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How to Get Started in Affiliate Marketing: A guide for beginners

Affiliate marketing is a billion-dollar industry attracting multiple individuals and businesses who want to benefit from this source of "passive" income. Indeed, affiliate marketing can be incredibly rewarding for those who are dedicated enough. So, how does one position themselves in such a way to effectively take advantage of the affiliate marketing industry?

In this article, you’ll find out how to get started as an affiliate marketer. But first, there are a few things we’ll need to cover. These are:

  • What affiliate marketing is
  • How affiliate marketing works
  • Can you make money from affiliate marketing?

After this, we’ll delve into detail on the six crucial steps that anyone looking to get started as an affiliate marketer needs to follow.

  1. Decide your niche
  2. Choose products within your niche
  3. Research affiliate programs
  4. Build your platform
  5. Create desirable content
  6. Promote affiliate products

What is Affiliate Marketing? A Clear Definition

Affiliate marketing is a process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s/ business’ products.

More specifically, affiliate marketing involves:

  • Finding a product you are interested in promoting.
  • Promoting that product to your audience.
  • Ultimately earning a percentage of the profit for each sale or successful referral you make.

How Affiliate Marketing Works - A Brief Overview

Each affiliate has their unique tracking link, also known as an “affiliate link”. This link will allow the business whose product is being promoted to identify which affiliate has sent the customer in their direction.

The business will see that a particular action has occurred through your affiliate link. This way, you will earn a commission for that specific referral.

Let’s take a look at a practical example. An affiliate created a post on their own platform to promote an online casino brand. The affiliate's audience may come across the post, and some will access the casino’s website through the affiliate link, proceed to sign up and make a deposit. If this is the case, the affiliate will receive a commission for each player brought to that brand based on the rate agreed between the affiliate and the affiliate program.

Can Affiliate Marketing Make You Rich?

With the proper time, effort, and research, it is possible to generate high income through affiliate marketing.

For example, in March 2016, the founder of Smart Passive Income, Pat Flynn, made $100,098 through his affiliate marketing endeavours. The fact that he began affiliate marketing in 2008 perfectly illustrates just how rewarding the affiliate marketing industry can be if you are dedicated enough.

There are many success stories that could serve as a great source of inspiration for any aspiring affiliate marketer. You’re likely to come across names such as Pat Flynn, Zac Johnson, and Missy Ward and a few others when carrying out your research.

You need to consider the number of hours these individuals have allocated over the years to arrive in the position they are in today. However, do not let that discourage you. Instead, aim to develop the same mindset and perseverance as these guys.

Six Steps to Get Started in Affiliate Marketing

Now that we’ve introduced the subject of affiliate marketing and how it generally works, it’s time to delve deeper into the six steps you need to follow to get started in affiliate marketing.

Step 1: Choose Your Niche

There is so much competition out there that it is essential to narrow your audience down to a specific niche. You should avoid choosing a category off the top of your head. Instead, you should think strategically on what you are passionate about and whether it is possible to find and promote products that fall in line with your passion.

For example, you might be someone who loves betting. The problem here is that the betting industry is so vast that you will need to narrow it down to a specific betting industry segment. You may decide that online casinos will be your niche.

By selecting a niche, you will be better positioned to curate content perfectly tailored to your target audience. But we’ll talk more about that in Step 5.

Step 2: Choose Products Within Your Niche

Now that you have selected your niche, you can choose which products you want to promote to your audience. You must choose good quality products and services to market to your niche audience. Otherwise, you will lose their trust.

Luckily for you, the niche you have chosen falls in line with your passion. Therefore, you should not have much difficulty at this stage. Go for products that you have either used yourself or those you are aware of and know are of a high standard. Ask yourself, would you promote this to the people closest to you?

Let's imagine that you are an affiliate that owns a website that features the best online casinos in the industry. You come across SlotV, an adventure-themed online casino, and want to add it to the list of your offerings.

Before reaching out to the affiliate program behind SlotV Casino, make sure that it corresponds to the best practices in the industry. Does the casino have a big selection of casino games? Are the responsible gambling policies in place? Is the interface user-friendly? How easy is it to make a withdrawal?

These are all questions that you'll need to answer when reviewing the product on your affiliate website. Therefore, do your research, and provide your audience with truthful and useful information that will help them throughout their casino journey. Remember that trust is crucial when you work in affiliate marketing.

Step 3: Research Affiliate Programs

There are several factors to consider when deciding upon which affiliate programs to join:

  • What type of payment structure does this program offer?
  • Does the program provide me with the necessary marketing materials to help me market their products more efficiently?
  • Does the program promote reputable and top converting products?

The easiest way to find the potential affiliate programs you can work with is to go directly to the companies you are keen on by visiting their website and finding their affiliate program. For instance, if you visit Mr Bit Casino's website, you will discover that the casino is represented by PlayAttack Affiliates - so this is who you need to reach out to if you want to add Mr Bit to your online affiliate site. Keep in mind that not every company might have an affiliate program.

Ultimately, you should opt for an affiliate program with a good reputation, offers a reasonable commission rate with frequent payments and has trustworthy and highly reputable products.

Step 4: Choose Your Marketing Platform

There are several options available to you when deciding which platform to use for your affiliate marketing business. The most widespread methods are:

  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Video-sharing platforms

So, if you’re asking yourself whether affiliate marketing can be done without a website, the answer is yes. Whichever you end up choosing, you need to try and follow the best SEO practices. You must strike a balance between your affiliate marketing efforts and SEO, which will help your site rank better on Google.

