The Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing
In this tutorial, I'm going to lay out how you can get started with affiliate marketing, even if you're on a shoestring budget with no clue where to begin.
In my experience, this is one of the top ways you can begin making money online because you can skip having to spend months creating the perfect product, or tinkering with all of the techie stuff that comes with the business.
This post is more than simply a "how to", I explain my own journey into the affiliate marketing world.
To begin with I want to let you know that I struggled when I first started online.
Part of that comes from wasting countless weeks and months on trying to make the perfect product and making all the software "click".
It was keeping me from getting into "money-getting" mode or being able to ask for the sale.
Everything changed for me when I switched to affiliate marketing and it's the reason I'm writing this guide here today.
Below, you can find the table of contents to jump to the appropriate section.
What is Affiliate Marketing
Think of affiliate marketing much like you would a commissioned sales person.
If a straight commissioned sales person makes a sale, then they get a percentage of the sale.
That's exactly how affiliate marketing works except instead of being nose to nose, it's your site, Youtube videos, or email that is doing all of the selling.
And it can work for you 24/7.
Don't think you're going to have to do any hard selling either.
You're actually helping people and getting rewarded for it.
The Benefits To Affiliate Marketing
- You can get started without having to have a product, you can get started without having to have a huge email list.
- You don't need to be a guru.
- You don't need a large staff.
- You can run this with just yourself or with a small group of virtual assistants.
- You don't need clients.
- You don't have to have complex shopping carts or complex scripts to have to worry about or any of the technological stuff.
- You don't have to have a big brand name or anything like that.
- You can be who you are and begin in your own home at your own pace, even if you're starting out on a shoestring budget.
- You’ll not be consumed with a crazy amount of customer support either because what you're doing promoting other people's stuff for a commission.
I'll get into the details about how affiliate marketing works here in just a moment, but I want to explain why I'm so passionate about affiliate marketing.
100K In Credit Cards
See, I was able to escape over $100,000 in credit card debt using affiliate marketing.
I racked up this massive amount of debt from my days of buying and selling house.
I started my entrepreneur journey in 2001 with the hopes to successfully become a real estate investor after seeing all those late night informercials with my all my hopes and dreams packed into those 30 minute increments.
After I'd pick up a property, I would fund my real estate renovations using credit cards, and when I couldn’t sell my houses from the downturn it left me upside down with this massive amount of debt.
That's when I turned to the internet, I looked to the internet to actually sell my houses after a friend of mine came back from an internet marketing seminar.
With nothing to lose, I began listing my properties one by one on eBay.com
And I was blown away by the response.
I actually sold all of my properties on eBay which was the one thing that saved me from personal bankruptcy.
From No Showings to Over 5K Views Online
I was getting over 5K views on a single listing where in my local market I couldn’t get 3 people to view.
Once I sold those, I realized- there’s something to this internet marketing gig and I immediately started digging in.
However, I still had the massive debt from the credit cards.
With no clue how I was going to dig my way out.
I was starting my business below zero.
To begin with, I automatically started to trying to sell my own products.
And there's nothing wrong with selling your own products.
However, when you're just starting out, it can be a little overwhelming.
I hired ghostwriters.
I hired people to code software.
What I realized was that I was just running up even more expenses because I wasn't able to generate money because I was having to do all of these things first.
Selling your own products is very lucrative, however it was the wrong strategy for me at that moment in my life.
No. I had a damn frankenstein setup.
For a guy with no coding experience, it became a nightmare creating more roadblocks.
As a result of all of these road blocks., I ran up even more expenses.
I was buying a lot of digital products and got into the launch cycle of where people would recommend a new product daily which left me even more confused and chasing shiny objects.
Nothing seemed to work until I was on this casual phone conversation and he said you should look at this 'affiliate marketing world'.
That's when everything really turned around for me, and I was able to use affiliate marketing to help escape this massive amount of credit card debt that I had acquired from a failed real estate venture.
Enough about my experience, let's dig in.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
As I said earlier, you want to think of affiliate marketing much like you would a straight commissioned salesperson.
