How to Begin Affiliate Marketing: Advice for Newbies

Today, I’d like to spend some time to educate you about how to begin affiliate marketing.

If you’re like most people, the idea of making money online is exciting, but also overwhelming. Where do you start? What do you do? What business model do you pick?

Affiliate marketing is my second favorite business model, right behind network marketing. In the paragraphs below, I will teach you what affiliate marketing is, explain how to get started, and then share what I have done successfully to promote different affiliate products.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Here’s the best definition I found online.

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. Source

If I had to put it in my own words, I’d say that affiliate marketing is when someone gets paid to sell someone else’s (or another businesses’s) products or services online. The affiliate company handles the customer service, payment processing, shipping and then they pay you for sending them the customer and sale.

how to begin affiliate marketing

How to Begin Affiliate Marketing

In the paragraphs below, I’m going to break down step-by-step what you need to do begin affiliate marketing.

# 1 Pick a Niche

The first and most important step is to pick a niche. This is nothing more than a group of people you want to focus on. Here are a few example niches:

  1. Horses
  2. Weight Loss
  3. Cryptocurrency
  4. Sex
  5. Marriage
  6. FOREX
  7. Beauty Tips
  8. Living on a Budget

When it comes to picking a niche, there are a few considerations.

First off, are you passionate about the niche? Do you find it interesting? Are you a member of that niche yourself? While this is not MANDATORY, it helps if you are part of the niche because you will have a basic understanding of how people in that niche think, what they want, what types of products they want to buy, etc.

The next thing to look for is the size of the niche. You want a niche that is not too small and not too big. You want there to be enough demand, but not so saturated that the competition is fierce.

The final thing I would look for in the niche is the audience. Are they HUNGRY for information? Do they have MONEY to spend on things? Are they already buying things online? Are there affiliate products available for that niche that are worth promoting?

What I would do is brainstorm 10-20 potential niches and then do a little research on each one to find the one you believe has the most potential. This is the MOST IMPORTANT step in the process, so treat it accordingly.

# 2 How Do You Want to Promote the Affiliate Products?

Once you know your niche, you’re ready for this step. How do you want to promote the affiliate products? Do you want to:

  1. Make videos on YouTube
  2. Share stuff on social media
  3. Create a website or blog
  4. Do everything through email marketing
  5. Do everything through Pay Per Click Ads
  6. Set up your own podcast

Or something else?

If you love to write, I would set up a website. If you prefer videos, I would sell affiliate products via a YouTube channel. If you like social media, I would focus on promoting the affiliate products through social media.

Pick the platform that works the best for you. There is no right or wrong answer. You want a PRIMARY platform, but you can also do a combination of these things like I do.

# 3 Find 2-3 Affiliate Products to Promote

Your next step is to find two to three different affiliate products you want to promote. Don’t make the mistake of starting with 10-20 affiliate products. Less is better. Focus is key.

I suggest you look for a few things when choosing an affiliate program.

# 1 Recurring Commissions

You want an affiliate program that pays you recurring commissions. You refer the customer one time and you get paid on all future purchases that customer makes. This is the easiest way to create big affiliate commissions.

# 2 High Payout Percentages

Ignore the affiliate programs that pay you less than 20 percent per sale. Ideally, you want to earn at least 30 to 50 percent for each item you sell. It’s hard work selling affiliate products, so you want to make sure you are getting paid fairly.

# 3 Big Ticket Items

Personally, I recommend promoting affiliate products you earn at least $20 to $100 per sale, if not more. It’s going to be difficult to make money if you’re only earning a few dollars for each item you sell.

# 4 High Converting Offers

You want affiliate products that people actually want to buy. It should be an in demand product, priced fairly, with a high perceived value and a high converting sales page.

I wrote a detailed post about how to evaluate an affiliate program. I suggest you read that as well.

set up your sales funnel

# 4 Set Up Your Sales Funnel

In this step you need to set up your sales funnel. No matter what platform you choose, it is IMPERATIVE that you set up your own sales funnel. A sales funnel is nothing more than a capture page and an auto-responder.

The capture page is a one-page website you are going to send your visitors too. Once they opt-in and type in their name and email they will start getting your email messages, which promote your different affiliate products.

You must realize that most people need to see an offer at least 7-10 times before they make a buying decision. This is why you need a sales funnel: to stay in touch with people.

There are lots of tutorials on YouTube about how to set up a sales funnel. I would start there.

# 5 Develop Your Business & Marketing Plan

Step # 5 is to develop your business plan and marketing plan. Take out one piece of paper and write down the following things:

  1. Your Goals (1, 6 & 12-Month Goals)
  2. Your Vision (where you see your business in a few years)
  3. Your Target Market
  4. Your Daily Action Plan
  5. Your Monthly Marketing Budget

Here’s an example website business plan I posted on my other blog. You can use that as a template for your own business plan and marketing plan.

