Affiliate Marketing for Beginners [Complete Guide]
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners [Complete Guide]

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners [Complete Guide]

Looking for a stable and scalable income? Well, you should consider affiliate marketing. Read the following affiliate marketing for beginners guide to find out what affiliate marketing is, the PROs and CONs of affiliate marketing, and how much money you can make as an affiliate marketer and choose an affiliate program, and how to promote it to make money.

I will show you step by step how to choose an affiliate marketing niche, where to find affiliate marketing programs, and how to create an affiliate marketing website.

Have you ever wondered how few affiliate marketers make thousands of dollars every month, and you struggle to make even one sale?

Most affiliate marketers fail to make any money because they focus ONLY on the sales, not serving their audience.

Serve your audience first, and money comes later. If you can align your mindset that way, you’ll become successful at affiliate marketing. So yes, your mindset is everything.

1. What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing, where you earn a commission by selling others’ products or services (on successful transactions).  That means, if someone buys something through your affiliate referral links, you get paid. If not, you don’t. It’s as simple as that.

1.1 How does affiliate marketing work?

The first step as an affiliate is to find a product to promote. You can either find products or services from individual websites (such as SEO Press, SEMrush) or pick products from affiliate product market platforms such as Amazon Associates, CJ, ShareASale, ClickBank, etc.

Then you sign up for the product (or service) to generate a referral link, a unique ID given to every affiliate upon signing up. Finally, you promote that product and earn a piece of the profit from each successful sale you make from your referral links.

Illustration: How Affiliate Marketing Works
Illustration: How Affiliate Marketing Works

All in all, affiliate marketing is a process that helps you generate affiliate commissions on every successful sale you generate through your affiliate links.

1.2 What’s your job as an affiliate marketer?

Your job as an affiliate marketer is to:

  • Find relevant and better products to promote
  • Find potential customers (from various traffic sources such as search engines, social media, paid ads, email lists, etc.)
  • Create informative content (such as product reviews, eBooks, video tutorials, case studies, landing pages, etc.)
  • Make money!

Above all, your job as an affiliate marketer is to make others’ lives better by recommending useful products that help your target audience understand your audience’s wants.

1.3. How Long Does It Take To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?

When you start with affiliate marketing, you’re wondering how long it really takes to make money. If you’re getting into an Amazon Associates or any other affiliate program with the mentality of getting rich quickly, you have the wrong mindset.

You have to change your mindset and realize that the amount of time it’s going to take for you to make money depends on you when it comes to business. It’s dependent on you and if you’re actually willing to educate yourself.

If you’re not consistent and are always looking for the next best thing, I’ll tell you there’s no next best thing.

If you want to make money with an affiliate program, learn the actual skills to build a business and income on the Internet and follow that process.

The majority of affiliates earn up to $20,000 every year. There is still a large portion of affiliates that go beyond this mark. Out of the 35% of affiliates who earn more than $20,000 per year, 12% make over $75,000 in affiliate marketing income. Of the 35% of affiliates who earn more than $20,000 per year, 12% make over $75,000.

By talking with dozens of bloggers and affiliate marketers, I can tell you that in the first year you can make around $300/month, after the 2nd year, you can make $1000 – $2000 every month, and after the 3rd year, your blog can explode to more than $5000 or even $50,000 per month.

People don’t just hit a million dollars overnight. I hope you understand that and have realistic expectations and patience to grow.

2. Affiliate Marketing PROs and CONs

Affiliate Marketing PROs

  • Earn a passive income.
  • Low upfront investment is needed.
  • No expertise is needed.
  • It can be easily scaled up.

Affiliate Marketing CONs

  • A lot of work was involved.
  • No guaranteed returns.
  • No consistent income.
  • Competitive field.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of being an affiliate marketer.

2.1 Earn a passive income

The biggest reason most people dive into affiliate marketing is this: passive income. It helps you make money even when you’re sleeping.

You have to put a lot of time and effort into building and scaling your affiliate marketing business. Once it starts generating sales, you’ll make passive income!

