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Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – How To Get Started For Dummies (4 Steps)

Get started with affiliate marketing

I've been making a living from affiliate marketing the last decade.

It's actually becoming quite a popular choice among people looking to create a passive income, and it's easy to see why that is.

It's a simple concept to grasp, it requires almost no capital to get started, creates freedom of location, and the income-roof is limitless.

Merchants are offering greater opportunities to earn money through affiliate marketing than ever before.

There's literally affiliate programs for everything today.

Affiliate marketing is indeed one of the best ways to create passive income. And you don't have to be a complete nerd or know how to code either.

Even beginners have a fair shot at making money – if they're willing to invest enough time.

Even though there's a lot of competition, it's still a great time to get in the affiliate game as a beginner.

So let's talk about affiliate marketing for beginners and how you can can get started on that journey.

Affiliate marketing 101 – The basics for beginners

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work for beginners?

Let me summarize it real quick with the following three questions you probably have on your mind.

What is affiliate marketing?

Being an affiliate means recommending products and services from company's your partnering with.

Every time someone buys something through your links, you get a commission.

Actually, one of the oldest professions.

Affiliate marketing in a nutshell

  • Earn commission by selling another brand's products or services.
  • Based on a revenue-sharing concept.
  • Well-tested monetization model that offers profitability for all parties.

How do you get paid?

You get paid when people take action on the advertiser's website. There are three pays to earn money as an affiliate marketer.

All three ways can generate a decent income and serves their purpose. Which one you should focus on depends on your industry and visitor behaviour.

Commission models

  1. Pay per Sale (PPS): Earn a percentage of the sale.
  2. Pay per Click (PPC): Get paid for the number of visitors you send to the merchants website (regardless if a sale is made or not).
  3. Pay per Lead (PPL): Get the customer to visit the merchant’s website and complete the desired action. For example, subscribing to a newsletter.

Why become an affiliate marketer?

So, before we delve into the realms of how to become an affiliate marketer, lets first touch on why you would want to become one.

There's some real nice upside to making a living through affiliate marketing. In a way, it's dream career for many people.

I actually wrote a longer post about why you should consider affiliate marketing here.

The affiliate marketing model

  • You can actually generate passive income. However, it does it time.
  • No limits or restrictions. No income roof. No scalability dilemmas.
  • Location independence. You choose from where you want to work.
  • Flexibility. You choose with what niche and market you want to work.
  • Limited start up costs. You actually don't need more than €30 to get started.
Me by the pool, working on some affiliate projects.

How to get started with affiliate marketing in 4 steps

Now that we have covered the affiliate marketing for dummies part, it's time to concentrate on the main topic: how to start affiliate marketing.

Let's get into it.

Here are 4 steps on how to start affiliate marketing for beginners:

1.  Join an affiliate network

Technically, all you need to do to become an affiliate marketer is signing up to an affiliate network.

Finding a decent affiliate network is important when starting out as an affiliate marketer.

Some affiliate networks are better than others, especially if you're just starting out and don't have too much traffic.

Here's the top 5 (biggest) affiliate networks:

📃 See the complete list of affiliate networks (50+)

After signing up to an affiliate network, you'll be able to browse through the different products and services available to affiliate with.

You will see what commissions the companies are offering, i.e, what you can expect to get for PPS, PPC or PPL.

    Steps to sign up to an affiliate network

  1. Choose an affiliate network for your market.
    Every market has their own affiliate networks. The biggest affiliate networks tend to have coverage for many countries, but if you're targeting a specific local market, you might need to do some research on your own.
  2. Send in your application
    Typically, you need to get a manual approval (but there's exceptions) from the network to start marketing their products. The moment 22 here is that you might need a website in order to get approved, so take a look at step 2 & 3 before moving ahead with this.
  3. Create a publisher profile
    Once you get accepted, do take the time to fill out the necessary information about you as a company (even if you're a beginner). Since you'll be applying to affiliate programs later, and will be subject to manual approval, it's better to come across as professional as possible.

2. Find a brand, product or service that you want to promote

There's hundreds of thousands of products and services, so today, you can literally find affiliate programs for anything.

Now, all you have to do is figure out what products you want to promote.

So, how do you know what products you should promote?

Well, there's no easy way to tell, and many factors are involved.

Choosing your niche is indeed one of the steps where people get stuck and never get started with affiliate marketing. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what to do.

But I will help you to figure it on your own.

