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How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing: Step by Step Guide

By Dustin Howes
June 3, 2021

How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing: Step by Step Guide

How would you like in on an $8.2 billion industry?

And no, you don’t need much experience.

You can get a piece of that $8.2 billion pie while working from anywhere. All you need is your laptop, a bit of grit, and the right knowledge.

What industry is this, you ask?

Affiliate marketing.

Many blog posts have been written about making money in your sleep through affiliate marketing.

That’s garbage.

make money with affiliate marketing

Having been in the affiliate marketing industry for over a decade, I can genuinely tell you that sleep is not part of the equation. However, with the right attitude and knowledge, making money from affiliate marketing becomes easier over time. You can make enough to work fewer hours than your regular job and have the financial freedom to live life on your terms.

In this blog post, I’ll share the steps you must take to make money with affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing, also known as Performance Marketing, is the practice of promoting another brand’s products and earning a commission from leads generated or sales made. In short, you earn money from the referrals you send to merchants.

Affiliate marketing is a type of digital marketing that’s becoming very popular with many merchants and retailers. Since affiliates work on a performance basis, the demand for affiliate partners is high.

How does affiliate marketing work?

  • You sign up for an affiliate program.
  • You promote the merchant’s products using a unique link.
  • A visitor to your website clicks on your link and purchases the product you’re promoting.
  • You earn a commission on the sale.

If it sounds simple, it is. The trick to successful affiliate marketing is building an audience and promoting the right products.

Can you really make money online with affiliate marketing?

Many people are skeptical about making money online with affiliate marketing.

But can you really make money online with affiliate marketing?

The short answer is yes.

However, how much you make depends on several factors, such as your niche, the product(s) you’re promoting, and more. If you’re consistent and take the right steps, the sky’s the limit to how much you can earn. Here are a few examples of some affiliate marketers who are doing quite well for themselves.

  • Ron from OneHourProfessor. He overcame “shiny object syndrome” and started clearing over $20,000 each month with niche blogs.
  • Ryan Robinson. Made over $35,000 in March of 2021 promoting web hosting and online business tools.
  • Adam Enfroy. Makes over $100,000/month promoting software solutions.
  • Mark and Gael from Authority Hackers. They have earned over $1.5 mil in revenue through their portfolio of affiliate sites.

No, these fellas don’t have any superpowers. They just discovered the right ways to make money with affiliate marketing and put in the work to succeed.

You can also do the same.

What do you need to get started making money with affiliate marketing?

Now that you know what affiliate marketing is and how possible it is to make a full-time income from it, let’s briefly look at what you need to get started with affiliate marketing.

Choose a niche.

One of the first steps to getting started with affiliate marketing is to choose a niche. This simply means an area you will specialize in. I, for example, niched down to focus on affiliate marketing on my blog Other examples of niches you could choose include:

  • Health and fitness
  • Weight loss
  • Keto diet
  • Software reviews
  • Coffee roasting

The list of niches is endless as there are millions of product categories you can earn an affiliate commission from.

How do you choose a niche?

Back in the day, when affiliate marketing was a less competitive field, you could blog about your passion and hobbies and sell products related to that. Today, however, passions don’t lead to profit. That’s why you must pick a niche based on market factors. You must conduct:

  • Market research. Pick a niche that has products that are in demand. Check out different affiliate networks and find out which products move fast.
  • Keyword research. Use a keyword research tool to discover high-traffic keywords that have commercial intent.
  • Consider monetization opportunities. When picking a niche, try to find one that has several monetization opportunities. Simply check out other affiliate sites in your niche and check how they are monetizing.

One thing you should never try to do is to sell products in several different categories. This results in a poor user experience for your customers as your website will end up being cluttered. If you want to sell products across several categories, it’s best to create a niche site for each category. And that brings us to the next requirement for getting started with affiliate marketing.

My best advice: Choose one of my top-rated affiliate training courses and follow it step by step.

Create a website or blog for your affiliate marketing niche.

Once you’ve settled on a niche, the next step to success as an affiliate marketer is to create a website or blog. I recommend you use WordPress for this as it’s a user-friendly platform.

A few reasons to invest in a well-designed affiliate website include:

It’s your main source of traffic.

Your website is your main source of traffic. Design it well and fill it with SEO-optimized content, and you’ll enjoy a decent amount of targeted traffic. And the more traffic you generate, the higher your chances of converting more visitors into customers.

Enables you to create landing pages.

