What Is Affiliate Marketing And How To Get Started?
Of all the ways I make money online, affiliate marketing is the one I spend the majority of my time on. This is because, it needs a lot of attention, but it is one of the best online businesses to start. In this post, I am going to answer the question of what is affiliate marketing and how to get started? I will go into the basics and tell you what it takes to grow a successful affiliate marketing business.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
The affiliate marketing business model allows you to make money from promoting other people’s products and services. You do this by creating content on your own niche website. Every sale you generate, rewards you with a commission.
There are four steps in the affiliate marketing process:
Affiliate marketing is a content-based business model. This means that you don’t pay for social media or Google ads to attract customers. Instead, you rely on creating content based on what people are searching for online within your niche.
Examples of content are:
- Buyer’s guides
- Personal experiences
Where To Start
Choose Your Niche
The first thing you need to do is choose a niche for your affiliate marketing website. This is so you can target a particular audience. Niches are things like sports, hobbies, aspects of life or specific interests.
You may already have a niche in mind, based around something that you are interested in. This is a good start, but before you move to the next step, you need to do some homework. The thing with niches is that not all of them are profitable. This is why you need to do some research in to possible niches. Check out my guide to choosing an affiliate marketing niche, but in summary, your niche should:
- Focussed – A niche that is too broad, will have too much competition and won’t be relevant enough people’s specific needs.
- Be relevant – This means that, the niche you choose should not go out of fashion, so it can continue to make you money
- Have a big enough following – You really don’t want to spend all your time on something that only a handful of people have an interest in
- Have low competition – If there is too much competition, your niche is saturated and you will find it very difficult to earn money from it
- Be something you are passionate about – If you choose a niche just because you think it will earn you money, you have chosen the wrong one. This is because you will get bored, and it will show in your content. Also, you won’t put the required effort into it if you are not enjoying it.
- By choosing the wrong niche, you can be setting yourself up for creating a website that very few people will find. A successful affiliate marketing website needs to attract as many people as possible, within a niche. Therefore, you really need to take the time to research your possible niches properly.
Choose A Domain Name
While researching your niche, you may have put some thought into your domain name. But, again this isn’t something that you want to jump in to without giving it some serious consideration. Your domain name is important, as it will give your website visitors their first impression of you. It is also really important to make it easy to say, and type. For example, you should avoid numbers or “creative” spellings of words. This is because, if people type it incorrectly, they won’t find your website. I go into all the things you should consider, in my post how to choose a domain name for your business. This will ensure that you get it right the first time.
Choosing a domain name used to be really easy. But now there are so many people with websites, it is difficult to find one that isn’t taken.
Build Your Website
For many people that want to start an online business, they can get put off at the thought of building a website. But, what these people don’t realise, is that it is actually quite easy.
You need to register your domain name, find a good website host and install WordPress. That’s it! To make things even easier, most website hosts double up as registrars. The good ones will also make it very easy for you to install WordPress.
You may be tempted to go for the cheapest website host you can find. This isn’t necessarily the best thing to do, as these cheap ones can be unreliable and slow. I recommend that you check out Bluehost. They are reasonably priced, reliable and fast.
But before you go to Bluehost, keep reading, as I have an alternative option for you.
Customising Your Website
You can spend a lot of time getting the look of your website just right. But don’t go silly with customising just yet. This is because you will find things out as your website evolves with all the content you create. With a WordPress based website, this is pretty easy, thanks to the themes. Themes give your website its look and are usually very customisable.
There are thousands of themes to choose from, and many of them are free. There are paid versions of these free themes, and there are other ones to buy. At this stage, just go for a free theme, you may want to pay for one later on when you start to earn money.
The biggest tip I can give you about choosing a theme is to make sure you pick a responsive theme. A responsive theme loads up quickly and works well on mobile devices. There are more people using their phones to browse the internet these days. So a responsive theme is essential to your website’s success.
An additional little tip is that you should make it easy for mobile users to navigate through your website. If you have too many items on a dropdown menu, for example, they will find it difficult to tap on things. They might not even bother opening up menus. This is something that search engines take into account when ranking website content in search results.
The best thing to do is to keep it simple.
Choose Some Plugins
Plugins are what give your website certain functions and features. Just like themes, there are loads of free ones with paid upgrades. Unless you have some huge fancy website, you will be able to just use the free ones.
