Affiliate Marketing Websites: How To Succeed
Affiliate Marketing websites can make you a lot of money and anyone can build them. The actual process of of building affiliate marketing websites isn’t that complicated. But, before you go and choose a domain name and buy a Wix website, there are a few things you should know. To ensure their affiliate marketing websites are successful, the people that own and manage them have gone through an extensive learning curve. In this post I am going to give you the lowdown on the necessary steps to earn lots of money affiliate marketing.
Before I Start
As I said before, affiliate marketing websites can be very lucrative. But, you need to know that success does not come overnight. It takes many months even for experienced affiliate marketers to earn money from a new website. It is not uncommon for novice affiliate marketers to not make any money in their first year (or anything significant anyway). There are a few reasons for this, which will become apparent throughout this post. But, in a nutshell it is down to a few factors:
- Search engine algorithms
- How hard you work
- Your niche
- Your products
- Your knowledge
- The learning curve
The most successful affiliate marketing websites attract thousands of people per day. To do this, it takes a huge amount of effort and dedication. By using the correct strategies, you will build up a good amount of traffic over time. I am about to tell you everything you need to know about building affiliate marketing websites from scratch.
Why I Chose Affiliate Marketing
I live in the French alps and spend my spare time in the outdoors. My passions are snowboarding, mountain biking and pretty much anything involved in this lifestyle. I was working for a holiday company as a manager of the self catered properties, looking after guests, a team of cleaners, maintenance and the properties themselves. This was fine, but I moved to the mountains to enjoy them as much as possible. It was frustrating to be working when the conditions were perfect and having a day off when the conditions were terrible. Therefore, I wanted to make my working life more flexible and it seemed that an online business was the answer.
I wasn’t sure what to do, but I has some prerequisites for my new business:
- Flexibility – I wanted to work where and when I wanted to.
- Legitimacy – It had to be a real business that wasn’t going to scam me or required me to scam someone else
- Worthwhile – It isn’t cheap to live in the French alps and I wanted to be comfortable at the very least.
- Good training resources – I would be starting from scratch with my new venture, so I wanted to make sure that I could learn how to do it properly.
I found a few different potential options for my business, but affiliate marketing ticked all the boxes for me.
Affiliate marketing allows me to enjoy my life more. I work way more than I did when I was working for someone else, but the difference is, I can choose my hours. I can go on the mountain for a couple of hours in the morning and work later in the evening to make up for it.
I have to be very disciplined and complete my weekly tasks or I won’t be productive enough to be successful. There are times when I have to say no to mountain time and nights out to ensure I am doing enough work. There are occasions when I am working in to the early hours of the morning. But, this is my choice and that is what I love most about it. I have no boss or anyone dictating what I should be doing with my day.
One of the things that I really like about affiliate marketing, is the passive income. This is the holy grail of all online entrepreneurs. By creating content that is visible to the world 24/7, you have the potential to earn money 24/7. This content can earn money for months or years after it has been created. And in the meantime, you will be creating more content that will do the same. I love waking up in the morning or coming home from a day out to find that I have earned money from work I have done weeks or months ago.
How Do Affiliate Marketing Websites Work?
So affiliate marketing involves three parties:
- Merchant – This is the online shop, seller or brand that ships the product or provides a service. They are responsible for the sale and customer service.
- Publisher – This is you as the affiliate marketer. The publisher attracts potential customers to their website with content relevant to their niche. When a purchase is made through their website, they will receive a percentage of the sales price from the merchant.
- Customer – The publisher needs to target a market in order to make money. This targeted approach will attract customers to their website, who will buy products and services on the publisher’s recommendation.
Check out the example below:
Mike needs some new skate shoes. He likes the idea of Vans Berle Pro Gum skate shoes, so he searches for reviews on Google.
It just so happens that you have a website that reviews skate shoes and you have written a review on them. As your review is relevant to Mike’s search, it will be on the first page of Google or even at the very top of his search.
Mike clicks on your review, likes what he reads and decides that they are the ones for him and decides to buy some.
At the bottom of your review, you have put a button that will take Mike to an online shop called Blue Tomato, where he can buy them.
When Mike buys the shoes, you get 7% of the sales value. Now imagine a website visited by thousands of people every day doing this. Your website could be reviewing anything you can imagine, from mobile phones, TVs, fridges, car care products, blenders, training courses, books etc.
There are billions of people all over the world searching for information to solve problems on the internet. Affiliate marketing websites provide solutions to these problems recommending products and services for them to pay for. In exchange for recommending these products and services, they get a commission for each sale through their website.