Why is SEO so important? Here are a few reasons:

  • Google focuses on providing users with the best results for their search queries.
  • SEO implementation helps your business get discovered by making you more visible with a better ranking in search engine results.
  • it will help you grow in authority - this means your site will become more trustworthy, relevant and of a higher quality.
  • SEO means you must create great content, which ultimately provides visitors with an improved user experience.

Video-sharing Platform

Let’s start with video-sharing platforms such as YouTube. Firstly, they are entirely free to use. You can review products and services in videos through these platforms while including your affiliate links within the description. 

These platforms are great options, and whilst they can be used alone, they can also work fantastically when combined with other platforms such as websites and social media.

In the end, the key to all of this is to truly understand your audience in terms of their behaviours and preferences while also determining which platform will work best for you and the content you plan on communicating.

If you’re unsure whether you can yield positive results through video content, try it out first. Testing is essential, so it cannot hurt to upload a few videos first to see whether these are well-received or not. This will give you a more substantial base to make the correct decision when selecting a marketing platform.

Social Media

Social media is another excellent option for affiliate marketers. The good thing about this method is that you are not restricted to just one channel, but you can choose from multiple ones, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.

With Instagram, you can place your affiliate link in your bio while promoting products and services. This works best if you can market your product appropriately through images.

On the other hand, if you aim to regularly stay in touch with your audience and provide them with assistance, Twitter is the most efficient way. Just like Instagram, you can include your affiliate links in your bio. Links are also clickable in your tweets, something which can’t be done when posting to Instagram.

Furthermore, posting on social media is a great way to show your audience that you love using those products, how those products can be beneficial to them, and why they should click and make a transaction through your links.

Once again, the social media channel you choose should depend upon your target audience. Whilst the younger generation are more likely to discover you through Instagram, millennials are more likely to find you through Twitter. 

Website

Most people believe that having your own website is still the best way to go.

Here are some reasons why you should opt for a website:

  • you can build a website for free. Nowadays, you do not need to be an expert to build a website. With so many tools at your disposal, you are unlikely to need a team of skilled developers by your side.
  • have total control over the layout and design of your website.
  • can use your social media channels to drive traffic to your website.
  • can create long-form content such as blogs and videos without any length restrictions.

Step 5: Create Engaging Content

After building your website, you can create blog posts that you know your niche audience will find interesting to read. Not everything you post needs to push your affiliate links, but you should also provide material that readers will find useful.

Write blogs, articles, and make videos about the latest trends and news within your industry to keep your readers informed and up-to-date. You should also put time into creating educational content that people can use to develop, such as how-to-guides, tips, and tricks.

By consistently producing content that is directly relevant to your niche and utilising a variety of online tools, you will likely notice useful results in traffic and affiliate link clicks. Over time, this will also assist you in ranking higher in search engines.

Sticking to the scenario that your chosen niche is online casinos, something that constitutes as useful and engaging content would be:

  • Informative guidelines on how to play specific games
  • Where to start if you are a beginner
  • Explaining terminology
  • Useful tips related to gambling
  • Offering advice on responsible gambling

Step 6: Promote Affiliate Products

Now that you know what affiliate marketing is and how to get set up, it is time for you to start marketing your chosen affiliate products!

In step 5, we discussed the types of content you can resort to drive traffic to your website, but how do you get that traffic to click on your affiliate links?

You can promote your affiliate links within your content itself. The links can fit in naturally with your sentences as you write product reviews. This will increase your chances of getting clicks rather than having your links sitting at the bottom of every page. Keep in mind that readers might not always read till the very end, no matter how great your content is. Therefore, it is best to catch their attention at an early stage.

For example:

“Personally, one of the online casinos I enjoy the most is Mr Bit, as it offers a fantastic user experience and the best slots around.”

We included the link within the right context and placed it exactly where the reader would expect it to be.

After this stage, it is difficult to control whether the individuals who click your links end up converting. However, this is why it is so important to do your research to ensure that you are selecting an affiliate program known for high conversion rates.

Moreover, here are a few tips on how you can increase clicks on your affiliate links:

  • Ensure that your links are relevant to the topic. Readers will be put off by links that seem out of place.
  • Use subtle calls to action. Instead of merely saying “Buy Now”, explain why what you are promoting is of value whilst seamlessly embed it in your affiliate link, similar to the example mentioned above.
  • You should strategically place the links throughout the text without overdoing it.
  • The design of your website should be visually appealing to the user.
  • Create engaging headlines based on what people tend to search for. This could encourage them to start reading and may increase the likelihood of receiving clicks.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we covered the fundamentals of what someone needs to start in affiliate marketing.

We started by defining affiliate marketing before providing a generic overview of how it works. Next, we identified that each affiliate has their own unique tracking links for the products they choose to promote and earn a commission for each specific referral.

Moreover, we then discussed the success stories of well-known affiliate marketers and the amount of effort it took for them to achieve their success.

After this, we broke down affiliate marketing into six steps by going through them in detail and explaining each one’s role in helping you become a successful affiliate marketer. Here’s a quick reminder of those steps:

  1. Decide your niche
  2. Choose products within your niche
  3. Research affiliate programs
  4. Build your platform
  5. Create desirable content
  6. Promote affiliate products

By following the guidance provided within this article, you could be on your way to successfully starting your affiliate marketing career and growing your business into something truly exceptional!