Beginner Guides

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners In 11 Simple Steps

This is THE guide to affiliate marketing for beginners. You'll learn my approach to running successful online businesses for 10+ years.

Matt Giovanisci November 2, 2022
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn about affiliate disclosures.

I’ve earned a living from my online businesses for over a decade. I own three websites in different industries. Combined, they make over $1M annually.

It took me about six years of on-and-off work to build up my first site before it was profitable. It took off like a rocket ship when I finally figured it out. I tested my formula on two more websites and was able to make money faster.

If you’re having trouble getting started, this post will teach you how to start affiliate marketing for beginners.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is making money by promoting another company’s products or services on your website. You earn a commission when you send merchants qualifying leads, traffic, or sales through your affiliate link.

It’s a way to make money online without creating your own products to sell. It’s great for beginners or people who don’t want to deal with customer service requests.

Affiliate marketing is growing in popularity as more and more businesses use it. Take a look at these stats:

  • 81% of brands rely on affiliate marketing programs (Web Tribunal)
  • The global affiliate marketing industry is worth more than $17 billion (Kinsta)
  • 15% of total digital media advertising revenue comes from affiliates (99 Firms)
  • There’s a 200% search interest increase for “affiliate marketing” (Google Trends)

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing involves two primary parties: the merchant (aka the product creator) and the affiliate marketer. In addition, other groups come into play which we’ll get to shortly.

flow chart of publisher to customer to link to seller

But first, let’s get to know the participating groups.

Who Are The Key Players In Affiliate Marketing?

There are three (sometimes four) players involved with affiliate marketing. So we’ll start with you.

  • The Publisher (that’s you). Your job is to tell your friends or readers about the product or service via a special link provided to you by the Seller or Affiliate Network.
  • The Seller is the company or person selling the product or service you want to promote to your friends or readers.
  • The Affiliate Network (optional) is the technical service that connects you to the Seller or multiple Sellers. But sometimes, the Seller (s) runs their own affiliate program.
  • The Customer is the friend you told to click a special link to buy that product or service from the Seller. When they click and buy, you earn a commission.

In short, you recommend products from the Seller to the customer through a special link provided by the middle player: the affiliate network or program.

Takeaway: You earn a commission when a customer buys a product through your link. So, all you have to do is recommend products, and you earn money if they buy.

How Do Affiliate Links Work?

You’ll get issued a special URL with a unique ID tag when you join an affiliate program or network.

If you don’t use this URL exactly as it’s written, you won’t be credited for the recommendation and won’t make money.

What Do Affiliate Links Look Like?

Affiliate URLs are a string of letters, numbers, and characters. They’re tough to remember and impossible to say aloud (e.g., promoting your link on a podcast). 

Here’s an example of an Amazon affiliate link:

a color coded url breakdown of an amazon affiliate link

The Seller will know your link was used to sell a product because your unique ID tag in the URL will be stored in the customer’s browser when they buy the product.

How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

Merchants pay affiliate marketers a commission based on the number of qualifying sales, traffic, or leads they send. The higher the number, the greater the commission.

Affiliate Marketing Commissions Is How Money Is Earned

Different sellers with different products run different affiliate programs. All that is to say, it depends on what you recommend to your readers.

For example, you can recommend Amazon products. And if one of your readers buys through your link, you earn a percentage of that sale.

So, if a reader buys a book you recommend from Amazon that costs $20, and the commission rate is 5%, you would make $1.

Granted, that’s the low end of the possible commission rates.

But some of the best affiliate programs can pay up to 50%. They’ll likely be digital products since the margins are much higher than physical products.

Here are some ways you can make money with affiliate marketing:

Payment ModelWhat It Is
Pay Per SalePays a percentage when someone buys a product or service. For example, I recommend you use SEMRush if you're a digital marketer. If you click that link and buy their service, I earn a percentage.
Pay Per Click (PPC)Pays you for the number of times someone clicks an ad on your marketing platform. The more traffic you send to the merchant's website from that advertisement, the greater you're compensated.
Pay Per LeadPays based on the number of converting leads you send the merchant. Lasso's affiliate Preferred Partner program follows this model.
CreditInstead of money, you could get free access to a digital product or store credit.
2nd TierRecommending other affiliate programs and earn a commission based on the number of sign-ups. But you also earn a second commission when those sign-ups recruit others to join.
PrizesSometimes affiliate programs offer prizes (often cash or products) to the people who perform the best.

