How to Start Affiliate Marketing

You’ve probably already heard stories of website owners and bloggers that make gobs of money online.

While there are several ways to monetize a website, one of the most effective is affiliate marketing.

As a quick reminder, affiliate marketing is when you sell another brand’s goods or services on your website or social account, and the merchant gives you a commission in return for your sale.

Affiliate marketing sales are growing faster than ever, and the total spend is projected to reach 8.2 billion U.S. dollars by 2022.

If you’ve recently started a website and are ready to grow your traffic and start earning affiliate commissions, then this article is for you.

4 steps to get started with affiliate marketing

This article will cover the steps you need to take to get started, including how to:

  • Choose a niche
  • Build a website
  • Join affiliate programs
  • Grow your audience

1. Choose a niche

You’ve heard the expression “jack of all trades, master of none.” This sentiment applies in several scenarios, but especially when it comes to building an audience.

It’s difficult to build credibility as an affiliate marketer when you’re promoting everything all of the time. Instead of coming across as an industry or niche expert, you’ll present yourself as a person who simply wants to make sales.

A better approach is to choose a niche and focus your content on one area of expertise. When choosing a niche, consider picking something that you’re passionate about, hold specific expertise in, or where you already have a following.

For example, let’s say you have a killer travel Instagram account. Starting a travel blog and selling affiliate products related to travel would be the perfect niche.

It doesn’t matter what your niche is, but if you want to be seen as an expert and make sales, it’s critical to settle on one niche.

2. Build a website

Affiliate marketing takes place online. While it’s certainly possible to make money as an affiliate marketer on your social sites, you’re missing out on sales if you don’t have a website.

Why? 

A website gives you one centralized location on the internet where you can build a large and active audience. Additionally, through the power of other digital marketing efforts, you can drive new traffic to your website and boost your sales opportunities.

To build a website, you’ll first need to find a reliable web hosting plan from a company like HostGator. If you’re just starting out with your website and don’t have much of a following yet, it’s sufficient to start with a shared web hosting plan. 

As soon as your audience starts to grow and you start getting more traffic, you can scale your web hosting plan by upgrading to a VPS hosting or dedicated hosting plan.

The best news about starting a website today is that it’s inexpensive, and it’s even possible to take the DIY route to build a gorgeous site.

To learn more about how to build a WordPress website, check out this step-by-step guide. If you’d rather use the Gator Builder website builder, watch this video.

It doesn’t matter whether you use WordPress to build your website or a website builder, but if you’re looking to generate more sales via affiliate marketing, you must have a website.

3. Join affiliate programs

If you’re wondering how to get into affiliate marketing, good news: there are several different types of affiliate programs available. The best news is you can join more than one. The type of affiliate programs you will join will depend on your preferences and your niche.

Before you invest all your time and energy into affiliate marketing, there are some important things to know. Consider the following:

  • Most affiliate programs review your information. When you apply to be an affiliate for different merchants, most of them will take a look at your website to make sure it’s a good fit. If you know you’re not a great fit, don’t waste your time applying.
  • Commissions vary from program to program. There is no set rate for how much you’ll get paid as an affiliate marketer. What you get paid depends on the affiliate program you join, the competition, and what you sell. Do your research to make sure the affiliate commission is sufficient.
  • Earnings depend on your reach. How much you’ll earn with various vendors depends on how wide of an audience you have. This means, the more you do to promote your website and social accounts and grow a loyal following, the more opportunities you’ll have to make sales.

Now you may be wondering how to actually start applying for affiliate programs. One of the best ways is to start with a quick Google search for affiliate programs in your niche. 

However, there are some affiliate programs that have a little something for everyone. Consider checking out the following affiliate programs.

1. Amazon Associates – Amazon’s affiliate marketing program

Amazon is everywhere and it’s difficult for merchants to compete with Amazon. Here’s the good news. While Amazon has a monopoly on the e-commerce market, anyone can sell on Amazon.

This means if you have a product or a service that you love and that merchant doesn’t have an affiliate program, but they do sell on Amazon, you can still promote the product and make a sale.

Amazon Associates is a must for anyone looking to make money with affiliate marketing.

2. Walmart Affiliate Program & Target Partners

Walmart and Target offer a similar appeal as Amazon in that nearly everyone shops at Walmart and Target. Walmart and Target have a wide range of products that consumers love.

When you’re setting up your website and social accounts, consider taking the time to join the Walmart Affiliate Program and Target Partners program. 

This way, whenever you purchase something niche-related that your audience needs to know about, you can include your affiliate link and earn a commission.

3. Software or business services affiliate programs

One of the best ways to make money through affiliate marketing is by signing up with an affiliate program for a software program or business service that is relevant to your niche.

The reason? These affiliate programs often pay well, and most everyone in your niche will find them useful.

For example, I am a freelance writer. My followers include people who want to build a freelance writing website, send invoices, create courses, capture data, and generate leads, among other tasks.

Since I teach other freelance writers how to build an effective business with the right software and business services, it makes sense for me to promote the tools and services that help me manage my business. If I use an affiliate link in my tutorial, I can earn a commission while I’m at it. Win-win.

Here are some of the niche-related business tools I could promote:

  • HostGator – Every freelance writer needs a website. Period. I could create a tutorial that shows new freelance writers how to start a website on HostGator and include my affiliate link in the tutorial. When a new freelancer signs up for web hosting via HostGator, I would get a commission.
  • Constant Contact – As a freelance writer, I sell digital products to an audience with the help of email marketing. I also teach other freelance writers how to build a robust audience via email marketing. I could create a post explaining the benefits of email marketing with a tool like Constant Contact and include my affiliate link.

There are hundreds of different affiliate programs for software and business services. A good way to get started is to conduct a Google search for the tools you use and see whether or not they have an affiliate marketing program. Several of them will.

4. Grow your audience

It doesn’t matter how many affiliate links you include in a blog post. If you don’t have an audience, no one will see your website, and it will be difficult to make sales.

Here are some ideas to help you grow your audience:

  • Grow your social following. Social media is hotter now than ever before. With platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and SnapChat taking off, it’s possible to capture the attention of thousands of followers. Leverage your social media following to drive traffic back to your website.
  • Post consistently. Consistency is the name of the game for social media influencers and popular bloggers. Take the time to plan a content calendar for your social media and blog posts. Then, stick to your calendar. Give the people what they want.
  • Create excellent content. Content is everywhere, but it’s still king. It doesn’t matter how many creators are out there. As long as you are creating content that people like, sharing links for interesting brands, and giving your audience what they want, you’ll see your audience grow.

As you continue to grow your audience and offer excellent content, you’ll see your affiliate sales skyrocket and your business boom.

Build your website with HostGator today!

Remember, one of the most important parts of affiliate marketing is making sure you have a website—a place where you can send your followers to consume content and make purchases.

HostGator is a reliable web hosting company with 99% uptime. Check out our hosting plans today, and if you need help deciding which plan to pick, we’re here for you.

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.