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Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Full Guide + Advanced Tips

Learning these affiliate marketing for beginners tips has been a game changer for my blogging income! I’m in awe every single time an e-mail comes in and says, “So-and-so company paid you $80 for a referral.”

Even if the referral amount is only $10, I’m happy because I know that multiple $10 referrals can turn into $100 and multiple hundreds suddenly build up into $1,000 to 2,000 each month.

Yup, ever since I started focusing affiliate programs for beginners, I started making an additional $1-2k a month, which doesn’t sound like too much, but on average, that’s an extra $18,000 a year!

What could you do with $18,000 a year in passive income?

It wasn’t easy learning how to start affiliate marketing for beginners, but slowly and surely, it’s been clicking and making me oh so happy.

Here are my personal tips for starting affiliate marketing and my recommendations for best affiliate programs for beginners too!

Please note that this is a reader-supported site.
Purchases made through genuinely recommended links may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.


What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is essentially when you promote a brand’s product or service on your website or social media, and the brand pays you a small commission when your reader or follower purchases the product through your link.

Affiliate income is the money you make from affiliate marketing. This is considered passive income, which means you keep making money after the initial work is done. Passive income can be earned while you’re sleeping, eating, on holiday, or even in the bathroom. You do not need to be active on your blog or social media to earn this type of income, which is why I really love it.

Here’s a quick, simplified outline on how it would work on a blog:

  • You write a post about Product A and linked to the Brand’s product page.
  • Reader XYZ reads your post and decides to buy Product A through the link you placed in your blog.
  • After Reader XYZ completes his purchase of Product A on Brand’s website, Brand will pay you a small portion of what Reader XYZ paid for Product A.
  • Brand knows how much to pay you because this link that Reader XYZ clicked has a tracking code that basically says, “Hey Brand. Reader XYZ purchased from so-and-so’s blog. Pay so-and-so.”

Best Practices on Affiliate Marketing

After blogging and being on social media for three years, I’ve discovered a few best practices, which have really helped my blog grow quickly and my affiliate marketing income to be a steady source.

Post Affiliate Links on a Blog

You can post affiliate links on both blogs and social media such as Facebook, Instagram via the link in bio, and Pinterest. Nonetheless, this is not the most sustainable way to make passive income, which again means you’ll be making money long after the work is done.

When you post affiliate links on social media, you need to constantly post when you have a new product you want to share or remind your followers to click on the link to purchase from you.

Each time you post, after a day or even a couple of hours, your post will get pushed down by your new ones or from other people posting. It is constant work to post your affiliate links again and again.

When you have a blog, you can pretty much write a post about a product or service, set it and forget it (almost). That’s because a blog is evergreen meaning it’s long-lasting and will stay on the internet for as long as you want it to.

Even after you write it, it will gain more and more traction in Google allowing more people to find it and possibly purchase a product from your affiliate link.


Know That You Are Starting a Business

Before we even talk about how to place affiliate links into a blog or what programs to use, I want to stress that this is not a quick get-rich scheme.

You need to know that getting into affiliate marketing means you are starting a business. Most businesses like restaurants and shops don’t see a Return-on-Investment (ROI) until they’ve been operating for two to three years.

Luckily, the investment in affiliate marketing, which is starting a blog, is quite small compared to a traditional business.

It only costs $3.95/month if you pay in bulk for the next three years. This can be easily taken care of by cutting out buying coffee outside your house or not eating out.

Since the investment is small, you can see an ROI in a matter of months, but to really make a substantial amount of money from affiliate marketing can take a year or two. It involves long-term consistency and hard work.

Again, you should have the mindset that you are starting a business because you are.

Get a Self-Hosted Blog

The best platform to have for affiliate marketing is a self-hosted blog. A self-hosted blog (i.e. WordPress.com) is essential to maximizing affiliate income because on a non-self-hosted blog (i.e. WordPress.org, Blogger, Blogspot, Tumblr, etc.), you don’t own your own website, and thus, do not have freedom to place affiliate links wherever you’d like on your blog.

A self-hosted blog will cost you $3.95/month if you pay in bulk for the next three years, but if you focus on affiliate marketing when you start blogging, you will most likely make that $3.95/month back!

