How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Website
So you want to build an affiliate marketing website but don’t know how. You realise that starting an online business is what you want to do. but you don’t know where to start and want to get it right first time. You may have been trawling the Internet for answers, but you are not sure which direction to go or who’s advice you can trust. Well don’t worry anymore, in this post I am going to give you all the information on how to start an affiliate marketing website from scratch.
The Basics Of Affiliate Marketing
First I want to make sure you know exactly what affiliate marketing is and how it works. I will use a scenario to paint a picture of the process.
Dan wants to buy a new skate board. In fact he has heard that the Dusters Fin 35 longboard is a good one, but wants some more information on it.
You have a website that provides loads of information on long boards and you have written a review on the Dusters Fin 35. Dan finds your review of the board after a Google search and clicks on it.
Your review was so good, Dan decides he wants to buy the board. At the bottom of your review, you have placed a button with an affiliate link from an online shop called Blue Tomato, that sells the board.
Dan clicks on this link and is seamlessly taken to Blue Tomato, where he buys his new board. Once the transaction has gone through, you get rewarded with a commission.
Depending on the niche you choose, the product or service you are promoting and the affiliate program, you can earn anything from 1 to 75% of the sales price.
Carry on reading to see how you can make commissions from thousands of Dans.
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing gives you some great benefits. Personally, my favourite part is the flexibility it gives me. I live in the French Alps and am a massive fan of the outdoors. My spare time is taken up with snowboarding, and hiking mountain biking. Being able to choose my hours allows me to live my life how I want to. I will often work late at night, but this is fine by me, as most of the time it is because I have had an epic day on the mountain.
The flexibility of affiliate marketing also means, if I ever decide to change location, I can carry on without interrupting the effectiveness of my business.
Affiliate marketing is very cheap to start. In fact it is one of the most accessible businesses for someone that wants to start their own business. All you need is a computer, a hosted website and an internet connection.
When it comes to money, the sky is the limit. You have a worldwide market that can buy stuff at anytime from anywhere. This also means that you can earn money 24/7, as your website can be attracting traffic at anytime.
However, it isn’t all plain sailing. The worst part of affiliate marketing, is the amount of time it takes to make money. It takes months to make even a penny and can take over a year before you are making a significant amount of money. There are a few reasons for this that I will go in to later, but the key is to be patient and consistent with your content creation.
If you decide to start this journey, be prepared to be disheartened from time to time. Affiliate marketing is a slow burner and a test of your resilience and patience.
How Much Money Can You Make Affiliate Marketing?
I said before that the sky is the limit and many affiliate marketers earn four figures every month. However, the amount of money you can make depends on a few factors. Realistically, it is so hard to predict how much money you can earn and how quickly. This is because it depends on:
- The products you promote
- The niche you are working in
- How much traffic you attract
- You understanding of the techniques
- How hard you work
- Changes in SEO algorithms
- Mistakes you will make
- Technical issues
This probably isn’t the answer you were after, but it is an honest one and the truth. But, if you can deal with these things, carry on reading and I will take you through the steps required to make it work.
The Steps For Starting An Affiliate Marketing Website
Step 1 - Choose Your Niche
You need somewhere to start and to base your content around. Your niche needs some careful consideration. If you get this wrong (and I have in the past) you will make zero cash and will waste your time. Luckily, I have written a guide to choosing an affiliate marketing niche. But in summary, a niche is a group of people with a common interest and should:
- Be Focussed – A by targeting a small group of dedicated people, you stand more chance of making sales than with one that tries to reach a broad spectrum of people. Focussed niches also have a less competition, making it easier to convert sales.
- Be Relevant – By this, I mean that it should not go out of fashion. A niche that people are going to lose interest in is a bad idea. By the time your website has some authority, there won’t be anyone interested in it, so it will flop.
- Have a good following – If your niche is so focussed only a few people are interested in it, you won’t make enough money from it to make it worth the effort. You will just have a few enthusiasts sending you messages from time to time.
- Have low competition – Competition is good, as it means that there are enough people interested in it. However, if there is too much competition, the chances of you getting to the top of Google are slim. Therefore, your research should see how many other websites are working within a niche before you start.
