Last updated on November 17th, 2018 at 06:50 am
*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you
I am in love with passive income through my blog, that’s why I wanted to write this affiliate marketing for dummies post. I’m NOT saying you are a dummy or a slow learner. I’ve just decided to break it down into lamens terms to help you get started.
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
When I first started my online journey years ago, I had no clue what I was doing. Heck, it took me over 8 hours to set up my first blog. This training will help you cut down on your learning curve.
I can’t even remember how long it took me to understand what it takes to earn money online. I’m willing to bet that it took me a long time and a bunch of money.
After all, I was always looking for that magic bullet that would show me what it takes. Whenever I was presented by some flashy copywriting, I almost always ended up buying.
After all, I really wanted to create a profitable blog. I had no clue what it actually took, so I ended up wasting years trying to figure it out.
I don’t want you to do that, instead, I want you to have a roadmap that tells you exactly what it takes to create a profitable digital asset.
Hopefully, this post will help you understand what it takes to get started. Because I want you to create passive income from home so you can earn for your retirement, vacations or just spend more time with your family.
Affiliate Marketing for Dummies The Ultimate Guide
My goal is to provide you with everything that you need to get started as an affiliate marketer. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll actually be able to earn commissions and change your life.
This post is going to help you understand everything you need to know about this method of making money. Plus, I’ll also be adding to it if I feel that I missed something or feel like you need to know something else.
So let’s get started.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Before you can get started with this method of making money, you first need to have an understanding of what affiliate marketing is.
It’s nothing more than signing up with products and services you love or are a match for your blog and driving traffic using your unique link.
Whenever someone buys through your link, you’ll earn a percentage of a commission or a flat fee.
Different Types of Programs That Can Make You Money
There are several types of programs that reward their affiliates differently. Let’s take a look at a few different types, so you have a better understanding.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Affiliate Program
These are usually the easiest to earn money with because your referral doesn’t need to do anything other than click over to the network’s site.
The downside is that these programs don’t pay that much. You’ll most likely earn a few cents or a dollar. with these types of programs.
Pay Per Performance (PPC)
This is the type that most popular merchants use because it requires a referral to take some type of action before they have to pay a commission.
PPP can be classified into two popular categories:
- Pay Per Lead (PPL)
- Pay Per Sale (PPS)
Pay Per Lead
These types of programs do not require any type of purchase, you get paid whenever someone fills out a form of some type. A lot of these programs pay anywhere from $1 -$20.
Some of the companies that come to mind that pay the most money are:
- Debt Relief
- and etc..
These types of niches are willing to pay top dollar for leads generated through your website.
Pay Per Sale
This is the most challenging type of program because you only earn commissions whenever someone pulls out their wallet and makes a purchase.
The merchant then pays you a percentage of the sale when the sale is completed and the refund period has passed.
Amazon Associate Program is an examle of a PPS affiliate program.
Okay now that you have an understanding of the different types of programs available. You’re ready to actually get started.
I am going to assume that you still haven’t got your own website/blog set up. If you do, then just skip over that part and go to the next part.
Brainstorming a Topic
This used to be the hardest thing for me because I had no clue what I wanted to create a blog on. Unlike most people, I don’t really have a lot of hobbies. I don’t bake, sew, fish or do anything really exciting.
So when people say that you should choose your passion, I was stuck. My passion lies in making money online so I can save for retirement.
Yes, I am one of those people who didn’t save enough for retirement. That’s actually why I decided to start this blog so I could build a profitable digital asset that helps me retire comfortably.
I figured why not start a blog in the niche that I’ve been involved in for several years. After all, I’ve purchased so many online courses, books, PDF’s, and products, I feel like I can now teach what I’ve learned.
Plus you don’t have to really be an expert. You can learn as you go and just let people know that you’re NOT the expert, you’re still learning.
If you’re like me and you don’t have a lot of passions or hobbies, here’s a list of some profitable blog niches that are proven to make money online.
A good niche is going to fulfill these criteria:
- Works with your target market
- Has a large market of people you can promote to
Whatever you do, don’t take too long choosing a blog topic. You’ll never increase your chances of earning until you get started.
Get Your Website Set Up
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to blog about, it’s time to register your domain and get your blog set up.
I recommend using SiteGround to get started with. They won’t cost you that much money up front and they have great customer support.
