Affiliate Marketing Overview For Beginners

Welcome to Affiliate Marketing for Beginners. Here you’ll discover free training on how to start making money online as an affiliate marketer. If you’re brand new to affiliate marketing, or haven’t been at it long, then this is definitely for you.

1. What is Affiliate Marketing?

affiliate marketing has made people millionaires

If you’re a complete beginner looking to make money online, then the best option for you is undoubtedly affiliate marketing, which is a tried and trusted performance-based marketing system.

It has the lowest barrier to entry of any business model because it’s easy to learn and master, you don’t have to be an expert, and there’s little or no investment to get started. So it’s absolutely ideal for a beginner like yourself.

Affiliate marketing is an online business model where vendors / merchants pay a performance-based commission to affiliates (you) for promoting their products and services online.

By joining an affiliate program then promoting offers / products to your website visitors and/or an email marketing list, you get paid a commission from the vendor / merchant every time someone purchases one of their products via your website or email list.

In other words, you get paid for introducing and bringing ‘buyers’ to ‘sellers.’  When they buy, you get paid a commission.  So, for example, if a visitor to your website buys a $50 product, and the product pays 75% commission, you’ll make $37.50. Not too shabby, right?

But here’s the great part — you don’t have to do any selling; the vendor does that. All you have to do is ‘warm-up’ the prospect, for example, by reviewing then recommending a product. You don’t even need to have bought the product yourself, although it’s usually best if you do because your review will be that much more genuine.

And you don’t have to meet prospects face-to-face. You don’t have to call them. You don’t have to take any orders. You don’t bill them. You don’t deal with their queries. All that’s taken care of by the vendor, that’s their job. You just collect the commissions!

All you have to do is simply introduce interested people to the product on your website and have a way (a clickable link) of conducting them from your website to the vendor’s website where they can then purchase the product for which you get paid a commission. And it all happens online without you having to do anything else.

Affiliate marketing is a business that has the ability to be repeatable and scalable once you develop a system that has given you results.  Once you have the pieces in place you can then duplicate and re-use those promotions over and over again.  By cloning your promotions you will have created a system you can use to make you money virtually anytime you want.

This performance-based marketing business model is one of the easiest ways for beginners to start generating an income and build an online business, even while still holding down a day job.  There is no or little investment needed to start-up and you don’t need to be an expert to get going.

To a beginner, this may sound too good to be true, but you really can run a business from a laptop anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Examples of Performance-Based Payouts

Here are just a few examples of the commission payment model and how it works.

  • An Amazon affiliate writes a review of the Kindle Fire tablet on his or her website, and includes affiliate links that takes site visitors to Amazon. When those visitors buy a Kindle Fire, the affiliates makes a commission.
  • An eBay affiliate places live auction listings of relevant products on their website, and each time their site visitors clicks on one of those listings and make a purchase on eBay the affiliate earns a commission.
  • An affiliate builds a website about photography and regularly posts various tips and guides about the topic. In the sidebar of his site they place banner ads promoting Canon cameras as a Best Buy affiliate. Each time someone clicks on that banner and makes a purchase on Best Buy, they earn a commission.
  • A tech blogger writes a review of the latest Apple MacBook, and places an affiliate link to Apple’s website within the review. Each time someone clicks on that link and buys a MacBook, or anything else at Apple’s store, the affiliate earns a commission.
  • An email marketer sends an offer to their list for a new premium WordPress theme. Each subscriber that clicks on the offer link and purchases the theme earns the affiliate a commission.

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2. Main Benefits of Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

affiliate marketing means you don't have to create your own product

There are many benefits for newcomers to affiliate marketing, but the first — and perhaps the most important — is that you don’t have to go through the lengthy and costly process of creating your own product to sell.

The sorts of things that sell very well online are quite often digital products, e.g. e-books, online courses, and software. Any of these takes a lot of time and skill to create, not to mention, money.

But if you’re not a proficient writer, then you might struggle to create an e-book that people are happy to pay for.

Likewise, if you’re not a programmer, you can’t make the next must-have piece of software. And if it’s a physical product you want to sell you’ll need to learn the entire manufacturing process.

If you don’t have the skills to develop your own product you have two options…

The first is to learn the necessary skills or just to work hard to overcome your limitations. You might write and rewrite your e-book for instance, get it proofread, rewrite it again, proofread again, then rewrite once more. But it will be a slow process. You could learn to code meanwhile, or you could learn how products are designed and created. Whatever, it’s hugely time-consuming.

The other option is to outsource the entire process. If you can’t write/program/design, then you can find someone who can by going onto sites like UpWork, Elance or People Per Hour. So is this a good strategy? Well yes, it can be, but it usually requires a pretty big upfront investment and outsourcers have to be managed very closely to ensure they deliver exactly what you want and in the timescales you want.

