Getting started with affiliate marketing – 5 things you need to succeed

By | March 8, 2015

This article is for everyone who is completely new to Internet Marketing. If you’re new, then affiliate marketing is often the best way to start making money online. Affiliate marketing has almost no upfront costs, and you don’t have to create anything to sell yourself.

To get started with affiliate marketing, and have a high chance of success, there are five main things you need.

1. A niche

What is a niche?

A niche is a segment of the market that you’re going to focus on. For instance, baseball. Now you might think; how is it even possible to not have a niche? By blogging about whatever, which is what a lot of people do. This doesn’t lend itself to affiliate marketing well, because your traffic will never be that targeted to the products you’re trying to promote.

Niche size

A niche can be large or small. An example of a niche that is too large; Sports. Better would be; Baseball. Something like that would be the largest size I’d go after as a beginner. If you want to go smaller, your niche could be Baseball training. If you want to go even smaller, you niche could be Baseball training for catchers. I recommend starting out with a fairly large niche, because a tiny niche is too limiting; you will run out of subjects to write about.

Is your niche of choice good? Three things to check:

1 – You’re passionate about the subject. While this isn’t strictly necessary, it’s highly recommended, especially if you’re new. If you’re new, you NEED to do everything yourself for at least one reason: you need to learn the process. You can’t successfully outsource without having the experience yourself.
Being passionate about your niche means that you’re most likely knowledgeable on the subject, and you have experience with products in your niche. This will make writing articles a lot easier, and you’ll already have products to review, and sell as an affiliate. Generally speaking; you can provide VALUABLE information on the subject, without too much hard work.

Even if you’re not really knowledgeable about the niche you’re passionate about yet, researching and working on it won’t feel like hard work.

2 – There are others that are passionate about the subject – potential CUSTOMERS. You’ll need customers to sell things to. If you’re completely new, don’t worry about doing market research. Just ask yourself this question: do you know others that are passionate about this niche? If the answer is ‘Yes’, you’re good to go.

3 – There are things you can SELL in the niche.

You need something to sell as an affiliate to make money. Make sure there are things you can sell in your niche, and that there are affiliate programs for them. This could be physical products, or digital products (e-books, courses, memberships). If you’re still worried about whether there are customers for your niche, researching if there are things you can sell will give you the answer. If there are things for sale, there MUST be customers in your niche, or it wouldn’t make sense for the companies to sell these products.

In my opinion, these are the only three requirements if you’re completely new. Yes, some niches might be more profitable than others, depending on what you can sell, how much potential traffic there is, and how much competitition there is. Because this is about starting your first ever affiliate website however, this shouldn’t be the main focus. The focus should be on learning and making it a good first experience. You can always build other websites later if you want to switch niches, or want to run multiple sites at once.

2. A website

Most affiliate programs need you to have a website to sign up as an affiliate publisher. Even if you can find an affiliate program that doesn’t, you’re severly limited in your possibilities if you don’t have a website. To have a website you need a domain name, and hosting. If you’re using my recommended way to get a domain name and hosting, you can be online today for only $17,62.

If you’re worried about making costs, think again. You can be IN BUSINESS for only $17,62. Compare this to starting a brick and mortar business. How much would that cost you? At LEAST $10,000. The possibilities to make money aren’t that much different; there are a lot of affiliate sites that make the owner more money than brick and mortar businesses. Apart from that, having an affiliate website doesn’t require you to be present to make sales.

A domain name

A domain name is the address to visit your website. You’ll have to register one to build your website on. Picking a domain name is where people either go wrong, or get stuck. Before you pick a domain name, I recommend reading my article on how to pick a good domain name. A domain name at Namecheap will cost you about $10.

Hosting

Webhosting is a service that provides both storage space and access to your website. I host nearly all of my websites at Hostgator, and I’m a satisfied customer. I recommend the Hostgator ‘Baby plan’, which allows you to host multiple websites on one hosting account.

