How to Earn Money in Affiliate Marketing: All you need to know
I had always wanted my own business, I was never sure what I wanted to do though. There were many ambitions of various shops, bars, engineering companies or holiday businesses. But, I was never 100% sure about what to do as they all have their advantages, disadvantages and skill sets to develop. But, after living in the French Alps for a few years, I decided that my ultimate goal was to be able to earn money with total flexibility yo do what I want, when I want to. This lead me on a path of researching online businesses to start. After narrowing everything down, I decided on an affiliate marketing business. So, in this guide I am going to tell you how to earn money in affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing has allowed me to enjoy my life while earning a good amount of money in a business that I really enjoy. I had some prerequisites that my new business had to fulfil:
- Be legitimate
- Have good earning potential
- Allow me to be flexible
- Have great training resources
After lots of research, it looked like affiliate marketing would tick all the boxes for me. After I tried it, I realised that it was ideal for me.
What Do I Do?
What I do is create content on my websites that essentially helps people with their problems within certain niches. My content usually helps people make decisions on the right products or services to buy to suit their needs. By creating relevant content in line with what people are searching for in search engines, my audience comes to my website rather than me chasing them and trying to “sell” them something (more on how to do this later).
Success isn’t instant, it takes a long time and there are a few reasons for this:
- The learning curve – There are a few techniques to get your content in from of your audience. These are not complicated, but learning them is completely necessary
- Search Engine Algorithms – Search engines such as Google make it difficult for new websites to work their way up the rankings in the early days. This is because they want to know that you are serious and are going to produce lots of quality content and relevant information
- Mistakes – This is part of the learning curve. I have made mistakes that I haven’t found until months later. These have limited the effectiveness of my content and earning potential. But, these are bumps in the road to learn from
- Trust – When your website is new, you will not have built up a relationship with your audience yet. Once they start to become regular visitors (thanks to your amazing content), they will trust your judgement and recommendations and start buying through your website
- Effort – To create the quality content needed for both your audience and search engines, it takes time. There are some tricks to increase your productivity, but there are no shortcuts in building a business.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
As an affiliate marketer, you partner with a company that sells products or services that you like to recommend. By putting an affiliate link within your content, such as a review you earn a commission for each sale through your website.
How to Earn Money in Affiliate Marketing
Below I am going to take you through the essential stages, factors that are involved in earning money in affiliate marketing. I will also give you a few tips and tell you where I went wrong in the early days, so you don’t fall in to the same traps and waste time and effort.
1 - Find Your Niche
The first thing you need to do is choose a niche for your affiliate marketing website. It is really easy to choose one that you think will either earn you lots of money or one that you are interested in. But, not all niches are equal. Some will not earn you any money at all, some will give you pocket money and some will allow you to live a very comfortable life.
A niche is a group of people with a similar interest. You need to work within a niche to target an audience. It is very tempting to choose a niche that appeals to lots of different people, but this is a mistake. A niche needs to be focussed for a better chance of success. This is because your content is based around a specific subject that will attract people with an interest in it to your website. This is because it is relevant to them, appeals to them and with good content will get you authority status which will bring in the money.
In a nutshell your niche should:
- Be relevant and not go out of fashion
- Be something you are at least interested in
- Have a good following
- Be focussed
- Appeal to your audience
- Have good products and services to promote
- Have room to grow
2 - Build A Website
Some people manage to earn money in affiliate marketing without a website. They do this through YouTube and social media, but you stand a much better chance of success with a website. Some affiliate programs won’t allow you to join them without one either.
If this sounds difficult, don’t worry because it isn’t and there is a very simple way of doing it too, which I will come to shortly. There are a few things that are involved in building a website.
Your website needs a good domain name. You need to be able to use it in your brand and it needs to be relevant to your niche. It also needs to allow you to grow later on, so it shouldn’t be too specific. One of the key things, is to have a .com website. This is because people will take it more seriously than a .org or .biz etc.
You can use platforms such as Wix to build your website. But, these platforms are better for business websites or blogs. To be successful, your website should be self hosted. Personally, all my websites are hosted through Wealthy Affiliate. This is kind of a one stop shop for starting, building and expanding an affiliate marketing business.
