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How to start out in Affiliate Marketing - A simple step by step guide

How to start out in Affiliate Marketing - A simple step by step guide

If you’re reading this article, there’s a high chance you’ve already heard of affiliate marketing but are unsure of what it is. In a nutshell ...
Affiliate Marketing is when you get paid to promote other people’s products online
Now this is a very simple explanation and there’s a bit more too it, but after reading this guide, we’re sure you’ll have the necessary know how to start your very own affiliate marketing venture.

1. What is Affiliate Marketing

2. Choosing a Niche and Creating your Content 

3. Joining Affiliate Networks

4. Choosing your Affiliate Programs to Promote

5. How to get Traffic to your Affiliate Offers

6. Analyze, Optimize and Refine your Strategy 

Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at some of common lingo that you’ll come across when starting out in affiliate marketing ...
Affiliate Program – An affiliate program is an agreement between a product/service owner who wants to advertise their services online and a website owner who’s willing to help them promote their product or service.
The website owner will receive a commission from said product owner, when they redirect a visitor from their website to the advertiser’s site and the visitor goes on to make an end purchase or subscription.
The site owner or affiliate bridges the gap between the product owner and end consumer and earns a commission for this referral service.
CPA Marketing - In the examples above, we’ve suggested that affiliates only sell products in return for commission. However, affiliates can also earn commission from getting the referred visitor to complete a certain action, be it joining a newsletter, downloading an app or simply submitting their email. This is known as CPA marketing and it stands for Cost Per Action Marketing.
Let’s face it, people start affiliate marketing in order to earn commission and CPA marketing is arguably one of the easiest forms of affiliate marketing around. You get to earn commission by referring people to trusted brands and products, those that you’d personally buy in the first place.

So what is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing covers everyone that’s involved in the process of selling a product online, from the product owner, to the affiliate network, to the affiliate marketer, to the end consumer. All four parties are involved and each party has their own role to play.
Let’s take a look at these more closely
Advertiser / Product Owner
This is the advertiser / product owner, the person or brand that wants to sell their product to a wider audience.
To get instant exposure for their product, product owners will often setup deals with affiliate networks to advertise their products for them.
Normally in return for an agreed commission per sale. 
Affiliate Network
Affiliate networks are made up of multiple advertisers and they often have 100’s of affiliates (website owners) joined to them.
Affiliates can browse the networks and cherry pick which advertisers’ products they want to promote on their website or blog in return for an agreed commission per sale. This is agreed directly with the network
Affiliate Networks act as the middle man between advertisers and affiliates and they take a small cut from every sale the affiliate makes.
Affiliate / Publisher

Affiliates act as the bridge between the advertisers and consumers. They promote advertisers’ products on their blog or website and earn a commission whenever the consumer goes from their site to the advertisers and completes a purchase. Affiliates will have deals with affiliate networks. Affiliate networks will have higher deals with the same advertisers. The networks take a small cut from every sale the affiliates make, basically the difference between what the advertiser pays them and what they pay the affiliate. 

For Example - The advertiser may pay the network £50 per sale, whereas the Network only pays the affiliate £40. The network therefore earns £10 for every sale made

This is the end person who purchases the product which is advertised on the affiliates website or blog. They will be redirected from the affiliate website to the advertisers via an affiliate link and once the purchase is complete, the affiliate will earn a commission from the network for facilitating the referral.
An affiliate offer is what publishers/affiliates promote online and these offers can be found in virtually every category you can think of, some of the most popular being, dating, health and beauty, sports and fitness and wealth and money. When you start out in affiliate marketing you’ll need to decide on what sort of affiliate offers you want to promote and this brings us onto our next step

Choosing a suitable niche and creating your content

When it comes to affiliate marketing, it’s a well-known fact that content is king, compelling content will encourage your readers to return to your site or blog and increase the likelihood of visits converting to sales.
It may come as no surprise then that its highly recommended that you choose a niche or category that your already familiar with, even better one your already highly passionate about. If you possess a natural interest, this will naturally come across in your content providing value to your readers.
The golden rule here is not to spread your efforts too thinly, focus on a particular niche and target audience and create content that’s specific too it. If your content is unique and well written, it will engage your audience and establish your site as a leading authority on the topic and visitors will always return for more.
Affiliate marketing spans virtually every niche you can think off, so you won’t be hard pressed to choose one. However, if you’re still unsure of where to start, here is a list of some of the most popular CPA niches. 
Dating   -      Dating Apps
Health   -      Weight Loss, Vitamins, Nutrients, Nootropics
Beauty -       Skin Care, Make Up, Hair Loss
Fitness -       Muscle Building, Weight Loss,
Gambling -   Sports, Bingo, Casino, Poker
Games -        Desktop, Apps, Mobile
Money -        Credit Cards, Make Money
Remember you can easily browse affiliate offers across all niches using our affiliate offer category search.


