Passive income. Most people who strive for passive income initially achieve it using affiliate marketing. You may be wondering about how to start affiliate marketing on your own or as a side income for your business. 

The idea of affiliate marketing is to promote other people’s products. It is usually with the help of affiliate marketing programs or networks. You typically earn a percentage of those products sold through your marketing as part of revenue sharing

As defined by Shopify, “Affiliate marketing is an online sales tactic that lets a product owner increase sales by allowing others targeting the same audience—“affiliates”—to earn a commission by recommending the product to others. At the same time, it makes it possible for affiliates to earn money on product sales without creating products of their own.

There are 4 different parties involved in the process of affiliate marketing: the product creator (or the merchant), the affiliate network, the marketer, and the customer. It allows for both product creators and product marketers to receive a share of revenues in accord with their contribution.

The Merchant

The Merchant, also known as the product creator, or the brand. These people are the ones who create the product for selling and can range from big corporations to small businesses. As long as they have a product to sell, they are the merchant.

The Affiliate

Similar to the Merchant, this party can be big as well as small companies. They can earn from a few hundreds of dollars to thousands or millions a month.

They are the ones who do the marketing to attract and, essentially recommending the products to potential customers. This marketing effort is all in hopes that the customers will end up buying the product through our link or using our code, usually for an extra discount. It can also be in the form of an entire site dedicated to certain products.

One of the most popular affiliate network sites is This is why I’m broke.

The Consumer

This is the customer, they are the ones who allow the affiliate system to run. Without customers, there will be no sales for the Merchant. Neither will the affiliate receive any commissions.

The affiliates are ones who market their products to the consumer however they see fit. Some examples are through social media, content marketing, or even digital billboards. 

The Network

Not many people consider the network as part of affiliate marketing. However, it is still an essential part of affiliate marketing programs. There is an intermediary between the affiliate and the merchant.

Affiliate networks such as Commission Junction or ClickBank will help the affiliate marketing process much easier by handling the payment and product delivery.

Depending on the product, the affiliates may be required to enter the affiliate network as some products may not be available elsewhere for affiliates to enter.

To summarize, you can become either a merchant or an affiliate marketer. 

If you were to become a merchant, you can have others promoting your product. This promotion is in exchange for giving others a commission for their sales.

If you were to become an affiliate marketer, you can choose one or more products to promote. Then, you can market them to consumers to make money.

For today, we will be discussing how to become an affiliate marketer.

For Merchants: How To Start Affiliate Marketing

If you want to be a merchant, you will have to create affiliate marketing programs. You will be selling your product with the help of affiliates. This can be done in 4 steps. Keep in mind that these are not easy, but many people have already achieved it.

  1. Come Up with a Product Idea
  2. Validate Your Product Idea
  3. Create Your Product
  4. Become Part of an Affiliate Network

Step One: Come Up with a Product Idea

This step is most likely the easiest among all the other ones. Your idea does not have to be completely original. Rather, innovate from something that already exists. 

Think of how to make a product you are already using better. This should be within the field of your own interest. However, do not get too attached to your idea. Stay flexible to make sure that you can adapt to what consumers want out of your product.

Reading reviews of those products are extremely helpful in coming up with those ideas.

Always ask yourself, will people pay for this idea?

This leads us to the next step…

Step Two: Validate Your Product Idea

This step is essential to making sure you can actually obtain sales. It will help you save time, money and effort. 

Now, to really make sure that people would be willing to buy your product, simply ask them. 

Be specific and make sure that you are asking if they want to buy your product because, most of the time, people will likely say that they like something just for the sake of being nice. While it is perfectly alright to be nice, we need a surefire answer in order to make sure that your product idea is good enough that people will see the value in buying it.

You can ask your friends or strangers on various social media. Make sure that you are asking people who are related to the product!

For example, if you are interested in selling a step-by-step guide to starting a small business, you can ask people who have commented or tweeted about a blog related to entrepreneurial ventures. Send out plenty to make sure you have enough people in your for the rest of this step.

If most people replied that they would not buy this product idea, take into account their feedback. What other comments did they make? Is there a way for you to improve upon this idea? Either develop your current ideas or pick a new one and repeat the steps above.

After a good number of people have replied with a yes, the next step is to answer those replies. Provide a link for them to buy, and that once a certain number of people buy it (let’s say 5 ), you will create it.

The reason for this is to confirm that people actually want your product idea enough to spend their money on it. 

Once enough people have bought your idea, it is time to start making the product.

Step Three: Create Your Product

Depending on your product idea, this step will vary. One of the best ways to create any product is to first learn how to do it.

Let’s say you will be selling an online course, there are plenty of resources online that can teach you how to do it. So learning these are a great starting point for you. 