    Things to keep in mind when finding a niche

  1. Something you have passion for.
    When starting out as an affiliate marketer, I would recommend becoming an affiliate for a product or service that you resonate with and have some level of passion for. If you have an interest in the thing you're trying to sell, it's more likely to come across in your marketing message, and that might lead to increased conversion.
  2. Expertise is a big plus
    It's a big upside if you have experience with the product, or expertise about the topic. Trying the product or service first hand will ensure that you can speak honestly about your own experience, and it will add credibility to what you're saying. It will also build a sense of trust with your audience and potential customers. This is harder to do if you have no prior experience, but of course, still doable. Again, conversion goes up if you can offer an expert opinion.
  3. Niched topic.
    The more niched products, the easier to sell them. If you go broad, you'll have a more difficult time to convert your visitors into money. Niched products do have a big advantage.

You'll also need to make sure you can actually sell this product online. Luckily, in 2021, you can sell almost anything online.

3. Start promoting your affiliate products

The hard part is figuring out what products and services you wanna promote, so if you did that, congratulations.

Now it's time to start promoting it.

There's different ways to promote affiliate products. You can setup a website, do email marketing or use social media.

Personally, I'm a fan of promoting the products through a website, because it's more automatic, and you have less limits.

We're not going to cover how to build a website in this article, but consider taking my free affiliate marketing course for beginners where I show this process step-by-step.

    How to promote your affiliate products

  1. Create a website.
    We're not going to cover how to build a website in this article, but consider taking my free affiliate marketing course for beginners where I show this process step-by-step.
  2. Apply to the programs.
    You need to apply for the affiliate programs you wish to promote. Do this by logging in to the affiliate network you signed up to in step one. Search the affiliate program, and click apply. Sometimes, you might need to add your website as a channel first.
  3. Get tracking link.
    Typically you get accepted in a few days. Under the advertiser page, you will now be able to find a unique tracking link that you will use to promote their products. This is needed so that the affiliate network knows where the sale or lead came from.
  4. Promote the products.
    Use the tracking link to promote products contextually as a start. You can create comparison tables or do product review. Avoid using too many banners as this is not effective anymore.

3. Generate customers and earn commission

The final step is all about getting customers, making sales and earning that passive income.

It's the most fun part, but also the most difficult.

In simple words, you need to figure out how to get traffic to your website. Of course, all other affiliate marketers out there are competing for the same traffic, so it's not always easy.

But with sustained efforts for a longer time, you'll slowly build up your audience, and start getting sales.

    Tips to start getting traffic

  1. Learn SEO.
    Standing for search engine optimization, it's basically the art of making your website rank high in Google. If you can make your site rank on relevant keywords to your niche, then you'll have plenty of sales coming in and converting will be easy. Here's 7 SEO techniques you might want to learn.
  2. Be active on social media.
    Advertise your website on social media. Publish valuable content around your topic to get people curious and want to visit your website (and ultimately interested to buy your products).
  3. Create content.
    Become a content creator machine, and create new content often. Write content for the purpose of your reader, but also write content for SEO. You can also create content for other sites to market your own – there's dozens of ways to contribute: write guest posts, post in forums, comment on blog posts, upload videos to Youtube and more. Remember to do keyword research and optimize your content to keywords with both high and low volume.

3 tips to succeed as an affiliate marketer

Glad you made it so far. Hopefully you'll now be on your way to getting started in affiliate marketing.

Obviously, there's a lot more to it, but I didn't want to overcomplicate it, and overload you with information.

Before finalizing this post, let me share 3 basic but fundamental tips I would give anyone thinking about giving affiliate marketing a go:

1. Affiliate marketing is easy – don't overcomplicate the process

It's actually really easy to get started as an affiliate, don't over complicate the process.

The truth is, most people never start because they think it's too hard.

And many times, they try to learn everything there is about the affiliate game before even starting with their first website.

It's not really that hard, and you don't have to learn everything.

Just get started.

What's hard is be resilient enough to keep working hard for at least 3-12 months, to see the good results.

2. Promote affiliate products you know

It's important that you understand and believe in the product or brand you are promoting.

So pick a product you can understand and believe in.

Then really get to know your target audience: how best to get through to them and what makes them want to purchase what you're offering.

Having an audience who have a connection to your content and products means they are more likely to purchase the stuff you recommend.

As an affiliate marketer, it's your goal to become an authority figure on the products you intend to promote.

3. Be realistic about what affiliate marketing is

When reading most guides about affiliate marketing for dummies, it's being sold as an easy way to make money.

