The Ultimate Step by Step Guide to Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing can be a lucrative revenue stream. Here’s the guide to affiliate marketing you need to get you on the right path.
Table of Contents
Things to do Before Affiliate Marketing
Diversification for niche opportunities
It's no longer wise to create an Amazon-only affiliate site these days, particularly when other profit options are available. Whether this means creating additional affiliate programmes, diversifying through information products, or something else, do not rely on Amazon exclusively.
Check whether Google is already rewarding highly niche sites
Search for keywords in your niche and look at the positions on Page 1 of Google to see if there are smaller sites or review websites (e.g. CNet, Wire Cutter, WebMD, etc.).
Can you go big on volume or average order value
Many people pursue market niches where the item being sold is too cheap. You need a lot of conversions to turn a decent profit with this type of niche. Normally, products costing $100 to $1000 or with commission percentages of 25 to 40 percent are my recommendations. You should be willing to invest a lot if you want to run an effective website.
Opportunities for recurring commissions
To diversify your affiliate income, look for membership websites, subscription boxes, and digital affiliate products such as software.
Can you build a email list around the site
Why should someone join your email list if you have no special offer or update planned? Perhaps you would like to send out deals, news, or a long-term interest in the topic.
Is the topic trending up, down, or stable
Using a tool like Google Trends, you can see if there is an uptick or decline in interest in the topic you are interested in.
Do you find it interesting
It is crucial to be aware of the industry you're going to write on before generating keyword ideas. It should be an area you find intriguing in some way, or that you already know a lot about. Keywords should not be too challenging to generate or write about.
Ensure your domain has a clean (or beneficial) history
The best way to guarantee the clean history of a website is to use The Wayback Machine to examine its past movements. If there is no record of the website, you're in the clear.
Pick an easy-to-read and remember, brandable domain
An authoritative website should have an intuitive spelling and pronunciation, a distinctive brand name, and a supportive community and social presence. Furthermore, the domain should be easy to read and pronounce.
Set up Whois guard
By default, your address is included in the Whois record for your domain name. However, if you'd rather keep your personal or business address out of there, you can set up Whois Guard. This is an optional add-on at no cost to Namecheap customers.
Is the sales page on the site going to convert?
Is there enough to say that your site can actually lead people to buy if you improve your conversions? This can include things like excellent design, responsive technology, and mobile-friendly design.
Does the product have good reviews and is it up-to-date?
Is there social proof on the page such as ratings and reviews?
Is there EPC data available and how high is it?
How much does the EPC assigned to the affiliate network correspond to the price of the product and how does the company's website look? You should double-check if you want to use this number if it's rather low.
Is this product offered on multiple sites I can test against each other
It would be nice to be able to choose to promote a product you like on multiple platforms and see which performs best.
How much additional research is required to purchase this item?
Is your page supposed to be read? If there's anything people can purchase after examining your page, CPL is the way to go. How are you compensated? CPL refers to the Cost Per Lead. CPA refers to Cost Per Acquisition (or Action). You may also wish to ponder CPA vs CPL in terms of how you're paid. CPA refers to Cost Per Acquisition (or Action), while CPL refers to Cost Per Lead. Amazon, for example, pays CPA (meaning, you receive payment only when someone buys something). In other cases, buying things is more complex and hence you'll be paid per lead (for example, a car detailing service).
How much can I expect to make per conversion?
Selling a smaller number of expensive items is often easier than selling a larger number of cheaper ones. The best situation is when there are lots of conversions for expensive items, naturally.
Create a content plan
You should use the keyword strategy to create this content plan, since it will provide you with a good idea of which content you should begin with. It will also help you link together and support one another.
Register social media accounts
Before purchasing the domain, you should make sure that the social media accounts you want to associate with the website are available. The social media accounts can be a really good way to promote your content before it starts ranking in Google.
Change the default permalink setting in WordPress
To change from the default ""Plain"" permalink setting to one that uses the ""Custom Structure"" option, go to Settings > Permalinks and change it to ""Custom Structure"". You can generate keyword-rich URL slugs in addition to using a plugin such as RankMath to create them.
Write some initial articles based on keyword research
Your site should have a variety of both profitable and educational content. I'm talking about pages targeting profitable keywords in which you see demand for your products. You might use ""best [product] in [year]"" keywords, ""review"" keywords, or ""," [product] vs [alternative]" keywords to illustrate the quality or usefulness of your goods. When people are searching for help with their selection process, your article will assist them. Don't overlook the importance of understanding searcher intent when ranking pages on Google's first page. To find these pages, begin on the first page of Google and then click through to the pages.
