How to start affiliate marketing step by step in 2023

How to start affiliate marketing step by step in 2023

What is affiliate marketing

Imagine this.

You come across a super cute dog sweater on an influencer's Instagram Story. It looks so good on her pup that you decide you need to get one for your fur baby.

You click the influencer's link in her bio, which takes you to the site selling the sweater. A week later when you receive the sweater and your dog is looking adorable, the influencer gets a commission because you purchased through their link.

That's affiliate marketing in a nutshell!

Affiliate marketing is when you promote or recommend someone else's products or services, usually through a unique referral link, and receive a commission if someone makes a purchase.

Understanding the Affiliate Marketing business

Affiliate marketing can be a lucrative way to generate passive income and make money online. For beginner affiliate marketers, it might seem complex at first. However, the process is more straightforward when broken down into steps. This affiliate marketing guide will help new affiliate marketers navigate the affiliate marketing industry.

Here's how the process typically goes:

  • You join an affiliate program or affiliate marketing network and get a unique referral link
  • You share your affiliate link on your website, social media, YouTube, email list etc.
  • Someone clicks your link, gets redirected to the company's site and makes a purchase
  • The company rewards you with a commission for referring the sale

It's a win-win! The company only pays when you bring them a sale, and you earn income from your marketing efforts.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

In conclusion, affiliate marketing works by allowing you to earn a commission for marketing another company's products on your affiliate website. By generating traffic and converting that into sales, you can earn a steady affiliate income. While it requires a lot of effort and consistency, the potential for success is immense in this industry.

Remember, successful affiliate marketing is not about overnight success. It's about learning, experimenting, and adjusting your strategy until you find what works best for you. With persistence and the right affiliate marketing strategies, you can become one of the most successful affiliate marketers in the affiliate marketing industry.

Some of the biggest benefits of affiliate marketing include:

  • Passive income potential - Once your content is out there, it can generate commissions months or years later with little additional effort.
  • Low risk way to start an online business - You don't have to deal with creating a product or providing customer support. Just focus on the marketing!
  • Easy to get started - Many affiliate programs are free to join and don't require any upfront investment.
  • Ability to scale your earnings - You can promote multiple affiliate offers and expand your reach to increase your passive income.

So in summary, affiliate marketing is an awesome way to earn commissions promoting other companies' products without all the hassles of creating your own goods or services. Ready to get started?!

Step 1: Choose a Profitable Niche

If you want to be successful with affiliate marketing, the MOST important decision is...drum roll...your niche!

Your niche is essentially the audience and products you'll focus on. For example - health & fitness, software, pets, travel etc.

Picking the right niche can make or break your affiliate marketing efforts, so it's crucial to get this step right. Here are some tips:

Use Research Tools

Buzzsumo for affiliate marketing research

Leverage keyword research tools to assess interest and competition for various niches:

  • Google Trends shows search volume and popularity over time for keywords. Look for upward trends.
  • BuzzSumo reveals popular shared content by niche. This indicates audience interest.
  • Answer the Public shows common search queries - great for identifying problems people want solved.

Consider Evergreen Topics

Choose an evergreen niche that maintains steady audience interest year-round. Fad topics come and go. You want longevity.

For example, "health and fitness" has endless content possibilities vs something hyper-specific like "fidget spinners".

Evaluate Your Expertise

It's easier to create great content if you have existing knowledge about a niche. However, you can always start from scratch in a niche you're passionate about learning more about.

Assess the Competition

Some competition is good - it means there's money to be made. Just ensure you can differentiate yourself and add value.

Review Affiliate Programs

Research affiliate programs in the niche to ensure there are decent products to promote and commissions to earn.

Validate Audience Interest

Look for search volume and social buzz to confirm audience interest. There needs to be purchase intent.

Picking the right niche takes some research. But it lays the foundation for affiliate marketing success, so don't rush this step!

Step 2: Pick the Right Platform

You've got your niche it's time to decide where to host your affiliate content and build your audience.

