Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Start a Program Today

Learn how to kickstart your affiliate marketing program with our beginner's guide. Start generating income today with our expert tips and strategies.
Image of author Nick Cotter

By Nick Cotter
Updated Jan 10, 2024

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Start a Program Today
The content featured on this page includes products from our partners, who may provide compensation to us. This partnership can affect the selection and placement of products we discuss. Nonetheless, our assessments remain unbiased and are solely based on our independent judgments.
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Imagine the freedom to work from anywhere, at any time, and the thrill of making money without a cap. 

Affiliate marketing is a gateway to this financial freedom; connecting you with a world of endless possibilities. With affiliate digital marketing, you can help people discover amazing products and services and earn a commission for each sale.

According to a survey, 82% of professional content creators earn through sponsored content. 56% of these content creators believe affiliate marketing is the ideal way to secure online income. This is because businesses are teaming up with bloggers and YouTubers to promote their products or services.

Stick with us to find out how you can use this marketing technique to increase your earnings.

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How Affiliate Marketing Works?

Let's peek behind the scenes and see how the relationship between a content creator and brand  flows through an affiliate program:

  1. Affiliate's Ad or Link: You put up an ad or a tracking link for a store on your website or social media account.
  2. The Purchase: A potential customer clicks and buys from the company-assigned link.
  3. Sale Track: The affiliate network or affiliate software keeps track of the sale.
  4. Brand Confirmation: The brand confirms the purchase or action.
  5. Payment: You receive your cut as a commission.
  6. Payment Amount: Your earnings depend on the percentage of the sale that the brand offers you.
Example diagram about how affiliate marketing works
Example diagram about how affiliate marketing works

The Dynamics of Affiliate Marketing

Before embracing affiliate marketing, let's learn the dynamics of this phenomenon:

Sellers and Product Creators

Sellers are not just big corporations; they can be anyone with a service or product to offer and want more people to know about their offerings. Sometimes, they do the advertising themselves, but they can also hire content creators  and affiliates to attract consumers.

You – Affiliate or Publisher

Affiliates act as shopping assistants, telling individuals why a product is fantastic to buy. They can be bloggers, influencers, or companies that engage a specific group of people with similar interests. If a shopper buys an item through your (publisher) recommendation, you receive a defined cut from the sale. 

The Consumers

Affiliates share the products on social media, blogs, or videos to attract customers. This is the audience you need to engage and convert to make profits. Therefore, it is essential to learn what your customers like and need.

Types of Affiliate Marketing:

These are the types of affiliate marketing you can engage in:

1. Unattached Affiliate Marketing.

Unattached affiliate marketing means you don't have a personal connection with the promoted product or service; instead, you are advertising them on behalf of a brand. To do this, you can run quick pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, ensuring shoppers click and make a purchase.

Example of unattached PPC affiliate marketing landing page
Example of unattached PPC affiliate marketing landing page: Source

Advantages

  • Good for earning money without building a product.
  • Fast PPC digital marketing can provide swift and promising results.

Disadvantages

  • Building trust is hard as you don't have a personal connection with the product.
  • Risk of promoting products that don't resonate with the audience.
  • Risk of overspending on advertising, with minimal conversions.

2. Related Affiliate Marketing.

Related affiliate marketing is recommending items related to your field of study or practice. You may not use the product but still have some ground to make a connection with the niche audience.

Advantages

  • Leverage existing influence within a niche to build trust with the audience.
  • Generate more passive income due to established credibility.

Disadvantages

  • Recommending a product without personal experience can lead to advertising a subpar product.
  • Maintaining trust can be difficult, as a single bad recommendation can impact your credibility.

3. Involved Affiliate Marketing.

Involved affiliate marketing is about advertising an item after personal use to build a genuine connection with potential leads. You need to trust the product to make authoritative claims about its use and benefits.

Advantages

  • Become a reliable source of information.
  • Share genuine product experiences for sale instead of relying on PPC campaigns.

Disadvantages

  • Building credibility takes time, requiring a consistent effort to establish trust.
  • Requires you to try and test products before promotion.

