How To Start Affiliate Marketing: The Keys To Success and Profit

Affiliate marketing has been become popular in the age of the internet. So much so that 81% of brands rely on affiliate programs 

Also, between 2017 and 2018, searches for the term “affiliate marketing” grew by 44%  

The gold rush is real!

The concept of passive income through affiliate marketing has become so real and tangible to literally everyone in the world.

As a result, more and more people want to have a piece of the pie!

Ok, ok, you may know that many online businesses are founded upon the affiliate marketing model. That you too can make money through affiliate marketing.

The big question is: how do you start?

How to start affiliate marketing

Achieving anything worthwhile in life is dependent on acquiring and following proven principles.  Principles that will yield success.

So it is in the arena of affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is all about making the bridge between a merchant and a seeking buyer.

how to start affiliate marketing

Many people are actively seeking for a solution online.

The solution may be to help lose weight fast, build muscle fast, restore a relationship, or make money online.

how to start affiliate marketing

That solution comes in the form of certain privileged knowledge, services, or products.

Your duty as an affiliate marketer is to bring those people to the services or products as effortlessly and as seamlessly as possible

You have to know how to reach the buyer or seeker with the products that they need, and that you are promoting on behalf of the merchant.

So a large fraction of being successful lies in the how part. That in itself means that you have to start correctly in order to win the race.

Here are the principles you need to start and be successful in affiliate marketing:

1. Choose A Niche

A niche is a particular area of interest to you and that your potential audience is found in.

A niche may be a broad or narrow area of focus.

For example, health and fitness, relationships and dating, and make money online are all broad niches.

In contrast, weight loss for women, relationship advice for men, making money online for beginners, vegan recipes, and dog food are all sub-niches.

You get the roll?

In picking a niche you have to observe certain criteria. This is because you cannot be successful in any and all niches!

Some of the criteria you can use are:

a. Choose a niche you are passionate about

There is some debate around this point. But for me passion is the king.

It follows that you cannot excel in anything that you are not passionate about. At least for as long as that lack of passion remains.

What life area do you enjoy studying?

What life subject do you think would make you money if you put effort and the already existing passion into it?

Choosing a niche you are passionate about means that even when you come against challenges you don’t become discouraged quickly.

That would be because you love the area and are open to new knowledge.

Loving a niche also makes it easier for you to promote the products.

Most probably you would have already used the products yourself, or would be familiar enough with the subject to endorse them.

b. Choose a niche that has potential to make money

In order for a niche to make money, it has to have a big enough audience that you can recommend your products to with a good return on investment of your time and money.

The niche has also to be not too competitive.

For example, weight loss pills may not be a good niche as it is too narrow, and focuses on only one tiny area, pills.

But, weight loss tips for middle-aged women is a niche that has a broad target.

While it may be competitive, the big size of the audience is enough to offset the challenges posed by competition.

In addition, weight loss tips encompass a wide array of products to promote: ebooks, videos, herbal products, pills, food..etc

c. Choose a niche that is evergreen

Evergreen means that there is consistent demand for products of that niche for the foreseeable future.

It’s not a niche that is present today and gone tomorrow. For example, mobile phone gadgets for 2019, may not be a niche that exists in 2025.

Evergreen also means that throughout the year, you can make profit off of products in that niche. This will be in spite of seasonal lows and highs.

After choosing a niche you need to:

2. Research Your Niche Audience

Seek to understand the pains and struggles of your audience.

To achieve that, do the following:

a. Brainstorm your audience’s challenges.

For example, if you are in the weight loss niche, you may find that overweight people struggle with sleep, walking up stairs or long distances, self-esteem, and getting things done, among other things.

how to start affiliate marketing

b. Seek to know how they can be helped

What kind of products can help alleviate their problems?

For example, for the overweight you may find that green smoothies may do the trick in reducing their weight.

Equally, you may recommend ebooks or videos with physical exercises that target fat.

Similarly, books on self-esteem may be recommended at the same time as they are undergoing the transformation process.

After finding out what your audience needs, do the following:

3. Determine What Products To Promote

When starting affiliate marketing, the kind of products that you can promote fall in basically two categories: affiliate marketplace products, and service products.

Let’s look at the two categories individually

a. Identifying affiliate marketplace products to promote

how to start affiliate marketing

Many marketplaces exist online.

These are affiliate marketing websites or in simple language, websites where vendors place their products for the affiliate to find and promote.

Some well-known affiliate marketplaces include: Clickbank, Amazon, Commission Junction, and ShareaSale.

Clickbank is popular for its digital products. These come in the form of ebooks, videos, and software.

We’ll use Clickbank as our example which applies to basically all affiliate marketplaces.

When selecting products, follow the following guidelines:

i. Look at categories

Within Clickbank, you will find vast categories or sections for different products.

