Affiliate Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide (2024)

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 7 months ago
  • Blog
  • 6
Affiliate marketing pro Matt Diggity introducing UpFlip’s affiliate marketing guide

Are you struggling to monetize your digital assets? We’ll show you how to start affiliate marketing.

We talked with SEO guru Matt Diggity, who started Lead Spring in 2009 and has turned his affiliate marketing business into a $5 million-per-year revenue-generating machine. He told us:

I fell in love with it because it appeals to the gamer in me.

We’ll share the best affiliate marketing strategies for search engine optimization and affiliate marketing to improve your own website revenue by discussing:

What is affiliate marketing?

According to Matt, affiliate marketing is:

Getting people to buy products and earning a commission. You recommend a product using an affiliate link, the company tracks actions with a cookie, and when they buy something, you earn a commission.

Matt explains that he uses search engine optimization to generate traffic and earn money from affiliate links.

What is search engine optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization is focused on creating content that is valuable to users by focusing your writing on information that people regularly search for. Matt explained that SEO focuses on two main aspects:

  1. Create content.
  2. Get backlinks.

Does affiliate marketing work?

Businessman holding graph showing affiliate marketing efforts increasing profits

Yes, affiliate marketing works. While Matt is a rarity in the industry, plenty of affiliate marketers earn the equivalent of a full-time employee, and many more bring in enough with affiliate links for affiliate marketing to be a profitable side hustle.

How to become an affiliate marketer

Matt explains that you’ll need to perform the following tasks to start affiliate marketing:

  1. Pick a niche.
  2. Perform keyword research.
  3. Write content.
  4. Get backlinks.

He’s oversimplified affiliate marketing a little, though. If you’re an absolute beginner in the affiliate marketing world, you’ll want to:

  1. Choose your niche.
  2. Research affiliate programs.
  3. Join affiliate programs.
  4. Build a platform.
  5. Create high-quality content.
  6. Insert affiliate links.

Choose your niche

Concept of an influencer sharing unique affiliate link on Instagram

Select an affiliate niche that interests you and has a demand for products or services. Your passion and knowledge about your niche simplifies content creation and creates a better connection with your target audience.

Check out our content on business ideas to find an industry you’d like to choose as your affiliate niche. An online business will normally work best. People who sell courses online almost always have affiliate programs as do many online stores.

Affiliate marketing ideas

Affiliate marketers have opportunities in every industry. Affiliate sales tend to be the best in the following industries, though:

  • Technology: Every business in the world needs software to operate more efficiently. Many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies offer recurring affiliate income for as long as a client is a paying customer.
  • Wealth Building: Referring customers to products that will help them build more wealth is another great strategy for affiliate income. It also tends to offer the highest profit for affiliate campaigns.
  • Health and Fitness: Offering health and fitness advice is another way an affiliate marketer can make a great living. Documenting your own experience is the best testimonial in the world because people get to see the change in real time.
  • Fashion and Beauty: Trendsetters and everyday consumers are eager to test the next thing in clothing, makeup, and self-care products. You can make extra income by reviewing the products you love and showing people how to use them.
  • Lifestyle: Everything from self-improvement to van life, pregnancy to education counts as lifestyle content. People want hacks for how to make their lives better, and an affiliate marketer can make a great living sharing their tips.
  • Hobby: Making affiliate income from your hobby can be a great niche for your affiliate website. Whether you love flying model planes, researching serial killers, or going to shows, there are sure to be affiliate campaigns that will appeal to people who enjoy your hobby.
  • Pet Care: Our pets are like family and the affiliate marketing industry is thriving with products pet owners will love. Whether you want an affiliate business or just a little passive income, this niche is adorable!
  • Travel: The majority of Americans plan to travel at least once this year. If you’re all about exploring the world, maybe an affiliate site will make you some extra money.
  • Security and Survival: Content focused on protecting your way of life has a huge target market, and new technology can help your target audience protect themselves better.
  • Non-Profit and Charity: Surprisingly, charitable organizations use affiliate marketing efforts to increase their charitable contributions. Check out some popular affiliate programs for this industry.

Once you’ve chosen a niche, it’s time to find different affiliate programs.

Research affiliate programs

Once you’ve identified your affiliate niche, look for affiliate marketing products you want to market.

