Everyone’s got to start somewhere and affiliate marketing is no exception. To a large extent, you can learn as you go along providing you’re at least kind-of sensible in what you’re doing. Which means that it’s best to have some kind of road map for where your affiliate marketing is heading.
The main thing to remember is that you won’t be an overnight success. These things take time but keep plodding away at your affiliate marketing and, gradually, you’ll start to see signs that it’s working.
Start by choosing a niche
If your idea of a niche is “everything” then you need to fine tune it.
Some niches are more competitive than others. For instance, the niche that this page is targeting (affiliate marketing) is hyper-competitive and – despite the fact that I’ve been affiliate marketing since the late 1990’s – it’s by no means a slam dunk for me. If I wasn’t as stubborn as I am, I’d probably let it drop but it’s just one of the niches I’m in and I enjoy teaching other people, so I’m happy to still be here. Quick plug: you can get my affiliate marketing course here if you want to go into more detail on things.
Drill down to find your niche.
Something broad like “dogs” is too broad. But drilling down to (say) tooth whiteners for German Shephers would be too narrow. You’re looking for the sweet spot – enough demand to pay you money without so much demand that the world’s top marketers are everywhere you turn.
One of the easiest ways to figure out a new niche is to use a method that’s used a lot in the personal development world – brainstorming.
Set aside 15 to 30 minutes,
Put your phone on silent.
Go old school and get a pad of paper and a pen. No computers – you’ll get distracted.
For at least the next 15 minutes (and at most the next 30 minutes), write down topic ideas. One or two or three word phrases. Start a timer.
Don’t edit yourself – just write, even if the idea seems stupid or it’s a repeat or nearly a repeat.
If your mind goes blank (and it likely will), get it back on track by skimming what you’ve already written. But don’t give up!
At the end of your alotted time, relax.
Ideally set the list aside overnight but if you’re impatient, start the next part straight away.
Give each phrase a score between 1 and 10 where 10 is the highest.
Go with your first instinct on this – there are no right or wrong answers and the more you try to second guess yourself, the less good the results will be.
When you’ve scored all the ideas, you should have some clear winners.
Pick 3 of the top ones – keep the rest for another time or just repeat the process. And discard any that don’t really interest you – you’re going to be spending a lot of time in this niche and if it bores you to tears before you start, that’s a bad sign.
Then set your timer again.
For each of the 3 phrases, spend no more than 10 minutes searching.
You’re looking for lots of varied results and lots of different phrases being used.
Make a few notes as you go, including any affiliate programs you find (so don’t be afraid to click sales links so long as your wallet is nowhere to be seen).
When you’ve done this for all three possible niches, you’ve got a winner.
Pick a domain name
Your perfect domain name has already been taken, likely years ago.
But there are still lots of domain names around.
My preferred supplier is Namecheap – they aren’t promoted as much as other suppliers because they don’t pay affiliates anywhere near as much money but they’re a decent price, reliable and don’t hammer you with a million and one upsells after purchase. They also offer hosting for your domain fairly cheap (again, not pushed by affiliates as they don’t pay out $100 or more in commissions) and good enough, especially when you’re starting out.
Adding a letter to the end of your chosen phrase often works – that’s why this site has an “i” at the end of affiliate marketing.
And always choose the .com version because that’s what everyone expects a domain to end with.
This is often billed as a one click process but in truth it’s a few more clicks than that.
WordPress is free (they make their money by hosting domains for people who are too lazy or technophobic to go through the process in the previous section plus lots of other ways), regularly updated, has lots of “themes” (site designs, often free or cheap) and lots of “plugins” (mini apps to change how your site operates), again free or cheap.
There’s lots of support for WordPress on the web and lots of info included as part of my affiliate marketing course.
Start creating content
This is where people fall by the wayside.
They start off all bright eyed and bushy tailed and then, in few days or a few weeks, something else grabs their attention and their exciting affiliate marketing project takes a back seat.
Don’t let that happen to you!
Make a commitment to yourself to do something on your site every day for at least the next 90 days.
Then keep to that commitment.
Just do it.
Ideally you should be creating a new piece of content for your site every single day. Doing it yourself if the cheapest way but not always possible.
So if that’s you or if you’re not a natural writer, hire someone to do it for you.
For most of my niche content (not this site but that’s personal preference) I use iWriter.
They’re not the best writers in the world but you get to review the articles written before the writer gets paid so you can rule out the complete rubbish.
Choose your keyword phrases carefully.
Use the words that show up in Google as you type and narrow down the phrases to ones where there’s next to no competition in the search results so that you stand an above average chance of getting some traffic from the search engines in something approaching real time.
Figure that even at the lowest level (and despite sales promises on a gazillion websites) you’re unlikely to see much – if any – search engine traffic for a couple of months.
I’ve written a longer article on doing this process on this site – check it out here.
Keep at it.
Without content, your website is nothing.
Find some affiliate programs
The reason I’ve put this after creating content is simple.
No-one apart from you will see your pages for a while.
So get the content created and let the search engines start to index it. Then add in affiliate links.
The low hanging fruit of affiliate programs is Amazon – they call affiliates associates. Whatever niche you’ve chosen, they’ll have things related to it. Sign up (you’ll need a website with a bit of content) and follow their rules to the letter.
Another fairly easy affiliate program to join is Clickbank. They offer mostly digital products (but there are some physical ones as well), they’re long established and they pay out as promised.
After that, it’s track down other affiliate programs. That varies from niche to niche – you’re best clicking links on competitor sites and seeing where they lead.
There shouldn’t be a sign-up fee to join an affiliate program so avoid any programs that try to do that. But don’t be surprised if there’s a minimum payout as processing tiny amounts of money takes just as much time as processing larger payments.
Weave in the links – keeping to the terms of service (especially important with programs like Amazon) including whether or not you can use your own affiliate link to make your own purchases.
That’s pretty much the outline of the process of starting affiliate marketing whether you’re a beginner or someone who’s been around the block.
If you need help, here’s the link to my affiliate marketing course which takes you through all these steps (and more) in a lot more detail.