Apply for affiliate networks
You can add additional websites to your existing affiliate account by using your existing website. However, be aware that sometimes these URLs can share identifiers between the accounts, so if you are worried about your websites being "linked together", you may wish to set up an entirely separate affiliate account with a given network.
Create affiliate links with proper tracking enabled
Thirsty Affiliates is a fantastic plugin for affiliates, but it's not strictly necessary for launching your site. Besides Amazon, no other affiliate network allows for subid tracking. Subid tracking is not an option with shorteners like fave.co (Skimlinks), shrsl.com (ShareASale), tidd.ly (Awin), and so on. On the other hand, cloaked affiliate links are completely fine for almost any affiliate network.
Place your affiliate links in your articles
Set up heatmap tracking
The click-through rate on your website can be improved by using heatmaps, one of the first and easiest steps. If you're unfamiliar with heatmaps, they show where people click on your website.
Make sure your affiliate links are nofollow
Always ensure that affiliate links are set to nofollow in order to avoid penalties from Google. To remove the ""noreferrer"" attribute that WordPress adds automatically and violates the Amazon operating agreement, read the linked article above.
Make sure your links and buttons stand out
When setting affiliate links in a rank Math SEO plugin, make sure you read the article linked above to learn how to remove the ""noreferrer"" attribute that WordPress adds automatically and violates Amazon's operating agreement.
Ensure your on-site SEO is solid
Google can crawl your site without getting confused if you've set up at least the basics of SEO. This is a whole topic in and of itself, but make sure you've at least got the basics down.
Check to make sure your book is properly catalogued before publishing it. Make sure all the pages you want are in the book, that the links match your canonical URLs, and that the book is properly linked from your other content.
Be certain that you've set up the redirects correctly and have them in place to handle normalizing trailing slashes.
Keyword for entire website
To increase the probability that your website will appear in search results for the keyword you selected, include the keyword in the title of your homepage and other areas of your site. For example, "Advices For Life | The Travel Blog for Business."
Clean headlines and subheadlines
Make sure your theme isn't using any elements like h1s, h2s, and h3s for styling purposes.
Good internal links between articles
Remember to link to your content using anchor text that is both natural and keyword-heavy.
Ensure WordPress isn’t blocking Googlebot!
Make sure you uncheck the option in WordPress that blocks Google from crawling your website before you've completed setting up all your initial content. You don't want to find out months or years down the line that you've been advising Google to stay away. Go to Settings > Reading > Indexing and make sure the box for ""Discourage search engines from indexing this site"" is not checked.
Set up Google Search Console and submit your sitemap
Search Console must be set up once your on-site SEO is correct and initial content is a good mix of commercial and instructional goals.
Check your website is mobile-friendly
Mobile or desktop, the key to higher conversions is the nature of your buyers' behaviour. Google is a non-negotiable in this regard, so make sure your site is mobile-friendly. With this in mind, see if your site is annoying or easy to use on mobile, then tweak things to improve the user experience. To test mobile-friendliness, use Google Search Console's mobile-friendly testing tool.
Set up a CDN for your website
A content-delivery network (CDN) stores copies of your website's content on servers all over the world, making it possible for someone requesting your website to access it as fast as possible no matter where they are located.
Set up tracking and aggregation for your affiliate links
If you want to know what keywords, products, and content pictures your readers find most interesting, you should track their clicks. This allows you to respond to their comments and tune your websites to what your readers like best. You don't want to get lost in a dozen affiliate networks with different data formats, which makes it difficult to see whether your content is actually bringing you money and how other networks perform.
Creating Your First Affiliate Marketing Website
Buy a domain
Instead of going long and descriptive, go short and “brandable.”
Choose a Content Management System (CMS)
I think WordPress is still the most popular choice for websites. I also like Jekyll and Forestry.
Choose website hosting
If you want to start your blog or website without spending money on hosting, you can do so using GitHub pages for free. Otherwise, there are budget shared hosting solutions available.
Set up a Branded Email Address
Make sure you set up all your DNS records correctly and don’t use a generic Gmail address!
Set up Semrush
Finding good topics with Ahrefs or Semrush is critical to success.
Set up Google Analytics and Search Console
Once you start creating content and generating traffic, both are free and provide you with a ton of useful information.
Choose a Theme or Design
It is not necessary to include advanced features such as tags, categories, similar articles, comments, or social share buttons when you first set up your theme. To be able to load quickly, have an RSS feed, include a robots.txt and sitemap.xml, and include social and search engine meta tags, your theme must have these features.
