Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to make money online from your blog. It allows you to add a steady income stream to your blog’s monetization strategy. In this affiliate marketing guide for beginners, we will explain how affiliate marketing works, and how to get started right away.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
By definition, affiliate marketing is a referral arrangement in which an online retailer (advertiser) pays you a commission when users purchase their product from your referral link.
Unlike other ad types which pays based on clicks or views, affiliate marketing works on a CPA (cost-per-acquisition), or CPL (cost-per-lead) basis. In other words, you only earn a commission when someone takes an action (i.e buys the product or signup for a free trial).
Because there is less risk for the advertiser, affiliate programs pay out much higher commissions to publishers compared to Google AdSense or other types of ads.
Affiliate marketing requires a more hands-on approach. You have to find a product or service that you believe will be helpful to your users. After that you have to strategically add it in your blog posts and other areas of your site, so users can purchase the product using your referral link.
How Does Affiliate Marketing / Tracking Work?
First, you have to find a company or product that you want to promote. You need to select a product or service that you believe will be relevant to your blog’s topic and useful for your audience. The product or company you choose will be called a ‘Merchant’.
Next, you have to partner up with the company by joining their partner program. This makes you their ‘Affiliate’. Some companies also use the terms associates, partners, etc.
Once you have joined their partner program (also called Affiliate Program), you will get a unique affiliate ID. You will need to use this affiliate ID in all affiliate links that you add in your website to promote the product.
You can promote the product by adding an in-depth product reviews, recommend it in your articles, display banner ads, sending an email newsletter, and more. All traffic you send to the merchant website with your unique ID will be tracked.
Once a user makes a purchase, you will earn a commission. Your payment is issued once your earnings reach a particular threshold typically 45 – 60 days.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
First, you need to make sure that you are using the right blogging platform, and you are allowed to run affiliate marketing campaigns on your website.
For example, if you are using WordPress.com, then there are some restrictions regarding the products and services you can link to. For more details see our comparison of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
On the other hand if you are on self-hosted WordPress.org website, then you can add any affiliate link you want and efficiently manage your affiliate campaigns.
If you haven’t created a website already, then you can get started right away. Simply follow the instructions in our step by step guide on how to start a blog, and you’ll be up and running in less than 30 minutes.
Next, you need to let your users know how you make money from your website by adding a disclosure page. See WPBeginner’s disclosure page and feel free to use it as a template.
These are amongst the must have pages for every WordPress blog. They not only save you from legal issues in the future, but they also help you build trust with your audience.
Finding Affiliate Products and Services to Promote
There are many ways to find products and companies that you can partner up with as an affiliate. Here are some of the easiest ways to find the products you can promote.
1. Become an affiliate for products you already use
First, you need to look at the products and services that you already use and find useful. This makes it easy for you to convince your users about the product since you already know the pros and cons.
Next, you need to go to the product’s website and search for terms like ‘Affiliate program’, ‘Partners’, or ‘Affiliates’. Many companies are actively looking for affiliate marketers to promote their products that’s why they add a link to their affiliate page in their website’s footer.
2. Look for products other blogs are recommending
Another way to find products is by looking at other blogs similar to yours. You will be able to find many similar blogs that are using affiliate marketing to make money.
But how do you know that they are promoting affiliate products?
First, look for the obvious and easily noticeable banner ads on their website. Take your mouse to the banner ad, and you will see a link in your browser’s status bar.
This link will usually have an affiliate ID. Affiliate ID helps merchants track which affiliate partner is sending them traffic / sales.
Sometimes these links may look like internal links, but when you click on them they will take you to a product website with affiliate marketer’s ID in the link. You will also find similar affiliate links through-out their content.
3. Join Bigger Affiliate Networks
Another way to find products to promote is by joining affiliate networks. These websites act as a middleman between affiliate marketers and merchants.
You will notice that many products and companies that you want to partner with already use an affiliate network. This helps you quickly find a lot of products that you can start promoting on your website.
4. Reach out to Companies
If you really want to promote a product but can’t find any information about their affiliate program, then you can simply ask them via email.
Some companies may not be actively promoting their affiliate program. If they have an affiliate program, then they can invite you to join.