Affiliate Marketing Guide: Get Started Making Money Today!

If you are looking for a way to earn passive income month after month, whether it be a few extra bucks or a full-time income, then affiliate marketing might be a great business model for you … one that many entrepreneurs have found to be very successful. Our step-by-step affiliate marketing guide will help you get started. In the simplest terms, affiliate marketing is:

  • Writing about products or services using a link with a special tracking code
  • Getting paid when someone clicks the link and purchases the products or services

If you already know what affiliate products you want to promote and already have a website, social media channels, and a mailing list, then you can go ahead and skip the first 12 steps!

Running Your Own Affiliate Program?

How would you like to make it super easy for YOUR affiliates to share your blog posts, tutorials, support documents without having to append their affiliate ID to each URL? Well, if you are using AffiliateWP and Social Warfare (even our free version), then all you need is our simple add-on plugin!

Affiliate Marketing Guide: A Step-by-Step Process to Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing (Part 1)

Note: While it is possible to make money as an affiliate marketer without building a website, the focus of this affiliate marketing guide is geared toward those who will be using a WordPress website.

1) Decide on a topic that you want to write about.

We can’t stress enough how important it is that you choose a topic that interests you rather than just choosing what you think will earn the most money. While there are affiliate marketers that are successful at marketing anything under the sun, it has been our experience that if you choose a topic that doesn’t interest you, you won’t be motivated to see it through.

2) Research the competition around your topic.

You might want to choose a topic that doesn’t have a tremendous amount of competition; or, at the very least, you need to figure out how you can differentiate yourself in the niche. Look for gaps in the content that you can fill. These first steps (choosing your topic and figuring out how to differentiate yourself) are probably the most important of all, so be sure to really give it some thought before you commit yourself.

3) Research keywords around your topic.

You want to ensure that you have the search volume necessary to actually make money, so it is important that you do a little keyword research (use Google’s Keyword Planner for free).

While focusing on a niche topic can ensure a higher conversion rate, you still need to make sure that your niche isn’t so narrow that it doesn’t get any search traffic. Go back to step one and refine your topic as necessary until you find a niche:

1) that you are interested in,
2) where you can differentiate yourself, and
3) that people are searching for.

The first steps to becoming successful in #affiliatemarketing are to choose a niche 1) that you are interested in, 2) where you can differentiate yourself, and 3) that people are searching for.Click To Tweet

4) Scope out potential affiliate programs.

Fortunately, there is pretty much an affiliate program for every niche, but it can’t hurt to make sure! Search “[Your Niche] + Affiliate Programs” in Google. Scope out the ones you like and bookmark them so you can apply later.

Affiliate Marketing Guide: A Step-by-Step Process to Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing (Part 2)

Note: This affiliate marketing guide assumes that you either have the technical expertise to set up a website or that you will hire someone to set one up for you, so the next few steps are basically just a “checklist” … if you are unsure of how to do any of the following, we recommend that you consult with someone who can help you.

5-10) Setup your website.

WordPress has made it infinitely easier for affiliate marketers to have a website presence. Here are some of the basic steps:

5) Register a domain name.
6) Choose a hosting company.
7) Setup an email address.
8) Map out your content strategy.
9) Choose a WordPress theme to support your content strategy.
10) Implement Google Analytics.

If you’re new to affiliate marketing, then it’s likely that you may need a little help getting started, so we suggest that you learn how to set up your new WordPress blog the right way as it will go a long way towards your future success.

At this point, you should be ready to:

11) Setup your basic web pages.

This should at the very least include your about page, a contact page, your sitemap, your privacy policy, and a disclaimer page.

12) Set up your social profiles.

At the very least, you are probably going to want to claim your pages on the major social sharing networks. You should also set up shop on networks within your niche. For example, a food blogger should definitely have a social presence on

Pro Tip: It is always smart to plan out your basic sitemap and have a good idea of what type of content you plan to create and how you would like to display it before you choose your WordPress theme. This will allow you to choose a theme that fits. To put it another way, you wouldn’t buy a gift bag first and then look for gifts that fit in it, would you? Of course not … you would buy the gift first … and then find the right-sized gift bag.

Affiliate Marketing Guide: A Step-by-Step Process to Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing (Part 3)

13) Implement a social sharing plugin.

We know which one we would recommend… but don’t just take our word for it! There’s a reason that 50,000+ sites have downloaded Social Warfare!

Even better, if YOU are running an affiliate program and using AffiliateWP and Social Warfare, you can make it super easy for YOUR affiliates to share your blog posts, tutorials, support documents without having to append their affiliate ID to each URL … all you need is our simple add-on plugin!

14) Implement a mailing list plugin.

