How To start An Affiliate Marketing business? A 4-step Guide

How to start an Affiliate Marketing business
April 14, 2021

Affiliate Marketing is about earning a commission by promoting a company’s or merchant’s products to potential customers. Affiliate marketers earn a percentage of revenue based on every sale they make or a lead they generate for the merchant’s company.

In this post, we’ll go through all the steps need to start your affiliate marketing business.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a business model that involves earning a commission by promoting another person’s or company’s product or service.

If you’re an affiliate (also referred to as a publisher or an advertiser), you use your marketer’s skills to refer your audience to a product or service. When someone in your audience decides to buy a product/service or take an action based on your recommendation, you get a commission. 

Typically, the affiliate is paid when a sale is made. But some programs can reward you for other actions like generating leads, free-trial users, clicks to a website, or getting downloads for an app.

Affiliate marketing is a popular tactic to drive sales and generate significant online revenue. Extremely beneficial to both brands and affiliate marketers, the new push towards less traditional marketing tactics has paid off. See below how Affiliate Marketing is growing:

Affiliate Marketing Growth

How does Affiliate Marketing work?

Affiliate Marketing involves three different parties:

  • Seller or product manufacturer or retailer or merchant
  • The affiliate, or marketer or advertiser or publisher
  • The consumer

1. Seller

The seller, either a solopreneur or big enterprise, is a vendor, merchant, product creator, or retailer with a product or service to market.

2. The affiliate

Also known as a marketer, a publisher, advertiser, the affiliate can be either an individual or a company that markets the seller’s product or service to potential consumers. If the consumer ends up buying the product, the affiliate receives part of the revenue made by the sale.

3. The consumer

The consumer is the driver of affiliate marketing. No sale, no revenue to share. Affiliates share these products with them on social media, blogs, and websites.

Whether the consumer knows that they are part of an affiliate marketing system or not is mostly up to the affiliate. However, most affiliates have an affiliate disclaimer on the website announcing that they’ll earn commissions on sales made by the audience.

The relationship between these three parties is detailed in my post “Affiliate Marketing, the most popular of the online business models


The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.
Peter Drucker

Affiliate Marketing Business: Pros and Cons

I’m not going to talk about the perks and drawbacks of starting an affiliate marketing business here since I recently published an article dedicated to this topic: Affiliate Marketing, the most popular of the online business models: Advantages And Disadvantages.

Affiliate Marketing, the most popular of the online business models - Advantages And Disadvantages

How To Become An Affiliate Marketer In 4 Steps

Step #1 Choose your niche

Choosing a niche is always the very step before starting any business. It’s not any different for an online affiliate marketing business.

We advise you to choose products or services that you already know, have experience with, or tested and that you’ll be proud to share with others. Indeed, the more you know the products or services, the easier for you to promote them.

Note that you’ll always have to deal with the following limitations while choosing the products or services to promote:

a) Either you’re constrained by (i) the products or services you have experience with, (ii) that meet the interest of your audience and (iii) that offer an affiliate program.

b) Or you’re limited on the products or services you can get access to (by buying them or getting a free sample) to test them.

In either case, it’s essential to invest time and money to ensure you make the best choice because your image will be associated with the products and services you’ll promote.

Since the affiliate marketing business is very competitive, you’ll probably need to niche down and identify a micro-niche where you’ll have a good chance to stand out.

Do your research

Make sure you have done your research before you choose to promote your product or service. You will be putting your time and money into promoting it. You will have to look at these when you pick a product.
  • Is there a demand or need for the product in the market?
  • Look at google trends on what are the latest trends.
  • You can use your preferred social media analytics tool to understand what people are talking about in social networks. There plenty of social media analytics tools out there. You can get a long list of them by googling “best social media analytics tools for marketers.”
  • Analyze and understand if the product you are picking has a need in the market and whether the product provides the desired result to the customer.
I only promote products or services that I know well personally for having either used it or at least tested it in order to avoid misleading my audience and jeopardizing their confidence in me.

Hereafter is a post I’ve written that could help you, using Google Trends, check how much your niche idea is currently trending across the internet world.

Is Your online business Niche Trending

The more trending your product niche is, the easier it will be to promote it.

Let’s dig further into the two above options

Option 1: Promote products or services you have experience with

You may start by writing down a list of the products, services, and courses you already have experience with. Which of these is attractive for you to promote?

