What is affiliate marketing

What is affiliate marketing? A beginner’s guide

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Filed under: Strategy

Affiliate marketing can change your life. But only if you put in the work. Sorry, it’s not a get rich scheme, but is a way to build a profitable digital asset that has a strong resale value. If you wonder what is affiliate marketing, then this guide is for.


By the end, you’ll learn all of the basics about affiliate marketing. Along the way, I’ll do my best to bust a few popular myths and help you take action.


I will have failed you, if you get to the bottom of this page and haven’t taken action, even if it’s tiny. So I’ll do my best to give you action steps as we talk to ensure you start now.


The first myth to bust is you need everything fully formed before you launched. No. No. No. It’s better to start with a rough outline and refine along the way than wait for the perfect branding, plan or timing.


If you haven’t got it by now: Fortune favours those who take action even when they are scared, unprepared or lazy!



What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is simply recommending a product to an audience, then getting paid a piece of the revenue you generate for the business.


There isn’t one single best way to build an audience. You could build up a YouTube channel, Twitter profile, Instagram profile, start a podcast or build a blog. It depends on your personality, skills and goals.


As you don’t need to hold products in a warehouse or recruit a sales team, all of the typical costs of running a business are removed, allowing you to get started with a small investment.


For example, you could start recording videos on your smartphone and start a YouTube channel from your bedroom. It’s worked for countless people. Over time, you can invest in better gear.


Another example is starting a blog. All you need to buy is hosting and a domain name, then install WordPress (for free). Finally, start writing and publishing content with affiliate links. You should be able to start for under £50.



Is it a get rich quick scheme?

So many people get into affiliate marketing as they believe they’ll get rich overnight. But that’s not how business works. There is a lot of potential in affiliate marketing, but you need to put in the work, just like with any other business.


Sorry to burst your bubble. But, it’s the truth.


To succeed at anything in life, you need grit, determination and a bit of luck.


You can create your own luck by working hard, dreaming big and seizing every opportunity.


Affiliate marketing is a fun, dynamic space to operate within, with endless opportunities, and there’s always something new to learn.



Can it replace my income in the next 12 months?

Before I answer this question directly, I’d like to quote Bill Gates:


“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”


It’s possible to build an affiliate website in the next year that replaces your income. However, whether or not you succeed depends on a range of factors.


Firstly, you’ll need to pick a niche that growing but not oversaturated. So forget Cypro, Health Supplements and Personal Finance, particularly if you want to achieve your goal in the next year or two.


Second, if you’re slow to take action or ask for help, then you’ll add months or years to your path. Those who succeed take action even when they have no clue or plan but believe in dumb luck.


It’s far better to try and fail than be sat waiting for the perfect brand name or the ideal logo font to drop into your inbox. And unless you have six or seven figures to spend on building a brand, a rebrand a year or two in, won’t hurt your bottom line. I know this to be true as I’ve done it!


Third, if you can hustle or have some cash saved up, then you’ll be closer to the goal than if you take it slow and only write a monthly blog post. You’ll need to post multiple posts per week, even if someone else writes them.


Fourth and finally, it depends on how much you’re earning and spending now. If you like well below your means, then building a site that covers your basic living income is far easier than if you’re spending big and always borrowing money.


If you can, reduce the cost of your lifestyle now. You could cook for friends rather than eating out. Buy clothes from eBay or FaceBook marketplace. Go camping instead of travelling to another country.



What’s the best way to get started?

Find a niche, buy a domain name and hosting. Next, install WordPress and find a good theme. You then want to start writing content and promote it. Finally, make money!


Yes, that is an oversimplification. But it’s a good outline nonetheless.


Niche selection

Pick a topic you’re passionate about, and that has good money-making potential. Avoid topics where there’s a lot of competition.


From my experience, business or club directories are hard to make money with as you can only run adverts and need thousands of daily visitors to make enough to eat. Likewise, gambling is highly lucrative but the competition is fierce.



Don’t wait for the perfect brand name or identity. You don’t have six figures to spend on building a brand, including doing endless media appearances and hiring branding firms.


Pick a simple brand name, find a domain name that includes/is your brand and buy it. Next, invest in good website hosting. I use Hostinger for both as they are affordable, offer good support and have a network of data centres worldwide.


Hostinger allows you to install WordPress with a single click. From there, you can add your own theme or customise an existing one.



If you want to get ahead, then invest in my Content Map course as it will teach you how to do keyword research, organise ideas into a plan and show you what to track to ensure success.



Get your website in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Start a Facebook page and buy some adverts. Get on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. Start creating YouTube videos.


Beg for links from other relevant websites and get as much press as possible. If someone wants to interview you, buy them coffee!



