Everything You Wanted To Know About Affiliate Marketing

Chances are, if you visit TopTut.com often, you have heard of affiliate marketing. You may be interested in it, but you have no idea where to start. For the beginners, I explain how you can start an affiliate website. On the basis of this article on how to set up a website and start as an affiliate, you can get started with the further development of this business.

I first start with setting up the website, after which I later switch to the content part of affiliate marketing itself. But first of all a refresher, what is affiliate marketing again?

Affiliate marketing in short

Affiliate marketing is a form of marketing where advertisers – often eshops for example – collaborate with partners (affiliates) on a performance-based basis. This is a pay-per-sale model where the advertiser only pays out on results. The affiliate will then receive a commission about the sale that they have made possible. By means of affiliate marketing, advertisers can reach a larger audience, for which they only pay when there is a result.

Affiliates can, in this case, be many different parties. It can be a fashion or travel blogger, it can be the consumer association, but also comparisons or a discount platform.

In the standard design there are three parties involved:

1. Advertisers

This is often the webshop, they offer products or services. Aim: want to generate extra traffic and sales and make promotional material available for that purpose and link a committee to the results.

2. Affiliates

These are the publishers or publishers of websites, they support the advertisers in obtaining new customers, they inform visitors of offers and send visitors to the advertiser. Does this lead to conversion? Then they get a certain commission for that.

3. Networks

An affiliate network is a link between the advertiser and the affiliates. They ensure a correct measurement of the results and see where the reward is paid or not.

But, where do you start with affiliate marketing?

Choose your domain name and build your website: 4 steps

To begin with, a domain name and a website are so handy. Think first of which niche you want to focus on, is this fashion, discount or travel for example? Tune in your domain name and keep it preferably easy. When capturing a domain it is good to see where you want to do this. Pay particular attention to the user-friendliness of web hosting. WebHostingPad and GlowHost, for example, have a one-click-install of WordPress, which immediately saves you a lot of technical knowledge, which you probably lack in the initial phase. This way you can avoid FileZilla and other more difficult set-ups.

1. Website

In the initial phase, I would personally go for the use of the WordPress software. WordPress is open source software for CMS, which has evolved at breakneck speed in recent years. An additional advantage: it is constantly updated. Google likes it. It is also very user-friendly (nowadays) and also free of charge. Another important point: WordPress has a lot of documentation available through the open source system, useful if you get stuck. YouTube is also full of tutorials on how to start with WordPress  or how to set up a theme.

2. Theme

You can choose one of the free themes that WordPress offers, my experience is that you quickly run into limitations. Via Themeforest.net or for example Creative Market, you can find themes that offer more possibilities. ElegantThemes is another great alternative, where you can download 80+ themes for a price of one. Find a theme that matches your preferred niche (travel/fashion etc.), and pay attention to the functionalities that are incorporated into a theme. Note: the most popular themes at Themeforest are due to a reason, mostly user-friendliness. Also, pay attention to the responsiveness of a theme. That means that it automatically adjusts itself on all screens. The site then comes out on the smartphone, tablet, and computer.

You can choose one of the free themes that WordPress offers, my experience is that you quickly run into limitations.

Often you can, if you have purchased a theme, import the complete demo of the theme. After importing, you soon have the basis of your website and you do not have to build ‘real’ anymore. Then it is a matter of making text adjustments and replacing pictures. Start with that and gradually learn the basics.

Before you start your content, it is good to walk through the default settings. Here you can choose your URL structure. For example, choose which page should serve as your homepage, and set the time and language.

3. Plug-ins

Almost all themes have extensive documentation that can help you further. If Visual Composer is not integrated into the theme, this is really a plug-in that is worth buying. This is a drag-and-drop builder, so you do not need HTML knowledge at the beginning. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to delve into this.

4. Yoast & Akismet

These are two plug-ins that also come in handy. With Akismet, you protect your website against spam. With Yoast, you have a tool that helps you with the analysis of search engine marketing (SEO). The Yoast plug-in helps you to clarify what you need to look for when it becomes visible in Google and actually helps you to get the hang of part of search engine optimization. You can link the Yoast plug-in to webmaster tools (more below) for further insights into where you can improve in terms of content.

Analytics, webmaster tools & plug-ins

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Is your website listed? Then it is interesting to integrate Google Analytics. Create a Google Analytics account and link the GA code to your website. Here are plug-ins for WordPress. Search for Google Analytics and they come forward. Then it is still a matter of installing and activating. Slowly but surely, the results will become visible when you log into Analytics.