Most affiliate websites use WordPress. This is designed for bloggers, so they can build their websites without needing any coding skills. I use WordPress for all of my websites, this is because I really like how easy it is to use. You can add plugins to give your website a certain look and the functionality that you want it to have.
How your website looks and performs is essential to its success. For example, when you have a WordPress website you need to choose a theme. Themes are what gives your website its look. So, your theme needs to work well with your niche, brand and the type of website it is. But, it also has to be responsive. This means it needs to work well with mobile devices. If it doesn’t it won’t be fast enough or be user friendly on people’s phones and tablets.
3 - Join Affiliate Programs
Once you have a hosted website for your chosen niche, you need to monetise it. You do this by joining affiliate programs. If you can think of a product or service, you have a very high chance that there will be an affiliate program for it.
I’m not saying it is the best one, but Amazon Associates is a good one to start with. There are millions of different products on Amazon and you can promote the ones relevant to your niche by signing up to Amazon Associates. It is very easy to do and doesn’t require any kind of approval, so you can start dropping affiliate links straight away. There are certain rules that you have to follow to comply with Amazon’s terms. If you don’t comply with these rules and they find out, your account will be closed and render all of your links useless. This is bad news if your website solely relies on Amazon affiliate links.
There are different types of affiliate programs.
One Tier – Get paid a commission when someone buys through your affiliate link
Two Tier – Get a commission when you refer other affiliates and they start making sales. This is multi level marketing, so you earn money when one of your referrals makes a sale too
Climbing Tiers – Your commissions grow the more sales you make
Reoccurring Commissions – This is when people sign up to a subscription and you keep getting paid as long as they stay signed up
Sitewide Commissions – Get commission on anything bought on a website. Amazon is a good example of this, as you will get paid if someone buys something even if it is not the exact product you have promoted
Pay Per Lead – Get commission from generating leads, such as contact forms filled out
You can also join affiliate networks. These are organisations that have access to thousands of affiliate programs. I am a member of Awin, which has advertisers in many niches. Once you have signed up to Awin, you can apply to join each relevant affiliate program. When you get sales from the affiliate links, Awin puts everything in one place and pays you when you reach your threshold. It is a convenient and easy way to manage your affiliate links.
While I am talking about affiliate programs, I want to tell you about cookies. These are your best friend as an affiliate marketer. Because you have directed someone to a website, their click has been logged in their cookies. Therefore, (depending on the affiliate program) you can still make the commission later. Some cookies are valid for 30 days, while others (like Amazon) last for 24 hours. This means if they go back to buy before the cookie times out, you can still get paid for the sale.
4 - Learn All About SEO
Without good search engine optimisation your affiliate marketing website will fail. But, using the correct techniques, you will get lots of traffic to your website without relying on paying for adverts and promotions. This is because these techniques will get your content ranked well in search engines.
You need to base your content around keywords. These are what people type in to search engines to find information about a specific topic. Good keyword research can give you enough topics to write about for months. A good keyword should:
- Be what is called “long-tail” – This means at least three words long
- Have low competition – You don’t want to be competing with too many websites using the same keyword or phrase
- Have enough people searching for it – There is no point spending lots of time creating content that nobody is looking for
- Make sense – Some keywords have no competition but have lots of searches every month. But, if it doesn’t make sense, you will not be able to slot it seamlessly in to your content
Here are some other things you should know about SEO:
- Content is king – It used to be said that you need over 1000 words per post, now it is more like 2,500 to 3000 and more. This is because there is lots of competition and you need to provide more information than your competitors
- Choose a good title – Your title should grab the reader’s attention and have the keyword in it, preferably at the front
- Have a good meta description – The meta description is the description you see in Google under the link to your content. You fill this info in within WordPress and it is vey important. You need your keyword in here at least once, twice if you can
- Keyword density – You don’t really need to cram your keyword in to your content too much. In fact, if you do Google will penalise you by not ranking your content very high. Make sure it is in the meta description, title, first paragraph and last paragraph.
