The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming An Affiliate Marketer

February 26, 2024
The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming An Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing is very much on the rise – predicted to double its current market size to $40 billion by 2031. If you’re looking for a way to make money on the side, this is the perfect opportunity.

With many affiliate marketers making over $10k a month, if you know what you’re doing, you can easily turn it into a profitable business and quit your job!

In this post, you’ll discover a step-by-step process to become an affiliate marketer.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a business model in which you get paid a commission for each sale you make for a merchant. 

To let the merchant know that you’re the one driving a sale, you’ll receive a unique affiliate link. This link includes tracking information, so a merchant can assign the sale to you – and pay you!

Cookie Duration

Another thing to know about is cookie duration.

Cookies are small pieces of data stored in the user’s browser. When a user clicks on an affiliate link, a cookie is placed on their device. This cookie helps merchants track the user’s activity.

If the user makes a purchase, the cookie helps attribute that sale to the correct affiliate – enabling them to receive a commission. 

Each merchant sets a cookie duration, and they vary quite a bit between platforms.

  • Amazon Associates: 24 hours
  • ShareaSale: 30 – 120 days
  • CJ Affiliate: 7 – 120 days

How Much Money Do Affiliate Marketers Make? 

Affiliate marketing can be a great side-job idea!

If you’re looking for a way to make money on the side, affiliate marketing is the way to go. Although you can make as much as $150k a year, many full-time affiliate marketers make around $10k a month.

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Of course, if you know what you’re doing and pursue affiliate marketing with determination, you can eventually turn it from a ‘side job’ into a lucrative full-time income…

…without doing 8-hour shifts at work (you can work from the comfort of your home – or indeed, anywhere you choose!). 

Source; Authority Hacker

Things to Consider Before Starting Affiliate Marketing

Every coin has two sidesand affiliate marketing is no different.

It’s essential you learn about the challenges and drawbacks of affiliate marketing, not just the benefits. That way, you can get a clear picture of what affiliate marketing entails – and then decide whether to pursue it.

Dependency on a Merchant’s Rules

You’re dependent solely on the merchant’s rules and policies – and there’s nothing you can do about them.

Of course, this can present several problem areas, such as:

  • Cookie duration. Short cookie durations mean a limited window for earning commissions, potentially leading to missed sales.
  • Commission structure. A sudden reduction in commission rates can substantially affect your income.
  • Terms and conditions. Violations, even unintentional ones, could lead to the termination – resulting in loss of income. 

In other words, affiliate marketing can be a lucrative career, but it can also involve a degree of risk as you have no control over merchant’s rules.

Rough Beginnings

Affiliate marketing can be tough, especially in the beginning.

It’s very difficult to drive traffic and make commissions, when your brand is not established or you have no followers on social media. The same goes for your affiliate marketing experience.

Mistakes are inevitable, especially when starting with no experience. 

But, of course, if you’re patient, and put in the work every day, you can get very substantial results.

How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing 

Here’s a complete step-by-step process to creating a profitable affiliate marketing business that thrives in 2024 and beyond.

#1: Choose a Profitable Niche

The first step is to choose a profitable niche – so you can maximize your profits.

Unfortunately, most people often confuse the terms ‘niche’ with ‘industry’. If you look for the highest-earning blog niches, you’ll get these examples:

Source: Authority Hacker

However, these are not niches – rather they are industries.

A niche is a smaller part of an industry. For instance, if you choose the food & nutrition industry, your niche might be:

  • Vegan pet food
  • Dairy-free weight loss diets
  • Healthy Middle Eastern cuisine food

As you can see, all of these are very specific.

Focusing on only a tiny portion of a huge industry will help you separate yourself from competitors who target the whole industry.

Moreover, you’ll also be able to provide more in-depth information and rank higher. Plus, the competition is extremely low for ultra-specific niches. For instance, let’s take a look at the competitiveness within the “food” industry.

There are 362 million blogs.

Now if we dig a little deeper and choose a more specific part/niche of the food industry, we get to 15.7 million blogs – which is way lower than it was.

You can continue this process, focusing on a more specific portion of the industry…

…and as you can see, we are all the way down to 8 results.

Now this is potentially your opportunity to start your blog and make a lot of money. We highly advise you to do the same with your chosen industry. 

However, before you jump in, full of excitement, we recommend that you check whether:

  1. You’re passionate about/skilled with the niche topic. This means that you can provide real-life experience and expert advice, which will make your content stand out.
  2. There is a clear monetization strategy. There are products you can sell, affiliate programs you can hop on, or other monetization strategies.
  3. There is low competition. The niche you choose should have low competition, so you’re able to get traffic early on.
  4. There is decent traffic. Some niches might not have enough traffic to drive revenue and help you make money.

No matter how ultra-specific the niche you choose, if it doesn’t have any traffic and profit potential, you won’t make a sale.