A landing page is a web page designed with one purpose in mind — converting visitors into customers. Especially for high-ticket offers, you’ll need a landing page to help you move your customers down your funnel, so they purchase your product.

While you can create a landing page without a website, tying yours to your website gives it a professional-looking URL. This will encourage more conversions.

Gives you credibility.

While getting started with affiliate marketing is easy, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be accepted for every affiliate program you apply for. To increase the chances of being accepted, you must have a professional-looking website to boost your credibility. It will also help you gain your customers' trust as they’ll perceive you as a professional business. A few essentials of a professional affiliate website include:

  • Good web hosting. A good web host is critical to ensuring that your website is always online. A few minutes of downtime can cost you sales. That’s why you must consider reliable web hosting platforms like Cloudways.
  • Themes and plugins. These determine the appearance and performance of your affiliate website. So, make sure to invest in the best themes and plugins for an affiliate site.
  • User-friendly design. User experience is a contributing factor to your conversion rates. That’s why you must ensure your affiliate site is professionally designed.

Your website is your biggest asset in affiliate marketing. Invest as much as you can in it and never skimp on the essentials mentioned above.

Choose affiliate products to promote.

You’ve selected your niche and have built a website for your affiliate business. Now comes another crucial requirement for success — choosing the right products to promote. This is a significant step as your selection of products will either make or break your dreams of being a successful affiliate marketer.

So how do you find products that sell?

How to find affiliate products to promote.

Finding the right affiliate products to promote will require a bit of work on your part — mostly research work. Here are a few ways to research and find the best products to promote as an affiliate marketer:

  • Scout affiliate networks. An affiliate network is a marketplace that connects merchants and publishers (affiliate marketers). Most of them have statistics like the average sales on a product and the commission you can earn on each product. Use these statistics to direct your product choice. DO NOT become just another Amazon Affiliate.
  • Keyword research. Conduct keyword research in your niche to find the products being searched for the most. I love SEMRush and you will too. This is a must-have affiliate marketer tool.
  • Use Google trends. Google Trends is a great tool for finding products that are rising in popularity.
  • Check your personal space. What products have you bought and loved? The possibility of other people loving them is high. This method also has the added advantage of you creating review articles from your first-hand experience.
  • Look for native affiliate marketing programs. Many brands have started running their own affiliate programs. Look for brands that have products your audience needs and join their program as an affiliate partner.
  • Promote courses you’ve taken. Courses are hot sellers because people are thirsty for knowledge to help them with their personal and professional development. Include them in your product offerings — including the best affiliate marketing courses you’ve taken.
  • Check out the competition. What products are your competitors selling? Study them and benchmark for ideas of products that move fast and pay good commissions.

Take your time to research the different products you’re planning on promoting. Make sure they’re relevant to your audience, reliable, and have a proven track record.

SEMRush Review

Audience trust and loyalty.

As in every business, trust and loyalty are key ingredients to success. Building trust with your audience is essential to any e-commerce business’s success.

How can you build trust and build a tribe of loyal customers?

One of the best ways to do so is to promote products you believe in. People can tell if you’re pushing products for the sake of making a profit. This way, even if they do purchase, they feel they’re taking a gamble. However, the passion and experience you exude as you promote a product you love will inspire higher click-through and conversion rates.

Besides promoting products you believe in, other trust-building factors include:

  • Specializing in a specific niche. Specializing in a niche helps you understand your customers and products better. This way, your product recommendations will be more personalized.
  • Consistency. Show up consistently on the platforms you use to promote your products. When people see your consistency, they’ll know you’re not a fly-by-night business.
  • Add value. Everything about your business must add value to your audience. From your content to your product recommendations, it should all make life easier for your audience.

Once you’ve gained your audience's trust, it will become easier for you to make repeat sales. These repeat customers are essential as they form the foundation of your business’ growth.

How to make money with affiliate marketing in five easy steps.

By this point, you’ve put the foundational structures of your business in place. It’s time to learn how to make money online with affiliate marketing. Thankfully, it’s not rocket science. If other bloggers can make six figures and more selling other people’s products, so can you. You just need to follow a proven system. Here are five easy steps you can take to ensure your affiliate marketing business succeeds in generating revenue:

Step 1: Create relevant, revenue-generating content.

No matter what product(s) you’re promoting, it takes quality content to get your products in front of the right audience. You must create relevant, revenue-generating content. To do that, you must conduct keyword research.