The major platform choices are:

  • 💻 Websites/Blogs - The traditional route. Allows for in-depth content and lots of affiliate link placement options.
  • 📹 YouTube - Video content builds loyalty through your personality. Great for tutorials and reviews.
  • 📱 Social Media - Leverage existing platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok to reach your followers.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Each platform has its unique mix of advantages and disadvantages for affiliate marketing:

  • Websites - More affiliate link options but requires buying a domain and hosting.
  • YouTube - Personality-driven but needs high quality video production. Ranks well in search.
  • Social Media - Leverage existing followers but link restrictions and lower commissions.

Consider Your Goals

Ultimately the best platform depends on your goals, audience, and content plans:

  • Are you creating written guides or video tutorials?
  • Do you already have a social media following?
  • What does your audience respond to best?

Many affiliate marketers find success combining multiple platforms over time. But you can start small with just one while you build your authority and following.

The good news is platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are 100% free to use! Once you start gaining traction, you can reinvest profits into your own website.

Step 3: Find Relevant Affiliate Programs

You've picked your niche and platform - now it's time to find some affiliate programs to promote!

The two options are merchant affiliate programs run directly by brands, or joining an affiliate network that houses thousands of programs to choose from.

Direct Affiliate Programs

Many large brands like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy run their own programs. You can find applications on their websites. The benefits are you promote a well-known brand and deals can be negotiated directly.

Downsides are they are selective and limit you to just that merchant. There are many affiliate programs such as You can earn passive income for life by referring people to Skool. With their incredible referral program, you can earn a whopping 40% of monthly recurring revenue. And it gets even better! If one of your group members creates another group, they'll automatically credit the referral to you. Imagine the unlimited earning potential! And there are many other great programs like this.

I personally like to recommend tools and services I'm using myself, such as my Wise business account. This way I really know the product I recommend and stand behind it 100%.

Affiliate Networks

Joining an affiliate network gives you instant access to thousands of partner programs across niches. Some top networks include:

  • ShareASale - Over 4000 merchant programs with good commissions. Easy to use platform.
  • Clickbank - Popular for digital products. High gravity score means more conversions.
  • CJ Affiliate - Huge programs like, Best Buy. $3,500 average order value.
  • Rakuten - Global network with big brands. Acquired Ebates for additional deals.
  • Amazon Associates - Can promote any Amazon product. 200 million+ customers.

When searching for programs, compare commission rates and cookie duration. Check the reputation of advertisers as well. You want legitimate quality products to promote.

Align your program selection tightly with your niche to establish yourself as a thought leader.

These are some of the best affiliate programs:

