The Comprehensive Guide: How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
A guide to affiliate marketing for beginners. Whether you are an affiliate for ClickBanks OR JV Zoo, partner with the Amazon affiliate program, CJAffiliates (Commission Junction), or any of the other best affiliate programs – including high ticket affiliate marketing, this valuable online guide (plus FREE Beginner Affiliate Marketer’s Planning Journal) provides what you need for successful and ethical affiliate marketing step-by-step.
This printable planning journal will help:
- Define your niche and preferred audience – and guidance with product/brand selection.
- Organize the many affiliate groups and brands that you reach out to, and keep your links and log-in info in one spot.
- Plan out marketing strategy for profitability.
- Step by step guide on where to go to set up a domain, website, landing page & email service to build a subscriber list and sales funnel.
- Provide guidance on monitoring and tracking metrics & the forms to help, including sales and profits.
- In short, it is an excellent resource to get you started!
- Or, if you are already an affiliate marketer, it may help you be organized and assist with creating a new marketing strategy for increased profits.
Grab it now, and then read through the comprehensive online guide below!
Introduction: You have likely heard of the term, affiliate marketing, especially if you have an interest in an online business. You may even have seen it in action – while some do it right, there are a lot of affiliate marketers who are just plain sleezy! You can see they are soley focused on making money. You know the type?
My goal is to infuse value-based affiliate marketing beginners with the skills and knowledge they need to profitably market with integrity. Affiliate marketing is a lucrative opportunity, but many affiliate marketing websites, and YouTube platforms make us question the truth of what is said – are they being sincere, or are they saying that just to make a buck?
If you are looking for a guide as a beginner affiliate marketer, you are in the right place! Better yet, if you want to learn how to market so that you are helping others by providing a helpful needed service to them – that is what this guide delivers. If you are looking for a get-rich-quick-scheme that takes advantage of others by misleading them, well you may as well close this page now. That is not what you will get here.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to get started with affiliate marketing, such as:
What is affiliate marketing?
Simply said, Affiliate Marketing is serving others by sharing your own experiences and knowledge of a brand, product, or service so that consumers can make a timely and informed choice when purchasing a product – and then you earn a commission for your efforts in helping to market and make a sale for them.
Affiliate marketing is an opportunity to be of service to others! It allows you to help others to find the product or service that meets their needs or wants. It saves them research time!
The majority of consumers do not trust the marketing messages that come directly from a brand. Instead, most rely on other people like you and I, and prefer to hear our story and experiences.
An affiliate helps brands to market their product or services, and in return they pay a commission for marketing and then converting interested people into buyers.
Why is affiliate marketing important?
Affiliate Marketing offers a valuable service to consumers and to business owners. When done ethically/correctly, it has the opportunity to increase the Know, Like and Trust factor. When this type of relationship exists, confidence soars, and sales follow.
Consumers find the products and services they want and need, and feel confident in their purchase.
Affiliate marketing is an economy booster - affiliates help businesses to thrive, while giving consumers needed information to confidently exchange their money.
Affiliate marketing is a win:win! It allows even solopreneurs and small businesses to extend their marketing reach in an affordable and sustainable manner, while also helping the affiliate to make money.
How to make money with affiliate marketing?
This section outlines my perspective of three types of affiliate marketers, and how each of them makes money with affiliate marketing.
- The affiliate marketer chooses a few brands or an affiliate marketing program to work with that they have heard about from others.
- They put affiliate links on their website by creating a Resources page, and/or on social media, etc., and rely on organic (free) traffic to access their links.
- Content is added occassionally, (blog posts, YouTube videos, social media posts, etc.) that includes a link to a product or service they recommend, and/or related to the content they create.
- They believe in the products and services and want to help others enjoy the same benefits, while also supporting the business owner(s).
- Many beginner affiliates start out here as they explore and learn more about affiliate marketing and other online business options.
Below I provide a couple examples of how I passively do this on my website Resources page. Note, these are affiliate links, which means if you click them and purchase something, I will receive a commission – at no added cost to you. This is, in fact, the basis of affiliate marketing – compensating the affiliate marketer for their referral or bringing traffic to the brand.
ShareASale This is an affiliate marketing group. Affiliates use ShareASale to find products to promote, and earn commission for referrals on those products.
She Bold Stock Photos, Videos and Graphic Design DFY An example of a solopreneur that I love to support with a passive link on my website. She specializes in stock photos and videos, and DFY marketing content that incorporates images of BIPOC individuals.
