Affiliate marketing has become one of the most popular forms of digital advertising in 2023 due to its ability to drive profitable customer acquisition at scale. Every day, new bloggers, social media influencers, and other online entrepreneurs ask how to get started with affiliate marketing. Rightfully so, as it can be lucrative once you get a handle on everything it entails.
What is affiliate marketing?
A shared revenue model between advertising and publishing partners where products and services are promoted. Businesses pay their affiliate marketer partners only when they successfully drive a sale, lead, or other conversion types.
This makes it an excellent way for companies with limited resources to grow their customer base. Of course, that's the benefit for companies, but how can becoming an affiliate marketer benefit you?
When done correctly, affiliate marketing is a great way to make money. You'll need to learn the ins and outs of the industry, such as staying up-to-date on trends, finding the best affiliate offers, and understanding how to optimize your performance.
However, with knowledge, you can earn a decent income by sharing affiliate links.
But how do you start affiliate marketing on the right foot? What should the first month of your affiliate marketing journey look like?
This article outlines what your first month as an affiliate marketer should look like, what opportunities there are, and what you need to succeed.
Choosing affiliate marketing over other monetization options
If starting with affiliate marketing, you should ask yourself why you chose this monetization over others. Plenty of options are available to digital publishers, like display ads and sponsored content.
However, a significant benefit of affiliate marketing is how much you can control your time and effort.
Affiliate marketing has an attractive ROI, meaning you can make a lot of affiliate income if you put in the effort. However, before investing in ad targeting and A/B testing the ideal affiliate offers, you must focus on the first steps of affiliate marketing.
Ideally, you'll need to focus on the first month to build your foundation properly.
Everyone wants to make money in affiliate marketing; it's understandable. However, your efforts to share affiliate links will go to waste if you do too much without proper support.
Affiliate marketing is a low-risk venture
You've likely asked yourself this question; if you haven't, you should. Why do so many other people want to get into affiliate marketing? There are many good reasons to get into the business, one of which is the low-risk nature of affiliate marketing.
Launching a business can carry significant risks and expenses, as there are often initial expenses for supplies, staff, rent, etc. On the other hand, if you consider affiliate marketing your vehicle for success, all that is required is a website, a thorough marketing plan, a network, contacts, and landing pages.
Once you learn the basics, it's easy to scale
Unlike the average salesperson who works with a single company's products, you can access many different brand names as an affiliate marketer. You can have affiliate sites, earn commissions from each and sell products within your niche if you do the necessary work first.
Your affiliate marketing business can generate passive income
Unlike a traditional job where you must be present to generate an income, affiliate marketing allows you to earn money while away. In addition, by initially investing your time into creating a successful campaign, your returns are infinite as customers purchase the products at any time.
You can work remotely
If you can't stand the idea of a traditional office job, an affiliate marketing career is your dream. You can launch campaigns, include your unique affiliate link, all from home, and make money off products created by other entrepreneurs.
Unlike many other lines of work, you won't be limited to the same pay grade, so burning the midnight oil isn't necessary. Affiliate marketing stands apart from those jobs because it's solely based on your performance and results.
The more effort and expertise you put into honing your reviewing skills and crafting captivating campaigns will directly result in increased affiliate revenue for yourself. Affiliate marketing kicks out what you put in, and if anyone tells you otherwise, don't believe them.
What do you need to be successful as an affiliate marketer?
Success as an affiliate marketer starts with identifying the right niche and understanding the target audience. When it comes to affiliate marketing products, careful planning and research are essential for achieving success.
Without them, your business may never reach its full potential. In addition, as an affiliate marketer, having access to a broad selection of high-quality products is essential for success.
You'll also need a well-designed affiliate website; this sets apart successful marketers from those who aren't. Your website should have a clear structure and an attractive layout. You must also stay up-to-date with the latest tools and services that help you further track, manage, and optimize your affiliate campaigns.
Finally, never underestimate the power of networking and interacting with other affiliate marketers to exchange ideas and grow your business.
When talking about your first month, you'll need to know the basics of beginner affiliate marketers and focus on building a solid foundation. Without the necessary support, great content isn't getting you very far.
Remember, affiliate marketing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme but an opportunity to generate passive income more steadily and enjoy freedom.
