February 18

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

I began to learn affiliate marketing back in the year 2002, when ranking in Yahoo! was simple, and even sillier, it was much more in demand when compared to the search giant we know today – Google!  I set out on a dream to make passive income with affiliate marketing websites, and over time, I got very good at it.  In fact, I used to teach affiliate marketing to anyone who wanted to get started making passing income from a WordPress site, called AffiliateU.  I shut it down a few years ago as time just didn’t allow me to keep it updated, but I mentored over 500 students in an over 80 video course that got some very good testimonials, and more importantly – changed some lives along the way!

For those of you new to this idea, this page breaks down the concept of becoming a marketing affiliate and making money by selling other people’s items online.

—->  Check Out Internet Jetset

(My Top Rated Course to Learn Affiliate Marketing)

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing, for many, is a passive income jackpot. It is a method by which an affiliate (typically a blogger or website owner) brokers products or services (created or offered by “the affiliate”) to customers who follow their internet content. By successfully recommending services or products, the affiliate earns a commission. Approximately ninety percent of the owners of affiliate programs identify them as central to their marketing strategy and its no wonder why: affiliate marketing comprises approximately twenty percent of their yearly revenue.

If the above interests you and you want to learn affiliate marketing, the following are the essential steps that you should take in order to get started:

  • Identify a service or product that you know well and believe you can write about and promote;
  • Perform a few different Google searches for the name of the product or service and add “affiliate program” at the end (there is a discussion later on how to start affiliate marketing with Amazon);
  • You will need to enroll in the affiliate program for that product or service;
  • Once you do this, you will receive a specified link from the affiliate that will enable them to identify anyone that lands on their page as a result of clicking your link;
  • If those individuals purchase the product you will receive a commission;

Of course, there are more complex actions you can take once you get the hang of things. However, those are the five essential steps that you should take at the outset.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

Affiliate marketing has advanced rapidly since it began, but the specified link that you receive from the affiliate is the key. Anyone who clicks your specified link “belongs” to you and if they purchase the product, you will receive a commission.

Cookies are small files that are stored on the computer of the user. Cookies are utilized most often as a tracking tool. At the time an affiliate link is clicked, the users’ computer has a cookie stored on it. If the product is purchased, it is easy for the merchant to identify the source from which they were referred.

Utilizing an IP address, email address are other methods by which a merchant may track an affiliate. However, those are more advanced methods and are not of immediate concern to new affiliate marketers.

If you have a blog, you may consider entering the world of affiliate marketing. Here are the steps you may wish to undertake:

  • A website or blog must be created as the basis for your following;
  • Identify an industry that you are familiar with and develop a niche;
  • Identify reviewable products within the niche you have selected and research them;
  • Log on to Amazon and enroll in their affiliate program;
  • Search the products you wish to review and identify affiliate programs;
  • Make use of your affiliate link by reviewing posts creating tutorials and content;
  • Make sure you optimize your page.

How to Begin Making Money Using Affiliate Marketing

There are a number of avenues that will generate income making use of affiliate links. The benefit of affiliate marketing is that you do not need highly specialized knowledge to begin. In many senses, you can “learn on the go” and slowly take on more complicated projects as your understanding of the business and technology increases.

What Type of Income Can You Expect to Make in Affiliate Marketing?

This is a commonly asked question and the answer is that it depends upon the product, traffic on your website, your promotional efforts and your ability to increase and sharpen your skills. The market is volatile and will ebb and flow. The best advice is not to get too high or too low and to remain even handed in your approach.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer

In this day and age, if a certain product is available online there will be an opportunity to earn income as an affiliate marketer by way of referring potential buyers. Relevance to the topic and niche of your website should always be a primary concern. If the product you are promoting has nothing to do with the theme of your website, it is most likely that your audience will not be interested in purchasing the product. There must be a synergy between the product you are promoting and the overall thrust of your websites message.

Things to Consider When Looking at Affiliate Program Offers

Consider the following points when attempting to identify products to promote:

  • Is this a product that I make use of?
  • Is this a product my audience will make use of?
  • Is the process to purchase this product easy?
  • What is the commission rate and does it make financial sense for me?

If you find that there is a positive response to each of the above questions, it is more likely than not that the product is one you should consider promoting.

