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Affiliate Marketing For Dummies | A Guide for 2020 and Beyond

Heard that one of the best ways to make money online is through affiliate marketing?

Well, it is! On this page, I want to run you through everything that a beginner needs to know about affiliate marketing.

By the way, this is not a review of the Affiliate Marketing for Dummies book, but an even quicker guide that can help you understand this business and the right way to approach it.

Afterall, the book is way outdated!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

So, first things first. What is affiliate marketing?

To put it simply, affiliate marketing is when you promote a product on behalf of a business. If your promotion leads to a sale, then you will gain a commission on it. You can think of this as your advertising fee.

It is a simple way to make money online, but it can deliver huge amounts of profits when done right.

Affiliate Marketing vs MLM

A lot of people confuse the idea of affiliate marketing and MLM (multi-level-marketing). While they are similar in terms of the way that they work i.e. you will collect commissions, there is a major difference between the two of them.

If you are involved in MLM, the bulk of the money that you can make will come from signing up other people to the MLM scheme. You will make money on selling products, but not as much.

MLM schemes are a lot more beneficial towards the early recruiters than the newer ones. So, if you are joining an established MLM, there is little money to be made. Remember; with most MLM schemes, you will also need to buy products before you make a sale!

With affiliate marketing, there is no shady recruitment involved. You won't need to annoy your friends and family!

You will just deal directly with the company that you are promoting the products for. Some will be under large networks like Clickbank or JVzoo, so you're not always dealing with the actual product creator. 

But do not worry, a good affiliate program will have a lot of support. Afterall, if you succeed, they succeed!


Simple Steps to Becoming an Affiliate Marketer

In this section, I want to run you through the basic process of becoming an affiliate marketer.

This isn't going to be a complete guide by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an overview just to show you how simple it is.

You will benefit from this because i'll connect you to many resources.

Choose Your Niche

Your first step will be to choose the niche you want to build your business in.


If you skip ahead a couple of sections, I have a couple of tips on choosing the right niche for you. However, here is a quick primer on choosing a niche:

  • Choose something profitable
  • Choose something that people search for (has market demand)
  • Choose something that you are passionate about.

Choose Products to Promote

Once you have selected your niche, you can start to make a list of products that you wish to promote.

This means heading to major affiliate networks such as Clickbank, Amazon Associates, JVZOO or these other Clickbank alternatives.

These will be jam-packed with products for just about every single niche, so make a note of a few offers that are right for you.

Build up Your Website or YouTube channel

When it comes to promoting the offers, there are two routes you can go down.

Building a website is often the 'go to' method for many people, and I suggest that you do try to run an affiliate marketing website at some point. You will make more money.

The second option is to run a YouTube channel where you review products and promote your affiliate links.

If you're not keen on getting on camera, there's a Youtube course I bought recently that is actually really good and something to consider.

Create your Content

Once you have decided the route to go down for your business, you now need to create content.


This content is there to promote your affiliate links. It can take many forms including:

  • Product reviews
  • How-to guides
  • Top lists

I also suggest that you try to mix some non-promotional content in there too. It makes your website seem a bit more genuine, so this could lead to more conversions.

Promote Your Content

There are plenty of routes to go down here.

Since you are at the beginner stage of your career, I suggest that you go down the route of these:

  • Create content that ranks in Google
  • Social media marketing
  • Promote via Youtube (more on this below)
  • Paid Advertising

There are plenty of ways to promote your blog. If you create original, quality content that the search engines love, they will gobble it up. 

You can ask other sites in your niche to link to your content and they will if it's really good - so that's a way to get free links and bump you up in the search engines.

You can also set up a Youtube channel where you can link to your blog to get people to visit your site. If you don't want to get on camera for this, you can create a slideshow type of video.

The last one is paid advertising. This could get expensive if not done right. The most popular methods are on Facebook and Google Ads. It would be wise to invest in some training if you are going to use paid ads.

Check out my article on Facebook - How to be Successful With Affiliate Marketing on Facebook.

Rinse and Repeat

Of course, this is a business. Maintaining your busiess is important but I have sites I haven't touched in years and they are still making me money. 

Don't keep all your eggs in one basket though. Once your first site takes off, I suggest building another but always keep focused on one - don't burn yourself out.


Build a Blog Around Your Passion

If you want to make money in affiliate marketing, then I suggest that you build a blog around the things that you are most passionate about.

Now, there is a strong chance that this will not be the most profitable interest in the world.

You will probably make money in other niches, but I promise you, successful affiliate marketers love what they are writing about.

Making money from affiliate marketing does take some time, so it's not for everybody.