- Be something you are interested in – When it comes to affiliate marketing you are going to be creating lots of content. If you choose a niche that you are not really interested in just because you think it will make money, you will get bored quickly. This will in turn make your content poor quality.
Step 2 - Choose A Domain Name
You may have an idea for a domain name already, but before you buy it, stop and have a little think. There are a few things to consider before you commit to a domain name. I go in to it in my guide to choosing a domain name, but in short you need to think about the following:
- Make sure it is a .com – Your audience will take you more seriously than if it is a .org or .biz
- Make it brandable – Be creative and create a memorable domain name. This is how people will remember your website and keep coming back
- Make it short – I am aware that the domain name for this website is long, but ideally you should try to keep it under 12 characters.
- Make it easy to type – When people misspell your domain name, they won’t find it and go to your competitors.
- Make it easy to say – When telling someone what your domain name is, you want it to roll off the tongue. So avoid numbers, as you will have to explain whether it is a “6” or a “six”. Additionally, avoid hyphens. This makes it awkward. I did this on one of my websites and now I’m stuck with it.
- Use keywords – Keywords relating to your niche are a good idea. It helps with SEO and keeps it relevant.
- Don’t limit yourself – You may want to expand later in to other products and services. You won’t be able to move in to promoting tennis shoes if you choose www.redhoodies.com.
Step 3 - Build A Website
Building a website is actually quite easy. The difficult way is to learn how to code your website yourself from scratch. However, these days, you really don’t need to do this and its not 1994 anymore! Coding a website takes far too long to do, and I guarantee it will be terrible . Most affiliate marketers build their websites using WordPress. WordPress is designed for bloggers that have no coding skills to easily build and manage their website. Therefore, it is really easy to use, and you can give your affiliate marketing website certain features and functionality with very little effort using plugins. Here are the steps open what you need to do to build a WordPress website:
- Choose a website host and choose a domain name – It is common for people to choose the cheapest host they can find. This is not always recommended, as they are usually slow and unreliable. A good option is Blue Host, as it is inexpensive and reliable.
- Set up your blog – If you sign up to Blue Host, you can easily install WordPress with one click. If you choose another host, they should have something similar. If not, the chances are they are a poor website host.
- Choose a theme and personalise it – WordPress themes are what gives your blog its look. There are lots to choose from and many of them are very customisable. When you choose a theme, I suggest you do a bit of research in to it. The most important thing these days is to make sure that it is responsive. This means that it will be fast and works well with mobile devices. Also look at the amount of downloads and the star ratings of the theme that you like the look of.
- Choose plugins – As I said before, plugins give your blog certain features and functions. Plugins give you the ability to speed up your website, add tables, buttons, video, add eCommerce functions, block spam add security and much more. Many plugins are free, but some have “pro” versions that unlock extra features for a small payment.
Step 4 - Build A List Of Quality Keywords
Knowledge of keywords is essential to the success of your affiliate marketing website. This is because you need to base your content around the things that people are searching for within your niche. Without a list of keywords, you are just shooting in the dark hoping that you reach your audience.
Keywords are what people are typing in to search engines to find answers to the questions they have. Therefore, if you answer commonly asked questions with your content and your information is the most relevant, you will get to the top of people’s searches. This is the best way of getting traffic to your website, as it is free.
Building up a keyword list isn’t as difficult or as boring as it may sound. There are a few techniques you can use, which I have outlined in my guide to finding the best keywords.
Step 5 - Create Quality Content
Content is king when it comes to affiliate marketing websites. Your content needs to do two things:
- Rank highly in search engines
- Appeal to your audience
By creating your content in a certain way, you will achieve both of these. This is why keywords are so important, as is getting some SEO skills.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and the techniques involved are essential to your affiliate marketing website’s success. The techniques are not particularly complex, but you do have to remember to use them. In my guide on how to get to the top of Google, I outline some of the things that Google is looking for. You should also check out my SEO checklist and bookmark it for reference.
SEO techniques show search engines how relevant your content is to what the user searched. The most relevant in the eyes of Google, will get to the top. This means that more people will visit your website and that will earn you more money. That is of course, your content impresses the reader.
Examples of content for your affiliate marketing website could be:
- Buyer’s guides
- Experiences of using a product or service
- Best of….
