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How can I start affiliate marketing?

 Here’s a framework you can use to start affiliate marketing. It’s a culmination of ideas I’ve learned while working with Lasso founders Matt and Andrew, as well as my own journey. It takes a bit of time, and you’ll likely see no money in the beginning. But don’t let that discourage you. The income potential can be colossal depending on your niche.

1. Find a Topic

Pick topics you know really well or are at least interested in. It’s easier to write about something you know or are insanely curious about.

Think of a few ideas and then figure out which has the best chance of earning money.

Which Topic Works Best for Affiliate Marketing?

Here’s a formula for picking the right website to start based on the topic. Go through each one and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can I write several detailed articles on this topic?
  2. Are there products I could recommend (that have an affiliate program)?
  3. Are people searching for it?

How to Pick Affiliate Products

If you have a website and are ready to start publishing, you need to pick products to recommend.

The name of the game is providing value.

Since you know your topic, only pick products you would use yourself. It's how you'll become successful.

Here Are a Few Ideas for Finding Affiliate Products and Services:

  • Walk around your house and write down every product that would be a fit for your website.
  • Review your order history on sites like Amazon. What have you purchased that makes sense to promote? What have other people bought and the related products?
  • If you already have a website with content, go through your popular posts and see if you've recommended a product but didn't include an affiliate link.

2. Join an Affiliate Program (Plus Tips for Finding the Best Ones)

An affiliate program is usually run by a single company. To join, you need to apply and get approved. Otherwise, here's a way for you to find a fantastic affiliate program on your own.

  • The Company’s Site: You'll find the affiliate program link at the bottom of the site labeled "Affiliates." From there they should provide you with all the info you need.
  • Google: Enter the search query “[company name] affiliate program” into Google.
  • Ask Your Friends: Email a friend who's in the same space as you and ask if they're a part of any affiliate programs. If they're close to them, ask if they'll intro you.
  • Ask The Company: Sometimes companies have an affiliate program but don’t advertise it. So, ask them directly.

Another easy way to find affiliate programs is to look at what you’re currently using. For instance, if you recently bought an excellent online course or have an outstanding email service provider, ask if they have an affiliate program.

3. Create an Editorial Calendar

To be successful and gain traffic, you need to publish regularly. The best way to start out is by going deep on a single niche topic.

This helps you demonstrate expertise and build trust. So, instead of writing about a million different topics, focus on one to get insanely knowledgeable before branching out into another.

To start, come up with a list of article ideas. Here’s a simple framework for getting started:

  1. Write down questions you have about your topic.
  2. If you already have a website, try Ahrefs.com to see what your competitors are ranking for and outrank them by creating something better.
  3. Search popular forums like Reddit and Quora, and niche forums around your topic to find what people are asking about.
  4. Look at Google's Searches Related To and People Also Ask in the SERP.

Once you have a substantial list of article ideas, prioritize them sorting by low keyword difficulty and high traffic potential.

You can easily do this using a tool like Ahrefs. In the Keywords report, try this:

  • Set the KD score to a max of 20
  • Set the search volume with a 1,000 minimum

It's a quick way to find topics that will be easier to rank for. Experiment with your keywords and filters to find what makes the most sense for your niche.

The above terms all have low keyword difficulty scores with high monthly search volumes.

4. Produce High-Quality Content That Helps Your Audience

Before writing a single word, ask yourself how your article serves your readers. Then, address their biggest pain points with every piece of content.

Next, write your articles in the order you set and publish them on a pre-determined day. When creating your content, include affiliate links where it makes sense.

5. Get Traffic to Your Affiliate Site

Slow and steady wins the race. In the beginning, you'll hear crickets. That's normal. What matters is that you keep at it.

There are many ways of driving traffic to your site, but the one that matters most is:

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic via search engine optimization (SEO) is the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for growth and what I recommend. It's free and costs nothing.

Eventually, your posts start appearing in search engines to specific queries. Every click to your site is a vote in its favor. The more people cast votes for your article, the higher it ranks.

The downside to organic traffic is it takes time to grow. And is the biggest reason why bloggers quit before seeing results (and profits). But, with time, you'll find success through long-term passive traffic.