Affiliate marketing programs: the basics
Affiliates often utilize similar strategies to keep their target market engaged and inclined to buy the products they promote. However, what distinguishes one affiliate program from another is the marketing channels employed for advertising those same goods.
As a result, several distinctive approaches exist for affiliates and how these programs are promoted.
What is your marketing channel?
The bottom line is that you should build or establish a marketing channel to reach your target market effectively. Email marketing is an excellent choice for affiliates looking to develop customer relationships.
If you haven't established your marketing channel, there are several you can choose from, but if you already have one – what is it? What's your current job?
Bloggers have the power to improve conversions through content marketing which has the potential of ranking organically in search engine queries. Bloggers have the potential to boost traffic back to their merchant's website and be rewarded for endorsing brand value.
They typically write an eye-catching and comprehensive review of a product or service, add their affiliate link, and watch the sales increase.
Even though it has been around for a while, email marketing remains an effective way to generate affiliate revenue and income. Some affiliates have mailing lists they can use to promote the products.
Furthermore, other affiliates may send out newsletters with an affiliate link inside them that lead customers directly to affiliate landing pages on the retailer’s website, where purchases happen, and a commission is earned.
An alternative approach is for the affiliate marketer to compile an email list gradually. Then, by running various campaigns, they gain numerous emails and send promotional messages.
Affiliate marketing may be the perfect way to monetize your web presence if you're a social media influencer with an engaged audience.
By featuring products and services that align with your brand, you can show followers how passionate you are about what you do, increasing their chances of buying from someone they trust.
As an affiliate marketer, it's essential to have a passionate and devoted audience who trust your opinions. But this is frequently difficult if you can't extend the reach of your content marketing campaigns.
To address that issue, many affiliates market to social media platforms or their channel as their most popular choice for promoting product recommendations.
But relying on these online channels is risky for several reasons:
- Algorithms are increasingly making it difficult for organic social media posts to reach their intended audiences, reducing affiliate sales and pushing marketers into buying expensive advertisements.
- If your account is hacked, deleted, or reported, all your hard work will be gone in a flash.
Social Media Influencer
Content creators who can shape buying habits of large groups of people are referred to as Influencers. These powerhouses can sway purchasing decisions and drive trends in the industry.
They may have a large social media following, but that isn't enough; a following doesn't make you an influencer. These individuals have a fantastic opportunity to capitalize on affiliate marketing.
With a massive audience, they can direct buyers towards the seller’s goods through content created and shared across social media platforms, blogs, or other communication with their followers. As a result of this practical approach, most affiliate marketers earn a portion of the profits.
Influencer marketing campaigns have become immensely popular on Instagram and TikTok, where brands join forces with influencers viewed as authorities in their particular niches. Depending on the agreement, a campaign could involve multiple product reviews, photos, account takeovers, or live videos.
A strong connection between an influencer's branding and your brand is essential for brand recall. Instasize and Canva can make this process seamless, allowing you to edit and customize campaign visuals easily. Integration of such creatives ensures that your message will be imprinted in viewers' minds.
The playbook – your first month in the affiliate marketing industry
Now that you know why you want to do affiliate marketing and have established what affiliate marketing partners and channels are important, let’s look at your first month.
Step 1 – Choose a niche based on research
When it comes to internet marketing, doing the proper research and planning is an absolute must. You want a niche that hasn't been oversaturated by competition. In the first week, take the time to conduct thorough market research.
We believe having a passion for your chosen affiliate niche is vital. It would be best if you didn't choose a niche based on how much money you can make or what other affiliate marketers are doing.
You must dedicate countless hours of reading and research to cultivate extensive expertise on your desired topic. So make sure it's something that will maintain your interest over time.
Realize that what you desire to rank for and what your viewers often need conflict. Therefore, concentrating on your audience and employing keyword data to sharpen those findings will be more successful than relying on arbitrary keywords.
There are many areas for affiliate marketers to succeed, and finding the one that best fits you is the most critical first step on your affiliate journey.
Step 2 – Start your keyword research
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), search intent, and keyword research are all critical foundational concepts of successful affiliate marketing. Knowing how and when to use these tools will set you apart from your competition.
