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Start earning with affiliate marketing in 5 steps

14 min read
Leighton Burley

If you’re trying to find ways to make money online, then affiliate marketing may be an excellent strategy for you. In fact, it should be at the top of the list for anyone who already has a successful blog or website.

Affiliate marketing is the perfect form of self-employment because it has low overhead to get started, and it doesn’t require you to:

  • Hire anyone
  • Buy stock or products
  • Pay rent for a storefront or office

It does take effort, as how much you make depends on your ability to attract a following online.

In this article, we are going to take a look at what affiliate marketing is and how you can start doing it on your own.

Editor’s note: Start a blog the easy way. Just choose a WordPress theme you like and off you go!

Start making money as an affiliate in 5 steps

Affiliate marketing isn’t totally effortless, but it is a great way to earn residual income with a modest investment of time.

  1. Choose a niche.
  2. Build a website/blog if you don’t already have one.
  3. Create high-quality posts, infographics and videos.
  4. Choose brands and products to promote.
  5. Apply to relevant affiliate programs.

Let’s explain exactly how this type of money-making scheme works before we get into the steps to setup.

Related: Passive income ideas to make extra money

What is affiliate marketing, and how does it work?

Affiliate marketing is a promotional tactic where a retail business pays its affiliate marketers (you) for referring their products to your followers. The business pays out a commission for any sales that you generate through ads or links.

Every affiliate program has four core members that make it work:

The merchant

This term is used to describe the company that is paying the affiliate commission. It is also referred to as the ‘retailer’ or ‘advertiser.’

The network

This term refers to the network that you will be using to get paid through. It will automatically create the links you'll add to your articles or podcasts, and provide you with a seller dashboard so that you can track your earnings.

The publisher

This term is used to describe you, the person who shares the videos, blog posts and reviews that contain the affiliate links. If you’re publishing posts on your website with affiliate links, then you’re the publisher.

The customer

This refers to the people who click on your affiliate links and subsequently make a purchase, resulting in small commissions for you.

Without the customer, affiliate marketing wouldn’t work.

If you’re still wondering how affiliate marketing works, then we will try to help you understand it a bit better:

  1. You recommend a product or service to your followers or online audience members.
  2. Your readers/viewers click on your affiliate links and make a purchase.
  3. You earn a small commission off the sales that come from your affiliate links.

While this sounds pretty simple, we will take a more in-depth look at what it takes to become an affiliate marketer and show you how you can start making money from your blog or website.

Related: Thinking of buying Insta followers? Think again.

How to get started with affiliate marketing

Now that you have a basic understanding of what affiliate marketing is and how it works, it’s time to show you how you can become an affiliate marketer. Follow these five steps become an online affiliate marketer.

1. Choose a niche

If you’re serious about affiliate marketing, then you’ll need to pick a niche or broad topic, that you want to build your website, blog or podcast around. Lifestyle is a popular niche, so are food, fashion and personal finance.

Choosing a niche is important because it will determine what your site is about and which products you’ll be recommending.

Affiliate Marketing Chronograph Watch

Before you choose your niche, you’ll want to ask yourself several essential questions that will determine if a specific niche is the right one for you:

What am I passionate about?

If you find a niche that you’re able to write about, you’ll want to be sure that you’re passionate about that industry. If it doesn’t excite you to write or produce videos about a specific industry, then you may find it challenging to build an entire website or blog around that niche.

Remember, the key to success here is sharing regularly over the course of years.

Am I knowledgeable about this topic?

If you’re trying to become an affiliate in an industry that you have no knowledge about, you may find it difficult to write reviews and quality articles about the products that you’re recommending.

Is this niche large enough?

Once you’ve found a niche that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, you’ll want to make sure that it’s broad enough to grow into. If the niche is too small, then you won’t be able to write enough articles to make a living from your website, blog or podcast.

Is the niche already full?