Compensation in Affiliate Marketing

As an affiliate marketer, companies will typically use these ways to pay you for the sales:

1. Pay per Sale.

Every time a customer clicks on the link you provided to buy the product, you will receive a specific amount or percentage from that sale.

Example of Lucid Charts Pay Per Sale Affiliate Program
Example of Lucid Charts Pay Per Sale Affiliate Program: Source

2. Pay per Action/Lead.

You will receive your cut if you are able to convince customers to do a desired action, such as signing up for a newsletter. Your profit will depend on the number of newsletter subscribers.

Example of SEMRush’s Pay Per Lead Affiliate Program: Source
Example of SEMRush’s Pay Per Lead Affiliate Program: Source

3. Pay per Install.

If you convince someone to download and install a game or an app, you get paid. On each download, you will get the predetermined profit amount.

4. Pay per Click.

Each time an individual clicks on a link you shared, you get a reward for acquiring a lead's attention.

How to Choose an Affiliate Program?

Picking the right affiliate program is like choosing a team to play with. Here's what you should look for:

  1. What You Want to Earn: Decide how much money you want to make. Some programs pay more than others, so choose one that fits your goals. Look at metrics like EPC, brand history, conversion rates – this will give you a better understanding of the program's ROI.
  2. Your Audience's Interests: Consider what your audience may find interesting and helpful to them. For example, if you run a tech blog, researching and testing out the newest computer monitors may be interesting and helpful to your audience. 

The Benefits of Being an Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing delivers various benefits to businesses and affiliates. We are mentioning each one below:

For Businesses

  • Low-Cost Advertising: Affiliate marketing allows companies to benefit from the creative efforts of affiliates, making it a pocket-friendly strategy to expand their market presence.
  • High Return on Investment (ROI): With affiliate marketing, companies pay only for actual sales generated through the efforts of their affiliates. This performance-based approach translates into a high ROI.
  • Access to a Broader Market: Affiliate marketers help companies reach a vast audience without using extra resources.

For Affiliate Marketers

  • Additional Income and Incentives: As an affiliate marketer, your role extends beyond promotion; it's a partnership that rewards you with additional income and incentives.

Challenges in Affiliate Marketing

  • Subject to Fraud: Unscrupulous practices like domain squatting, click fraud and fake lead generation can threaten the integrity of affiliate marketing.
  • Less Creative Control: Affiliates can encounter limitations on how they advertise products or services, impacting their creative control.
  • Vulnerable to Theft: Affiliate programs necessitate vigilant monitoring and rule enforcement to protect against theft.

Success Stories 

Nate O'Brien

Nate O'Brien is one of the best YouTube influencers for young folks, with 1.25 million followers. Nate started in 2017 and now makes money from YouTube by selling courses from different companies. 

Pat Flynn

In 2008, Pat Flynn lost his architect job, but instead of feeling down, he turned his website into a guide to earn money. As a result, he is making more than $3 million and expanding his reach daily.

Key Channels for Affiliate Marketing

1. Blogs.

Blogs are powerful hubs where affiliates create quality content with seamless affiliate links. Successful bloggers build trust with readers, making recommendations more likely to convert into sales. To succeed, choose relevant niches aligning with your audience's interests. 

Create valuable content that informs and engages your readers while incorporating affiliate links. Transparency is key—openly disclose your affiliate relationships to maintain trust with your audience.

Example of a blog running affiliate promotions
Example of a blog running affiliate promotions: Source

2. Email Marketing.

Email marketing involves building lists and sending targeted affiliate offers through email campaigns. Categorize your email list based on interests, location, or profession to send more targeted content. 

Tailor your emails to each segment, providing engaging and personalized content. Create content that resonates with subscribers, leading to higher open and conversion rates.

Example of potential affiliate marketing email
Example of potential affiliate marketing email: Source Niche Pursuits Email

3. Social Media.

Platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Threads, Facebook, X, and TikTok serve as significant affiliate channels. Influencers use these platforms to promote products through various content formats.

