How To Start Affiliate Marketing [In-Depth Beginners Guide]

Hey hey! Welcome to my in-depth guide on how you can get started with affiliate marketing, even if you’re a complete beginner.

Since I respect your time, I’m going to be as direct and concise as possible so you can stop wasting time learning!

I’ll be giving you the most practical advice I have for somebody looking to get started online, with exactly what I’d do if I were to start over…

Most people start in the wrong place when trying affiliate marketing, and that usually results in them failing, and eventually quitting.

I don’t want that to happen to you, so I’m hoping you take my recommendations and get started on the correct path as an affiliate marketer!

TL;DR – My recommended program to join would be Legendary Marketer. They offer a lot of value for the price and will teach you the fundamentals you need to be successful online! It’s a great training for marketers of any level to join and get immense value from.

Let’s dive right into it so you can get started on your path to success 🙂

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Before trying to dive into something, you have to understand what it is!

In short… Affiliate marketing is a business model where you promote others products or services, and receive compensation for those who sign up using your unique referral link.

It’s becoming more and more common each day, even companies like Amazon, Apple, and Walmart have affiliate programs you can sign up for!

In most cases, you’ll sign an agreement with a company that states you can market their products or services, and they’ll pay you a commission for traffic that leads to sales.

Seems pretty straight-forward, right? I’ll show you exactly how to get started right after I address a few common misconceptions about affiliate marketing!

Is Affiliate Marketing Hard?

Often people go into affiliate marketing because they hear of passive income, it’s easy, and requires almost no investment to get started.

Here’s the thing that most people overlook.

If all of what I said above is true, you’ll have tons of competition. Since there’s essentially no barrier of entry, that makes it tough to stand out and have success.

And what makes it even harder is you’re fighting for a piece of the pie of the same products that others are promoting! With that said, it truly is a great business model. When you work hard at it and build your business properly, the opportunity is endless and it’s infinitely scalable!

How To Start Affiliate Marketing

Now that you know what to expect when you start your affiliate marketing business, I’d love to guide you on the right path..

Like most other aspiring entrepreneurs, I tried tons and tons of different things online before getting my initial traction. Eventually, it came down to a few key ingredients that made all the difference!

First, do everything you can to get a quick win for proof in concept. If you skip this step, you’ll be stuck wondering whether or not this “really works” and your production levels will be low! You can see the guide I put together on making your first affiliate sale to get that first quick win.

Second, finding a person to follow who has the results I want to achieve. Instead of focusing on a specific product somebody is promoting, look for somebody to model who is doing what you want to do! If they’re able to successfully promote an offer using that traffic source, you can adapt their strategies into any product you’d like to promote.

(via IBM)

Third, focus on ONE offer and ONE traffic source until you’re making at least $1,000 per month. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, you can get more creative once you start seeing results!

Last, don’t give up! Most people fail simply because they aren’t willing to put the work in, or they’re not persistent enough. Nothing worth having comes easy, and that’s especially true in affiliate marketing. As a beginner, it may be hard to comprehend but the best is yet to come…

Niche Selection

Choosing a niche is one of the most important aspects of affiliate marketing. If you pick a niche where there simply isn’t enough traffic or good offers to promote, you’ll have a tough time making any money!

In addition, you want to pick a niche that actually interests you. Content creation will come more natural this way, and your readers will be able to tell if you’re interested and know what you’re talking about!

While a broad niche may seem better since there’s more people that you can target, you often end up targeting nobody with this approach.

“Everyone is not your customer.” – Seth Godin

There’s only two different types of niches you should go after, and here’s how you can find a sub-niche with very little competition inside of them!

Hobbies

Picking a niche around one of your hobbies may be the perfect choice for you. Since this will be the path of least resistance, pushing out content that you can pour your heart and soul into will help you get better results as an affiliate marketer! At the end of the day, if you don’t enjoy it, it’s probably not a niche you should go for.

You can go after something like golf, drawing, dog training and start to niche down from there! Since those topics may be saturated, going after a more specific group will usually give you better results. Examples would be something along the lines of golfing for men over 50, silhouette drawing, or training dogs that are deaf!

The Big Three Evergreen Niches

While a hobby may seem like a great niche at surface level, there’s three evergreen pillars that are always relevant. Those are wealth, health, and relationships!

The reason they are so powerful is because there will always be people who are looking for help in those areas of their life. No matter what happens, people will be looking to improve their health and relationships, while becoming wealthier!

But as you probably know, they are super competitive. That’s why you should niche down, just like you would in a hobby! You won’t want to go too narrow or too broad here, but find the perfect sweet spot.

