Writing an ultimate guide about affiliate marketing for beginners has not been easy for me and has actually taken hours to write (I also apologise for the length of this post in advance). The reason is that I had to go back in time to recall the finer details of affiliate marketing for beginners.

People often call me lucky when I tell them how I make money online, but my business has absolutely nothing to do with luck. Earning money with affiliate marketing didn’t just happen for me. It took a lot of trial and sadly a lot of errors.

Please enjoy and feel free to share this guide with your friends.


What is Affiliate Marketing?
Get Serious First
Get Paid To Grow Your Own Business
Make The Future Your Goal
Build a Website VS No Website
Choosing a Niche
Stick to What You Know
Buy Hosting
Now Build a WordPress Website
Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – What to Sell
Where To Find Affiliate Products
Nothing But Useful Content
Build Pages and Then…
Then Do It Again
The Hunt Must Go On
Make Every Visitor Count
Sell To The Right People

What is Affiliate Marketing?

According to Wikipedia, Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

My interpretation is that I am an affiliate marketer and I sell other people’s product for an agreed commission. I send targeted customers to their purchasing page through an affiliate link or banner that I have created. If I send the right person to the right offer I have a better chance of making a sale and getting my commission.

You can join an affiliate program either directly through a merchant or through a network that handles the merchants affiliate transactions.

Get Serious First

If you just want to try your hand at affiliate marketing because you heard about it somewhere on the internet then that is not a good reason to start a business doing this. It is not something that will make you millions over night. It actually takes skill.

If you really want to learn a new skill that can possibly turn into a new career then that is what affiliate marketing for beginners is about. The key here is that it will take time to learn and master.

Get Paid To Grow Your Own Business

I build successful WordPress websites and I not only have developed true and sell-able assets, I also got paid to build them. Where else can you do this?

Make The Future Your Goal And The Present Will Come

Of course you want instant profits today. Who doesn’t? You can get your instant commission from selling other people’s products but always try and remember how the customer is also connected to your business. Can you connect with that person in the future? Are they signed up to your list, following you on Facebook, or maybe commenting on your content?

Never let a good commission get in the way of your customers. Your website audience is the lifeblood of your business.

That is why you need a website to proceed.

Build a Website VS No Website

You are talking to the wrong person here if you are waiting to hear that you can make lots of money by not having a website. You possibly can make money without a website but what exactly are you building? I like to build a business and something that becomes virtual real estate. If you are planning on spamming social media with affiliate links, or some other devious way to get a sale, then this article is not for you.

I don’t believe that building a business that relies on third party properties is a good idea at all. For example, if you build an awesome Facebook page and make millions from it, what happens when Facebook removes your page? What then?

Or what if you build a website that solely relies on Google for traffic and Google decides to de-index your site for breach of THEIR TERMS?

This is why you need your own website and you need to build your own customer base.

Choosing a Niche

Choosing the right niche for your website can be a tricky thing to do. After all, if you choose the wrong niche you could be working on something that will never actually make money in the end. That is why I have a few simple questions you should ask yourself when choosing a niche:

  • Are people searching for content related to this niche?
  • Is there a problem I can solve for them?
  • When searching in Google, are other businesses advertising on the results pages? Is there money to be made?
  • Is this topic out of my league or do I have the knowledge to be the best?
  • Are competing sites unbeatable with awesome content ? Is there a space for me?

Stick to What You Know

Many people will start building websites that are centred around topics that they really have no idea about. I have seen this many times over the years and it always seems to lead to the same conclusion. If you do not get out of bed every day and enjoy what you do, I can almost guarantee you will not be doing it for long.

Even when building a website from scratch, you need to enjoy the topic that you have to write about every day, because trust me, you will get sick of it very fast. Therefore choosing your website topic should be a mixture of research and passion.

Buy Hosting

You can try to build our business on free Web hosting or blogging platforms, but I never recommend it. If you are serious about affiliate marketing and building a website that can actually make money, you need to buy your place on the Internet. Sure you can get your nerdy neighbour to host your website on his home-made server, but trust me, this only leads to trouble.

When looking for website hosting, you need to consider this from a business point of view. Are you going to get good service and it is your website going to be available 24 hours a day?

When I first started out I bought Godaddy hosting and immediately started to hit roadblocks on what I could and could’t do. Everything I wanted to do with my website involved getting another upgrade which in turn always costed more. I hated that.

After trying a few more hosting companies I ended up with Hostgator and have been with them for approx 7 years.

The one thing I will say about website hosting is JUST DO IT! Don’t waste time on this decision or you will never get started!

If you decide you don’t like your hosting, most top hosting companies will move your website into their new hosting for free.. So stay cool as change is easy!

Now Build a WordPress Website

WordPress is the only website building platform I use. I have some free resources for you to build a website at the push of a button. This includes free step-by-step tutorials and full-length videos.

See my WordPress Website Basic Tutorials page for more information.

Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – What to Sell

Now that you have a niche, what can you sell? This is an important question because you cannot just sell anything and everything on the Internet.

Here are a few tips to finding and selling the right affiliate product:

  • The best way to sell a product is to use it yourself. Are you willing to buy it before trying to sell?
  • The best product is the one that is directly matched to your content. A cat lover does not want a dog grooming tool.
  • Think about your reputation when selling other people’s products. Is it a good product and will it please the customer?
  • The merchant page you send your potential customer to must do a good job at converting then to buyers. After all, you have worked hard to get them there.
  • Will the merchant provide good after sale support and care about customers?