But here’s the thing: even after all that, you can never know for certain if a product is going to sell or not. In other words, you could spend months and hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of dollars creating your product, and find no one wants to buy it. This will leave you at a huge loss and you’ll have to give up or sink even more money into yet another untested idea.

Smart business nous will tell you instead to use the ‘fail fast’ approach. This means testing as many ideas and products as you can, to begin with, to see what sticks and not committing yourself financially to any project unless you have clear evidence that it’s going to be successful.

This is where affiliate marketing comes into its own…

As a beginner, if you fail with affiliate marketing, you lose nothing so you can keep trying different products until you find the one you’ll profit from best.

And even better, with affiliate marketing…

You can pick a product that’s already selling well and that’s already getting amazing reviews. You can literally find someone online who is making a killing from selling an affiliate product and then you can promote that exact same product knowing that it’s possible to get rich from that strategy.

When you sell your own product and it’s not making the money you hoped for, you may find you can’t tell whether it’s the product or your marketing strategy that’s holding you back. But with performance-based affiliate marketing you already know that the product works, so it’s just a matter of finding the best way to promote it.

Now there are scenarios where it does make sense to create your own product and ultimately this gives you more freedom and flexibility and potentially more profit. But for a lot of people, particularly beginners and those with little or no money to invest, affiliate marketing makes much more sense.

And there’s definitely money to be made with affiliate marketing…

While nearly 40% of affiliate marketers earned below $5K in 2013 and used it purely as a secondary source of income, 50% earned at least $10K a year, 20% were on $50K+, and the top earners earned as much as $500K per annum. Not bad at all! (Source: Three Ladders Marketing).

And don’t forget…

You don’t have to ‘sell’ the product. You don’t have to worry about order fulfillment, i.e. receive, process and deliver orders to the end customer. You don’t have to take care of customer support, i.e. queries, complaints, returns, chargebacks, etc. The vendor / merchant takes care of all that, making it ideal for beginners.

Summary of Benefits of the Affiliate Marketing Model for Beginners

  • Unlimited income potential.
  • Unlimited opportunities.
  • Very little in start-up costs.
  • Fairly easy technical set-up with no technical knowledge required because of the availability of free tools, such as WordPress, to easily build affiliate websites.
  • No advanced marketing skills are required, — online marketing has a specific set of skills that can be learned by anyone in a fairly short time.
  • Plenty of support from online forums.
  • Can be started and done around a day job.
  • Potential freedom from punching a time clock.
  • Pride in accomplishing something extraordinary.
  • No need to create a product or service.
  • No shipping hassles.
  • No direct dealing with customers.
  • So, a great opportunity for newbies.

 

3. Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing

getting started with affiliate marketing

So now you understand the basics of performance-based affiliate marketing, how do you go about getting started?

To get going you first need an online presence. There are several ‘venues’ or ‘platforms’ that you can use to create your business around…

Website

Building a website that focuses on a specific niche  (an identifiable group of people with a common interest, e.g. weightloss, hair loss, etc.) is one of the most preferred methods for beginners. These niche sites focus on a specific topic and are monetized with related products and services.

Product review sites are also ideal, as they can be easily monetized and, when done correctly, convert very well since site visitors are, by their search behaviour, already interested in product X and so further along the buying cycle.

WordPress is a free website platform and is the easiest and most productive way for beginners to build and maintain affiliate websites.

Blog

Starting a blog is another popular method, where content is updated regularly and a connection is made with a target audience in a specific niche. It can be a stand-alone blog with its own domain name, e.g. websitename.com, or it can be a part of the website, e.g. websitename.com/blog.

Either way, it’s very easy to set up and run with the WordPress platform.

Email Marketing

Email marketing can yield the highest return on investment (ROI). In fact, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports that email marketing produces an ROI of $35.00 for each dollar that is invested, which is very impressive.

But email marketing can be problematic for some beginners, because they think it’s too complicated and too ‘techie’ for them. Again, you don’t have to be an expert since there are tools out there that make the whole process relatively easy to learn and set-up. And once set-up all you do is send regular emails to form a relationship with your subscribers. And even that can be completely automated!

Email marketing is so important for any business that it should be done as soon as possible. In fact, building a list of subscribers from the first day of site launch is highly recommended. Having your own list of email subscribers that you can regularly and frequently promote different affiliate offers to is a proven, extremely effective, way to earn significant income.

Start Up Costs

One of the biggest advantages for beginners of starting an internet business with affiliate marketing is that the start-up costs are so very low, especially when compared to a brick and mortar business that comes with high overheads.

Must Have Requirements:

  • Computer
  • Internet connection

Website Requirements:

  • Domain Name ($14.99 per year at most)
  • Hosting account for your website (average cost $9.95 per month or less)
  • Website creation platform (free or paid — WordPress is free)

Other Requirements:

  • motivation
  • commitment
  • learning proper skills
  • hard work
  • determination
  • discipline to work independently
  • time and patience

 

4. Choosing an Affiliate Network and Products to Promote

affiliate marketing networks

The first step here is going to be in deciding which type of affiliate network / program you want to join up to. Do you want to sell a digital product? A physical product? Or a service?

