When I was starting with affiliate marketing, all that I wanted was to make money. I started by reading a really long and comprehensive ebook on SEO. I followed all the steps and just launched my site. It was a simple 2-page website with its own domain name. After that, I forgot about it.
A couple of months down the road, when an email newsletter mentioned about affiliate marketing, I remembered that I had that 2-page website. And I quickly logged in to my affiliate account, and to my surprise — $13.10. My first personal affiliate commission.
But this was around 2002. While SEO, online advertising and social media is different from what it was back then, some core fundamentals about affiliate marketing remains the same.
It has been years. And since then, I have picked some really nice gems of knowledge about affiliate marketing. So here in this article, I am going to share with you how you can become an affiliate marketer and start making money online.
I am going to skip the introduction to Affiliate Marketing. I assume that you have found out what that is and you just want to start making money with affiliate marketing.
OK, so let’s get started.
Three Main Strategies for Affiliate Marketing
First of all, I want you to know that there are many ways and many different strategies to generating income online with affiliate marketing. I am going to cover some strategies in this article. And you can take your pick which ever is most suitable for you.
But what ever you do, I strong recommend that you start with building your personal blog or website. Why? Well, in most cases, when applying for an affiliate program, they will ask what your website is. And at times, the affiliate manager may just reject your application for an affiliate when you don’t have a website that looks serious.
Do you know how to build a website?
When building a website, there are three ways of doing it.
- Use a hosted website builder solution. This is where you subscribe to services like Weebly, Wix, Square Space or anything like that.
- Build it yourself. It is better that you use a content management like WordPress. First buy a domain and web hosting, then install WordPress in it to start building your website. Some good and well-known web hosting companies that I can recommend are like Dreamhost and Site5.
- Hire another web designer to build you one. If you know somebody, you can get in touch with that person, or perhaps find a freelancer on Fiverr.com or Freelancer.com. I would recommend that you get your freelancer to build you a WordPress site because it will be easy for you to add content in the future.
So now that you have a website, what do you do?
It’s time to pick an affiliate program to promote.
But then again, to pick the affiliate program, you have to consider the affiliate marketing strategy that you want to apply.
- Personal Blog – even if you are building a personal blog, I would prefer that you have a theme to your blog. Don’t just blog for blogging. Find a niche or a theme like parenting, or your body building journey, a travel blog, your painting hobby or anything like that. This would help you attract a specific kind of crowd. And later promoting and recommending affiliate products would be easier.
- Product Comparison and Review – when you search around, you can find a lot of websites that compares one product to another. The TopTenReviews.com is an excellent example that has really impressive ranking in the search engine, and also covers various niches and products such as software, credit cards and more.
- Authority Niche Website – this is where you plan and develop a very resourceful website for one specific topic like how to pass bodyguarding exam, or how to become a private investigator, or perhaps how to start a food truck business.
Of course there are other strategies to affiliate marketing. But I would say that the three above are the main methods to affiliate marketing.
Obviously, MoneyClicking.net applies the first type affiliate strategy. But apart from my own, let me give you some example websites to the three strategies above.
Personal Blog – TravelingLowCarb.com by Lynn Terry
Lynn Terry has been on the Internet marketing scene for ages. She has another blog about that called ClickNewz.com. This is here newer project that is gaining lots of traction.
On this blog she writes about her new diet obsession, the low carb diet for traveling and busy people. Reading at her posts, you can really see how passionate she is about the subject.
She shares recipes, recommends books from Amazon to read and even accepts advertising as her method of monetizing the ebook.
Product Comparison & Review – LanguageSoftware.net by Laurianne Sumerset
This is a comparison and review site for learning languages online. Laurianne holds an MA in Applied Linguistic from NYU, which is impressive to me. And currently she is an English teacher in the outskirts of Bangkok.
The website compares the major online language learning programs from Rocket Language, Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone and more. And she does it each language that they teach. There is a comparison for Japanese, Arabic, Italian, German, Hindi, Spanish, Russian and many more. It is quite a comprehensive website for comparing these programs across various languages. And there is also a review for each one.
Authority Niche Website – FoodTruckr.com by Pat Flynn
Some may know Pat Flynn from his other blog, SmartPassiveIncome.com. That is also where he talks about his online journey of building authority niche websites like FoodTruckr.com.
FoodTruckr.com is also a blog but mostly position itself like an authority niche site. What main product here is an ebook titled How To Start a Food Truck : The Definitive Guide.
A major part of the website also teaches food truck owners and operators on how to harness the Internet and social media for promotion and building a following. Pat Flynn recommends all that with his affiliate links.