A good practice tip is to sketch out a preliminary list that you believe your audience would be receptive to. Keep in mind that the products do not only need to be mainstream items; they can be an offshoot of a main product such as tires, windshield wipers, and accessories for motor vehicles.

Type of Affiliate Products

Affiliate products can be divided into three separate categories:

  • Physical
  • Informational
  • Service-related

There are benefits and drawbacks to each and the positives and negatives will be discussed below.

Let’s start With Physical Products.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing With Amazon

Amazon makes it easy to promote physical products. Once you enroll in their affiliate program, any product on the site has an affiliate program to offer. You can also type in “affiliate marketing amazon” and navigate directly to the web page. Amazon is the largest affiliate program in the world and you can learn affiliate marketing easily just using Amazon alone. You should use Amazon as a foundation for your affiliate marketing business.

The drawback here is that the physical product commission rate is low since there are a number of steps that must be undertaken prior to a sale, such as production of the item, shipping the item, etc. The standard commission for most items is approximately 4%. Some items pay as high as a 10% commission and in some instances 1%.

If you receive a commission over 10% you should consider that on the high end.

Signing up for the Amazon partner program

This is a good way to begin your affiliate marketing business. More likely than not, you already have an Amazon account, understand the interface and platform and your followers also are members of and make use of Amazon on a regular basis. Within minutes of signing up for the Amazon affiliate program, you will receive affiliate links and can get started immediately. The kind of affiliate marketing Amazon offers is very user-friendly and is a great place to start.

Flex Offers

“Flex offers” are available if you want to locate specific companies that have affiliate programs. These are mostly reserved for the large companies and it is worth the investment of time to establish a connection with a network that is larger in scope sense it will likely lead to better and more beneficial opportunities in the future.

Flex offers is an affiliate network onto itself. It is comprised of high-end companies and has over 12,000 members. The breath of the programs they have to offer are highly diversified so you will have no problem finding a niche. You will need a website in order to enroll with Flex Offers. You will need to be selected by them following your application. You will need to explain to Flex Offers the methods you plan to employ with respect to product promotion. The sources of your traffic must be identified with specifics and in full detail. If you follow these two steps, it will greatly improve your chances of acceptance by Flex Offers.

You should take the following points into consideration if you do decide to apply to Flex Offers as an affiliate marketer.

  • Be fully transparent and do not lie or even stretch the truth;
  • Be firm in your plans and provide detailed steps as to how you plan to promote the products offered by Flex Offers;
  • Review the information you plan to provide beforehand and make sure it is thoroughly researched and properly submitted;
  • Read all the instructions provided by Flex Offers so that you understand their expectations and are able to comply with the requirements of the company.

Flex Offers offers a commission when your audience navigates to a product of your affiliate and provides their contact information. Your followers do not need to make a purchase for your commission to be earned. This is known as “cost per lead”. This is obviously a much more attractive strategy to pursue. If you are accepted to the Flex Offers platform, you will be able to search for cost per lead advertisers directly.

Another strategy to always keep in mind is to produce fresh, educational content that adds value to your follower’s experience. A lead may be sent your way from a sales funnel which you will then navigate to your affiliate. It may sound simple (and it is), so apply this method regularly and you should realize success.

A strategy employed by some affiliate marketers is to actually educate their audience about their affiliate and recommend them to their followers. This drives a number of leads to the affiliate at one time, resulting in nice-sized profits.

In essence, many successful affiliate commission payouts begin with a blog post. Remember: the longer the blog post is, the higher ranking it will receive. Choose a topic within your niche that you are comfortable with and include as much detail as much as you can, breaking down every aspect of the product or business from stem to stern. Explain the purpose and function of the product, your experience with it and whether you recommend it or not. You may utilize advertisements to navigate traffic to your site. Once they are there, those who are interested will end up on the affiliate’s page and your profits should follow soon thereafter.

Flex offers also has some features you should be aware of.

Individualized attention

Flex Offers provides an affiliate manager that is dedicated exclusively to you. This personalizes the experience since you have an individual that you can contact directly for any reason during the process.


Flex Offers offers a number ways to communicate with them from email to telephone and live online chat. In today’s day and age, you cannot place a price on this – it is invaluable.