Just make sure that you purchase more than a year in advance. I’ve heard that they have some ridiculous renewal fees.
You want to make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time to get over the learning curve and actually start making money.
I’ve written some great tutorials to help you get your blog set up, feel free to check them out:
- How to Start a Blog On SiteGround (With Video)
- 7 Best Free Plugins That Will Make Your Blog Successful
- How to Choose a WordPress Theme And What I’m Using
WordPress comes with a little bit of a learning curve. If you’ve never used it, I’ve included some articles to help you get a better understanding of it.
Free Affiliate Marketing Training
If you’re completely new to blogging and affiliate marketing, you need to grab this free training. You’ll cut your learning curve in half and your pocketbook will thank you.
They never had these types of training programs when I started years ago. If they have, it would’ve saved me years of headaches and frustrations.
This program will show you exactly what you need to build a profitable affiliate website. Trust me, you’ll be thanking me later when it only takes you 6 months to earn instead of 3 years.
Yes, you can find free information online, but why not get it all in one place? It’s going to save you time and you’re going to need time to invest in growing your blog.
Sign up here to grab this free training so you can cut your learning curve in half.
Disclosures and Cloaking Links
Once you’ve decided that you’re going to use affiliate marketing as a way to monetize your blog, then you need to be aware of adding an affiliate disclosure to your blog.
An affiliate disclosure is an FTC mandated practice. All it means is that if you have a link on your website that results in a commission, you must disclose it to your site visitors.
It won’t hurt your commissions because most people already know that bloggers want to earn money from their blog. Here’s a tutorial that I created that will show you how to quickly add an affiliate disclosure to your blog.
Cloaking Affiliate Links
One more thing that you need to concern yourself with is cloaking (redirecting) links. It may sound confusing, but all it means is taking an UGLY affiliate link and making it look pretty.
You don’t need to know a lot more than that, except that both ThirstyAffiliates and PrettyLinks will do all the hard lifting for you. Oh, did I mention that you can use the free version?
Note: If you’re promoting affiliate products, you DON’T want to cloak your links. It is against their terms of service.
Here’s a step by step tutorial of how I use ThirstyAffiliates to cloak my links.
Don’t ignore the importance of cloaking your links. You’ll need to do it, especially, if you eventually want to get traffic from Google. They can’t stand affiliate links.
Find Affiliate Products to Promote
Now that you have your website up and running and you’ve taken the free training program, it’s time to get busy and find reputable affiliate programs you can promote.
One of the mistakes that most new affiliate marketers make is they sign up with several networks at once. I highly recommend signing up with 1-2 networks at first.
Once you find a strategy that actually makes you money, you can then join others. You’re not going to make more money, just because you belong to more than one network.
Here’s a list of some of the reputable networks you can join for free:
- Amazon Associate Program
- AWIN (formerly Affiliate Window)
- CJ Affiliate
- Pepper Jam Network
- Rakuten’s Linkshare
If you want to know some of the best affiliate programs that pay good commissions, I’ve put together an affiliate directory just for you.
How Many Products Should You Promote?
When you join a program like ShareaSale, the first thing you’re going to notice is all the different advertisers you can promote. Most new affiliates make the mistake of signing up with several at a time.
You don’t want to do that, it’s harder to make sales if you’re trying to promote too many products. Start with 1-2 different products that are closely related to your blog topic.
Then work on promoting those products. You’ll actually have the time to focus on those products and actually make sales.
Just like you don’t want to start more than one blog at the beginning. It’s best to focus on one blog and work hard on growing it.
Otherwise, you just end up with two blogs that aren’t driving traffic or making money.
Don’t spread yourself too thin, otherwise, you’ll just end up quitting because you’re frustrated everyone else is making sales and you’re not.
Testing and Improving Conversion Rates
As an affiliate marketer, you’re going to have to test to see if you’re actually getting good conversion rates. I’m not really sure what a good conversion rate is for affiliate links before you make a sale.
But if you’ve got a 1,000 clicks on one link and still haven’t made a sale. Then I’d seriously consider switching it out and testing a different product.
There are several reasons why people buy and why your conversions are not that great. Unfortunately, it takes time to figure out what people are willing to buy and what’s a waste of your time.
You can’t really tell how many clicks it takes to get an affiliate sale. There’s a lot of variables that come into play like:
- Where your traffic is coming from?
- Are you promoting the right products?