Select social media platforms aligned with your audience. Create authentic and engaging content that adheres to each platform's community guidelines. Comply with content and disclosure guidelines to build trust with your audience.

Example of social media affiliate partner
Example of social media affiliate partner: Source

4. YouTube and Video Marketing.

YouTube is a go-to channel for video-centric affiliate marketers. Video content, like product reviews and tutorials, builds trust and increases conversions.

Invest in video production quality, including lighting, sound, and editing. Maintain authenticity in your content to build a connection with your audience. Provide in-depth insights into products or services to help viewers make informed decisions.

Example of YouTube affiliate
Example of YouTube affiliate: Source

5. Coupon and Deal Websites.

Coupon and deal websites share discounts and promotional offers. Affiliates collaborate with these platforms to promote exclusive deals through affiliate links.

Offer competitive deals to attract online shoppers. Regularly update promotions to keep them fresh and appealing. Collaborate with well-known coupon websites to increase your reach and credibility.

Example of affiliate coupon website
Example of affiliate coupon website: Source

6. Review Websites.

Review websites provide detailed, unbiased reviews of products and services. Affiliates can create comprehensive reviews with affiliate links.

Conduct thorough research to provide balanced reviews that address both pros and cons. Maintain objectivity in your reviews to build trust with your audience. Share personal experiences when possible to add authenticity to your reviews.

Example of product review website
Example of product review website: Source

7. Paid Search-focused Microsites.

Microsites, separate from the main site, focus on specific content for targeted audiences. These sites lead to increased conversions with clear calls to action.

Offer content tailored to a specific audience, providing focused and relevant information. Advertise within partner sites or search engine listings to maximize exposure. Create a simple call to action to drive conversions.

Example of PPC affiliate
Example of PPC affiliate

8. Large Media Websites.

Designed to generate massive traffic, large media websites promote products through banners and affiliate links, offering superior exposure.

Strategically use banners and contextual links to promote products to a massive audience. Focus on building a large, engaged audience to enhance conversion rates. Leverage affiliate networks like Amazon Associates for broader market reach.

Strategies for Successful Affiliate Marketing

These are some effective strategies you can use to become a successful affiliate marketer:

Gaining In-Depth Product Knowledge

Your audience relies on your expertise, so invest time in thoroughly understanding and researching the products you're promoting. This involves not only reading product descriptions but also using them yourself. You must know all nuances, benefits, and potential drawbacks to provide trustworthy recommendations.

Providing Value Over Sales

Shift your mindset from selling to helping your followers. Create content that addresses your audience's pain points and questions. To do this, you can produce how-to guides, problem-solving blog posts, and informative videos featuring the promotional item. By consistently offering value, you build a loyal audience that trusts your recommendations.

Collaborating with Influencers

Social media influencers are reshaping how things are sold. 14% of older Gen Zs purchase items based on recent influencers' suggestions. Moreover, using social media celebs in advertisements is 11 times more valuable. For these reasons, you can collaborate with digital personalities to expand your reach further. You can even work with them initially to gain popularity and authority in the digital shopping world.

Providing Discount Offers

60% of online shoppers prefer to find coupons (discounts) before they make a purchase. Discount codes are not just about driving sales; they're about creating a sense of exclusivity and urgency. You can give a discount code in your posts to entice potential customers. This strategy not only boosts conversions but also encourages repeat visits.

Crafting Detailed Reviews and Tutorials

Make sure to post customer reviews on your account, as 93% of shoppers rely on reviews before buying. When uploading a review, cover everything about the product and use pictures or videos. You can also get permission from the buyer and share their name with the review. This tactic shows the feedback is genuine and not fabricated.

Affiliate Marketing Tools and Resources

Using external tools and resources can make it easier to calculate the success of your marketing campaign. Some of the tools that provide accurate results are:

Using external tools and resources can make it easier to launch and calculate the success of your marketing campaign. Some of these helpful resources are:

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools allow you to find relevant keywords in your niche. These tools can aid you in deciding which keywords have high intent and search volume. This can help you improve your strategies, increasing the chances of success in the competitive world of affiliate marketing.