Not sure which one to try? Here are several to choose from … and take notice that this is how an expert affiliate marketer gets things done!

15) Begin building your mailing list.

Create an e-book, a pdf, or some other downloaded piece of valuable content that will entice email subscribes. We recently wrote a blog post about what makes a great food blog and we included a “food emoji cheatsheet” download to entice readers to subscribe.

Set a goal of getting your first subscriber, and then 100, and then 1000. This will go a lot faster if you offer a freebie to encourage your readers to subscribe. See our free offer at the end of this post.

16) Start creating content worth sharing!


Get started by writing a few “evergreen” article about your niche topic that your audience will find useful. Don’t worry about affiliate links yet. Focus on providing value! Here are some tips for new bloggers to get you started.

17) SEO that content!

Again, this isn’t something we are going to teach you today. If you don’t even know what SEO stands for, you are going to need to consult with a pro. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key when it comes to being a successful affiliate marketer. Fortunately, with plugins like Yoast SEO you don’t need to be an expert; however, it is a good idea to at least have a crash course in the basics and to conduct an SEO audit on your website.

18) Create images for that content!

The goal is to create content worth sharing … and images are a big part of that equation! Using our WP social sharing plugin, Social Warfare – Pro, you can even upload specific images for each social network! This allows you to create an image that is optimized for Facebook (horizontal and with less than 20% text), and another that is optimized for Pinterest (vertical, often with larger text overlays), so that when your visitors share your posts, they have the best chance of getting engagement and attracting more visitors to your website.

19) Start building your social networks.

Schedule time to be active on social. You might want to just focus on one or a few at first. In addition to sharing your own content, share other people’s content, participate in conversations, and follow people that interest you and that are relevant to your niche.

BTW, have you noticed that we are coming up on Step 20 of our affiliate marketing guide and we haven’t even told you to sign up for an affiliate program yet? No, we didn’t forget … there are just a lot of steps to implement in our affiliate marketing guide before you are ready to actually take it to this next level.

At this point, you should now have a fully-functioning website/blog with lots of great content and you are starting to get a little bit of traffic and are beginning to build your mailing list and your social networks.

Affiliate Marketing Guide: A Step-by-Step Process to Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing (Part 4)

Note: Okay then! Let’s get ready to dive headfirst into affiliate marketing … including the jargon! The next two items are about joining affiliate networks and choosing your programs. Basically, a network is a 3rd party that connects you (the affiliate aka ‘the publisher’) to a merchant’s affiliate program. You can also join affiliate programs directly from some merchants websites.

20) Join an affiliate network(s).

Some of the common ones are Clickbank, Amazon Associates, ShareaSale, and CJ Affiliate, but there are lots more. We don’t think it really matters – test them all out at one point or other. What is more important is the next item in our list:

21) Choose the right affiliate programs.

If you intend to recommend a particular product or service, remember that your name is attached to it, and, therefore, you want to choose products and services that you feel good about. We recommend that you choose wisely and start out with just a few. You can always add more later. Some merchants that offer affiliate programs aren’t in a network, so you would have to join directly from their site. If you have a favorite product or service, check their website’s footer links to see if they have an affiliate program.

Pro Tip: Join our affiliate program and earn 30% commission when you recommend Social Warfare to your friends and readers! Click here to get started!

Okay, now that you are ready to go, it is time to create more content (yes, more) and to add some affiliate links and possibly some banners to your website. Here are the next steps in our affiliate marketing guide:

When you join an affiliate program, you will be given a link that identifies you so that when someone clicks it, you will be given credit for the click … and the sale if a purchase is made in a qualifying time frame. Many merchants also have banners that you can add to your website.

This step is optional; however, now that you have created your affiliate links, you can see that they tend to be quite long and frankly, ugly. You might want to create a vanity URL for each one. An easy way to do this is to use the “Pretty Links” WordPress plugin.

The next step in our affiliate marketing guide is to put on your content marketing hat, get creative, and start creating content that allows you to use your links in a way that is much more likely to get clicks than simply typing “click here.” You can do this by:

24) Reviewing products (in your niche).

Ideally, you will purchase and give the products you are reviewing a try. The more authentic you are, the more likely that people will purchase products you recommend. You might be surprised at how many things you already use have an affiliate program. If you are a blogger teaching others how to set up a website, for example, you could review domain registrars and hosting companies (Which do you use? What else is available? How do they compare?).

Heck, your favorite WordPress plugin might even have an affiliate program!

25) Create resource pages on your website.

Going back to the example above in Step 24, creating an “Everything You Need To Setup a WordPress Website Guide” would be the perfect opportunity to link to your domain affiliate, your web hosting affiliate, your WordPress plugin affiliates, etc. Did you know that even has an affiliate program and you can get paid even when someone registers for their FREE version??? Imagine getting paid for helping someone find something that is actually useful and that won’t cost them anything?!!

