How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Easy Steps For Passive Income

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Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to monetize your blog and make money online every single day, even if you don’t sell any products or services. You can earn cool cash by joining an affiliate marketing program and get exclusive access to new products and special offers to promote to your audience.

Affiliate marketing is a popular strategy to increase sales and generate substantial online revenue. Both affiliate marketers, as well as brands, have found this new trend to be extremely profitable. 81% of brands and 84% of publishers use affiliate marketing. This is a trend that will continue as American affiliate marketing spending grows every year.

In this post, we will be learning about this online business model: what it is, and the steps you need to take to start affiliate marketing.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the practice or business of promoting other people’s products or services in exchange for a commission. Affiliate marketers join affiliate networks, then find reliable affiliate products to promote and share these products with their followers.

Who Are Affiliates?

Affiliates are individuals or companies (merchants or retailers, advertisers, etc.) that promote products or services from brands.

These individuals often market products through their content, such as blogs, videos and social media profiles, podcasts, or podcasts.


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As we’ve already mentioned, affiliates are paid for this.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

affiliate marketing income

Even for people who are well-versed with digital marketing, affiliate marketing can be quite technical. You don’t have to be an expert in every detail to start affiliate marketing.

Thanks to the merchant’s affiliate software, the actual mechanics work in the background.

Here’s a peek behind the scenes.

  1. Affiliates are given unique IDs and URLs when they join the merchant’s affiliate program.
  2. They include the link in their blog posts, social media and/or through their email marketing efforts. 
  3. A cookie that identifies the affiliate is stored on the computer of potential buyers who click on the link to visit the partner’s website. This cookie allows the publisher to be credited for the referral sale, even if it happens days or weeks later.
  4. The merchant inspects the sales record after a buyer has completed the sale process to identify the source of the referral.
  5. The affiliate is credited for the sale if the merchant discovers a cookie that has an affiliate ID.
  6. Reports are made available by the merchant so that affiliates can view their clicks and sales.
  7. Affiliate commissions are paid by the merchant at the end of each payment period

Benefits Of Affiliate Marketing

There are many benefits to being an affiliate marketer. Here are some of the most common reasons that you might want to pursue this type of job.

  • Earn Passive Income: Affiliate marketing is a way to make money while you’re sleeping. As consumers buy the product in the days and weeks that follow, the initial investment you put into an affiliate marketing campaign will provide steady returns. After you finish your work, you still get money. Even if you’re not at your computer, your marketing efforts will continue to bring in steady income.
  • Flexibility: It is easy to set up your campaigns online. This allows you to be an affiliate marketer wherever you are. This also applies to your home.
  • Adaptability: Affiliate marketing positions can evolve with your goals and needs. You can set your own goals, change or redirect your path.
  • The cost-effective option: Affiliate marketing has no hidden costs. Affiliate marketing is simple.
  • Incentives:  Similar to traditional jobs, the pay you get will remain the same regardless of how hard you work. Affiliate marketing allows you to be in control of your income and can make additional money when you need it.
  • Increase your reach: Affiliate marketing can help you grow your own reach through your association with other businesses.
  •  No customer support: Unlike selling your own products that come with dealing with customer service, affiliate marketing is void of those. Your job is just to promote the product, you won’t have to deal with any customer support.

Common Affiliate Marketing Channels

Affiliates have many common practices that ensure their audience is interested in the products they promote. Affiliates may not advertise products the same way. There are many marketing channels that they can use.

1. Influencers

A person who has the ability to influence the buying decisions of large segments of the population is known as an influencer. This person can benefit greatly from affiliate marketing. This person already has a large following so it’s easy to refer consumers to the seller’s products via social media posts and blogs. They receive a portion of the profits that they have helped create.

Influencer marketing campaigns are very popular on Instagram, where brands partner up with influencers that are experts in their niche. A campaign can include product reviews, live videos, account takeovers or photos depending on the deal. It doesn’t matter if an influencer has their own brand and aesthetic. However, it is important to tie your brand with elements to increase brand recognition and recall.