# 6 Stay Persistent and Consistent

The last step in this process is to stay the course. I’m going to keep it real with you for a moment. It’s going to take you some time to succeed with affiliate marketing. You will not make money right away. You have to develop your skills, learn from each mistake, and press on until successful.

Personally, it took me a couple of years to figure out the basics. Considering you are doing this part-time, that’s still a great deal. Just be patient, keep learning and don’t quit.

I would also suggest you join this training platform. It’s free, and what you learn will definitely sharpen your skills. You’ll also have me as a free coach.

my favorite affiliate marketing strategy

My Favorite Affiliate Marketing Strategy

My favorite strategy to begin affiliate marketing is to build your own niche website. Basically, you take one of your hobbies, passions or interests and turn it into a successful niche website. You write articles that provide a ton of value and you recommend different affiliate products within your content.

As the traffic to your website grows, so do your affiliate sales. It’s really that simple. Once you have a high traffic website, you can make money with it 24/7.

What I Did

How did I begin with affiliate marketing? I built two niche websites, a military website and a website about network marketing. Each website has nearly 1,500 pages of content.

My content PRE-SELLS my visitors on me, and the information I provide. Within my content, I recommend different affiliate products. Because my audience likes, knows and trusts me, they trust my recommendations, and many of them purchase the different affiliate products I recommend.

This website you are on right now is my THIRD niche website. Eventually, I plan on having 5-10 different niche websites that all provide me a passive income.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks. These are my best tips on how to begin affiliate marketing. I hope you found the information helpful. What are your best tips on how to begin affiliate marketing? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

Suggested Reading

  1. Internet Marketing in an Hour a Day
  2. My Internet Marketing Business Plan
  3. My Wealthy Affiliate Review & Success Story
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38 thoughts on “How to Begin Affiliate Marketing: Advice for Newbies

  1. This is very useful information for people who know little to nothing about affiliate marketing. If I had come across this information earlier, I wouldn’t have fallen victim to several scams that robbed me of my hard-earned money. 

    While I’m now convinced that affiliate marketing is the sure way to go to make money online, I would like to ask how long would it take to make a consistent income that can replace my main income stream?

    • For most new affiliate marketers, I would say that if you are working your business two to three hours per day, seven days per week, a realistic time frame to make a full-time income would be five years. Of course, individual results will vary. It also depends on what you consider to be a full-time income. Most people starting in affiliate marketing have unrealistic expectations and they do not have the entrepreneur mindset. This is why most people give up and quit after a few months.

      I tell everyone that building a website takes time. My websites didn’t get much traction for four or five YEARS and I was working on them full-time. It takes an incredible amount of work and discipline. However, once you get your website running smoothly, it’s pretty easy to maintain. 

  2. Great, this is an extensive guide indeed! I thoroughly appreciate the research you must have done to gather & compile so much information.

    I must say I found your article highly uplifting & educational. This post can be used as a guide for anyone beginning affiliate marketing, and you have covered everything.

    How I wish I had found your article sooner when I first started my online journey! I had to go through the old way of trial and error. I am sure your article will help many newbies looking to begin with affiliate marketing.

    I am now a full-time affiliate marketer, but even still, I learned a lot of valuable information from your post.

    Much Success!

    Paul

    • Thanks for the kind words, Paul. I’m glad you enjoyed my article about how to begin affiliate marketing. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. 

  3. Chuck,

    You have a way of making things that are really complex into something simple. Your advice on how to begin affiliate marketing is spot on. The key to success is to get started. Make a mess. Make a few mistakes, learn from them and then tweak and improve. Keep repeating that over and over and within a few short years you can have a really successful affiliate marketing business. 

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed my article on how to begin affiliate marketing. This advice will work for any newbie if they follow it and stay the course. 

  4. I’m really interested in affiliate marketing, Chuck, but I’m struggling to come up with a niche. Do you have any suggestions that might help me? The niche I like doesn’t have many good affiliate products, so I’m leaning toward the make money online niche. Do you recommend that Chuck? Or, should I just stick with my original choice?

    • You can make money with any niche. I think so. The big niches, like the make money online niche, are ultra competitive. It’s going to be difficult to rank high in the search engines for those terms, although it is possible. 

      If you’re leaning towards a niche like make money online, maybe you could break it down into a smaller sub-niche like make money online with paid surveys how to make money with Google Adsense. 

