What Do I Need To Start An Online Business With Affiliate Marketing

André Ruud
Updated: 11/28/2023
5 min read

Affiliate marketing offers a promising online income. Its flexibility, low risk, and low startup costs make it stand out. Affiliate marketing beginners must understand its basics. This helps set reasonable targets and avoid common mistakes. Statista reported $8.2 billion in U.S. affiliate marketing spending in 2022. Influencer Marketing Hub predicts a $15.7 billion market by 2024, indicating growth.

Start An Online Business With Affiliate
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What is Affiliate Marketing?

In simple terms, affiliate marketing involves endorsing a product or service belonging to another business. If a purchase is made via your unique affiliate link, you get a commission. This commission can either be a certain fraction of the sales price or a predetermined sum.

However, a perspective check is essential. Data from Influencer Marketing Hub reveals that a majority of affiliate marketers have an annual income of less than $10K. Still, an encouraging fraction (approximately 16.87%) garners $50k or beyond annually.

Taking a case in point, Matt Giovanisci showcases the potential of affiliate marketing. Through his platform, Swim University, he secured a commendable $149,991 in affiliate earnings in 2021. It’s vital to note that such success stories are often the result of consistent effort, brand development, and years of dedication.

How To Start Affiliate Marketing

Step 1: Find Your Niche

A niche is key to affiliate marketing success. Consider this your niche—the topic you’ll explore and promote. Narrowing your focus helps in the wide digital realm. Instead of “cuisine,” try “barbecue recipes”? Precision attracts loyal readers and boosts search engine visibility. When considering a niche, reflect on these pointers:

  • What are my strengths?
  • Which activities bring me joy?
  • Which subjects spark my interest?
  • What skills do others frequently commend me for?

Remember, passion can drive persistence. With affiliate marketing demanding consistent content generation, selecting a topic you resonate with ensures your motivation remains high, especially during challenging times.

Step 2: Identify Your Primary Medium

Now, you need to choose a medium. Some options are:

  • Social platforms like Instagram or TikTok
  • Websites
  • Podcasts
  • YouTube channels
  • Newsletters
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Your choice hinges on personal inclination and, sometimes, the preferences of your target audience. As an illustration, individuals keen on mastering dance moves might favor visual guides. Consequently, even if you’re inclined towards writing, a YouTube channel might yield better results.

Nevertheless, it’s generally advisable to establish a website and use SEO. This strategy promises steady organic traffic, translating to regular interactions with your affiliate links.

Step 3: Enroll in Affiliate Programs

Broadly, you can categorize affiliate programs into:

High Reward, Low Audience Reach

These pertain to specialized products catering to limited clientele. Take HubSpot, for instance. They cater mainly to enterprises yet offer a lucrative commission structure: 100% of the initial month followed by a 15% recurring monthly commission.

Low Reward, Broad Audience Reach

These involve universally appealing products. A case in point is Amazon. Although their commissions might cap at 10%, they reward affiliates based on the entire purchase amount, not merely the recommended item.

High Reward, Broad Audience Reach

Think premium products with vast appeal, like premium credit cards. The challenge here is the stiff competition, often from seasoned affiliate marketers willing to employ aggressive strategies.

Your ideal program aligns with your niche and expertise. Catering to a general audience? The second model (low reward, broad reach) might be ideal. Engaging with businesses? You might want to opt for the first (high reward, low reach). Noteworthy programs in the industry often revolve around software solutions and web hosting services.

Step 4: Produce Exceptional Content

The lifeline of a successful affiliate site is compelling, top-notch content where affiliate links blend seamlessly. Instead of merely listing popular products from online marketplaces, strive to deliver content that addresses the challenges or questions of your audience.

Consider this: if you’re crafting product reviews, it’s wise to personally invest in and thoroughly test the product. Utilize it for a significant duration, and chronicle your experiences and insights.

Step 5: Increase Your Affiliate Site’s Visibility

With stellar content in place, the ensuing task is to boost its visibility, encouraging more readers to engage and subsequently interact with your affiliate links. Here are three potent strategies to augment your site’s traffic:


This approach entails allocating funds to drive users to your site, typically through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The immediate benefit of this method is instant traffic upon initiating the campaign. However, be wary of potential pitfalls.

For one, continuous ad campaigns can considerably reduce your net earnings. It’s not uncommon for marketers to initially face losses before breaking even—or possibly not attaining profitability at all. It’s crucial to have a realistic timeframe for optimizing paid traffic campaigns. Another drawback is the transient nature of this traffic source—once you cease the ads, the traffic dissipates.

If your affiliation is with a lucrative program and the financials are favorable, ads can be an effective strategy. But, if you’re a novice in paid advertising, have a tight budget, or are engaged with low-commission platforms like Amazon Associates, treading cautiously is advised.


SEO revolves around tailoring web pages to achieve prominence on search engine results, predominantly on platforms like Google. Maintaining a high rank for your desired keywords ensures a consistent inflow of passive visitors. At its core, effective SEO entails:

  • Recognizing the queries and needs of your potential audience.
  • Crafting tailored content addressing those specifics.
  • Ensuring search engines can discern the essence of your content.
  • Securing or garnering backlinks to elevate your page’s position on search results.
  • Guaranteeing your content is easily accessible for search engine crawling and indexing.

Step 6: Monitor Your Affiliate Endeavors

Consistent oversight of your affiliate links is pivotal in sculpting a sustainable revenue blueprint. This involves understanding which web pages, links, and visual components are magnets for traffic and conversions.

Many affiliate programs provide sales data via dashboards, but specialized affiliate marketing tools might provide you an edge. These solutions simplify campaign tracking across promotional channels and improve your affiliate strategy.

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Step 7: Boost Your Earnings

Merely kickstarting your affiliate marketing journey doesn’t automatically assure income. For a revenue stream to flow, perpetual refinement of marketing techniques is paramount. Commence by evaluating your content. Pinpoint articles that register high visitor numbers yet exhibit a dismal RPM (revenue per thousand views). Next, undertake these modifications to discern what elicits heightened conversions, thereby augmenting your affiliate revenue:

  • Try two headlines for identical content. Try different variations and see which engages your audience.
  • Compare two premium images of the same thing. Analyze the results and highlight the audience-favorite image.
  •  Place a tabulation that compares product specs and prices for product comparisons. Visual aids are generally easier to utilize than words.
  •  Be concise and personal in your CTAs. Use “Grab Yours Now”, “While Supplies Last”, or “Ending Soon” to create urgency. Adding a ticking timer increases urgency.

The final opportunity to persuade departing visitors. WordPress plugins like OptinMonster make adding these eye-catching components easy.

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