Cricut This is an example of a company with products that I love and enjoy passively supporting with a link on my website.
Consistent Affiliate Marketer:
- Markets products and services they stand behind, know and love with a consistent plan (whatever frequency fits their life and interest), but they adhere to a reliable schedule for posting their content and interacting with others.
- Spend 80% of their time marketing, focusing on the platform(s) where their target market/ideal customer is hanging out. This consistentcy builds recogntion and develops a ‘know, like, and trust’ relationship.
- Enjoys seeing friends, family, and acquaintences happy with their purchase following their recommendation, while also earning consistent supplemental income.
- They do everything the occasional marketer does, but do so with consistency and increased frequency – they have a content marketing plan and they follow through.
- This marketing approach is often performed in tandem with outside employment, or other online business efforts that complement a diverse income approach.
Strategic Affiliate Marketer:
- This affiliate strategically plans the products they will promote based on niche, product cost, and commission rate to ensure the highest revenue potential.
- Strategic marketers source solid, reputable brands with quality products and services that include affiliate marketing assets (graphics, copy, banners and other promotional materials) that offer ease, speed, and professionalism to their marketing efforts.
- The savvy affiliate values research! They become familiar with keywords; they know their volume and competition. This marketer explores the brands and the affiliate marketing programs to assess payout frequency, payout limits, other terms and conditions, etc.
- After strategically choosing their preferred methods for marketing, they focus; consistently and frequently they show up on those platforms, and/or implement those methods.
- They only promote products that they have used, experienced, know, like and trust after trialing or purchasing. ie, They are 100% behind the product or service and market with genuine sincerity and honesty.
- Like the occasional and consistent affiliate types, they market from a position of service – they take pride in marketing with integrity, providing honest reviews, recommendatons, and other feedback helpful to consumers.
- The strategic marketer builds a profitable and sustainable business that is designed with their life values, priorities and time at the core, with equal commitment to those who trust them – which garners an audience that trusts and thereby elicits repeat sales.
- Strategic marketers build an email subscriber list, use sales funnels, upsells, downsells and other current marketing strategies to compound their sales by providing the customer options that fit their wants, needs and their unique budgets.
- This marketer invests in researching and learning innovative and winning marketing technqiues, while remaining abreast of current technology – apps and software – for maximum automation and profit.
- Marketing with strategy requires data. This affiliate marketer allocates time to track and analyze where their traffic is coming from, reviews commissions earned, remains abreast of brand changes in commission structure and when they are offering promotions, considers seasonal influences, and ultimately knows their numbers. They know what the typical converson rate is and how much traffic they need to earn the projected earnings that they are targeting each month.
Tips/best practices for affiliate marketing success:
Best practices are key in any industry – including affiliate marketing! Best practices, in my experience, are typically grounded in ethics and simply doing what is right, because it is ‘the right thing to do.’ This section focuses on integrity in marketing, as well as the legal aspects.
Market from the heart, with a desire to serve, support and help others.
- Selling is service when it is done correctly.
- We do not need to rely on sleezy sales tactics, or to hound our friends and family!
- If we are marketing the right products and services that we believe in, and not because they offer the highest rate of commission, our heart and conviction will be obvious.
- If our goal is to help others by letting them know about the products and services that have helped us and/or made an impact on our lives, then we are sharing life-changing stories – and it won’t feel like selling.
- Using effective marketing technques that are grounded in sincerity and honesty are likely to result in them thanking us for making them aware of the helpful/useful product or brand. This is service, not selling!
Know the product, service, or coach well! Be available to answer questions and offer support.
Story-based marketing draws people into our experience and is relational. When we communicate the values of the brand, describe who the person is and what they stand for, or the basis of their mission, we are peeling away layers and making them more approachable and more relatable. When we communicate in stories about how the product helped us or our loved ones, or what benefits we gained, this increases trust in us, and in the brand, person or product. Marketing with authenticity involves some level of vulnerability and transparancy.
Further, to market with integrity requires that we are available; this means that we answer questions that we are able, and provide support, care and concern when it is needed. I have witnessed many marketer’s state that what they love most about being an affiliate for other people’s products and services is that they do not have to deal with any customer service. They merely draw the traffic to them, and they are done. I beg to differ. To me, an ethical affiliate marketer stands behind what they promote, and they do what they can to suppor the individuals that purchased from their affiliate relationship.
- Example: If you recommend a software or app, perhaps offer a tutorial on how to get started with ease, or answer common and frequently asked quesitons. Strive to minimize confusion, stress, and help them get started with ease.