Members report the payments are reliable, kindly and arrive via PayPal

Physical Product Promotion Tips

Amazon might not be the best long-term platform for specialized niches. One of the issues with Amazon is what is that their cookies are valid for 24 hours. In other words, when a purchaser clicks on the link on your page and makes a purchase within 24 hours, the commission is paid to you. However, this is a very brief period of time compared to affiliate programs, which offer in excess of 90 days for the customer to make a purchase.

You will notice that commissions will decrease as the duration of cookie life increases.

Shopping around is also a great idea. Make use of Google to search for affiliate programs related to the product you believe will appeal to your audience and niche. There are certainly other options out there other than Amazon and the better educated you become in this regard the more options will be available to you.

Info Product Affiliate Marketing

This is informational in nature where the author of a website or a blogger provides education and instructions to the audience. You should consider promoting information products for the following reasons:

  • The prices are higher which means the pay is better;
  • They are not simply products but there is an individual doing the actual promotion so it is more relatable to the audience. Do not underestimate this “humanistic” element;
  • There is typically a back end marketing team assisting in sales;
  • Readers who are seeking solutions to problems will find this information useful and will come back for similar self-help instructions in the future.

One of the downsides here is that the creators (sometimes referred to as authors) are more selective with who they choose as affiliate marketers. Also, more work is involved in that you will need to seek out the creators directly – there is no one specific location you can go to find information product authors.

Selecting the proper information product for promotion

Information products yield far more profit than physical products – the commissions ranges between 30 and 50%. This is because the production cost is so much less than physical products.

Something to keep in mind with respect to promoting information products is to be on the lookout for products that are higher in price and created by good marketers since their conversion rate is higher. This means your investment of time and effort will be lower.

Overall, if you have made use of an information product yourself and it worked out for you, inquire as to whether or not there is an affiliate program. A personal recommendation is always best since it is authentic, genuine and you will be able to put more emphasis behind your referral.

A tip here is that if you do a “give away” to your followers, that will require that they input their contact information. That information can then be used to market directly to them. Informational products can increase awareness in the product you have decided to market.

Service Product Affiliate Marketing

This is where you will promote a service. Service referrals offer commissions on a recurring basis and range from anywhere between 15% and 30%. Some examples of service products are optimizers for websites, domain hosts, email software, etc.  A great place to learn this is in the Wealthy affiliate program.

Affiliate Marketing Versus Blog Monetization

Banner ads and advertising do not return the income most website owners are seeking. Divide the number of daily visitors to your site y 10 in order to calculate the income you will receive every month on advertisement. The overall concept here is that if you are able to drive that much traffic to your site, affiliate marketing is a better way to go – the commissions you earn will far outweigh the benefit of banner ads and advertisements. This also increases the identity of your brand and strengthens your reputation

Beginners should focus on basic affiliate products

When you are beginning affiliate marketing, focus on basic items that are interesting to you since you have knowledge about the products and it will not be difficult for you to post about them.

Writing about and marketing products that you are familiar with will give your blog or website a natural feel,

and that leads right into the next section.

Audience building

In order to be successful at affiliate marketing, you must focus on building a following (or an audience).

The key here is to provide quality content that adds value to the audience experience. How do you go about audience-building? Here are some pointers that even the most accomplished affiliate marketers employ:

Social Media

By and large, using well-known and established platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter and YouTube, a large following can be built rather quickly. These platforms will develop a following that you

can interact with regularly. This will help you gain credibility and that is one of the most important

Commodities in affiliate marketing.

Post on blogs that have high volumes of traffic

At the outset of your affiliate marketing career, make use of an already-established audience.

Writing an article or blog post on a site that has heavy traffic on a regular basis is the best way to

gain exposure to a huge audience at no cost. The benefits are two-fold: you will gain notoriety in front

of a new audience and traffic will begin to flow to your site. It’s a win-win for both you and the site

on which you are contributing.

Promoting Affiliate Offers

Understanding the core, basic concepts is the first step toward successful affiliate marketing. However, unless and until you know how to promote a product you will not realize the success that you are seeking. Following are the most proven yet simplest paths to take to successfully offer product promotion.

Using a Resource Page

This is a basic step that will enable you to make some initial sales. Resource page creation is where the host website will create a webpage that describes the inner mechanics and workings of their business. It will list and explain the services provided, the products that are sold and the tools that are used to make the business operate on a day to day basis.