If you want to know if any of your favourite companies are offering an affiliate program. Visit the website of the merchant to see if there is an associated affiliate program. Once on their page, scroll down to the very bottom or the footer, look for a link that says Affiliate program. Even better just google “Company Name + Affiliate program”. 

Option 2: Find new products or services

Looking for the right product(s) or service(s) to promote may be overwhelming. According to ScrapeHero, alone sold had a total of 119,928,851 products in April 2019.

Top 10 categories in Amazon – April 2019

If you have no valuable experience products or services in your niche that are suitable to be a good match with your audience, it’s time to refer to affiliate networks to find interesting products to promote.

For getting available affiliate networks, google with the terms “affiliate networks” as per the example below.

Best affiliate networks for staring an Affiliate Marketing business

However, this approach requires due diligence because you don’t know the seller ahead and its reliability. Don’t hesitate to invest money and buy the product to test if you cannot get free samples. It’s worth it to protect your reputation and the trust you’ve built or will build with your readers/followers.

You might want to refer to this article on more about choosing your niche:

How to start an online business from home – The ultimate guide: Find a profitable online business niche

The best way to get a better answer is to start asking a better question.
Tony Robbins

    Step #2: Setup Yourself as an Affiliate Marketer

    To start working as an affiliate marketer, you need to register with the merchant.

    For this process, get ready with the following information, among others depending on the merchant requirements:

    • Your business contact information for taxes and administrative purposes
    • Your bank account to be paid.

    When the registration is completed successfully, you get your unique affiliate link which includes your personal ID that will allow the merchant to know from which affiliate originates each sale to pay them the commission.

    At each ad, post or any promotion action of the product or service, use this tracking link.

    “id=pftre” is the id of the affiliate marketer.

    The merchant will also provide you with marketing tools to help you promote their products. 

    These could include:

    • Affiliate instructions on using their platform and terms and conditions such as payments rules, communications about new products, etc.
    • Banners and sidebar graphics.

    Step #3: Comply with laws

    Before starting your business, ensure you comply with the business laws of your country.

    The licenses, permits, or certificates you require to stay legally compliant vary based on your industry and state/country. Therefore, always check with local authorities to know exactly what is legally required of you before starting your business.

    Step #4 Start promoting the chosen products/services

    1. Drive traffic to your affiliate site

    The products or services you decided to promote are displayed on your website.

    The question now is to get people to visit your website and get to know those products and eventually buy them, so you get paid.

    For this, you’ve got options. Which one(s) have you chosen?

    • Paid traffic by advertising
    • Free organic traffic

    To help make your choice between Paid and Organic (free) traffic, I’ve written the post “Paid Traffic vs Free Organic Traffic: How to make the right choice

    Paid vs Organic traffic

    2. Build an email list

    Email lists allow you to communicate with your subscribers directly.

    Use them to tell fans about new content and keep them coming back to your site for more. This leads to more affiliate clicks and sales.

    When prospects click on your ads in case paid advertising or when your site visitors click on your links or buttons placed on the articles’ page, their end up on a landing page that offers them to fill their name and email address.

    To successfully collect emails addresses, the landing page should, at least, contain two things:

    a) A sign-up form that your potential subscribers will be invited to fill to give you their emails

    b) An attractive reason to join your list, usually called “lead magnet.”

    At Dreamed Lifestyle, we use the home-made sign-up form below to collects emails. As a lead magnet, we offer free training that teaches how to start an online business.

    Our Signup form & lead magnet – Start your online business free training

    Our Signup form & Our lead magnet - Start your online business free training

    If you opt-in, you are added to our “Leads list”. We start sending you a series of emails once per day. The first 4 emails contain a video series that offers a free training to the subscriber.

    Email #1: Welcome message that explains what to expect in the following mails.

    Email #2: Workshop #1 – How to select the right online business model for you so that you can create and live the life you want.
    Email #3: Workshop #2 – The fastest way to get started online with a business model that you can easily build around your job without spending a fortune.
    Email #4: Workshop #3 – The easiest way to source in-demand products without ever having to leave your house, store products, or deal with complicated logistics.
    Email #5: Workshop #4 – The best way to set yourself up with a startup business that will serve you for the long term and provide you with financial security in the “new economy”.

    Email #6: Summary of the workshop free training received through the previous emails with an offer to pursue the free training by creating a free account and instantly unlock Module #1: “The System for Selling Online”!