Recurring vs. One Time Commissions

Recurring commissions are great for the obvious reason of getting paid repeatedly.

Typically, the person you referred signs up for a monthly subscription service, and you earn a percentage for every month they remain a customer.

One-time commissions are just that: you get paid once per person who makes a purchase or completes a desired action (e.g., starts a free trial).

The downside of recurring commissions is that you may see less upfront money than a higher one-time payout. But, the recurring model usually produces greater long-term, passive income.

How The Money Enters Your Bank Account

Every Seller and affiliate program is different. But basically, you have three options to get your money:

  1. Direct Deposit: The best and fastest way to get paid. If a program offers this, take it.
  2. PayPal: A close second to direct, the money enters your PayPal account. You can use the money to spend directly via PayPal or transfer it to your bank account.
  3. A Paper Check: While getting a check in the mail is always nice; you must go to the bank or use a banking app to deposit it. This is my least favorite option as it’s a lengthier process to getting paid.

How Often You’re Paid and When

You’ll find that most programs pay monthly. But you may not see your money for a few months.

For example, I made $48,502.24 in May through the Amazon Associates program. That money won’t enter my account until the end of June. It takes about two months.

Also, some programs have a threshold or a payment trigger. It means they won’t pay until your commissions reach a certain amount.

How Much Do Affiliate Marketers Make?

The short answer: it depends on the affiliate products you promote, your niche, and how hard you work.

For example, my friend and business partner, Andrew, runs an affiliate site called Listen Money Matters. It has gone on to generate over $400,000 per year.

Learn how my business partner and Lasso co-founder, Andrew started a multi-six-figure website blogging about personal finance.

Blogger Adam Enfroy generated over $800,000 ($600K was strictly passive affiliate revenue). And renowned tech gadget product review site, The Wirecutter, made $150 million.

If you wanna make money with affiliate marketing, you need a healthy combo of a few ingredients. First, the goal is to build a large, consistent audience of readers who trust what you say.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

I’ve made many mistakes in building my affiliate marketing empire over the last ten years. But I learned heaps.

Here’s my specific blueprint for building a website that’ll make you money indefinitely (as long as you keep it going).

1. Do Niche Research to Find Your Topic

I started four sites around topics I knew really well. As they say, write what you know.

  • My first website was about swimming pool maintenance because that’s what I knew.
  • Then, making coffee at home because I drank it every day and was pretty into it (I’ve since sold this site).
  • Then, online business, which is what I’ve been studying and practicing for the last ten years.
  • And finally, homebrewing beer because I’ve been a homebrewer and all-around beer geek since I was 17.

So, pick something you know and are willing to write about. Then, you only have to think of a few ideas and then figure out which has the best chance of earning money.

If you’re stumped, start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What interests you?
  • What do you already know?
  • Is there income potential around it?

Tip: Check your bank statements. What do you pay for regularly? Reviewing past purchases is great because it reveals an existing demand for a product or service.

What do you buy on Amazon? How do you spend your time on the weekends, early mornings, or after work? What could you talk about for hours?

Which Topic Works Best for Affiliate Marketing?

I have a formula for picking the right website to start based on the topic.

Once you have a few ideas, go through each one and ask yourself:

  1. Are people searching for it?
  2. Can I write 50 detailed articles on this topic?
  3. Are there products I could recommend (that have an affiliate program) that are over $100?

three intersecting circles with best topic in the middle

Sidenote: I recommend using paid software like Ahrefs.com to see how many people are searching for it. You only need a simple yes or no answer.

If you’re budget’s thin, try a free keyword research tool like Keywords Everywhere, Keyword surfer, or Ubersuggest.

How to Pick Affiliate Products

Only pick products you used or would use yourself. Or products you would tell your best friend to use.

The name of the game is helping people out.

Many products you suggest will come as you’re writing the article. But sometimes, it’s not so obvious.

More Ideas for Affiliate Products and Services to Recommend:

  • What have other people bought and the related products on sites like Amazon?
  • Walk around your house and write down every product that would be a fit for your website.
  • Go through your popular posts (if you already have a blog) and see if you’ve recommended a product but didn’t include an affiliate link.