- Is the price point too high for your buyers?
- Does the product have a good sales page with great copywriting?
That’s why it’s so important to test different products and landing pages, especially, if you’ve been doing this for a while and still not seeing any sales.
Write Compelling Content and Work On Promotion
Now comes the actual work of the daily grind of writing content and promotion. If you want to turn your blog into a digital asset that produces passive income, you’re going to want to write content.
I’m not talking about just any type of content, I’m talking about content that helps your audience and is based around keywords that get a lot of searches but don’t have a lot of competition.
Oh, and you want to make sure that you try to write your content in a conversational tone. If you look at some of the top marketers, you’ll notice how they do it.
Don’t worry, it takes time to learn how to write like that. As you continue writing you’ll get used to it.
Learn About SEO
I absolutely love SEO because once you put in all the hard work of writing content based around a keyword and optimizing your blog posts, you’ll eventually start to get traffic from Google.
The downside is that it doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take months to start seeing traffic from Google. This is why it’s so important to promote your content like crazy, especially, at the beginning stages of your blogging journey.
How to optimize your blog posts for Google traffic:
Have every post target a specific keyword. (I personally use KWFinder to help me find my keywords)
- Optimize your title tags
- Work on creating clickable meta descriptions to get people to click through to your website
- Focus on creating long-form content that helps your audience
- Use Alt tags for your images
- Optimize your images with the Short Pixel Plugin
- Interlink your blog posts with other related posts you’ve written
- Optimize your permalinks
- Use the Yoast SEO plugin to help you understand the process
- Don’t keyword stuff your blog post
- Work on improving your site speed (If you’re a brand new blogger, you don’t have to worry about it yet)
I know those 10 steps sound like a lot, but it’s really not that hard. Once you optimize your first couple of blog posts, it’ll just come naturally for every blog post you write.
I’ve written a step by step tutorial that walks you through on how I optimize my posts.
Free Online Resources to Learn SEO
- Anything by Moz
- SEO Made Simple by Neil Patel
- RankBrain the Definitive Guide by Backlinko (this is what helped me understand the new SEO updates)
You can start with those free resources, once you’re ready to invest in paid training, I highly recommend this course. It will teach you how to go back and update your old blog posts and make them work harder for you.
You’ve already written the content, now it’s time to see if you can get it to work harder for you. I was able to increase my traffic by 35% by using those strategies.
Link Building What Is It and Why I Don’t Do It
Once you start reading about SEO, you’re going to hear the term link building getting tossed around a lot.
Google ranks websites according to how many reputable links they have pointing to their website. Now, I know what you’re thinking, if I just go out and build a bunch of links, I can rank for the keywords that I am targeting.
Well, it used to work that way. Now Google takes other things into factor, like how long people stay on your page and etc.
So while it is still about links, there are so many other factors that come into play.
You can build backlinks through many different methods and the method that works extremely well is guest posting.
But you can also use forums, getting on podcasts, and emailing other bloggers to ask for a link and etc.
Basically, you write a piece of unique content and give it away to a bigger blogger. In hopes of getting traffic and some link juice that will help push you up in Google’s rankings.
Yes, it works, I did a few when I started this blog. At the time of this writing, I don’t plan on doing any more.
Well because none of the guest posts that I wrote really drove a lot of traffic, some drove no traffic at all. Yes, I was able to get a dofollow link (this is the type of link you want that will help you increase your rankings).
But I’ve realized that I’d rather keep that piece of content for my own blog. After all, I am working hard to build up this digital asset.
If I keep giving away my content, I am only taking content away from my blog. I know that most people feel differently about guest posting. That’s fine, this is how I feel.
Plus after I watched this video, it just helps solidify my decision about not worrying about building links to my blog. I’ve taken this advice on my second blog.
Of course, it’s your blog so you can do what you want. Since I’ve taken the approach of focusing on the right keywords and posting all the content on my blog, I’ve managed to increase my organic traffic by 700%.
Should You Invest In Paid Advertising?
One of the most challenging things for new bloggers is driving enough traffic that leads to sales. This is why so many people end up quitting.
If you’re feeling froggy and have the budget, you may want to consider investing in Facebook ads to help you get traffic a lot faster.
I personally don’t know anything about using paid advertising. But I’ve read some success stories from people in Facebook groups that went from 0 to 60,000 in just 3 months.