26) Create list pages on your website.

Everyone loves lists, so go ahead and create some! Of course, the more you can provide value by including screenshots, pro tips, etc. the better. Some examples include: “Top 10 ‘Must-Have’ WordPress Plugins” or “The Best Hosting Companies.” In fact, one of the most popular pages on our blog is “The 12 Best WordPress Plugins” with thousands of social shares.

27) Write tutorials to show others how to use the product you are promoting.

If you are teaching people how to build a website, do a tutorial for each step, such as a step-by-step (with video or screenshots) to installing WordPress on hosting company X. You don’t have to limit yourself to one either; show them how to install WordPress on hosting company Y as well. You can always let them know which you prefer and why, but ultimately, it is up to them to decide.

28) Do comparison posts that show the pros and cons of each product.

Again, using the example above, why do you prefer X over Y? How do they compare in terms of price? How about in ease of setup? Which user interface do you prefer? Does one seem to have better support over the other? Go deep … the deeper you dive into things, the better as many of your competing affiliates might have never even tried the products they are promoting.

29) Write blog posts that are semantically relevant to your products.

For example, if you are trying to sell tents and other camping equipment, you might want to write posts ranging from “So, you’re ready for your first camping trip?” to “Here are the 10 best winter camping destinations in the U.S.” to “20 pro camping tips from the top travel bloggers” and so on. Grab a piece of paper and start brainstorming lots of blog post ideas. Go crazy and then narrow it down by doing a little keyword research, competitor research, and by choosing things that interest you the most.

There are always new things popping up and you need to stay on top of them. For example, if your niche is coffee, then you probably know that “bulletproof” coffee (made with butter … yuck) has been pretty hot for quite some time. These trends are what people are searching for and the sooner you can jump on them, the better. Use Google Trends to find some in your niche.

31) If possible, create videos to demonstrate your affiliate products, starting from the unboxing when you purchase.

We shouldn’t even have to tell you that video is hot right now and likely will be for the foreseeable future. If you are serious about making money with affiliate marketing, video is something you probably can’t afford to ignore. Hopefully, these ideas will be a good starting point although we hope that as you become more comfortable and confident as an affiliate marketer, you will continue to think of new ways to provide value to your audience.

Affiliate Marketing Guide: A Step-by-Step Process to Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing (Final Tips)

  • Remember to focus on helping and providing value rather than selling.
    The reader needs to know how the product can help them, not listen to you scream “BUY NOW” at every opportunity.
  • Choose great images or create compelling graphics, keeping the various social networks in mind.
    We discussed this in tip 18, but it bears repeating. How good you become at choosing or creating images may just be the key to your success, especially on social!
  • Always indicate that you are an affiliate when promoting a product or service.
    We are talking FULL DISCLOSURE! Use #ad or #affiliate on social networks, let people know that you may be paid if they make a purchase through one of your links, etc. Believe it or not, it will NOT hurt your credibility by being upfront … but it will if you try to hide it.
  • Keep your eye on the prize.
    It is so easy to lose focus. Keep your goals in mind and constantly refine your process to make it happen.

If you choose your niche and products wisely in the beginning, you will find that affiliate marketing is enjoyable and you will be building something that you can be proud of by promoting products that you believe will add value to your audience. If you are not an expert now, you will be very soon … and, remember, there is nothing wrong with earning money by promoting products that you use yourself.

It is also important to remember that you don’t need hundreds or thousands of visitors or followers to start making money online via affiliate marketing … don’t get discouraged when you are just starting out, it will get easier over time. If you are successful at making money on your website with affiliate marketing, you may eventually decide to “rinse and repeat” in a new niche.

We recommend that before moving on, you ensure that your existing model works, tweaking it until it does. And, don’t just abandon your site that is making you money! Keep it current and maintained or hire someone who can do it for you. Getting started affiliate marketing is actually not very difficult; on the other hand, becoming a successful affiliate marketer is going to take a TREMENDOUS amount of hard work.

It also isn’t going to happen overnight. So, unless you are in it for the long haul, then you might want to find a different way to make money online … but … if you have what it takes and stick with it, the sky’s the limit on your earning potential.

Running your own affiliate program?

How would you like to make it super easy for YOUR affiliates to share your blog posts, tutorials, support documents without having to append their affiliate ID to each URL? Well, if you are using AffiliateWP and Social Warfare (even our free version), then all you need is our simple add-on plugin!

Affiliate Marketing Free Tips

If you liked our affiliate marketing guide then be sure to share it … AND … be sure to join our email list to receive 5 More FREE Bonus Tips!

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