In addition, because you're establishing your affiliate marketing business, you should take the time to conduct thorough keyword research. We've said this already, but it deserves a repeat.
Your second week should be devoted to rigorous keyword research to support your chosen niche.
Did you know that using its algorithm, Google uses over 200 factors to rank sites? That's a lot of specifics to worry about, granted some are speculation, some are proven, and some are general theories.
Now, you see why the top spot is coveted by so many.
Many consumers use research from search engines to understand a product before they buy it. So, it's clear that knowing what keywords your blog post or affiliate campaign should rank for is a formative part of successful affiliate marketing.
In addition, keywords help you identify which phrases and words are used frequently in your niche so that you can tailor your affiliate marketing content and campaigns accordingly.
The three main steps of keyword research are:
- Find your keywords – Research and pinpoint keywords and phrases that should be the focus of your strategy.
- Analyze the keywords – Learn how to identify the most important keywords for your business with metrics like keyword difficulty, search volume, and search intent.
- Target primary keywords – Discovering the most pertinent keywords and understanding their intent is critical for optimizing your SEO efforts.
When tailored for your audience appropriately, you eventually gain the power and influence of organic search. However, achieving organic search intent for any niche is no small feat.
Incorporating search intent will help uncover your target audience's most relevant and frequently searched terms and provide insight into how they interact with your affiliate site.
Some marketers would advise that you do keyword research before you decide on a niche, but first and foremost, you should be interested in your niche. After you've focused on something of interest, dedicated keyword research comes next.
When you uncover the most popular keywords, you can optimize your strategy or adjust your niche altogether if your interest has no potential for profitability.
It's difficult to research without tools and cloud-based software to assist you. Various tools and platforms can help you start an affiliate site from the ground up or optimize an existing affiliate business.
If funding is a concern, then SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz all have free keyword research tools that are limited but priceless.
SEMrush has the Keyword Magic Tool that will allow you to start with a “Seed” word, such as freelance writing services, and find the tool that will list out topical groups and subgroups, which can help you exclude words that are relevant to you or your audience.
Step 3 – Confirm your niche and decide on products
Keyword research is invaluable for gaining insight into your target market and how they seek out the items or services you offer. We could discuss and write many articles on the importance of keywords.
Still, in Week 3, you're confirming that your research supports your niche and the products you've chosen, and you're also beginning to set the stage for Week 4.
Leveraging this knowledge can help optimize your content later as you develop it, increase visibility, and drive more traffic to the platform and affiliate system you will build. Next, you'll start building a network of like-minded individuals in affiliate marketing.
These contacts could become customers, but by joining forums or other online communities, you'll gain access to valuable information from those in the know.
STM Forum, for example, is the largest and longest-running affiliate marketing forum in the world, with high-quality content and membership for exclusive benefits.
By the first few weeks, you should be able to answer these questions about your niche:
- What are people searching for?
- How many people are searching for it?
- Who is searching for these terms?
- Is there any seasonality to the trends?
- What questions do they ask about the information in the niche?
- Are more searches happening on mobile devices?
- In what format do they want that information?
Aside from that, you still need to develop skills to make a successful affiliate marketer; the first few months are the time to develop them. You can outsource some tasks, but like many knowledgeable marketers, you should understand the fundamentals of affiliate marketing.
Even if you don't have an in-depth understanding of each, having a working knowledge will provide the scaffolding that will enable you to build a profitable business.
Types of affiliate programs
Keywords, niche selection, and product choice are the beginnings of your affiliate marketing journey. You'll also need to focus on the type of affiliate marketing you plan to do.
The three types of affiliate marketing are Unattached affiliate marketing, Related affiliate marketing, and Involved affiliate marketing.
- Unattached affiliate marketing – Unattached affiliate marketing is when you promote products you have not used nor have direct knowledge of. You are simply using your brand and influence to drive sales.
- Related affiliate marketing – This type of affiliate marketing is when you promote products related to your industry or niche. You may have used the products at one point.
- Involved affiliate marketing – This type of affiliate marketing is when you promote products you are involved in using or have relationships with as a customer, a consultant, or some other affiliation.
The average affiliate marketer will start with involved affiliate marketing and migrate their way to unattached as they see success and build influence, an audience, or traffic.