2. Bloggers

Bloggers are able to rank organically for search engine queries and increase seller conversions. A blogger reviews the product or service, then provides a detailed review. This helps drive traffic back to the seller’s website.

Bloggers are awarded for their influence in spreading the word about the product’s value, which helps to increase sales.

3. Microsites that are primarily geared towards paid search.

Microsites that are developed and monetized can be a great way to generate serious sales. These sites can be advertised on a partner website or in the sponsored listings of a search engine. These sites are separate and distinct from the main organization site. Microsites offer more targeted, relevant content for a particular audience. This leads to higher conversions.

4. Email lists

Email marketing, despite its age, is still a viable source of affiliate marketing income. Some affiliates have email addresses that they can use for selling the seller’s products. Others might use email newsletters with hyperlinks to products and earn a commission when the consumer buys the product.

Another option is to generate your own list over time. They then use their campaigns to collect email addresses in large quantities and send emails about the products they promote. 

5. Large media sites.

These sites are designed to generate huge amounts of traffic every day. These websites promote products to their large audience by using banners and contextual affiliate links. This gives the seller and affiliate a better exposure and increases conversion rates.

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

Affiliate marketing is definitely worth the effort.  It’s not going to die so long as people continue to sell products online (which still is).

Although it has its drawbacks, affiliate marketing is a great side hustle.

These are just a few reasons affiliate marketing is worthwhile.

1. It’s A Growing Industry

In the United States alone, affiliate marketing is worth $7 billion. It’s predicted to grow to more than $8 Billion in 2022.

Affiliate marketing Spending forcast USA

The graph shows that the number continues to rise.

Affiliate marketing will never die. Affiliate marketing will continue to exist as long as people sell products online.

2. It has Unlimitable Earning Potential

Affiliate marketing can bring in a lot of money, especially if you are promoting high-ticket and recurring products.

Recurring-based affiliate programs pay you a monthly commission for every customer who remains subscribed to your product/program. These affiliate programs offer passive income and are my favourite.

High-ticket affiliate programs offer a large reward for referring customers ($200 to $500). These types of affiliate programs are often found in Finance and other niches/industries.

3. It’s Scalable

Many publishers only start affiliate marketing with just one platform which can be a blog, email marketing, social media, etc., and then expand with time.

You can make more money once you have started making some money. If you continue to reinvest the profits into the business using different ad platforms or diversifying to other platforms to promote, it could be even more than you thought.

4. You can work from anywhere

A 9-5 job has the main drawback of being unable to travel and work anywhere. With affiliate marketing and other online business models, it is possible to work from anywhere. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.

5. There are thousands of affiliate programs available

There are many affiliate programs available on the internet. You might find at most one or two affiliate programs in any niche or industry you are currently involved.

It’s better to start small if you’re a beginner. As you gain experience, you can promote multiple affiliate programs.

Cons Of Affiliate Marketing

1. Certain Affiliate Programs will require that you have some experience.

Some affiliate programs won’t allow you to join them until you meet certain requirements.

Some requirements include:

  • Your number of followers, subscribers, and audience.
  • The number of people who are on your mailing list.
  • Or the address of your residence. If you are from a third world country, you may not be eligible.

This is especially true if you’re a beginner. This can be solved by increasing your audience, subscribers, and followers before applying for affiliate programs.

2.  Your Commission Can Be Cut And The Affiliate Program Can Shutdown

The sole authority to reduce the commissions you earn is that of the companies. When you sign up for an affiliate program, you agree to the terms and conditions.

Some companies might go further and even close their affiliate program. People who depend heavily on the affiliate program can suffer a severe blow.

3. Earnings can be inconsistent

Affiliate earnings can be inconsistent. It all depends on how you promote it.

You might earn different amounts if you promote affiliate products via a blog or YouTube channel. This is due to the traffic and views you receive.

How Much Do Affiliates Make?

The affiliate marketing industry continues to grow. Statista reported the U.S. spending on affiliate marketing was expected to reach $8.2 Billion by 2022. This is a significant increase from $5.4 billion in 2017, and $1.6 billion, respectively.