If you want to go completely free…

If you’re afraid of spending any money at all, you can start out completely free. This does have some disadvantages though; you won’t have your own domain, but a subdomain, and not the full functionality of having your own, paid website. There are a lot of free options to start a website or a blog. You can find a lot of them under ‘Web 2.0 properties ‘ on the startpage. I highly recommend getting a free website that uses WordPress. WordPress is a very versatile and easy to learn content management system (CMS). The two free options that I know of, that offer a free WordPress website, are Site Rubix, and WordPress.com. WordPress.com will place their own ads on your website to make it pay for itself. Therefore, I prefer using Site Rubix.

But, isn’t building a website difficult to learn?

No, it’s not. It used to be. Nowadays everyone can do it, especially if you’re using WordPress. You can set up a WordPress website in a matter of minutes (click here to see me do just that), and if you spend a couple of hours every day, you can get comfortable using WordPress in a week.

3. Knowledge

Yes, you do need to know what you’re doing. Luckily, everyone can learn this, and you don’t have to be an expert when starting out.

Technical know-how

Apart from setting up your website, you need to maintain it, customize and tweak it. With WordPress, this isn’t that hard, and almost everything is covered online for free. I cover a lot of WordPress tips and tricks myself, here; WordPress articles.

Marketing

There are two aspects to marketing you need to consider as an affiliate publisher.

1 – Marketing your website

You need to figure out how to get traffic (visitors) to your website. You can get traffic from search engines, from social media, and from other websites. How to optimize your website to make it show up in the search results, is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. A good place to start out is on Moz. To learn about using social media to get traffic, I recommend socialmediaexaminer.com.

2 – Marketing products

You need to know how to promote products that you’re going to sell as an affiliate publisher.  There are multiple aspects to this. The most important thing you need to focus on, is learning how to write to sell (Copywriting). A good place to learn that is at Copyblogger.com.

However, you should remember that your site has to provide value to the reader, and shouldn’t just be one big advertisement!

Product knowledge

If you’ve chosen a niche you’re passionate about, you’ll most likely already have product knowledge. If not, you’ll have to do research. Having a lot of product knowledge will also automatically make you a better salesman.

4. Time

Expect to invest a lot of time upfront before you start making money. I made my first sale 3 months after starting out without any previous experience at all. From what I’ve read, for complete beginners, four months seems to be average. If you keep going after that, you’ll see a continuous, and often, increasing stream of sales.
Of course, you can get sales a lot faster, depending on how much time you can spend, how knowledgeable you are, and how lucky you get. Just remember that if you’re building a sustainable affiliate marketing website, it’s far from getting rich quick. However, if you’re succesful, the initial time investment will MORE than pay for itself over time. For example, the first site I ever built is a micro-niche site that I can’t expand any further. It took about 2 weeks of spare time to build. This website keeps earning me around $150 every month, and all it takes to maintain it is about one hour each month.

5. Feedback

You need feedback on your website to make it better, or to confirm what you’re doing is good. A good place to get feedback is on forums. See the startpage for forums where you can get feedback.

You can also ask me a question directly on this website, by posting a comment here.

Get started!

Remember to take action! I personally strongly believe in learning by doing. Start, run into problems, fix the problems, and continue. Don’t worry about the details now, there is a lot of time to do that later.

You will probably not do everything right the first time,
but you won’t do anything right if you never get started!

Your resources:

First, read this article on picking a domain.
Registering a domain: Namecheap
Domain name and Hosting: How to get the cheapest domain and webhosting
Free website: Site Rubix or WordPress.com

An all-in-one solution:

Don’t want to go out and look for bits and pieces of information on multiple sources? Then I’d recommend Wealthy Affiliate. Here, you’ll find a full step-by-step training course on how to set up your website with WordPress, how to start with affiliate marketing, how to get traffic to your website, and how to market products. You can get feedback from other members by posting questions, or using the live chat. Hosting is included! You can start out with a free account, which gives you 2 free websites.

Other resources

For everything else you might need can be found on the startpage.

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