The salesperson is your website, email, or if you're using YouTube it would be your YouTube videos.
All of these are assets that can be working for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can be evergreen in nature, meaning it can work for you today as well as months and years from today.
We have single pages that bring in cash flow month in and month out for products that have been on the market for years.
Affiliate Marketing Programs
The most popular example is probably Amazon, which has the biggest affiliate network, but it also pays the least.
With Amazon, you can expect to make anywhere from 3% to 5% commissions depending on the category and the products that you are promoting.
There are other avenues that you can promote other types of products such as digital products and software products that pay anywhere from 30% to 50% or even higher, depending on the offer.
Utilizing Affiliate Networks
There are a lot of sites that provide the ability to promote other people’s products.
In addition to these you can find many offers on OfferVault - it’s a collection of many different platforms with links to the respected company so you can apply to the offer.
We'll get into more details about how to select the right niche and what it is that we look for as products to promote.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
This is a 8 step process that we recommend that you use to start an affiliate marketing business, even if you’re brand new or an established marketer.
Step # 1 Find The Right Niche
So step number one, you want to choose the niche or market that you're going after.
Now, a lot of people wonder, okay, what should I choose?
What market should I go into?
How many searches a month should I look at?
If I'm a beginner and I'm just getting started, I want to find a niche or a market that I'm familiar with.
That's the first rule of thumb.
You want something that you're passionate about, something that you like, because at the end of the day, it's better if you know something about the marketplace as opposed to just relying on an outsourcer to write an article or guessing about the market.
It's a lot harder to make everything work if you are strictly relying on other people to provide the content.
There's nothing wrong with hiring people to write content.
As a matter of fact, we do this all the time.
However, if you're just starting out, it adds another set of challenges because now you’re having to manage someone when you’re still green at what you’re doing.
That’s why I recommend that you know the products, you know the market, you've done the research and you know what people are looking for when you’re just starting out.
It's going to make it a whole lot easier on you as you begin your business online.
That’s why I recommend you actually enjoy what you’re doing.
If you enjoy it, then you’re not going to view this as work quite as much.
Take SEO as an example.
I can spend hours nerding out researching sites, looking at linking opportunities, and before I know it, I’ve missed lunch and spent hours diving into the work.
It’s because I really enjoy the hunt for the next campaign, the next linking opportunity or the next domain I can buy.
It's really not work because I enjoy it.
Once you pick a niche or a market, the next step that you want to do is you want to build a blog around your niche.
Step # 2: Build Your Blog Around Your Niche
If you're not sure how to build a blog, I covered that in a previous post here.
What we want to do when we're starting a niche or a market, we want to find something that has multiple products to promote.
We want something that people are passionate about or there's a real pressing problem, and that people are willing to buy products.
If you want a deep dive inside some pretty eye-opening stats, read this article here.
For example, let’s look at this blog.
You’ll see I promote a variety of products with each page having the ability to make money.
You’ll also see this in the health and fitness markets, digital marketing, and financial niches.
A great example of this would be the digital marketing space (however it’s one of the most competitive niches and hardest to go after).
If you look at this, there's multiple types of products that we can promote.
There's information type products that we can promote.
There's software products that we could promote.
Here’s just a few examples
- Facebook Ad Training
- SEO Training
- WordPress themes
- Landing Page softwares
- Shopping Carts
- Any How to Training where you reveal how to do it and then show the product you recommend.
As you can see the list of potential items goes on and on.
Same thing if you were in a health or fitness niche.
There's going to be supplements, there's going to be guides, there's going to be informational type products, there's going to be equipment that you can sell.
You can do an in depth review or a very detailed how to post to recommend the product.
If you're working on something, it's rare you have just one tool or technique to rule them all.
You have layers of tools and information that you master as you go through.
For example, I was considered an SEO expert way before I ran my first Youtube or Facebook ad.
I use completely different set of tools and rules because these are completely different strategies.
More products = More opportunity.
I look at each site we build as an apartment building with each page being an additional unit that can earn cash flow.
More Units = More Cash Flow.