- This extra effort shows you care and want to help – are not only focused on making money from their purchase; the value you place on their trust in you will shine through! This is critical if you are truly attempting to build a profitable and sustainable business to be proud of in the years to come.
Educate yourself to remain legal and compliant.
- Remain aware of the laws/regulatory standards that govern affiliate marketing. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has standards that you must know and adhere to.
- Follow legal and brand requirements with visible disclosures on your website, in your social media posts, etc. about your relationship as an affiliate marketer as specified by the FTC. Some brands have very specific requirements about disclosures. An example of this is the Amazon Associates Program. You can read specifics about this in the footer of their website.
- Avoid making outlandish claims! Do not post claims or numbers that you can’t back up with proof. Make it a practice to include disclaimers.
- Research your local laws. Example: Some states require sales tax collection even i f you have no physical nexus in their state – and some include affiliates in their laws. This has resulted in some online retailers (like Amazon) no longer offering affiliate partnerships in these states. The laws, especially those governing online business, are ever-changing.
Affiliate Marketing Tools
This section provides direct links to resources that support an affiliate marketer’s success. Some of these include affiliate links, from which I will earn a commission if you purchase a paid service or product, while some that are listed are free to use. (You do not pay anything more by usng my link, and in some instances, using my link may provide additional perks for you.) A win:win!
Wordstream - Free Keyword Tool
Research is essential for success! Wordstream’s keyword tool is a valuable resource to assess the volume and competition of targeted keywords. This provides an advantage to know what words consumers are entering into search browsers. This insight leads you to creating long-tail keywords and high-intent keywords that are likely to offer improved traffic.
This tool comes as both a free and a paid version and is useful for keyword research;it is available as a convenient Chrome Extension. It provides data on competitors. Metrics like monthly keyword search volume, CPC, and what they are ranking for. The metrics on competition & 12 month trend data on 10+ websites, plus traffic, link metrics and back link data is valuable information to market with success.
Research What is Trending
Depending up on the niche you choose, taking some time to research current trends may be worth your time. This research may also help you to determine a niche, if you have not selected one. One fast, easy and free way to do this is to use Google Trends. This can be especially useful to analyze seasonal trends.
Facebook Audience Insights
Facebook Audience Insights gives you aggregate insight about the people connected to your Page and other people on Facebook. This information enables you to create content that resonates and easily find more people like the ones in your current audience. When you get to the point of running paid advertising (if this is something that you choose to do), this data will support more targeted advertising, which is likely to increase conversion rates.
Targeted Domain - Hosting Options
Having a domain name that is targeted to your niche is recommended. There are many tips about choosing the correct name for your domain (which is essentially the equivalent of your home address – on the internet) but we will keep it simple.
The top 3 simple tips that I offer include:
1. Be sure that the name you choose is short and memorable, and does not involve unique or complicated spelling or it will be likely to confuse your visitors. Some choose to use their personal name, which offers opportunity to brand yourself, and/or to get started if you are not yet sure which niche you plan to target.
2. Further, be sure to choose a .com extension, as that is the most universally known. There are many options for purchasing a domain – I have experience with NameCheap, and have found them to be easy to use, offer great pricing, and have a wonderful reputation. They include easy to follow instructions as well – bonus!
3. Domain names are typically inexpensive at approximately $10 to $14 per year. Of course, some premium domains are priced significantly higher, but you can typically find a domain name that will align with your business at an inexpensive price.
There are numerous avenues you can choose for your methods of marketing, depending on where you are at in your business journey, and/or your preferences. Some affiliate marketers do not have a website, and simply use landing pages available through third-party sources. An example of this is through a free Mailerlite Landing Page. Mailerlite offers a free plan that allows you to have 2000 subscribers, and you can then use their landing page and email auto-responder service in tandem.
Another free option that minimizes the need for tech skills and knowledge, is the use of an all-in-one platform. Click Funnels is likely the most commonly known example of an all-in-one platform. However, a free alternative that offers robust features that not only parralels but exceeds some of the industry giants is a platform called System.io. The free account provides a website with a blog, email auto-responder, sales page, one-click upsell, and a shopping cart that integrates with Stripe and PayPal. They even include course and membership and the ability to create an affiliate program for your offer. I only recently signed on as a user and am impressed thus far with their features and support!
