Oct 21, 2022
13 Min. Read
For any beginner, the affiliate marketing industry can seem overwhelming. There are so many affiliate marketing niches, offers and strategies, where do you start? In this guide, we reveal the top 10 most important things you need to know as an affiliate marketing beginner. Use this list as a starting point to help guide your affiliate marketing journey to achieve affiliate marketing success and create a passive income.
We will explain what exactly affiliate marketing is, then give you a few more details on how the industry works. Finally, we will provide 10 useful tips that will help you to start making money online as soon as possible.
Affiliate marketing is a system that allows you to generate income by recommending products or services with an affiliate link. Imagine if every time you recommended something to your friends, you earned income if they bought it. We are often more likely to buy a product when it has been recommended to us by someone we trust. That is essentially what affiliate marketing is, just with a bigger audience.
There are so many products on the market now that trying to choose the right thing to fix our problem can be a nightmare. Affiliate marketers not only offer suggestions for the best products to solve issues, but also in-depth reviews to allow the user to see exactly what they are getting with a product or service.
Affiliate marketing is also known as third-party advertising. It starts with a company that sells something (also known as an offer owner,) be it a product or service, and they create a link for affiliate marketers (the third party). This is known as an affiliate offer. It includes a link and info on how much commission you will make on each sale. Every marketer has their own unique affiliate link, and when someone uses that link to make a purchase, the affiliate marketer makes a commission.
Affiliate marketing works by merchants offering revenue sharing with their affiliate networks because they understand how important marketing is. A company's products can be the best in the world but if they have to strictly use normal marketing channels and paid ads it's going to cost a fortune, resulting in a lower profit. Some businesses focus solely on affiliate web traffic or a combination of the usual marketing techniques and using affiliate marketing.
Affiliate programs often come with pre-made marketing materials like sales copy and ad angles. However, as an affiliate marketer, you may choose to advertise your offers in any way that suits you.
The first step in affiliate marketing is choosing your niche. This can be anything from fitness and health, to business and investing. The best way to choose your niche is to go with your passion. Whichever topic you choose you will be writing or creating content around it most days so it’s important to pick something you are genuinely enthusiastic about.
You should aim to become an expert in your niche. Not overnight, but as you keep producing content you will learn more and more about your topic and the products involved.
The second step is to find the first offer you want to promote. You can check out our list of affiliate offers on Digistore24 Marketplace to get some ideas.
You need to decide whether you want to start out creating videos or text. For text, you can choose blogging or creating ads on social media, and for videos your best option is YouTube.
The next step is to start creating content that includes your affiliate link regularly. Whether that’s blog posts, social media ads, or videos. Stick to a schedule you can manage and try to be consistent with how often you post.
There isn’t a huge amount of data collected on new affiliate marketers’ earnings. Generally, in the industry, a beginner affiliate marketer is defined as someone who makes $1,000 per month or less.
According to PayScale, the average affiliate marketer salary ranges from $39,000 to $73,000 per year. We’ve all heard the stories of affiliate gurus who make tens of thousands per month and millions over their career, but that isn’t the norm. How much you make depends on how much work you put in.
It’s good to bear in mind it’s unlikely you will have an audience or any credibility on day one of becoming an affiliate marketer. It may take a few months to start building an income, and up to two years before you can happily live off the salary you are making. However, once you have built an audience that trusts you, affiliate marketing becomes a very easy way to make a passive income.
There are lots of ways to become a successful affiliate. There is no one platform or one method that is significantly more successful than any other. The key is to understand what the best methods for your specific audience are. If you want to be the most effective affiliate marketer possible here are a few key tips from our industry experts:
1. Set Achievable Goals
Don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight. It’s just not how this works. Affiliate marketing is a great way to create a passive income and earn more money online. It isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time and effort to become a successful affiliate marketer.
It is, however, a great way to start an online business with very low upfront costs. The successful affiliates out there have been going for a while. Their success comes from building up their knowledge in an area and consistently creating great content in that area.
