If you want to make passive income through affiliate marketing, then this post will become your go-to guide.
Not only will I teach you the basics of how to become an affiliate marketer, but we’ll also dive into some real examples of professional marketers earning thousands or even millions of dollars annually without spending money on PPC or any of it.
We’ll cover promoting products on Amazon, creating SEO content that ranks well on Google, email list promotion strategies, how to choose the best affiliate program for you, and give you a step-by-step guide to the entire process, so you’ll earn affiliate commissions in no time.
We’ll start with a (rather long) definition:
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the practice of promoting the products or services of another person or company in exchange for a commission on the resulting sale. Affiliate marketers join affiliate programs, find reputable affiliate products to promote, and then share those products with their audiences.
Basically, it’s a modern interpretation of a very old idea – getting commission from a sale.
If you’ve been following our articles, you’ve learned that bloggers make money by building an audience that they trust, and then offering products or services that really help that audience.
Affiliate marketing is really just a quick way to produce products and services without having to create your own products and services.
For bloggers, this means that you find a product or service you want, promote it to your readers, and earn a portion of the profit from every sale you make.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Affiliate marketing can get very technical, even for those seasoned with digital marketing. Fortunately, you don’t need to know all the details to get started.
The actual mechanics work in the background, thankIt’sate merchant program.
But here’s a quick look behind the scenes:
- When an affiliate joins the merchant program, they are given a unique ID and a specific URL to use when promoting the company’s product.
- The affiliate includes the link in its bent and/or via email marketing efforts and readers to click on it to learn more.
- When a potential buyer clicks on the link to visit the affiliate partners’ website, a cookie that identifies the affiliate is placed on their computer. The cookie ensures that the publisher is credited with selling the referral even if it occurs days or even weeks later.
- When the buyer completes the sale, the merchant checks the sales history for a cookie that identifies the referral source.
- If the merchant finds a cookie with an affiliate ID, the sale will be credited to the affiliate.
- The merchant provides the reports so that the affiliate marketer can see referrals (clicks) and sales.
- The merchant pays the referral commission at the end of each pay period (i.e. revenue sharing).
Here is a graphical overview to help you visualize the process:
The flow is pretty straightforward once you understand it, and it works the same no matter what type of product you’re promoting or how well established you are as an affiliate marketer.
So let’s take a look at the typical progression of a blogger who is serious about making affiliate marketing a major source of income.
How to start affiliate marketing in 4 steps
Here is the main point you need to understand if you want to become an affiliate marketer:
You earn a commission in exchange for giving your readers valuable insights into the products or services they were already considering buying.
In other words, your readers are already buying things that you advise them to buy.
The question is, can you help them make a smarter decision than they can on their own?
Because this is where you add value. You earn a commission for helping people make smarter decisions, use your blog and the internet to orchestrate the process and provide valuable advice to thousands of people.
Here’s a step-by-step process for doing exactly that:
Step 1: Choose a product to promote as an affiliate
As an honest blogger, you will always be limited to the products you choose to represent in one of two ways:
Either you’ve tested products you’ve already used, and think they’re appropriate and needed for your audience, or
You are limited to the products that you can access in order to evaluate, either by purchasing them directly or having a free sample or trial.
Regardless of your approach to affiliate marketing, expect to have to invest time and money in research decisions best products for your audience.
Here are two main options (with your best option listed first).
Option #1: Promote products you already know and love
This is the most popular way to start affiliate offers.
You become affiliated with something you have used yourself, have good experience with, tested well, and feel a good recommendation. You should be fairly confident that others will get the same (or better) results as you, as long as they do the work.
If you find a hit from a course, mastermind, or e-book that your readers can also benefit from, then it only makes sense for you to spread the word and share your toke inventory of the products, services, and courses you already have experienced with. You may have a list of dozens or more.
Which of these would you be happy to promote? Cross out anything that does not fit the bill.