      Those niches are still plenty big enough to provide a good affiliate income, but they aren’t anywhere near as competitive as the make money online niche. I hope that helps. 

  5. Thank you for your informative post. I’ve been doing affiliate marketing for a few years now and I think being persistent and consistent is the most important success factor.

    I also think the biggest challenge for many starters is how to find a good niche. Does competition matter the most or the audience size? Should people choose a niche that they are passionate about or a niche that is more profitable? What’s your opinion about it?

    • Albert,

      Being persistent and consistent is huge. Most people give up WAY to soon. I don’t think there is one right or wrong niche. You just need to find something you like, know a little bit about, and there isn’t too much competition. You can make money, even if you pick the wrong niche, as long as you have good content, good affiliate products and a good marketing strategy. Just my two cents. 

      Chuck

  6. Chuck,

    You keep things so simple. I love that. Your advice on how to begin affiliate marketing is spot on. Anyone could read this post and know exactly what they need to do, if they want to make money with affiliate marketing. I really like the idea of doing affiliate marketing via YouTube videos. If you like being on camera, this is the way to go. 

    Fasuan

    • Glad you liked my post. Yes, YouTube is a killer way to make money with affiliate marketing, for the right person. Making a video takes a lot less time than writing an article. What I do is take my articles and turn them into videos as well, so I can have the best of both worlds. That is something everyone should consider. Or, you can take your video, have it transcribed, and then turn it into a blog post. 

  7. Thanks a lot for these affiliate marketing tips, especially the niche ideas. I also checked your page where you have mentioned about 17 niche ideas. However, can you please give me the best tip to find out the most profitable niche so that I can make a website on that niche? Thank you

    • I would pick a niche that is popular, but not too saturated, and something that interests you. There isn’t just ONE niche out there that you should focus on. 

  8. Thank you for this article on how to begin affiliate marketing. You made it really easy to understand! I am an affiliate marketer myself, and I absolutely loved your tips because there’s one in there that I haven’t done. And you made me realize that it’s important and I need to get on the ball.

    That’s your #5 tip – develop your business and marketing plan. 

    The thing is, I’m more of a creative person. Marketing and business plans, numbers, stats, budgets and things like that all scare me. I just want to write! (LOL). But, at the same time, sometime you gotta do the things that you don’t really want to do. 

    So thank you for that gentle reminder. 🙂

    • Christina,

      To succeed in affiliate marketing, you definitely need to have a game-plan that is written down. This keeps you focused and on point each day, so you don’t get sidetracked down the wrong rabbit hole. 

      Chuck

  9. I am relatively new in the affiliate marketing world. I’ve not even made one sale yet!  The biggest issue for me is trying to keep up with the consistency. My day job takes almost 20-hours of my day and I rarely have time to blog or socialize with my readers. What do you recommend I do in this situation?

    • If you’re creating a website, hire people to do those things for you. Hire a writer. For the money you spend, it will be worth it. All you would have to do is edit the article and post it on your site. No excuses!

  10. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed reading it. I love your definition of affiliate marketing and the explicit way you explained it. I like the way you explained the various ways affiliate marketing could pay its affiliates. Then the step by step way of building an affiliate marketing business online through one’s website. This is such a good read. Keep up the good work. 

    • Thanks for the kind words, Juliet. Even if I can help one person make money with affiliate marketing, this post will be more than worth it. When I was first starting out with affiliate marketing, nearly 10-years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I wish I would have had someone share these tips with me back then. 

  11. Thank you so much for this article on “How to Begin Affiliate Marketing”. This is one of the best articles I have ever read on the subject.

    Even I have learned some new things from your article, and I’ve been doing affiliate marketing myself for over four years.

    Because of your article, I realized that I didn’t put much thought in using videos to promote my website and affiliate products. I love being creative and did use videos in the past, however, I left it out focusing only on one part. 

    Again, thank you for sharing this information. 

    • Thanks for the comment, Sylvia. Using videos is a great way to do affiliate marketing. They are easy to make, rank high in the search engines, and people love videos. They say videos are the way of the future. 

      I try to take all of my content and turn it into videos and podcasts. This leads to more traffic and affiliate sales. 

  12. Thank you very much for this excellent post. I love the way you simplified everything step by step. I am planning to start an affiliate marketing business in the very near future. 

    I have already started building my own website through the Wealthy Affiliate program. I am currently receiving training on the various strategies that will drive traffic to my website as well write a good content that will facilitate the same. Once I begin to get more traffic, I will begin to promote products that relate to my niche. 

    Thank you a lot, your post is very helpful. 

    • Sounds like you have a great game-plan to make money with affiliate marketing. Here’s to your success. If you’re using Wealthy Affiliate, you can’t go wrong. 