Some popular affiliate networks and platforms include:

  • Amazon
  • Commission Junction
  • Impact
  • FlexOffers
  • Audible
  • ShareASale
  • PartnerStack
  • Rakuten Advertising
  • eBay Partner Network
  • Shopify affiliate program
  • WP Engine’s affiliate program
  • Fiverr’s affiliate program
  • ConvertKit’s affiliate program
  • Twitch’s affiliate program

Keep reading to learn more about each of these affiliate product platforms.

How to become an Amazon affiliate marketer

Amazon’s affiliate marketing industry resource webpage showing the "Tools And Features" "Mobile GetLink Help" FAQs

Just go to Amazon Associate Central and apply. Amazon Associates offers 1% to 20% commission on purchases.

Join Commission Junction

Join CJ to get access to top affiliate programs like Google Workspace, GoDaddy, NameCheap, Quickbooks, and Simply Business.

Join Impact

We use impact.com to refer people to companies like Divvy, SEMrush, Canva, and Credit Karma.

Apply for FlexOffers

FlexOffers has over 10,000 affiliate product offers to apply for, including Nike, Hulu, Samsung, and Microsoft.

Become an Audible affiliate

Audible Affiliates earn $15 per user by referring new members to the audiobook site.

Join ShareASale

ShareASale offers its own affiliate link you can use to refer both merchants and other people who want to get into the affiliate marketing industry. They also offer other programs like WP Engine, Gusto accounting software, and other high-ticket affiliate programs.

Join PartnerStack

PartnerStack is an affiliate marketing network with companies like AirDNA and SurferSEO. Apply on the ParnerStack affiliate site.

Try Rakuten’s affiliate website

Rakuten Advertising has partners like Hilton, JanSport (backpacks), and One-Travel. Go to their website to apply to share affiliate links from Rakuten.

How to become an eBay affiliate

Smiling, casually dressed woman with a megaphone in front of eBay’s affiliate partner "Verify Your Bank Account Settings" webpage

You can join eBay’s affiliate program by going to eBay’s Partner Network website. We link to their Getting Started tutorial so you can learn more about it before signing up for the affiliate marketing program that makes between 1% and 6% on most sales.

How to join the Shopify affiliate program

Shopify affiliates gain access to a content gallery created to help affiliates succeed in affiliate marketing. You get $25 to $500 per item sold based on the location and paid package the user signs up for. There’s a catch, though. It’s invite only. Learn more.

WP Engine’s affiliate program

WordPress (WP) Engine offers a generous affiliate program based on the higher of $200 per purchase or the first month’s costs. They also offer a 35% commission on StudioPress, a growing collection of responsive, SEO-optimized WordPress templates. Apply to become a WP Engine affiliate.

Fiverr’s affiliate program

Fiverr freelancer platform’s affiliate marketing career webpage

Use the affiliate program to refer new buyers to freelancer platform Fiverr and receive $15 to $150 depending on what jobs they commission. Plus, the hybrid model offers 10% revenue share. This is a great affiliate program for B2B affiliates because almost every company could use some extra help occasionally.

ConvertKit’s affiliate program

ConvertKit is an email marketing tool that offers a 30% commission for the first 24 months. That means you can make between $2.90 and $18,720 per referral over the course of two years. Become a ConvertKit affiliate.

How to become a Twitch affiliate

Casually dressed bearded man in a beanie in front of Twitch’s affiliate marketing website

To become a Twitch affiliate, you’ll need to:

  • Stream a minimum of 500 minutes in the last 30 days
  • Broadcast a minimum of seven days in the last 30 days
  • Average three or more concurrent viewers during the last 30 days
  • Have a minimum of 50 Followers

As long as you meet these requirements, you’ll be sent an email invite to join the Twitch affiliate program, which provides you with a penny for each reaction during streams, plus a percentage of ad revenue. Learn more about the Twitch affiliate program.

Join affiliate programs

Successful affiliate marketing business concept showing happy man entrepreneur sitting in front of a laptop at home

After you’ve found the best affiliate marketing programs for your affiliate niche, sign up for the affiliate programs you’ve chosen. Most affiliate programs are free to join, but some may have specific requirements or restrictions.