Now just check to see if the merchant has an affiliate program (some won’t but you will probably be surprised at how many).
Using a search engine like Google, search for “affiliate program” + [product name], or simply email the merchant and ask.
Then run your remaining options through the good affiliate product checklist:
- You have reviewed the product so that you know its quality.
- They have a solid refund policy that you are confident they will honor.
- They give really good customer support (and I’ve tested that).
- You have a good story to share about your experience with the product.
- The presentation fits the needs of your audience and will not compromise the trust you have built with them.
- Products that tick all the text boxes are your best chances of getting affiliate income. Over time, add as many of these products as you like to your mix.
I found your first product! Apply using merchant procedures and start promoting
If you are just getting started with affiliate marketing, this first option may be enough to get you started.
However, most bloggers will want to try other options as well.
Option #2: Research products to start affiliate marketing
If you don’t have any experience or first-hand knowledge of products in your niche that can help your readers, you can often find good affiliate products on affiliate networks to start your affiliate marketing business.
But be warned – this approach requires an investment of time in research and money to buy products to try, more than the first option.
This is because there is less trust and foreknowledge from the start. You have to do your due diligence to protect your reputation and the credibility you have built with your readers.
When you work through a network, you don’t know the merchant ahead of time, and you usually don’t build a relationship with them (your business relationship with the network).
Popular and trusted affiliate networks include ClickBank, eBay Partner Network, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate (also known as Commission Junction), Amazon Associates Program, and Bluehost. Some networks will even assign you an affiliate manager to give you a helping hand.
Amazon products, in particular, are an easy way to get started. Many beginners start by switching to an Amazon affiliate and then expand to other types of more profitable affiliate offerings.
Step 2: Apply as an Affiliate
Whether you work directly with a merchant or through a network, you will have to apply, get approved, and provide certain information so that you can be paid.
At a minimum, you will need to submit:
Personal/business contact information for tax and reporting purposes.
Your bank account where commissions will be sent.
In return, the merchant must provide you with:
Affiliate link. When you post about the product, you will use this trackable link. It will have a long tag at the end of each link that includes your affiliate ID.
You will also usually get some useful tips and assets for marketing the product (they are often found in a welcome guide or on the affiliate website).
It can include:
An affiliate guide plus instructions on how to use the platform and a summary of policies such as payments.
Online marketing tools like banners and sidebar graphics.
Email sample / quick copy of web page.
Ongoing communications from the merchant regarding promotions, new products, etc.
If you use a network like Amazon, you will get your own affiliate link for each of the specific products you are promoting.
Be sure to check your network’s help or support pages for more information.
Step 3: Start promoting your selected referral offers
In the end, all your hard work researching and evaluating products only pays off if someone takes your advice and makes a purchase, right?
For that to happen, you have to put your recommendation in front of your audience. Most importantly, you need to make your recommendation trustworthy.
This is where a lot of affiliate marketing breaks down. They think that putting up some banners on their blog that link to affiliate products is all they need to do.
Option #1: Create a page for the best tools on your blog
In the sense that you are creating a page on your blog, this page includes the best components and software explains how they are useful for the site, and at the same time, this page contains affiliate links for these programs that promote many different products, but also organize them according to different types of readers and what they may need in that time. It also explains why these products are useful to them and will also benefit you in making money from affiliate marketing.
In other words, it’s not just a sales promotion. It is educational. Since it has a lot of quality content, in addition to being well optimized for SEO, it also ranks well in Google search results and gets organic traffic. You get good conversion rates too.
Chances are, you can create a landing page like this in just a few hours. Your readers will also appreciate having all of your recommendations in one place for easy reference.
Option #2: Create and promote custom content
This content marketing strategy will be the backbone of your affiliate promotional efforts in affiliate marketing.
Use as many of the following different techniques as possible to suit your blog and audience
1) Write comments
You can write detailed reviews of the products, courses, books, or software products that you promote as an affiliate. For example, here’s our Bluehost review:
Your reviews can focus on a single product or compare competing products side by side.