The best / easiest answer for most beginners will be a digital product. This means something like an eBook, a free report, or a digital course.

There’s no cost associated with production, storage or delivery here and, as such, the product creator (vendor) gets a much bigger slice of the profit. Which means they have more profit to share with you and that means you can earn up to 50%-75% commission from each sale.

To find these products, you should look at affiliate networks like JVZoo, WarriorPlus and ClickBank.

Affiliate networks are, basically, internet platforms that make it easy for you to find products and to manage your sales and income. Affiliate networks give you access to popular products and they automate the entire process so that you don’t have to communicate directly with the vendor. In other words, they streamline the entire process.

JVZoo

JVZoo is arguably the best choice network for the majority of affiliate marketers in the internet marketing space. This is because it is fast and simple to use with a highly intuitive interface and has a fairly broad range of products to sell, although most are in the ‘internet marketing / make money online’ niche. It also has comparatively low fees compared to some others. This is a great choice for beginners and a good all-round choice.

WarriorPlus

‘WarriorPlus’ is part of the ‘Warrior Forum,’ a forum specifically aimed at internet marketers and webmasters. This is where they come to discuss the best methods for gaining exposure, the best ways to build websites, the best tools for social media, best traffic methods, etc.

WarriorPlus has a very active community where you can share tips and see how other people are making money and it has the lowest fees of all three networks. But at the same time, it’s also the most limited in terms of the types of products you’ll be selling, as the vast majority of products are aimed squarely at the internet marketing niche.

ClickBank

The ClickBank network has been around longer than JVZoo and WarriorPlus and has a huge library of products and a large community of marketers. While the other two networks are more targeted at selling ‘internet marketing / make money online’ digital products, CB has those too, but also has a much wider selection of digital products in other niches. This ensures that it remains one of the most popular choices for marketers, including beginners. On the downside, though, ClickBank also has the highest fees.

To use one of these three networks, all you need to do is sign up, browse through the available products and then apply to work as an affiliate for a few. You can see data and information about each product, such as the number of sales, the cost etc.

From there, you want to choose a digital product that is making a lot of sales but also offers you a good amount of commission. Think too about how you’re going to market each of those products and what ‘angle’ you’ll go with to make it desirable for your audience.

Trying out the product is a very good idea, as is finding one that offers free marketing materials that the product creator designed. Some will come with free landing pages, blog posts, email autoresponder sequences and more that you can utilize.

Promoting digital products means you make more money per sale and it means there’s less that can go wrong. It’s also the preferred method for many experienced internet marketers, which means newbies to affiliate marketing can easily find a lot more advice and help.

Other Affiliate Networks

There are many other affiliate networks for those that can’t find what they’re looking for on those three. Commission Junction was once one of the very biggest networks but was renamed CJ Affiliate by Conservant a while back. They’re one of the biggest networks but aren’t a great choice for beginners, being hard to get approved and being quite complex.

DigiResults is another interesting network choice that is somewhat smaller than the others we’ve looked at but has the advantage of paying out immediately (yes immediately!) into your PayPal account. It’s very flexible and free but doesn’t have quite the same range of products to pick from.

Amazon

One criticism of many affiliate networks is that they very often tend to focus on the digital marketing niche more than any other. Browse through ClickBank, WarriorPlus, or JVZoo and you’ll find that the majority of what’s there falls into this category.

If you want a broader range of niches / categories and associated products to sell, including tons of physical products, then you might want to consider the Amazon affiliate network…

Amazon has an affiliate program where you can promote their products on your site and get commissions. This of course gives you access to millions of different products across every niche imaginable. For example, if you have a fitness site, now you can sell dumbbells, running shoes, and fitness monitors, etc. Likewise, if you have a website about computer games, you can sell all the games that you’re recommending directly.

Amazon also has lots of great tools to make it easier to promote your products and to manage your sales. But it also doesn’t give you very much commission; expect to get commissions of 1% rising to a maximum of 10%, depending on the product category (see table below). This is pretty low and it means you can sell a lot of games, books, DVDs and protein shakes and still come away with just a few dollars to show for it.

However, Amazon has lots of high priced products as well so that, for example, 6% of a $350 product is a $21 commission. Sell 5 of those per day and that’s over $100 per day. Again, not too shabby! In fact many affiliate marketers concentrate on Amazon and make serious incomes as a result.

affiliate rates on Amazon

Finding Products Online

One option is simply to find products online and this will open you up considerably in terms of the types of products you end up selling. As an example, take a look on the web for things like protein shakes, orthotic shoes, diabetes treatments, etc., and you will find that many of them have the option to ‘become an affiliate’ listed right down at the bottom of their website. Now all you need to do is sign up through their site and start promoting in the exact same way with your own link.