You’ll need to:

  1. Apply for the affiliate networks you want to join. This will normally include providing your personal information and proof of web assets.
  2. Once you are approved on the affiliate network, you’ll want to submit any additional information to apply for each affiliate program. You’ll also need to submit the information to get paid by affiliate partners.
  3. Apply for the marketing campaigns you want to run on your affiliate sites. Many affiliate programs will have thresholds you have to meet to qualify to generate affiliate links. If you don’t qualify, wait until you meet their thresholds to apply.
  4. Wait for an approval.

What is an affiliate marketing program?

An affiliate marketing program is a structured arrangement established by a company or merchant to collaborate with individuals or entities (affiliates) who promote their products for a commission or referral fee. These programs are a popular form of online marketing where businesses leverage the efforts of affiliates to drive traffic, leads, and sales to their websites or offers.

Affiliate marketing programs benefit both merchants and affiliates. Merchants can expand their reach and boost sales without upfront advertising costs, while affiliates can earn commissions by promoting products or services they believe in or have expertise in.

It’s important for both merchants and affiliates to maintain transparency and ethical practices in affiliate marketing to build trust with customers and comply with regulations in their respective industries.

Build a platform

Passive income from-social media concept showing influencer popping out of a laptop with megaphone surrounded by social media platform icons

You’ll need a platform to promote affiliate products when you become an affiliate marketer. Consider running a blog, website, YouTube channel, social media profiles, or an email list. Anything that uses digital marketing will work as long as you have an audience.

There are a lot of people who create online courses then use affiliate marketing to sell other marketing automation tools that work well for eCommerce businesses. Choose the best platform to communicate with your target customers.

Visually interesting subjects will normally use video and image platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok. Meanwhile, writers might benefit more from blogs and Twitter.

Create high-quality content

Start creating valuable and engaging content related to your niche. This content can include articles, blog posts, product reviews, videos, podcasts, or social media posts. Your content should provide useful information, solve problems, or entertain your audience.

To create amazing content, you’ll need to:

  1. Research keywords to find what people are searching.
  2. Review competitors’ content.
  3. Create an outline (I normally just pull all the headings from competitors, reword them, analyze them, and rearrange them if anything looks out of place).
  4. Create enjoyable content for your audience.

Most affiliate marketing partners will go through three stages in their affiliate marketing journey:

  1. Unattached affiliate marketer
  2. Related affiliate marketer
  3. Involved affiliate marketer

Here’s what these affiliate marketing designations mean:

Unattached affiliate marketing

When you first get started you may not have any useful information to provide people and you’ll copy what others are doing. This is called unattached affiliate marketing, “zero-click,” or “linkless” affiliate marketing. These rely heavily on social media ads to build audiences.

Launch successful businesses and you will eventually develop the experience and authority to give others online marketing tips, at which point you’ll be more focused on the second type of affiliate marketing.

A related affiliate marketer focuses on products in their niche but hasn’t actually used them. It makes it hard to give a sincere review if you’ve never tested a product or service. Many customers see through this type of marketing as insincere and just trying to make a buck.

At least you’ve realized that you have to stay within your niche to participate in the best affiliate marketing programs available to affiliate marketers.

Involved affiliate marketing

The third stage affiliate marketers will enter involves showing they have expertise in the niche and with the product. At this point, you should be eligible for the best affiliate programs. You may even be assigned a dedicated affiliate manager, which may also be called a dedicated account manager.

An affiliate marketer using involved affiliate marketing has experience with their suggestions. That means they are telling their audience that the product has improved their lives in some way. When you endorse something that doesn’t work, it can harm your reputation.

The three levels of affiliate marketing intertwined

UpFlip’s online business ideas blog on a tablet

As your online business grows and you become more of an authority, the need for paid ads may decrease and your testimonial will mean more because your audience knows you have the experience to judge the products.

Business owner at a desktop computer using aff link creation to generate affiliate revenue

Within your content, strategically insert affiliate links to the products or services you’re promoting. These links will include unique tracking codes that identify sales or leads generated through your referrals.

