Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

How To Start Affiliate Marketing: 9 Step Ultimate Guide for 2024

April 24, 2024

How to start affiliate marketing:

  • Step 1 - Pick a high-performing affiliate marketing niche.
  • Step 2 - Select the best affiliate programs.
  • Step 3 - Build an affiliate website.
  • Step 4 - Establish a solid audience base.
  • Step 5 - Maximize affiliate marketing tools, software, and platforms.
  • Step 6 - Generate high-quality affiliate content.
  • Step 7 - Drive the right affiliate traffic.
  • Step 8 - Monitor and optimize your affiliate marketing campaigns.

Starting an affiliate marketing business entails in-depth research on the market, your target audience, and the competitors. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, the success rate for affiliate marketing is around 1%. This can go up to 5%, depending on your industry experience, knowledge, and marketing and digital skills. Chris Weare's article on Outbrain mentions Jason Stone and Pat Flynn as successful individuals who started in affiliate marketing and ended up earning a 7-figure income. Alternatively, 95%-99% of people fail in affiliate marketing as mentioned by Entrepreneurs Unstuck. In ODi Productions' YouTube video entitled Why 99% of people will FAIL with Affiliate Marketing in 2023, he mentioned the most common reasons for this as the lack of digital marketing skills, choosing the wrong niche and strategies, and using low-performing platforms.

Quora user Chris Abdey mentioned how starting in affiliate marketing isn't just about picking a niche and creating a website. He suggests building an email and social list, generating high-quality content, and advertising through SEO or paid ads. Chris stresses how growing your affiliate marketing business entails significant time, money, and effort.

Becoming an affiliate marketer lets you earn around $10,000 monthly. You can scale this to up to $110,000, based on Chad Bartlett’s YouTube video entitled Step-by-Step GUIDE To Make $10K/mo with Affiliate Marketing (2024). Realistically, beginners can expect to earn $100-$500 per month, as mentioned in Richa Sharma’s LinkedIn article. Venturing into affiliate marketing in the 21st century is very easy because of free resources you can find online. Most people dive headfirst into this industry after learning the basics. That's why it has a low barrier to entry. A quick LinkedIn search on "affiliate marketer" and "affiliate marketing" reveals 672,000 individuals who are existing affiliates.

Affiliate marketing businesses are becoming more popular than before. According to a Rakuten-Forrester study, 81% of businesses globally run an affiliate marketing program. And 16% of online purchases in the U.S. come from affiliate marketing, as mentioned by DemandSage. Brands will seek affiliate marketers to help advertise their offerings and boost online conversions. This trend is pushing aspiring affiliates to start their own affiliate marketing business. They can choose from hundreds of affiliate programs, platforms, and networks.

However, market saturation and high competition will become more evident in 2024 and beyond. Reaching a 6- to 7-digit income requires a massive amount of effort in learning the business model, adopting to the latest affiliate marketing trends, and fulfilling customer needs and demands.

Read on and discover the 9 easy steps in starting affiliate marketing, its upsides and downsides, and the industry’s potential in 2024.

How To Start Affiliate Marketing

Step 1 - Pick a High-Performing Affiliate Marketing Niche.

The first step to starting affiliate marketing is picking a high-performing affiliate marketing niche. You must consider your knowledge, interests, target audience, potential market, and competition. According to an Article by Nadia D. on Hostinger, aspiring affiliate marketers should focus on scalability, profitability, and sustainability. These factors will help you choose a performant niche and make money with affiliate marketing. As stated in Sanja Trajcheva’s article on CHEQ, SaaS and technology, health and wellness, and personal finance are the top three most profitable niches in 2024.

You can use tools like Ahrefs and Google Trends to do in-depth research on highly searchable keywords all over the internet. Another great platform to use is Flippa. It can give insight into the most profitable industries and their monetization type and net profit. These methods will help you determine what affiliate marketing niches and programs best suit you.

Step 2 - Select the Best Affiliate Programs.