Even if you’re an expert in your niche, you must always conduct keyword research for every piece of content you create. Keyword research is a foundational practice that determines the success of your content and business.

Not convinced? Here’s why keyword research is imperative:

  • Essential for search engine optimization (SEO). Knowing the keywords your audience uses to search for information or products in your niche is essential to help you create relevant content.
  • Improves conversions. Keyword research gives you insight into search/user intent. Creating your content based on user intent will increase the chances of it converting visitors into customers.

Armed with your keywords, you can then go ahead and create different types of content for your blog. Examples include:

Review articles.

These are articles where you discuss a product, its pros and cons, and why your visitor should purchase that particular item. Engadget is one popular affiliate website that produces some of the best consumer product reviews on the planet.

Comparison posts.

As the name suggests, these are posts that compare similar products to help your audience pick the right one. Here’s an excellent example from

Informational posts.

Informational blog posts are an excellent way of building trust with your audience. These address common questions, pain points, and problems in your niche.


They’re also instrumental in driving sales as you can place affiliate links in the post or generate revenue through ads.


Guides are a tutorial type of content that focuses on building your authority by offering your audience in-depth information on a particular topic.

No matter what type of content you create, you must create relevant content if you’re blogging for revenue. And it all starts with keyword research.

Step 2: Promote your affiliate products in said content.

The key to creating great content that boosts sales is to create content for your customers — not just to sell products. Once your audience sees you as a go-to resource in your niche, you’ll become their first port of call for information and products.

When they visit your website, you want to encourage them to buy. And that without promoting your offer in a spammy way.

That’s why you need to know how to properly link to your products in your content. You must be strategic in the way you insert your affiliate links. A few tips on how you can do that include:

Add links naturally.

Only add an affiliate link where appropriate. If a link doesn’t fit into the context of your content, don’t force it. Forcing links makes them look unnatural and raises eyebrows. It will also negatively impact your UX and lead to low conversion rates.

Link to your product as early as possible.

When creating a post that features many products, make sure to link to the product(s) you’re promoting as early in the post as possible. Most people skim through content and usually pay attention to the content near the top. Putting your affiliate link there gives you a better chance of it being seen and clicked on.

Leverage affiliate link plugins.

One caveat of affiliate links is that they can get broken. When that happens, it can cost you lots of money. This is where affiliate link plugins and tools like Pretty Links come to the rescue. They help you manage your links, cloak them so they look neat, and update them easily.

Use the white space on your pages.

The white space on your website is prime real estate for promoting your affiliate offers. Use it to promote your products through floating bars, inline banners, and sidebar widgets. These are a great way to add visual appeal to your promotions resulting in higher conversion rates.

Step 3: Optimize for conversions.

With your content published, it’s time to optimize your affiliate website for conversions.

Here’s the deal. Making money from affiliate marketing isn’t just about driving traffic to your website. It’s about converting as many visitors as possible into customers. Even with a handful of visitors, you can make more money by optimizing your website to convert more visitors.

For example, let’s say you sell a product that earns you a $10 commission per sale. If your conversion rate is 3% and your average monthly traffic is 200 visitors, your monthly earnings on that product will be $60. If you can double your conversion rate to 6%, you can double your earnings without increasing your traffic.

That’s why website optimization plays a huge role in how much money you can make with affiliate marketing.

So how do you optimize for conversions?

Create a pop-up campaign.

Pop-ups are one of the best ways to boost affiliate sales on your website. Sure, some people may find them annoying, but designed and timed well, they’re a great way to grab your visitor’s attention and pitch them your product.

A few ways to use pop-ups on your site include:

  • Page-level targeting. Using page-level targeting, you can create affiliate pop-ups that display offers for specific pages on your site. This helps you create personalized campaigns that are relevant to the page your visitor is on. Since the offer is highly targeted, page-level targeting helps drive up conversions.
  • Exit intent campaigns. Exit-intent pop-ups are designed to keep visitors longer on a website by offering them more relevant content. You can also use them to promote your offers to visitors before they leave your website.
  • Banners. Banners are another excellent way of optimizing your website for conversions. For your banners to be effective, keep the design and content simple. Also, use high-quality to increase visual appeal.

Designed well pop-up campaigns and banners are an excellent way to optimize your affiliate website for conversions and increasing your affiliate income. So don’t be afraid of annoying visitors, many of them will appreciate it.

Create campaigns for high-performing content.