How much you earn will depend on the products you promote, the niche you are working in, the affiliate programs you are part of and how hard you work. But, lets assume you are promoting a product that you will earn £30/$30 per sale, which is entirely possible and quite common.
As you can see, this is a nice amount of money and well worth the effort. It is especially worth it when you realise that you can make lots of money with passive income. This is because the content you have created can work for you 24/7 for months or years after it has been written. It is doing this while you are creating more content to do the same.
Factors Involved With Starting Affiliate Marketing Websites
Without taking the proper steps your affiliate marketing website may never work. You can be working on something for a long time before realising that all of your efforts have been in vein. But, now I am going to out line all the steps you need to take to ensure you have a successful business.
Step 1 - Choose A Niche
You need to choose a niche to target. A niche is a group of people that have a common interest and by targeting a niche you attract the right audience to your website, an audience that will buy through it. Getting your niche right in the first place is essential and there are a few characteristics it need to have.
You need to have a passion for it
Or at least an interest in it. If you choose a niche based around the fact you think it will make you money, you are going to get bored very quickly. You won’t put the necessary effort in to it and your website won’t have content of the required quality for search engines and your visitors.
Therefore, you need to make a list of the things you are interested in to start you off.
It needs to be focussed
It is really easy to think that choosing a niche that will appeal to lots of people is the way to go. Unfortunately it isn’t, you really need to focus down to a small group of people. An example of a broad niche is food and drink. I made the mistake of creating an affiliate website based on this. My idea was to appeal to everyone that likes to eat and drink, which is everyone! Unfortunately, food and drink is a mass market not a niche. Examples of niches in the food and drink market are:
- Meat lovers
- Barbecue lovers
- Whisky drinkers
- Coffee lovers
- Disabled cooks
- Beginner cooks
By breaking a market down in to niches we can target a group of people with a similar interest.
Niches that are too broad have a few problems:
- Too much work – You need to create a huge amount of content to appeal to everyone. Large review websites can do this because they are backed my marketing companies and have lots of people working for them. But, as a beginner affiliate marketer, you won’t have these resources.
- Too much competition – By having lots of different products and services that are unrelated gives your website lots of competition.
- Not relevant to everyone – The few visitors that I had to my food and drink website didn’t hang around long enough to buy anything. The vegans saw my beef bourguignon recipe and disappeared as there wasn’t enough for them on my website.
I did learn a lot from it though. I created lots of great content, but I could have made a few focussed websites out of the content. I will get round to doing this one day.
It needs to be Relevant
By this, I mean that it should not go out of fashion. An affiliate website in a fad niche that will not be around for a long time will fail and be a total waste of your time.
Have A Good Following
A niche without an audience is not going to earn you a lot of money. So you need to make sure that your audience is large enough to attract website visitors.
Not be saturated with competition
Competition is good. It means that there is enough of an audience to make a business from, however you don’t want too much competition. It is very difficult to compete with established, big budget affiliate marketers, but not impossible.
To ensure that you choose the right niche for you, there are a few steps to go through. I have written a post that gives you all the information on how to do this. If you decide to start an affiliate website it is well worth checking out. I suggest that you add it to your favourites and come back to it later.
Step 2 - Build A Website
This is when it gets exciting, as it is when you actually have something to start with, also it is not as difficult as you may think.
There are a few ways that you can do this. I am going to tell you the steps involved with doing it all yourself, but afterwards I will tell you how I do it and it is much easier.
1. Choose your platform
There are loads of platforms to choose from to base your website around. For example:
These are all pretty versatile and easy to use. However, WordPress is the one I recommend for affiliate marketing websites. This is because it was originally developed for bloggers with no coding skills that wanted to give their websites certain features and functionality. It is really easy to use and there are lots of themes to choose from to make it look how you want it to. There are also lots of plugins to make it do certain things too.
2. Choose your domain name and register it
Some platforms give you personalised domain names, but if you are building your website from scratch yourself you need to choose your domain name and register it.
When choosing a domain name, make sure you choose a .com suffix. This will show your audience that you are a serious and legitimate website more than a .biz or .org for example.
3. Choose a host
Your registered domain name needs to be hosted. There are lots of website hosts out there and some are cheaper than others. It can be tempting to choose the cheapest one you find. However, the cheap ones can be unreliable, slow and not secure. One I recommend is Bluehost. They are reliable, fast and good value for money.
