How do you start affiliate marketing as a beginner?

dog looking confused at how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner

It is no surprise that affiliate marketing is becoming the norm for every internet marketer around today. Almost everyone is into it.

This is because the income potential is unlimited and it can basically replace your 9-5 job in a relatively short period of time. At least this is what most of the flashy and glamorous youtubers try to make us believe.

But the truth is….It is not everyone that ventures into affiliate marketing that becomes successful.

And by success I mean, earn enough to quit your job or supplement your income.

Why is this so?

This is because many are not properly oriented on what and what not to do to make it sustainable. Most people just want to hit it big time instantly. 

But this is not how this business works….at least not if you want to make it a financial pillar in your life.

So in this article, I am going to comprehensively tell you the right way to start affiliate marketing as a beginner (even with little or no money)  and scale the hell out of it like the pros do.

So let’s dive into it. Ready?

Jump To:


frequently asked question

According to Pat Flynn – an expert in affiliate marketing –

”Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting another company’s product (or service). You find a product, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.”

You make sales by driving traffic(people) to your affiliate link(a unique link given to you by the product creator to access the product). If anyone clicks on this link and buys the product, you get a percentage commission from it.

Now there are many forms of affiliate marketing. What I mean by this is that…….It is not only when someone makes a purchase that you get a commission. You get a commission when you perform an objective required by the product creator.

Here are some common examples:

  • Pay per Sale: In this program, a product owner pays you a percentage of the sale price when the purchase is completed.
  • Pay per Click: In this program, you get paid based on the number of visitors you redirect to the products owner website from your affiliate site, whether or not a sale is made.
  • Pay per Lead: You get paid once the referred visitors provide their contact information on the target site by filling out a simple contact form.

I hope you understand.


pile of money to be made in affiliate marketing

When starting affiliate marketing as a beginner, people are always anxious to know how fast they can make money. How long before I make my first 100 dollars? How long before I consider quitting my job? Is affiliate marketing still profitable? Etc

Well I decided to give you an estimate answer from affise:

According to their monthly income, we can divide affiliates into:

  • Total beginners who are only losing money at the moment;
  • Low-level affiliates, who earn up to $300/day;
  • Intermediate affiliates, who earn from $300/day up to $3,000/day;
  • High-level affiliates, who earn above $3,000/day;
  • Super affiliates or, as you can often find them being called, “gurus of affiliate marketing,” who make more than $10,000/day.

This is just to guide you and is not set in stone. You can be rest assured that so many are in the first category hence the question ‘’Is affiliate marketing still profitable in 2020?


But how much you earn is directly proportional to your efforts and persistence in the game. Most of the gurus that you see today – Pat Flynn from smartpassiveincome, Tom from Onlinemediamasters, John Crestani and many more – these guys began years ago and have been consistent ever since hence their rise to financial freedom. 

Very few people start to make thousands of dollars in just a few months. These are unique stories that are paraded to make you see it as the norm


But what I can undoubtedly, assure you is that if you are ready to put in the work , there is a GOLDMINE waiting for you out there.


There are 4 parties involved in the whole marketing cycle-

The Merchant

The Affiliate Network or Program (There is a difference and I will clarify)

The Affiliate

The Customer

how affiliate marketing works


Also called the product seller, vendor, or creator. This is the owner of the product/service that is to be sold. It could be a big organization like Addidas or Samsung or just an individual like Mariah Coz or Jillian Michaels.

These people/companies don’t even have to be involved in selling the product. They just have to have it.

So how does one become a merchant?

Well, the whole process can be summarised in 4 simple steps:

First, you need to have a product idea. This is the eureka moment. It may come as an inspiration from another product that you could make better or a demand that you believe you can fill.

Second, you have to validate your idea. How do you know that people want your product? How will it be seen by the market? Will it  be readily accepted? This is where validation comes in.

Third, you have to actually create the product. Your product could be physical or digital. Physical products usually require huge investment and risks but they also have high rewards and are not easily replicable. Digital products on the other hand are easy to create and require little to no financial investments but can be pirated easily.

Lastly, create an affiliate program or find an affiliate network where you can enlist your product for promotion by affiliates.


Many people would love to know the difference between these two.

An affiliate program is simply an arrangement where a merchant pays an affiliate a commission to perform an objective e.g selling the product, driving traffic to a website etc This affiliate program belongs to a single merchant and contains the merchant’s products. For example, Amazon associate . Amazon is a merchant in this case and has products for sale.

On the other hand, an affiliate network serves as a hub for affiliate programs. Several affiliate programs are hosted on an affiliate network. Examples of affiliate networks include jvzoo, warrior plus, clickbank etc. When you register with these networks, you will have access to multiple affiliate programs and products that you can promote and make money.

So you can see why it can either be an affiliate network or an affiliate program. You can register for any and get access to products to promote.


An affiliate is simply the one who promotes the merchant’s product(s). He/she tries to fufill the goal of the merchant which may be driving traffic to a website, making a sale, convincing people to click on a link etc. When this objective is performed, the merchant pays the affiliate a percentage commission.