Using product reviews for affiliate marketing

Your audience will need to have established a certain level of trust in you to make product reviews profitable a profitable undertaking. Transparency goes a long way here – your reviews should be authentic and should identify both positives and negatives about products. Followers want to know that you are giving a straightforward, evenhanded review and that you are not only highlighting the good points.

Tips on Writing Product Reviews

The headline containing the keyword to draw the reader’s attention;

  • Place links strategically at the top of the page and at the bottom so that readers can easily navigate to purchase the product;
  • A recommendation that is clear and concise;
  • A passage about the actual usefulness of the product and why you are recommending it.

Using tutorials with affiliate marketing

Tutorials will require an investment of time to create, but in the long run they are a proven strategy for successful affiliate marketing. By creating a guide that takes the reader through each individual step of a particular process, you engage the reader through a simple post that’s creating a level of reliability, familiarity and trust which will lead to other affiliate marketing opportunities.

Most of these tutorials are in the format of “how to” and readers find them very valuable and rely upon them as a quick reference source. If successful, this will establish your site or blog as a resource to these readers.

Using Comparison Posts

Employ this strategy when consumers are debating between two specific products. For example, Coke versus Pepsi or McDonald’s versus Burger King – things along those lines. Video game consoles and cell phones are also another great example where comparison posts bolster affiliate marketing.

The key here is not necessarily to make a specific choice, but to provide the most accurate information possible. Try to lean toward items where you have personal experience having used the particular product so that you can give an authentic review.

Another variation here is where there are several options available in the marketplace and people do not have a starting point. This helps you introduce yourself to an entirely new sector of potential followers and, if your information is well-researched and accurate, you will gain a reputation for comparison posts going forward.

Helping consumers make proper choices by way of do’s and don’ts and by comparing the best and worst points in products will ultimately go a long way in optimizing your affiliate marketing success.

Email Marketing

Using an established list of reliable emails is a method employed by more advanced affiliate marketers. Your list must be substantial in length and, when it grows to over 1,000 in number, you should consider sending successive sets of emails as a promotional device for a particular product. Try to identify a product that pays a high commission when employing this method.

A rule of thumb for this method to be successful is:

Your email list should contain a minimum of 1000 people.

  • The product you select should be on that you are personally familiar with and have a specific reason to promote; and
  • The product should be easy to describe to a large audience and be relatively easy to understand.

Limit the series to about three emails but you should make sure that you have experience using email as a marketing device and have already begun working in an affiliate marketing capacity using the strategies employed above first.

Common Mistakes Made by Affiliate Marketers

Choosing the Wrong Niche

Marketing requires enthusiasm and passion that cannot be falsely manufactured. If you choose a niche that you do not have a genuine interest in, it will show in your interactions and content. Another issue is choosing a niche with little potential to produce stimulating and value-adding content. There must be depth to the niche since users need to search for the topic that relates to your niche. If the niche has no depth, there will be no searches and no followers.

Conduct research to make sure the niche you wish to choose is not already saturated. Competing with marketers who are already established is a difficult way to start out and you may want to begin with a less-crowded field.

Conversely, choosing the right niche makes all the difference in the world and you should afford the appropriate amount of time to selecting your niche before making a final decision. Choose a niche that inspires you to write hundreds of blog posts and your content will remain fresh and unique. This is how you will set yourself apart from your competitors and rise to the top of the affiliate marketing field.

Selecting the wrong product

The audience you are targeting should be the determining factor when you are deciding on the product to select. Problem solving and value are the recurring themes to keep in mind when selecting a product. Remember: you don’t get paid for time, you get paid for value.

Lacking confidence in your recommendations

It is very important that you have personal experience with the products you are recommending. This is an irreplaceable factor because this type of hands–on experience cannot be duplicated. Your recommendation will therefore be authentic and lead your followers in the right direction. Because your advice will be better overall, your followers will tend to remain with you, improving your profits and reputation.

Not using available resources

This applies in almost any business. The landscape of affiliate marketing is rapidly changing and evolving. There are a number of individuals, businesses and platforms that are available to affiliate marketers who are willing (and have as their mission) to assist fellow affiliate marketers. You should always pursue knowledge and should dedicate a portion of your day to that end. Continue to develop your understanding of your niche, find out about different aspects of affiliate marketing and always add to your skill set on a regular basis.