Program Commission Structure Features and Notes
HubSpot 30% recurring commission for 1 year Extensive creative inventory with over 400 promotional assets
Elementor 50% commission per sale Offers cloud hosting features
Moosend 30% to 40% lifetime recurring commission Pre-made materials and resources available
AWeber Up to 50% lifetime recurring commission Earn through in-house program or CJ Affiliate
Sendinblue €5 commission for free account creation, €100 commission for subscription purchase All-in-one digital marketing platform with multiple tools
Sendinblue Affiliate Program Flat €5 for free signup in blogger program; €100 for paying customer; monthly payment; open to US Track earnings in real time
ConvertKit Affiliate Program Lifelong 30% commission for referred paying customers Income potential with plans ranging $29 to $2,000+; Free to join
GetResponse Affiliate Program Earn $100 for every sale referred or 33% of recurring subscriptions Offering landing pages, opt-in forms, webinar hosting, etc. Two programs with different structures
Fiverr Affiliate Program Earn $15-150 per referral, or $10 + 10% recurring for 12 months Promote Fiverr's marketplaces; Dashboard and creative assets provided
Pabbly Affiliate Program 30% commission for promoting marketing tools Single cookie tracks all products; Dashboard for monitoring
Unbounce Affiliate Program 20% lifetime recurring revenue for every referred customer Customers get 20% off first three months; Partner coach, dashboard, and promotional materials provided
Constant Contact Earn $5 for free trial referral, $105 for new account Powerful email marketing tools for small businesses 50% lifetime commissions on subscriptions and course sales Fast and simple online marketing tool with 6 different pricing packages
Typeform $20 commission per referral Best for bloggers and content creators needing a form tool
Outgrow Affiliate Program 20% upfront and recurring commissions Best for marketers, content creators, and bloggers needing interactive content tools
Instapage 30-40% recurring commission for the first year and 15% lifetime recurring thereafter Powerful landing page platform
Thinkific 30% lifetime recurring commission for affiliates Best for content creators and entrepreneurs
Kajabi 30% lifetime commission for affiliates Only open to current Kajabi users
Teachable Up to 30% recurring commission on referrals' monthly subscription fees Popular e-learning platform with over 18 million students
iSpring Affiliate Program 10% per sale
Shopify Affiliate Program $150 USD for all full-priced plan referrals
Leadpages Affiliate Program Up to 50% lifetime recurring
WIX Affiliate Program $100 per Premium sale
WP Engine Affiliate Program $200 per sale or 100% of the first month’s subscription
Kinsta Affiliate Program Up to $500 per referral + 10% lifetime recurring
Bluehost Affiliate Program $65 to $125 per signup
Hostgator Affiliate Program $65 to $125 per signup
GreenGeeks Affiliate Program Up to $100 for up to 10 sales; custom commission for 10+ sales
Spocket Affiliate Program 20% to 30% per subscriber (up to 445.50 per subscriber)
Boatbookings Affiliate Program 20% commission on the net charter value of boats; 10% on returning customers
Cheapflights Affiliate Program Up to 50% per click-out; flat fee per click-out ranging from $0.45 to $0.25
Momondo Affiliate Program Flat rate commission of up to $0.65 per click-out on flights Available for desktop, tablet, and mobile users
Sandals Resorts Affiliate 4% commission on bookings or activities Luxury resorts with daily rates from $150 to $2,000+ per person
Acorns Affiliate Program $10 commission per qualified lead Ideal for financial advice blogs targeting the 25-35 demographic
Sage Financials Affiliate 7% commission per sale and $5 per free trial Cloud accounting solution for small and mid-sized businesses
Semrush Affiliate Program $200 per subscription, $10 per free trial, $0.01 per new sign up 10-year cookie life and promotional material in multiple languages
BigCommerce 200% or $1,500 per enterprise customer Online store builder
Shift4Shop $5 - $25 per Signup High focus on SEO
Flywheel 300%, up to $500 per referral Dedicated WordPress hosting solution
TripAdvisor Minimum 50% per booking World's largest travel site
Volusion 200% per Signup E-commerce solution for small businesses
Invoice Ninja 50% on all referrals for four years Open-source invoicing app

Step 4: Create High Converting Affiliate Content

Now for the fun part - creating content to promote your affiliate programs!

The top types of affiliate content include:

  • 📝 Reviews - Share your honest thoughts after testing a product. Include pros/cons.
  • 🔎 Comparisons - Contrast a few similar products on features and value. Help buyers decide.
  • 📰 Roundups - Curate and compare the top products in your niche. Great for gifts guides.
  • 🎥 Tutorials - Teach readers how to use a product step-by-step. Builds trust.
  • 📧 Email Newsletters - Send affiliate offers, deals and recommendations to your list.

When writing any affiliate content, focus on providing a ton of value upfront before promoting a product. Build that trust and credibility first!

Then strategically add affiliate links throughout your content:

  • ✅ Use text links, banners, buttons to highlight CTA.
  • ✅ Make affiliate links prominent. Above the fold is prime real estate.
  • ✅ Vary your links - don't use the same text links repeatedly.

And don't forget your disclaimer stating you earn commissions for purchases. Something like:

"This article contains affiliate links meaning I earn money if you purchase through these links (at no extra cost to you)"

This level of transparency helps build that trust with readers.

Step 5: Promote Content and Affiliate Links

Creating epic affiliate content is only half the you need to get it in front of the right eyeballs!

Some of the top ways to promote your affiliate content include:

  • 📲 Social Media - Share your content across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest.
  • 📧 Email - Send affiliate offers, deals and content updates to your subscriber list.
  • 🔎 SEO - Use affiliate keywords to help your content rank in search engines like Google.
  • 💰 Paid Ads - Run paid ads to your affiliate content - great for hyper-targeted niche promotions.
  • 📹 YouTube - Link to your affiliate products prominently in video descriptions and channel pages.
  • 🎨 Instagram - Add affiliate links to your bio and promote through Stories and posts (tagging brands).

