Affiliate Marketing For Dummies: Getting Started

Posted on 1 June, 2016 by Joe Elliott

So you want to make money online… don’t we all?

You can go to your work in your pajamas, drink coffee when it suits you and my favorite spend as much time as you want with your family and friends.

We are all told about this fantastic internet lifestyle but does it really exist?

In the short term, this is just a pipe dream that will lead to nothing more than tears. Having said that, it is certainly possible with a little hard work and determination you can create a life of freedom.

But it will not happen overnight.

You need to get your head in the game and stop jumping from one method to the next. Master one make money online method and then scale it up and then move on.

This is my affiliate marketing for dummies beginners guide because with affiliate marketing the dream isn’t as far away.

What Is Affiliate Marketing | Affiliate Marketing For Dummies

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Well before we get into the fun stuff it is a good idea to start this affiliate marketing for dummies guide off with a definition.

Pat Flynn | One Man WikiAffiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.” – Pat Flynn

In it’s simplest form affiliate marketing is when you make a commission for referring a sale to a vendor.

It is a low-cost method of making money online as you don’t need much to get started. To get started all you will need is…

  • Web Hosting
  • Domain Name
  • WordPress
  • Epic Content
  • Affiliate Links
  • Bang you are good to go!

Once you are all set up simply promote your pages where your affiliate links lie and every time someone clicks and purchases you will earn a commission.


Affiliate Marketing For Dummies: Strategic Plan

How Much Money Can You Expect To Make With Affiliate Marketing

The one question that most people ask when they are first getting into affiliate marketing is:

How much cash will I make?

How Much Can You Earn Affiliate Marketing

There is no definitive answer to this unfortunately, there are a lot of factors at play. The amount of money you can make in affiliate marketing depends on factors like:

  • How much commission does the offer pay?
  • How much traffic can you send to the offer?
  • Does your copywriting convert, what is your conversion rate?

Remember though as a beginner at affiliate marketing you are not going to be earning top dollar yet. You need to learn your craft. In the beginning, I hate to say it but… you are probably not going to make very much if any.

If you really want to make money online. You have to become a mad scientist. See what works, see what people you attract and learn how to convert them.

When you begin to get data for your affiliate promotions you can tweak so that you earn more money.

I have seen some affiliates make tens of thousands of dollars. I have also seen some affiliates make nada.

At this stage, it is best not to focus on ‘how much’. It is much better to think you will make nothing because right now you are learning. Not many college students earn from the work they do at school.

When you master something you will see growth. Until then you should work at mastering your skills.

So let’s look at how to begin affiliate marketing.

It All Starts With A Cunning Plan

I will tell you this right now, if you plan to go into this with the sort as you go along attitude then you are doomed from the start. Do you think Donald Trump made his millions by winging it?

Donald Trump Making Funny Face

You need to have a plan so that you know exactly what you are doing and if one thing doesn’t work you can always fix and then continue. If you go into this blind what are you really working towards?

I always like to set my end goals at the start of a project because then all I have to do is work back from them.

So if my goal is to make $100 then what do I need to do to make that. Well, I would need to sell five $20 products or one $100 product.

How will you sell them? By referring customers from your super cool blog.

And how are you going to get them to click through?

If you work back through the process that your customer should take then you will have a solid plan in place. This is your funnel.

So from the example, we know we need a blog to refer our audience to the product, but there is one other problem… we don’t know what we are going to sell.

Picking The Winning Topic For Your Blogs Success

Before we go any further we need to pick a niche for our blog. This will give us a chance to position yourself as the expert so that our new blog audience will trust us. If this new audience doesn’t trust you then you are on to plums when you try and sell to them.

Don’t get me wrong I know there are many lifestyle blogs out there that focus on a number of niches but to begin it always helps to pick one topic.

This doesn’t mean that you can never add another it just gives us a focus for our adventure.

So before we go out looking for niches I need you to understand what a niche is and what makes a good niche for your blog.

What Is A Niche & What Makes A Good One

If you want to pick the best niche then you need to understand what a niche is. Put simply a niche is just the overall topic for the content within your blog. Let me share an example…

I create a new blog that shares the latest kitchen gadgets. This would be focusing our blog in the kitchen niche. Pretty broad if you ask me, they could be looking for energy efficient kitchen appliances. Others might be looking for tools to speed up food preparation.

To get the best results you really need to drill down. What about this example…

A blog for stay at home moms that love to cook with the kids!