Many affiliate marketers will choose to have a self-hosted website(s). Using their own website, they are able to create blog posts, landing pages, sales pages, etc. to market their affiliate products and are not reliant on a third-party platform. If you decide to go that route, I have some services that I use listed below for you to consider.
1. Website Hosting
There are many advantages to having your own website, and that is what I chose to do in 2014 when I started my online business journey. If you decide to have your own website, after purchasing your domain, you will need a service to host the site. You want to choose a reliable host with high uptime, supportive and fast customer service, and cutting edge technoligy to obtain the highest speed as well as security.
A few years back, I moved to Siteground, as they met the criteria listed above. They have been a wonderful choice for me, and others whom I have referred have also expressed being pleased. Some specific beneifts of working with them are listed below:
They provide outstanding customer service. The hosting plans offer a substantial reduced rate for the first 3 years; loyalty pays off!
- 18 years Ultrafast WordPress Hosting
- Powerful hosting platform recommended by WordPress.org
- Trusted by the owners of over 2,800,000 domains.
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Free Email, SSL, CDN and Backups
- From $3.99 /mo. * They offer periodic promotions – please verify current pricing on their website; their website pricing will be accurate to present date.
2. Website Branding, Design and Development
Caution! This is an area that I want you to learn from my mistakes (and many other start-up entrepreneurs). You do NOT need to spend thousands of dollars to a website brander, designer or developer.
So many entrepreneurs spend hours upon hours – then weeks and month – and even years – getting lost in designing a logo, choosing brand colors, and creating website assets. Or, they hire professionals to do this for them, and lose thousands of dollars in the process.
Please, learn from me! You can avoid ALL of that with the recommendations listed below:
a. Design your own logo using Canva. I designed the logo that I am currently using on my website. Prior to this, from 2014 through 2021, I had many other logo versions drafted that I paid others to make. Trust me, design your own, or have a loved one help you! As you are just starting out, your business may (is likely!) to change direction, and your logo may quickly become obsolete.
b. There are many talented professionals who can create and design a website for you. However, as a new online business owner, knowing how to self-manage your website, especially at the beginning is beneficial. Updates to the theme and plug ins need to be made promptly and ongoingly. Edits to your page content also needs to be made to keep your page current. Further, blogging on your website, and/or adding links to your videos on YouTube can increase your traffic, which helps with sales.
I did pay out thousands of hard-earned dollars for a website when I first started online – but then I had absolutely no clue how to update or manage it. It was incredibly ovewhelming! I lost SO much time, completely stalled, and was equally embarrassed and frustrated that I did not know how to proceed. Without a doubt, it was a total waste of my money and time. Learn from my mistakes!
In 2016 I came across No Hassle Website, designed by Neta Talmor. She changed the trajectory of my knowledge, confidence, and success! This website was self-designed and made by me – and I only paid $99. To date, I have made and manage 7 websites – most of them are No Hassle products, and all of them were possible because of what I learned for free through Neta’s free video tutorials and the responsive support of Neta and her positive and talented team. Below I provide a few of the benefits she offers:
- Her mission is to serve as many entrepreneurs as possible, so prices the vast majority of her No Hassle products very affordably – at $99 or less! Amazing!
- She offers FREE Hosting for 6 months AND
- She offers a FREE Mastermind group for support that is priceless.
- She ALSO maintains a FREE Library of video tutorials that teach you how to manage your Divi website and hook it up to an email service, set up a SHOP on your webpage, and SO much more!
- The premium theme and plugins that she provides would cost you MORE than what she charges for the website!
I love Neta and her kindness, genuine & humble nature, and her patient support and knowledge. If you have ANY questions, I would be honored to share what my experience with Neta has been like these past several years! You may Contact Me here!
Get started with Affiliate Marketing today!
As an aspiring or new online business owner, you may be feeling confused and overwhelmed (like I was!). Trust me, if a Boomer like me could figure this out (in her 50’s!) and start an online business – so can you! Let’s summarize what we have learned.
Affiliate Marketing is an Important Service
As an affiliate marketer, you are taking on an important responsibility to market with integrity. When you market with the intent to provide service to others, your sincerity, honesty and true heart will be evident. Through this process, consumers will grow to like and trust you,. Because of your ethical, helpful service you will save them research time, minimize their frustration with purchasing products and services that do not meet their needs. You will also be supporting our economy, and helping businesses of all sizes to thrive.
How to Make Money as an Affiliate Marketer
The approach you use toward affiliate marketing, as well as what you choose to market, is infintely flexible, and can be tailored to your time, interests, experiences, knowledge and preferences. You can be an occasional marketer, a consistentent marketer, or a strategic marketer. How you make money as an affiliate marketer is entirely up to you!