#2: Choose a Content Platform

The next step is to choose a way you’ll be promoting affiliate products. For instance, you can choose:

  • Website
  • YouTube
  • Social media
  • Podcast

The method you choose depends mostly on these three factors:

  1. Preference. What method are you most comfortable with using?
  2. Experience. What platforms are you experienced with?
  3. Niche’s preference. The preferred way of consuming content for your target audience.

There is no single best platform.

However, we strongly recommend starting with creating a website and using SEO and content for driving organic traffic. This will let you generate search traffic over time.

This will ensure you can get consistent clicks on affiliate links!

Quick Tip: Don’t be afraid to use more ways to share and promote your affiliate products. Start with one, and slowly transition and expand into multiple ones.

#3: Find Affiliate Programs to Join

An affiliate program is a commission program that pays affiliates (promoters of the products) commissions to drive traffic to a website, or to promote products.

The process starts with an affiliate agreement that contains:

  • The duration of the agreement
  • The payment terms and commissions
  • The types of promotion and advertising that the affiliate can use

In most cases, affiliates are paid according to the number of people they send to the merchant’s site – or the number of purchases made through their unique link.

There are plenty of affiliate marketing programs to choose from. We can divide all of them into three categories:

  1. High-paying, low-volume. Products that are usually high-priced with fewer buyers. For instance, HubSpot’s affiliate program pays 100% of the first month and 15% monthly recurring commission.
  2. Low-paying, high-volume. Products with mass appeal, e.g. PS5 games. You can sell plenty of products, but you won’t get high commissions for each product you sell.
  3. High-paying, high-volume. These are  about expensive products with mass appeal, e.g. credit cards. However, these programs tend to attract marketers that use black-hat tactics.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend going for Amazon Associates – since it’s the most popular network, it’s reputable, and offers 12 million products to promote.

Read More: The Best Affiliate Marketing Programs.

#4: Pick the Right Products

The next step is to choose a product you want to promote.

Ideally, you should promote products that you have real-life experience with. If you don’t have experience with any products, you can look at the reviews.

And definitely review videos on YouTube, too.

This will give you a better idea of what the product is about and whether it’s high-quality.

Also, make sure you check the Terms & Conditions of your affiliate network when choosing products, since some products may not be included in affiliate programs – or you may get lower commissions for promoting certain categories.

Don’t Promote Low-Quality Products

It can be very tempting to promote low-quality products with high commission rates. However, we strongly recommend against it. This is because promoting low-quality products might damage your reputationand completely kill your business. It’s definitely not worth it from a long-term perspective.

#5: Create Great Content

To promote your products, you’ll be mostly writing three types of content:

The ‘Best’ Posts

The ‘Best’ posts are all about listing and comparing multiple similar productsso readers can choose the right one for them.

These posts are aimed at the bottom of the funnel audience.

Source: TenSpeed

This means that the readers are aware of what the products are about, their benefits, and similar stuff – they’re knowledgeable. So make sure to not explain to them what the product is.

Also, there’s no need to mention 10+ different products.

Instead, it’s much better to focus on smaller portions of products and review them in more detail.

Tip: You can use the WordPress plugin AAWP to automatically display lists of the bestselling products within a specific category. Just choose the category you want to promote, and how many items the plugin should display, and AAWP will always make sure the latest bestsellers are displayed, with your affiliate links embedded.

This is a great way to ensure your blog posts and affiliate adverts remain fresh, up to date, and relevant to your visitors’ needs.

The ‘Review’ Posts

‘Review’ posts are a great type of affiliate content. This is because you’re writing for the audience that is ready to buythey just need a little reassurance. 

When writing reviews, make sure to include:

  • Real-life experience. Ideally, you want to talk about your experience with using the product.
  • Tons of photos. So your readers know you’ve really used the product.

The more in-depth the review, the better. 

The ‘Comparison’ Post

This is an in-depth comparison of two or more similar products.

This type of content is aimed at people who are not sure which product or its alternative to choose. If you help them choose the right product, they’ll most likely buy.

And you make a commission!

We recommend focusing on two to three products and talking about unique and distinctive features of each of them. Ideally, you want to mention what product suits who.

For instance, when comparing shoes, you might mention that one shoe is great for sprinters, while the other is better for marathon runners.

Tip: The AAWP plugin for WordPress can help here too, by displaying easy-to-read comparison tables of any products you choose.

Simply choose the Amazon products you want to include, and AAWP will create and display a beautifully clear and well-formatted table that displays all of the relevant product data so that your visitors can see at a glance which is the best one for them… and then as your affiliate link is embedded, you’ll get a commission on any sales made.


There are thousands of these on every possible product you promote. To get ahead and win readers, you need to produce superior content which is more in-depth, readable, and useful.

Here’s how you can achieve this with your content.

Match The User’s Intent

Relevance is the most critical factor for customers and Google rankings.

It’s essential you provide your readers with what they’re looking for – instead of what you want to write about.

The first step is to understand the searcher’s intent and align with it.

Source: Leanne Wong

There are three main intents:

  1. Informational. Searchers are looking for more information.
  2. Transactional. Searchers are looking for the best product to buy.
  3. Navigational. Searchers are looking for specific brands or companies.