If you do take this route, I’d recommend investing in some paid program to learn how to use paid advertising like Facebook or Pinterest ads so you don’t lose a lot of money in your testing phase.
Maybe one day I’ll use paid advertising. But right now, I’d rather just invest my time and elbow grease to drive traffic.
Niche Site vs Authority Site
You need to decide whether you’re going to be building a niche site or an authority site. A niche site is a smaller site that is focused on a very narrow topic.
My second blog is a niche site and is nowhere near as broad as this site which is considered an authority site.
Here is an example of a very focused and narrow niche site that is doing very well. Rob Knopper helps aspiring musicians prepare so they can shine at their orchestra auditions.
The cool thing is that you can start off as a niche site and if the site takes off and has tremendous success, you can always turn it into an authority blog.
Work On Growing Your Email List
I know that you want to make sales, but most people who visit your blog are not going to buy right away. You’re working hard to drive traffic to your blog, so you need to use an autoresponder service like ConvertKit, MailerLite, or GetResponse to help you build your email list.
Once people sign up for your email list, you can set up an autoresponder that has affiliate links and eventually make sales.
Your email list is going to be the most important thing you need to focus on as a new blogger. These people are your most loyal fans and want to keep hearing from you.
If you treat them right and provide them value on a consistent basis, they will eventually buy the products and services you recommend.
If you look at some of the biggest marketers online. They will tell you that they make the type of money they make because of their email list.
Driving Traffic and Making Money
Once you’ve put in all the hard work and are starting to see traffic from multiple sources, you should start seeing some money coming in.
More traffic doesn’t necessarily lead to more income. But if you’ve monetized your blog with the right affiliate programs, you shouldn’t have any problems converting visitors into sales.
Other Tips to Make More Sales
Besides writing amazing helpful content that both your readers and Google loves, there are a couple of other things you can do to make more sales.
- Create Gift Guides
- Promote affiliate links on Pinterest (this is a great way to test products out)
- Create a Resource or blogging tools page (here’s how my resource page looks like)
- Take the time to create a freebie for your audience and add affiliate links
- Create free training that shows people how to use your favorite products (make sure you add your link)
- Pay attention to your Google Analytics and make sure your popular posts are monetized
- Make your call to actions clearconcisensice
- Reach out to your affiliate manager to see what you can do to improve your conversions
- Give away freebies or bonuses for anyone who buys through your links
These tips will help you increase your conversions, so be sure to put them into effect.
Give It Time to Work and Don’t Quit
The most important thing to remember is that you’re building a business model that is going to help you change your life. Just like any business, it takes time to work.
You can’t expect to start a website today and see affiliate commissions tomorrow. That’s just unrealistic and having that mindset is only going to get you into trouble.
If you’re writing great content and doing proper SEO and promoting using other methods, it will work.
I wish I could tell you that you’ll see your first commission in the first 3 months. But unfortunately, it’s different for everyone.
Just keep the faith that if you put in the work today, you’ll be rewarded later on down the road. I highly recommend listening to this podcast which will put the whole process into a perspective of how it works.
Recap of what it takes to have success:
- Brainstorm a topic you love and can monetize
- Start your own digital asset online
- Sign up for free affiliate training
- Find products to promote
- Disclosures and cloaking your links
- Focus on 1-2 products so you don’t overwhelm yourself
- Always be testing and improving conversions
- Write, Write, Write and Promote your content
- Learn SEO
- Don’t worry about linkbuilding
- Learn paid advertising
- Niche site or authority site?
- Grow your email list along the way
- Keep improving your efforts for targeted traffic
- Whatever you do, don’t give up!
Final Take Away
Affiliate marketing for beginners can be confusing. There’s so much to learn and do, it can make newbies think they will never succeed.
If you follow the steps on this post, you have the basics of what it takes to get started. I still think this free training can help you grow faster than trying to find all the free information online.
It takes time to build a successful digital asset that pays over and over again. Don’t waste your time trying to find everything for free, just sign up for this training and get all the information in one place.
Hand Picked Articles for You
- How to Get Affiliate Links On Your Website Quickly
- 11 Types of Affiliate Marketing Content You Need to Write
- How Fast Can You Make Money With Affiliate Marketing
This post took me a while to write, if you’ve found it useful, then be sure to share. Let me know if you have any questions below and I’ll do my best to help you out.