Digital products are probably the easier ones to create without too much financial investment needed. 

Step Four: Become Part of an Affiliate Network

If you are selling a digital product, tools like Digital Product Delivery or Gumroad can be very easily set up as these platforms will already take care of the commission process and other payments.

Next, search for and reach out to other merchants who have a decent following within your products’ niche to promote it. This can easily be done with some simple social media and google search.

Depending on how niche your product is, the easier it will be to pitch to other merchants.You will want to contact them by simply introducing yourself, your product, and asking them to partner together for a shared revenue.

Side note: For digital products, affiliate commissions are usually 50% or even higher. This is because there is no cost of replication. Everyone wins from the revenue share, therefore, there is no need to be greedy on this.

Start from trying to get at least one partner first, you can work out the commissions and details later. Just make sure you get started.

Another route to start affiliate marketing for beginners is to become an affiliate marketer yourself.

For Affiliate Marketers: How To Start Affiliate Marketing

It is much easier to start out by building enough traffic on your marketing channels first before actually selling. 

Below, we will be describing the 4 total steps you can use to start out with affiliate marketing. Keep in mind that this is just one way you can go about affiliate marketing and there are other ways as well. Here are the 4 steps:

  1. Pick a niche and review products
  2. Building an email list
  3. Live Webinars
  4. Pay Per Click Advertising

Step One: Pick a niche and review products

Think of the product you are already using in your day-to-day life. Is there one you are particularly interested in? 

This could be a book, a kitchen gadget, or hair styling tools. 

You can look around for the exact product or something similar in affiliate marketing networks. 

One of the places with a wide variety of products is Amazon Associates.

Make sure that your product recommendations are genuine and authentic, that way people will not be thinking that you are just trying to make some quick money off of your audience.

When writing blog reviews, you can use affiliate links. Affiliate links are the links to the products you are recommending. They usually follow a regular URL with “/ref…” at the end.

However, as you can see, relying on other people would require a large amount of traffic to actually make a good amount of money. This leads us to step two.

Step Two: Building an email list

Email marketing is still one of the best channels these days. It is also a great way to start affiliate marketing for beginners. Here are 3 ways you can do this on your website.

Header Bar

A tool we recommend is Hello Bar.

This will put up a call to action at the very top of your website. Offering an incentive such as an ebook that includes your product reviews or sending your audience to an email of the product review video will help as part of your marketing strategy.

Exit Intent Pop-up 

Hello Bar can also be used for this.

An exit intent pop-up will show up on the screen when visitors show signs of leaving your website such as moving the mouse towards the “X” button. You can use it as a way to offer some kind of resource your audience will be interested in as an exchange for their email.

Sidebar Widget

When it comes to sidebars, affiliate marketers must make sure that the ones on their website are not overly cluttered. Having only one call to action is enough. This should also provide some kind of value to your audience in exchange for their emails.

Some tips in affiliate marketing for beginners are to send your audience an update once a week. It is important to not make all of your emails about sales. Only when you create a new product-reviewing post.

Step Three: Live Webinars

This step can be done once you have gathered a few contacts.

These are much more engaging content that is very helpful in higher ticket items. Your audience are likely to prefer watching a live presentation much more than reading a blog review.

LeadPages is a popular tool that you can use to create a simple landing page for your audience to sign up for your webinar. Don’t forget to promote it on your social media to inform your followers one  week ahead of the event!

These can be hosted on Google Hangouts for free or on Zoom as well.

Use this opportunity to talk all about your product as well as answering your audiences’ questions about it. 

If you can get your merchant to provide you with a deal or bundle especially for your audience, it will serve as a great incentive for people to buy.

Step Four: Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

Once your affiliate marketing starts to take off, it is time to move up to paid advertising.

Although this can be a bit of a learning curve, your affiliate marketing business can scale much more with this step. You can use PPC to:

  • Grow your email list
  • Grow your sales
  • Get more people to sign up for your webinars

When more people sign up for your email list, you will be able to market to them again. This will grow your chances of sales because they have shown interest in your content and are more likely to trust your recommendations.

An efficient and time-saving method of email marketing is to set up your own autoresponder that markets to your email list in an email sequence. There are various tools to help you with this, one we recommend is MailChimp.

Conclusion

To sum up how to start affiliate marketing, there are two paths that you can choose. As a merchant or as an affiliate. Although becoming an affiliate is somewhat of an easier path compared to merchants. The two routes are equally worthwhile. It all depends on your preference as well as your current knowledge.  

As this guide is about affiliate marketing for beginners, we hope this step-by-step process has been helpful! Now go out there and make it happen.

If you own a business or are currently looking for ways to increase your sales, let Marketing Guru help you. Get a free consultation for your digital marketing strategy today! Contact us here.