The most lucrative niches often have a lot of competition, which means it can be tough for a new website to make money in a short period. If you want to make money faster, then you’ll need to choose a niche that’s not oversaturated with other popular blogs or influencers.

How much money does this niche generate?

If you think you’ve found the perfect niche, you’ll want to make sure that it makes money. Many niches have low competition because they aren’t very lucrative, so you’ll want to do your research to ensure that your niche can make money.

After you’ve chosen the right niche for your website, you’ll want to move on to the next step to becoming an affiliate marketer.

Related: Identify your niche market and thrive

2. Build a website/blog if you don’t already have one

Once you’ve found a profitable niche that you have knowledge of and are passionate about, it’s time for you to build your website so that you can start attracting an online audience.

Making money this way requires a sizable following, which can take time to build.

There are many different ways that you can build a website such as:

  • Having a web design agency or freelancer do the work for you
  • A DIY method such as website builders or a content management system like WordPress

Regardless of the platform that you choose, there are several essential features that any affiliate marketing website should have:

Affiliate Marketing Woman Wearing Adidas Jacket

Contact Us page – This should contain all of your contact details so that your followers can connect with you. This page also makes it easy for brands to get in touch with you when they want you to partner with them.

About Us page – If you want to grow online, you’ll need to tell your audience who you are so that you can begin to build a strong relationship with your readers.

Disclaimer banners – If you’re making money through affiliate links, then you’re required to state this on the page so that your readers are aware.

Privacy policy – Your privacy policy tells your readers what information you will collect and how you plan to use it.

Terms of service – This page is essential because it limits your liability in the event that you accidentally provide misinformation on the products and services that you recommend.

Once you’ve completed these steps and have finished building your website or blog, it’s time to get started on the next step to becoming an affiliate marketer.

Related: How to set up a travel blog that pays

3. Create high-quality posts, infographics and videos

Now that you have the ground laid, you need to create high-quality content about your niche.

This will help you attract and grow an online following and likely get your site shared on social media.

Think about what your readers want to know about and create different posts about every possible angle. Be sure to add keywords to attract readers/viewers via search engines.

While you may want to sign up with various affiliate marketing networks right away, it doesn’t work like that with most networks.

Many affiliate networks require your website to have a certain number of monthly views before they’ll approve your application and allow you to start earning commissions.

This is because the affiliate networks like to have publishers that have high-quality websites and provide value to their readers.

The best way to show you can provide value is by having a lot of readers on a monthly basis.

This doesn’t mean that you need to create a few hundred posts and get half a million views, but you should create five to 10 high-quality articles and try to get several thousand readers per month before you apply as an affiliate marketer.

4. Choose brands and products to promote

Affiliate Marketing Man Holding Camera
You’ll want to promote products and services of interest to readers/viewers.

Once you’ve published some high-quality content, it’s time for you to start looking for products that you would like to promote.

If you have decided on a niche, then it will be pretty easy to find products and brands that are associated with your niche.

Let’s say you have a blog for new mothers — you could reach out to Nappy Box Co and Bugaboo to see if they’d like to advertise with you.

Or perhaps you have a handyman podcast. You could sign up for affiliate programs offered by Mitre 10 or Bunnings. 

After you have found products that are worth recommending to your followers, you’ll need to create informational material that will help you promote these products to your viewers.

This informational material could be in the form of a:

  • Blog post that reviews an individual product
  • Article that talks about some of the top products within that niche
  • An unboxing video with an affiliate link in the description

Remember that these products should be worth recommending to your audience members. If you are recommending poor-quality products to make money, then you’ll quickly lose viewers.

5. Apply to relevant affiliate programs

Affiliate networks are essentially marketplaces, where businesses list the products that they want to have promoted by publishers like you.

The network that you choose will create your affiliate links and will act as a middleman between you and the brands that you’re promoting.

It also allows you to get paid without any issues.

While there are many different affiliate programs, here are a few that are popular in Australia:

Once your website gets enough viewers on a monthly basis, you’ll be eligible to sign up for these affiliate programs.