Do keyword research
Search for keywords with high volume (more than 1,000 searches) and low difficulty (little over 10 difficulty rating) in your niche in Ahrefs to find 100+ terms. You must find at least that many keywords if you want to continue keyword research.
Plan monthly content themes or clusters
Running an affiliate website is a lot of work, so be realistic about your output. You may not be ready for an affiliate website if you can't produce at least 6 pieces per month. Publishing items in succession may help you rank faster, but keep in mind your output.
Write briefs and outlines for each piece
Create briefs for writers if you're not going to do the work yourself.
Create a publishing calendar
Using Airtable as a publishing calendar is fine, but you should use whatever tool you prefer. A spreadsheet would be sufficient at the beginning, but it would be harder to filter content or involve others.
Establish a writing and editing process
Even if you don't have money for a content manager, hire an editor or manage your publishing schedule yourself if that's not too difficult. You should still be able to set up a repeatable process that will allow others to get involved as your business grows.
Create a promotional checklist
There are different avenues to succeed in every niche.
Set up a Twitter account
Despite favoring direct accounts that post to Twitter, the platform is still great for distributing content.
Establish a Reddit presence
It is a decent traffic driver in some niches, but it may also be a huge driver. Search for and participate in relevant subreddits. Share links or summaries of your content (where allowed) occasionally.
Syndicate to Medium
Cross-posting your content to Medium with a canonical link to the original piece is possible.
Set up an email signup form
New content can be offered every week through CTA.
Create an automatic welcome email
Provide your top 5-10 pieces of content to new subscribers by sharing this post.
Send a weekly summary of new content
Create automated emails to notify subscribers when new content is published.
Create a lead magnet to attract more subscribers
A newsletter plus boost can often increase signups by 2-3 times more than usual.
Start building backlinks
Post and share content on social media and newsletters. Build internal links. Create a bunch of content that links back (e.g., lists, quotes, references, etc.). Send HARO inquiries. Make podcast appearances, write guest articles.
Build relationships with niche newsletters
A newsletter list in your niche can be an excellent way to expand your audience and promote your content. Subscribing to each one of them is a good way to let them know you're paying attention. Subscribe to each one, reply to their messages occasionally, and pitch one article per week to them in turn.
Reach out to websites and people mentioned in your content
Tag them on social and let them know you mentioned them. Some may link to you or share.
Apply for Amazon Affiliate program
It's easy to get low rates, but it's hard to get them. There are a lot of products to choose from, so it's easy to get in.
Join ShareASale and CJ
More software and niche services with better rates, but requires more time to maintain and find programs.
Supplement with Google Adsense or Mediavine
Display ads can be profitable, especially on posts that are not linked to an affiliate promotion.
Create a course or book
Selling your own book or course is much more profitable, but requires more effort. This can be a 10x revenue multiplier.
Form direct relationships with niche affiliates or partners
When you reach a certain size (about 400,000 monthly pageviews), you may be able to sign direct contracts with affiliates to get better deals and service.
Track costs and revenue monthly
To ensure you are really making profits and avoiding taxes, keep good records!
Track site performance monthly
Affiliate clicks and program page views are the most important metrics besides revenue.
Plan quarterly content audits and updates
You should always keep an eye out for performance dashboard, but refresh your posts once a year.
It is wise to delegate the first role because even if you like writing some content, you will need more writers to scale up.
A part-time role, most of this can be scheduled out into the future. In addition to managing social accounts, they will also manage the email newsletter.
It might be possible to handle these responsibilities yourself at first, but they would soon become too time-consuming as your writing team grows. Writers would line up subjects for interviews, organize publishing calendars, draft briefs and outlines, line up subjects for interview articles, edit and schedule content, and manage publishing calendars.
The kind of work that you can only hire for at the highest level. Keyword research, selecting who to interview, setting monthly content themes, and managing partnerships are just a few of the examples of high-level work.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing
Look at how your competitors are running their affiliate programs to learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Which networks are they using? Which commissions are they offering? Which strengths and weaknesses do your competitors have? After all, your affiliate program will need to stand out from the crowd and you will need to create an attractive offer to hire enough affiliates to outperform your competitors. Which steps do you need to take to investigate your competitors' affiliate programmes?
Choose your goals
Determine realistic objectives that you can work towards with your affiliate programme; You should have a clear idea of how many affiliates you want to work with, as well as how much money you want to make through the programme. Besides, you should also know how many sales you expect to make through the programme, as well as how much of your overall business you want to derive from it.