After you discover the user’s intent, we recommend conducting keyword research. 

We’re not suggesting focusing on excessively adding keywords to your content or achieving 1 – 2% keyword density – this doesn’t work anymore (even though almost every ‘SEO pro’ obsesses about it).

Instead, focus on the meaning of keywords – what are customers searching for and why. 

Include Images

Using product images in your content does two things for your readers:

  1. Shows that you’ve used the product. This will increase your trust and make readers stay on your website longer.
  2. Helps readers imagine using your product. This will massively increase the chances of driving sales.

Plus, you will also be more likely to receive shares on social media. Just make sure you don’t include generic stock images from Unsplash, Pexels, or Pixabay.

Check Your Grammar & Styling

A single grammatical error can cut your conversion in half, according to the BBC. 

While spelling and grammar don’t  play a role in Google rankings, they might have an indirect impact on the perceived quality of your content. Think about it, how can a post be very high-quality when it’s full of errors?

It automatically signals to readers that the writer didn’t put enough effort into it. To prevent grammatical errors, we recommend always doing this three-step process:

  1. Proofread your content. You want to ideally read the content out loud.
  2. Use Grammarly. Go through each of the Grammarly suggestions.
  3. Use the Google Docs Spelling & Grammar check. Quickly spot and resolve those typing errors or spelling mistakes.

Also, we suggest using bold for highlighting important words or sentences – just like in this sentence!

It can make a huge difference – mainly for readers who are just skimming.

#6: Drive Traffic to Your Affiliate Site

There are plenty of tactics for driving affiliate marketing traffic.

We’ve tried almost every way there is, and found the biggest impact with these three strategies.

  • Social media
  • Repurpose your content
  • Answer Quora questions 

We’ve already mentioned the importance of great content and showed you how to create one.

Now we’re going to cover using other strategies with your products.

Social Media

Social media is the best place to connect with potential customers and share content.

What social media platform you use largely depends on the type of products you promote and what platform are you the most familiar with. Join groups, interact with others, and start conversations to drive attention and clicks.

We also recommend being consistent and posting regularly, making sure your content is focused on topics and ideas that people are interested in – and which provide value.

Repurpose Your Content

Not sure what content to create for your social media?

We recommend repurposing your existing content and turning it into different content types. For instance, if you have a blog post, you can turn it into:

  • Social media posts
  • Infographics
  • Videos

You can transform your content and reach different audiences or just appeal to the same audience who is looking to consume your content differently.

Answer Quora Questions (Or Any Other Forum)

One of the less known ways to promote your content is to head over to online forums and answer people’s questions with your content.

For instance, let’s say someone asks about what are the best lifestyle shoes for men. You can then go ahead and answer the question and offer a way to learn more or discover other alternatives on your blog.

Even though this approach takes a lot of time, it’s highly effective, since it’s personalized.

#7: Build an Email List  

Email marketing is a highly effective way to make money from affiliate marketing. It also has the highest return on investment.

Source: K6 Agency

To get people to sign up to your email list, you’ll need to create opt-in forms.

Your opt-in form should get the following information from potential customers:

  • Email address
  • First name

You also need a lead magnet – something valuable you can give to your readers in exchange for their email address and name.

This is usually something you can give away for FREE that has value, such as:

  • Cheatsheet
  • Checklist
  • Ebook

After the potential customer is on the email list, it’s vital you send valuable emails to your leads regularly (or you risk getting unsubscribed). 

We suggest creating a welcome email sequence, which can look like this:

Source: Automizy

We also recommend providing value in the form of a newsletter or exclusive content.

That’s one of the best ways to maintain great relationships with your existing customers – and maximize your chances of future purchases.

Affiliate Marketing Tools

The right tools can be a massive help in your affiliate marketing journey, helping you get the job done faster, better, and drive more substantial results.

Here are some of our favorite affiliate marketing tools:

  • AAWP. The best tool to maximize Amazon affiliate sales by letting you present products in an entirely unique way.
  • Ahrefs. The best keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO) tool.
  • Google Search Console. Find and fix technical errors on your website.
  • Google Analytics. Provides in-depth data and analytics for your affiliate website. 
  • ClickWhale. Create branded links, keep track of affiliate links, see statistics to know which links get the most clicks.

Conclusion – Ready to Start Your Affiliate Business?

Affiliate marketing can be a fantastic way to make money on the side – or even scale it to a full-time business.

To learn more about affiliate marketing, check these resources:

Looking for a way to generate more revenue and maximize profits?

That’s precisely what AAWP can help you with!

AAWP is our WP plugin designed specifically to help Amazon affiliates make the most of their affiliate journey – and maximize commissions. We offer a ton of handy tools and features that will help you customize your affiliate ads for the best results.

These features will allow you to not only get the attention of potential customers, but also separate you from other affiliate marketers.

Get started with AAWP today and start a successful affiliate business right now!

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