The same also goes for a lot of services. Gambling sites, stock brokers, and more will often offer you commission on referrals and the best part of this is that often this commission is for the lifetime of that membership. What this means is that if someone signs up to a binary broker online using your referral link, you’ll then get a percentage of all the profit they make subsequently. This means you can feasibly stop marketing completely eventually and still be making a huge profit while you sleep… forever!

The problem with finding affiliate products this way is that you’re relying entirely on the goodwill of the merchant / vendor with no intervening third party (affiliate network). At the same time, you’ll generally get much lower commissions. If you find shoes to sell online you probably won’t get 30% of every sale – apart from anything else they have much higher overheads themselves to account for. For this reason beginners are advised to start with one or more of the affiliate networks mentioned above.

Terms of Service

Whenever you join an affiliate network or sign up to a direct affiliate program, be sure to read the Terms of Service, or ‘TOS.’

You’ll want to make sure there aren’t any restrictions that may interfere or cause problems down the road. For instance, some merchants prohibit affiliates from using the merchant’s brand name with paid traffic sources such as Google’s Adwords.

Another concern would be exclusivity; some affiliate programs won’t let you promote competing products on the same website.

In short then, you need to carefully consider which affiliate network is best for you. But bear in mind that digital products are very popular, sell well and, at between 50% and 75%, their commissions are usually much higher than for physical products, so are ideal for newbies.

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5. Setting-up Your Website (WordPress)

affiliate marketing website setup

While there are many free combined website builder / hosting platforms out there, e.g., Blogger, Weebly, Wix, etc., it is NOT recommended that you use these for your main money-making website.

Your money website is your main place of business; it’s where visitors — potential customers — show up.  So your website is absolutely critical to your business.

There is a maxim in internet marketing that says ‘own everything that impacts your sales funnel.’ It was actually borrowed from the offline business world. The idea is a simple one: don’t leave critical parts of your business (especially in internet marketing) vulnerable to things outside your control.

For example, it’s not unheard of for a free website / hosting provider to close down a website due to some real or perceived violation of their terms of service. Or even from a complaint (malicious or otherwise) from a member of the public. When that happens, you are almost always stuck with a complete loss.

So, even as a beginner, it’s highly recommended that you register your own domain name and use paid hosting in order to have as much control over your website as possible.

WordPress

There are 2 WordPress platforms; one provides the website platform and its hosting for free (wordpress.com) while the other provides the free website platform but not its hosting (wordpress.org) — you have to host your website on your paid hosting account.

But wordpress.com suffers from the same issues as the other free options discussed earlier. WordPress.org is under your control and so is what is recommended here.

For beginners, and indeed anybody else really, WordPress (.org) is the easiest and most manageable means of putting up a website that you own and control.

While originally designed as a blogging platform, WordPress is now considered to be an all-purpose CMS (Content Management System), and is used by millions of people and businesses to create many different types of websites. In fact, more websites run on WordPress today than on any other platform.

Some Advantages of WordPress:

  • No coding knowledge required.
  • Thousands of free and premium plugins to increase functionality and customization.
  • Thousands of free and paid themes.
  • An easy-to-use admin system to update sites on a regular basis

Setting up your site consists of first registering a domain name, then getting a hosting account, pointing your domain to your hosting account, and installing and configuring WordPress.

Don’t be frightened of this; it’s really rather easy, especially since most reputable hosting companies provide step-by-step videos on how do do these things and, of course, you have 24 hour access to their customer support services when you need help. In addition, they will normally have an online forum where other, more experienced, webmasters can help newcomers like yourself.

And many, if not most, hosting companies have a simple-to-operate client dashboard called ‘cPanel’ which allows you to perform all the operations you need at the click of a button, and without needing any technical knowledge whatsoever; an ideal tool for a beginner. For example, installing WordPress itself is very easy via a button called ‘Fantastico.’

WordPress Themes

In order to display your website properly you will need a WordPress ‘theme.’ This is like a ‘skin’ that defines your website’s look & feel — it’s what your visitors will see and experience when they land on your site. So spend some time selecting your theme and get it right.

Select a simple, clean, but professional looking theme. It should be easy to read and navigate around. The point of your site isn’t to have someone visit and go ‘love that look & feel’ — it’s for them to devour your content and buy what you are promoting, nothing else.

There’s nothing wrong with having an attractive looking site, but that’s a secondary consideration, your first priority should be to select a theme that’s simple enough to put the emphasis on the things that are important to your business — the great content, the product(s) you’re promoting, your opt-in form (to build your email list), and your ads. There should be no other distractions.

Wordress.org has thousands of free themes that you can choose from. They’re easily selected from your WordPress admin panel and, in a couple of clicks, uploaded and activated. There are also many premium theme websites where you can buy higher end themes that are compatible with WordPress.