Examples of features plugins can give you, are tables, buttons, popups for mailing lists and social media buttons. There are even plugins to make your website faster.
However, don’t go mental with adding a load of plugins, expecting to give it all the bells and whistles. Too many plugins can slow your website down and they can also conflict with each other, causing other problems. Try to make sure you have no more than 5 plugins. The best thing to do is to keep it simple.
Get Creating Content
By this point, your website will be ready for some content. Your content needs to be relevant to your intended audience. The most relevant content to people’s search terms will rank highly in search engines.
To make sure your content stands a good chance of ranking highly, you need to do some more homework. This time it is in the form of keyword research. Without keyword research, you are just hoping that you are writing content that people will find and find value in.
Keyword research isn’t that difficult, nor does it have to take too long. You can learn all about it in my guide How to do keyword research for content marketing. But the process, allows you to find potential topics to write about. It also lets you know if they are good enough for you to spend your time on. This is because you will learn how many people are searching for a keyword each month and how much competition it has. This is all essential for a successful affiliate marketing business and a good keyword list can give you months of content to write.
Once you have your keyword list, it is time to start writing. Your content needs to be written in a particular way. It needs to be SEO (search engine optimisation) friendly. Check out my SEO website checklist for a guide on the things you need to do.
The main thing about creating content is that you need to be helpful and write naturally. This is because search engines can pick up on it and your readers will benefit more from it. By being a great source of information, you will be able to get more website traffic.
What It Takes
The elements above are the steps to building a website. But, I want to give you the full picture about what it takes to run a successful affiliate marketing business.
If you have done any significant research on affiliate marketing, you will have come across lots of gurus. These guys will tell you that they have the secret to earning money with affiliate marketing quickly. Do not listen to these people! Affiliate marketing is s slow burner, as it takes time to make any money from it. There are a few reasons for this:
- The learning curve – Affiliate marketing isn’t particularly complex, but there will be things for you to learn
- Mistakes – You will make mistakes, and unfortunately many of them don’t become apparent for a few months. This is because you will still be learning new things. You need to take these mistakes on the chin, learn from them and move on. This is all part of the learning curve.
- Google algorithms – Google makes it difficult for new websites to rank highly in the early days. This is to make sure that you are serious about providing its users with quality information. After about four months, if you have proved yourself, you will be able to rank pretty much immediately (if you make it SEO friendly).
- Creating content – Creating quality content takes time, especially in the early days. You will discover ways of improving your productivity with some practice.
By being organised, you will be way more productive. I like to plan my week, by knowing what I am going to write about and set all the headings for each post. It is much easier to do this than to start with a blank screen. This will allow you to write more content in a week.
Search engines and your audience likes it when a website demonstrates that it is alive with updated content. This is why you should aim to post new content on your website every day. The more content you have, the more people it will appeal to, giving you a better chance of earning money.
The Will To Learn
You need to be willing to keep learning. There will always be something to learn when it comes to affiliate marketing. You may discover new plugins, ways to organise yourself or new SEO techniques. By learning something small each day, you will build up a great knowledge base. This will improve your productivity and profits.
Where To Learn About Affiliate Marketing
In my post, what is the best free affiliate marketing training? I go into all the details, but I recommend a platform known as Wealthy Affiliate.
This is what I started with, as it attracted me in two ways. The first thing was that it doesn’t have a pushy sales routine that the “gurus” have. The second thing was the Free Membership. This allowed me to get hands-on experience with affiliate marketing, and the insight I wanted to see what it entailed.
At the time, I was trying to decide what online business I wanted to start. So the Free Membership was perfect for me.
Wealthy Affiliate isn’t just a training platform. Earlier, I talked about website hosting and an even simpler way of doing it. Well, Wealthy Affiliate has a website builder and is a domain name registrar. The Free Membership gives you 2 free hosted websites to build and start your business from if you wish.
Wealthy Affiliate makes the path to success shorter, thanks to its business tools and training. The great thing about it is that you can sign up risk-free.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best online businesses you can start. With Wealthy Affiliate, you can easily find out for yourself. You never know where it may take you, and you have nothing to lose by trying.
If you have any thoughts or questions on this subject, please leave them in the comment section below.