Further Reading:

2. Perform Keyword Research

To be successful and gain traffic, you need to run your website like a magazine (i.e., you need to publish something regularly). 

But, unlike a magazine where you’re writing about various things, go deep on a single niche topic.

To start, develop a list of article ideas. The following is a quick outline of what you should do.

  1. See what your competitors are ranking for
  2. Write down questions you have about your topic
  3. Search Reddit, Quora, and niche forums to find what people ask
  4. Look at Google’s Related Searches, and People Also Ask in the SERP
  5. Run seed keywords through tools like QuestionDB.io or Frase.io to discover additional questions people have

Now prioritize them by sorting your terms with low keyword difficulty and high traffic potential.

You can easily do this using a tool like Ahrefs. In the Keywords report, try this:

  • Set the KD score to a max of 20
  • Set the search volume with a 1,000 minimum

setting keyword filters and search volume filters in ahrefs

It’s a quick way to find topics that will be easier to rank for. Experiment with your keywords and filters to find what makes the most sense for your niche.

While using paid tools isn’t required, it helps.

But if you want to go with a free option, here are two tools you can use right now:

  • Answer the Public
  • Keywords Everywhere

Answer the Public

Type a broad keyword into Answer the Public, and it will divide your query into “Questions,” “Prepositions,” “Alphabeticals,” “Related,” and “Comparisons.”

Here’s what you get when entering “snowboards.”

answer the public snowboard keyword results

Clicking on “questions,” you can see terms like:

  • Snowboards with boots
  • How to choose snowboards
  • Why do snowboards need wax
  • Can snowboards get waterlogged

These question types can serve as content you could create based on the products you promote. Take a broad keyword from your niche, plug it into ATP, and see what you get.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is a free browser extension that shows related, trending, and long-tail keyword ideas when you scroll down the SERP of whatever seed keyword you’re searching.

Using “snowboards” again, you see:

  • gnu snowboards
  • best snowboards
  • cheap snowboards

keywords everywhere data appearing in sidebar of google search for snowboards

If you want to use a paid tool, we use Ahrefs. We like it for conducting keyword research because you’ll see:

  • Search volume
  • Traffic potential
  • Keyword difficulty (KD)
  • Competing Site’s Domain Rating (DR)

Takeaway: You can apply search filters for specific content types (e.g., product reviews and best lists, as these have a higher buyer intent).

When using filters, try targeting words that have:

  • Low KD score
  • High search volume
  • Low Domain Rating

Further Reading:

3. Register A Domain

Once you’ve decided on your niche and conducted keyword research, register a domain.

This is the easy part. Google “best domain registrars.” Choose one from that list.

You’ll see popular registrars like Go Daddy, NameCheap, and Google Domains (we use Google Domains).

Next, pick a domain name and find if it’s available. Once you’ve found one, choose the suffix (e.g., .com, .co, or .net) and buy it.

This is how people find your site on the internet.

4. Choose A Host

HostGator is our budget pick for a high-quality, low-cost plan.

They serve over two million sites, offer unmetered bandwidth, deliver free SSL certificates, and have 24/7/365 support. You’ll also find many theme selections with easy drag-and-drop website builder tools.

Right now, you can create an account for $2.75 per month. And if you buy a 12, 24, or 36-month plan, you’ll get a free domain with it.

If you want to go premium, we use WP Engine.

It’s more expensive, but you’re paying for managed hosting, making your site run even more efficiently (and less prone to any tech issues that could slow it down).

5. Install WordPress

You need a great content management system (CMS) to run your blog.

Without it, you’ll be able to do very little. There are many available, but we like WordPress. WordPress is free, open-sourced software used by 43% of the web.

Moreover, many people use it, from niche bloggers to premium news sites. As a result, its functionality is virtually limitless.

Developers continuously create plugins for it, designers create new themes all the time, and its support is world-class with a substantial knowledge base.

The best part: it’s all customizable, mobile responsive, and SEO friendly. You can create an account and install WordPress for free.

6. Write High-Quality Content That Helps Your Audience

Before writing a single word, ask yourself how your article serves your readers.

