Affiliate marketing is a fantastic business model that allows anyone with basic computer skills, marketing knowledge and a certain level of determination to start their own profitable online business.
If you want to learn affiliate marketing and you’re looking for an “affiliate marketing for beginners” type of guide, then you’ve come to the right place!
The goal of this post is to equip you with the best resources for learning how to get started as an affiliate.
By the end of this post, you’ll learn how to:
A Quick Reality Check
The aim of this post is to equip you with the know-how that’ll help you avoid many of the common pitfalls people fall into when starting out as an affiliate.
The reality is that most of the people that attempt affiliate marketing will fail.
So what’s the problem here?
Many people approach affiliate marketing with quick-fix mindset. They assume they can throw a webpage up, drive some traffic to it and start making sales.
But the truth is there’s is no magic bullet solution here — becoming a successful affiliate takes education and dedication.
So if you’re willing to put in the hard work, the payoff can be tremendous.
Many affiliates out there have achieved total financial freedom through building six and even seven-figure businesses with affiliate marketing.
Anything is possible with the right work ethic!
So how does affiliate marketing work exactly?
Affiliate marketing is a model of business that is based on revenue sharing.
The affiliate (you) promote a product and get paid a percentage of the sale when someone makes a purchase through your referral link. The affiliate network or merchant is able to track who referred the customer by using tracking cookies.
Yes, cookies aren’t just the things we stuff our faces with!😄
The following graphic explains how affiliate marketing works:
Related Content: What is Affiliate Marketing & How Does It Work?
How do people get started with affiliate marketing?
People usually get started by picking a niche they’re interested in and either creating a new or monetising an existing website. There are plenty of profitable niches you can choose in affiliate marketing across a variety of industries.
If you’re going down the free traffic route and starting a website from scratch — It’ll usually take you around six months before you start seeing any real traction in the search engine results pages.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the art and skill of ranking your website on Google. And its delicate beast that takes time to master.
That said, there are many other options like Facebook Ads or Influencer Marketing that produce results way faster.
In some cases, you don’t even need to build a website to start promoting products and making money. One example of this is pay-per-click advertising. You know those ads you see at the top and bottom of popular search engines?
These are ads that people are paying for every time someone clicks them.
You can start a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign that will automatically put you at the top of the first page for your chosen keywords.
With that being said, PPC and paid advertising, in general, isn’t suited to all affiliate programs. For many products, the margins are just too small.
For example — If you’re only promoting products from Amazon’s associate’s program, you’ll struggle to turn a profit on your investment. Amazon Associates is one program we don’t recommend, for a number of reasons.
On the flip-side, if you’re promoting high-ticket products, like a training course that sells for $2500, you can expect commissions upwards of $1000 per sale.
In this case, you can afford to spend $500 to make one sale.
Paid advertising can be an awesome way to quickly generate leads and make sales with high paying affiliate programs.
What other ways can an affiliate promote products and services?
There are countless ways for affiliates to market products and services online.
If you’re going down the paid advertising route you have platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, banner ads, solo ads, native ads… the list goes on.
The key here is to not get overwhelmed by trying to master too many things at once. Pick one platform that suits your target market best and run with that until you start producing concrete results.
Keep things simple with your marketing. Don’t overcomplicate things or you’ll end up throwing your laptop out of the window!
Are all affiliate programs created equal?
A quick search for “affiliate programs” in Google brings up thousands of results.
You’ll find affiliate programs for pretty much everything nowadays and this is good because you can find something you genuinely like.
You might even find something you love and you can promote that product/service from a place of real enthusiasm.
It’s hard to promote a product that you aren’t into or something that you haven’t tried out yourself. People can see if you’re just trying to sell something as opposed to providing valuable, useful information.
Affiliate programs are NOT created equal.
Many affiliate programs only pay tiny commissions (eBay Partner being one such example).
A common mistake for new marketers is picking the wrong affiliate program and wasting time/money into something that won’t bring an ROI.
It’s also worth looking into the conditions for product promotion as things can vary greatly depending on the product. Most affiliate programs pay you based on sales made but some pay you just for generating leads. This is called CPA marketing and can be extremely lucrative.
This is why you must do your research. Find out what is out there and compare what each program has to offer.
What type of products can I promote as an affiliate?
I could write a list of every single type of product you can promote as an affiliate marketer but this post would be 20,000 words.
The most important thing to know is that wherever your expertise or interests lie, you can count on there being relevant products and services for you to promote.
Almost any type of product can be promoted through affiliation in some shape or form.
What if I’m not an expert at anything?
You don’t need to be an expert to become a successful online business owner. You just need to learn some foundational skills and apply that knowledge in a consistent manner on something commercially viable.
Some foundations skills include:
- Building a website
- Writing high-quality content
- Understanding how content marketing works
- Building an email list
- Knowing how to sell
- Driving traffic
You don’t have to have a particular interest, hobby or passion to do this. And you don’t need to spend years studying and securing qualifications to help people.
What are Affiliate Networks?
Affiliate networks operate as a convenient meeting point between publishers (affiliates) and merchants (businesses that want to recruit affiliates to promote their goods).
These networks take out much of leg work involved in setting up an affiliate program on the merchant side. They also handle things like affiliate tracking (also handled by standalone third-party platforms like LeadDyno), payments, analytics and help businesses attract high-quality marketers.
On the affiliate side, it helps you find top-quality programs as well as streamline your sales process with handy plugins, tools and features.