Selecting the best affiliate programs entails getting extensive information on the affiliate products that you want to promote. This process evaluates the product’s brand, reputation, commission rate, cookie duration, and promotional resources. As a beginner affiliate, you should dig deep into your potential affiliate partner. Data from FinancesOnline, Visual Capitalist, Motley Fool, and Feedvisor show that Alibaba, Amazon Associates, eBay Partner Network, and Rakuten Advertising are some of the most reputable and profitable brands in the U.S. and globally.

Affiliate networks can also help you start affiliate marketing by providing an expansive list of programs and products. According to Hanson Cheng, founder of Freedom To Ascend, affiliate networks help aspiring marketers by connecting them with legitimate brands and global businesses. It simplifies finding profitable affiliate offers, tracking online campaigns, and monitoring commissions and payments.

According to Yashica Chopra’s article on DataToBiz, choosing an affiliate product means considering market demand, Google search volume, competitor sales, customer feedback, and social media trends. When you find the right affiliate program and products, you can now build a website or landing page for your target audience.

Step 3 - Build an Affiliate Website.

Building an affiliate website allows aspiring marketers to have a space for promoting their chosen affiliate products and services. It helps house valuable content like blog posts and video reviews. This way, you can drive more traffic to your affiliate marketing website by engaging your target audience and motivating them to click and make a purchase. Affiliate marketers can create free websites on platforms like Wix, GoDaddy, and Square Online.

According to Rahel Prodhan’s Quora post, creating an affiliate website lets you try different digital marketing strategies, create a consistent branding experience, and monetize content using various means. Some examples of affiliate marketing websites that have high traction and a sizable audience base include Nerdwallet, Wirecutter, and Dating Advice. 

Step 4 - Establish a Solid Audience Base.

You need to establish a solid audience base to create a community of potential customers interested in your chosen affiliate niche and products. Nicolas Donovan, founder of SynergyMetrics, stresses the importance of social proof in fostering trust and loyalty within your customer segment. In his November 2023 LinkedIn article, Nicholas discusses how building your audience base contributes to higher engagement and online presence.

Lemuel Park from Search Engine Journal also points out the importance of not focusing greatly on target personas to personalize your affiliate marketing campaigns. “Target Personas” help marketers identify ideal individuals, while “Target Audience” refers to people who are likely to purchase from you. Understanding how you build your audience base means generating higher affiliate commissions and enriching the affiliate marketing program you’re in. It’s also crucial to utilize modern technologies to help streamline the process.

Step 5 - Maximize Affiliate Marketing Tools, Software, and Platforms.

Learn to maximize affiliate marketing tools and software in streamlining your money-making journey. You can use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to garner more engagement. In fact, 47.5% of affiliate marketers use social media (organic and paid) as their main traffic source, according to Authority Hacker. You can also use data-rich online tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics to gain insight into the latest affiliate marketing trends.

Affiliate networks offer marketers, bloggers, and influencers a strategic way to connect with businesses. As a beginner affiliate, make use of affiliate networks like ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, and Awin. These platforms will simplify your affiliate marketing efforts in finding the right partner program for you. Other critical tasks that you can speed up using advanced innovations include:

  • Email Marketing - Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, and GetResponse
  • Keyword Research - Semrush, Ahrefs, and AnswerThePublic
  • SEO - Voluum, AccuRanker, and Surfer SEO
  • Content Generation - Grammarly, Canva, and ChatGPT

Step 6 - Generate High-Quality Affiliate Content.

Generating high-quality content like blog posts and vlogs increases an affiliate site’s credibility, informativeness, and engagement. The more you produce valuable content that is interesting and educational, the more you can attract high-value leads. Refersion’s Importance of High-Quality Content for Affiliate Marketing article mentions how quality affiliate content directly influences buyer behavior and impacts a brand’s ROI.

A clever and successful affiliate marketer maximizes content writing tools like HubSpot CMS Hub, Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and ChatGPT. These programs and software enable you to generate ideas, create grammatically correct content, and comply with plagiarism and SEO guidelines. In fact, data from Hosting Tribunal and BloggingX reveals that SEO (69.22%) and blogging (64.48%) are the top sources of traffic for affiliate marketers.