That’s the best advice I can give. You address their biggest pain points with every piece of content. Start writing your articles in the order you set and publish them on a pre-determined day. When creating your content, include affiliate links where it makes sense.

My site, Swim University, teaches people the art of thoughtful pool and hot tub care. This is an industry I know well and enjoy sharing my expertise with.

It also allows me to place affiliate links across my site with products I use and recommend.

For instance, I have an article titled “Pool Cleaning 101,” which explains how to clean your pool. In addition, that article mentions eight products I know will help people.

Every product mentioned in that blog post includes an affiliate link. It’s a simple way to monetize your website.

Publish Your First Post

Once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to start publishing.

The important thing to remember is consistency pays off. So, decide your publishing cadence (daily, weekly, fortnightly) and stick to it. Your readers will start to expect your content, and your audience will grow.

But, expect crickets in the beginning.

Building a profitable affiliate website takes time and money, and traffic doesn’t happen overnight. A good rule of thumb is to create content that matches search intent.

Tip: You’ll be more successful when you understand the psychology behind search queries. And targeting product-focused content tends to convert best (more on that in the “Affiliate Marketing Tips” section below).

These could be search terms with a low volume but high transactional intent (meaning the searcher is ready to buy).

7. Join Affiliate Programs

A single company usually runs an affiliate program.

You need to apply, get approved, and keep track of your login information to join. Otherwise, here’s a way to find a fantastic affiliate program.

  • The Company’s Site: You’ll find the affiliate program link at the bottom of the site labeled “Affiliates.” From there, they should provide you with all the info you need.
  • Google: Enter the “[company name] affiliate program” search query into Google.
  • Ask Your Online Friends: Email a friend in the same space as you and ask if they’re a part of any affiliate programs. And if they’re close, ask if they’ll introduce you.
  • Ask The Company: For instance, I have an affiliate program for Money Lab, but I don’t advertise it. I get emailed all the time asking if I have one. And I usually invite them to join via email.

Sidenote: To make it easy, you can search our database with thousands of affiliate programs categorized by niche.

Another easy way to find affiliate programs is to look at what you’ve already bought (or are currently using).

For instance, if you recently bought an excellent online course, ask the creators if they have an affiliate program. Also, what hosting company or email service provider do you use?

Chances are they have an affiliate program, and you may already be signed up automatically.

How Long Does It Take to Join An Affiliate Program?

Depending on its size, approval may take a while. Since I personally run my own, I know it’ll take some time to approve an application or respond to an email.

But, if it’s taking too long, here are some ways to speed it up:

TacticHow It Works
Sell YourselfI'm more likely to jump on your approval if I see you're going to recommend my stuff to a significant amount of people. That's an income opportunity for me and I'd be an idiot for procrastinating.
Email the Affiliate ManagerFor my company, that's me. I might not respond right away. After you've given me enough time, just send me a nice follow-up.
Re-ApplyIf you're not accepted into the program, no worries. Maybe it's all new to you or you didn't sell yourself. Wait a few months, build up your brand, and apply again. Persistence pays.

What Makes A Good Affiliate Program?

There are a ton of available affiliate offers. But, instead of joining them all and driving yourself crazy, ponder these questions before hitting a billion “Join Now” buttons:

  1. How much money can I make? Look for programs with high commission rates and easy for customers to buy. Find out if it’s one-time commissions or recurring. Recurring commissions are ideal.
  2. How long does the cookie last? When a reader clicks your affiliate link, a cookie is placed on their browser with a time limit. You’ll lose credit for the sale if they don’t buy within the timeframe. So it’s best to choose programs with a long cookie duration.
  3. What are the rules? Some programs have few rules and restrictions on how you can promote. But I use Amazon Associates, and they have many rules. For example, you can’t put affiliate links in emails and PDFs. So make sure you know the rules, or you could be kicked off the program and lose money.
  4. Is the affiliate program easy to use? If you find an easy one, hold on and don’t let go. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t user-friendly. 
  5. Are they trustworthy? Would you buy from them? Even though Amazon Associates doesn’t offer the highest commissions with the longest cookie length, people trust them. So, customers are more likely to buy.

Takeaway: You’re looking for a trustworthy affiliate program with a good commission rate and long cookie duration.