Joining Affiliate Networks


So at this stage maybe you have a website and you’ve chosen your niche, but are still wondering how do I actually join affiliate programs? Well this part is simple, what really matters is not how but where you join them. Affiliate programs are essential to start monetizing your website or blog and here’s a list of some of the best CPA affiliate networks to join when first starting out.


MaxBounty – (Great selection of offers and ideal for newbies)
AdCombo – (Great support and offers, ideal for newbies)
PeerFly – (Great support and offers, ideal for newbies)
Of course this list of networks is by no means exhaustive, instead it shows where to find the best affiliate programs and CPA offers for newbies. When choosing a network remember to checks its reputation.Is the network reputable? Does it pay a decent commission? Always make an informed decision before joining a network and not one based on chance, easily done with our Affscanner Network Review Service. Our users review all of the top CPA networks around to give you insight into how the networks really operate.
One you’ve settled on a network, you’ll need to apply to it in order to promote their affiliate programs. When it comes to the application process, it’s always best to remain honest in your response. Honesty is the best policy here and if you’re new to CPA marketing then don’t hesitate to let them know. Giving incorrect info about past experience, promotional methods or current earnings is a sure-fire way to getting your application rejected. Instead let the network know about your website and preferred niche and explain how you plan to promote the offers in detail, this will dramatically increase the likelihood of approval.
Upon submitting your application you’ll have to wait at least 24 – 72hrs before approval. If you want to speed this up, you can always contact us with your full name, network and sign up email and we’ll use our industry contacts to help expedite your approval process. Please contact us via Skype – Affscanner or email – to do this.
If the network wants to interview you further, just remember to be yourself, be confident and always be honest. Remember everyone has to start out as an affiliate sometime, even the biggest super affiliates of today. 

If your application does get rejected, don’t take this personally, instead use this as a chance to gain further information from the network as to why. You’ll then be even more prepared when applying for your next network and believe us there are many.

Choosing Affiliate Programs to Promote

Once you’ve picked your networks, the next stage as an affiliate is to choose the affiliate programs you want to promote. If you’re website or blog falls in the health and beauty niche, it makes sense to choose products and affiliate programs that fall into this niche as well.

Referencing products that are related to your content and site niche is a sure-fire recipe for success. Try and conduct some background research and identify products or brands that are trending, remember your purpose is to give your target audience what it wants and not what you think it wants. If they’re already familiar with the product or service, the likelihood of converting said visitor into making a sale will be significantly increased. Try to put yourself in your audiences’ shoes, would you personally buy the product or recommend it to friends and family. If not, there’s a strong chance your audience won’t be interested in it either. Trying to push poor products on your audience just to get high commissions is a recipe for failure.

Be smart and build a reputable site and brand and you’ll reap the benefits long term. Once you’ve chosen your products, remember to search our affiliate offers to identify which network offers you the best rates and commission. If the network has a decent rating as well then your good to go, make sure you join the affiliate program via it.

Get Traffic for your Affiliate Offers

You now have everything in place, your site, networks and affiliate offers but somethings still missing. Oh yes traffic! If you don’t have anyone visiting your site or browsing your offers then of course you won’t make any sales. As an affiliate you need traffic in terms of site visitors in order to make money, that’s a fact.
To get traffic you need to get into the mindset of your target audience, what products do they want and how can you convince them to buy them. Often people will purchase what they don’t really need, creating an emotional hook by focusing on how a product will personally benefit them is a great way to do this. Will it save them time, make them healthier, earn them more money? If the argument for is strong enough, they’ll be more than likely to buy it.
To get visitors there’s a number of different traffic sources which can be explored
Free Search Traffic (Organic SEO)
This involves getting free traffic from the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Your site or blog will appear in the normal search results and visitors will be brought to your site when your site link is clicked. To appear high up the search results for your chosen keywords you’ll need to invest some time learning about Search Engine Optimization or SEO.

Having decent content on your site or blog will really help boost your rankings. If you decide to focus on this traffic source we highly recommend that get writing content now and lots of it. The great thing about getting free traffic from the search engines is that once your site is established in the rankings, you’ll receive a continual stream of traffic for free on a daily basis.
Paid Search Traffic (Pay Per Click, Google Adwords)
These are the links that appear at the top of the search results on Google, Bing, Yahoo ect. The great thing about paid search is that your site will always be shown above the other free search results if your site is shown for the users search term. Paid search works by placing bids on selected keywords or search terms, when these are searched your site will appear in the results if your bid is high enough and you will cover the cost of the bid for every click that comes to your site from your ad. Its also known as PPC or pay per click marketing and the most well-known platforms are Google Adwords, Bingads, Yahoo Gemini ect.
Paid search allows you to immediately expose your site to the whole of the internet without having to invest any time in SEO. It’s ideal for affiliate marketers who know they have a great site or product but are struggling to get traffic to it.

Paid search is a great traffic source for affiliate marketers but remember it comes at a cost and you need to make sure you know what you’re doing here as budgets can quickly be depleted if you don’t. If you take the time to learn about it, it’s definitely worth pursuing if you organise and structure your AdWords campaign’s correctly.

