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How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Guide for Beginners

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to earn a passive income. It’s an innovative performance-based form of marketing that can greatly benefit the marketer, the brand, and the customer.

Many world-famous digital marketing specialists have started out as affiliate marketers. Are you looking to break into this multi-billion dollar field? Here’s what you need to do to get started.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

To succeed in affiliate marketing, first, you need to understand what makes it so unique. In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is a referral arrangement.

As an affiliate marketer, your job is to refer prospective customers or clients to the products or services of the company you have partnered up with. This is usually done via affiliate links.

Now, where you will include those links is usually up to you. You get to choose your platform; it can be your website, vlog, mailing list, etc. If a visitor to your website clicks on a link that leads to your partner’s site and then purchases their product or service, you earn a commission.

This is the most common form of affiliate marketing, but not the only one. For instance, in some arrangements, you can earn a commission when someone signs up for a free trial. The qualifying action depends on the agreement you have with the brand.

Generally, affiliate marketers partner up with brands through affiliate programs. Some of the most famous affiliate programs include Amazon Associates, ShareASale, and ClickBank.

There is very little risk for the brand. If you fail to successfully refer someone, they don’t have to pay you. Compared to other types of advertising, there are virtually no losses to the brand. Because of that, the commissions are much higher compared to other types of ads.

Decide on a Platform

One of the best things about affiliate marketing is the liberty that comes with it. In theory, you can use any platform to promote affiliate products or services, even Instagram.

However, not all platforms are equally efficient. To build an audience, most affiliate marketers use blogs or vlogs.

Both of these channels can be cheap and easy to start. To become a successful affiliate marketer, you don’t really need to be tech-savvy. But, you do need to have a knack for digital marketing.

For instance, you can build your blog using a content management system such as WordPress. There are thousands of readily available WordPress themes you can get for free or for next to nothing.

person typing ona a laptop about affiliate marketing

You can also pay someone to design a custom theme for you or you can learn to make one yourself by watching WordPress tutorials. Alternatively, you can use a drag and drop website builder such as Squarespace or Wix.

But, what matters more than the design of your platform is your ability to attract your target audience. You can increase traffic to your website by making it search-engine friendly. This means targeting the right keywords, publishing useful content, and having other websites link to your blog.

This is also known as search engine optimization. When your site is optimized for search engines, it ranks higher on search engine result pages.

SEO is one of the pillars of affiliate marketing, and it is the main tool of most affiliate marketers. You can also promote your platform via social media and email newsletters. 

Choose a Niche

Since affiliate marketing offers a very attractive way of earning a passive income, it’s no surprise that it’s a fairly competitive field. According to Statista, the number of bloggers in the US will surpass 30 million in 2020.

If you want to succeed, you need to be better than the competition, naturally. But it’s difficult to become a top player in a competitive niche, especially if you are a beginner.

So, the key is to choose a niche that isn’t so competitive, but is still profitable. For instance, the topic of “fashion” is enormous and very popular. Instead, it may be better to choose a much narrower category within a bigger topic, such as eyewear, plus size fashion, or age focused fashion (40’s, 50’s, etc.).

You can build a more focused audience by keeping your topics tight. Such narrow, specific niches are still of great interest to many individuals. You can reach them by targeting more specific keywords.

No matter the niche, you can rest assured you’ll find a good affiliate program and brands to partner up with. But, you still need to be an expert in your niche. Your site (or vlog) should revolve around topics you are knowledgeable about.

Pick an Affiliate Marketing Program

Once you pick out a niche and launch your platform, you can start promoting products and services. To do that, you need to find an affiliate program in your niche. For instance, if you are running an iGaming blog, you need to find a relevant casino affiliate program.

If you want to find the right affiliate program for your niche, you will need to dig deep. You want to make sure all sides will be happy: your visitors, your partners, and you. Make an effort to research and vet affiliate programs.

You want to make sure that the products and services you will be promoting are well worth it. This doesn’t mean choosing an affiliate marketing program that offers the highest commissions. It means partnering up with a brand that offers high-quality products and services you can stand behind.

So, in your case, as an iGaming blogger, you’d want to make sure to only work with iGaming businesses that offer fair games, secure gameplay, and great customer support. If you partner up with a sketchy business that sells sub-par products, you will quickly lose your audience’s trust.

open notepad affiliate marketing sketch

Create Excellent Content

Your content will be your greatest asset. It will be the thing that will make you stand out among the competition. By creating excellent content, you will establish yourself as an authority in your niche and gain a loyal following.

The best content gives the audience something they can’t find elsewhere. It brings value to their lives. For instance, you can write tutorials on how to use certain products (the ones you will be promoting), or offer tips on how to make the most out of a certain product.

You can also write detailed buyer’s guides and write honest reviews of products in your niche. High-quality content that fits in well with your site will convert your visitors into your partner’s customers. If you want to learn more about creating great content, HubSpot Academy offers excellent free courses on content marketing.

Takeaway

Affiliate marketing is so much more than a way to make a living. It gives you a chance to be creative in a field where you thrive the most. Whether your passion lies in fashion, entertainment, iGaming, travel, etc., you can rest assured you will find the right affiliate program for you.

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