Finally, make sure that your theme is ‘responsive’, i.e. automatically adjusts itself so that it is easily viewable on a mobile phone. Google is now penalizing sites that are not mobile-friendly. So look for the word ‘responsive’ in theme descriptions.

*This website uses the GeneratePress mobile-friendly theme on the WordPress platform.

WordPress Plugins

A plugin is an ‘addon’ to your WordPress site that increases its functionality — think ‘apps’ on your smart phone. You can view, select, upload, and activate free plugins via your WordPress admin panel in a couple of clicks. There are also premium plugins for sale online.

Without plugins your site will be pretty basic. But with the right plugins the user experience will be greatly enhanced and you can make changes to your site layout without having to know any coding or any other ‘techie’ stuff. It’s all ‘point and click’ and / or ‘drag and drop.’

Just don’t overdo it. Although many plugins are ‘nice to have,’ concentrate on the ‘must haves’ because the more plugins you have activated on your site the slower your site will load in a searcher’s browser with the result that they are more likely to hit the back arrow and not even reach your site. Downloaded plugins are also potential security weaknesses, so the more you have the higher the risk.

The most important plugins help to enhance SEO (search engine optimization — to help your rankings in Google), prevent spam comments, make it easy for people to share your content (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), automatically cache pages to help site load times, automatically back-up your website and database, and help the Google bot crawl your site.

Domain Name

The first thing you’ll need is a domain name that acts as the world wide web (www) ‘address’ for your website. If you hope to use a lot of content marketing to build a recognizable ‘brand’, then you will need a domain name that’s easily recognizable and perhaps catchy at the same time.

Your domain name is important, very important. It’s effectively the name of your business and website. So it should describe what you do in a few words. You’re domain name should reflect the niche you’re operating in. You only have a short amount of time (a couple of seconds) to make an impact when visitors land on your site, so ensure that both your website and domain names reflect what you do and what they can expect to gain by staying on your website.

That said, we don’t want to overcomplicate or overthink things. Much has changed in the online world regarding domain names…

Google used to give tremendous weight to the domain name when it came to deciding where to rank a website. As you might imagine, this resulted in people choosing domain names almost exclusively for its ranking benefits. This resulted in Google reducing the amount of weight a domain name carries, with the added significant side effect that if Google determines you are using your domain name largely for its ranking value, they will actually penalize you.

So how do you go about choosing your domain name? Simple: your first objective should be something memorable, ideally something memorable that includes a word or phrase describing the actual topic / niche you are operating in.

It should be as short as possible (3 words max) and preferably end in ‘.com’ (the domain extension) as it’s generally accepted that .com performs best of all the domain extensions and is the most easily recognized by the public.

If you can’t get a .com extension for your preferred name then next best are .org and .net. Although it may be cheaper than the others, don’t go for .info as, in my experience, it doesn’t rank nearly as well in Google.

Be creative. If you can’t get your first choice name but definitely want to have a .com extension try a different arrangement. For example, let’s say you wanted ‘yogaforhealth.com’ but it wasn’t available, then you could try ‘healthyyoga.com’. But if you absolutely wanted to stay with ‘yogaforhealth’ then see if a .org or .net extension is available first.

Remember that shorter is better, you don’t need to have every word of your niche in the name. For example ‘seniorsweightloss’ or ‘weightlossforseniors’ are much better than ‘weightlossforpeopleoversixty.com’. And avoid hyphens, e.g. ‘seniorsweightloss’ not ‘seniors-weight-loss’.

*The domain name for this website was purchased from NameCheap.

Hosting

Next you’re going to need a hosting account. While your domain name is what will act as the ‘address’ for your website, the hosting account is going to be where all your website files will be stored.

To understand a server, it’s helpful to imagine it as essentially being a large computer that is constantly connected to the world wide web and that contain a number of websites. When you buy server space (your hosting), you’ll be getting storage space on one of these computers which will likely be situated in a secure building somewhere and looked after by a series of expert technicians to ensure it stays safe and secure against hackers, faults, etc.

When someone then types in the domain name you’ve bought, it points the browser to that particular space on the server. This then gives it access to the files that make up your website, including the HTML and CSS files that define the layout, design and formatting, as well as all the images and content.

Whatever you choose though, you’ll first need to compare some of the features and pros and cons of different types of hosting.

Types of hosting include:

Shared Hosting: This is the basic type of hosting, which means you get a portion of the space on a specific server. If you imagine a server to be like a computer, it’s as though you’re getting 20% of the hard drive space to yourself, while other users will share the rest.

Practically, this doesn’t make much difference to you – you’ll never see the files of the other users and they’ll never see yours. What it does mean though, is that you’ll have less available storage space and less ‘bandwidth’ (bandwidth is how much data can be transferred before the server goes down temporarily or gets very slow – the more people using the same server, the greater the strain will be).