Get Some Training
If you are really serious about making a success of your affiliate marketing website, I suggest you get educated. With the correct knowledge, the journey to success will be much smoother and shorter.
You can trawl the internet looking for posts like this one for information, but there is no substitute for a proper training course.
I did a lot of research in to finding the best training provider for building an affiliate marketing business. Many of the “gurus” I found didn’t fill me with enough confidence to hand my money over. In fact I nearly gave up and started to look in to alternative businesses because of this. But before I gave up, I found Wealthy Affiliate. Wealthy Affiliate didn’t come across as pushy like the other training providers did. This appealed to me, so I thought I would look in to them further.
I was still trying to decide if affiliate marketing was for me and I really wanted to get the full picture of what I would be letting myself in for. This is when the Wealthy Affiliate Free Membership came in very handy.
This gave me a chance to build a website for free, following the training provided. There is also access to a great keyword research tool called Jaaxy. This is very powerful and gives you information regarding how much traffic a keyword should bring you and how much competition it has. All of this is explained in the Wealthy Affiliate training.
The Wealthy Affiliate training is very comprehensive and easy to follow. It takes you from day one and if you choose to go for the premium membership, it takes you all the way through to scaling your business and refining it for maximum profits.
How I Started My Affiliate Marketing Business
I gave up my corporate job in the UK to move to France to go snowboarding for the winter. I worked as a chalet host, cooking and cleaning for holiday makers and then I became an apartment manager. This was great, but I wanted more flexibility, so I could go on the mountain when the conditions were best, rather than waiting for my day off.
I realised that an online business was the way to get this flexibility. I did a lot of research and eventually decide to go in to affiliate marketing.
Every night after work, I would work on my first website until midnight. I then went part time with my job at the holiday company, managing social media, writing blogs and helping out on change over days.
After a while I managed to leave my job. But I still managed their social media and wrote their blogs (and I still do). I also manage the social media of a local bike shop for beer money.
I still do the social media stuff, because it is easy and I enjoy it. But, I work on my websites all day and work much more than I did while I was employed. The difference is, is that I can choose my hours. I quite often work late at night, but that is Ok because I have usually been on the mountain all morning.
You don’t have to be an out door enthusiast to benefit from an online business. Parents, retirees, students, disabled people etc can also benefit from earning money in this way.
What You Need To Know About Affiliate Marketing
It Takes A Long Time To Earn Money
This is the main drawback of affiliate marketing. You really need to make sure you have a source of income before you decide to ditch everything and start your own business.
It takes months to make even a penny as a beginner affiliate marketer. It can take over a year to make anything significant. This can really take its toll and get you down, because you are working very hard to make it work, but you don’t have anything to show for it.
There are a few reasons why it takes so long to start earning money:
- The learning curve – You need to learn new skills to make it work. This is why a training course is a good idea, as everything you need to know is laid out for you in the right order.
- Creating content – It takes a while to write quality content, especially in the early days. You will get quicker, but this comes with experience and organisation.
- Google algorithms – New websites sit in what is known as the sandbox. They stay in the sandbox for about four months, until they have proven themselves to be good sources of information. While they are in the Sandbox Google makes it difficult for them to rank highly. This is to make sure that you mean business and not just going to write poor quality content. Once out of the sandbox, it is possible for your content to get to the top of Google searches within an hour if you use proper SEO techniques.
- Mistakes – You will make mistakes, it is the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, it is common for affiliate marketers to not find mistakes for months, which slows down your progress.
BUT! When you get it right, the pennies start turning in to pounds and dollars. Eventually, the money starts coming in and it is especially good when you wale up in the morning to find out that people have bought stuff through your website while you were sleeping!
You Need To Work Hard
You need to work on your affiliate marketing website in some way every single day. Really you should be cresting new content every single day. Search engines love to see websites that are constantly being updated and worked on. Websites that are perceived to be active, alive and well are more likely to rank highly and build up a domain authority.
Even if you only learn a small thing each day, you are building your skills. These skills will make your affiliate marketing website more effective and make your life easier. So whether it be social media marketing strategies, how to write an effective review, new SEO skills or even how to add a new cool feature to your website, make sure you keep increasing your knowledge.
How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Website - Answered!
Now you have the steps all lined out for you to start an affiliate marketing website. I hope that you have found this post useful. Please let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.