Once you start generating passive income, you can invest some money into content creation, promotion, email list building, etc., to grow your business even more prominent.

2.2 Low upfront investment needed

Unlike most other businesses, affiliate marketing needs almost zero investments. Yes, you need to invest in a website (design, tools, hosting, etc.), but you do those for any online business, right?

The best part about affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to invest in product creation, development, shipping, etc. You’ll be NOT spending any time or money on product validation, innovation, or promotion. You’re just finding better products to promote with almost zero investment.

2.3 You don’t need much experience

You don’t have to be a marketing genius or expert in a field to start making money as an affiliate marketer. I know many beginners who made thousands of dollars from affiliate marketing within a few months (starting from zero). Want to know how much you can make? Scroll to the next headline.

So if you truly understand how it works, you can sell more, earn more, and be your boss. No expertise is needed!

2.4 You can easily scale it up

Maybe the best thing about affiliate marketing is that you can easily scale it up after discovering a successful framework. You can create more content on your website, drive more traffic in the same niche, or apply the framework in a completely new niche. My advice is to do both and don’t put all your eggs in the same basket.

Here are some of the biggest cons of being an affiliate marketer.

2.5 A lot of work involved

If anyone tells you that creating a successful affiliate website is an easy set and forger job, he is lying. I’m upfront with you: There isn’t such thing as affiliate marketing.

That’s because the competition is pretty high, and you have to invest a lot of time in research, creating, adding, and updating the content. Besides that, you should also promote the website (backlinks, social media ads), do a lot of testing to optimize the traffic sources, find new products to promote, etc.

So if you don’t have the patience nor the time better, you choose other money-making opportunities.

2.6 No guaranteed returns

Once again, there are no successful blueprints that you can follow for years to come. In affiliate marketing, things change pretty fast. Also, there are no guaranteed returns: Some affiliate programs may go offline, some traffic sources may not be available anymore, or will not convert as well as before.

You should be prepared for this. Also, stay away from scams as there are many fake “gurus” that promote courses or opportunities that promise to make you rich quickly.

2.7 No consistent income

Affiliate income is a passive income source, and it’s not consistent. If someone says you can make even money with affiliate marketing, don’t listen to them. It often fluctuates (how much does it fluctuate depends on your sales funnel and marketing efforts).

That’s the reason why most affiliate marketers look at their affiliate marketing income and performance annually instead of monthly.

2.8 Affiliate marketing is competitive

Now more than ever, the affiliate marketing field is getting competitive.

There are more players than several years ago, and now there are many tools that can quickly uncover the traffic sources and keywords of a publisher.  With a tool like Semrush, you can quickly review all of these, plus many more. - Organic Traffic Sources – Organic Traffic Sources

So you should be pretty secretive with your success if you don’t want to share your money makers with the competition 😉

3. How Much Can I Make As An Affiliate Marketer?

To know more about affiliate marketing, we broke the whole process into seven things to guide you, as a beginner, on the various stuff about it. Sticking to this guide will get you on the right track and have your earnings in no short time.

Affiliate marketing is NOT a numbers game and not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time to build a profitable blog that makes decent cash flow from affiliate marketing.

So a full-time affiliate marketer can make anywhere from $10,000 a month to $100,000+ a month.

Veteran affiliate marketers like Pat Flynn (interview here) or Zac Johnson (interview here) earns millions of dollars every year from affiliate marketing alone.

The point is there’s a HUGE earning potential if you know how to do it right. 

Ultimately your affiliate marketing success depends on how much time (and energy) you’re willing to invest. Yes, there’s a HUGE learning curve in affiliate marketing, but everything else becomes simpler once you understand how things work.

4. How to choose an affiliate marketing niche?

Before deciding on the other matters, you have to think about first your targeted niche. You must do it so that you know what site are you going to fix your eyes on.

And just like the cliché, “the first thing is the hardest,” says, this is also the hardest and annihilating part of all the steps. But we got you covered.

If you haven’t decided about your niche, take a look at these critical questions you have to ponder while identifying your niche:

4.1 What are my passions?

You can start by knowing your skills and interests since there is an easiness to work if you are dealing with your passions.

