specific topics and start attracting readers. Don’t forget to promote relevant products and add your affiliate links in these articles, which add value to your readers and money into your wallet.
For example, you can start a diet blog, create some content about ‘how to lose weight’ and promote a product that helps to lose weight fast. Or you can write an article about ‘keto diet’ and promote related products.
You got the point, right?
Once you build your blog and have enough content, the traffic starts to flow in. More the traffic better the conversions. After a certain point, it kind of becomes passive.
Many people don’t have the time, patience or interest to write content for their blog or website. For such people, the best way to promote affiliate products is through the medium of videos. If you don’t like writing, start creating simple informational videos and post them on video sharing platforms like YouTube.
Create videos for your niche topics and start promoting related affiliate products. All you need to do is put your affiliate link in the description area of your YouTube video. This is a faster way to get results with affiliate marketing than any other promotional method.
Write an E-book
You can write an eBook about a specific topic in a PDF or EPUB or any other format and include your affiliate links in that book. But please remember that Amazon doesn’t allow the promotion of its affiliate links in an eBook or a PDF. You can always promote other affiliate programs with this method, but not Amazon.
Many people are still following the method of blog commenting to promote affiliate products. This, however, isn’t much effective anymore.
This used to be one of the most popular ways of earning affiliate commissions online, especially without a website. But that was more than 7-10 years back.
This is not to say that the method is completely useless. You can still make some commissions here and there. But blog commenting isn’t a sustainable way of earning affiliate commissions on an ongoing basis.
How it’s done?
All you need to do is, search for blogs/websites that are relevant to the product you are promoting. Check whether the commenting feature is enabled or not.
If yes, just go through the article and write a comment that adds value. Don’t forget to add your affiliate link where it says the ‘website’. That’s it.
If your comment is good and doesn’t appear spammy, the website moderator will approve your comment. Once your comment is live people coming to that page may read your comment and click your website link to learn more about you.
This process involves joining different forums that are relevant to your niche. Once inside you need to start answering questions and actively participate in discussions. You can use your affiliate links in your forum signature. Please remember that if you start spamming, sooner or later you will be removed from the forum.
How Much Can You Earn as an Affiliate Marketer?
There are no guarantees for anything in this world. And it is the same here. We can’t guarantee how much you are going to earn online if you start affiliate marketing today.
But what we can assure you is that if you stick long enough and if you are committed and ready to work hard, affiliate marketing has the potential to change your life.
Top affiliate marketers like Pat Flynn from SPI are earning six figures in affiliate commissions each month. Here’s a screenshot from one of his income reports.
That’s a real inspiration. Isn’t it?
There is no reason why you too should not be able to replicate similar success in affiliate marketing? It is time to build your first affiliate campaign and start bringing in some commissions. And we are going to show you how to build your first affiliate campaign.
But because this blog post has already been a long read, we are going to show you how to promote your affiliate links, by building an example campaign, in the next post.
Here’s to your success.