Further Reading:

8. Get Affiliate Links from Every Program You Join

Spoiler alert: You must sign up for affiliate programs to get links.

The affiliate program supplies you with a unique tracking ID you can access whenever you log into their platform.

Once you sign up for a program, add your new affiliate link to the recommended products in your articles. This way, you’ll earn commissions every time somebody purchases using your link.

Once signed up, explore their database for relevant products in your niche. In addition, large affiliate networks, such as ShareASale, ClickBank, or CJ Affiliate, have extensive selections.

You can also search by links in your affiliate dashboard (like in the screenshot below).

Shareasale getting links in the navbar homepage to help get you started with affiliate marketing for beginners

 

Affiliate platforms vary from network to network, but this is typically how you’ll find them.

Further Reading:

9. Drive Traffic to Your Affiliate Site

You’re going to be publishing and promoting forever. And in the beginning, you’ll hear crickets. That’s normal.

Slow and steady wins the race. Keep at it. It’s an investment.

Imagine if you bought one share of Apple every month when it started. You’d be a bazillionaire. This is the same thing.

Every article you publish is stock in your own company, which compounds long-term. And writing AMAZING articles every time is like buying ten stocks a month.

There are many ways of driving traffic to your site, but organic traffic matters the most.

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic via search engine optimization (SEO) is what I use the most and recommend.

It’s free and costs nothing. You only need to create high-quality content that people are happy to share. Eventually, your posts start appearing in search engines for specific queries. Every click to your site is a vote in its favor.

The more people cast votes for your article, the higher it ranks.

For example, my site still holds spots in the top three for terms like “pool care,” “pool maintenance,” and “above ground pool heater.”

if a beginner affiliate marketer look at this ahrefs report of ranking posts generating massive amounts of organic traffic by being in the top three spots in the serps

And those search queries generate thousands of visitors to my site every month – for free.

The downside to organic traffic is it takes time to grow. And it’s the biggest reason why bloggers quit before seeing results (and profits). But, with time, you’ll find success through long-term passive traffic.

Paid Ads

The other way to start ranking is by using paid ads.

These appear at the top of search results targeting specific keywords. You’ll post an ad on a platform (e.g., Google) and pay that platform whenever someone clicks your ad (also referred to as PPC).

The upside to this traffic source is your blog posts display at the top of an organic search for specific queries. And landing at the top of page one in a Google search is HUGE.

That’s a substantial amount of eyeballs on your ad.

The downside to this strategy is it’s costly. Running ads eats profits. And once you run out of money, you lose the top spot.

Further Reading:

10. Promote Affiliate Products On Your Site

Once you’ve got affiliate links for your selected products, add them to your content — it’s how you’ll make money.

Sprinkle links across your site where it fits naturally into the conversation. If it looks forced, your readers will notice and eventually stop visiting your site. And once your traffic dies, so do your commissions.

For instance, if you’re writing about how you grew your email list to 100 subscribers using Active Campaign, it’s ok to include an affiliate link because it’s a tool you like and recommend.

You can add links almost anywhere; ensure you read the affiliate program’s rules (e.g., Amazon won’t let you add affiliate links in emails). 

Aside from your blog, you can add affiliate links to your social media content, say it out loud on a podcast, and any other place it makes sense.

Sidenote: Don’t be shy about recommending affiliate products. It’s not salesy if you’re helping your audience solve a problem. Think of every time you’ve purchased something based on a friend’s suggestion — this is the exact same thing.

Here’s a shortlist of five places you can promote your affiliate products other than your blog and social media:

  1. Webinars
  2. Online courses
  3. Digital products
  4. YouTube channels
  5. Podcast show notes

Further Reading:

11. Get More Clicks On Your Affiliate Links with Visually-Appealing Product Displays

My business partner, Andrew, and I built Lasso to help affiliate marketers make more money. And to make money, you need to promote your products in the most visually appealing ways (like this one below).👇

Lasso lets you create custom affiliate displays to match any WordPress theme.

The more product information you give, the more likely they’ll click your link. Instead of text-only links, provide readers with detailed product descriptions, images, and CTA buttons.

You’ll not only gain their trust, but you’ll also increase click confidence.

How to Promote Affiliate Offers

There is a myriad of reasons why some affiliates convert higher than others.