4. Set up your website
This is the point where you choose the back end of your website. Here you can easily install WordPress for free. Once you have done this you need to choose a theme. The theme determines how your website will look. There are loads of free themes, but if none take your fancy, you can buy themes.
Make sure you do some homework before installing any old theme. A theme:
- Should be responsive – This means that it should be suitable for both desktop and mobile devices. If it isn’t it may be slow or really awkward to use on mobile phones. I made this mistake on my first website. It was great on a computer, but really slow on a phone. This was bad because 75% of my visitors were using their phones and not hanging around to read my content. This caused me a lot of work, but at least I found it and learned from it.
- Supported – Some old themes are not supported anymore. So if you have a problem with it there will be nobody to fix it and it won’t be updated to protect you from hackers.
- Features – Make a list of features you want, then use the feature filter in WordPress to narrow down your options.
- Not too many features – If you have too many features in your theme, your website may run really slowly and distract your readers from the whole point of your website. Simple is better.
- Think about your colours – Stick with the colour scheme of your logo (you will need a logo for branding). However, people tend to stay with websites with a lot of white space. Therefore, it is best to avoid dark coloured backgrounds etc. It is easy to alter colours with most WordPress themes though.
- Look in to premium themes – These ones you need to pay for. They are not too expensive, but they are considered to be more reliable and written better regarding their coding.
- Keep the fonts in mind – For some reason people choose themes that have fonts that are really hard to read. Don’t do this trying to be all fancy. It will just put people off.
- Check the ratings – Themes have star ratings that come from the people that use them. These are a good indication of how good they are, but I always Google the theme too to see if there are an unreasonable number of issues with them.
How I do it
I am not going to go in to too much detail here, but if you carry on reading you will learn all about Wealthy Affiliate. This is the platform I use for my affiliate marketing websites. It does all of the above and a lot more.
You can have a WordPress website built in less than a minute. It will also be hosted and registered. They even give you two websites just for signing up to their free membership.
Step 3 - Create Quality Content
Once you have your website, you need to start creating content. By creating content in the right way, you attract your audience without relying on paid promotions and adverts. This is because your content will be based around people’s searches in search engines.
There are a few techniques you need to employ to make this work.
This is really important. Keywords are what people type in to search engines, these could be words or whole phrases. If you don’t base you content around keywords, you will struggle to get people to visit your website. Keyword research doesn’t take that long to do and it will give you list of keywords to base your content around that will last you months.
By placing keywords within your content, search engines know that it is relevant to the search term. This is one aspect of search engine optimisation.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Good SEO techniques, will add to how relevant your content is perceived by search engines. This means that the more relevant it is and the higher quality it is, the higher it will rank in searches. The higher it ranks, the more people will see it, meaning you will make more money from it. Learning about SEO is essential to your success as an affiliate marketer, as the techniques will mean you don’t need to pay for adverts to get your website noticed. Your audience will come to you!
The last thing you want to do is come across as a hard nosed sales person. Providing quality information that is valuable to your audience will earn you more money than being pushy. Readers will notice that you are trying to sell them something rather than providing genuine helpful information.
Here are some examples of how the type of content that you can create.
- Product Reviews – If you see a review website, you can guarantee that it will be an affiliate marketing website. By giving out your opinion on a product or service, you can make some nice money. Make sure your reviews are in-depth and have an easy to understand rating system. Ideally, you need to have had experience with the product itself, but if you are informed about the features and functions of it, you will still be able to write about it.
- Comparisons – Comparison websites are really popular. It gives people the opportunity to make decisions on buying rivalling products. You can compare the products themselves or show your audience the difference in prices for different products and services showing the best value for money.
- Buyer’s Guides – By giving people tips on what to look for in a particular type of product, you can provide lots of information. You can then give your recommendations following those tips. This means your audience will know that you are informed and will trust your judgement.
- Best of posts – Posts that show people what the best “thing” is are great for attracting traffic. This is because people search for “the best gift for a…….” or the best beginner …….”.
- Guides – By this I mean really big guides to a certain topic. These are more like eBooks than posts. They are a lot of effort, but they have lots of potential for earning money. This is because the visitors get a load of information and search engines love it, making it more visible to your audience.
Step 4 - Monetising Your Website
There are a few ways to monetise your website:
- Cost per Click (CPC) – This is where you get paid for sending traffic to a website via an advert on your website. This is usually a banner strategically placed, that earns you a small amount of money for each click. This is really only worth doing if you have a huge amount of traffic coming to your website. I’m not a massive fan of this, because it can make a website look untidy and it can distract people from clicking on affiliate links, which make more money.