Those categories include: Arts and Entertainment, Business and investing, Education, Spirituality, Health and Fitness, Politics, Sports, and Travel.

ii. Identify your niche within the categories

You will find that your niche will naturally fall into one of the categories.

In some cases though, your niche may span 2 or more categories.

how to find good affiliate marketplaces

What matters is that you identify the products that really fall within your niche.

After scouring for products, you:

iii. Pick products

Pick products that you truly think would be beneficial to your audience.

You can use several criteria for this:

1. The salespage

The salespage is the body of information that appears when you click on the product. It tells you what the product can do.

In short, you will find the promise of what the product can do to alleviate a certain problem.

2. Prior personal use of the products

What better way to recommend a product than when you have used it before and you have experienced marvellous results with it?

I don’t think there is another way that beats recommendation based on personal use.

Because you know what you are talking about!

You have tested the truth of the promises, or lack thereof, and stand as a first-hand testimony.

There are 2 ways to do this: You can either buy the product and see it in action on yourself or another person.

Or you can register as an affiliate for the product and ask for a review copy of the product from the vendor.

3. Get an idea from reviews

Just go to google and type product + review.

For example, “21 day belly fix review” will yield the following results:

how to find good affiliate marketplaces

You can then go to those websites and see how the product has fared for different people.

Ensure that you not only write positive reviews, but also find the “dirt” on those products.

This is because many sites exist for affiliate purposes, and affiliates exist to make a commission!

So many products may be endorsed only because someone has to make a dollar.

iv. Find out the commission rate

You gotta know what you are getting yourself into!

You are gonna invest your time and effort.

So the return on investment better be worth it.

how to choose affiliate products

If you want to grow a passive income fast, you are not gonna want to promote products that return $5 per sale.

Otherwise you will need to have sold 400 of them to make $2000 per month.

Factoring in the conversion rate means that you are bound to make less than $2000 per month.

So pick products that are worth your time, effort, money, and goal.

For that reason, savvy affiliates pick products that pay a recurring commission, meaning you will be paid month after month.

Experienced affiliates also go for high ticket products which return a high commission.

Other factors in selecting a product include:

i. Tracking

 Does the program provide a method to track clicks, purchases, leads?

Without this, how will you know if they are paying you correctly?

Most sites have a dashboard of your account, showing daily, weekly and monthly earning stats.

ii. Use of cookies

An affiliate program should make use of 14 or 30-day cookies, or even more.

This means that if you refer a visitor to a site, and they leave without making a purchase, but return next week and then buy, you’ll get credit for the referral and you’ll get your commission.

Up to now, we have talked about registering with affiliate marketplaces as one choice you can make in doing affiliate marketing.

Here is the second option.

2. Identify Service Products That You can Promote

All forms of online businesses need and cannot function without certain services.

This is because online businesses are built on websites and websites need particular components to exist, run, and make profit.

Such important services include: hosting, themes, email follow-up service, social campaign tools, keyword research tools, and plugins to enhance the functionality of websites.

For example, among other hosting companies I have chosen Bluehost.

This is because of its Bluehost’s advantages (support, dependability, cheap hosting package, and others) over other hosting companies.

how to make money through affiliate marketing

So it becomes easy for me to recommend Bluehost hosting because i personally use and love their service product.

I also can stand in a position to recommend Getresponse because of the benefits i have realized in my use of their email marketing service.

start email marketing for free
getresponse email marketing

In addition, their commission package is good.

This is because for as long as i use Getresponse and invite others to use them, I will be earning an ever-increasing and recurring commission.

That means a given percentage from each referral each month.

Over time, those commissions will add up and make a nice, passive side income.

The good thing is that for almost all affiliate marketplaces and affiliate programs, joining is free.

So you can join anytime and start marketing.

So what do you do once you have selected your affiliate programs?

3. Market the products: Lay out a strategy how to reach your audience and make money with affiliate marketing

The key to affiliate marketing is strategy and unobtrusiveness.

You have to find the most customer-friendly way of bringing the product to the customer without being salesy.

The perfect balance or win-win scenario is when you don’t come across as selling.

Rather you come as one who guides your audience to products that will alleviate challenges or problems they are facing. Products that they are already seeking for, albeit unknowingly.

In this way you are helpful and the audience is pleased.

Both of you gain: you get a reward or commission for showing people what they need, and your audience is benefited by the alleviation of their problems.

There are different strategies of doing affiliate marketing.

All of them however can be grouped into two broad groups:

1. Affiliate marketing with a website or blog, and 2. Affiliate marketing without a blog.

Lets look at each of them below

1. Affiliate Marketing Through a Blog

In this case you set up a blog

The blog should have a clearly-defined purpose. The purpose is itself guided by your selection of niche as explained above.