At the very least, this investment in your business is so small compared to starting other types of businesses, that you could easily cut out a couple of cups of coffee a month or some other small purchase and afford starting a self-hosted blog.

Read more on why a self-hosted blog is more profitable than a non-self-hosted one here.

Write Informative Posts About Products You Actually Use or Stand Behind

There are sites out there who make their money largely from advertising products or goods that they’ve never even tried themselves, but I found for my own blog that the products that “sell” the most are the ones that I actually use or genuinely stand behind.

These products that sell well are also in very informative, helpful posts. The more helpful you are, the more trustworthy you’ll seem, and the more trustworthy you are, the more likely someone will buy from you!

This is especially important when selling products/services via affiliate links to your email list.

Re-Invest Your Affiliate Income Into Your Blog

You might be thinking, “Hey. If I’m making money, I’m going to spend it!” But while your blog is growing and a little bit of affiliate income is coming in, it’s a really good idea to keep re-investing this money into your blog. Affiliate income can be used to:

  • cover your monthly blog expenses such as hosting services, plugin costs, etc.,
  • avoid running ads on your blog if you want to keep it decluttered,
  • invest in ads or services to help grow your social media, or
  • hire a virtual assistant to help you with your blog.

As you can see, I highly recommend using affiliate income to re-invest in your blog instead of spending it right away. The more you invest in your blog, the faster it will grow, and at a certain point, you will have more than enough money to both invest in your blog and spend it however you’d like.

You will reach this point faster by re-investing than if you choose to take your affiliate income and spend it on your personal life instead of re-investing it in your blog.

This is how I personally used the affiliate income I made and consider this one of my best practices. Because of my readers who supported me by buying through my links, I was able to re-invest in my blog and grow faster than when I did not make affiliate income.


The Secret to Succeeding in Affiliate Marketing

Ok there’s no big secret to succeeding in affiliate marketing. It all comes to search engine optimizing your blog.

In my five years of blogging, I haven’t been able to talk about affiliate marketing without talking about SEO. That’s because SEO has been the key component to targeting readers from Google who are in the purchasing decision stage.

To break it down, if you promote a product/service on social media, your followers may or may not be in the mindset to buy that product. They might not even want it.

However, if you optimize your blog, someone who’s looking for the exact thing that you’re writing about is more likely to buy what you’re promoting. Better targeting means higher conversion, which means more affiliate commission!

  • In next section, you’ll learn about how to set up your blog properly to get passive income from affiliate marketing.
  • If you already have your blog set up and want to learn about SEO, jump down to learn SEO from me.

Step-by-Step Guide How to Start Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Now that you know what affiliate marketing is and best practices for it, here’s my step by step affiliate marketing for beginners.

Note: This section is best read AFTER reading the Best Practices above because this section contains technical basics while the above section has insight on how affiliate marketing works or if it’s for you at all.

1. Start a Blog

If you don’t have a blog already, as you know from the first bullet in the Best Practices above, a self-hosted blog is essential for affiliate marketing.

Out of all the places you can post affiliate links, this will make it the easiest to earn passive income meaning you can make money long after you put in the work.

I’ve been using WordPress in conjunction with Bluehost as my self-hosting platform for the past nine years (I used to have other blogs before Lust ‘Till Dawn).

Here’s why a self-hosted blog will make you more money, and here’s a free blogging course that’ll bring you through choosing a niche all the way to learning how to make money blogging.

The course starts out by working together on choosing a niche and a name for you!


2. Get a Responsive Theme

Having a responsive theme is a must for your blog nowadays because so many people access the internet from their phones!

A responsive theme will adjust to the size of a reader’s screen regardless of whether they’re on a computer, phone, or tablet.

This seamless user experience will make it easier for a reader to stay on your blog. Without an easy-to-use site, your reader might leave quickly without reaching your affiliate links.

My favorite themes are by 17th Avenue Designs (what I’m using now) and Pipdig. They have great tutorials to make your website look like your demo.

See more of my favorite feminine WordPress themes here.