Ahrefs and SEMrush are two vital keyword analysis platforms that offer insights into search trends, competitor strategies, and lucrative keyword opportunities. With features like keyword difficulty analysis and search volume metrics, you can optimize content for improved search engine rankings, driving organic traffic and enhancing marketing efforts.

Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks simplify affiliate marketing and improve budget management. They offer solutions for technology, tracking, and payments, making it easier to pay commissions based on actual sales. You can also utilize it to collaborate with influencers to elevate your ROI.

ShareASale, Impact, and CJ Affiliate are top affiliate networks that offer user-friendly platforms with helpful tools. Using them, you can simplify affiliate program management, allow advertisers to create programs, and facilitate publishers' access to various promotional materials. Additionally, the platforms make it easy to track sales and performance metrics, promoting clear and data-driven collaborations.

Link Tracking Software

Link tracking software evaluates ad performance, identifies successful strategies, and pinpoints areas for improvement. The software ensures that you can allocate your budget and target specific audience segments effectively.

You can use three major line tracking software: Voluum, Everflow, and Lasso. Voluum measures clicks on ads, guiding budget decisions by highlighting successes and areas for improvement. Everflow provides real-time reports, guarding against fraud. Meanwhile, Lasso ensures you can independently track and organize each affiliate program.

Email Marketing Software

Email campaigns create a direct communication channel with your existing and potential customers. Through these campaigns, you can engage with potential customers, share information about the affiliate program, and provide incentives to join. The email marketing software enables efficient communication, segmentation of the audience, and tracking of user interactions. This makes it a powerful tool to attract and convert prospects.

ConvertKit and Mailchimp facilitate seamless email communication, enabling effortless creation of targeted emails to inform customers about exclusive offers and products. ConvertKit's personalized sequences enhance engagement, while Mailchimp's user-friendly design tools and analytics simplify campaign management.

Payment Accounts

A Bank account that permits national and international payments streamlines purchase processes, allowing you to earn globally. As a result, you can target and convert a lead from anywhere in the world without worrying about timely payouts and currency conversion hassles.

One of the well-known and protected international banking systems is PayPal. As it is available in 200+ countries, you can target a vast market and easily receive payments. Having a local bank account is also important for quick and simple payments within your own country. So, use both PayPal and a local bank account to handle your affiliate earnings.

How to Measure Success in Affiliate Marketing? 

  • Use Tracking Tools: Utilize platforms like Post Affiliate Pro or Voluum.
  • Watch Key Metrics: Monitor CR, AOV, ROI, and overall sales for insights.
  • Assess Affiliate Performance: Regularly review performance for optimization.
  • Check Traffic Quality: Analyze bounce rate, time spent, and pages per visit.
  • Value Long-Term Customers: Consider the customer lifetime value (CLV) for sustained success

Joining and Benefiting from Top Affiliate Programs

Looking for top affiliate programs to join? Check these out:

1. Amazon Associates - Your Online Shopping Partner.

Joining Amazon Associates means you can earn money by promoting products from the world's largest online store. You get commissions (money) ranging from 1% to 10% when people buy things through your special links. The best part is that even if they buy other stuff along with what you recommended, you still make money for everything in their cart. 

Requirements

To join, you need a blog or website where you discuss your interests. Amazon requires you to follow the rules to ensure you are playing a fair game.

2. eBay Partner Network - Your Auction Affiliate.

Being part of the eBay Partner Network lets you earn commissions (money) from 1% to 4% by promoting items from the world's largest online auction. With over a billion listings, your audience can bid on various products, and you earn a percentage of the money eBay makes from those purchases. 

Requirements

To join, you need an active website or blog. This is great for small businesses or if you're new to recommending products online.

3. Rakuten Advertising - Your Partner in Affiliate Marketing.

Rakuten Advertising, formerly known as Linkshare, has 150,000+ partners like Sephora and New Balance. The company's affiliate program allows you to use data analytics to keep in track of your strategies and earnings.