So what are achievable goals for you? Well, that depends on how much time you have available per week. If you have decided to go all-in and spend all your working hours on affiliate marketing then great! You can spend 8 hours a day learning the ropes and creating content.
If like most people, you are doing this on the side of your usual work while you build up income, then you need to be very realistic with your time. How many hours per day are you willing to spend creating content? Start with a small goal of one piece of content per month (or week, or less, just whatever fits in with your schedule).
Be consistent with your posting. Opt for less often if that is currently what you can be consistent with. Set yourself small targets so you have a sense of achievement right from the beginning. This will push you to go further and succeed as an affiliate marketer.
2. Choose The Right Niche
What’s the best affiliate marketing niche? When it comes to creating affiliate income there is no one best niche. The most successful affiliates know how to find the best niche for them. It’s subjective to your skills and interests. For your affiliate marketing strategy, it’s key to understand the areas you can become an expert in.
The best niche is one you are genuinely interested in. Passion for a niche allows you to write about it every day with enthusiasm. That energy comes across in your writing or videos. The more you work in that niche the more you will build your expertise.
Why do you need to be an expert?
If you are knowledgeable about a topic people will come to your website or channels first. They will trust what you have to say. This in turn will help you to gain more traffic by ranking better in search engines (known as search engine optimization) because Google likes websites that have authority in a subject. More authority = more affiliate sales!
“But I’m a beginner, I’m not an expert in anything!”
Don’t worry. You don’t need to be an expert on day one. Over time you will build up your knowledge the more you research and write in your niche. Right now all you need to focus on is picking a niche you are genuinely interested in. Remember, expert is a subjective term.
3. Stick To Your Niche
It’s important that once you choose a niche you don’t stray too far away from your core topic.
The simple reason is authority.
If you build a weight loss website and promote diet supplements you will create relevant content for your audience. If you suddenly post an article about skateboarding, promoting a training course, it’s going to look odd. Not only will it be out of place with your other content, but why would people come to you for advice in a totally different niche? They would go to an expert in skateboarding, not an expert in weight loss. You want to post content with authority, so your users trust the products you promote.
A good place to start as an affiliate marketing beginner is to create a mind map. Put your niche in the center and link out to your core topics. Then from there find all those sub-niches and smaller topics you could branch out into. Once you have made this map of topics try and stick as close to it as possible to ensure your users value what you have to say.
“I’m interested in two niches, can’t I link them together?”
The simple answer is, probably not. Your best bet is to create different websites and channels for each niche rather than trying to combine the topics. Some niches are naturally close together like healthy eating and fitness so you could link your content to these topics. However, in general, it’s best to stick to one niche per platform.
4. Decide On The Best Platform
Selecting the best platform depends on two key factors.
Where does your audience spend their time?
What type of content will you produce?
The first question should be answered by looking at your customer avatar. Using your market research and customer avatar you should already know where your ideal customer spends the majority of their time.
The second question is down to your personal skillset. Below there is a list of the main platforms used to create content and add affiliate links, and who should use each one.
Which platform should I use for my affiliate marketing?
Facebook - Perfect for short hooky text and a mixture of images and short videos. Facebook ads and marketing also make it an easy tool to use for beginners.
Instagram - If you want to be the next big influencer Instagram is your platform! Great for anyone with strong visual and photography skills who wants to get involved with influencer marketing.
YouTube - Review videos are an excellent way of creating affiliate content. If you feel comfortable in front of a camera and are ready to spend time editing video content, then go for YouTube videos.
Blog or Website - Creating your own blog is the cheapest way of starting out in affiliate marketing. If you are a good writer then blogging and creating landing pages on your own affiliate website is probably your best bet to start off.
You might be wondering, can I use all of these platforms at once?
Of course, you could use all of the above suggestions at the same time. However, we recommend becoming an expert in one platform. What converts on Facebook may not work on YouTube or on an affiliate site. So it is better to really understand one platform and generate sales from one traffic source than spread yourself too thin across multiple channels.
5. Be Honest
It’s essential to build trust with your audience.
If one of your friends kept recommending bad restaurants it wouldn’t take long before you stopped taking their advice. It’s the same with your audience. You want them to come straight to you for advice. If they are looking for a product, or just information, you want to be the resource they trust.