Sometimes all it takes to move the needle is promoting the right products to your readers, moving beyond simple text links, and attracting the right audience.

Typically, it boils down to your offer. Often, it’s a matter of adding better displays, changing button colors, or showcasing discounted pricing.

Here are a few ways to convert more readers.

Use Better Displays

Yes, text links work, but consider it from your reader’s perspective.

Which one would they find more engaging? A text link or an affiliate product displayed in an assortment of grids, lists, and comparison tables.

We’ve found, on average, and after much testing, that readers are likelier to click a product showcased in a display versus a text link.

Position Your Affiliate Offer As the Reader’s Solution

Every niche has its pain points and products that alleviate them. Start promoting more of those items to your audience.

If you’re unsure what they are, pick a famous brand or product from your industry and type it into Google along with the term “best for,” followed by a letter from the alphabet.

For example, “best Nike shoe for a” or “best shoes for a.” Then, see what Google auto-suggests.

google search best shoes for a to help affiliate marketing for beginners

Leverage Smart Call-to-Actions

Your call-to-action (CTA) is almost as important as your headline because it’s the point of conversion. But many affiliate website owners overlook it.

Here’s the thing.

Without a compelling CTA, your reader has nowhere to go. That’s why it’s a best practice to show them.

And the best way: use verbs and action phrases aligned with the value they’ll get when clicking.

For example, if your goal is to get sign-ups by giving away a checklist for how to grow their social media audience, say that with your button copy.

“Sign up” becomes “Grow my social media following.” Start thinking of your button copy as a call-to-value instead of a call-to-action.

Ask yourself what’s the value behind the click your reader can expect to get from your affiliate offer. Next, use a different color for your button, so it grabs your reader’s attention.

Affiliate Marketing Tips

You can use some strategies to stand out ahead of the pack as you build your affiliate website. At this stage, I assume you’ve got a great website and are already making decent money with affiliate marketing.

Now you’re ready to treat it like a business instead of a side project.

1. Track Your Affiliate Clicks

Tracking your affiliate clicks is the best way to see how your links perform.

You can use a tool like Lasso to track every link. Lasso records every click as an event in Google Analytics.

2. Create Product-Focused Content

How-to articles and essays work fine for promoting affiliate products. But if you wanna crush your conversion rates, there are three types of posts you should dominate:

  1. Best Lists
  2. Comparisons
  3. Product Reviews

These post styles focus on promoting products. Then, when people search and click on them on Google or social media, they’re usually ready to buy.

They’re researching “best website hosting platforms” and “MailChimp reviews.”

Best Lists include a list of the best-recommended products in a single category. I have a post like this on my pool site that converts 10% higher than my other content (and makes me the most money) – it’s how I know it works!

I’ve also done this with my other site Brew Cabin.

Product Reviews focus on a single product and are recommended through personal experience (by either getting the product for free or purchasing it yourself). When you create a great, detailed review, you’re helping people make a decision about whether they should buy.

Chances are, they will use your affiliate link for being so helpful.

Comparisons pit two products against each other and weigh the pros and cons. For example, a person running a Google search for “Samsung S21 vs. iPhone 12” is much closer to making a purchase. Compare that to “how to transfer data from iPhone to Samsung.”

The former has likely narrowed its investigation down to these two products. A thoughtful comparison article should nudge them in one direction.

They’ll be more likely to buy via your affiliate link if your post provides enough information.

But the most important reason these content types are worth creating is that they help attract qualified readers to click your affiliate links.

These are the most lucrative content types for affiliate marketing and should be just as helpful as any how-to guide or research you publish.

Speaking of…

Product Tutorials 

Product tutorials get an honorary mention. You can create in-depth, step-by-step guides for different products and include your affiliate link.

If you’re showing somebody how you use a specific product or service that’s made your life easier and recommend it to them, you’re likelier to get a conversion from readers clicking your link.

Any items people find difficult to use are worthy of a well-researched guide – especially if nobody has created it.

These content examples are your bread and butter for creating material relevant to your audience as an affiliate marketer.

3. Learn SEO Copywriting

SEO copywriting is when you create content that performs well with search engines, appeals to people, and gets them to take action.

You’ll need this skill to see a huge spike in earnings. I had difficulty believing this until I started testing headlines on my sales pages.