Arguably the second approach builds more confidence, but it also distracts people by giving them a lot of different recommendations.
If you want to review multiple products, one option is to create a review site where all the content is just affiliate reviews and offers, and that increases your chances of affiliate marketing, becoming a “one-stop shop” for your niche.
2) Write final content on a relevant topic
You can write a final, comprehensive post on your site to educate your readers and “soft sell” your products and then get them to rank in search engines.
For example, you can write a definitive guide on how to create a WordPress blog and include affiliate links for choosing the best WordPress hosting for example.
Whatever the topic, make sure it’s always up-to-date content – information that’s likely to be useful and valuable for years to come.
You can create blog posts, videos, infographics, or anything similar – but whatever you do, it shouldn’t be a sales page. Focus on building trust and authority.
Finally, you should pay close attention to SEO – make sure you optimize for the right keywords, keep WordPress running fast, and link to your content to get a steady stream of traffic from Google.
3) Create valuable reward content
Assuming your affiliate agreement is allowed (sometimes it isn’t), you can create additional content, exclusive to your readers, that helps people get more value from the affiliate product.
People love rewards! You can create many types of rewards fairly quickly and easily while still giving your readers excellent value.
By the way, this is a great way to differentiate yourself from other bloggers who are the same products.
Here are some examples of rewards you can offer:
- Checklists step by step
- Quick Start Guides
- Video clips or demos
- Complementary or discounted services (for example, training calls)
Step 4: Comply with Legal Requirements (and Best Practices)
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires you to tell people that you will earn a commission.
But even if this is not required by law in your place of residence, we recommend it. It’s just a good job.
Don’t be afraid to be transparent. People will appreciate your honesty and want to support you to pay you to improve their lives.
So wherever you share an affiliate link, whether it’s in blog posts, web pages, or emails, let your readers know that you’ll earn a small commission if they buy through you – and if they choose not to use your link, there’s no need to worry.
Reassure them that you will not recommend any products if you do not use them yourself or are confident that they can help them.
It’s also a good idea to create an affiliate partner disclaimer page on your website.
We’re also clear about how these affiliate links might look in blog posts.
Examples of Affiliate Marketing: 4 Types of Affiliate Products to Promote
So, we have gone through the process of becoming successful marketers. Now let’s go through some examples of affiliate marketing programs in the real world, and learn about four different types of products that you can promote and make a good profit with affiliate marketing.
Usually, most of your affiliate income will come from one or two basic products that almost everyone in your audience needs that also pay a good commission.
As you progress, you can add complementary products to complement your offerings and help your audience in new ways, but identifying primary income earners is an essential first step.
Option #1: Digital Downloads
Digital downloads are online resources that readers can access immediately, without having to wait for a package to arrive by mail (as is the case for physical products).
They can be audio files, video files, PDF files, e-books, or even links to web pages where the content resides online.
- Books or eBooks – Books that are self-hosted on the merchant’s website or downloaded from Amazon, iBooks, or other online sellers.
- Software – Downloadable software, games, applications, plug-ins, and cloud services.
- Mobile Applications – Some of the hundreds of applications available through the iTunes Affiliate Program and other mobile application networks.
- Music, Movies, TV Shows, and More – Media offered by Amazon, iTunes Affiliate, and more.
Digital downloads are an easy way to get started and help your audience solve pressing issues.
There are no overhead costs for production, shipping or storage.
The buyer can access their digital product and start utilizing it right away.
Many e-books, software, or other download products are relatively inexpensive. You will have to sell a lot of them to make any big money.
Option #2: Online, Hosted, and Professional Services
When it comes to selling services as an affiliate in affiliate marketing, it is important to focus on those that will be accessible to your entire audience no matter where they are located (as opposed to providers that only serve local customers).
In other words, don’t limit your potential earnings by geography.
Your best bet is to represent the online service providers/influencers, hosts, or professionals that you have worked with in the past and have complete confidence in them.