There are several ways you can make money from an affiliate website. You could run adverts from Google Adsense, sell adverts to relevant businesses, find affiliate programmes and promote those products, and you could build a course or live event.


It might take you 6 to 12 months to see any real income from your website, but you should keep going. Profit is the result of doing a good job for your clients.



What are popular affiliate programs?

By far, Amazon is the world’s leading affiliate program. As the store that sells pretty much everything, for most, it’s a no brainer to join their affiliate program.


A range of affiliate marketing networks exists, including Awin, CJ Affiliate and Avangate Affiliate Network, which make it easy to find opportunities and products to promote.



Can I ask companies or brands for a private affiliate deal?

It’s possible to approach companies directly and ask them to agree to a private deal with you. However, unless you can prove it’s worth their while to do business with you then it will be a tough sale to convince them.


They will want to see proof that you can bring them customers, have a good strong editorial line and are building a long term business. As a partnership, it has to work for both parties for everyone to feel like it’s a good deal.



Will I be able to build a saleable asset?

If you build a business around your personality or identity then it will be harder (or impossible) to sell. No one can fully imitate you, so you’ll have to turn up and be involved.


So, please don’t start another “beauty by Kate” blog unless you’re convinced there’s another Kate out there who might buy your website and can write (or pay you to write) in your personal style.


Instead, focus on building a website around a brand name and identity created by you but not linked to you directly. You don’t need a biography section on each page with your name, photo and a short introduction. Save that for your about page.


A business is only saleable if it does something unique or is profitable with a strong brand. You’re unlikely to find a buyer if your business is in massive debt, has no market share and has little cash flow.


Focus on building a strong, profitable business that is attractive to potential buyers. Invest in creating and having robust processes that keep the business growing and profitable.



Can I build an affiliate income or website if I’m not a great writer?

Despite having written over a million words in the last few years, I’m not the greatest writer available. I’m far better than I was but still plagued by mild dyslexia.


That said, writing is a skill that can be learnt and improved. The more I write, the better at it I become.


As there are plenty of better writers available, I’ve focused on becoming a good editor.


My focus is on understanding my topics in detail, who the website is targeting and what pain points my reader has. I then turn these insights into keywords, which I validate using Rank Tracker.


With this keyword data, I then decide who is best to write the article and then I draw up an outline to keep them on track. Next, I ask the writer to do their best within my guidelines, agree on a price and set a deadline.


When I have the article back, I then read it, make any changes, and run it through Grammarly. Next, I format it so it’s easy to read and find images that support the message. Finally, I upload it to WordPress, add images and links. All that’s left is to hit publish!



What about link building? Do I need to know how to do that?

One way to promote your website is to get other websites to link to yours. Many believe it’s a dark art shrouded in mystery. It’s not.


Without getting too technical or deep, you need some links to prove to Google that you’re worth displaying in the search results. However, you want any links you create to be from trusted websites and natural.


Years ago, some idiot built hundreds of links to their website. A few weeks later, they saw their keyword position shoot up like a rocket. They preached to anyone and everyone that SEO was about building hundreds of links (bad quality ones at that).


Google and Bing got smart to this practice and slapped down websites that looked like they had a ton of spammy links pointing to them. People quickly learn to target quality and relevant websites for links.


You can acquire links by doing press, podcasts and providing valuable insights to your reader by creating content that answers their questions and speaks directly to them. Failing that, you can always beg.


Another way is to hire my good friend, Minuca Elena to create a roundup post for your website as you’ll gain plenty of backlinks.


How much do affiliate websites sell for?

For some reason, websites are typically sold on a multiple of monthly revenue, usually around 30 times. If you do the maths, this works out about 2 times annual revenue, which is around the typical multiple for selling an off-line business.


Of course, the market is ruled by supply and demand. You might want a quick exit, so are willing to take a smaller amount. If you have a unique website, then you might wait for someone to pay over the odds for it.


There are no hard and fast rules, only what you can negotiate with a buyer.



Where can I sell my affiliate website?

Much like selling a pub or shop, the typical route is to use a business broker. Of course, if you have a strong network of contacts, then you could put some feelers out and try to sell privately.


There are a few website-only business brokers that are ideal for using to selling an affiliate website. These include Empire Flippers, Motion Invest, and Flippa.


Ask how many listings sell and at what discount (list price vs sale price). Be wary of someone who doesn’t give you this information or has a really low sale rate or a high discount amount.



Can you help me get started?

My aim with this blog and the services we offer is to empower people who are willing to take action to start and build websites that generate revenue and they can be sold.


If you’re new to affiliate marketing, I encourage you to read this blog then buy the Content Map Course.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Learn more.

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