How to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing

This post may contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase through the links, I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support. 

When you set out on a mission to become a successful online entrepreneur, you will be faced with the decision of which business model to pursue.

This decision should be based on a mix of:

  • the profit potential you desire
  • personal preferences for the types of tasks you will be carrying out 

One of the easiest and quickest ways to earn a living on the Internet is by becoming an affiliate marketer, but full disclosure: not everyone who chooses this career will be able to earn a decent living at it.

The business model itself isn’t flawed per se, but many individuals fail to understand they need a strategy that will help them achieve the level of earnings they want.

Let’s discuss: 

What Does it mean to be an Affiliate Marketer?

When you become an affiliate marketer, you are taking on the role of an expert and guide who is willing to take your consumers concerns/needs and steer them in the right direction to a product that will provide the solution they are seeking.

Simply put: you recommend products to them. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably done some free affiliate marketing and hadn’t even realized it.

Think about it: has anyone ever tried a new restaurant or purchased a small appliance based on your recommendations? If so, guess what? You’re an affiliate marketer! 

Affiliate marketers are the middlemen between a consumer who has money to spend and a problem to solve, and the vendors who have created the solution in the form of a digital or tangible product.

  •  

Personal Examples

Here are a few examples of affiliate marketing blurbs. 

  • If you need essential oils, try Davina Wellness.
  • If you’re craving a delicious Blackberry Lemonade, try 310
  • If you want to quickly earn gift cards by answering surveys and testing products, try CrowdTap
  • If you need books or textbooks and your budget is small, try Thriftbooks

Simple, right? 

So, How Does It Work?

In an effort to get more eyeballs on their products, vendors do one of these:

  • recruit affiliates
  • ask current customers to manually apply, then get approved to promote
  • automatically enroll all current customers in a points/rewards program 

So, why would they bother to do this? Because marketing can get expensive. Small brands that are just starting out know it will take a lot of money, time and effort to get organic traffic to their site, so they incentivize their base. That’s where you come in.

In a nutshell: get a new paying customer for us and we will give you xx points or a percentage of the sale. You cast the net for them and bring in the fishies, then they rewards you for the fishies. 

Some vendors offer as much as a 50% commission, while others offer significantly less. You might even find digital products to promote that deliver 100% commission. If you’re interested in that, Tools for Motivation does 100% commissions on certain products. Click HERE to check them out. 

Responsibility

As an affiliate marketer,  you still have to prove to your audience that you are a go-to person in your niche that is qualified to guide them in their decision-making process. 

There are hundreds of competing products in any given marketplace, so it’s your job to sift through them and find the legit opportunities that would best suit your base’s needs. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • blog posts
  • email autoresponders
  • social media posts
  • any other way you contact your audience

Remember: you have a duty to be ethically honest with your readers and protect them from spending money on products that would not benefit them.

TIP: Don’t sign up to market a product that you have not tried yourself. At the very least, have it be recommended by someone in your community that you trust. Your reputation is on the line if the product is bad/faulty/a scam. 

TIP: Always disclose your relationship with a brand. Let your followers or readers know you are being paid to promote a product. You can see my disclosure at the top of the post as an example. 

Time & Money Investments

With any business model you consider as an online entrepreneur, you want to look at both the time and money you will be spending in order to build your business. Probably the best thing about affiliate marketing? The low upfront cost.

Yes, there are ways to conduct affiliate marketing without spending a dime, but it’s always best to own your own digital space online.

Purchasing a domain name and small hosting account would be wise.

Here are my recommendations:

As time goes on, you may decide to build additional websites in other niche markets or outsource the creation of your affiliate content reviews. These are costs you can incur at a later date, and pay for them by reinvesting your initial earnings if you want to. 

Product Reviews

One way to get noticed by your favorite brands is to write about them.

Let’s say you’re in the beauty niche:

Find a new hairspray that not only smells heavenly, it actually fights frizz? Post it!

  • Post a picture of your hair before and after.
  • Include the spray in at least one part of the post, whether a photo of it or a video of you using it.
  • Tag the store you purchased it in and tag the brand itself on social media. Add links to the store and brand sites on your blog.  
  • Post the reviews on your blog and on Instagram.

Posting reviews is not a requirement, but it can help you gain more trust with your audience. With every product you purchase (the great, good and horrible), post about them. 

Influencer Networks & Discounts

If you want free products to post, join an influencer network like:

When reviewing digital products, a vendor will typically send you a complimentary review copy before a product’s launch date to prepare your review. Not every vendor is willing to do this, so you may have to shell out a bit of money if you want to personally check out the product.

Some may offer you a discount just for being a part of their affiliate program – Ultimate Bundles does this. 

Tangible products will usually need to be purchased by you, as most manufacturers will not send free items out to affiliates (unless it’s through a network listed above).