Stubborn rigidity

Keeping your approach fresh is vital in today’s market. Refusing to try new things and new approaches can lead to stale content. This will enable your competitors to carve out a following within your niche market. Always approach things from different angles and make use of original thoughts and ideas. The best course of action here is the write down all of your good ideas when they come to you so that you can refer to them later. You may sometimes lose a good idea in the chaos of the workday. That good idea you had early in the day may be gone forever and might be the difference between profits and losses.

Failure to make use of search engine optimization

This point speaks for itself. Constantly keeping abreast of SEO and making use of it in your daily practice is imperative to remain on the cutting edge of affiliate marketing. Always be on the lookout for products that are heavily searched and offer the best commission payouts. SEO plays a big role in the passive income of the most successful affiliate marketers. It all starts with keyword research. Become familiar with “long tail keywords” – they generate less traffic but their conversion rate is higher. This is because they are more specific. Optimizing your website should be one of your first priorities as an affiliate marketer since traffic that is organic should be one of your main resources. Educate yourself on SEO and, if you do not have the time, consider hiring an expert on the subject, or at least consulting with one. The goal is to become highly visible when search results are displayed in your niche. This will result in an increase in your audience size and, naturally, your sales and profits.

Paid advertisements

The most affordable paid advertisements can be found on social media. Banner ads are also useful and can be found on niche-type sites. If you are considering paying for advertisements, research GoogleAdWords as a potential resource.

Limiting yourself to one product

Your niche will plot the course for the products you will market. However, some people make the mistake of identifying only one product to the exclusion of all others. This is a mistake that you should not make. Diversify the product that you market so that you can open up multiple sources of income.

Failure to diversify traffic sources

It is the quality of traffic to your site that is important. As the quality of your traffic increases, you will notice that you will convert more sales. No matter how big or small your following becomes, it is imperative that you continue to solicit and market to different audiences. You never know where your next big following will come from. Therefore, even if you have already developed a large following, you must continue to push the issue and look for different sectors to spread brand awareness to on a regular basis.

Not engaging in email marketing

As an affiliate marketer, the first step you should take is to put together a list of all relevant email addresses as potential target markets. As your site grows, your email list should grow with it. Email is a way to establish long-lasting and authentic relationships with your followers. Not making use of this mechanism is a mistake that can cost you thousands of dollars in profits. Providing your followers with the opportunity to subscribe to your emails should be part of your daily practice. You can then stream your content to this audience regularly and encourage them to check out the affiliate offers you are promoting.

Final affiliate marketing points

Making your links more visually appealing is one of the keys to the kingdom. There are several websites out there which accomplish this task such as “Pretty Link”. Consider this cosmetic upgrade since people might be put-off by lengthy affiliate marketing links.

An affiliate manager is a good resource with whom to establish a regular rapport. They are employed to generate sales and will be more than happy to work with you as an affiliate marketer. However, they are looking for ambitious self-starters who have the potential to produce and earn income. They have the experience to lead you in the right direction so that you avoid pitfalls and methods that have been proven not to produce results.

Approach to affiliate marketing

In the end, realizing success in affiliate marketing requires the same fundamentals that any successful business has as its hallmarks: transparency, consistency and adding value to the marketplace. Successful affiliate marketers dedicate their time to understanding and developing their niche from unique perspectives, keeping their content fresh, vibrant and evergreen. Keeping up in this highly-competitive – yet highly profitable – market requires attention to detail, honesty, straight-shooting and a desire for knowledge. While it may not be for everyone, for those who have the passion for their chosen niche and the desire to post content that is consistently original and thought-provoking, affiliate marketing may be a path to choose as the next natural step in a progression toward the passive income goal that eludes so many.



About the author 

Tim Schmidt

Founder, Ice Cold Marketing, SkinPro, South Beach Herbals, & More

Since 2002 Tim has made his living online, from many exotic locations. Skilled in E-com, Amazon FBA, SEO, & Affiliate Marketing, Tim is also a best selling author.

MarketingCourses.com is for digital nomads, industry leaders and online business owners.

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