Social Media (free, paid)
Social Media is an integral part of our lives these days and it seems like its here to stay. With most people using Social Media of some form or another it provides an excellent outlet to source traffic from with little if any barriers to entry. You can setup a Facebook Page / Group, YouTube Channel, Instagram Profile, Twitter Page, Google Plus Page and Pinterest account and quickly promote affiliate offers to a wide receptive audience. You can also buy traffic with the likes of Facebook Ads
You may already have a Social Media following or contribute to existing Facebook groups. If so you can leverage this traffic source to your advantage.
Social Media marketing is easy to enter but it takes a lot of skill to master, it’s an artform which needs to be carried out with your target audience always in mind. Pushy sales tactics won’t work so well here, creating a brand and loyal following and indirectly promoting affiliate offers seems to be the way to go. You need to provide followers with some form of value, be it amusement, knowledge, shared interest or helpful tips. If they like your page and trust you, they’ll be much more inclined to purchase the products you mention or personally vouch for.
Buy Traffic from Advertising Networks
This involves buying advertising space across 100’s of different websites. This is done via an advertising network and your banner or site ad will be displayed on sites when the user is searching for products or services within a similar niche. Its targeted advertising, trying to give the user what they’re already looking for without them having to previously know about your site. You will pay the ad network a fixed price per 1000 views of your site ad, known as CPM or cost per thousand impressions. Every time your banner is shown 1000 times across any of the sites, you will pay the agreed amount.
The following advertising networks provide quality traffic for non-adult sites and we highly recommend them Mgid, RevContent, Adnow. If you’re looking to buy Adult traffic try PlugRush. Again, this list is not exhaustive and there are many more ad networks but these are all worth checking out.
Related Forums & Blogs 
Posting in Forums related to your niche is a great way to bring traffic to your site. Try to establish a presence within the forum and help others before you start promoting your products or own site. If you’re liked and trusted with a solid reputation, users will be much more inclined to follow your links and buy the products you recommend.
Guest posting on other related sites is a great way to bring traffic to your site and establish yourself within your niche. You’ll form relationships with other affiliates in your industry and you can leverage this to form long-term partnerships and help each other out. Guest posting will require a lot of effort on your behalf to create unique and insightful content. However, it will benefit your site immensely in many areas by improving your SEO backlink profile, bringing traffic to your site or affiliate offers, creating relationships with other affiliates and establishing you as a leading authority within your niche.
Getting traffic to your site is essential to an affiliate’s success and this section on Traffic Sources should be taken seriously. So, lets recap on the key points.
  • Content is king. Good content will eventually lead to more traffic. Write with passion about what you personally love or recommend and never copy content. If your content is unique, well written and informative, this will translate to more sales.
  • Always consider your target audience before you start any task, be it looking for offers, creating content, setting up your AdWords campaign or marketing on Facebook.
  • Identify what your audience will search for and what they want, this will help immensely if you decide on Google Adwords.
  • Leverage your existing Social Media channels or create new ones, remember everyone interacts with Social Media these days. Try to vary your content across different Social Media Channels so that your content remains fresh and unique, remember different channels will attract different audiences.
  • Be proactive, contact other sites to guest post and contribute to related forums and blogs. Create a presence within your niche and establish yourself as a leading authority in your domain
  • Optimise your website and learn about on page and off page SEO to build natural rankings. Again, contact other sites for link exchanges and guest post to build up your sites back link profile.

Always Analyse, Optimize and Refine

Your Affiliate marketing or CPA marketing strategy is never finished as such, you always need to analyse your results and then optimize and refine your overall strategy. Having the necessary data to identify which affiliate offers are profitable and which are not is essential to making an informed decision instead of one based on chance. You need to know how your website is performing and which affiliate offers are converting the best.
Important things to keep an eye on …
Which Affiliate Offers convert the best
What Keywords convert the best
Which pages and content convert the best
What traffic sources convert the best
Google Analytics is easily the best free tool you can use to track all of these metrics. Too be honest it easily deserves a whole post dedicated just to it. Its available to all website owners and its actually very easy to use once you get to grips with it. If we had to recommend just one free tool to anyone in affiliate marketing it would be Google Analytics
Hopefully we’ve given you enough information in this article to get you safely started on your affiliate marketing venture. We’ll be sure to continue updating this blog with more useful tips and articles covering all areas of affiliate and CPA marketing so be sure to check back regularly. If you have any questions or would like to see an article on something specific please let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate your requests. 
Remember it only takes a minute to create a free account on Affscanner. Don’t go by chance, make an informed decision with Affscanner and stay miles ahead of others. Join for free now to unlock even more cool features.


Having been an affiliate for over 10 years, i know all too well the challenges that affiliates face on a day to basis, from maintaining your campaigns, checking reports to liaising with affiliate managers, sometimes the life of an affiliate can be chaotic. I'm here to offer free advice to anyone that needs it and hopefully build on my own skill set in the process as well. We hope you like the Affscanner site and welcome any feedback you may have.