For example, the purpose may be to help new marketers find their way to success, or help people struggling with weight loss.

The approach of a blog is to write helpful articles for your audience, guided by your purpose.

If you are in the weight loss niche, the subtopics may include: weight loss exercises, weight loss equipment, natural ways of slimming, vegan recipes, etc

how to choose a niche

That means that the articles you write will be on the subtopics of your chosen niche.

Just make sure you dont cross over into other unrelated niches.

How do you make money through a blog?

Ways of Making Money Through a Blog

1. Affiliate Links

As you write blog posts, tutorials, reviews, or case studies, there are instances where you mention certain products or services.  

This is the perfect place to insert affiliate links. As long as you are perfectly transparent that those links are affiliate ones.

An example of an affiliate disclosure is this:

how to make an affiliate disclosure

An example of blog post in this regard is a tutorial.

In a tutorial you create a post that shows people how to accomplish something step by step.

You then make a product or service one of the key components of the tutorial.

An example is my post on How to set up a blog easily.

In it people are taught the whole process of what is involved in setting up a functional site, understanding the crucial components of a website and how they fit together, as well as writing their first blog post.

Because hosting is integral to a site, a product I recommend in the post is hosting by Bluehost.

  2. Offer services

As you gain experience or already have some, you can begin offering certain services for a fee.

Those include coaching, seo, traffic getting skills, etc.

Coaching services may target start-up companies, teaching them the ways of the trade, and in particular, how to be profitable.

Many companies offer SEO services. This service is essential in the realization that large profits can be made from organic traffic.

SEO aims to maximize the numbers and profits to be earned from organic traffic.

If you feel particularly gifted or experienced in SEO, you can make it one of your primary service offers.

For example, Neil Patel offers to increase traffic to your website, using his SEO knowledge and traffic skills.

3. Adverts

You can reserve some space on your blog for adverts by big companies. In return, those companies pay you for using your space.

You have to determine what kind of adverts are in theme with your blog and therefore can be promoted.

In addition, you have to strike a perfect balance between knowing how much to make from adverts, and how many potential clients to lose to the advertizing companies.

how to make money through affiliate marketing

It is a known fact that some visitors only come once and go for good.

Once they have left your site because of those adverts, that’s the last you have seen of them.

And that may mean loss of future profits for you.

 4. Email marketing

Email marketing is deemed to bring the best ROI of all online marketing channels.

Email marketing works by taking potential clients through a process or journey, often called a funnel.

From the moment that a visitor enters your site, they go through an experience designed to capture their email address.

This is achieved through a combination of methods.

In all of them a free gift is offered in exchange of the client’s email address.

how to make money through affiliate marketing
Source: Pinterest

Email capture forms have taken on quite a variety of forms.

They may be in the form of a sidebar opt-in, a pop up, a contact form, a comments form, or an in-text form.

After a client has submitted their email address, they are then followed up with a series of emails.

The purpose of the emails is to nurture and build up a relationship with the client.

This is done through a combination of free tips, how-to tutorials, case studies, and free offers.

Occasionally the client may receive a recommendation of a certain product in line with what they opted in for in the first instance.

The beauty and power of email marketing is the follow up messages are preset and predetermined to go to the client.

This is done through the use of an automated service called an autoresponder.

The autoresponder messages serve to warm up the client, get them to know you better, build trust, and makes them a willing customer of yours.

All because you have taken the time to provide them value.

  5. Reviews

Reviews are a powerful way of making money through a blog.

They work by assessing the benefits, and also presenting the downsides of a product, service, or website.

Reviews also present alternatives to what is being assessed.

how to make money through affiliate marketing

When done ethically, reviews serve to alert clients to potential scammy products and save them money.

The central thing to all reviews should be honesty.

If there certain things you like about a product, state them. If there are some you dont like, state them too!

Some reviews present 2 or 3 alternative options.

Due to the varied advantages and disadvantages of each option, whatever choice is made will result in commissions for the affiliate.

This happens in a situation where the affiliate is affiliate to all the brands or products being reviewed.

Remember all your articles, reviews, videos etc should be tailored to guide your audience in decision making. It should not be buy this, buy that

6. Utilize Your Resource Page

This is probably the easiest thing you can do right now to bring in a few sales over the coming weeks: create a resource page.

Regardless of what your business is, there are tools, products, and services that you use to run your blog or business.

By putting together a page of all of your tools and resources, you’re creating something that is shareable, as well as useful.

For example, my own resource page introduces you to all the tools that every new site should have for its design, traffic and, business.

We have discussed how to make money through a website or blog. What if you dont have a blog?