A second study by VigLink provides a more detailed look at the income that affiliate marketers make. The survey found that only 9% of publishers earned more than $50,000 in affiliate income last year. A majority of merchants (65%) said they made between 5% to 20% from affiliate marketing in 2016. There was also a correlation between revenue and experience, according to the survey. 60% of the top-earning merchants had been in affiliate marketing for at least five years.


The majority of merchants reported that affiliate marketing was responsible for between 5% to 20% of their annual revenues.

Affiliate marketing has the greatest benefit: you can earn income on autopilot. You just need to have steady traffic to your website or blog. There are downsides to this approach.

Your revenues may be affected if a company changes its affiliate program terms. Problems can also arise from being an affiliate for the wrong business. If your website or blog audience isn’t compelled or unable to purchase their products or services, you won’t make money. You will also face fierce competition from affiliate marketers who promote the same products, due to the rapid growth of affiliate marketing.

You must also keep your visitors coming back to your site with new content.

How To Start Affiliate Marketing

Step 1: Choose a platform

Affiliate marketing can be done on any platform theoretically. Even Instagram can be used for affiliate marketing.

It’s easier to grow your audience and increase affiliate sales through one of the two channels, a YouTube channel or a blog.

It is easy to start a blog. You can find many tutorials online to help you get started. The best thing? You’ll probably only have to pay a few dollars per month.

Optimize your website for search engines once it is live. This will increase your chances of being ranked. You can then add affiliate links to your content. (This is an art, and we’ll discuss it later in this guide.

YouTube is the other platform. YouTube allows you to upload content and create it for free. This makes YouTube a great platform for affiliates. Include affiliate links in the description of your videos to optimize them for SEO.

You will need to make it clear that affiliate links are included in your content. The Federal Trade Commissions (FTC), requires that you be transparent about income received from endorsements.

You can create a separate page if you are using a blog or add it to the footer of your site.

PS: A blog is more likely to get clicks than a YouTube video. More of our examples henceforth will be for blogs.

Step 2: Select your niche

Let’s face it, if you start a blog today you are definitely going to face tons of competition. Statista projects that there will be 31.7 million bloggers in the U.S. by 2020.

You will have the best chance of success if you narrow your niche.

It is possible to build a better audience by keeping your topics focused. This can potentially help you rank better in search engines.

Step 3: Search for affiliate programs that you can join

There are three types to choose from when it comes to affiliate programs.

A. Low-volume, high-paying affiliate programs

These are affiliate programs that offer high payouts for niche products.

ConvertKit’s Affiliate Program pays nearly $700 per month for 80 customers. They only sell CRM software to small businesses owners so there is a small pool of buyers.

Programs with high commissions are more popular. It’ll be difficult to make significant money competing with highly skilled marketers.

B. Affiliate programs that pay low-paying but have high volumes

These affiliate programs are for products that have low payouts, but high appeal.

Take, for example, PS4 games. Many people enjoy PS4, but the average game cost is just $50. Affiliate commissions are often in the single digits. If you are lucky, you might earn between $2-3 per sale.

These types of programs have a redeeming feature: they often offer tons of products for sale. Take Amazon’s affiliate program. Amazon offers up to 10% commissions for affiliates.

You will need a lot of traffic to make these kinds of affiliate programs profitable.

C. High-volume, high-paying affiliate programs

These affiliate programs are for products that have mass appeal and pay high commissions.

Credit cards are one example.

Everybody needs a credit card. 

These products have the disadvantage of attracting affiliate marketers with a lot of expertise and spammy tactics. You can’t compete with spammy tactics.

So it’s best to avoid these kinds of programs if you are a beginner.

How to choose which affiliate programs you want to join

It all depends on your expertise and niche.

If you are targeting consumers, the second model will likely be more appealing with lower commissions and higher sales volumes.

If you are targeting a business audience, the first model is likely to be chosen: high-paying and small volume.