Trust isn’t just important for your audience. It’s actually one of the key things Google looks at when ranking websites in search results. Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness are three of the main criteria Google uses in its ranking algorithm. By creating a trustworthy resource you will not only retain customers, but increase your Google rankings for your blog posts and reviews.
6. Find a Suitable Affiliate Offer
One of the biggest mistakes new affiliate marketers make is choosing the wrong affiliate offers to promote.
There are so many out there that it can be easy to fall for the affiliate marketing offers with the biggest commissions. Big commissions are great, but if the offer doesn’t convert into sales, then it doesn’t matter how big the payoff is, you’ll never see it.
Instead of just focusing on the high-paying products, try searching for offers that are relevant to your audience. Pick out the best products and recommend them, and over time your audience will trust your opinion more and you will make more sales.
Below are a few things to look for in an affiliate program:
7. Prioritize Quality Content
There is always going to be a balance between quality and quantity. Posting thousands of useless articles won’t build you a dedicated audience. On the other hand, posting one amazing article per year won’t help you, either. You need to find the right balance. Always stay on the side of quality over quantity. If you can only post one quality video or article every two weeks to start with, begin there. Once you have more time available, and your ability improves so you can produce content quicker, you can ramp up your production.
Google prefers content that is genuinely useful. Good content will always get higher rankings in search results.
How can Google know if your content is good?
The best content not only keeps people on the page for longer but other sites are more likely to link to it. Become a resource in your niche. Be the best place for someone to get information about whatever your key topics are and focus on making the best content you can. The most successful affiliate marketers make it seem like selling affiliate products is a secondary goal to providing their audience with useful resources and solutions to problems.
8. Interact With Your Audience
Getting involved with your audience is a great way to build relationships and learn about their needs. Forums and comments on social media posts are the best places to start. Find the conversations about your niche and study them.
The jackpot is when you find conversations about a problem. Not only can you learn more about what it is your audience needs, but you can also offer your content or affiliate links as a solution!
Creating relationships is an important part of the journey of all online entrepreneurs. Become a resource in the communities within your niche. Offer value wherever possible and you will gain a dedicated audience.
9. Always Be Tracking Data
It’s impossible to grow your affiliate marketing business effectively without data. There are a few key affiliate metrics you should be tracking right from the start.
These metrics allow you to understand how successful each affiliate offer is for you and which of your content performs the best. You can use this data to create more of the content your audience wants. It’s also important to understand traffic conversion, which tells you how much it is costing you per customer to get them to buy the product. This way you can decide if the cost is worth the commission.
Never work blindly. If it’s all guesswork it can be very difficult to promote products successfully as an affiliate marketer
10. Never Stop Learning
The online world is constantly changing. Just because you find a great method of making affiliate sales, it doesn’t mean it will work forever. Be prepared for change. Being prepared means you don’t wait for the environment to change around you, you already know what’s coming. You can do this by regularly reading affiliate marketing blogs and posts from those within the industry. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and what is working for them.
Never stop learning. Both about affiliate marketing and within your niche. If you have the most up-to-date information in your niche, your customers will continue to use you as a resource.
If you want some additional tips on how to make money as an affiliate marketer who's just starting out, check out this episode of Affiliate Marketing Academy.
This episode's guest is Shannon Smith. She is an ex-waitress and fitness trainer turned affiliate marketer. She started promoting offers using Digistore24 on TikTok and Instagram during the pandemic in 2020.
Shannon managed to grow her TikTok following to 125k and become super successful - and financially independent. Her story appeared on CNBC, and we sat down with her to talk about her journey, as well as tips and tricks on how to get started with affiliate marketing.
She also shared how she picks the right affiliate offers to promote, gave expert online sales advice, and more.
Armed with these top 10 things to know when starting out in affiliate marketing you are ready to jump into the world of affiliate sales! We’d love for you to get in touch if there are any other affiliate marketing topics you would like to know more about in our articles.
Want to become a Digistore24 affiliate? Simply go here to register for free.