Moreover, it is in your passion where you are more familiar than anything else to make everything easier.

4.2 Can this niche be profitable for me?

Aside from following your passion, another thing to consider is the probability of producing money in that particular niche. Sometimes, people give up their passion and choose a subject they are not familiar with if that will not give them the income they need.

4.3 What are the topics I can comfortably write about for 25 blogs or more?

A successful affiliate marketer must have ensured that he has an authoritative site, well-established search engine optimization to serve his end-user well. You can gain that by having a vital topic to discuss on.

One of the best tactics to gain authority backlinks and improve your SEO rankings is guest posts on other blogs. You should use a guest posting list or a guest posting tool like to find relevant and high authority blogs to guest post on.

Outreach.Buzz - Find relevant blogs in your industry
Outreach. Buzz – Find relevant blogs in your industry.

To produce a lot of good-quality content, the subjects you choose should be profound so you can have more topics to discuss. An insufficient and not relatable content in any topic will make you an unreliable affiliate marketer, and it will be hard for you to convince someone to invest in you.

4.4 Does this niche need another affiliate marketer?

Before indulging yourself in a viral niche, ensure a space for you there and ready to compete, especially in well-established marketers who are not advisable for you as a newbie. Do not get tired of looking for profitable niches that will work for you.

4.5 Is this niche having exciting products and services to offer?

Aside from exciting content, you should ensure that it has relatable products or services for your audience. It is not enough that they can read and get your message, but you should convince them to purchase from you as well.

4.6 Does this niche have available affiliate programs?

Before choosing this particular niche, you must know if there are affiliate programs for it. No matter how popular it is, any niche cannot produce sales if it does not have affiliate programs supporting it. If it doesn’t, then try to look for other niches.

We use Affiliate Programs Labs to find suitable affiliate programs as it has hundreds of affiliate programs in different niches you can choose from.

4.7 Insider Tips on Picking the Right Niche for Affiliate Marketing

Top 20 Afiliate Niches
Top 20 Affiliate Niches

Whether you agree with it or not, a few markets are naturally more profitable than others. For instance, there’s always a HUGE demand for fitness.

So if you’re looking for evergreen niches that you can use to monetize your site even after a decade, here are three of them.

4.7.1. Health

Sub niche example: Fitness niche

The health niche is evergreen. Everyone wants to stay healthy and get fit (in fact, almost everyone dreams of having six-pack abs).

Fitness is a billion-dollar industry, and there’s a HUGE market with millions of products to sell.

From fitness equipment to fitness supplements to fitness apparel, you can cover many sub-niches to make more money from affiliate marketing.

Here are some of the sub-niches you can consider in the health niche:

  • Mental health
  • Bodybuilding
  • Strength Training
  • Boxing
  • Yoga
  • Weight loss
  • Nutrition

4.7.2. Wealth

Sub niche example: Make online money niche

Wealth is ANOTHER great niche that has huge competition in almost every country. After all, who doesn’t love money? I know there’s a lot of competition, and it’s only growing with time. This is also an evergreen niche with huge potential to earn more profits.

Here are some of the sub-niches you can consider in the wealth niche:

  • Investing
  • Frugal living
  • Blogging
  • Freelance writing
  • Freelance web design
  • SEO
  • Credit cards
  • Coupons

4.7.3. Relationships

Sub niche example: Parenting advice

After Health and Wealth, another evergreen niche is  “Relationships.” We are all connected (be it parents, kids, boss, co-workers), and millions of searches happen around this topic every day.

So yes, it’s a great niche if you’re looking to monetize your site even after a decade.

Here are some of the sub-niches you can consider in the relationship niche:

  • Parenting
  • Dating advice
  • Family relationships
  • Solo-Parenting
  • Breakups

5. Most Popular Affiliate Networks and Programs

Before finding any affiliate product to promote, here are a couple of things to remember:

  • Cookie length (what’s the cookie duration?)
  • Refunds (what is their refund rate?)
  • Payment method (how will you be paid, and how often do they make payments?)
  • Affiliate tools (do they offer promo materials such as banners?)
  • Promotion (can you promote a product on social media, email lists?)
  • Commission (how much commission do they pay per sale?)