You can then link your website to webmaster tools (also called Google Search Console). With webmaster tools, you can indicate, among other things, which country you are targeting, what your preferred settings should be, and so on. In webmaster tools you can also submit a sitemap, making it easier for Google to crawl your site and the indexation goes faster. Creating a sitemap can be done quite simply with the help of the aforementioned Yoast plug-in. Using webmaster tools and Google Analytics you gain insight into a lot of data, with which you can continue to improve your site: measuring is knowing.

Well, now over to the part ‘affiliate marketing for beginners’

Niche, content, and analysis

Think about which way you want to go, whether this is actually a passion or motivation and/or whether you can earn money in that market. It can take a while before you see a real return on investment in affiliate marketing. Investment here is, however, a great deal of time, patience, and perseverance. You do not have many costs as a starting affiliate.

The beginning is a road of trial and error and on the basis of that analysis and improvement. Starting a successful affiliate business requires time and motivation. Minimum condition is interest or affinity with the subject you write about.

Content, content, content

Work for a number of weeks on content that you think will add value or interest to people. After a couple of weeks, you dive deeper into Google Analytics to see how people come to your site. Which content is relevant? On which pages of your website do people sit? And how long do they stay?

Next, try to match your content to the keywords and other data that come up in analytics and webmaster tools. Based on that data you will really have to answer the questions or provide the information that visitors are looking for. Whether these are travel tips, or where you can buy the cheapest socks.

Keep improving yourself and your content in this area. Make sure you have the best content in your niche, and make it even sharper, more fun and/or more informative through the analyzes.

Affiliate networks

If everything starts to run a little and you have some traction on your domain, it is good to sign up with different affiliate networks. Commission Junction, Share A Sale, ClickBank are among the well known ones. See if they have programs in your niche and sign up for those programs.

If the advertisers have accepted you, you start by replacing your normal links with affiliate links that you can find in the networks. You will, for example, choose from your travel blog where that trip to Morocco is best arranged or the cheapest. You explain this to your visitors. Do you know how to convince them and book them through your site/links? Then you get a commission about that booking.

Do you know how to convince them and book them through your site/links? Then you get a commission from that booking.

Authority, SEO & link building

The success of your website largely depends on the content and the added value of your website. Do you know how to captivate the reader/visitor? Find the visitor he is looking for? Do you offer added value or is the visitor gone again in no time? This is all very important, but a successful affiliate can – almost – not without SEO, link building and/or pr. You have to bring your product to the man, right at the beginning.

For indexation and your rankings within Google, it is important that impulses, for example in the form of incoming links, go to your website. The more authority the sites have, the more interesting. This can be achieved through good PR, but SEO can also play an important role in this. I can go into that very deeply, but I would like to refer you to the entire collection of SEO articles on toptut.com or the search engine optimization collection at KG.nl.

Social and community building

Nowadays it is quickly possible to build a community. A strong example of a success case for community building is tweakers.net. In fact, Tweakers has a small group of visitors per cent, but these are loyal-dogs and provide a huge dose of interaction in the forum about everything and nothing. The big advantage of this is that the community helps to keep the content on the website relevant and fresh, which is also very interesting for Google. At Tweakers, the community around the website is – at least – as important as the people behind the website itself.

Consider whether this is interesting in your niche. This is something for the later phase, which can consist of Facebook fans, social followers, or newsletter members. With Instagram, you can also earn well when it comes to large accounts (through sponsoring), but conversion via social remains a problem. In general, social can be better used for promotion than for conversion.

And now?

You have a website, and based on the content that you have constantly improved, there is now traffic coming. You give your visitors in your articles recommendations for your niche and you link them to the product or journey that you recommend. If they go over to purchase, you will receive a commission.

To Sum it Up… 8 Concrete tips to start with affiliate marketing

  1. First, go for valuable content with added value. Your success raises or falls on the added value you offer, later on, go for income.
  2. Start with WordPress or another free CMS. As a starting affiliate, it is nowhere necessary to invest in a completely custom-made system. Everything you need is – almost – free of charge. It is also good to learn first before investing. Invest first in knowledge, only then in more professional sites.
  3. It does not matter which niche you choose, but make sure you are interested in it yourself, or at least motivated to dive into it.
  4. Analyze and improve your content through Google Analytics and webmaster tools
  5. Have patience. The beginning is a learning process and in that period there will also be little financial income. Additional advantage: there are hardly any costs.
  6. Invest directly in a strong relevant domain name (about 10 dollars per year) and a cheap but quality hosting.
  7. Also try doing some things about SEO, link building, and Page Authority. This can boost your site in the Google rankings.
  8. And again: offer added value.

Do you have any tips to start with affiliate marketing? Let me know in a comment.

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