Dedicated Hosting: This way you get your own server that no one else gets to use. That means more space, more bandwidth and more flexibility regarding what you’re allowed to install. For instance, if you want to build a web app, you’ll need to install a PHP Framework. Some of these, such as Symfony, will only work on dedicated servers.

In some cases, dedicated hosting users will even be permitted to sell storage space to other people as a reseller.

Cloud Hosting: Here you will have multiple copies of your site on different servers (either shared or dedicated) meaning that if one server goes down, the hosting provider can simply redirect traffic to another copy of your website. This means less downtime and of course it also means you get several times the amount of storage and a far less stingy bandwidth limit.

As a beginner in affiliate marketing, your hosting requirements will be relatively modest. You won’t have too many people visiting your site at once and when they do, they won’t be downloading lots of large images. You can start with a shared hosting account to keep your initial investment low and then just build-up to the more expensive solutions as your business grows. But many affiliate marketers find that shared hosting covers their needs, even while making significant income.

Other things to consider are customer support, the amount of downtime (read reviews) and additional features. Something very useful to look for is cPanel, which is an easy-to-use dashboard with a selection of tools that is very handy for all webmasters, but beginners in particular.

*This website is securely hosted on HostGator.

 

6. Adding Content to Your Website

content is king in affiliate marketing

In order to succeed as an affiliate you must have quality content. That does not mean you have to be a great writer or even that you have to do the writing yourself; you can always outsource it if you prefer.

The Internet runs on content. Nobody goes to a site that doesn’t have good content or doesn’t provide the information they’re looking for, at least not for very long.

The entire foundation of your affiliate marketing business is a topical (niche) website to which people with interest in that particular topic can go and get real value.

Focus on Quality Rather Than Keywords in Your Content

“Content” is everything that appears on your website; text, images, videos, etc., but, on balance, it’s the words and phrases in your content that will have the biggest bearing on your ability to attract targeted traffic (visitors) to your website.

“Keywords” is the name given to the words and phrases that people use to search for something on the Internet, for example “best exercises for seniors.”

In the past, search engines such as Google used keywords on a web page to determine what the page was all about and the number of times those keywords appeared on the page to determine how relevant that page was to a search enquiry using those keywords. It was actually much more complex than this, for example, backlinks from other websites was included in the calculation along with other markers, but you get the idea as far as content goes.

The problem with this was that many webmasters focused almost entirely on ensuring that their content included lots of references to the niche keywords that they were trying to rank for in Google, and not on the quality and depth of information that their site visitors were actually seeking.

The outcome was that many of the web pages served up by the likes of Google in their SERPs results (Search Engine Results Pages) for any given search term were sometimes poor or even very poor quality as far as the searcher was concerned.

However, search engines, particularly Google and Bing, have improved immensely and undergone profound changes in recent years. They are getting so much better at figuring out the most relevant, highest quality web pages for any given search term, and then presenting the searcher with those improved results in their SERPs.

So, in order to succeed today, the most important consideration is ‘Content Focus’ not ‘Keyword Focus’. Your content must focus on your readers and the topic you are writing about. Content optimization efforts should be applied to being descriptive & informative, using variations, synonyms, alternative phrases, alternative meanings, etc., and NOT focused on specific keywords that are repeated over and over in the content (keyword-stuffing).

For the most part, search engines are getting extremely good at understanding content quality, depth, and relevancy, and so don’t need to be force-fed keywords anymore. In fact, your website will be punished with much lower rankings, perhaps even be removed completely from their SERPs, if you use those outdated tactics today.

To summarize, you want your articles to be based on topics within your niche, rather than based on specific keyword phrases that you know people are using to search the Internet. Highly relevant, high quality content, now trumps keyword stuffing / focus.

Your Blog

The best way to add relevant content to your website is with a Blog. This will be where you will publish your posts and let people know about your business. At the same time, you can then combine this with a strong social media presence, heavy branding, and maybe even a YouTube channel, such that your audience can get to know you better.

Being successful at this is largely about posting regularly and offering real value to your readers. Don’t try and sell right away but, instead, spend your time building up trust and respect in your niche. Every time you publish a blog post, you should ask yourself: is this something you would read? Is it comprehensive, engaging and unique enough to stand out from all the other posts in this niche? Does it make you look like you really know your stuff?

This might all sound like a lot of work for a beginner and you might find the idea of becoming a thought leader to be nerve wracking. However it is very much worth it. The main reason for this, is that when you are an authority in your niche, you will not only be able to sell the one product – but really any relevant product that you subsequently want to. You’ll have a direct ‘route to market’ letting you directly reach thousands of buyers and they will always be happy and willing to take your advice.

This is the strategy that most affiliate marketers use to become truly wealthy but it does take a little longer. Note as well that if you’re going to use this strategy, you do need to think carefully about the quality of the products you recommend. If you promote substandard products too often you will lose the respect of your buyers and ultimately they’ll be unlikely to consider your future recommendations.