Let’s now talk about how you can find profitable products. Here are some of the best places (and platforms) to find money-making products in almost every niche.

So there are several places where you can find affiliate programs. The 1st one is the affiliate marketing networks like Amazon Associates [How to make money using Amazon Affiliates], ShareASale, or ClickBank.

5.1 ClickBank

Clickbank Affiliate Network
Clickbank Affiliate Network

They are focused on digital products created by entrepreneurs. So actually, through ClickBank, you will be marketing products from individuals like you and not products from large companies.

Some products suck, so you have to choose wisely which product to promote. Gravity is the number that ClickBank uses to show how well each product is selling. Products with a gravity of over 20 might be worth your efforts.

5.2 ShareASale

Shareasale affiliate marketing network
Shareasale affiliate marketing network

ShareASale has 39 different categories with 3900 merchants. Many of those merchants are large brands like Reebok, for example. No matter what niche you are in, I’m sure here you will find a matching affiliate program to join.

5.3 CJ Affiliate

Signup to - Step 1
Signup to – Step 1

Like ShareASale, they also have a wide selection of offers, including pay-per-lead and pay-per-call offers. Their merchants are mostly large established companies like Nike,, Gucci, and Lacoste. It is worth checking them out.

Join CJ Affiliate

5.4 Amazon Associates

Amazon Associated Affiliate Program
Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

Using Amazon Associates, you can promote any product from their enormous product base for sale. But you should know they are paying the lowest commissions.

These are the best 4 affiliate marketing networks, in my opinion. Not enough for you? I’ve created an awesome guide that analyzes and ranks (with PROs and CONs) the best 21 affiliate marketing networks this year.

5.5 Stand-alone affiliate programs

Check the merchants you know in your niche and see if they have an affiliate program. Most of them do. We selected here 65+ high-paying affiliate programs for bloggers and marketers.

You can spy on your competitors’ websites first.  Find out what affiliate products they are promoting. Few influential bloggers also reveal their income reports, so you’ll know which products bring them the most profits.

6. Affiliate Marketing Pricing Models

There are many variables you need to consider when choosing an affiliate offer. All of these elements will impact how well your campaign performs, from the brand that developed the program to the payout, ad format, and traffic sources allowed.

That said, the pricing model will help you determine the best formats, regions, and other campaign variables. Affiliate marketing programs are always performance-based, but they can have various pricing models, including pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, pay-per-click, and revenue share, just to name a few.

6.1 Pay-Per-Sale

As the name suggests, the pay-per-sale of PPS is a pricing model where affiliates are expected to generate sales to get a commission. Perhaps the oldest pricing model out there, PPS offers, is usually developed by publishers with relatively low-cost items as consumers are more willing to purchase these goods online. That said, you can also work with jewelry and other high-ticket products that have lower sales rates and monumental individual commissions.

PPS offers are usually designed to be promoted in more direct strategies, so don’t be afraid to develop product-centric content to convince users to buy. However, you still want to have personality and deliver value through your content to keep your potential customers engaged.

6.2 Pay-Per-Lead

Known as PPL, pay-per-lead is a pricing structure where affiliates are paid for each prospect that leaves their contact information and becomes a lead. Even though it’s easier to collect leads than sales, getting users to leave their contact information can be extremely challenging consistently.

Remember, PPL offers don’t pay as much for each conversion, but you may generate the same profits as PPS if you collect enough leads. Just keep in mind that the offer will dictate what information needs to be collected to register a conversion, ensuring that you get all the data listed on the program details.

6.3 Pay-Per-Click

PPC is a pricing scheme that’s common in the world of digital marketing. In simple terms, PPC offers only require affiliates to generate clicks and send traffic to the advertiser’s offer page.

The main goal of PPC offers to generate more traffic, so advertisers may not even promote a specific product or deal. Instead, these companies are happy with increasing the number of visitors on their site, so you get paid by simply boosting their traffic and adhering to the offer requirements.

