Make Money With Affiliate Marketing in 11 Easy Steps

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Affiliate marketing is a fantastic way to build passive income that will continue to flow in, even when you’re spending time on other projects. It’s one of the fastest and most effective ways to begin making an income from your blog or website, even when you’re still building up your following and reputation.

By targeting the right audience, you can enjoy commission while recommending your favorite products and services; and the best part is that affiliate marketing works for all niches. 

However, bloggers and niche site owners tend to make a few mistakes that limit their chances of affiliate success. Here’s our guide on how to make money with affiliate marketing so you can maximise profit, making every post pay. 

Since there are many considerations involved, please read the full guide before implementing or making any changes to your affiliate posts. 

Make Money With Affiliate Marketing Today

1. Target the Right Audience

When I first started implementing an affiliate process, I applied for popular affiliate programs and inserted the affiliate link into my popular posts. 

While this affiliate ‘trickle-down effect’ will make you some income, it’s not the best strategy for affiliate success. You need to catch the reader with their credit card in their hand to start making consistent sales. 

To really start making money from affiliates, you need to flip your affiliate game around and start the process by choosing the right product/service, that are essential to your target audience, that have prime keywords to help you rank your affiliate article on page one of Google.

For example, instead of just adding Amazon product affiliate links to your guide on studying for finals, you can choose a product that you know will help students study and target the keywords they would be using to search for such products.

Why not do both? You can make money through both methods, but the more targeted approach will likely make more. Track the income to see which type of post brings in the most income.

So How Do I Rank on Google?

This process is called search engine optimization (SEO). If you are not familiar with SEO I suggest you read our introductory guide here and sign up for our free 4-part SEO course.

Part of SEO is keyword research.

This helps you target keywords with a decent volume and low competition so you can appear on page one of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) in Google.

SEO will allow you to reach the right audience who want to buy the affiliate product or service. 

We call this process writing ‘money-making’ posts. You can make affiliate income from social media but you need an engaged audience to do so. An active newsletter list is another funnel that you can target.

For us, SEO offers the best outcomes for our travel and food sites when it comes to monetising through affiliates so this guide is going to focus on using SEO.

2. Choose Products/Services to Promote

When deciding what affiliate products to promote, don’t just choose the popular ones. Really consider the following things:

  • The affiliate and the product. Do you stand behind the company? Is it something your audience needs or wants? Is it a high enough price point to actually make money from? What commission will you receive? What is the cookie window?
  • How a buyer would purchase the product. Will they buy right away or consider their decision first? This will affect what kind of marketing you need to do.
  • What is the user intent of the target audience? For example, what does the Google searcher asking for ‘best neighborhoods in New York’ want? Hotels? Houses for sale? What does a searcher asking for “best slow cooker” want?

3. Consider the Buying Cycle

You need to appeal to readers who are ready to purchase in order for them to get out their credit card and make the purchase right away. So be sure you choose keywords that target the decision/buying stage. These people are beyond the information-gathering stage and are ready to buy as soon as they find the right product.

Using buying words and phrases will attract decision-stage readers. Here are some example buying words:

  • Product reviews
  • This product vs That product 
  • Best luxury product or best budget product
  • For women … for men … for families

If you think you have a chance of ranking on page one of Google with your post, then don’t worry so much about the volume of the keyword. It’s better to rank well for smaller volume keywords than to not rank for high volume ones.

I used to believe you needed a large audience to make money but that’s not true, you need a targeted audience. With affiliate marketing, it is better to have a hundred views that convert, than a thousand that don’t. 

For example, one of my targeted money-making posts makes 3x the commission in comparison to another post that receives a ton of views but isn’t targeted. 

Affiliate links work much better in a targeted post.

4. Solve a Problem

You can add an affiliate link to just about any post, but the ones that will begin to make money are the ones that solve a problem.

The best way to tackle this is to brainstorm your audience’s pain points. Think about an issue that causes a problem for your audience – something they struggle with.

What are the top three things that keep your audience up at night?

Such as how to source a recipe ingredient they can’t get at home, or how to choose the best elliptical machine when there are so many similar options on the market. Those are the affiliate products you should introduce to your audience.

After brainstorming, conduct keyword research to see if people are actively looking for a solution to that problem on Google. If there is search volume, and the post you write solves the problem, you will begin to make affiliate sales.

Note: Don’t forget to consider whether you can compete against the top ten posts in the SERPs. If there are already dozens of people solving that problem, you might have a hard time getting your solution in front of readers. 

Write an in-depth and very useful guide for your audience about that pain point. Identify the issue, empathize with the issue, and introduce your product that solves the issue.

5. Choose The Right Affiliate Programs 

When choosing an affiliate program, at the very least you have to consider the following: 

  • Commission – What percentage will you make? Or is there a flat fee you will receive per sale?
  • Cookie Window – How long does a reader have to purchase in order for you to get the commission? 

For example, Booking.com’s direct program gives a 25% commission on the amount they make (not the full hotel booking amount) with no cookie window, whereas Amazon has a sliding scale for commission, product depending, and a 24-hour cookie window.

More advanced site owners will also consider the overall company conversion rate before applying too because the company’s ability to make the sale after you’ve led a reader to them is also very important.

6. Consider the Types of Affiliate Programs

Some companies choose to host a direct affiliate program like Booking.com and Amazon Associates. 

Others go via a third party where you sign up for the third-party program (like Commission Junction or Awin), then you must also apply for the individual affiliate program. 

There are companies covering every niche thinkable in these third-party sites. 

Here are some of the affiliate marketing programs we use on our sites (travel, food and SEO):

  • Amazon Associates – Direct Amazon product sales
  • ShareASale – Third party, shop for merchants once you sign up
  • VigLink now Sovrn Commerce – Third party, shop for merchants once you sign up
  • CJ – Third party, shop for merchants once you sign up 
  • Partnerize was Performance Horizon – Third party, shop for merchants once you sign up
  • Awin – Third party, shop for merchants once you sign up
  • Food52 – Recipes, kitchenware
  • Avantlink – A collection of international merchants.