Some well-known affiliate networks include AWIN (read more about them here), CJ Affiliate/Commission Junction (read more here) and Shareasale.
From a personal standpoint, I would steer well clear of Clickbank as the majority of their products are low-quality.
What are high-ticket affiliate products?
High-ticket affiliate products are products that cost upwards of $1000.
Affiliate marketers that promote these types of products enjoy high affiliate commissions for their referrals.
Instead of having to sell 100 items at $100 a pop, they’ll only need to sell 10 items to make the same amount of money.
This is how the “super affiliates” generate multiple six-figure and even seven-figure incomes from affiliate marketing! They focus on promoting high-end products with higher margins so they can afford to spend more money on paid advertising.
This is definitely the way to go with affiliate marketing:
It’s what separates the people generating a significant income from the ones only making a few extra hundred dollars a month.
Related Content: High Paying Affiliate Programs: The Ultimate List
Why most people fail at affiliate marketing
This is a topic that isn’t covered in most affiliate training platforms. Most training courses out there will teach you the nuts and bolts of what you need to do to get results in terms of technique and strategy.
This is great, but they fail to cover the most important subject matter when it comes to starting your own business from scratch:
Many people dive headfirst into business and struggle to cope with perceived failures, pivot requirements and the general overwhelming nature of the beast.
This is especially true for people coming from a traditional 9-5 background with a steady paycheck and relatively secure living situation.
The majority of people are fleeting in their efforts to make it out on their own — when something doesn’t work they jump onto the next thing, hoping — praying things will work out.
Successful entrepreneurs don’t hope. They make things work.
They make the best of what they have available to them and focus on one thing until it gets results.
Only then do they shift their focus onto something else.
Three things crucial to your success in any business venture
The 80/20 rule of marketing
The best way to approach any new venture is to keep things simple by following a straightforward formula:
20% of your time should be spent learning and the other 80% should be spent implementing the things you’ve learnt. This is how people have achieved unbelievable results in a matter of weeks.
The 80/20 rule also applies to many other things. This is called the Pareto principle, the law of the vital few.
This principle states that most results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes. There have been many books and countless debates and discussions on this topic.
Here are 13 examples of the Pareto principle if you want to learn more about it.
When it comes to your marketing (in most cases) you’ll find that 80% of your results come from 20% of your marketing efforts.
This is why optimisation is mandatory in marketing.
You don’t need to become a marketing genius to successfully promote products and services online. You just need to learn the fundamentals to get you started.
The best way to learn affiliate marketing
In my experience, the best way to learn affiliate marketing is to implement the information while you train.
An earn while you learn model, if you will.
Learning and implementing hand-in-hand exposes you to the knowledge you require and empowers you with the practical skills as you implement the training immediately.
No procrastination, no delay, just action.
It’s highly recommended to have a mentor that will guide you and take you by the hand. Most people have a whole bunch of questions and having a mentor removes a lot of the uncertainty associated with starting out something new like this.
For some people, this mentorship comes in the form of a community of like-minded people that are friendly and supportive.
One of the best ways to start affiliate marketing is by learning from a training course that’s proven to work. The right education is instrumental to your success as an affiliate.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little guide on how to start affiliate marketing, please leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!
I’m a London-born lover of technology, obsessed with online business, passive income and the digital economy. I love learning, researching and curating the most valuable resources to save you time, money and help you discover the truth on what it actually takes to achieve your goals.
As a beginner I am happy and excited to learn about the affiliate marketing,can you suggest me the genuine course and training on affiliate marketing business to register online.thanks for article,keep doing this great work.
Happy to inform you that i get lot of useful information from your blog.Thanku for your lovely thought
Great article again! Would you recommend the SFM’s Essential program for a newbie affiliate marketer like myself?
This is one of the awesomely written affiliate marketing blog post. I loved your knowledge and the way of explanation. Affiliate marketing is no doubt one of the easiest and most lucrative ways to make money by sitting at home and many people have already changed their life by promoting various products. As you talked about mindset and 80-20 rules, I completely agree with that. Mindset is the main driving force here. Many people jump into this thinking that it’s a quick rich scheme and they are going to make quick money with it. Such people never succeed. Only a… Read more »
Thanks for sharing the valuable information about the affiliate marketing.. Your tips will make my affiliate marketing journey easy. recently i have joined Siteground as affiliate to promote hosting plan so that i can earn more commission
Hi Ahmed, nice article on affiliate marketing. I am new affiliate and planning to start affiliate marketing with amazon. But what if some one wants to build custom wordpress website, which company is best to hire for affiliate project. Some third parties are providing such services with affiliate tools such as revglue.com/bespoke, but don’t know if this one is providing good services.
could any one please provide experience with this company or please suggest if you know any other affiliate website design service provider. thanks for help and nice piece of information on affiliate marketing.
If you have the time, I would suggest learning how to build a site with WordPress yourself. It isn’t too difficult and doesn’t need to involve coding. There are thousands of low-cost (and free) themes you can use. You can master the basics in a few hours. What’s more, the web design skills you learn can be applied to many areas, so it’s worth investing the time.
Hey Ahmad, great article here man! I love how the article is very informative and gives readers basic understanding, most articles like this are just full of affiliate links to various courses.
Keep up the good work
I’m just getting into affiliate marketing but I think what’s held me back is knowing how to get conversions. I’ve had no problems getting clicks on my links/banners but getting someone to convert seems to be a different story.
I agree that trying to sell high ticket items is the way to go. Do you recommend a course?