Step 4: Create amazing content

You must create quality content that your affiliate links will find easy to use if you want your site to be successful. You don’t have to just curate content. Your audience should also love and value your content.

Step #5: Drive traffic towards your affiliate website

Once you have great content. Next, you need to make it more accessible so that people will click on your affiliate links.

Here are 3 strategies to get traffic:

A. Paid traffic

This is where you can pay for traffic to your website. This can be done using PPC ads.

Paid traffic has the advantage that you can get traffic as soon as you pay.

There are however some drawbacks.

Advertising will reduce your profits. Advertisers can lose money before they make it, if ever they do.

It is important to be realistic when estimating the time it will take to optimize a paid-traffic campaign.

Your traffic will cease once you stop paying ads.

Ads are generally a good traffic strategy if your affiliate program is high-paying and you can make the numbers work.

It might not be a good idea if you are new to paid marketing or have a small marketing budget.

B. Search Engine Optimization – SEO

SEO refers to the process of optimizing pages for high rankings in search engines such as Google.

As long as your keywords rank well in search engines, you will get steady and passive traffic.

SEO refers to:

Knowing what your target customers want;

Creating content on these topics (e.g. blog posts or product pages).

To push these pages higher in search engines (which includes linking-building), you need to take care of the “technical”.

C. Create an email list

You can communicate with your readers at any time by creating email lists.

These can be used to inform your fans about new content, and to keep them coming back to your site for more. This will increase affiliate clicks as well as sales.

Even better, you can send email promotions directly to your affiliate list.

You must convince your readers to sign up for your email list in order to build one. This means providing something of value.

A free ebook, an email course or other type of information can be offered.

You only need some creativity.

Step #6: Get Clicks On Your Affiliate Links

You don’t have to create a great piece of content for people to click your affiliate links.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

A.  Link Placement

Clicks will be rare if your affiliate links are located at the bottom of the page, where people seldom scroll.

You can also make every word in your introduction a link, which will make your content look spammy.

Link placement must be balanced with other factors.

B.  Context

It would also be a good idea to promote products related to your content. It would be strange to promote cameras in an accounting software content.

This will ensure that your promotion strategies aren’t out of context.

Step 7: Convert Clicks Into Sales

Two conversions are required in affiliate marketing to make money.

The first conversion is the click that takes you to the product page.

This action is entirely yours. To increase your chances of getting that click, use the strategies above.

The second is the click that gets the visitor to purchase the product. Affiliate marketing is different because the merchant controls the checkout and the conversion rates.

You can play the game to your advantage by looking for merchants that have good conversion rates.

Here are some ways you can find them:

A.  Publick Income Reports

Affiliate programs that make decent income are likely to convert well if people are making a good living.

How can you tell if someone is making money?

You can look at public income reports, where bloggers reveal how much they make from affiliate deals.

These reports can be found on Google.

If you search for income report amazon affiliate, you will find a few blog posts that show how bloggers have made money with Amazon Affiliates.

B. Ask questions

Register to ask questions if you don’t have enough information about the affiliate program that interests you.

You might be interested in their conversion rates or the average monthly commissions of top earners.

This will help you determine if the program is worthwhile.

C. Use your intuition

Sometimes it is best to trust your gut instincts.

Don’t recommend the program or product if it feels unnatural or you wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

The Takeaway

This article does not reinvent the wheel of affiliate marketing. These are the basics, and they will help you get started.

Don’t expect to make a significant income overnight or be able to give up your 9-5 job. Affiliate marketing is a process that takes time.

Your first sale as an affiliate is your priority. Set new goals as your site grows and keep trying.

This is how you build a website that eventually generates decent income.

Best Affiliate Programs To Promote

4.  Shopify.

Shopify is the most widely used ecommerce website builder in the world, with over 400,000 merchants.

It’s affiliates receive a commission equal to 200% on your visitor’s monthly subscription fees. You will receive the commission over the first two months of your visitor’s subscription. If your visitor leaves Shopify within the first month, you won’t get the commission for the second.