So which affiliate program do you join? Depending on your strategy and the products that you need to promote to make money, you can join affiliate programs like
- Amazon Affiliate Program
- Udemy Affiliate Program (on Linkshare)
- Commission Junction
- Share A Sale
- Rakuten Linkshare
If you are going with blogging, and you blog about parenting and babies, then you would need to promote physical products like baby chair, furnitures, books and others. Then, I would say Amazon would be a good fit.
If you are building a comparison and review website and you are reviewing credit cards, you may need to join more than one affiliate program. Some affiliate programs may be on Commission Junction, and some maybe be on ShareASale.com. Some companies may even run their own affiliate programs. If you found a company that you must have in your review, and they run their own affiliate program, you better join that one too.
If you are building a niche authority website, then perhaps you can search for products related in that niche. For this method of affiliate marketing, maybe you can find online courses or info-products that you can promote. Udemy has a collection of good online courses ranging from programming to self defense to business and more. I recommend that you find a good course and write a review about it. You can also consider ClickBank which has been the top choice for ebook authors to sell their work.
If you ask me, among the three, building a blog around your personal interests, hobby or professional work is probably the easiest. Writing articles for this would be more natural for you rather than having to research and write about something that you are not familiar with, let alone not passionate about.
Comparison website, for it to look professional, would require some hardcore programming and technology.
And an authority niche website, is simple, but if you are not a professional writer, this can be challenging. Some invests a lot of money to have content written. So if you are not prepared to invest to build one, I recommend start with building your personal blog.
My Primitive Keyword Research Method Using Free Tools Online
The next step is about generating traffic.
The must do strategy to traffic is SEO or search engine optimization. This takes a bit of time before you can see result. But the works will be worth it.
Three parts to a good search engine optimization strategy.
- Keyword research
- On-site SEO
- Off-site SEO
What is keyword research and why you need to do this.
If you want to target traffic with search engine optimization, you need to make sure that your website has the content to rank in the search engines. You can rank for “best frying pan” if your website does not have a single page that contains that phrase. So doing keyword research, knowing what people are searching for and also knowing your competitors in the search engines can help you select and plan the articles that you need to write for your website.
Basically when doing keyword research, you want to know three things before you can decide if it is worthwhile pursuing a ranking for that particular keyword
- how many people are searching for this keyword term?
- how many websites are ranked for this keyword term?
- websites that rank for this keyword, how strong are they, and can I beat them?
So here are my simple steps to getting keyword ideas for a blog post and checking out if I can rank for them or not.
I start with the Google Keyword Planner Tool. This tool resides in the Google Adwords. You need to create an account there if you don’t already have one. But don’t worry about costs. You will not be charge when you are not running any ad campaigns ni Google Adwords.
I am going to explain to you some simple steps using free available tools online to pick the right keywords to start targeting your SEO efforts. When you have selected your keywords, you can start building your content, and later optimize it on-page and off-page.
By the way, the numbers that I am recommending are just there as a guideline, especially if you are beginner. As you get better at this, you can adjust the numbers according to the degree of difficulty that you think you can handle.
You may want to start a spreadsheet for this.
Step 1, find some keywords that has about 300 to 3000 searches per month. That would mean you can get at average between 10 to 100 visitors per day from that keyword search phrase. Generally, anything higher is either too broad or is definitely too tough to rank for.
Step 2, check with Google for the number of results that particular keyword has. You just go over to Google.com and enter the keyword in the search. Generally, I am looking for keywords that has less than 1,000,000 results.
Step 3, check for website that links to this particular page. This step is just to give you a rough idea. Plus the data that you get is not really accurate. But just to get a feel on how easy or hard it is to outrank your competitor on Google, again, you can check Google. Just enter a search with the following format
An example would be like this.
This part is rather difficult to objectively say whether a keyword is in or out. But the good thing about doing this step is you start to know how strong your competitors are. Looking at the links that they get, you can decide if you too can get the same links from the same websites. And if they have too many links for you compete with, you may consider dropping them.
Building Your Website – Domain, Hosting and WordPress
The next step is about building your website. The normal way of doing it, you would need to learn HTML and CSS. But that can get technical and complicated for some. A quick shortcut is simply to use a software that can help you with building your website, and also help you manage your content. These type of software is called a Content Management System, or CMS for short.
WordPress is a very well-known CMS. It is estimated that about 38% of the websites that uses any CMS use WordPress. Top companies like Techcrunch (tech blog), The New Yorker, BBC America, Bata (the shoe manufacturer), Women National Basketball Association (WNBA), Chicago Sun-Times all uses WordPress. By the way, Wordpress is a PHP script that you have to upload and setup on your web hosting account.