Choose your affiliate partner or network and move forward with your planning. By the end of the month, you'll have a better handle on this, but in Week 3, you should have a solid plan for (and begin acting on):
- A list of keywords, long-tail keywords, and what you will prioritize from your initial seed words.
- A budding network of contacts from forums and communities, where you can answer, interact, and use to create content.
- A basic understanding of the fundamentals of affiliate marketing, the types, email marketing, SEO, and other related topics.
- A new idea of patience.
- Plan a website if you don't have one already, and have designs for landing pages, sign-up forms, etc.
- Begin planning, writing, designing, or creating content for your marketing channels.
- A basic understanding of building a campaign, tracking the performance, and making adjustments.
As you close out the first month, remember that everything up to the end of the third week is about laying the groundwork.
Step 4 – Start laying the groundwork
In Week 4, you'll act on and build from the knowledge gained from Weeks 1-3. You should know which products and services you want to promote, how to build out content to target your niche, and how to work with the network of contacts you've built up.
Commit to making a plan for the next few months and stick to it. Of course, you will refine your SEO, create content, and build campaigns as you go along, but your first campaign should set the tone for your business.
You'll also need to consider any different affiliate programs you to join as you launch your affiliate marketing business.
Typically there are three kinds of affiliate programs:
- Low-paying, high-volume — High-demand products, such as video games or accessories, can be incredibly rewarding. Although Amazon's commission rate is capped, they offer commissions on the entirety of the purchase—not just what you recommended.
- High-paying, high-volume — Luxury goods that attract a broad audience, such as credit cards, often come at the expense of attracting affiliates with particular experience and resources willing to use unethical tactics.
- High-paying, low-volume — If you want a decent return, explore affiliate programs that provide specialized items with limited buyers. For example, HubSpot pays out robustly (100% of the first month and 15% for monthly recurring commissions) for selling their services exclusively to business customers.
By the end of Week 4, you should have these things in place:
- Joined an affiliate program or affiliate network
- A basic website or landing page with actionable CTAs on your first product
- A blog and or content section with some analytics tracking
- A few campaigns running for the next month via whichever channels you've set up – email, blog post plus paid advertising, social media
- A pop-up or sign-up form on your landing pages and websites
- General messaging for your website that relates to your audience
At this point, it's difficult to make changes as you likely won't have enough data to back your decisions. But by laying the groundwork, you will gain actionable data quickly for the future.
First month affiliate marketing mistakes
The most common mistakes made in the first month of affiliate marketing are easily avoidable, and you may still find yourself making them.
Poor keyword research
Not doing enough research on the keywords that are popular and relevant. You'll need to know what phrases customers use when searching for products in your niche. Don't fall into the trap of using only the most popular keywords, either – you'll need to be more creative.
Don't overlook those less prominent keywords. Long tail key phrases with lower search volume tend to convert better since searchers are typically more precise and purposeful in their searches.
Joining an affiliate program before you're ready
Ensure you understand the affiliate products you decide to promote and their commission structures. Don’t just join an affiliate program and expect everything to take care of itself. Build relationships with affiliates, ask questions, and keep up with their updates.
This goes double when you decide to take on more products; each must be managed and monitored separately. Don't let the workload overwhelm you, delegate and outsource some of your tasks if necessary.
Assuming success happens overnight
Affiliate marketing works, but it doesn't happen overnight. Just as any successful business takes time to grow and mature, so does an affiliate marketing program. You'll find many twists and turns in an affiliate marketing strategy over time.
To make affiliate marketing work for you, you need to know how to navigate the first month and beyond and alter your affiliate marketing efforts with new data, new updates to search engine algorithms, new affiliate partners, products you might decide to promote, and any other subtle changes that come your way.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing Wrap-up
The first month of an affiliate marketing journey is often a make-or-break period for many new affiliates. Unfortunately, you may have heard that many fail before they achieve affiliate marketing success.
The truth is, it’s common for newbies to make fatal mistakes. About 95% of beginners fail during their first year due to insufficient preparation.
Don’t be one of them. Don’t skimp on your research and due diligence. You need to lay a solid foundation for success if you want to succeed in the long run. You owe that to yourself and your business.