The great thing about the digital space is there's no limitations.
No structural limitations.
No lot limitations.
We can build as big and as high as we want.
The more we build, the more authoritative the overall site becomes.
Now, that you have an idea of what you're promoting, let's move on to the next step.
Step # 3 Find Affiliate products to promote using Affiliate Networks
We now want to find affiliate products that we can review.
The most popular affiliate network is Amazon.
With Amazon it’s very easy to get approved, however the commission percentages are very small.
It’s the lowest commission rates of any platform.
There's all types of different products that you can promote on Amazon.
The main thing is just sign up for an account and start digging in to all the products that are related to your niche.
The bigger the ticket, the more money you will make.
That goes for any type of affiliate site though - we want to at least promote some of our products that are Bigger Ticket and Recurring commissions.
For example, if you look at the tiny houses movement that's been made popular by a lot of the network tv shows.
On Amazon, you have tiny house kits ranging from $8,000 up to $65,000.00
What if you had a site that reviewed all of these products, gave tips on how to build your own tiny house, tiny house living?
This is a popular movement at the time of this post with more and more people looking to get involved.
You have a variety of products you can sell to this crowd.
Let's move on...
The next is ClickBank.
ClickBank is one of the largest, if not the largest, digital retailer that's on the marketplace that have digital products as well as software related products, and occasionally, you’ll see a physical product that's on ClickBank as well.
There is any type of niche you want on Clickbank.
If you’re in the digital marketing world, you can also take a look at JVzoo and Warrior Plus.
Many of these are launch related products so they’re typically only open for a few days then they shut the offer down.
For me, I’d prefer to build out Evergreen Campaigns that don’t shut down that I can drive traffic to year round that also have a high ticket.
I want to emphasize the power of having a high ticket.
It's the same work you'll put in promoting a cheap product versus a product that can pay out $200 - $2000 commission rates.
If that sounds like a fit for you, then consider joining my free training webinar by going here.
I'll explain in detail the process and give you the framework of how I build out affiliate campaigns.
Last, you have a website called OfferVault, that will connect you to other affiliate programs where you have programs that pay based on the sale, call, or lead generation.
If you are familiar with a niche and you're familiar with the market, it helps if you believe in the products that you are going to be promoting.
For me, I want to test the product or know who I’m promoting.
In other words, I’ve got to believe in it and I recommend you do the same.
A lot of people will ask what I do in terms of keyword research.
That's something I explain inside my affiliate marketing training that's for members only. If you want to get coached up and have the road map, watch the free training here.
Step # 4 - Content Creation for Affiliate Marketers
Now, we’ve found our niche or market.
We’ve decided on the products we’re going to promote.
It’s now time to create our content.
There's four types of content that we're going to be focusing on that we can generate revenue from.
Affiliate Marketing Content Creation Formulas
Let's go into detail with our first formula
The How To Post
This is pretty self explanatory.
You're simply teaching people how to do something.
For example, in the SEO world, it could be how to build a private blog network or how to rank a Youtube video.
Look at this post.
It's an example of a "How to" post explaining how to get started with affiliate marketing.
If you want to know the full scoop, then click here and watch the free training I set aside for you...
These are very informational based with multiple call to action points inside the post.
Just like I did 2 paragraphs above.
If we use the example of “how to build an email list”, you may be recommending an autoresponder or you may be recommending a landing page builder of some sort.
These are very informational, but again, you want to not only show how to accomplish the goal, but also recommend the products they’ll need to get there.
The Review Post
The second type of content that you're going to create is what I call the review post.
And this is where you are going to be doing a full review of a product.
These are brand names of products that we use and have used in the past, and we've done reviews on these and we create these pretty in depth tutorials on these types of products as well as all the pricing and all the features related to these different types of products.
These are pages that will rank in the search engine for when people that are doing searches for the product name plus review.
When they order through our link, we get paid a commission.
These are extremely targeted visitors that are landing on our pages, and these are people that are really looking... that have already been exposed to the product and therefore it makes it a lot easier of a sale.
You don’t need a ton of traffic to make a substantial amount of money.