I use Google’s free A/B Testing tool called Google Optimize. You need to have Google Analytics linked to your site to use it effectively.

To start, take your best performing post and test its copy in these places:

  • Title of affiliate links
  • Call to action buttons
  • Affiliate link anchor text
  • Affiliate link descriptions
  • Call to action text leading up to affiliate links

Effective copywriting helps improve your overall writing style making things more enjoyable to read (and as a side effect: buy what you’re pitching).

4. Befriend Your Affiliate Managers

You can (and should) build relationships with affiliate managers of companies you support. They can be an ally in your effort to make money online.

Because if you win, they win.

I’ve asked affiliate managers to increase my commissions, which worked. And even offered marketing advice on ways to improve their sales pages (which they took action on).

I’ve also asked for discounts and promo codes specifically for my readers, which adds more credibility and a sense of urgency for people to buy immediately.

5. Have Multiple Income Sources

When you rely ONLY on affiliate commissions; you’re leaving money on the table.

There are several ways you can generate more revenue when you build a unique online business serving a dedicated audience.

In addition to affiliate income, you can make money from:

  • Ads
  • Services
  • Sponsorships
  • Digital products
  • Physical products

Explore these avenues to see what resonates with your readers. For example, I’ve built several digital products for my pool and homebrewing sites.

If creating digital products isn’t your thing, consider selling your services. There’s good money to be made as a consultant. Or, partner with other influencers in your niche and run sponsored posts.

The sky’s the limit.

Is Affiliate Marketing Easy?

To earn a living with affiliate marketing, you need substantial website traffic.

It’s not a get-rich-quick thing. It’s a get-good-money-slowly thing. Like anything, there are pros and cons. I want to talk about all the things I’ve learned from practicing affiliate marketing versus other ways I’ve tried making money online.

The Pros of Affiliate Marketing

  • Passive Selling: You don’t need to be a high-pressure salesperson. With affiliate marketing, you must recommend great products in a helpful article to make money. And since it’s performance-based marketing, your income potential is unlimited.
  • Fast and Low-Risk: Joining an affiliate program takes a few mouse clicks. You lose nothing if it doesn’t work, and your startup costs are minimal.
  • No Customer Service: You don’t have to build a product, a sales page, a funnel, an e-commerce platform, deliver it, or answer customer service questions. You’ll have no interaction with the consumer; you’re simply connecting them to the Seller.
  • Convenience: Affiliate marketing lets you set your own hours, work from anywhere, and be your own boss. You decide the products to promote while choosing your own business goals.
  • Low Barrier to Entry: You don’t need a marketing degree to start. There are no gatekeepers, interviews to nail, or bosses to defer to like you’d find with a traditional job.

The Cons of Affiliate Marketing

  • Requires Patience: Before you can start making a living off your affiliate marketing site, you need to build an audience. It takes time. You need to consistently create great content and promote it. It might take a year or more before you have a full-time income.
  • It’s Not Your Product: If you recommend a poor product or service, it makes you look bad. Also, you don’t get buyer’s information for future use in your promotions.
  • Everybody’s Doing It: Everyone in your industry is promoting the same product simultaneously. Since everyone’s doing it, the competition is high, so your content needs to stand out.
  • No Revenue Guarantee: As I mentioned in the pro section, affiliate marketing is performance-based. So, if your content doesn’t link enough buyers to sellers, you won’t earn any commissions.
  • Restrictions and Penalties: You could get banned if you don’t follow the rules of a given affiliate program. This is horrible when you’re earning good money. So when you join an affiliate program, read and follow the rules.

Your Challenge

That was a beast! Thanks for reading this ridiculously long article. Please share it with your pals on Twitter if you find it useful.

I spent over 150 hours researching, writing, and editing this guide (the equivalent of a month’s work at a 9-5 job!), so it’d be nice if a few people read it. 😉

When you produce amazing work on the Internet, you’re rewarded. Not only by Google but by actual people who read, share, and find value from it.

Want to get more actionable affiliate marketing advice sent straight to your inbox weekly? Join our newsletter.

Recommended Reading

Ready to Increase Your Affiliate Income?

Install Lasso and start finding opportunities in under 10 minutes.

Get started