How do you get started building your website. Well, fortunately, a lot of web hosting companies have WordPress installer in their control panel. One web hosting that I like is DreamHost. In fact, this is where MoneyClicking.net is hosted.
DreamHost offers two ways to host your WordPress website. One is a dedicated WordPress Hosting service. Another is a by getting a Shared Hosting account, and use their WordPress installer to get you started. Either is fine. If you are new, I suggest to just go with the Shared Hosting.
There is a course on Udemy that shows you how to start building a website with WordPress. I recommend that you go there, take the course and start learning WordPress. At the time of this writing, the course is selling for only $20. And I sure it will be a worthwhile investment.
On-Site SEO for Search Engines and Social Media
Now, let say you have selected your keyword phrases. Next is about creating your content or article. When you put that online, you need to be aware of your On-Site SEO efforts.
On-Site SEO is where you put some efforts to make the content on your website more search-engine friendly. In away, you are creating your website so that Google can index it better, putting emphasize in the main keywords you want to highlight. This does not guarantee ranking though, but it is an important step towards that major goal.
To do this, you need to apply some tags, and have some data to be presented in a certain manner to make your website more search-engine-friendly. In this age of social media, you also need to put some effort to make your website appear more search-engine friendly too.
To do this by hand, you would need to have a little bit of understanding of HTML. Rather explaining every single aspect on On-Site SEO, I am just going to give you some important rundowns through the process.
- Have your main article title with <h1> tag
- Have your sub-titles with <h2>
- Make sure you use the <title> tag
- Make sure you use the <meta name=”description”> tag
And make sure that you have your keywords sprinkled a little bit in the four places mentioned above. I like how Brian Dean of Backlinko.com explains On-Page SEO with a simple infographic. Do check it out.
To take it a step further, make your website social-media-friendly. Social media is everywhere now days. And you want to make sure that your affiliate website looks good when people share them on Facebook and Twitter. So add these few tags to have control over how your website looks like on social media.
This is a sample code for Twitter. And you want to place them between <head> and </head> on your website page.
<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image"> <meta name="twitter:site" content="@iszuddin"> <meta name="twitter:creator" content="@iszuddin"> <meta name="twitter:title" content="MoneyClicking.net"> <meta name="twitter:description" content="Programming, Affiliate Marketing, and Travels"> <meta name="twitter:image" content="http://www.moneyclicking.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2015-06-02-14.03.09.jpg">
And with this, your website will look something like this when shared on Twitter.
Otherwise, you may just get a plain link if people share your website on Twitter. Yes, you do for every single page that you build, and each one of them should have a different description, title and image.
Facebook Open Graph
Now how about Facebook. This is the simple <meta> tags you can apply for your website to look nice on Facebook.
<meta property="og:url" content="http://www.moneyclicking.net" /> <meta property="og:type" content="website" /> <meta property="og:title" content="MoneyClicking.net" /> <meta property="og:description" content="Programming, Affiliate Marketing, and Travels" /> <meta property="og:image" content="http://www.moneyclicking.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2015-06-02-14.03.09.jpg" />
This is a preview of how your website would look like if the Facebook OG meta tags are implemented correctly.
For both Twitter and Facebook, make sure you use a huge image. Facebook recommends an image with the resolution of 1200 x 630 pixels, or at least 600 x 315 pixels. It is safe to use when creating Twitter Card for your website too.
When you get all these done, your website is ready for Off-Site SEO efforts.
If you are using WordPress, it is easier that you install an SEO plugin like All-in-One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO.
Getting Backlinks for Search Engine Rankings
Search Engine Optimization has changed. Many webmaster suffers from Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm update. Backlinks is still important. But the way you get them is more important to maintain and retain your search engine ranking.
Outdated Dangerous Methods — Stay Away!
Previously there have been tactics like user profile links, web 2.0 blog networks, forum signature, blog comments, link-wheels, and more. I am not a believer of these types of link building anymore. Google are quick to know that these are not real and spammy, especially when it is created solely for the purpose of linking to you.
Start with Great Content That Is Worth Linking To
Getting backlinks starts with creating content with value, that is worth sharing, worth linking to. If you have this, link building becomes a lot easier.
When you have done that, the next step is to approach other webmasters and bloggers and tell them about your new content, and ask them to link to you. Don’t limit your communication to just online methods — approaching other people can be done with snail mail, phone call, networking at events, and many more. As for online, there is the normal email, social media, chat and others.
Outreach Link Building
The difference in the many ways of link building is just how you position your request for the link.