Select the right KPIs
Decide on the metrics you need to measure success. For example, you may look at the number of sales generated per affiliate, the average order value of your customers, the amount of revenue generated for your company, and the conversion rate. You should look at the success of your programme as a whole, and evaluate the individual performance of each affiliate to compensate them accordingly.
Create a budget
The goal of an effective affiliate marketing campaign is to ensure that your investment is paying off. A cost effective marketing strategy requires you to calculate the return on your investment. Here are a few of the costs you may encounter when setting up an affiliate marketing campaign: joining affiliate networks, purchasing an affiliate software package, paying affiliate commissions, and paying for paid media advertisements. The profit generated through affiliate marketing must be greater than the amount you invested in the program in order to be profitable.
Get the right tools
The time and money required to manage an affiliate campaign manually would be enormous. To be able to effectively hire affiliates and accurately track sales and pay commissions, you'd need a robust tool. Tools that includes end-to-end affiliate management from recruitment to contract generation, affiliate linking, tracking, and payouts. Now is the time to perform research and assess which tools will best help you reach your objectives and stay within your budget.
Decide on your affiliate compensation model
Depending on the goals of your company, you'll be charged for clicks, leads, or sales. You may charge a flat fee per conversion or a percentage of profits. You decide the terms of your payment structure, including the payment method, the period for sending payouts, and whether an affiliate needs to make a minimum amount of sales to receive their first payment.
Create a landing page
Your next step is to create a page where potential affiliates can apply to your programme. It should include everything you desire to know about the affiliate programme, your compensation offer, and your expectations.
Promote your affiliate program
To attract affiliates to join your campaign, you must distribute information about your campaign through your own channels as well as your brand's channels. In addition to your newsletter, paid ads, blog, and social media, you should also use your brand's channels to communicate about your campaign.
Post your offer through an affiliate network
Want to increase the chance of attracting the right influencers? Use a dedicated affiliate network to post your offer to affiliates in a certain network. This method of recruitment will enable you to specifically target experienced affiliates.
Use an affiliate agency
You can outsource the entire affiliate marketing recruitment process to an affiliate marketing agency. If you're new to affiliate marketing and need some expert advice, hiring an agency may help you secure top affiliates for your campaign. Remember to budget for this if you opt to go down this path. Working with an agency might be expensive.
Search an affiliate database
Finding the most suitable affiliates for your campaign using a database is quick. You may hand-pick the best affiliates who are aligned with your brand and objectives rather than hoping for suitable applicants.
Create an affiliate agreement
As part of your affiliate agreement, you should outline the terms and expectations of the program. You should also include clauses for fraudulent activity, canceled orders, and returned orders. You should also include all the details of the compensation here, including how the commission is calculated for maximum transparency.
Provide marketing materials
Make sure your affiliate partners have everything they need to produce content for your brand. From copy, photos, logos, and other collateral, your partners should be able to produce their own content. Make sure to inform them of new materials and share product tips so they may benefit from their efforts.
Distribute links and promo codes
When running affiliate campaigns, you must provide tracked links or promo codes so that your affiliates can use your content to sell. It will be easier to measure and attribute sales using tracked links.
When your affiliates are actively promoting your products and generating sales, you must measure their success! You must monitor KPIs you chose at the start of your campaign and generate monthly, quarterly and yearly reports to see the progress of your programme. You should monitor clicks, conversions, and sales, as well as the amount of commissions you are paying to calculate your programme's return on investment.
Pay affiliates on time
With a performance dashboard you can easily track sales and calculate commissions! Having all the data in one place makes it easier for you to make affiliate payments on time, and make any necessary improvements in real-time.
With your program becoming more established, you will need to keep affiliates interested in working with your brand. You can do this by providing cash bonuses, shop credit, and other special goodies to your best performers.
Review and improve marketing materials
Make sure your affiliates have up-to-date marketing materials and solicit their feedback and suggestions on what materials they would like to see in the future. You can also ask them what they think about your current marketing materials and new product launches.
Blacklist fraudulent affiliates
You're unlikely to encounter fraud in your affiliate program, but it's wise to keep an eye on metrics like clicks, traffic quality, and conversion rates and investigate any unusual patterns. Roughly 2-3% of affiliate transactions are fraudulent, so keep an eye on certain metrics like clicks, traffic quality, and conversion rate and investigate unusual patterns.
It's imperative that you continue your affiliate outreach efforts in order to expand your campaign and get people directly involved with your brand community.