The key is to only share your affiliate links and content recommendations when they're highly relevant to your audience. Don't spam or you'll lose trust.

Focus on delivering value, building relationships, and providing solutions. The sales and commissions will naturally follow!

Step 6: Track Performance

It's all well and good to start promoting affiliate products. But to really succeed, you need to closely track your performance.

Here are a few ways to monitor your affiliate marketing efforts:

  • 📊 Use your affiliate dashboard to view clicks, conversions, commission rates, and earnings per program.
  • 🔎 Implement UTMs or other tags to track traffic sources and optimize the best ones.
  • 🧪 Run A/B split tests on things like headlines, content layouts, calls to action. See what converts best.
  • ⚙️ Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor site traffic and engagement. See what content performs.
  • 💰 Track ROI to determine profitability. Calculate earnings vs time invested to identify winning tactics.

Ideally, implement tracking early when you're starting out. It's much easier than trying to add it down the road.

Performance data will show you what's working and what's not. More importantly, it shows where you should double down your efforts to maximize your affiliate income!

The top affiliate marketers are obsessed with data. Don't leave this step out.

Extra Tips for Affiliate Marketing Success

Ready to take your affiliate game to the next level? Here are some pro tips to increase your sales and commissions:

  • 💡 Create valuable, useful content - Don't just promotes links, provide info your audience needs first. Build that trust!
  • 📋 Build an email list - Email marketing converts well for affiliates. Consider lead magnets. Send regular newsletters.
  • 📊 Use comparisons and visuals - Tables, charts, images help summarize product benefits and differences.
  • 🎁 Offer bonuses and discounts - Incentivize clicks and purchases with limited promos, giveaways, coupons.
  • 📜 Disclose affiliate relationships - Transparency is key. Let your audience know when content contains affiliate links.
  • 🚀 Promote launches and new products - Capitalize on buzz for new product releases in your niche.
  • ✍️ Write in-depth reviews and tutorials - These high-value content types convert well. Backlinks help SEO too.
  • 📈 Always track and test - Monitor performance and run split tests to improve conversions.

Setting up Your Affiliate Marketing Business

Setting up your affiliate business is a critical step. First, you need to identify the most successful affiliate marketers in your niche and learn from their successful affiliate marketing strategy. Next, you choose the affiliate products you want to promote, join an affiliate program, and get your unique affiliate link. Many affiliate networks exist, like Amazon's affiliate program, that provide you with these links.

Designing an Affiliate Site

An affiliate site is an essential tool for any affiliate marketer. This site is where you will share affiliate links, create content, and engage with your audience. Be sure to make high-quality content, a priority as this attracts more traffic from search engines and increases your affiliate income. There are many great website builder tools you can use to design an build your affiliate site. Need help with your website design? Check out our website design and development services.

The Role of Affiliate Networks and Programs

Affiliate networks act as intermediaries between affiliate marketers and the companies that want their products promoted. Some of the most popular affiliate networks include ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, and ClickBank. Each network has different affiliate programs, offering a variety of products for promotion.

Building a Successful Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Successful affiliate marketing requires a strategic approach. An effective affiliate marketing strategy includes valuable content, effective use of social media platforms, email marketing campaigns, and tracking of affiliate links using tools like Google Analytics. By following this approach, you can generate affiliate revenue and increase your affiliate sales.

Identifying Potential Pitfalls and Mistakes in Affiliate Marketing

Even the most successful affiliate marketers make mistakes. One common pitfall is not providing valuable, high-quality content. Other affiliate marketing mistakes include not using marketing tools effectively, not tracking affiliate links, or not adapting your affiliate strategy when necessary.

Using Social Media and Email Marketing for Promotion

Promoting affiliate products effectively requires a blend of different online marketing skills. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels are fantastic for sharing your affiliate links and promoting your affiliate site. Email marketing is also a powerful tool for making affiliate sales, especially when used for affiliate promotion.

Focus on providing genuine value, building authority, and nurturing relationships. The sales will come more easily.