- Links – Having links in your content shows search engines that you are sharing information (which they like). So, have external links to other authority websites and internal links to other pages on your website
- Pictures and Videos – Pictures break up your content and give the eyes a rest. But you need to fill in the alt properties of each one. This helps Google find them for Google images. Placing videos in your content is a great idea. It keeps people on your site for longer, which looks good for search engines as they see that people are taking an interest which helps with ranking
- Use an SEO plugin – Yoast or All In One give you tips on how to improve your content as you are writing it.
- Don’t use too many plugins – Too many can slow down your website and they can also interfere with each other
- Some plugins make it faster – Plugins such as Lazy Load increase the speed of your website, just make sure they don’t conflict with others
5 - Determine Your Content Strategy
There are a number of ways you can create content:
- Blog posts – Depending on the product or service you are promoting, you will need to update the content. It is much easier to update a blog than it is to update a whole video. This gives them longevity, but you will need to check if the products are still available and haven’t sold out. If they have, it may be time to start promoting the new version
- Videos – You can add affiliate links to YouTube videos, but once it has been uploaded it is difficult to update it. Also, you need to be comfortable talking in front of a camera….I’m terrible at this
- eCourse/eBook – These are a great way to start a mainline list. “Please fill out this form and you will get this eBook”. Courses need to be up to date and eBooks take a long time to write. But, they are worth doing when you do them correctly
How you create content is up to you and how much time you have. You can try one of these or experiment with a combination of them all to find a sweet spot.
6 - Links or Banners
You can earn money from a website in a number of ways. But, the main ones are affiliate links or banner adverts.
- Affiliate Links – Adding affiliate links to buttons and images is what I do. This is because the people that read the content are the ones that are likely buy the thing you are talking about and recommending. Therefore, you don’t want to distract them from it with a banner advert.
- Banner Adverts – I tried Google Adsense, as it is supposed to place relevant adverts on your post. However, this isn’t always the case and are totally out of context with the rest of your content. Additionally, you don’t earn as much money from them. I would prefer visitors to click on the affiliate link and buy from that for a nice commission than get pennies from them clicking on an advert
7 - Build A Community
To get your audience to return to your website, you need to build a relationship with them. There are a few ways to do this”
- Website Comments – Having comments enabled on your website is a great way to build interaction with your audience. You can answer their questions and keep them engaged with what you are doing. Additionally, this adds to your content and shows search engines that your website is real and active, helping with your search engine rankings
- Social Media – By creating a following on social media, people will keep coming back to you. They will also share your content, giving you a wider reach
- Mailing list – By creating a mailing list, you can send your audience updates to what you have been up to with regards to your website. Sending them regular emails with links to things on your site they may be interested in will increase your sales
8 - Be Up Front With Your Audience
Your website needs to have an affiliate disclosure. This tells your audience that you will make money if they buy through your links. Doing this helps to build up trust with your audience and is a requirement for any affiliate website.
You also should be honest with your content. Please don’t promote something and say it is amazing because you think it will sell well, even though you think it is terrible. This will give you a bad reputation in the long term and damage your authority status.
Mistakes I Have Made
As I said earlier, there is a learning curve. Here are some of the mistakes I have made along the journey, there are probably a few more, but you will get the idea. Hopefully, you will take note of these so you don’t fall in to the same traps.
My first website looked great on a computer. It had all sorts of drop down menus and nice big photos. However, I didn’t really think about how it looked and worked on mobile devices. The speed on mobile devices was horrendously slow and the drop down menus didn’t really work on a phone’s small screen. This was a problem, as 80% of visitor to my site were using their phones.
To get over this, I had to find a responsive theme that worked well on phones. I had to go over everything again to make sure it looked good and loaded up quickly, which was quite labour intensive.
A Niche That Was Too Broad
I had created a website based around food and drink, thinking I could appeal to lots of different people. This is not the way to do it, as the niche isn’t focussed enough. My website had juicers, barbecues, food processors, bread makers…..the list goes on. It didn’t appeal to one group of people, therefore the visitors didn’t deem it relevant to them (the ones that found it anyway). Someone who wants information on a juicer isn’t bothered about a pizza oven.
