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affiliate marketing for beginners

A Step-by-Step Guide – Everything You Need to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Feeling overwhelmed with the idea of affiliate marketing? Been there!

If you’ve followed my story for some time, you may have heard me tell this story before (but I will share it for those of you who haven’t heard it yet). As a blogging newbie, I had no intention of making money with my blog. Nor did I have any idea even how to do that or that it could even be done.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: A Complete and Simple Guide

Then one day, I came across an article that shared a revelation. YOU CAN MAKE MONEY BLOGGING! Say what?? I was hooked on the idea. I quickly jumped in and consumed everything I could about affiliate marketing.

Now- I won’t tell you that I was instantly successful. In fact, in the first three weeks, I made a whopping $1.69 from Amazon Associates (and then never saw the funds as I was promptly “fired” six months later for not having the three required sales).

I’ve learned a lot since then and made thousands of dollars in affiliate sales. Seeing new deposits into my PayPal account every month never gets old.

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate marketing is essentially earning a commission from promoting other people’s products and services.

Now you might think, “Why would I want to do that”. Well, until you have your own products to sell to your audience, it’s a great option for many reasons. First, the products and services will generally be backed by a well known company and brand name that already has some audience trust. And this is key to making the final sale.

Second, most products that are set up to have affiliates promoting them already have graphics and copy (written sales pitch) so that you don’t have to figure out what to share with your audience to be successful.

Downfalls to affiliate marketing

One of the negatives to affiliate marketing is that you have no control over the final product. This is why I always suggest making sure that you are promoting a product from a trusted source that you have used and love.

There is nothing worse than promoting a product that someone tells you later is crap. This will ruin all the trust that you are trying to build for your future audience to eventually purchase your products and/or services.

How to start affiliate marketing

Getting started with affiliate marketing is a fairly simple and painless process, once you’ve decided to get started. The first thing you need to do is to have a clear understanding of these three key things:

  1. Who your audience is
  2. What they struggle with and
  3. How you can help them overcome those struggles

Find affiliate programs to join

Once you know this information, it’s time to find some affiliate programs to join as a beginner. There are literally hundreds of thousands of companies that have affiliate products for you to promote on your blog.

As a test, go to the Google search bar, type in your favorite product and then the word “affiliate” afterwards. Chances are, you’ll get a hit. (I was seriously blown away that there were so many products being promoted by so many people when I realised this!)

Along with individual companies, there are a number of affiliate directories or agencies that “house” and manage many different company’s affiliate programs in one place.

For the agencies, you’ll need to first register for the agency and then find and apply individually for each individual company’s program. The application process is usually simple and approval can be immediate but can also take up to a week.

A few of my favorite directory agencies to apply for as a beginner are:

Getting started with Amazon Associates

Although it’s not a directory, Amazon Associates is a very popular choice for getting started as a beginner with affiliate marketing. The reason being is that there are tons of products available in almost every niche imaginable.

Amazon Associates pays out for any product purchased after an affiliate link is clicked, even if it’s not the original product link. The downside is that the pay is pretty dismal (between 1% and 5% on most items) and you have to make at least three individual sales in order to stay in the program.

What is the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners to join

As with any products, there are great ones to promote and there are the not-so-great ones.

Finding great programs boils down to them having a few key things. Most of the best programs have a:

  • longer cookie tracking code
  • high pay-out (either a percentage or flat rate fee)
  • relatively quick payout time (less than 60 days)
  • lots of marketing materials to use in your promotions
  • training on how to promote their products

One of my absolutely favorite affiliate programs to promote as a beginner is the Ultimate Bundles products. I promoted their Genius Blogger’s Toolkit in my first few months as a blogger and earned around $130 and then went on to be a contributor a year later and earn almost $1500!

Check out my entire journey on making money with the Ultimate Bundles team and how they are the perfect company to get starting with affiliate marketing.

Where and how to promote your affiliate links

Now that you’ve applied to some programs and accessed your affiliate links, what do you do with them?

Depending on the terms of service supplied by each of the companies you sign up with to promote and the platforms you are promoting on, you can usually promote your links in every imaginable place.

Not only can you include links in your blog posts, but you can also include them:

How to manage your affiliate links

Once you start applying for affiliate programs, you will quickly see how easily they will add up. My favorite way to manage all my affiliate links is by using a free plugin called Pretty Links.

Not only does it keep all my affiliate links in one place right in my WordPress dashboard, Pretty Links redirects ugly affiliate links into nice-looking branded links that look amazing when I share them.

For example, an affiliate link might look like: affiliateproduct/yournameoride/referencenumber .com and when you redirect it as a Pretty Link, it will change is to: everydayshessparkling .com/affiliateproduct.

This also makes it way easier to remember the link when you are sharing it!

make money with affiliate marketing

Creative ways to promote your affiliate links

The most effective way to promote and be successful with your affiliate links it to create content that shares your personal experience with the product. Full-length reviews and also comparison reviews tend to do best because they act as a really thorough testimonial.

Another way to promote your link is directly to Pinterest. Doing this doesn’t even require a website! But, be aware that Pinterest does have their own terms of service when it comes to adding affiliate links so be sure to review those before starting.

If you want to learn more about using Pinterest to grow your blog, snag a free guide, Pin Like a Pro, including five other blog starter tutorials in this free Ultimate Blogging Toolkit for Beginners.

How are you paid for promoting affiliate links?

Getting paid for affiliate marketing is generally a really seamless experience. Your affiliate links are assigned “cookies”, or tracking code which lasts for a certain amount of time. Most cookies last between 24 hours and one year, depending on the program.

Cookies will tell the link how long after the potential customer clicks you have until you get credit for the purchase.

The best programs have typically have longer cookie tracking codes, which allows for a better opportunity for you to earn commissions when someone click and purchases the product.

Once someone clicks and purchases, the agreed upon commission will be paid to you. Most likely there will be a 30-60 day waiting period to allow for refunds and processing.

Most affiliate sales commissions are paid out via PayPal, though some other will pay out by cheque and even some by gift card.

How much money can you make as an affiliate marketer?

In terms of making money, the sky is the limit. Most affiliate marketing programs usually range anywhere from 15% to 40% commission but I’ve seen ones as low as 1% and as high as 100%. Affiliate sales are usually paid either based on a percentage of the sale or a flat fee.

On an upside, there is money to be made. There are bloggers who make enough to cover their blogging expenses right as well as very well-known and successful bloggers who make six figures through primarily affiliate marketing.

These cover all niches and aren’t limited to just “bloggers who make money blogging”. Check out this list from Hubspot on 42 of the highest paying affiliate programs to work with for some inspo.

Tips on how to be a successful affiliate marketer

  • The best and most successful affiliate marketers know their audiences WELL. Understanding what products can help your readers is key to success.
  • Focus on planning for promoting 3-5 affiliate programs at a time
  • Make sure that you have a very clear disclosure that you have affiliate links on your website, generally at the top of the page. You can use a plugin like FMTC Affiliate Disclosure or Ad Inserter to automatically add this into all of your posts automatically.
  • Always be thinking about creating great content to drive traffic back to your site and see those links
  • Be genuine – don’t be salesy
  • Read the Terms of Service for each program. Programs like Amazon have very strict policies about how and where you can use their links.
  • Keep track of which programs and products do well and think about creating your own product or service to replace it
  • Pinterest does not allow link cloaking (using Bitly or Pretty Links) for affiliates
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