- Cost per Action (CPA) – This is wen you get paid for encouraging visitors to your website to complete a task. This may be filling in a form, joining a mailing list or taking a survey.
- Affiliate links – You can drop affiliate links to the products and services you are promoting on to your website. It is really easy to do, as it is just a case of copying and pasting them in to your content. These links track your sales and the affiliate program will pay you a commission for each sale.
If you can think of a product or service that is sold on the internet, there is a really good chance that there is an affiliate program for it. Usually a Google search will reveal them to you. But, a good one start with (not necessarily the best) is Amazon Associates. This is because it allows you to promote any of the products it sells. So there is likely a whole host of products relevant to your niche.
You can also join affiliate networks. These are websites that have hundreds of advertisers that have affiliate programs. This means that you can be a member of lots of affiliate programs, but the links are all tracked by one organisation. This means that you get paid by the affiliate network in one go, rather than having to sign in and out of lots of different programs.
I am a member of Awin, it is great as they manage everything for me, making life much easier. Most of these affiliate programs and networks are free to join. I have never had to pay to join an affiliate program, why would I spend money to promote someone else’s products for them?
Cookies are your friends
When someone clicks on an affiliate link on your website, your affiliate ID is stored on a text file on their browser, this is a cookie. Your ID stays there for an amount of time specified but the affiliate program (usually 30 days). If that person goes back to the website within the allotted time and buys something, you still get the commission! This is because the affiliate program sees that you have generated a lead to the website and deserve the reward.
How To Be Successful With Affiliate Marketing Websites
Once you have an affiliate marketing website set up and you are creating lots of quality content around keywords and using SEO techniques, you are well on your way to success. However, you have only just started on a long (but rewarding) journey.
There is no shortcut to success, there are loads of “gurus” out there that will tell you otherwise, but they are just trying to sell you an eBook or a poor quality training course. So, here I am going to tell you what is involved in creating successful affiliate marketing websites.
1. Lots of Patience
I mentioned at the top of this post that it takes a long time to make money. Please don’t give up your job and think you are going to earn loads of money straight away with your new affiliate marketing business.
A new website is put in a “sandbox” by google. This is where it remains for about four months which restricts its ability to rank. This is Google’s way of making sure that you mean business and that you are going to continue strive to be a good source of information for its users. Once this period is over, and Google determines that your website is worthy of coming out of the sandbox, it is much easier to get your content to rank highly. You can target keywords that will get you to the top within a few hours if you do it right.
Content takes ages to create too, especially when you are using good SEO techniques. This is because you need to have a certain word count and you will probably have to do a lot of research research.
The learning curve will always make the road to success longer. I have shared with you some of my mistakes and they were my own fault after not following my training properly or being too ambitious without checking the facts.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, you will get faster at creating content and there are certain things you can do to improve your productivity.
2. Be consistent
By working on your website every day, you are showing search engines and your audience that you are a consistent source of information. This will build trust with both of them and eventually you will become an authority figure within your niche.
3. Know what you are talking about
You can’t just write about products and services hoping to earn money. Ideally, you need first hand experience with them. If not, you need to know about the niche and have an understanding of the products and services you are reviewing. Do your research, don’t make stuff up, or you will be caught out by someone who knows all about it.
Being informed will mean that your content is of high quality, informative and trustworthy. If you are new to the product or service you are promoting, you need to describe it as well as possible using your personality to make it sound interesting.
By providing information with real value to your audience will keep them reading, keep them happy, make the buy and bring them back.
4. Have a passion for what you are doing
There is no point in doing something you don’t enjoy. If you enjoy creating affiliate marketing websites you will be successful at it. If not, you will be bored and do a bad job. Therefore, you should try it out before you commit your working life to it. You can do this with the Wealthy Affiliate Free membership.
5. Be Organised
This is really important for your productivity. By having a list of things to write about, you will be able to churn out content much quicker and of better quality than if you were just winging it.
I like to set out all the headings for a number of posts I am going to write in the following week. This means I never have to start with an empty page and have a direction to go in.
6. Promote your website in other ways
SEO is the most effective way of getting people to see your website, but you can do more:
- Social media – By sharing everything on social media, you tap in to an audience that your SEO efforts would not. It may be shared to other people within your niche too.
- E-mail – Try to start a mailing list as soon as possible. This way you can send information to people who are interested enough in your content to sign up for it. You put it in front of them every time you send them an email with updates.