Step 7 - Drive the Right Affiliate Traffic.

Understanding search engine algorithms and optimizing strategies helps you drive the right affiliate traffic. You can do this through SEO, paid advertisements, and YouTube marketing. This allows you to create modern, cost-effective digital marketing approaches. As mentioned in Erica Grabijas’ article on Awin, using paid ads like Google Ads and Facebook Ads is a great way to promote affiliate products using a fixed set of parameters. However, this method is costly and requires technical knowledge. You can also maximize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to rank content and websites for free. While it is more budget-friendly, this approach takes time.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try uploading videos on YouTube. According to Authority Hacker, 36.9% of affiliates use YouTube videos to boost their affiliate sales and conversions. Data from Wyzowl and Oberlo reveals that 80% of consumers purchased a product after watching a brand’s video. Whether you implement YouTube marketing, SEO, or paid ads, you must disclose your affiliate links in compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s “Endorsement Guides”. Take time to track your affiliate links and campaigns to adjust your traffic-driving strategies.

Step 8 - Monitor and Optimize Your Affiliate Marketing Campaigns.

You must monitor and optimize your affiliate marketing campaigns to identify trends, opportunities, and areas for improvement. It also helps you measure campaign performance and ensure compliance and brand consistency. According to Shannon Fogden’s contributing content on LinkedIn, marketers must use the right platform, analyze multiple data sets, and modify strategies to build a successful affiliate marketing business. You need to monitor slight changes to adjust your affiliate campaigns accordingly. Some proven and tested platforms include Post Affiliate Pro, Everflow, and LeadDyno.

Step 9 - Cultivate Your Affiliate Marketing Skills.

Sales & marketing, website management, writing, and data analysis are the skills you need to start affiliate marketing, according to Smart Marketing’s 2023 article on LinkedIn. These skills help streamline your affiliate marketing journey. It allows you to choose your digital marketing strategies, affiliate niche and products, and target audience carefully. When you have the necessary skills to start affiliate marketing, you incur fewer costs to build your business.

Realistically, it costs around $43.98 to start affiliate marketing, according to Wealthygoals’ article on Medium. This consists of a domain name, web hosting, and a logo for a year of operation. You can scale up as your products and traffic increase. Adsterra also mentions that starting in affiliate marketing requires around $0 to $350. This includes traffic generation, tracking tools, creatives, training, and many more. However, you can opt for free resources like Hostinger and Canva if you want a lower cost of operations.

You can start affiliate marketing with no money, given you utilize free tools and platforms such as Freenom, 000Webhost, and Looka. There are lots of free software and online tools that can help you create a logo, host your website, generate creatives, and advertise your products. You can cover all the critical operations of your affiliate marketing business without spending any money.

The Upsides and Downsides of Starting Affiliate Marketing in 2024

Affiliate Marketing Upsides

Low-Risk Business Model - Affiliate marketing is a low-risk business model. You don’t need a significant amount of money to start your own business. Because of its low startup costs, affiliate marketers can earn more commissions. And since you don’t own any of the products, there’s no risk if you can’t sell your promoted products.

High Income Potential - This business model lets you make high affiliate revenue. You can increase your potential monthly income by partnering with multiple affiliate networks or programs. It also helps you build your online reputation and following. The more customers you attract, the higher your affiliate sales will be.

Flexible Setup - Affiliate marketers enjoy a flexible work setup in this industry. You can work anywhere, anytime. That’s why most affiliates have multiple jobs or businesses. It gives greater career and income flexibility. Famous marketers like Pat Flynn and Jeremy Schoemaker have achieved affiliate marketing success because of this factor.

Affiliate Marketing Downsides

High Market Saturation - This industry has a low barrier to entry. Beginner affiliates can easily start their own businesses after just learning the basics. That's why marketers will struggle as this industry becomes more saturated. Competition will also rise. You need to continuously upskill and increase your knowledge and experience to create performant campaigns, implement solid marketing strategies, and find in-demand niches and products.