Example Of A Stay At Home Mom Blog

Much more specific. You can create content that speaks right to each and every one of those moms.

Once you have niche ideas you need to check if it will be profitable. What products would a stay at home mom that likes to bake with the kids be interested in…

  • Cookbook that shares recipes for baking with kids,
  • Kitchen appliances that are safe for kids to use,
  • Cooking classes,
  • A course to help get the kids in the kitchen.

And you could create blog posts like…

  • What Is The Best Food Mixer That Is Safe For Kids
  • How To Make Washing Up Fun For Kids
  • The Ultimate Healthy Cupcake Recipe
  • How To Get The Kids To Eat More Vegetables

Your niche has to be specific because then you can understand the wants and needs of your audience. When you choose your niche it has to interest you. It could be a topic you are learning, a hobby you are passionate about or maybe a problem you need to solve.

If you’re not interested then staying at this in the long term will be a lot harder for you. You may lose that enthusiasm quickly which will make creating content a battle.

No Motivation Meme

It will feel like a job!

Now you know what a niche is, it is time to start the search for yours. This is where a lot of new bloggers will fall off the wagon. They will do niche research forever. If you never start your blog you will never succeed.

I am going to be tough here and say that this should not take you more than a day. In fact, I don’t think that really is tough, it is more than do-able.

So let’s get started…

Step One: Get Every Idea Out Your Brain & Onto Paper So You Don’t Lose It

The problem with ideas as they don’t last long, one minute they are there the next they are gone. That is why I always suggest brainstorming your ideas with a pen and paper first. Once we have compiled our initial list we can fine tune it in the next few steps.

Remember I said you are looking for a niche that interests you. Think of the magazines or blogs that you read, what topic are they about? You might also want to consider the hobbies you do in your life.

Are you an avid Photographer?

At this stage, you just want to drum up ideas, don’t worry if they work and don’t worry how weird or obscure they are.

Once you have your list I want you to do a little digging to fine tune it. Another niche example coming up:

So the first item on the list is Photography, I want you to think of your target audience. Who are they?

Well, you have beginners, intermediate and professional photography. Is that all though?


You also have nature, landscape, portrait, commercial and you even have photoshop for photographers. So our blog niche for a photography blog could be…

Wildlife Photography for beginners.

This would be perfect!

You can promote photography gear, create a course or maybe even sell clothes for when you are out on a shoot. Now I am handing the reigns back to you.

Tear your niche apart!

Step Two: Check Your Potential Niche For Competition

Ok so you have a pretty specific niche, you know exactly who your blog is for. Does that mean your work is done?


Now you need to validate each niche to ensure that there is demand for your chosen niche. This is a kinda jump back on the computer and research kind of step. This is where you could get lost in the moment.

The rule is to spend no more than 15 minutes per niche!

I don’t want you to get bogged down with research that your motivation dies.

Best DSLR For Wildlife Photography Google Search Example

Start with good old Google and do some example searches, so for our example:

  • best DSLR for wildlife photographers
  • the best lens for wildlife photographers
  • wildlife photography tips
  • and the list goes on.

Google Search Results Wildlife Photography Tips

You want to look at the results and see what kind of results come up. If you see lots of results from news sites I’d stay clear. If you see results from other blogs then I would consider. Lastly, if there are forums on the list I would consider it even more so.

Competition isn’t a bad thing… it means there is demand. It means there is a community for you to be a part of and this is how you get traction in the early days.

Once you have checked good ole Google it is time to look in some other places…

Instagram Search Wildlife Photography

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Look for forums on your niche (how big is their audience).

You are trying to find out where your audience hangs out. Is your audience in loads of different places? Then that means there is a demand for your niche.

Do this for all your niches and bin the ones that are either too competitive (lots of news and authoritative sites) and keep the rest.

Step Three: Are Others Making Money With The Niche

Next, you want to see what your competition is up to, are they making money?

It isn’t wise to email them and ask them. So how do we find out exactly?

Go back to Google again and type in a product that would help your audience. Next, add ‘review’ after it.

This will return all the blogs that are optimized for the “product name review.” The ultimate goal here is to see how many products you can find. So when you go to your competitions review, look around and see how they monetize their blog.

Next look at the search results. Are there ads?

If there is then this is a good sign that there is money to be made. People won’t spend money on ads if they aren’t making it back.

Well, I wouldn’t.

Do this for all your niches. Bin the ones that don’t really monetize well. If you don’t get great results or the search results are filled with news and authorities then it is best to bin the niche too.

