In the following I explain how affiliate marketing works, how beginners can make money with it, which commission models there are and I show 7 steps how to best start with it.
In addition, I get to the bottom of the question of whether you can make a living from affiliate marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Again and again I get the following question: What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?
This question is a good start to explain affiliate marketing beginners this popular source of income. If you have been involved with affiliate marketing for a very long time, then a lot of things are clear to you.
But if you’re new to affiliate marketing, you’re often overwhelmed by all the English terms and want to get to know the basics instead of professional tips. Therefore I will dedicate myself to these affiliate basics in loose succession.
Definition: Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing comes from the USA and is also called affiliate program in this country.
Simply put, affiliate marketing is an internet-based commission system. Companies that sell products online in a store, for example, pay commissions to website operators who “send” visitors to their online store, who then also buy something.
For example, Amazon offers its own and very lucrative affiliate program, but so do thousands of other online stores and other Internet providers.
In contrast to e.g. normal banner advertising, the remuneration for affiliate marketing is success-dependent. As a website operator (also called affiliate, partner or publisher), you only receive a commission if the referred Internet user does something specific on the company website. For example, they make a purchase.
For example, I can get 1,000 visitors to my website to click on an affiliate link (which can of course also be an advertising banner with a corresponding affiliate link). If they don’t buy anything in the online store they got to through the click, I earn 0,- Euro.
But if I manage to get 10 people to click on an affiliate link and 5 of them buy something in the store, then I get 5 x commission. Affiliate marketing is not only about quantity, but also about quality. But more about that in another article.
What are the advantages of affiliate marketing?
There are advantages for both the merchant (e.g. an online store) and the partner (also called affiliate). The online store only has to pay a commission to the affiliate if sales have also been generated. The affiliate, if he makes an effort and sends a lot of visitors from his website to the online store, usually gets a lot of commissions and therefore a good income.
So the online store makes more sales and thus more profit, the affiliate also earns good money and the referred customer has found the product he was looking for or that solves his problem.
So ideally it is a win-win-win situation from which all involved have something. That’s why you can earn very good money with affiliate marketing.
How to start with affiliate marketing as a beginner?
The beginning is not so easy even with affiliate marketing and mostly you need perseverance and stamina to earn good money with it.
But the most important thing is to really start today and not tomorrow!
I always advise my readers to just create content, whether that’s a website, a podcast, a blog, or any other platform. The first step is to build reach and gain the trust of visitors.
In the second step, you can then tackle affiliate marketing, choose affiliate programs, make optimizations and generate revenue.
7 Steps – Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
Select idea with revenue potential and affiliate program
Is the idea profitable and is there a good affiliate program for it? Here are the basics for a successful affiliate website* for beginners.
Hosting, WordPress and plugins for affiliate website
The easy installation of the affiliate website with WordPress, the right hoster and I also list recommended plugins that I use for my affiliate websites.
WordPress theme selection and layout customizations
The web design for the new affiliate website* is coming up. Here I share tips on how to choose a suitable WordPress theme and give pratic tips.
Include content that brings traffic
What content is suitable for affiliate websites and how do I get hold of it. Plus practical tips on writing.
How to optimally integrate affiliate links
This part of the beginner series is about signing up for affiliate programs and building in affiliate links.
Traffic for the affiliate website
What measures can you take for your affiliate website to get traffic, which SEO measures make sense and what should you pay attention to.
Maintenance and optimization of the affiliate website
At the end of the article series I will talk about how to maintain an affiliate website and how to optimize it for more revenue.
How much money can you earn with affiliate marketing?
How much you can earn with affiliate marketing depends on several factors:
One’s own reach.
Firstly, an important factor for the amount of income is one’s own reach. That is, how many people you reach with your own articles, videos, newsletter emails and so on. The more people you reach, the higher the potential number of those who click on affiliate links and then buy something in the respective store.
The chosen affiliate programs
The affiliate programs that you embed on your own website, for example, must of course fit the visitors and their wishes, needs and problems. It probably makes little sense to advertise a store for sewing machines on a soccer website. Hardly any visitors will click on these affiliate links and buy something. With a store for soccer jerseys it looks completely different. So get to know your visitors and their wishes and concerns. And then offer the appropriate products via affiliate links.
The built trust
Whether these visitors then also click on an affiliate link and above all then also buy something in the linked store, depends strongly on the built trust. Therefore, it is very important that you come across as authentic, describe your own experiences, publish helpful content and appear trustworthy. Only then will you get many affiliate link clicks and sales.
The optimizations made
Simply adding some affiliate links and banners is not enough. As an affiliate you have to test a lot and optimize the affiliate links, but also the content. Only then you will earn really good money with affiliate marketing.
What commission models are there in affiliate marketing?
Of course, there are different variants in affiliate marketing. So you can earn money not only when someone buys a product. There are different so-called commission models in affiliate marketing, but the most important ones are Sale and Lead.
Sale is simply a sale. This is the typical case when a visitor of my website clicks on an affiliate link and buys something in that store. Mostly you get a percentage commission of the value of the goods. So if the sale commission is 5% and the referred customer buys something for 50 Euro, then I get 2,50 Euro commission.
Lead is about establishing contact without making a sale. This can be found very often in the insurance sector*, for example. If I install an affiliate link and someone clicks on it, then I get money if this person simply requests an insurance comparison. Often there are fixed amounts here.
Particularly lucrative is the referral of permanent customers. For example, if I refer people to an online service and they become permanent customers there (e.g. pay a monthly fee for a newsletter service), then I also receive a small commission permanently, as long as the referred person remains a customer there. This is called lifetime remuneration.
The so-called lifetime commissions are particularly lucrative. Here you refer a customer once to a newsletter service and as long as he is a customer there, you get a commission every month. With this you can earn really good money.
There are other variations, which I will discuss in more detail in other articles.
Can you make a living from affiliate marketing?
An exciting question, which I would answer with “Yes, but”.
The nice thing about it is that there are a lot of affiliate programs from online stores, online services, insurance companies, hosting providers and many other companies, so you can definitely find something suitable for the vast majority of websites.
However, it takes time and a lot of work to build a website or blog that has enough visitors to make affiliate marketing worthwhile. A few thousand visitors per month should be enough to earn more than pocket money.
To make a living from it, you need much more reach, but it is important to get the right visitors. If most of them are interested in buying something or are looking for a solution to a certain problem, then of course you will get much higher affiliate income than if these visitors are just looking for free entertainment.
So you can make a living from affiliate marketing (I do and so do many others), but it doesn’t happen by itself and it doesn’t happen overnight.
The best affiliate programs
As written above, of course it depends on your website visitors and the topics covered on your own website what are the best affiliate programs for you.
Nevertheless, there are some affiliate programs with which I have had very good experiences in recent years and which I can definitely recommend. One of them is of course the Amazon affiliate program, which includes all kinds of products, offers good conversion rates and pays out reliably.
You can and should try them out, but the most important thing is that you test what the best affiliate programs are for you.
The best affiliate networks
The situation is similar for affiliate networks. These are providers that provide services for online stores so that they do not have to take care of the technology, billing, etc. of an affiliate program themselves.
Affiliate networks, such as AdCell, SuperClix, Digistore24 or Awin, contain thousands of affiliate programs of small and medium-sized online stores. Here you will definitely find what you are looking for as an affiliate and I have had good experiences with them.