Online marketers and SEO professional call this Outreach Link Building.
Bear in mind, as an affiliate marketer, there are two types of content that you need to create. One, content for converting traffic to sales. Two, content for creating buzz and link building. Sometimes one content can serve as both. We will cover about creating content later. But for this section, we will talk about link building. So let’s assume that you alread have great content that is worthy of links from others.
How do you find other bloggers and webmasters to contact?
One way of doing this is to look for similar content like yours and see who are already linking to them. Put all the websites that you can find in a spreadsheet and starting looking for their contact details. To find the contact details, you can check their About page, check their contact page, or even do a WHOIS check on the domain.
A WHOIS check will list the contact details and ownership of any particular domain. Sometimes, the domain owner may opt to apply some privacy settings to hide his details. But at any chance, just give it a try. To do a WHOIS check, just enter the following URL into your browser. Change the last part with the domain name you are checking.
So this will be like
When you have the contact details, it is time to start sending out emails. Here is an example of an email for link building outreach program.
I was at your website and I like your post about the Cute Little Penguins. It’s brilliant!
My recent blog post happens to be about “Penguins Traveling in the Winter” after my recent travels in Greenland.
[ link to blog post ]
If you’re so inclined, I’d love for you to share it with your audience.
And then you wait for their reply. If they don’t reply, then send out a follow-up email in 3 days.
Of course you are not going to get a reply for every email you send out. Just keep finding more websites to email to.
Let me list out some of the other methods for
- offer to write for their blog (guest blogging)
- offer your product for free for a review
- inform them about your new infographic
- create new and improved information from based on older popular information (skyscraper)
- inform and tell to update broken links on their website (recommend a few and yours as well)
- ask to interview them (they’ll most likely write on their blog that you interviewed them)
- offer something that they would benefit from in return (a new header graphic maybe)
- create a free web tool that others can use for free (a simple calculator app for example)
- offer to buy them coffee, tea or lunch and meet in person
I am sure there are many more ways to get links. Sometimes you just have to stop, think and get creative a little bit. But never stop producing great content.
Tracking Your Progress with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster
You need to know if your SEO efforts are paying off. That is why you need analytics. The most common option is Google Analytics. Google Analytics will tell you how much traffic you are getting, where they are coming from and other important information about your website traffic.
I think I will reserve how to setup Google Analytics on another post because that is going to be a long one. But you can just get started by heading over to http://google.com/analytics and create an account. If you already have a Google account, maybe from a Gmail account, you can use that to simply login.
Here is a Udemy course to help you get started with Google Analytics.
Creating Content That Converts
You got everything else covered. You’ve got your website, your SEO, your tracking, and your email marketing. Let’s take a look at how you can get people to buy. How do you create content that converts traffic into customers for your affiliate businesses.
First you have to know your role as an affiliate. You job is not to sell. But rather, you need frame your readers mind into being ready to buy.
What is the difference?
When you sell, you say, “Buy! Buy! Buy!” But you don’t want that.
Stop and think how you talk with friends when you have a specific problem. Maybe you had an ulcer and your friend would say, “Try Oral Aid. It worked for me.”
And guess what — you did!
Maybe in a different conversation, a friend said, “You know what, this Slam Bam comb really saved my a** the other day. Because it is really dense, I used it to pick out my keys that was stuck between a rock the other day.”
OK, I don’t know where that example came from. But I think you get the idea.
To be more specific, let’s take a look at some type of content you can create for your affiliate website.
- Product reviews
Example: “Widget ABC Review”
- Case study and recommendations
Example: “How To Do This And That With Widget ABC”
- Comparison Review
Example: “Widget ABC vs Widget XYZ”
- Personal story on how you used a feature in a product
Example: “How Widget ABC Saved My Life”
- Compilation of more ways to use a product
Example: “5 More Ways To Use Widget ABC That You Don’t Know About”
- Optimizing the use of a product
Example: “Get 20% More Productive with Widget ABC”
- Offer incentives for affiliate sales
Example: “Get Widget ABC from My Link and I will Send You $5”
I think you got my idea, right? Well, there is one more thing about that you should know about when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Finding Relevant Products and Joining Affiliate Programs
The most important thing when promoting affiliate programs is to find products relevant to your audience. Of course you want to join a good, reputable affiliate program, but that to me comes second.
Depending on what your topic is, there are a lot of affiliate programs out there that you can join. If you just don’t know where to start, you can always go to Amazon where they have a wide range of products for you to choose from. When it comes to information and knowledge, there is always something that you can promote to your audience. With Amazon, they probably have the biggest range of titles for you to promote. On top of that, Amazon sells a lot more things from supplements, kitchenware, tools… I am sure there is something that you can promote.