- Business cards – It isn’t the most efficient way of getting your name out there, but worth a go as you never know who you are going to meet. I have a mountain bike website, and whenever I go for a ride I have a few business cards in my pocket. This is great when I get chatting to other mountain bikers and I can hand them a card. It is really cool when they say that they have already seen it and they are a fan.
7. Get educated
This is the most important part of building successful affiliate marketing websites. Without the right knowledge, it is really easy to fail. So a good training course is a must for any beginner affiliate marketer.
When I was trying to decide what business I wanted to start, I did a lot of research in to training. Being able to find quality training was one of the prerequisites I had set for my new business.
I found lots of gurus that promised the secret to overnight success with affiliate marketing websites. But, I didn’t trust them, as they were too pushy and salesy. They all had shouty YouTube videos trying to sell an idea. I didn’t need an idea, I needed an example of their training and information on what having an affiliate marketing business consisted of.
I nearly gave up on affiliate marketing until I found Wealthy Affiliate.
What Is Wealthy Affiliate?
I mentioned that Wealthy Affiliate is a one stop shop for:
- Building a website
- Domain names
- Registering your domain
But, the main feature of Wealthy Affiliate is its comprehensive training.
Online Entrepreneur Course
The online entrepreneur course consists of 50 lessons. This course gives you every step you need to take to start your affiliate marketing business from scratch.
This course is for those that have no experience at all with affiliate marketing websites. So if all of the stuff I have mentioned above is new to you, this is ideal for you. Each lesson finishes with a number of tasks for you to complete before you move on to the nest one. This means that you will not miss out any important parts of the process of getting everything in place for your business.
There are five levels in this course, but the first level can be done for free when you sign up to the free membership.
The Affiliate Bootcamp is an additional course that isn’t compulsory, but this takes you through all the steps to allow you to make money by promoting Wealthy Affiliate itself.
Yes, I am promoting Wealthy Affiliate with this website. I am part of the Super Affiliate program which means I do earn money from people signing up to the Premium membership. But, I have learned everything I know that has made my other websites successful from this platform.
Every week, you can learn even more tips and tricks from live training sessions. These sessions give you loads of up to date information that is additional to the other courses. They are an hour long and are hosted by Jay, the live trainer. He really knows his stage and you can ask him questions at the end of each session.
The training is hosted in Canada, but there is no need to be concerned about the time difference if you are not local. This is because the sessions are recorded and can be viewed at any time.
Community Training and Support
Wealthy Affiliate has a huge community that is a great resource for information. The more experienced members create their own training. These lessons cover pretty much anything you can think of or encounter while developing your website. There is a search bar where you enter a question or a problem and there is a good chance that there will be some training to get you out of trouble.
The community is really helpful, you can pose questions to it and get an answer very quickly. It is a good idea to connect with other members as some will give you feedback on your websites if you ask them to.
Wealthy Affiliate has a help centre, that is an excellent source of information. This is where you communicate with the community, but it is also where you get your technical support. If you have any type of issue with your website or need to ask a question, this is where you do it. By submitting a support request, you can get an answer or resolution within minutes. I had a website that had a few technical issues, but I was never left waiting for a fix, no matter what time of the day or night.
What Attracted Me To Wealthy Affiliate?
I like the non pushy approach Wealthy Affiliate have. They don’t have shouty videos pushing you in to buying a course. They give you the opportunity to try it out for yourself with the Free Membership. This gives you enough information with the first 10 lessons to help you make up your mind if the platform and affiliate marketing is for you. This is exactly what I needed at the time, as I was totally new to it and knew nothing about it. I loved that you could try it out for yourself with the 2 free websites you get with the free membership. This gave me first hand experience of what to expect if I decided to pursue a business with affiliate marketing websites.
Once you have done the free training, you will have a good idea if you want to carry on. From here you have some options:
- Continue with your business with the Free Membership – I think it may be possible, but there will be holes in your knowledge and the tools and support available to you are not as comprehensive
- Sign up to the Premium Membership – This is the path I took, as I wanted to take my business seriously with all the best resources available to me.
- Walk away – As all you need to sign up to the Free Membership is an email address, there is no risk (you can even set up a separate email account if you want to). Therefore, you can just cancel your membership and find something else to do.
That Is How To Succeed With Affiliate Marketing Websites
Well that is the basics anyway. I really hope that you found this post helpful and that it has inspired you to start your own business. Just remember that it takes a lot of time and effort, but it isn’t impossible. It is very rewarding, but you need to do it right. Check out the training at Wealthy Affiliate and see what it entails before you embark on your journey.
Please let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.