3. Write High-Quality Blog Posts and Market Them on Social Media

Before you can apply to some affiliate marketing for beginners , you’ll need more page views than no page views. The best way to get someone to read your blog is by writing high-quality, information blog posts.

Your goal is to be the end of someone’s search process. They should leave your affiliate marketing blog satisfied with the information and don’t plan on seeking it out elsewhere. These types of super helpful posts are the ones that get shared, bookmarked, and re-read.

Even if you aren’t in affiliate programs now, you can write about products or services that you plan on adding affiliate links to later on. That way, if you gain traction on those posts and they have a lot of page views in the future, then the post will already be set up to make money at the time you do join an affiliate program.

Whatever posts you write, until you get a grasp of SEO, social media will be your best friend with getting page views. Market them on Facebook to your friends and family, on a Facebook business page, in your Instagram, and on Pinterest.

My free blogging course covers how to write a solid post, market it on social media, and so much more!

4. Write a Privacy Policy Page

Because of FTC and GDPR laws, it’s important to have a privacy policy.

This tells your reader what you do with their information you collect via cookies, what programs you may be a part of, how to get in touch with you if they have complaints and more.

Here are soundproof lawyer-written templates that’ll protect you.

5. Apply to Affiliate Programs and Affiliate Networks

Once you have about 1,000 page views a month*, you can start applying to affiliate marketing sites! I suggest only applying to affiliate sites that you are genuinely interested in promoting because you are use the product or service yourself or would truly recommend your followers to purchase from them.

*This is just an estimate. Some programs accept you with less.

Here are some of the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners I recommend:

Shareasale is my ultimate favorite affiliate network. A network means there are hundreds of brands all under one network so it’s really easy to apply to different brands’ programs and it’s good for any niche.

The reason why Shareasale is my favorite is because it’s easy to create links, and even better, easy to read data. Without easy-to-read data, you can’t see what’s working well and then you can’t improve. Sign up with Shareasale today!

If you are in the travel niche, you can place affiliate links for hotels via Booking.com or travel tours via Viator.

If you are in the fashion and lifestyle niche, you can promote outfits you wear or decor you have around the home with RewardStyle. Do not get discouraged if they don’t accept you on the first go! It took me 3x to get accepted into RewardStyle.

If you are in ANY niche, you can apply to the Amazon affiliate program. Because so many of the US shops on Amazon, it’s a great beginner affiliate marketing program to start out with.

If these affiliate marketing programs don’t accept you asap, then keep focusing on creating valuable content for your audience. Channel that disappointed energy into productivity!

6. Place Disclosures on Blog Posts and Update Privacy Policy Page.

Once you get accepted into affiliate programs and start inserting links into your blog posts, you MUST disclose to your audience that you may earn money from qualifying purchases.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, you need to do this clearly BEFORE a reader would click on your affiliate link.

As a precaution, I place an affiliate link disclosure at the beginning of each post! It can say something like, “This post contains affiliate links, which are unlabeled ads. We may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links, which is at no extra cost to you.”

You will also need to update your privacy policy page with verbiage on how you advertise affiliate links on your website. If you don’t already have a privacy policy page at this point, definitely make one!

7. Write Blog Posts Around Your Affiliate Links!

Now that you’re accepted into affiliate programs, you can go back and edit posts with those affiliate links, or create new blog posts with them.

Either way, always make sure that your posts are super informative and helpful so that your reader trusts you enough to purchase from your link!


Learning SEO for Affiliate Marketing

If you’re serious about making money with affiliate marketing, you have to learning SEO (search engine optimization). It is a key part of making affiliate income.

Search engine optimizing your posts make it so that people are searching for the exact product/service you’re writing about are able to find you.

When they find you in their purchasing decision, they are more likely to convert, and as a result, you can get affiliate income.

You can learn SEO with me in my course designed specifically for bloggers.

Because SEO and affiliate marketing are so intricately linked, I added a bonus module with affiliate marketing steps in my SEO course.


I hope this basic guide on how to start affiliate marketing for beginners was helpful and encouraging enough for you to start a blog and earn affiliate income.

Thanks for making it all the way down here. If you found this post to be helpful, please consider Pinning it, or if you need personal help with blogging, join my free Facebook community!

xo, Sarah


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