Why not start with something that you are already using. And then find if there is an affiliate program for that. You can always go to Google and search for
[product] affiliate program
Or you can join a affiliate network and search for products in there. Some top networks are like
- Commission Junction
- Rakuten Linkshare
- Share A Sale
The good thing about an affiliate network is that you can combine commissions from many vendors and get one check sent to you. This can help speed up accumulating your commission to the minimum withdrawal limit. And you don’t have to cash out so many checks.
When it comes to information and knowledge, you can check out these places:
- Clickbank, where you can find membership sites, ebooks, software that you can promote.
- Udemy, has a huge collection of online courses from programming to gardening, from martial arts to parenting.
Making The Most Out Of Each Visitor With…
While we analyze with numbers, page visitors, traffic, conversion, wee need to always remember that those that arrived on our website are humans.
Imagine a situation where you visitor arrives on your website. She reads the article. And then she left. There is nothing else for her on your website. And there is no reason for her to be there. And you have no way of getting her to come back.
But what if there is a way?
Well, there is. It is called Email Marketing.
Now imagine a new situation. You visitor arrives on your cooking website. She reads your article. And then she realizes your little advertisement on your website that says, “Delicious Recipes That Help You Lose Weight”. She clicks on the banner ad and a pop-up appears. The popup says, “You are one step away from getting your lose weight recipes. Just enter your email below”. And there is also a little form where she can enter her name and email address.
When she enters her name and email address, she now sees a messages that says, “We have send the recipes in your email. Go check your inbox”.
And with that, you have collected her name and email address. And you can always send her emails in the future to :
- update her with new blog posts,
- send her an offer for a new product you made,
- or even schedule a series of email to be sent at several time periods
All these may sound technical and complicated. But with a good email marketing software, it is not.
There are a lot of options for this. MailChimp, Aweber, ConstantContact, iContact… but I always tell my clients and my readers to go for GetResponse. In terms of features and price, in my opinion GetResponse provide a better value.
GetResponse can help get started on how to integrate your website with autoresponder. There is also a WordPress plugin that can help you with this.
Click here to learn more about GetResponse and WordPress integration.
The Coolest Thing About Email Marketing…
One of the coolest thing about email marketing is this thing we call Autoresponder.
Some email client has autoresponse feature, where your sender can get an autoresponse email saying that you are on a vacation. That message is pre-written, right? But you can only write one email response.
But what if you can write a series of 10, 20, maybe 52 emails and get those to be sent out to your email subscribers one per week automatically.
Imagine a series of email with the subject line:
- Week 1: Hi Jane! Thanks for visiting MoneyClicking.net
- Week 2: Jane, have you downloaded the Successful Affiliate Marketing Checklist
- Week 3: So where are you at right now, Jane?
- Week 4: What if you can build your website in just one day?
- Week 5: A quick hack that made me an extra $321 commission in a week
- Week 6: Can I help you, Jane?
And the list goes on…
You see how the subject lines also contains the name of the recepient? Well you can do that with email marketing. And of course, anytime you mention a product, it links to the merchant with your affiliate link.
So the game plan now is to get more people to your blog, and more people into your email marketing. And then your affiliate marketing becomes almost auto-pilot.
From the emails, you can tell your stories and redirect them to your affiliate merchant. Or you can also bring them back to your blog, where you promote more things.
For beginners, email marketing is pretty much neglected. I think that is a big mistake. Make sure you don’t do this mistake. So get your GetResponse.com right away.
Becoming a successful affiliate marketer is a never ending process. But if you keep at it, the rewards will be worth it. Picture yourself as a magazine publisher. You need to keep building great content. You need to keep promoting your magazine.
The same goes with being a successful affiliate marketer. Think of it as a real business, where you are building a real brand. Maybe your personal brand.
If I can summarize the Internet into one thing — it is a place where people find, read and share content. So you need to keep doing that.
But to get yourself and edge, you need to keep to a theme. Remember the earlier part on how others are doing it. They always keep to a specific content theme, and they build their personal brand.
Let me break things easy for you. The are three main things that you need to do for your affiliate business:
- Build great content — this can be a great blog post, a new infographic, a video, and you can put all these on your website.
- Promote your website — this is where you do your SEO and outreach link building
- Be in constant communication with your audience — this is where you consistent write to your email subscribers
Your Successful Affiliate Marketing Checklist
If you are just starting out, or maybe you are building a new affiliate website, then maybe this PDF check can help.
Final words, I would love to hear your story how things are unfolding for you in this affiliate marketing game.