Paid Ads

The other way to start ranking is using paid ads. These appear at the top of search results targeting specific keywords. You'll post an ad on a platform (e.g., Google) and pay that platform whenever someone clicks your ad.

The upside to this traffic source is your blog posts display at the top of an organic search for specific queries. And landing at the top of page one in a Google search is HUGE.

That's a substantial amount of eyeballs on your ad.

The downside to this strategy is it's costly. Running ads eats profits. And once you run out of money, you lose the top spot.

Leverage Social Media

The common advice out there is to set up a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Google+ account, and post your content everywhere.

That's a nightmare and rarely works.

Pick ONE external area to promote. Every time you publish, promote it to your external marketing channel.

Start with where your audience hangs out. If it’s Facebook, head there. Do they mostly post on Instagram? Then that’s where you should promote your creations.

6. Attract Clicks

To make money, you need to promote your products in the most visually appealing ways.

The more product information you give, the more likely they'll click your link. Instead of using text-only links, provide readers with detailed product descriptions, images, and CTA buttons in the form of product displays and lists.

This could be in the form of something like our tool, Lasso
 (which lets you create custom product displays), or another WordPress affiliate marketing plugin.

This helps to gain your reader’s trust but also increases click confidence.

Is Affiliate Marketing Easy?

In order to earn a living with affiliate marketing, you need substantial website traffic. It's not a get-rich-quick thing. It takes time.

Here are a few pros and cons you should consider before getting started.

The Pros of Affiliate Marketing

  • Passive Selling: You don't need to be a high-pressure salesperson. With affiliate marketing, all you have to do is recommend great products in a helpful article to make money. And since it's performance-based marketing, your income potential is unlimited.
  • Fast and Low-Risk: Joining an affiliate program takes but a few mouse clicks. If it doesn't work, you lose nothing, and your startup costs are minimal.
  • No Customer Service: You don't have to build a product, a sales page, a funnel, an e-commerce platform, deliver it, or answer customer service questions. You'll have no interaction with the consumer either -- you're simply connecting them to the seller.
  • Convenience: Affiliate marketing lets you set your own hours, work from anywhere, and be your own boss. You decide the products to promote while choosing your own business goals.
  • Low Barrier to Entry: You don't need to have a marketing degree to start. There are no gatekeepers, interviews to nail, or bosses to defer to like you'd find with a traditional job.

The Cons of Affiliate Marketing

  • Requires Patience: Before you can start making money from your affiliate marketing site, you need to build an audience. It takes time. You need to consistently create great content and promote it. It might take a year or more before you have a full-time income.
  • It's Not Your Product: If you recommend a poor product or service, it makes you look bad.
  • Everybody's Doing It: Everyone in your industry is promoting the same product simultaneously. Since everyone's doing it, the competition is high, which means your content needs to stand out.
  • No Revenue Guarantee: As I mentioned in the pro section, affiliate marketing is performance-based. So, if your content doesn't link enough buyers to sellers, you won't earn any commissions.
  • Restrictions and Penalties: If you don't follow the rules of a given affiliate program, you could get banned. So when you join a program, pay attention.

Create Product-Focused Content

How-to articles and essays work fine for promoting affiliate products. But if you want higher conversion rates, the three types of posts to create are:

  1. Best Lists
  2. Product Reviews
  3. Comparisons

These post styles focus on promoting products. When people search for them, they're usually ready to buy.

That's why they're researching things like "best website hosting platforms" and "Active Campaign reviews."

Best Lists include a list of the best-recommended products in a single category. For example, 13 WordPress Amazon Affiliate Plugins (to Boost Commissions)

Product Reviews focus on a single product and are recommended through personal experience (by either getting the product for free or purchasing it yourself). When you create a detailed review, you're helping people make a decision about whether they should buy.

Comparisons pit two products against each other and weigh the pros and cons. For example, a person running a Google search for "Samsung S21 vs. iPhone 12" is much closer to making a purchase. Compare that to, "how to transfer data from iPhone to Samsung."

The former has likely narrowed their investigating down to these two products. A thoughtful comparison article should nudge them in one direction. They'll be more likely to buy via your affiliate link if your post provided them with enough information.

But the most important reason these content types are worth creating is that they help attract qualified readers to click your affiliate links.

These are the most lucrative content types for affiliate marketing and should be just as helpful as any how-to guide or research you publish.

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