If your online reputation grows as someone who consumers turn to for advice, you can expect companies to reach out to you and offer to send their products free in exchange for a review. Small businesses will start reaching out, even if you have a small following. 

Ethics & Obligations

Keep in mind: your followers are depending on you to maintain an ethical approach to your reviews. If you are giving companies a positive review simply because they sent you the product, then you are failing your audience. 

You are under no obligation to give a glowing review just because you’re excited about a freebie. If you didn’t like the product, say so. 

Be upfront with companies who work with you that your audience is important to you, so your reviews will be honest and truthful. 

If a company or vendor asks that you report any issues to them BEFORE you post your review, ask them if they are okay with you stating that in your review. If they say they only want the highest review and therefore you can’t state any issues, do not do business with them. 

I’ve stated it before and it’s worth saying again: your reputation is always on the line. If you’re dishonest, your audience will figure you out eventually.

Wanna know what happens then?

  • You will lose your audience’s trust. 
  • Your earnings will diminish with your dwindling influence. 

Time Investments

In terms of the time you will be investing as an affiliate marketer, you have much more control over this than you would in other business models.

If you were a digital info product creator, you would be working under a deadline for a launch. If you’re an affiliate for a digital creator, you are also on kind of a time crunch, especially if there are coupon codes involved. 

Most of the time, affiliate marketers get to set their own pace. What does that mean? Well, the more content you publish, the more you stand to gain in a shorter time period. If you only have the time to do two product reviews a month, it’s going to take you a longer time to gain any traction from your content. 

If you want to get into affiliate marketing full time, you should probably be reviewing a product a day or at least around three a week. The time required to complete reviews will obviously vary from person to person and product to product. Maybe you can take pictures and create a review in under 10 minutes, while others may take hours. 

Physical products are a bit easier, as you can read instructions and simply get started. A good review discussing all the features and benefits can be done quickly and easily.

Digital products tend to take a little longer, as they might require you to read an entire eBook or go through a course. It might take anywhere from several hours to a full day to go through the entire thing before you can do a thorough review. 

Case Studies

Along with discussing the features and benefits of a product, you might want to (also or instead) do a case study to detail your experience with the product.

If you decide to go that route, great! It’s a fantastic idea if you have a bit of time before tour review is due. 

It may take days or even weeks to get the final results and publish your review.

With case studies, you can publish a series, where a new segment goes live every day. 

Finding the Best Niches for
Max Affiliate Earnings

Carefully analyze your strengths and hobbies when you decide which niche to get into, as with any business model you pursue. Everyone has different priorities and strengths, so only you know what’s important to you. 

You might fall into one of two camps: 

  1. You just want to stay busy and explore your passion and enthusiasm for a niche topic, with money as a secondary concern.
  2. You have an immediate focus on the income stream, with your personal satisfaction for the niche not as important.

Ideally, you want to focus on a niche that provides both for you:

  • a good influx of profits
  • a high level of appeal for the topic itself 

If you focus on the money only, you’ll eventually burn out and feel dissatisfied with your career choices. It will feel like you’re being forced to immerse yourself in that topic day in and day out.

Gran an Umbrella - It's time to Brainstorm!

There are so many niches out there, it’s almost impossible for you to fail in finding one that is both personally gratifying and nets you decent money.

TIP: make a list of all of the topics in life that you enjoy to start with. Try using my Notes Bundle to separate your ideas and brainstorm.  

You might enjoy things like:

  • gardening
  • pets
  • cooking for your family
  • getting fit at the gym
  • learning about and applying anti-aging efforts
  • making money online
  • travel 
  • whatever your heart desires

Include the following:

  • things that you not only enjoy, but you know a lot about
  • things that you are a beginner at

Why should you add those?

Because one of the best things about affiliate marketing is sharing your learning process and any products that helped you find solutions to your own problems. 

Dual Income Profits

Next: look at the niches that offer you dual income profits.

What does that mean? Products that give you the ability to bring in commissions based on the promotion of both tangible and digital products.

There are some niches that only provide for one or the other.

Examples:

  • Toys are primarily tangible items only.
  • Motivational products are usually digital ones.

Most niches provide the ability to earn dual commissions.

Example: anti-aging. You could be promoting:

  1. digital products about how to get fit and stay healthy over at the age of 40
  2. tangible products like home exercise equipment, supplements or creams 

Evergreen > Trendy

Evergreen niches are those that will still be around years from now with no signs of disappearing. They aren’t attached to fads and will be able to boost your income in the long-term. 

If you target a topic that is trend-based, your money will be a rollercoaster with no provisions for the long term, as there is a high possibility of a quick downward spiral. 

Go back to your list of topics, then do a search for some affiliate programs and products available for you to earn money with. If you have chosen a niche that has a few products and not many sales, then that would not be a good fit for your business. 