    Email #7: I share with you some facts about our Online Selling System:

    • This is a proven system for selling online that walks you through exactly how to start making money.
    • It can be used to sell and promote all kinds of products or services. You’re not tied to any one business or niche.
    • Most people who use it start completely from scratch (little-to-no marketing or business experience).
    • All the “heavy lifting” is done for you – no chasing people down, sorting and sifting through contacts or emails, or having to be the pushy salesperson.
    • Your work ethic and determination play a HUGE role in the results you’ll get from using it.

    Email #8: Answers to frequent questions raised during the free training in order to help the subscriber decide whether this program is a fit for him.

    Email #9: Invitation to acquire the “All-In Package” that is giving you everything you would need to start and grow your new online business from scratch. This is a total access to all of the tools, training, courses and support plus daily interactive online live events with our leadership team and community. 

    Email #10: Video Testimonial illustrating the impact on your success of having the adequate tools, connections, and know-how to set your plans in motion.

    Email #11: This email talks about the main reasons why most entrepreneurs fail.

    On top of reasons like no vision, misspent money, lack of skills or technical know-how, etc, most entrepreneurs fail most likely because they’re not surrounded by the right people because the RIGHT people would empower you by:
    • Sharing skill sets that teach you how to not only survive but thrive in any economic landscape
    • Providing you with guidance, mentorship, and the principles of leadership
    • Holding you accountable to your goals and commitments
    • Helping you discover and leverage your true purpose 

    Email #12: Video Testimonial that highlights a digital entrepreneur who succeeded because he began with him aligning himself with people who had already walked the walk, leaders who understood his goals, his pain points, and exactly how to achieve the results he was after. 

    3. Email list followup

    This emails series doesn’t end here. We continue sending mails to our leads giving them value by publishing posts about topics they like and solutions to their problems. Remember that visitors come to your site because they have a problem. If you offer them the solution to their problem, they’ll keep visiting your site, offering you the opportunity to introduce them to other products and services you might be promoting.

    So, with this strategy, you have several chances of getting your consumers to buy your product.

    They have a chance to buy after the autoresponder series, on the webinar, and from future emails.

    4. Scale up your business

    When your sales start coming in and begin to grow, that’s when you can really blow up your business with paid advertising by just driving traffic to the sales mechanisms that already work.

    5. Guide on how to build your email list

    For more on building your email list, I’ve written the following article: How To Build An Email List For Small Businesses: 7 Proven Steps

    Affiliate Marketing FAQ

    What’s an affiliate link?

    An affiliate link is a unique URL assigned to a specific affiliate. The affiliate link contains and records the affiliate’s ID or username, allowing the affiliate to get credit for the traffic sent to the seller’s website. If a visitor clicks the affiliate link and performs the action agreed with the seller (like a purchase), the affiliate gets paid.

    Affiliate marketing Networks

    Affiliate networks are middlemen connecting publishers like bloggers or influences with companies (“merchants”) offering affiliate program opportunities for their products or services.
    These networks often offer reporting tools, training, and other resources to help you become a successful affiliate marketer.

    The most popular example of an affiliate network is Amazon (their affiliate network is called “Amazon Associates”), which allows publishers to promote products or services and earn a commission for each sale made by their readers or followers.

    If you want to more about this topic, check my post that has a section about Affiliate Marketing Networks.

    What the advantages of becoming an Affiliate Marketer?

    Do You Need Qualifications To Be An Affiliate Marketer?

    Anyone can become an affiliate marketer, and there are no standard qualifications.

    However, knowing how to write a blog post or how to do a great video is an advantage because they mean you don’t have to pay for content in the beginning (if you opt for organic traffic). Also, any existing marketing knowledge you have will be a great advantage to you. If you need to get or improve your marketing skills, I advise you to join Six Figure Mentors (SFM), which taught me how to create my online business from scratch.

    Does It Cost To Join An Affiliate Program?

    Usually, there is no charge to join an affiliate program. However, some promotion strategies will cost if you choose to use them. For example, while your blog won’t cost you anything but your time, paid traffic like pay-per-click marketing, email campaigns, and social media ads will require an investment.

    The takeaway

    It’s so easy to get started with Affiliate Marketing. This post is giving you the necessary steps to start.

    Identify what your audience needs are, find the merchant offering the solution and you’re gone. 

    If you’ve chosen for organic traffic, provide lots of valuable content that helps and educates your readers, build good relationship with them and offer them, from time to time, the products you’re promoting. And you start generating income.

    Ready to start and scale an online business? 

    Sign up for our FREE masterclass today!

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