Here’s a few examples of how you can niche down in these categories.

  • Wealth > Investing > Investing for Retirement > Investing for Retirement even with a low paying job
  • Health > Dieting > Keto Diet > Keto Diet for Woman > Keto Diet for Woman who work full time
  • Relationships > Dating > Dating for Men > Dating for Divorced Men > Dating for Divorced Men over 50

While I came up with these off the top of my head, you can see how much opportunity there is to find a niched down audience. Once you have a specific niche in mind, you’ll want to validate it before putting time and effort into creating content!

Validating Your Niche

Instead of pushing out a ton of content for a niche that isn’t viable, there’s a couple of steps you can take to determine whether or not you should go for it.

There’s two really cool tools that can help you see if your niche is relevant – Google Trends & Exploding Topics. Both of them are used to track how many searches a keyword is getting! If you see the chart consistently going up, it’s usually a good sign. And if it’s going down, you probably should look for a different niche.

After briefly researching vaping, I quickly realized it’s a niche I wouldn’t want to promote as an affiliate. Since it’s already peaked, it’s on a downhill trend and there’s no reason to go into a niche that’s on the downslope! Other similar trends would be fidget spinners and hoverboards, which have died out and have little relevance. Focus on evergreen, growing niches – not trends.

Additionally, you’ll want to research competitors in this space, and see how they’re doing. Using a tool like SEMRush can help you find who’s already in the space, how much traffic they’re getting, and if it’s competitive! Affiliate marketing takes time to build up, so you won’t want to waste time working on a niche with little opprtounity.

Finding A Core Offer To Promote

After you have a niche you’d like to go after, it’s super important to find a core offer to promote! Since I would highly recommend against using Amazon Associates due to low commission rates and lack of respect for their affiliates, you’ll want to find a great product you can promote to your audience.

There’s a few different marketplaces you can check out to find offers in your niche:

  • Share-A-Sale
  • ClickBank
  • Rakuten
  • JVZoo
  • Commission Junction (CJ)

And if you are having trouble finding an affiliate offer to promote, you can simply search the following and scroll through direct merchant listings. To do this, Google “niche” + affiliate program and you’ll be able to find a ton of different offers out there!

If for whatever reason you can’t find a reliable program through any of those networks or on Google, you may want to consider a different niche. This would indicate that there isn’t enough demand for that niche!

You can see my list of the best recurring affiliate programs here if you need some inspiration.

Picking A Traffic Source

When it comes to choosing a traffic source, this goes back to modeling somebody who already has success. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel in affiliate marketing, so don’t!

Since you’re looking to build a long term business, I’d recommend choosing one of the following organic traffic sources: Blogging, YouTube, or Pinterest. They’re evergreen, so the content you put out today will be seen for months or years…

For example, I’m primary a blogger. At this point, I’ve expanded out but for my first year or so that’s all I did! With over 5 BILLION searches per day on Google (Crazy – I know), there an abundance of opportunity out there for affiliates in any industry. It can be somewhat competitive in comparison to YouTube or Pinterest, but there’s more volume and visitors to acquire!

I’ll always recommend going with the path of least resistance. If you like writing, start a blog. If you like making videos and being on camera, make a YouTube channel. If you like graphics/creatives, go with Pinterest. And if you like networking, Facebook is another great option. They all work really well!

Choose ONE traffic source, and go all in on it until you’re earning at least $1,000/month…

Remember to always play to your strengths, not your weaknesses. All of these traffic sources work for affiliate marketing, so choose one, put your head down, and get to work!

Growing Your Audience

One of the most important aspects of affiliate marketing is building an audience that you can market to!

Since any of the platforms we just spoke about can penalize you, ban you, or hurt your rankings, you want to have somewhere you can communicate with your audience, no matter what happens!

The number one place to grow your audience is your email list. When you work your list correctly, you should be able to earn at least $1 per month, per subscriber! So if you have a list of 5,000 people, you should hypothetically be able to earn about $5,000/month just from your email list.

To do this, you’ll want to put together a lead magnet that’s relevant to your audience. Incentivize them to give you their email address, don’t just put a banner up saying “subscribe to my newsletter” – it won’t work nearly as well. I’ve found simple done-for-you resources, guides, checklists, and cheatsheets to work really well for this!

And if you want to really crush it as an affiliate, you should build a Facebook group too. I’ve seen some marketers absolutely crushing it using this strategy! My favorite way of building a Facebook group is on the back-end of your email list or lead magnet, since it will give you another touch point if they decide to join.