I really should have created a website with a narrower focus that would appeal to meat lovers, juice lovers, vegetarians, vegans, home bakers etc
Not Monetising Internationally
The first affiliate program I joined was to an international online shop. This had a button to change the country you are in and the language. However, I didn’t realise that just because my link took my readers to that online shop, I would only get paid if the customer was in the UK. This was a problem, as 50% of my visitors were from the USA. It took me many months to realise that the affiliate programs were by region, so I had to join the USA affiliate program and drop the necessary links in my content.
Picking Bad Keywords
I don’t know why I did this, I have all the tools and knowledge to do proper keyword research, but I checked some of my earlier posts to see why nobody has found them. It turns out that I have wasted a lot of time in the earlier days. That is really frustrating to look back on, but I know now to take more care.
Not Being Organised
Sitting down at my laptop in the morning without a clue where to start was a big mistake. This meant that I wasn’t very productive. However, half an hour to an hour per week creating a list of jobs to do for the following week gives me a focus. I can churn out more content this way, especially if I set out all of the headings for each post in my drafts. This way I can jump straight in to it and get writing.
Using Large Image Files
When I first started affiliate marketing, I dropped high quality images in to my content. I thought, “I’m going to make my site look great with these”, big mistake! Large image files slow your website down in terms of loading times. This means Google will push faster loading websites further up the rankings, so I had to go back over everything and change the images for lower quality ones, but you can’t tell the difference. Lesson learned.
How To Be Successful
Posting regular quality content is essential to your success. This is because your audience will be kept up to date and search engines will realise that your website is active, alive and providing information.
It can take 6 months to a couple of years to get your affiliate marketing business to earn you good money. There will be mistakes, there will be changes in Google’s algorithms that can ruin a website’s visibility to its audience, you will have bad months and you will have unproductive times (because you are human). But, these are things you have to get over and keep working. You will have to reduce the amount of TV you watch, time spent on social media and other time wasters, but that it a good thing.
Get Some Training
I can’t imagine the amount of mistakes I would have made without good training. This was one of my prerequisites of starting a new business, as I didn’t want to go in blindly wasting time and money.
When I was researching what kind of online business I wanted to start, I found lots of “gurus” that said they had the secret to earning money in affiliate marketing. I didn’t believe any of them and it nearly put me off affiliate marketing all together.
As I was still trying to decide what to do (even though affiliate marketing interested me the most), I wanted more information before spending money on a course. Ideally, I wanted to sample some training to get a better picture of what it entailed.
Luckily, I found something worth trying at Wealthy Affiliate.
What is Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate is a platform that gives you everything you need to start your affiliate marketing business from scratch. It incorporates the following:
- Comprehensive training – Structured courses, live training and community created lessons
- Website builder – This allows you to build a website in less than a minute
- Quality Hosting – Fast and secure hosting included which usually is an extra cost
- Business Tools – Essential tools, such as a keyword research tool are included within the membership, even the FREE membership
- Technical Support – Any technical issues are resolved within minutes of reporting them. This has got me out of trouble quite a few times
- Advice – You are assigned a coach that you can bounce questions off and get their opinion from a professional
- Community – The community is very useful and helpful. You can pose questions and problems to the community and you will get some great feedback and answers
Therefore, Wealthy Affiliate is a one stop shop for your affiliate marketing business needs.
Why I Chose Wealthy Affilaite
I liked that Wealthy Affiliate were not pushy like the “gurus”, but the main thing is that I got to try out their training and the process of affiliate marketing without having to spend money on the unknown. This is because there is a Wealthy Affiliate FREE membership that gives you the first 10 lessons and 2 free websites to play with. In essence, you can start your business without any risk, you just need an email address.
Of course the free membership is limited, but it will give you an idea of whether you want to carry on with Wealthy Affiliate or affiliate marketing in general. If you decide to carry on, you will want to sign up to the premium membership. This is what I did, as I wanted to take my business seriously. The Premium membership gives you a lot more, from more comprehensive training, better access to the community and more functionality in the business tools.
That Is How To Earn Money in Affiliate Marketing
I hope this has been useful to you, if you have any questions or thoughts about this post, please leave them in the comments section below.