PPC campaigns are the easiest to convert on this list, but you should also know that they have the lowest average payouts.

6.4 Revenue Share

Also known as rev share, revenue share offers are designed to collect subscriptions and pay affiliates a percentage of each client’s profits. In most cases, revshare offers last for the duration of each client’s subscription, but this may vary depending on the program.

Revenue share deals are popular among well-established companies and brands that are on the rise. These pose a great option for seasoned affiliates looking to bolster their passive income strategies, but these offers usually have a longer conversion flow.

7. How to find a profitable affiliate product?

One simple technique you can do to find an affiliate product to promote that will significantly improve your odds of success in affiliate marketing.

This technique can take maybe half an hour of your time, but you’ll get lots of advantages because you’ll know who wants your product, how you will promote it, and which keywords you will use.

7.1. Specify the particular person that your new business idea is communicating with

This resolves the “who” question in marketing.

  • Who is your audience?
  • Are you talking to one person?
  • Are you talking to a general audience?

The more specific you can get, the better.

7.2. Identify The Main Problem That Your Affiliate Product Solves

This answers the “what” question.

What problem does your affiliate product or service solve for that particular person you named in step 1?

It is all about cutting it down to one main problem.

7.3. Identify The Special Advantage Of Your Offer

This answers the “why” question in marketing.

  • Why should they trust you and click on your affiliate link?
  • Is your benefit something that only you can provide, or is it something that everyone is offering?

7.4. Think About How To Provide a Different Solution

This answers the “how” question.

  • How is your product or service promoted?
  • Can you do something different than others?
  • Think of the format, the technology, the medium. Is your product promoted uniquely?

Once you find answers to those 4 questions, you should fill in the blanks of this sentence.

My affiliate product is helping “a particular person” with “the main problem” to achieve “benefit” through “your unique solution.”

If you can’t provide a different solution to promote your product, you’ll have less chance to get clicks on your affiliate links.

If your product isn’t solving any problems, then why would someone want it?

But that is not all. The problem your offer is solving should have a decent amount of monthly searches, so when your content ranks high enough, you’ll get all that organic traffic visiting your site and clicking your affiliate links.

You can also use paid advertising to promote your offer, but if you are a beginner, I suggest leaving that until you already have some money earned from your website. Then you can invest in paid ads.

7.5. Check Popularity Of Your Affiliate Product

So go to your keyword tool. I use Ubersuggest. If you want to be more serious about this, then I suggest trying Semrush. They have a free trial so that you can try them.

Let’s say you’ve chosen to promote the course on how to bring traffic to your website. So you type in the search bar how to bring traffic to your website.

As a result, you will get several searches that term has during the month, you will get the average cost per click for that term, and you will get estimated competition in organic search.

You are looking for a high number of searches, high cost per click, which means that keyword is valuable, and low competition means that it will be relatively easy to rank for that keyword.

As you can see, our keyword is getting 720 monthly searches, have an average CPC of 9.49$, and SEO difficulty of 32. Just a spot below, there’s a similar phrase that has higher CPC and lowers SEO difficulty, which makes it a better choice to use. I would spread both of them through my content because you can never know whether Google even ranks you for the keyword you’ve selected.

Maybe 720 monthly searches don’t seem to be much but imagine you are on page one, and you are getting all those eyes on your affiliate links. You’ll be earning some decent commissions for sure, don’t you think so?

Once you do this, you’ll know exactly which affiliate product can bring you success.

8. How to promote affiliate products?

After informing your audience what’s in store for your niche, you can continue to urge them to purchase by promoting those products and letting them see their usefulness and helpfulness.

Depending on the site you have built and the products you are selling, you can promote what you offer in many ways.

Your promotion strategy matters a lot. There is a wide range of ways to promote your affiliate products. You can use blogging forums, paid ads, YouTube, social media, and so on.

Here are some powerful ways to promote your affiliate products in 2020.

8.1 Search Engine Traffic

In my opinion, search traffic is the best for affiliate marketing. That’s because it is quite cheap to get it (if you do things right), and it’s targeted to the article and the product(s) you promote.