After you’ve been approved, you can begin creating posts for your website that promote the selected products or services and then use your affiliate links to start earning a commission on all sales that result from your links.

Slow and steady wins the affiliate race

If you’re looking for new ways to generate income online, then affiliate marketing may be right for you. It’s easy to start because you have low startup costs and don’t need to hire anyone to help you.

You can get started by building a website, blog or podcast and then creating high-quality posts, videos and infographics that attract a growing number of readers/viewers.

As you increase your viewers on a monthly basis, you’ll soon become eligible to sign up on various affiliate networks as an affiliate marketer.

Always remember that affiliate marketing isn’t a ‘get rich quick scheme,’ and it often takes a lot of work and dedication before you start seeing sales.

But as long as you continue to publish valuable articles, videos and other types of content, you’ll continue to make money from them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Still have questions about affiliate marketing? The answers may be here.

How do I become an affiliate marketer?

The first step in earning money with affiliate marketing is creating a following online. You can do this by blogging, podcasting or by becoming an influencer like Chloe Morello or Troye Sivan. This takes time, effort and dedication. You’ll need to provide high-quality content of interest to your target audience over a period of months or years.

Once you have a following, you can reach out to businesses that sell products to your followers.

Let’s say you have a blog for new mothers — you could reach out to Nappy Box Co and Bugaboo to see if they’d like to advertise with you.

Or perhaps you have a handyman podcast. You could sign up for affiliate programs offered by Mitre 10 or Bunnings. 

What you bring to the table is x,xxx people who actively engage with your mom blog or fix-it podcast. This provides a captive audience for any company that markets to these groups. It’s also a subtle endorsement by you. Because your followers trust you, they may be inclined to click on product ads or links included with your articles and/or videos.

There’s no set number of followers you need in order to start making money this way, although one source suggests you can earn passive income through Instagram with less than 1,000 followers. Read up on any affiliate network you’re considering to learn their requirements.

What does an affiliate marketer do?

An affiliate marketer attracts a following online by producing articles, infographics, videos and other content of interest to a particular group of people.

Once they have an active following, they can sign up with affiliate networks such as Amazon Associates AU, eBay Partner Network and/or Commission Factory.

An affiliate network will provide unique links to products that may be of interest to your followers. You embed those links in your articles or videos, encouraging followers to check out those products. If a follower clicks on one of these links and buys something, you get a small percentage as a commission. Over time, these commissions add up.

Note that you are required to say when a link that you’re promoting is an affiliate link that you’re getting paid for.

Can you really make money with affiliate marketing?

Yes. Although it takes money and effort over time, you can make money from it.

How much you make depends on the size of your audience, the quality of your content and the products you promote.

Here’s a look at income levels among affiliate marketers provided by Influencer Marketing Hub.

Note that more than half of those working at it make less than US$10,000 per year. This makes it a perfect complement to another job or source of income.

How do I earn in affiliate marketing?

Earning from affiliate marketing depends on you producing and sharing high-quality content online consistently over time.

The first step is to decide who you’d like to target, also called a niche. Perhaps you’d like to target homeowners … or single working women … or golfers. You’ll want to choose a group of people that you’re interested in and who have enough disposable income to buy things.

Next, you’ll need to woo them to your blog, website, podcast or YouTube channel by producing articles and videos they like. These could be educational, informative, entertaining — or a mixture of all three.

Coming up with a profitable niche and producing content they’ll like over time takes commitment. You’ll also need to interact with your audience to increase their connection to you.

Next, you’ll want to reach out to affiliate networks that promote products your followers might like. These networks will give you links that you then embed in your articles, videos and web pages. Every time someone clicks on one of these links and buys something, you make a small commission. Keep at it and the total will rise.

This post does not represent an endorsement of any of the affiliate networks mentioned here. Information was accurate as of 12 March 2024.

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