It’s all based on the intent of the searcher.
The 'Best of' Post
The third type of content that we're going to be creating is what I call the ‘best of’ post.
The ‘best of’ post is where you're highlighting the best products for your keyword.
Let’s imagine just for a moment you were in the market for a new coffee grinder.
A Google search for the ‘Best Coffee Grinder” or “Best Coffee Grinder in 2020” would be a popular search.
You’ll make a list one through five or a list one through 10 and you would list the top products in that particular niche.
Every niche has a Good, Better, Best option and with these pieces of content, you’re laying out it all out on a single page with affiliate links to each of the products.
Our goal is to rank these pages to target search traffic for people looking for the best products.
These types of terms are heavy on buyer intent.
You can also go one step further and make what's called a comparison post.
The Comparison Post
In many cases, people are doing searches for one product versus another to see which is best for their money.
Let’s assume we have a fitness website we could create a comparison post with the popular exercise bike craze.
Our comparison post would look something like these.
- peloton vs echelon vs norditrack
- peloton vs flywheel
I got these from just doing a simple search on Google and looking at the related searches that Google suggest at the bottom of the search.
These are also very targeted searches, and you can create these guides where you're comparing one product to the next with features, benefits, and pricing options.
Of course, including your affiliate link to each of the products.
You can do this in any niche comparing popular brands against each other.
Step # 5 - Optimize Your On Page SEO for your desired Affiliate Keywords.
Now we want to optimize your on-page SEO.
Whenever we build our content out, we want to do the proper research and we look for what people are searching for using the following resources:
Google’s Related Search and Auto Suggest
Ahrefs (This is a paid subscription.)
We want to find what people are searching for and create a list of what those searches are and that's what we're going to be creating our content around.
After we dig in using the tools above, we create bullet points of the topics and questions we want to answer inside our content.
We break this into content chunks based on the keyword suggestions and questions we see that people are asking.
Take a look at how this tutorial was created with the Table of Contents at the top.
It was done after we’d researched terms around Affiliate Marketing and How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing.
Next, we optimize our title tags, descriptions, and headlines while making sure that we have a good call to action on at the end of the post.
In many cases, we’ll have a call to action in multiple parts of the post.
This is something I explain in a lengthy details inside my brand new training program. Watch the free training here to see if it's a fit for you.
See what I did just there?
I created another call to action for my training instead of just waiting till the end of the post.
Back to the on-page, by optimizing the on-page SEO, this is going to help us to not only rank for the main keywords that we're looking for, but also it'll help us rank for and get visitors from a lot of long tail searches that we have talked about so far.
Step Number 6- Link Building To Your Affiliate Marketing Pages
Now, that you have everything dialed in from your keyword research to your content and on-page SEO, you’ll want to begin your link building or promotional strategy to help push your site to the top.
Now, there are several different types of links that you can build.
For us, we recommend to start where we recommend building what's called a Brand Stack.
The first link that you should build are ones that are strictly focused around your brand, and you can use tools like IFTTT to automate the postings to those sites that revolves around your brand.
This is going to be the basis for your SEO, and then you can branch out from there into some more advanced link building tactics like we talk about in some of our training programs.
Once you get rolling, jump into some of more advanced tactics.
Step # 7- Email Your List
Now, it's time to email your list if you have not done so.
Many times people don't realize that email can actually help you get visible in the search engines because this is sending traffic to your pages, and what's going to happen is Google will see the activity on your pages.
If your content is good and people start sharing it, guess what?
It gets you more visibility, gets you more eyeballs, and in turn that's only going to help you with your search engine efforts and gets you more exposure.
Also, you can create a full email campaign around the products you're promoting offering additional bonuses.
Step # 8- Using Retargeting To Grow Your Affiliate Marketing Email List
Now, we want to use retargeting with our content to build out our email list.
This is the same process we use to promote affiliate products, then continue with building our email list so we can promote our content pieces, future affiliate products, as well as our own products and services.
If you want some help with the process, then I highly recommend you grab the free training we put together that will show you how to take this process to the next level.