Let's Wrap Things Up

We've covered a ton of ground in this complete guide to affiliate marketing. Let's recap the key steps:

  • 💡 Choose a profitable, evergreen niche with audience interest
  • 📺 Pick the right platform like social media, YouTube or blogging
  • 🤝 Find relevant affiliate programs and networks to partner with
  • 🖋 Create valuable, high-converting affiliate content
  • 📡 Promote your content and links through SEO, social, email, ads
  • 📈 Track performance data to optimize earnings
  • 📚 Implement pro tips like lead magnets, promos, and transparency

Affiliate marketing takes consistent effort, but can be extremely lucrative if you stay focused on helping your audience.

For beginner affiliate marketers, concentrate on fundamentals first:

  • Providing value through content
  • Building trust and relationships
  • Only promoting relevant, quality products

Do this for the long-haul, and your passion and expertise will shine through. The results will follow.

Ready to start your affiliate marketing journey? Check out some of the programs and tools mentioned in this guide to kickstart your success.

You got this! Now go out there and start earning those commissions. 💰

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I start affiliate marketing with no money?
  2. Affiliate marketing can be started with little to no money by leveraging free platforms and tools available online. Begin by choosing a niche that you're passionate about and knowledgeable in. Then, set up a free blog or website using platforms like WordPress or Wix. Apply for free affiliate programs like Amazon Associates and begin creating high-quality content related to your chosen products. Use social media platforms for free promotion.
  3. How can a beginner start affiliate marketing?
  4. Beginners can start affiliate marketing by following a few basic steps: Identify a niche, set up a blog or website, sign up for an affiliate program, and start creating valuable content that promotes the affiliate products. Tools and resources like Google Analytics can help track performance.
  5. What is free affiliate marketing for beginners?
  6. Free affiliate marketing involves leveraging free resources to start your affiliate marketing business. This includes using free blogging platforms, joining free affiliate programs like Amazon Associates, and using free tools for promotion and tracking.
  7. What is the best affiliate marketing program for beginners?
  8. Amazon Associates is often recommended for beginners because of its wide range of products and straightforward setup process. Other beginner-friendly affiliate programs include ClickBank and CJ Affiliate.
  9. What are the steps to begin affiliate marketing for beginners?
  10. The basic steps for beginners are: Choose a niche, set up a website or blog, sign up for an affiliate program, create content that promotes your affiliate products, use SEO to drive traffic to your site, and track your results to adjust your strategy.
  11. Can you provide some examples of affiliate marketing?
  12. Examples of affiliate marketing are everywhere online. Review sites that link to products on Amazon, fashion bloggers who link to clothing items they wear, and tech blogs that provide referral links to software or hardware they review are all instances of affiliate marketing.
  13. Is affiliate marketing worth it?
  14. Affiliate marketing can be a profitable business model when done correctly. It requires time, effort, and a well-executed strategy, but it can provide a significant passive income stream over time.
  15. Where can I find free resources for affiliate marketing beginners?
  16. Numerous free resources are available online to help beginners understand affiliate marketing. Websites like Neil Patel's blog, the Ahrefs blog, and Affiliate Marketing for Beginners offer free guides and articles on the subject. YouTube is also a goldmine for free affiliate marketing tutorials.
  17. What is the meaning of affiliate marketing?
  18. Affiliate marketing is a type of online marketing where a person (the affiliate) promotes a company's products or services and earns a commission for each sale or action completed through their referral link.
  19. Which websites are best for affiliate marketing?
  20. Any website with a dedicated and engaged audience can be good for affiliate marketing. However, content-focused websites like blogs, review sites, YouTube channels, and niche-specific forums often perform exceptionally well.
  21. What are the best affiliate programs?
  22. The best affiliate programs depend on your niche and audience. However, widely recognized programs include Amazon Associates, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, and ClickBank.
  23. How do I start with affiliate marketing?
  24. Starting with affiliate marketing involves choosing a niche, creating a website or blog, signing up for an affiliate program, creating content to promote the affiliate products, and using SEO and other promotional methods to drive traffic to your site.

Sebastian Scheerer
Sebastian Scheerer is a tech startup founder, digital product designer, and business consultant. He co-founded Wunderlist as head of design, a platform that earned the title of Apple's App of the Year in 2014 and was later acquired by Microsoft. Additionally, Sebastian co-founded, Germany's premier digital health insurance, renowned for it's industry leading customer satisfaction.

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a paid plan. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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