In the previous chapter (#8), I’ve told you how to do keyword research and optimize your article or review for Google. However, that’s only half of the job when we talk about SEO.

The other one is to get high-quality backlinks to these articles. Your reviews will not rank without backlinks, and you will not get traffic from SEO, which means no affiliate commissions for you.

Here on, we’ve written numerous guides on how to get backlinks, so that I will post them here:

8.2. Create an email sequence

Most successful affiliate marketers make the majority of their affiliate sales from their email lists. Whether you know it or not, email gives you the highest ROI.

There are several emails involved in the email sequence, which include;

  • A welcome email (where you can talk about who you are and what people can expect from you besides welcoming them)
  • Several email newsletters (mostly informative emails around the products you want to promote)
  • Intro product email (where you can introduce your target product)
  • Offering a freebie (or a free resource around the product you’re going to promote)
  • Few more emails (which are mostly informative)
  • Sales emails (this is where you sell the product)

8.3 Get exclusive coupon deals

One excellent way to promote products and make money easier through affiliate marketing is to hunt products already popular and negotiate exclusive deals with the vendors.

Remember that you need to ‘prove’ to vendors that you will generate sales for them. To do that, you should have a niche website with an audience interested in their products.

8.4. Create an expert roundup post

One smart way to promote your affiliate products is to create roundup posts with other experts in your niche.

For instance, we wrote an expert roundup post where we asked around 40 blogging experts a straightforward question: “What are the three best SEO tools you can’t live without?”

So why not try the expert roundup posts and make sure to develop an idea where you can smartly promote your favorite affiliate programs.

8.5 Run contests on social media

If you’re struggling to increase your affiliate sales, use social media wisely.

You can run contests and giveaways to capture email addresses and attract more sales.

Here are some smart tips for running content on social media:

  • Define your goals. Capture emails and drive more traffic to your product-specific landing pages.
  • Offer some freebies that are highly relevant to the products you promote. For instance, if you’re promoting an SEO-related product, offer a giveaway related to SEO. That’s how you can capture the right people.
  • You can connect with brands and product vendors to offer free licenses or exclusive deals to your audience (to run your giveaway). Web hosting companies often use this strategy, so why not give it a try?

8.6. Create a freebie around the product you want to promote

Freebies can instantly double or triple your email subscriber growth.

Freebies can be anything, starting from ebooks to checklists to free trials and so on. Make sure your freebies are highly relevant to the affiliate products you promote to your email list.

For instance, if you’re promoting “home equipment gym products,” you can build a huge email list by offering freebies around “fitness tips for beginners,” “how to use a treadmill like a pro,” “how to get rid of tummy fat” etc.

8.7. Create a resource page

This is a simple yet underrated promotion strategy that most affiliate marketers still don’t use.

Create a resource page like mine and feature all of your affiliate products with a short description of what makes them so amazing. Make sure to include products that you aren’t affiliated with too.

Your resources page should help your blog audience (so listing every product useful to them will help).

So if you haven’t created a resources page on your website yet, you should do it now. Just make sure to recommend anything that you think will provide more value to your blog audience.

We will update this guide soon with information regarding how to signup to affiliate marketing networks, select an affiliate program, how to promote affiliate problems and how to get paid by affiliate networks. Stay tuned.


Now that you have done these, you just have to keep doing what you are doing, and that is the final and ultimate step to become the best affiliate marketer you can be!

Your started efforts in building the site to create meaningful content and product promotions can take hard work since consistency is the key. But if you are willing to do these things constantly, then one of these days, you will see yourself as a successful affiliate marketer, monetize your website better and earn more and more.

Need help? Check our recommended best affiliate marketing books, the top affiliate marketing forums, hire us or contact us. We are friendly 🙂

About Daniel S.

Daniel is the founder of Digital Media Intelligence digital agency and digital marketing manager here at 2005 he helps online business owners to establish a presence online and win the digital race.


  1. Great article Daniel! You have covered almost everything that an affiliate marketer needs to look into. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

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