Research

Let’s do a little research by going to Amazon and poking around. Do a search for your niche to see what’s available for your ideal audience.

Look at both:

  • nonfiction books
  • tangible products 

You can see:

  • how vast the product lines are
  • how many brands are competing for this target audience
  • how many sales are coming in based on the number of reviews 

Look at reviews: make sure there are enough products that are highly rated for you to promote. If you have chosen a niche where customers are hard to please and most products have a three star or lower rating, that may be a sign for concern.

Next, check these sites to see what digital products are available in your niche: 

Take note of the commission levels. Will you be able to make the income you really want by promoting these products? If your topic looks profitable and you know you will enjoy being involved with it on a daily basis, do some keyword research on your desired topics.  

Once you’re done with your research, choose a domain so that you can get your affiliate profiles set up quickly. 

Creating Reviews that rake in Commissions

Once your site is set up for affiliate marketing, it’s time to start creating product reviews that will begin bringing in the kind of commission you are hoping for.

Consistently publishing reviews will help grow your income for a variety of reasons. Here are two of them:

  1. Search engine bots will be crawling your site and your rank will increase if they can see that you are keeping your blog fresh with new content.
  2. Site visitors will appreciate that they can come back on a regular basis to find new information about the products/niche they are interested in. 

Review Type: Lists

There are many different types of  reviews you can write that will earn you money.

Limited on the amount of info you have about a product? Create a list review.

What is a list review? An example would be a “top ten” list of products.

What should you include?

  • The product’s full name
  • A hyperlink for each product (don’t forget to use an affiliate link if you have one!)
  • Summarize (1-2 paragraphs) the benefits and features (why you recommend it)

This is info you could probably get from the sales page or product listing, therefore you don’t need any hands-on product experience.. but you should only be recommending products that rate well.

TIP: if you feel like a “top ten” list isn’t personal enough or doesn’t feel authentic, ask for recommendations from family, friends or your network/community. Offer links back to their blog/social media in exchange for allowing you to add them to your post.  

Review Type: Individual Products

An individual product review is a dive deep into a product. 

You discuss all of the product’s:

  • features
  • benefits
  • drawbacks

You also offer: 

  • tips on how to use it
  • how to maximize their return with it 

You generally do these reviews when you own a product and have personal experience to back up what you’re saying.

Yes, it’s possible to just gather info from other sources (cite them) that will give you insights into the product’s performance and then create a review without ever owning the product itself. 

I will also suggest being open and transparent with your audience. Don’t market an article as your “personal faves” if you haven’t tried every product on it. You could post it as a “wish list” or a “(niche) must-buy list” or something like that.

You never want to mislead your audience. If they find out you have never even tried the products on your lists, but you made them think you did, your credibility will take quite a hit. Yes, it’s okay to make recommendations without actually owning a product, but be clear about what your article is about. 

Review Type: Product vs Product

Simply put: pit two products against one another.

Here’s what to include:

  • Comparison
  • Contrast
  • Similar Individual Features
  • Exclusive Individual Features
  • Price Points
  • Benefits & Features

Overall, you’re showing which product is the better buy.

Don’t forget to include your own opinions and conclusions.

Make a final recommendation between the two. 

Increasing Earnings Over Time

As time goes on, you will be able to level up with your earnings.

What started out as a simple and consistent publication of blog post reviews can transform into a multimedia empire where you are covering all bases:

  • an audio podcast 
  • video reviews
  • graphics
  • infographics
  • text 

To grow your earnings outside of your blog, you’ll need to have a presence on the major relevant social media networks (wherever your niche/product target audience is active).

You’ll most likely want to grow a following on:

Remember: drive traffic back to your website, where readers can see the numerous product reviews that you have posted in detail with the links.

Depending on the social network rules, you may be able to link out to individual products from each item that you publish there or add a link to your Bio, like you can with a Smart Bio from Tailwind

Build Your List

One thing you may not have considered as an affiliate marketer? You can build an email list of subscribers. Email newsletters are not something that is reserved solely for digital info product creators.

Affiliate marketers can reach out to subscribers on a regular basis whenever you have a new product review ready for them to consume. You can steer them in the right direction whenever you find out about a special discount or sale that they need to know about.

How do you build your list?  Create a lead magnet offer that entices people to sign up.

What’s a lead magnet? A freebie you offer in exchange for their email.

It could be as simple as a tip sheet or buyer’s guide so they can learn to shop smart for the niche products they are interested in. 

What should you send to your list?

  • links to your blog posts with product reviews
  • product recommendations directly within the email itself (depending on the rules of the platform you are promoting) 

So, what do you think? 

Ready to get started with affiliate marketing?

Yes, it can be complicated when you’re just starting out.

Once you get into a workflow with it, things will open up and become much easier. 

GOOD LUCK! 

Stock Photos:

Ivory Mix 

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