This applies to all three Shopify Standard Plans:

Basic Shopify – $29/month – Commission: $58.

Shopify – $79/month – Commission: $158.

Advanced Shopify – $299/month – Commission: $598.

Shopify pays commissions only through PayPal. The date you receive payment depends on the time you were credited with for referral. It can take between 5 – to 20 days.

2.  Bluehost

The Bluehost affiliate programme is very popular in the web hosting industry. Their hosting plans start at $2.95 per month and $65+ a year. This makes it a very affordable and popular option in the web hosting space.

They are a great way for affiliate bloggers to make money online.

Once you sign up, you will be credited for any referrals for up to 45 days from the initial click. And you will receive your monthly payment around the 16th of each month. To release your payment, you must have at least $100.

3.  Hostinger

Hostinger offers affiliates up to $150 per sale under a tiered pricing model.

The base payout is $60 with the possibility to earn up to $150 through their affiliate program.

Their Small Business and WordPress plans have strong conversion rates, with a 90% discount.

They offer banners and other promotional tools, just like many other web hosts.

Click my link to receive 90% off your Hostinger plan if you are still looking to launch an affiliate website.

4.  WP engine.

WP Engine offers one of the highest affiliate payments, with a starting price of $200 WP Engine is a strong web hosting platform. They are also a top choice for bloggers who write about WordPress themes and plugins.

They offer incentives and pricing tiers. You get $100 extra if you make five sales. You get $250 for ten purchases. You can also earn $50 by referring sub-affiliates to their platform.

WPEngine offers an industry-leading 180 day cookie duration. This allows for credit for sales up until 6 months after visitors click your affiliate links.

The downside to their product is that it is more expensive than other web-hosting providers, which means conversion rates are lower.

5.   Wix

Wix is used by more than 109 million people around the world to build their websites. It has an affiliate program that anyone can apply for. Wix provides affiliates with all the tools and resources they need to promote Wix online and earn high commissions. You can earn up to $100 per qualified referral with the Premium plan conversion rates.

To be paid, active affiliates must earn at least $300 per month. If you didn’t earn up to $300 per month, Your Affiliate Account will retain all earnings and ongoing conversions until you reach $300 (USD). You will be notified by email when your account reaches $300 (USD) and details about how to get paid.

6. HubSpot CRM

Commission: Flat Rate — Up to $1,000 for each product

Cookie life: 90 Days

HubSpot’s mission is to improve the performance of millions of organisations. It is made up of a marketing hub, sales hub, service hub, and a powerful free CRMHubSpot’s award-winning growth platform provides thousands of companies with the tools to manage customer experience, from awareness to advocacy.

The product tier for each product that your referral purchased will determine the percentage of commission you receive as a HubSpot affiliate.

Starter Package: $250

Professional/CMS: $500

Enterprise: $1,000

7. Surfshark VPN.

Surfshark VPN, one of the most popular VPN providers, aims to make online privacy simple for everyone. It also allows you to access restricted and unavailable content around the world, including blocked streaming services.

Surfshark affiliates can earn 40% of each subscription sale by promoting it. This product is highly competitive in pricing and offers a broad range of features. It converts well in many markets.

8. IPVanish.

IPVanish is a top VPN service and offers some of the highest payouts in the industry.

1-month package: 100% and then 35% recurring.

3-months package: 40%, then 35% recurring.

1 and 2 years package: 40%, then 30% recurring.

9. MyThemeShop

Mythemeshop is an online store that sells quality WordPress themes and plugins.

There are themes available for every type of website, including eCommerce, blog and business.

It is extremely popular with eCommerce websites and blog owners and used by 554,500 customers.

It has over 113 themes and plugins. As an affiliate, you will receive a commission of 55% per referral and it has a 60-day cookie tracking. This means you will receive the commission even if the user clicks on your hyperlink today and then purchases any of their themes within the next 60 days. There is no minimum payout limit, and it pays every month.

It features attractive and responsive banners that ensure high conversion rates, which will result in higher earnings.


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