Having a place where you can continuously communicate and market with your audience is crucial as an affiliate marketer, so be sure to put this in place as soon as possible.

Spencer Mecham put together an awesome free email marketing course you can check out, it’ll help you out a ton if you’re just getting started.

Becoming a Super Affiliate

Now that you have the core fundamentals of affiliate marketing down, here’s how you can level up your online business and work towards becoming a super affiliate!

Trust the process

Some days it may seem like nothing is happening, and it’ll never work. Since affiliate marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme by any means, you’ll end up failing if you look for shortcuts! You have to learn before you can earn, which is why it’s crucial for you to trust the process. Affiliate marketing is simply a game of compounding interest, so each action you take puts you a step ahead of where you were!

Stay focused and consistent

The rule of one’s is so important for newbies out there. One traffic source, one product, one person to model. If you clutter your mind with a bunch of junk, you’ll be less likely to take action! Choose one thing, put your head down, and get to work. You have to stay consistent with your actions, or else you might as well not try!

Know everything about your offer

Nothing is harder than promoting products you know nothing about. And nothing feels better than promoting a product you love! Your audience will be able to see right through you if you’re promoting a product you don’t fully back which can kill your reputation. In addition to that, you’ll want to be able to answer questions about the product with confidence if your readers have any concerns!

Understand your audience

It’s vital that you understand who your core audience is, and what offer you’re promoting. As an affiliate, your audience is what ends up earning you commissions! The better you know your audience and what they’re struggling with, the easier it will be to deliver what they want.

Offer bonuses for the products you promote

Offering relevant bonuses as an affiliate marketer can help push your visitors into paying customers. You’re turning a standard product into a special offer, that’s designed to help your referrals with their purchase! This can have a massive impact on your conversion rates, so I’d take the time to get some great bonuses in place.

Focus on evergreen content

One other thing that’s important as an affiliate is to create timeless content. Doing so will help you earn commissions on a long-term basis, since these topics will stay relevant! While this type of content may be more competitive, it’ll help you build a base of content and make your life easier in the long run.

Always be ethical

Instead of pushing a product just for the sake of commission, give your audience what you truly think will help them. When you stay ethical in what you do, they’ll come back again and again knowing they can trust you! Don’t break that trust and push cruddy products, it can ruin your reputation forever.

Invest in yourself

Choosing to invest in yourself is single-handedly the best investment you can make as an affiliate marketer. Whether it’s a mentor, masterclass, or even just a book – it’ll always be worth it in the long run! Even if you get stripped of everything, you’ll always have that investment. There’s a reason you see super affiliates constantly joining new courses and masterminds.

“Ultimately, there’s one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself”

– Warren Buffett

Final Thoughts

Well congratulations on making it this far! Now you know everything about affiliate marketing that you’ll need to know. I left nothing out, so it’s all on you to take action and start 😉

Hopefully this guide helped you gain clarity, and find a direction on where to go moving forward! Affiliate marketing is super simple, but there’s a lot of things you can do to separate yourself from the competition.

So if you’re serious about building your affiliate marketing business, do yourself a favor and grab the Insider’s Guide To Affiliate Marketing Ebook from Dave Sharpe & Legendary Marketer.

It’s the price of a coffee, and will give you a proven blueprint to start earning affiliate commissions! Not only will you get the ebook, but you’ll even get your own personal business coach, business plan, and a DFY funnel for signing up. And all of the bonuses I personally offer! 🙂

  • I came here from your Twitter account and have to say I’m very impressed. All of this information is gold and the writing is excellent!

    • Dylan Gordon says:

      Hey Jacob, glad you found it beneficial & thanks for the kind words! I really appreciate it.

      Feel free to reach out if you ever need anything.

  • Keith says:

    Thanks for your uncomplicated explanation of a topic, something which so many others fail to do.

  • Michael says:

    Hi Dylan,
    I found you on Clickbank blog where you post an article about getting the right way in affiliate marketing.

    I’m glad I read the entire article because your site is great. I do have my own site and plan to grown it. I can see that I am too broad and your article has made the difference.

    I knew this but for some reason we tend to drift because we think everyone is our customer.

    Not true and your article makes it clear.

    • Dylan Gordon says:

      Hey Michael, I appreciate the kind words.

      Just checked your site out, it’s very well done, good work!

      It’s definitely important to create a customer avatar, so you can speak directly to your ideal customer instead of trying to communicate with everyone. Wish I realized that sooner in my journey, ha.

      All the best!

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