Examples of professional services:
- Membership Sites
- Research or Consulting Services (Questia)
- Accounting, Finance, or Legal Consulting (Greatland)
Examples of online/hosted services:
- Website platforms (Wix and Squarespace)
- Lead Generation Services (Elementor)
- Email service providers (AWeber, Constant Contact, ConvertKit)
- Website services (eg hosting, anti-spam, security, etc.)
- Media (Wistia, Vimeo, and many WordPress plugins)
- Teachable platforms
- IT support, cloud storage, backup, security, or other technical services based on monthly subscriptions
It’s easy to become an affiliate for the service, and it helps your audience manage important tasks that require specific expertise.
There are likely to be higher earnings from digital downloads because services are usually offered at a higher price.
Many hosted services will offer a recurring commission – which means you’ll get paid as long as the clients you refer continue to use the service.
Some of your favorite professional service providers (those you have experience with) may not have affiliate programs in place.
Option #3: Online courses
Online courses are an important subset of digital products, especially for bloggers, and the market is huge. They are so popular that they deserve their category on this list.
There are online courses on just about any topic you can think of. Their prices range from free to thousands of dollars, with higher-priced programs that promise great results for students. You can subscribe to such sites and put your affiliate link on your blog or Facebook groups, for example, to start earning money when someone buys a course through Your referral link, an example of such sites is the famous udemy site.
Training sessions are one of the best ways to help your audience achieve a goal important to them or overcome an obstacle that was preventing them from continuing. You can deliver amazing value with very little effort on your part.
Courses are often offered at a higher price point than other digital products, so your potential earnings from each affiliate sale are higher.
Courses are common. It should be easy to find other influencers in your niche whose courses can help your readers.
You will have to spend some time working through the courses and reviewing them to make sure that they live up to their promises (to protect your reputation).
Option #4: E-Commerce Stores
If you decide to promote physical products on your blog to get started with affiliate marketing, your best bet is to choose premium, high-quality products that will most appeal to your specific audience.
Avoid merchandise products that your readers can buy from anywhere – commissions are very small and you won’t make good money unless you can drive massive traffic to your site.
Commissions on e-commerce products are usually fairly low due to the overhead costs of production, storage costs, shipping, etc., so unless you’re planning to build a large review or shopping site, physical products are likely to be a very small part of your blogging affiliate. Revenues.
However, if you have a favorite tool in your trade, an indispensable tool that will make your readers’ lives easier, or a high-quality recommendation that you are sure people will be happy with, go ahead and offer it.
You will build goodwill even if you don’t make a lot of money.
Once you create a blog, companies may reach out to you and offer you a free product in exchange for a review. (You should always disclose this, as it may be seen as a conflict of interest.)
If you can buy the products yourself to test them, you will be seen as a truly objective reviewer.
Commissions from e-commerce stores are usually much lower due to the overhead, so you will have to sell a lot of products to make a decent income.
Buying products so you can review them before promoting them can be expensive.
You should now have a lot of ideas for the types of products you can represent.
Conclusion in affiliate marketing
This dream that you dreamed of making passive income is not just a difficult fantasy.
It is a fully achievable reality.
Sure, it’s not as easy as pressing a button and earning money or placing Google Adsense ads all over your site, but with a little knowledge and persistence, you can definitely do it and even turn it into an online business.
Once you have a respectable following, affiliate marketing is one of the best business models for making money (and from your home too).
And the best news is that it’s very easy to get started. All the steps for starting an affiliate marketing business are explained in this post.
Simply identify the one big thing that everyone in your audience needs to reach their goals and start from there.
Choose a great digital product from an online company you believe in. and share it. Tell your success story.
Offer a lot of valuable content that helps and educates your readers, and be careful not to be too salesman.
Be open, honest, and transparent. Enhance the confidence your readers place in you.
Finally, be patient.
All your efforts will pay off for it