Step Four: Choose Your Niche, Choose Your Destiny

This where the big decision happens… What niche will you choose?

Choose Your Destiny (niche)

This is a pretty personal choice. I can’t give you the answer. We might not be interested in the same things and remember we said to choose a niche that you have an interest in.

Go through the remaining niches and select the one that you love the most. By now you should know if there is demand in the niche. You should also be aware of top products in your niche.

Now the whole niche finding process should take you an hour to a day. If you are choosing after 10 minutes you don’t have the info you need.

Pick a niche and let’s get ready to set the wheels in motion.

Choosing Your First Affiliate Product To Promote

There is a number of places that you can look to find products to promote. Since you are all fresh-faced newbies I would highly recommend Amazon or Clickbank.

Amazon is the number one place to buy physical products and Clickbank for digital products.

Start by looking for things that interest you, so for example, if you like dogs then look for dog related products. If you are interested in fitness then look at fitness related products.

If you choose an interest that you have then it becomes a lot easier to write the required amount of content and it will help you stay motivated and on track to meet your goals.

Look on these two sources and pick out seven products you like the look of. Don’t think of anything else other than if you like or if you don’t.

Now it is time to put your products into Google and see if they are profitable or not.

Simply put the product name into Google!

Google Product Search Example | One Man Wiki

Now at the top and bottom of the results page, there will be paid adverts, if you don’t see these then your chosen product is not worth going for. If you see loads you are onto a winner.

Is My Product Profitable

Give yourself a pat on the back!

Do this for all the products and whittle out the ones that don’t meet the grade. After you have done this it is time to move on to setting up your blog.

Setup Your Affiliate Marketing Hub: Personal Branding Like A MoFo!

I believe having your very own website is a must for most affiliate marketers. It looks more professional to your potential customers. A long and obscure LeadPages or Clickfunnels link can look untrustworthy to your potential clients.

By having your own hub, you have a brand that people can trust!

Selena Soo Personal Brand Example

Selena Soo Nails her personal branding with big images of herself.

Is your goal to make money?

Trust is exactly what you need. Look at the big e-commerce brands, people buy from these stores because they believe in what they offer. People shop on Amazon because they trust the brand.

Anthony Mastellone Personal Brand Example

Anthony Mastellone Smashes his personal brand with video.

If you are in this for the long haul then starting off on the right foot is imperative.

Are there other ways you can make affiliate marketing without a website?


You could start your own YouTube Channel or just link paid traffic to your LeadPage or ClickFunnels. This will still work well if you want to make money in 2018.

Sean Bagheri Personal Brand Example

Sean Bagheri Also uses video to build a strong personal brand.

My goal with this article is to get you set up for long-term success. In my eyes, you need a website for that. It isn’t hard to set up and is pretty cheap too.

Web Hosting & Domain Name

To get your website online you need two things web hosting and a domain name. Without these, your website will never exist.

Web hosting is what houses your website. The domain is your address. You need the two of these things to have a functioning website.

Web hosting on its own will hold your website but without a domain, you have no way to locate the website.

I would also advise that you get an SSL certificate. Since last year this has become pretty important and there has been a link to better rankings in the search engines just from installing one of these.

So how do you actually set up your web hosting and domain? You first need to pick a web hosting provider.

For this example, we will focus on Siteground.

There are others though. I have used Sieground on a number of sites and I have been very impressed with their service. My websites load fast, with next to no downtime.

Here is their performance graphs…

WP Done Siteground Performance Graph

Any time that I have run into difficulty and sent them a support ticket they normally reply pretty quick, within a few hours. It doesn’t matter what time of day either they are waiting for your 24/7.

Step One: Head over to your web host –Click Here To Check Out Siteground

Siteground Homepage

Step Two: Choose your plan. Remember at this stage you have no traffic, so you don’t need a big package. With Siteground I suggest the the GrowBigplan. It should do you for a good few years.

Siteground Web Hosting Plans

Step Three: I suggest you take for 12 months as this will stop the setup fee. Any saving is a bonus, right? Make Your Payment and you’re done.

Siteground Make Your Payment

You will receive an email with all the important details of your hosting plan. Keep this in a safe place for when you need it.


Affiliate Marketing For Dummies: Blog Setup


Like I mentioned above Siteground provide you with a one click install script that will get WordPress set up in no time at all and most decent web hosts will provide this. If they don’t check out this article by WPBeginner to see how to set it up via FTP.