Affiliate marketing without a website/blog

Let’s look at the several ways you can do this

1.Youtube tutorials

how to make money through affiliate marketing

Videos are great because they are very visual and interactive.

You can create videos showing how to do certain tasks. For example, how to make a website or blog is a nice topic for a video tutorial.

You can go over all the elements necessary for a website (hosting, domain name), and how to arrange all the components (menus, widgets, categories) of a site together.

At the end, you can recommend a hosting package.

2. Youtube reviews

Similar to reviews on a blog, you can make reviews on video. The only difference is the visual interface.

Given that video has a lot more engagement, and video is the most preferred medium of communication, you can expect a higher conversion rate than for blog posts.

You only need to insert an affiliate link in your video description.

3. Paid search

In this case, you have to pay in order to place your advert.

Paid adverts work by targeting certain phrases that searchers input in the search engines.

They are usually denoted by an “Ad” as in this example.

Here this advert is targeting people seeking a weight loss product.

how to make money through affiliate marketing

Paid adverts are usually done on a PPC (pay-per-click) basis. That means you pay for every click on your advert.

There is a lot of competition in PPC advertizing, So you have to know which cheap keywords to target.

In addition, you have to be willing to test several variations of an advert and see which one wins.

Which Method To Choose?

From my standpoint, affiliate marketing through a blog presents much more prospect of success.

While it requires effort and hardwork, and many working parts to set up, everything is coordinated together through a central component, the blog itself.

Remember the funnel system that we talked about earlier? That’s how a blog or website is designed to run.

The funnel ensures that you have prospects that you will be communicating with regularly through email marketing.

And in case anything happens to your site, youtube videos, or paid adverts, you still have people on your email list.

You can then continue offering them value and recommending products to them.

Furthermore you have a permanent home in the web from where all your marketing efforts emanate.

Affiliate marketing without a blog has its advantages in not requiring many moving parts in order to function.

You just pitch up your campaign and await the results.

You also dont need to go through the hustle of setting up and maintaining a blog

However, you are reliant on third parties.

As soon as search engines make algorithm changes, you can come crashing down overnight.

In addition, when your advertising budget dries up, the incoming also dries up.

Moverover there is fierce competition for cheap target words in PPC.

Youtube can also close your channel any time for any reason.

Imagine what happens to all those loyal subscribers you have worked hard to gather.

Imagine the revenue loss!

how to start affiliate marketing

How To be Successful in Affiliate Marketing

As we come to the end, you may be feeling a lot of information overload. Here are a few vital points to remember so that you can be successful.

1. Hardwork and persistence

Affiliate marketing requires that you learn a lot of skills all at once.

You also become personally responsible for your success.

That may seem overwhelming. But you have to develop perseverance in order to succeed.

Always remember why you started the journey and where you want to be.

Do not be intimidated by what you don’t know now. You will learn more as you move on and do what needs doing.

As for any other line of practical work, experience in affiliate marketing comes with doing.

2. Read a lot

In order to know and master the skills needed to succeed, you have to read a lot.

You don’t begin as an expert. You become an expert through reading and experience.

And you cannot share what you don’t know. All the more reason why you need to take a lot of time, especially at the beginning, to read on the important areas of your niche.

That’s why my free course on affiliate marketing mastery is designed especially with all these challenges (and their solutions) in mind.

3. Choose the right niche

It is worth reiterating that the chances of success in a niche you don’t love are next to zero.

Choose a niche you are passionate about, and it will become second nature to you in time to teach others in that field

4. Master SEO, keyword research, and traffic

You must learn how to drive traffic to your site and how to monetize that traffic.

Without keyword research, SEO, and blog promotion you are missing out on free traffic.

Without traffic you are out of business.

Take all the time to learn keyword research, traffic, and SEO, and you will profit so much better and faster

5. Be truly helpful

Write for the purpose of helping,

The posts will be so much more enriched as that will naturally help you go more in depth by placing yourself in the user’s shoes

In line with the foregoing, take the time to create truly epic content. In my opinion, content is epic when it addresses user intent and expectations.

6. Devote time to promoting content

Traffic will come to your site either through SEO or through your personal efforts to meet your audience where they are.

So take the effort to promote your own content.

Be active in community forums and groups, engage your audience and other bloggers on social media, and repurpose your content for other media like video sites and podcasts.

how to start affiliate marketing


Affiliate marketing is a great way of bringing together the seller and the buyer.

It is also a great way to make money online.

In order for it to be effective, it must be done in the spirit of helping or guiding those reached out to.

In this way it becomes a win-win scenario for all.

In order to be profitable, you must learn and master the skills that will bring traffic to your site, and convert it.

The good news is that anybody, anywhere, including you, can start the affiliate marketing journey by acquiring the foundational principles.

Leave a comment below on the methods you employ yourself to do affiliate marketing


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