There are a few different ways to insert affiliate links. We’ll discuss:

  • What are affiliate links
  • How do affiliate links work
  • How to get affiliate links
  • How to create affiliate links
  • How to get affiliate links for Amazon
  • How to set up affiliate links

Affiliate links are links with a unique URL that tracks when a user comes to a page through another company’s web assets. An affiliate link records specific data to track sales, including:

  • Affiliate username or ID: This is a unique identifier that lets the company know who referred the user to the website.
  • Clicks: Companies track clicks to see how well affiliate programs work to get people to come to their website.
  • Sales: The ultimate goal of affiliate links is to help a company sell more products or services. That means the affiliate program tracks sales from the affiliate referrals and pays them a commission.
  • Commision Rate: This is how much the affiliate program pays for an action. They might pay a percentage or flat rate on a one-time or recurring basis.
  • Cookie Life: This is the window of time during which an affiliate can get credit for traffic sent to the advertiser’s website.

When a visitor goes to the web page through the affiliate link and buys something, the advertiser pays the affiliate a commission.

Young woman dressed in business casual holding placard with word "Bonus" for affiliate program partners

Affiliate programs function by enabling individuals, known as affiliates, to promote and sell a company’s products or services. In return, these affiliates receive a commission for each successful sale generated through the unique affiliate link associated with their endorsement.

Here’s an overview of how this process operates:

  1. UpFlip displays advertisements or links for a specific website on our website, blog, or social media platforms.
  2. A potential customer clicks on our distinctive affiliate link.
  3. The customer proceeds to make a purchase on our partner’s website.
  4. The affiliate network tracks and records this transaction.
  5. Our partner verifies and confirms the purchase.
  6. UpFlip is compensated with a monetary commission.

The commission rates for affiliate sales can vary widely based on the particular company and offer. Typically, commissions range from around 5% to 50%, particularly when promoting educational courses or events. Some affiliate marketing programs offer a fixed monetary amount per sale instead of a percentage-based commission.

Concept of a few affiliate links selling product showing a link to click hovering over a box labeled "Product" exchanging hands

Go to the affiliate network that your affiliate program is on and go to the related affiliate marketing campaign. You should be able to see all your affiliate marketing campaigns in the affiliate dashboard like the one from CJ below.

Affiliate dashboard

Click on the one you want to add to your content. It will take you to a page that looks like this:

Simply business us

Then you’ll want to go to the links and sort them by the earnings per click (EPC). You can either choose a 7-day or 30-day EPC. You may also see EPC (100), which is earnings per 100 clicks. The higher the number the better as long as it is relevant to the content you create.

Simply business start your quote

You’ll want to click Get code on the campaign you want to use. This will give you options like encrypted links, open in new window/tab, and whether to get HTML, JavaScript, or just the URL. Once you choose your settings, update the link and copy the code.

Man in an orange hoodie holding a laptop and wondering about affiliate marketing mistakes, shown with speech bubble reading "What?" overhead

To create an affiliate ID, you will need three main parts:

  1. The landing page
  2. Your affiliate ID
  3. Custom UTMs: Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs), broken into five main types listed below
UTM Use Example
utm_source Specify the site the link came from

utm_source=Instagram

utm_medium

Categorize between social, email, organic, or paid traffic utm_medium=paid

utm_medium

Tie the link to a specific promotion utm_campaign=Course_beta_testing

utm_medium

Make it easy to track the keyword utm_term=best_business_courses

utm_medium

Used for A/B testing utm_content=link_1 and utm_content=link_2

That means you might have a link that looks like the one below:

Affiliate link

Pro Tip: Want to take a deeper dive? You can learn more about building links from Google.

Amazon used to have numerous ways you could get affiliate links for a page including Native Shopping Ads, banners, and mobile popovers, but they recently discontinued support of everything except the “link to any page” setup.

With link to any page, you can link to:

  • Favorite destinations: Choose a product line and subcategory, name the link, and copy the HTML.
  • Search results: Select a product line, enter the keyword, name the link, and copy the HTML.
  • Any page: Paste the link, name the link, and copy the HTML.

You can also use the Idea Hub to get ideas that you could have success with. The mobile app also allows affiliates to share an affiliate link directly from the app with Mobile GetLink.

When we set up affiliate links, we use the following process:

  1. Sign into the affiliate program.
  2. Choose the most relevant link.
  3. Set the link to open in a new window.
  4. Update the link.
  5. Sign into WordPress.
  6. Go to Pretty Links.
  7. Name the link.
  8. Add the link to Pretty Links.
  9. Create a redirect that looks like https://www.upflip.com/go/business-name.
  10. Click the advanced tab.
  11. Mark the Sponsored box.
  12. Save the link.
  13. Add it to your content.