Requirements

Small businesses and new marketers can join this program by providing their information. The commission rates vary based on what your followers buy.

Case Studies and Examples

Here are some case studies to show you the effectiveness of affiliate marketing:

1. PC Games Sale.

Deniz Doganay's experience with affiliate marketing for PC games serves as a compelling case study in the effectiveness of this marketing approach. Despite the website being in its early stages, Deniz has successfully tapped into a specific interest—PC gaming—and engaged with the gaming community. The website's impact on sales is noteworthy, demonstrating that identifying a niche, delivering value, and connecting with relevant communities are key factors in the success of an affiliate marketing venture.

Why It Worked

  • PC Games Sale focused on PC games, which got attention from specific players.
  • By giving helpful information, the website became more trustworthy.
  • Connecting with the right game groups and markets made a big difference.
  • Deniz's love for games made the website more real.

2. BreadnBeyond.

Andre Oentoro from BreadnBeyond worked with companies that make video tools. Instead of just saying good things, he gathered honest reviews, including the good and not-so-good parts. This made people trust the video tools more. 

Why It Worked

  • Stayed Honest: BreadnBeyond didn't just say good things; they were honest about the products.
  • Audience's Trust: Being truthful made people believe in BreadnBeyond more.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the three pillars of affiliate marketing?

The three pillars of affiliate marketing are merchants or advertisers, affiliates or publishers, and consumers.

What are the seven things to know before starting affiliate marketing?

The seven things to know before starting affiliate marketing are:

  1. Choose a niche
  2. Research affiliate programs
  3. Understand your audience
  4. Create quality content
  5. Disclose affiliate relationships
  6. Track and analyze performance
  7. Be patient and persistent

How do beginners promote affiliate links?

Beginners can promote affiliate links through strategies like creating quality content, leveraging social media, utilizing email marketing, engaging in SEO practices, and participating in online communities.

How can I grow faster in affiliate marketing?

To grow in affiliate marketing, focus on niche specialization, build a strong online presence, create valuable and targeted content, engage with your audience, and continuously optimize your strategies.

Conclusion and Future Outlook

From understanding the fundamental pillars to grasping the nuances of effective promotion, this guide equips you with the essential insights you need to become a successful affiliate marketer. To further advance your success in this field, you need to stay updated on new industry knowledge.

Here are some key predictions for the future:

  • The affiliate marketing industry is predicted to hit approximately $14.3 billion.
  • More brands are expected to embrace affiliate programs as part of their marketing strategies. 
  • Bloggers and review sites will emerge as leading channels for affiliate marketing. 
  • Specific niches such as health, beauty, luxury, travel, pets, gaming, technology, sports, and personal finance are predicted to flourish in affiliate marketing.
  • The increased use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) like ChatGPT and Jasper AI is set to revolutionize affiliate marketing by personalizing content and optimizing performance.
  • Artificial Intelligence will contribute to the optimization of affiliate content for search engines.

Ready to dive deeper into the world of affiliate marketing? Explore more insightful content and stay updated with the latest trends by subscribing to our newsletter. Discover your marketing potential, master the art of strategic partnerships, and maximize your earnings with us!

Additional Resources:

Sub-Affiliate Networks: Everything You Need to Know

Paid Search Monitoring in Affiliate Marketing (Our tips)

Unlocking Growth: A Startup's Guide to Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing Mastery: 6 Key Automation Techniques from the Pros

Understanding and Avoiding Top Affiliate Program Violations

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Nick Cotter

Nick Cotter

Founder & CEO
Growann

With over 7 years navigating the intricate realms of marketing, and specifically B2B partner marketing, Nick has forged collaborations with top-tier tech brands, prominent agencies, and some of the industry's foremost B2B publishers and content creators. His deep immersion in both marketing landscapes showcases a trajectory of expertise and innovation. Identifying a significant void in specialized resources, he founded Growann.The aspiration? Deliver unparalleled insights and guidance, carving out a dedicated space where the broader marketing and B2B partner marketing communities can flourish.