Tips and Best Practices for an Affiliate Marketer
An affiliate marketer that wants to build a long-term, sustainable online business will focus on marketing with integrity. A marketer that focuses on building trusted relationships, and working from a position of intention to serve (versus having the objective of making money as the primary goal) will have a higher level of success long-term.
Recommended Affiliate Marketing Tools for Success
The top tools for a beginner affiliate marketer to begin marketing inexpensively, yet successfully included the following tools that I use in my own business. (Note: some of these I maintain an affiliate relationship with and thereby receive a commission if you purchase their product.)
- Wordstream Free Keyword Tool
- Google Trends – Free
- Mailerlite – has a free account up to 1000 subscribers and a free landing page
- Systeme.io – free all-in-one platform
- Canva – has a free plan
- NoHassle Website – set up an entire premium theme website with key plug ins, all installed for $99, plus 6 months of free hosting, free training and support and more!
- ShareASale Affiliate Group – large affiliate group with easy entry for new affiliates with no traffic or audience to begin.
Action Steps to Get Started as an Affiliate Marketer
1. Do any of the following resonate with you?
- You are a new or aspiring online business owner
- You feel “trapped” in your job/career or have other life limitations weighing on you
- You are seeking more time freedom to minimize the stress and overwhelm – perhaps you are working 60 hour weeks and want out?!
- Maybe you are caring for an elderly, frail parent, or supporting a loved one with disabilties on top of caring for your own famly? (Yes, we ARE the sandwich generation!)
- Perhaps you simply want to work from home and have increased flexibility with your schedule?
- You are over 50 and wondering how a Gen X or Boomer stands even a remote chance of transitioning into a new career as an online entrepreneur?
If you said “oh, yeah, that is MY life!” you are cordially invited to join our emerging online community, Trapped to Untapped! Our group provides a positive, encouraging, values-based space that cultivates continued learning and growth on our individual journeys as online entrepreneurs.
Yes, there is a lot to learn – but learning together, from one another, and experiencing the highs and lows together is SO much more fun, and truly expedites the learning and liklihood of success!
You can join our group here! We hope you do. You will have the unqiue opportunitiy to be a beta member and to help shape the culture of this group! Periodic free challenges and resources will be offered to extend and reinforce learning for anyone that chooses to join.
2. To get you started without delay, the complimentary resource Beginner Affiliate Marketer’s Planning Journal is intended to expedite your understanding of affiliate marketing to get started with clarity and confidence.
- I believe this will assist you to begin an ethical online business aligned with your values while cutting confusion and wasted time. The goals is to maximize your clarity, confidence, profit and sustainability immeasurably!
- It addresses the core foundational elements that you MUST consider to create a business that awards you with time freedom , money, and repeat business, with the potential to create a life that fills your soul.
- By putting the effort in to create the foundation and a proven strategy this will offer you higher chances of profitability and sustainability for years to come.
- A monitoring and follow-up system to go with your strategy is key, so that you can multiply your earnings and spend even less time on the mundane, with more time for what is most meaningful to you. The planning journal provides that!
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗸 𝗼𝗳 𝗡𝗼𝘁 Following this Sequence:
Not having this strategic business sequence may make you one of the 80% of entrepreneurs who fail within the first 18 months of starting their business.
Let’s review what is covers specifically:
- This printable document will help you define your niche and preferred audience, as well as support product/brand selection.
- Help you to organize the many affiliate groups and brands that you reach out to, and keep your links and log-in info in one spot.
- Plan out marketing strategy for profitability. This includes obtaining a domain, website, landing page and email service provider to build a subscriber list and sales funnel, step-by-step.
- Guidance on monitoring and tracking metrics, and sales and profits – along with the tracking forms needed.
- In short, it is an excellent resource to get you started!
- Or, if you have already started with affiliate marketing, it may help you be organized and help you to create a new marketing strategy for increased profits.
Affiliate Marketing has the potential to be a 6-figure business – or, it can be a first step in a bigger picture of running an online business with multiple streams of income in the future. It is all up to you, and what you want in your life!
Wishing you infinite success!
Did you find this online guide useful? I welcome your feedback on what you learned or found helpful as a beginner or aspiring affiliate marketer. To help me to create blogs, training and other new content that supports you, let me know if you have questions or would find other information valuable to address in future material. Thank you! ~ Diane