Watch the video below for an example of how to do this in WordPress with Pretty Links.

Disclose your affiliate relationship

It’s essential to be transparent with your audience about your affiliate marketing activities. To maintain trust and comply with FTC regulations, you must clearly disclose your affiliate relationship in your content using disclaimers or disclosures.

The way we approach this step is by posting a disclaimer at the top and bottom of each page that says:

UpFlip earns commissions when you buy products using links on our website. You can learn more about our standards here.

Then in sections with affiliate marketing links, we add:

This section includes affiliate links.

If you’re using WordPress, you can also make each link a sponsored link by clicking a setting on the link.

Again, these steps are needed to comply with the FTC regulations.

Drive traffic

Affiliate strategy concept

You have to drive traffic to your content to earn commissions. Utilize various marketing strategies like SEO, social media marketing, email marketing, paid advertising, and content promotion to attract visitors to your platform.

Monitor and track performance

Use analytics tools and affiliate dashboards to monitor your performance and track clicks, conversions, and earnings. This data will help you refine your strategy and focus on what works best.

Optimize for conversions

Continually analyze and optimize your affiliate marketing strategy. Test different promotional techniques, track your results, and make adjustments to improve conversion rates and maximize your earnings.

Scale your efforts

Once you’ve established a successful affiliate marketing strategy in one niche, consider expanding to other niches or products to diversify your income streams.

Stay compliant

Be aware of legal and ethical guidelines related to affiliate marketing in your region. You’ll need to comply with the FTC guidelines in the United States and ensure your marketing practices are ethical and transparent.

Affiliate marketing FAQ

How much do affiliate marketers make?

Nearly 59% of affiliate marketers have not monetized within their first year. You can expect the following breakdown for affiliate marketing earners:

  • Under $80K annually: 80%
  • $80K to $1M annually: 15%
  • $1M to $12M annually: 4%
  • $1M or more monthly: 1%

What is the best affiliate program?

Woman teaching affiliate marketing content

This section includes affiliate links.

The best affiliate program will depend on what kind of content you are creating. Sites like Amazon are easy to work with for first-time affiliate marketers but don’t pay that well.

Meanwhile, insurance companies and online courses tend to have amazing affiliate incentives and are some of the best affiliate programs to earn money with.

Remember, affiliate marketing won’t create a sustainable income overnight. Success typically comes from consistent, high-quality content creation, effective promotion, and a deep understanding of your audience and niche. Be patient and persistent, and over time, you can potentially earn a steady income through affiliate marketing.

My personal favorite recommendations for affiliate programs are:

  • SurferSEO: Everyone needs writing and you can use the AI writer for $29 per blog. Check out SurferSEO.
  • Simply Business: This small business insurance aggregator helps you find the insurance you need faster and pays $25 per quote. Check out Simply Business.
  • Booking Koala: This quoting platform is one of our top-performing affiliate programs. Booking Koala pays 50% commissions.
  • Google: You can earn commissions for sending paid users to Google Workspace or Google Cloud. Both of these are brands that people know well. Apply on CJ to become an affiliate.

Where is the best place to start affiliate marketing?

Young man business owner using a smartphone to generate leads shown by text reading "$25 to $50" over a graph on his phone

I strongly disagree. Everyone is using Amazon affiliate marketing and the margins are crap.

Matt recommends ShareASale or Impact.

We’ve provided the information for you to monetize your content. What kind of content do you create and how will you start earning affiliate revenue?

Join The Discussion

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6 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide (2024)”

  • Faiza Malik

    I will be starting affiliate marketing soon.

    Reply
  • Mohammad Irfan Urfi

    Very Informative Truly Professionally Approach

    Reply
  • Clement Obi

    I would love to know more about Affiliate Marketing.

    Reply
  • Ghulam Fareed

    Very informative content

    Reply
  • Victor Ofem

    Even as someone who is into affiliate marketing already, I still got some insight from this

    Reply
  • Victor Mbang

    For me one of the best way I earn is to provide AI related tools on my blog ofemwire.com

    Reply

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