Sorry, but it just isn't.

Building an affiliate marketing business has the potential to generate a sizeable passive income stream with great opportunities to scale and expand into something huge.

But also, it is important to understand that affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme, and income is not always stable.

You will get successful if you work hard, but it will still take a lot of time.

You need to be mentally prepared to put in the time, have patience and work hard.

Having unrealistic expectations ensures you're gonna quite too early.

I believe my blog series on how to become an entrepreneur can help you get started and understand what's needed from you to make money as a business owner.

Affiliate marketing course – 7 steps to get started as a full time affiliate

Thanks for reading. This was a very simplified post on how to get started with affiliate marketing as a beginner, and doesn't even begin to cover all the things you need to know to become successful.

Today I am making more than a 6 figure income per month, solely from my affiliate projects. And yes, you can too.

But let us be honest: it's gonna take you a while to get there – there's no doubt about that.

But there's no need to take unnecessary detours. I mean, it took me almost 10 years, mostly because I didn't know where to focus.

Luckily for you, I've created an affiliate marketing for beginners course, explaining how to get started on a more practical level in 7 simple steps, and what's important in this game.

The course is free, you don't need to enter any card information and you can sign up in a few clicks using Facebook.

What you will learn in the course:

  • Introduction to affiliate marketing
  • The reality of being an affiliate
  • Choosing your niche – practical guidelines
  • Buying a domain and hosting in 5 minutes
  • Setting up your own site with WordPress and configuration
  • Content writing 101
  • Finding affiliate products and getting your first sales

If you want to get involved and start the course today, click here to sign up.

Written by
Johannes Larsson
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30 comments
  • Hello!
    Your article nicely lays down the fundamentals and the exact steps through which everyone can master affiliate marketing.
    A big Thank You.
    While I will myself start working on it, I am happy to share that I have already shared your post with my children and grandchildren to benefit from affiliate marketing.

  • In a very simple language, you have projected a complete business plan.
    Sir, certainly by earliest I will attend your training program.

  • A pretty good guide on affiliate marketing. Although I’m not quite sure I understand how you actually get the sales.. how exactly do you generate traffic?

    • You can get traffic with valuable content, SEO and lots of patience. Maybe check out my free course if you need some more info!

  • Thank you so much for this helpful and informative article. I will be using these techniques to earn even more.

  • Hi Johannes,
    I just wanted to say that I started out on the affiliate marketing journey only three months ago. And reading this blog of yours today got me just as excited as I did back then. So congratulations on such a good post. I love how in-depth you have throughout your topics covered here.
    What really stood out to me was ‘why you want to become an affiliate marketer’ and the reasons that you give are spot on. I started up my own website when I began and have to say there’s so much to learn but as you’ve said it’s best to not overcomplicate it. But the reasons that you have given to start-up are some of the exact reasons that I began my journey to freedom. To have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world would truly be the icing on the cake for me. And to get out of retail and into building my own business which is scaleable to how I want it is truly the dream come true.
    I recently did my own blog exactly on this of how much money you can truly make from affiliate marketing as a business.
    Honestly being new into this any advice would be great from you and how long have you been blogging for alongside your affiliate marketing business? It would be nice to find out a little more information about this as I’m blogging primarily to help guide people in a similar way to you. And it’s great to learn from the people out there who have gone through the journey themselves. You really are an inspiration and anyone who chooses this digital lifestyle over the standard 9-5 from reading your posts is just as amazing.
    I Will look forward to reading more from you. And thank you for such a good post for all your readers, so nice to see something authentic like this.

  • Thanks for sharing Johannes. Your Step-by-step tutorials are easy, it’s a matter of time before I start having cash rolling in! Appreciate you sharing your knowledgeess. Can’t wait to get started.

  • Wow, this article was packed full of great tips for people who are new to affiliate marketing. So many people give up too quickly but remembering this is a long term game, not overnight success – perseverance pays off.

  • In German we say – “Traumberuf” the dream job. Yes journey is tough but worth taking as it opens the door to living life on own terms. nützliche Info!!

  • Such a nice post laying down affiliate marketing tips for the beginngers. Undoubtedly, your website has such a clean and eye catching design. It was truly great read. :)

  • Creating a simple website has become my biggest hurdle. I tried your way – this might help you get started – but did not work for me – too technical, too much to learn & what if I am mid way (already bought a dmain etc..) will greatly appreciate a new post from you on How to create a simple blog for beginneres & how to create simple blog for not so beginners (mid-way)