Where To Find Affiliate Products

This is the boring part. Sifting through sites that offer affiliate products.

Affiliate Networks: These are websites that basically control an affiliate program for a particular merchant. If you visit an affiliate network you will see hundreds of merchants listed and waiting for affiliates to sign up to their program.

Some affiliate networks include:

  • Clickbank
  • JVZoo
  • Commission Junction
  • Linkshare
  • Shareasale

Most of these networks are pay per sale or pay per lead. A network like Adsense is pay per click (PPC) and Neverblue is pay per action (PPA).

Go Direst to Merchant Sites: Some merchants choose to handle its own affiliate sales and payments. For example, the Elegant themes affiliate program is run from their website. If you see a product that others are selling then the first place to visit is the merchants website. Most will have an affiliate link for more information on how to join their program.

We must always be careful when dealing with merchants directly as some have been known to not pay up when commissions are due. Go with well know merchants just to be safe.

Related Websites: See what your competition is selling and find the affiliate program for that product. Please note: The website might either be stupid or smart. Stupid for sticking with a product that doesn’t sell or smart for sticking with a product that does sell. Either way you need to find out for yourself.

Adsense Banners: We all know Google knows what sells with what content so why not steal their ideas? Place Adsense on your blog and see what ads appear on what pages. Then when you see pages that earn good money from Adsense you can remove Adsense from individual pages.

Over the years I have learnt that affiliate banners placed in the sidebar of a website are there just for looks. The real money is made within the content. Why do you think Google AdSense suggests that you place a banner within your content? This is because it is the best performing ad.

I have stolen some very valuable tips from the Google AdSense program over the years. For example, Google only serves highly related ads, they like them to be placed in the content, and they like them to blend in with the overall website.

So now when I place an affiliate banner or link I follow these basic rules. But the best rule of all is to have a highly related product within your content. This is because if a person takes the time to read this content, they are obviously interested in its information, which is more likely to lead to a purchase.

Nothing But Useful Content

Even though I say that “content is not the only king“, by gosh it is dam important! If you haven’t got the information that your visitor wants then you can kiss your affiliate commissions goodbye. Excellent content is the main ingredient in your sale process so never just slap any old content up. See this article showing what I think quality content is.

Each time you build awesome content with the right monetization methods, you’re building another opportunity to make a sale.

Publishing generic content will not get you in the race for being one of the best information providers and is a waste of your time. Affiliate marketing is not about cheesy sales pitches, it is about providing awesome information that makes the reader want to buy something.

For example if you choose to review a product it can’t be a generic article. The best reviews can only come from a true experience of using the product.

affiliate funnel

Build Pages and Then…

Get targeted traffic to your landing pages, reviews, tutorials, and so on. You will never know if your content and affiliate links are working if you don’t get a certain amount of people there to see it.

Tips to get targeted traffic to your offers:

  • Guest post on someone else’s site where your customers might be. 2 or 3 for each post is the best.
  • Share your content through social media.
  • Create a free download like a PDF report that links back to this content.
  • Send an email out to your subscribers alerting them of the new content.

Then Do It Again

So you created a page that worked for you. Awesome. Now you should promote that page more and create more related content. Don’t leave the page to die and get burred in the archives of your site, it is too valuable for that!


Well duh! If you don’t add affiliate links and banners into your content then how do you expect to make sales? When people fail to make money when affiliate marketing, it is usually because they are not discretely monetizing all opportunities. People DO NOT care if you have a few links and banners on a website, in fact they expect it. Especially when they get interested in a product and want to see more. If they have to go and search for the product themselves, they hate that.

making money from a website

The Hunt Must Go On

Let us just say you have written an awesome article, but the affiliate products you usually sell will not fit with this content. You have a feeling that people who read this content might want to buy a particular product. For example an article about keeping children safe online might be suited to software like Net Nanny rather than an Antivirus program. The need would be direct and far more precise.

So hunt for the closest match possible. Gather new affiliate products and test them. If they work, keep them by your side. If they are duds, take them away from your valuable content.

Make Every Visitor Count

Every visitor to your website is either a customer or a potential customer. Either way, you need to get their contact details as you can sell more to existing customers and convince potential customers to buy. You should never let a chance go by and never let a visitor leave empty handed.

In the affiliate marketing business it is common practice to collect e-mail addresses from website visitors all customers. This is a fantastic way to build a business, however creating a list with people that are not interested in what you have to offer is a bad idea!

My lists for letsbuildwebsites.com only fall into two categories. One for building a website from scratch and one for making money with a website. That’s it. So I am looking for people that are interested in these subjects only.

Sell To The Right People

You also do not want to try and sell to people that already have what you offer. For example, this website shows people how to build a website, therefore my ideal website visitor would not be a well established popular blogger.

My other main website has basic computer tips and is not for the fill blown geek who talks tech language. If a full blooded geek read my articles they would be thinking that they are simple and not required, whereas computer illiterate people see a great need for them.

Any old traffic doesn’t pay the bills. You need to get targeted traffic to your website.

Image credit: LBW

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