  13. Thank you for sharing this valuable information about how to begin affiliate marketing! I’ve heard about affiliate marketing in the past through my friends. It really appeals to me, because it can help to generate passive income. I’m still learning about it, especially finding the right niche to focus on. 

    I have several interests, so I’m still confused about which niche would be the best choice. Do you have a suggestion to pick a niche from several interesting topics? Because I feel my passion toward these several topics are equal. Thank you.

    • Alblue,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you learned about affiliate marketing. There are many niches you can choose from. At the end of the day, you want a niche that is not too big and not too small. It really helps if you are interested in the niche as well, and know a little bit about it. This will make creating content a lot easier for you. 

      Write down all the niches that interest you, spend an hour or two researching the niches, and then go with your gut. Trust your intuition. If you do that, you can’t go wrong. Just my two cents. 

      Chuck

  14. One of the most important things that you talk about is the niche. I started with a niche that I believe is very important. After a month a realized even though I love it, I am not very passionate about it. 

    I started a second website with a niche personal to me, something I know as I have first hand experience with it, and I love it. My first post had 40 views. It is so important to pick a niche that is right for you, the rest you can work on as you go along. Great article!

    • Picking the right niche is important. Yes, you should love it. But it also needs to have plenty of demand and a large enough group of hungry buyers, so you can make a nice profit with it. 

  15. Most articles I read about affiliate marketing are boring. I like how you keep things simple and get straight to the point.

    Affiliate marketing sounds easy. That’s why so many people get started with it. Like anything else, you have to develop your skills and go through the School of Hard Knocks to learn the basics. 

    If people follow the advice you mentioned in this article Chuck, there is no doubt in my mind they will eventually succeed in affiliate marketing. 

    • Thanks for the kind words. 

      Get started, make mistakes, learn, press on.

      That is my real formula for success in affiliate marketing. Have realistic expectations, make a MINIMUM five year commitment and press on. You will be bad before you are good and good before you are great.

      Thinking you will make money quickly, or lots of money easily, is very unrealistic. This is not the lottery. It is a business. 

  16. I can tell you know a lot about marketing Chuck. Affiliate marketing is very similar to marketing. You have to align your market, message and media. Pick the right niche, find out what they want to buy and then find a good platform to share that product or message with them. Great advice. 

    • Thanks, Danny. Marketing is marketing, whether you do it online, face to face, through the mail, or something else. To succeed with affiliate marketing, you just need to follow the advice outlined in this article. It’s actually quite simple to do. It’s not easy, but it is simple. 

  17. I think #6 Stay persistent and Consistent is the most important tip out of all this article. We all know on how to be an affiliate marketer and which program we should sign up for. We often fail (I am one of the people actually) because we do not stick to the program long enough. Thank you for sharing your tips, I will share your post to my friends 🙂

    • Yes, most new affiliate marketers have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they will get money. Trying affiliate marketing for a month or two or three is like trying a marriage for 1-3 months. You have to get started, be committed and stay the course. It takes time, normally 5 to 10 times longer than you think and at least 5 to 10 times more work and money than you expect. 

  18. Like you I prefer affiliate marketing by creating website around topics I enjoy. And the cool thing is you only need ONE successful website to make a full time income online.

    But like you said it takes learning some new skills, hard work, and patience to succeed with it — and sadly too many people quit before they start seeing results.

    I’m impressed though how much content you have on your sites. Are you outsourcing any of it, and if you don’t mind me asking about how much money is it generating you a month?

    • It took me about a year to make my first affiliate sale and about five years to create a predictable, steady income. Some people do it faster, some slower. I do outsource a lot of my writing now, simply because there is only so much time in a day and I don’t want to be stuck behind a computer 16-hours per day. I do make a full-time income online, but I don’t share my earnings with anyone. 

  19. Hi Chuck 

    I like the way you broke everything down. The Affiliate Marketing process is not that difficult to understand but I think people over complicate it by targeting ultra competitive niches, doing too much at the same time, and giving up before they’ve really given it a good shot. 

    What you provided here tells people exactly what to do by keeping it simple and consistent. One of the biggest challenges for new affiliate marketers is they want to make money too soon, before they’ve learned the skills. I speak from experience of course. 

    No business happens overnight or without work, but affiliate marketing is a very viable one if you follow your steps and don’t give up.

    Mark

    • You gotta pay your dues and learn. Coming into a new business with an employee mindset can be the kiss of death. Set some goals. Don’t expect to make a penny your first year. Just get started, make mistake and learn. If you were fortunate enough to have a mentor or training platform, like Wealthy Affiliate, that will guide you, consider yourself lucky. 

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