 

7. Driving Traffic to Your Website

promoting your website

Once your site is built and running it is now time to consider promotional methods to get traffic (visitors) to your site. Without traffic there will be no audience to convert and no money to be made.

Keep in mind that typically a 3% conversion rate is considered to be good, so do the math. For example, if you have 1000 visitors per month and a 3% conversion rate you are not likely to make much money, unless the affiliate commissions are very high.

Conversely, when you have 1000 visitors per week, that same 3% can be much more profitable. So highly targeted traffic, and lots of it, is critical to success.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a method of online promotion where website visitors subscribe to a particular email list, for example, to receive a weekly newsletter, or a weekly / monthly training course sent to their inbox. Email marketing is also called “list marketing” or “permission marketing.”

It offers an effective and direct line of communication between marketers and their audience and is one of the most trusted methods of online marketing for affiliates and otherwise. Considering its global reach, cost efficiency, and being fairly simple to implement, it continues to be a method preferred by marketers that will only continue to grow.

Email marketing offers a very high ROI (return on investment), $35 for every $1 in 2013 according to the Direct Marketing Association. In fact, most marketers agree that the ROI is better than social media, PPC and content marketing alike. Studies show that 66% of online consumers buy something through an email marketing message they receive.

Building a list is highly recommended for affiliate marketers, and right from the beginning of a website launch. As traffic comes in to the site they will be able to subscribe to your list and you will gain a relevant, targeted and interested audience for your marketing messages. It opens a direct line of communication between you and your prospects and leads which allows you to build trust and turn those leads into buyers.

Email marketing allows you to reach a potentially unlimited number of prospects with your affiliate offers and, by sending relevant and compelling offers to their inbox, you can increase revenue, site traffic and brand awareness.

To start an email campaign you will need an email marketing service, also known as an autoresponder…

Three Recommended Services:

  • Aweber
  • GetResponse
  • iContact

*I use GetResponse.

Once you have signed up for a service you will have access to what are called Opt-In forms that you can place on your site to engage visitors.

Typically you offer something of value for free to encourage prospects to sign-up to your email list. This can be an eBook, relevant information, training course, some type of software, in fact anything that is related to your niche and targets the proper audience for your site topic and the products you will be promoting as an affiliate.

It is critical that the opt-in gift be relevant as it will ensure that you target the proper audience which, in turn, will increase your conversion rates (no. of sales divided by no. of people who saw your offer).

Email marketing service providers offer all the other needed features to run a successful email marketing campaign, including automated email messages, multiple list and subscriber management, compliance with anti-spam laws and much more.

Now, don’t do what I did when I first started out in affiliate marketing and ignore building your list because you think it’s too difficult. It isn’t. And my ignorance cost me tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue which I can never get back.

So, as a beginner, if you take nothing else away from this training, just remember that every successful online marketer has at least one email list, with the vast majority having several.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a marketing method that attempts to improve website ranking in organic search engine results pages (SERPS) for the site’s keywords.

Search engines use proprietary algorithms that determine the order that sites are ranked. For example, Google’s SERPS look different than Bing’s, though there is some overlap.

The coveted placement in SEO is Google page 1. Why Google? Because Google is the most used search engine and therefore yields the most potential for massive traffic.

Pitfalls Of SEO

One of the pitfalls of SEO when targeting Google SERPS is the fact that they are constantly updating their algorithm to weed out what they consider sites of poor quality. In the past few years there have been several major updates where many affiliate websites fell drastically in rankings or were de-indexed (removed from search results) all together.

Recent updates include the Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird updates, which were intended to weed out spam sites listed in their search engine and had resulted in many sites either falling very low in rankings or being dropped all together.

Google hates ‘thin’ affiliate websites — sites built purely to make money from affiliate commissions with very little content (posts, pages) and, where there is content, of very low quality and overly promotional. Google expects (and will reward) sites that have high quality, unique, fresh content that provides real value for visitors.

Implementing An SEO Campaign

SEO is tricky these days; there are so called ‘experts’ who will try to sell you 1,000 links and promises Page 1 Google rankings in 3 days…they are usually scam artists. Don’t fall for the hype.

SEO used to be all about getting the most amount of any types of links to rank above the competition, in other words trying to game the system. This no longer works and, in fact, Google will actually penalize sites who try to game the system.

These days it is better to focus on engaging targeted traffic than focusing on mass amounts of links that can often lead to ranking penalties and complete deindexing.

The key to using this promotion method is to not rely on Google for all of your traffic. Diversify your methods so that if rankings are never achieved or fall you do not lose all your revenue. This is where marketing mediums such as email and social marketing are great weapons to have in your arsenal.