However, you will need to keep plugging along. If you do not have any interest in the niche, I doubt you will have the willpower to continue. Pick something you enjoy and it will make it much easier.

When you write about what you love, your content will be a lot more genuine. You are able to convey ideas in a way that somebody that takes a more 'by the books' approach to their writing will not be able to do. Many people will find that this leads to a higher position in the search engines, and it can lead to a better conversion rate.

Also, knowing a little bit about the niche should make it easier for you to come up with unique ideas for your content.

Niche Selection

One of the most important aspects of starting up an affiliate marketing business will be your niche selection. If you get this right, then everything else should fall into place.

I already said how important it is to choose a niche based on your interests, so let me share a couple of ideas on how to choose a niche that is perfect for you.

Your main aim should be finding a niche that is popular and that it is one that gets searched for. This means something that you can actually sell. I know that there are people out there that will tell you to choose a highly specific niche, but do not go too specific because you will be limiting yourself.

For example; scarfs are a great niche, but you wouldn't, for instance, want to only offer 'Brighton and Hove Albion' scarfs. If you wanted to niche yourself down, it would be closer to 'football scarfs'. I hope that makes sense. Basically, choose something that you can make sales with.

Keep in mind that with affiliate marketing you can promote both physical goods like above and also digital products.

How Much Does It Cost to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business?

Surprisingly, not a whole lot of cash. You could do something like this for free if you really, really wanted. Of course, I do recommend that you have a website as it will make affiliate marketing a whole lot easier for you.

At the minimum, you are going to need to have a domain name and a website. The former will cost you $10-$15 per year, whereas the latter will cost around $5 each month. 

Of course, there are other hosting plans out there, so make sure that you put the effort into choosing the right one for your affiliate marketing needs.

Since you will be using WordPress, the actual cost of setting up your website should be free. You may want to pay for a theme or a couple of plugins, but I do not think that this is necessary during the early days.

The one other thing you may need to pay for is content. Of course, you can always write this yourself, but if you are not a skilled writer (or you simply do not have the time) then you can outsource it.

The price for outsourcing your content will be dependent on the freelancer you select, but do not expect it to cost anything under $10 per 1,000-words if you want something that can actually convert customers for you.

For some more details on the costs of starting an affiliate marketing business, see this blog post here.

YouTube Affiliate Marketing (FREE)

One of the best methods for affiliate marketing is through YouTube. I reckon if you do this properly, you can do everything for free. However, you will probably still need to have a website for one of these steps.

My suggestion is to start up a YouTube channel in your niche. Your goal is to review products. On the review, you will have a link to your landing page. Do not send it directly to an affiliate offer.

There is a strong chance that you will be falling foul of the YouTube terms and conditions if you do that, not to mention the terms and conditions of most affiliate programs.

If you browse through YouTube, you will see that people review these products in a plethora of different ways. Some will go down the route of product slideshows. Others will record themselves on camera. I prefer the latter. It is a much more personable and genuine approach, and this will lead to a far, far better conversion rate.

It only takes a few decent product review videos for you to start seeing an income from your YouTube affiliate marketing. All you really need to do is ensure that you do a touch of proper SEO on your content.

If you don't want to go on camera but still want to try marketing on Youtube - Check out Matt Par's course.

Get Proper Training

While you probably can jump into doing affiliate marketing without any prior knowledge, I seriously do not recommend it. I suggest that you invest in quality training.

Sure, there is a ton of free information online. The problem is that it can be difficult to find relevant 'free' information. Plus, without any knowledge of affiliate marketing, you will have no idea whether the information is accurate anyway.

This means that you may be following a plan that stands no hope of making you any cash. You are just wasting your time.

I suggest that you invest in a good course from a reputable instructor. This would be one that has proven their worth in the world of affiliate marketing and, perhaps more importantly, has an 'up to date' course. Remember; expensive doesn't always mean that the course is good.

I have seen some very affordable affiliate marketing courses that deliver better quality information than ones that cost thousands of dollars. 

This means that you should always read reviews so you know exactly what you are getting for your money.

Just click the button to the left to see my recommendations. I bought many courses and these are the best ones in my opinion and experience.

I have seen some very affordable affiliate marketing courses that deliver better quality information than ones that cost thousands of dollars.

This means that you should always read my reviews so you know which ones are worth it. I did the work for you already and spent a zillion dollars on them so you don't have to!

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. A beginner's guide to affiliate marketing. I am not going to profess that I have shared everything that you need to know about affiliate marketing here.

This is because affiliate marketing is something that you could never fully learn, even if you spent years reading about it without proper training.

Your best option is to learn the foundation and get a good course - unless you want to spend years of trial and error!

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