Once you have the system set up you want to choose a theme and I would highly recommend Thrive Themes. The quality of their designs is second to none and they are very user-friendly, but the best part is that Thrive has optimized them for conversions, meaning that they will help make you pennies.

Don’t spend all day choosing a theme, when you see one you like and that looks professional snap it up and get it set up on your system.

Essential Pages

Before you crack on with your content there are a few pages that you should make sure your blog has and you want to make them as good as they can be.

Problogger About Us Page

About Page: This page is where your visitors can go when they want to find out more about your blog and you as well. Don’t give the reader your whole life story just give them the info that this relevant to the readers goal. If their goal is to lose weight then tell them a bit about your story and your weight loss journey. They don’t need to know that you were born a Christian to a family of gorillas. Keep this page to the point!

Copyblogger Contact Us Page

Contact Page: At some point or another your readers may wish to contact you and this is the place to do so. Contact Form 7 is a great plugin and it makes creating this page a breeze.

Privacy Policy: If you are using affiliate links or building a mailing list you are going to be collecting private information from the user. It is important that you educate your user and let them know why you are collecting this and how you will use it. Just look at your competitors Privacy Policy and edit the details or you can use a generator like this one here.

Your Initial Content

This is your chance to start your blog with a bang and to do that you need to give your best ever content first. Capture your reader’s attention and make sure that they love your blog from the word go.

Affiliate Marketing For Dummies Your Best Content

I want you to have at the very least 3 product reviews where you will target the keyword…

“product name review”

And 1 post that brings the 3 together…

“Top 10 Product Category Of 2016”

Lastly, create one ultimate guide article that will link to all of the other pages and really put all your effort into this one. If you do this article correctly you could get thousands of shares and maybe even your first viral post.

So if your site is about dog training then you could have…

  • 3 dog training manual reviews
  • 1 Top 10 Dog Training Manuals of 2016
  • The Ultimate Guide To Training Your Dog To Sit

This will be your first 5 articles and it really is just the start. You should aim for 10-15 posts before you even consider promoting it. Add more reviews  and add more guide posts to really give value to your customers.

When you have more content you will keep your readers on your site for longer and this will lead to a better bounce rate (the time the user spends on your page before bouncing off). If you have a good bounce rate Google will reward you!

Place Your Affiliate Links

Affiliate links come in a variety of forms, such as banners that you can place on your website if you like the advertising look, to text links or even buttons. There really is no right way it is just a matter of testing what works and replacing what doesn’t.

I find that I get a higher amount of affiliate clicks when I write a tutorial post like this one. I will insert the affiliate links when I mention the product name.  I might even say something like…

“I use X product, click here to learn more”

This is a bit more aggressive but it works just as well. I would avoid banners as they just clutter your site and distract the reader from the actual content. Remember you want your readers sold on you and then you want to make money!

Pretty Link Dashboard | One Man Wiki

I would highly advise getting Pretty Link Lite, this makes your affiliate links look better and it also sets them to nofollow, by doing this you keep Google happy. It also makes your users experience a little more comfortable, what would you rather click…




I hope you said the bottom one!

Getting Your First Few Visitors

Woop! Your blog has amazing content, it looks fantastic and your affiliate links are primed and ready to make you some money. Sit back and wait… wait… wait…

“Nothings happening Joe”

Yeah, that’s because you need to promote your new blog a little.

On day one Google will most likely send you no traffic no matter how much of an SEO genius you are but I’m sure you have a Facebook account, right?

Social media is the best way to give your new site a push in the right direction. There are many tools out there to help you manage your social efforts, I would highly recommend this one.

I want you to post a status about your most recent article on your personal timeline and I also want you to private message 10 people.

Ask these 10 people to share your status on their timelines. They are your friends or family and they will be more likely to share just because you created it. The good thing about this is that when they share their friends will see, then their friends and then their friends and so on.

This will get you some traction and be a great way of getting you started. Don’t expect too much but it’s the best way to start.

Wrap It Up

I hope you are ready to put this into action! You have all the knowledge now to get your first blog live.

Choose 7 products that you love from Amazon or Clickbank and create a site around them.

Write a review and some fantastic guide posts for the ultimate shareable content.

Place your affiliate links and test like a maniac to find the best places for your links to get maximum clicks.

Lastly, tell the world or at least your friends and family. Remember you want them to share your post…

I hope you have enjoyed this first part of Affiliate Marketing for Dummies. In the next part, we will look at ranking your reviews in Google using on page and off page SEO.

If you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comments below…

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