Another way to optimize for conversions involves creating campaigns that direct people to your best-performing content. Using Google Analytics (GA) or a plugin like MonsterInsights, find the content that resonates most with your audience and create campaigns to drive traffic to it. These can be social media campaigns or even PPC campaigns. By driving traffic to your high-conversion content, you increase your chances of generating more revenue without creating more content.

Step 4: Build an email list.

You’ve probably heard it a gazillion times — the money’s in the list. If you want to know how to make money with affiliate marketing, you must know how to build an email list and monetize it. A few reasons you must invest in building an email list include:

  • Helps you build meaningful relationships with your audience.
  • Gives you another avenue to promote your affiliate links.
  • Keeps your audience engaged.

All three reasons above are essential as they can help you multiply your revenue. To build an email list that will boost your revenue:

  • Invest in an email marketing service (ESP). GetResponse is an excellent option for solopreneurs as it’s easy to use, affordable, and has many tools you can use. An ESP helps you collect and store email addresses, segment your email list, and run automated email marketing campaigns.
  • Create a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a free resource you create to give away in exchange for email addresses. For it to work, your lead magnet must offer something of value to your audience.
  • Promote your lead magnet. Use a tool like OptinMonster to create pop-ups, floating bars, lightboxes, e.t.c. that will help you get your lead magnet in front of your website visitor’s eyes. You can also promote your lead magnet on other digital platforms like social media and niche forums.

Once your website visitors sign up for your lead magnet and are added to your email list, make sure to send them a welcome email. After that, nurture the relationship by sending regular emails that your subscribers find helpful. You can also send promotional emails once in a while to promote your offers. Do it tactfully, though, so you don’t sound pushy.

A well-designed email marketing strategy is essential to increasing your sales and generate more revenue as an affiliate marketer.

Step 5: Negotiate affiliate commissions.

By this time, you should be generating decent traffic to the products you’re promoting. Your revenue should be steadily increasing. Good as the going may be, it’s not yet time to sit on your laurels. This is the time for you to reach out to the affiliate managers in charge of the programs you’ve enrolled in and negotiate better commissions.

Scary as the prospect of negotiating commissions may be, it’s one of the essential steps to increasing the revenue you generate each month. To successfully negotiate better payouts:

  • Build relationships with your affiliate manager. Affiliate managers are critical parts of the equation of success for an affiliate marketer. They can give you access to information and tips that will help you better position yourself for higher commissions.
  • Leverage data to show your worth. It’s easier to negotiate a higher commission if you’re driving more traffic, sales or leads.
  • Offer something in return. A good example is higher product placement in your posts or ad space. However, this will only work if you can provide data on traffic and the conversion rates those pages get.

Reach out to the merchants or networks you’re working with and craft an email asking for better commission rates. Sometimes all it takes is a simple ask — with data-backed reasons, of course.


How much money can you make as an affiliate marketer?

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you can set your own ceiling. While many factors determine how much you can make as an affiliate marketer, many make 4-5 figures a month while some (super affiliates) bring in 6-figures and more.

How do affiliate marketers make money for beginners?

One of the easiest ways to make money as a beginner is to start a blog. Promote it to your family and friends and ask them to help you spread the word. Blogging is the easiest way to drive traffic to your affiliate site and start drumming up sales.

What are the highest-paying affiliate programs?

Especially if you’re a new affiliate marketer, you can leverage affiliate networks like ShareASale, Impact, and ClickBank to get the highest-paying affiliate programs. I wouldn’t recommend you joining Amazon Associates as Amazon affiliates don’t make as much money as they used to since the commission cuts.

You can also join direct affiliate programs like Hubspot ($1,000 commission) and WP Engine ($200 per lead).

Who is the richest affiliate marketer?

With the recent boom in e-commerce, many affiliate marketers have enjoyed an increase in revenue. However, pinpointing the richest affiliate marketer is quite tricky as not all disclose their incomes. But to give you a glimpse, influencers like Pat Flynn make upwards of $1,000,000/month.

Making money with affiliate marketing — time to make your move.

It’s one thing to learn about affiliate marketing. It’s another thing to make money from it.

But does affiliate marketing really make money in 2021?

The trick to succeeding with affiliate marketing (and generating passive income) is to follow a proven process for setting up your affiliate marketing business. You must also follow a system that ensures that you’ll generate revenue from your efforts.

Using the steps, tips, and strategies outlined above (plus a bit of grit on your end), you can undoubtedly make a decent income from affiliate marketing. You just have to take the plunge and get started.

If you’ve already started, what has your experience with affiliate marketing been like?

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