Unstable Commission Rates - Various affiliate programs change their commission rates to adopt to industry trends and demands. A great example is the Amazon Associates program. CNBC published an announcement by Amazon, stating that they will slash commission rates starting April 21, 2020. This also pushed aspiring affiliates to consider other business models.

Consistent Content Creation - It’s mentally taxing to write high-quality content daily. Doing shortcuts and copying others’ work also lead to plagiarism hits and low-quality outputs. That’s why you need critical skills to succeed in this industry.

Matt Voegtli, owner of three successful businesses, mentioned how affiliate marketing allowed him to work around 20 hours weekly and from any place. Starting his affiliate marketing business was key to achieving more time with his wife and three children while building multiple streams of income (a real estate business and a property preservation business). Nowadays, Matt can take a few weeks off while still earning passive income. This is because of the flexibility and scalability of affiliate marketing.

Rune Ellingsen, an internet marketer, shared how he failed in affiliate marketing because of the increased competition and the multiple variables needed to maintain an affiliate business. He said that generating content, driving traffic, and outmatching affiliate competitors are the hardest parts of this industry. Succeeding in engaging your target market means learning about copywriting and honing your writing skills.

Can You Start Affiliate Marketing With No Experience?

Yes, you can start affiliate marketing with no experience, given that you do in-depth research on the business model and industry. According to Joost Boer’s Affiliate24 article, studying free resources about affiliate marketing equips you with foundational knowledge, industry best practices, and rich niche insights. It will help you pick a profitable niche, affiliate program, and starting product. Some reputable YouTube channels focusing on affiliate marketing include Matt Diggity, Income School, Authority Hacker, Passive Income Geek, and Fat Stacks.

Is Starting Affiliate Marketing Easy or Hard?

Starting affiliate marketing is hard in terms of creating quality content, engaging your target audience, breaking into a saturated market, and driving traffic. However, it’s easy because of its low-risk nature, massive resource base, low startup costs, and high availability of affiliate programs. Even with many testimonials, beginners in the industry still ask if affiliate marketing is easy or hard. As Quora user Alex Leete mentioned, it takes about 6 months to become experienced enough to navigate the industry’s major challenges. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of the business model, its core marketing principles, and the customers’ buying journey to yield a profitable monthly income.

Is Starting an Affiliate Marketing Business Profitable?

Yes, starting an affiliate marketing business is profitable, given that you earn around $2,000 to $10,000 monthly. According to Niall Roche’s article on Authority Hacker, beginner affiliates can make $0 to $1,000 per month. Your affiliate income depends on your knowledge, experience, and skills. Reddit user Free_bird12345 also mentions that a $10k revenue monthly in affiliate marketing is doable if you have the necessary experience.

Why Local Lead Generation is Still the Best Online Business To Start in 2024

Affiliate marketing is a lucrative business to start, but local lead generation is way more profitable and scalable in 2024. Successful affiliate marketers have 5-10 years of industry experience. They can easily navigate affiliate marketing’s saturated market. This means that beginners in this industry must compete with highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals to succeed in building a profitable online business.

The affiliate marketing industry has a low barrier to entry. Standing out from the high competition takes significant effort to make your product listings or affiliate campaigns more unique. According to a 2023 Wecantrack article and data from Statista, this industry has grown 10% yearly since 2015. That’s why you need to drive consistent traffic to earn a sizable income through small bits of commissions. Another issue to note is the lack of control because of third-party platforms. This means that you can instantly be removed from the program because of minute misunderstandings.

Local lead generation is simpler than starting an affiliate marketing business. You don’t have to deal with global competitors and generate unique content daily just to attract your target audience. This business model has more potential customers because of its localized niches. You just have to build websites for local services and rank them organically on the first page of Google. This is more sustainable and scalable because once you’re ranked, leads will start calling you. Forwarding the leads you collect to local business owners lets you earn around $5 to $1,000+ per lead or up to $10,000 for every lead gen website.

Don’t settle for small commissions. Establish a stable passive income now with the right local lead gen course to guide you.

Follow Me
Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.