Social Media Marketing

This type of marketing revolves around attracting a following on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

Brand and website promotion can be very effective through the use of social media to engage leads. In fact, 72% of all web users are active on social media with Facebook boasting an impressive 1.15 billion users, Twitter 550 million users, Pinterest with more than 5 million and Google+ that has 1 billion active accounts, at the time of writing.

Video Marketing

Research shows that sales pages that have videos convert 80% better than those that have text alone. People are obsessed with video, the enormous traffic stats at YouTube prove that…

  • YouTube has 1 billion plus unique visits with more than 6 billion hours of video watched each month, that equals to almost 1 hour of video watching for every person on Earth.
  • There are millions of new subscriptions happening daily.
  • YouTube’s reach is huge, with more US adults ages 18-34 engaged there than on any cable television network.
  • Subscriptions on YouTube have tripled since 2013.

As you can see, video marketing can yield impressive results in sending traffic back to your sites, especially when those videos go viral or are truly useful and interesting, as this increases the chances of them getting shared.

Submitting relevant videos to sites like YouTube, Vimeo and other video sites is a marketing strategy that cannot be ignored and will only continue to grow.

The first step is to set up a YouTube channel, consider your target audience, and strategize about the types of videos that can be most helpful in your niche. If you have no idea or no way to make videos, then check out Fiverr.com, a marketplace where people do various tasks for $5. There are a lot of video creation gigs there, making it a great place for beginners to get started in video marketing.

Mobile Marketing

About 2/3 of cell phone users today are using Smartphone devices to find information on the web. It is impossible to market online without considering the mobile market. Mobile friendly website designs and mobile advertising are important aspects to consider and implement within any online campaign.

Banner/Text Advertising

Another option is to advertise on relevant websites with banner or text ads. This method can yield impressive results in bringing traffic back to your site but the best ad placements, those on high traffic sites, can be very expensive. You will have to determine if the ROI is worth it for your marketing campaign.

There are various ad networks that connect publishers with advertisers and show the pertinent stats of advertiser’s sites to ascertain their value.

Some Ad Networks:

  • BuySell Ads
  • Bidvertiser
  • PulsePoint
  • Adsterra
  • RevenueHits
  • Puxee
  • BlogAds

Also, many times you can find individual sites to advertise on. Most will have this type of offering on their site. Contact the webmaster or look  in the sidebar for a widget that says “Advertise Here” or something similar.

Forum Marketing

Web forum marketing is still a viable and lucrative method to engage leads for affiliate marketing websites and email lists. The key is to not become a spammer but, instead, establish yourself as a trusted and useful resource on the respective topic. This can be achieved by posting helpful information and active participation on a variety of threads.

Pay Per Click

Pay Per Click (PPC), also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM), is another method of website promotion. This is a method where you pay for each click that is sent to your site in the paid search results section in Yahoo, Bing and Google. Automatic keyword bidding takes place which determines which sites will be listed first, second, third, etc.

This is an advanced marketing method that can be lucrative but can also lose a lot of money for those that don’t do it properly. Therefore, it’s important to first do the research and learn how to do it correctly from experts that understand how each component works. Here is one of the most reputable sources: http://www.wordstream.com/pay-per-click

Two of the most well-known examples of PPC marketing networks are Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

 

8. Conclusion

conclusion to affiliate marketing for beginners

One of the best aspects of the affiliate marketing online business model is the freedom it can bring.

From the excitement of getting that first sale to achieving a full time passive income that is truly ‘making money while you sleep’ is not only exciting but also provides a profound sense of achievement.

Using these simple steps and then scaling over time, you can grow your business to insane heights while maintaining a relatively passive income that doesn’t involve too much work on your part.

Or why not grow and evolve your business into something else? With your revenue stream, you can now look into doing other things you want to do and maybe that might mean creating your own product(s) or even setting up your own marketing agency.

However, you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to start making a $million in your first year — you won’t! Every bit of cash you make as an affiliate, especially as a beginner, should be seen as a win and every win will make your life that bit easier.

Write about something you enjoy, build an audience that respects you and feel life getting easier as you start to accumulate more and more additional income.

But success can only be achieved through proper knowledge and taking action, so go for it! Who knows, maybe you will be the next billionaire to retire to a sunny island. Either way though, you now have an incredible skill you can use to passively generate income quickly and easily. That’s an incredible skill to have!

O.K. let’s wrap up by summarizing the steps that you, as a beginner to affiliate marketing, need to take…

  1. Choose an affiliate network and product(s) to promote.
  2. Set-up your website (domain name, paid hosting, WordPress).
  3. Use SEO, social media, YouTube, email, ads, ppc, etc., to drive traffic (visitors) to your website. *Concentrate on one to start with — until you are adept at it — then move to the next one.
  4. Convert that traffic into buyers and collect your commissions.
  5. Launch more programs and rinse & repeat.

This Free Report will help simplify and speed up the process for you: click here to download it.