This is what I will be showing you soon – how to start a successful affiliate marketing business as a beginner that will bring in the dough for months and years to come.


The customer is the reason affiliate marketing is a profitable business. Without any sales, there will be no revenue or profit and no affiliate marketing.

The affiliate tries to get customers via social networks, blogs, Paid advertising etc.


What are the different types of products/services that can be promoted as an affiliate? YES. It is not only products that can be promoted. Services can also be promoted. 

Digital Downloads


These could be in the form of pdfs, ebooks, videos, audios etc that consumers could just download after they purchase it. It could even be links or access to a website (as is in the case of membership sites).


  • Immediately addresses the needs of your audience.
  • There is no overhead cost such as shipping or cost of delivering the product to the customer.
  • Buyer can begin enjoying their product immediately.
  • The percentage commission for digital products is generally higher than that of physical products.


  • Many digital products are relatively inexpensive so you will have to sell a lot of them to make a decent amount of money.

Online, Hosted or Professional services

professional service

You may be familiar with online and hosting services but probably not with professional services. Basically anything can be promoted as long as there is a good structure on ground to pay affiliates once they do their job.

Example of services that you could promote are:

Examples of online/hosted services:


  • The percentage commission is generally higher than those of digital downloads
  • You can fufill the needs of your audience that require specific expertise
  • Many hosted services usually pay recurring commissions meaning that you will continually get commissions as long as a customer is subscribed to or using the hosting service.


  • It is quite difficult to ascertain that the service provided will be the same because of the human factor.


online course on how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner
Cropped shot of businesswoman working on her project while writing the idea on her notebook

These are tutorials that customers can get access to when they pay for them. They are generally digital downloads and constitute a large part of the affiliate marketing industry. There is almost a tutorial for everything nowadays and these range in price from a few dollars to thousands of dollars.


  • The percentage commission is high and just a sale can give you some pretty decent amount.
  • They are readily available and it is easy for you to find them


  • You have to spend time reviewing and ensuring that these courses deliver so that you can deliver value to your audience and they continue to trust you.


You don’t have to be an expert to start making money

Anyone can start affiliate marketing and earn money. Some people even make a few hundred bucks without sweat probably by pitching to family and friends and somebody ends up buying. 

All you need is your affiliate link and of course, your bank account. Thats it.

So you don’t have to be an expert to make money but to make money in the long run, you have to be consistent and that is all there is to it.


It is mutually beneficial

All parties gain something when a product/service is sold via affiliate marketing. The merchant has his/her product sold, the affiliate gets commission and the customer gets the product. 

That is the beauty of it all. And if you do a good job in recommending genuine products that will help your audience, then they will keep on buying from you because they trust you. 


You can create multiple streams of income

By this I mean, promoting more than one product. If you set up a blog or a website or a youtube channel where you promote several products, then as long as your content is visible to the public, people will read or watch it. If it is valuable, then some will buy. 

So the you can create multiple streams of income for yourself by promoting several products and putting up great content for your audience.

It can be a source of recurring income.

I talked about how hosting services are great sources of recurring income. As long as a customer keeps on using the service and paying subscription fees, you get cash.

Lets say you promote bluehost’s hosting service and a customer decides to host a website using bluehost. As long as he/she keeps on paying for the hosting service, you will continually get commissions. 

Now we both know that most websites are created with the intention to last for a very long time.


-Low startup cost

Just like I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t take anything to make your first sale as an affiliate marketer. All you need is your affiliate link and your bank details and both don’t cost a dime.

Great source of passive income

So lets say you have a blog or a youtube channel. You write a great post that ranks on the first page of google or other search engines. As long as people visit your content and make a purchase, you keep getting commissions.

So, the only work involved is in creating the content and optimizing it so it ranks on google’s first page. And then you have a passive source of income as long as it is up there.


Flip the coin and we see the ugly side of being an affiliate marketer.

There is huge competition out there

Due to the low startup cost and profitability, the competition is massively fierce and newbies are often intimidated after a while. Inorder to beat your competitors, you need to have some skills, knowledge and a few tricks up your sleeve.

These are not readily available to the beginner marketer.

It requires consistency and discipline

Just like I said before, it is not a get rich quick scheme. This is a business and like all businesses, it requires a lot of time and effort to really make is a steady income stream. 

This requires huge discipline which many people find difficult.

No control over pricing and commission

So you join an affiliate program today with a 60% commission and tomorrow, the terms and conditions change. The merchant reduces the commission to 40%. (Yes. It does happen)

You can’t do anything about it because it isn’t your product. 

No control over affiliate programs policies

We have see some affiliate programs that start today and close down tomorrow. That puts that income stream to a halt. You also have no control over it.

You may run into bad affiliate partnerships

This includes but is not limited to bad products or customer service which hampers your relationship with your audience and their trust for you diminishes. 

Hence, it is essential to always cross-check and ensure the products you are promoting are genuine and true to their word. If possible, purchase these products yourself and use them.

Failure to do this can be detrimental in the long run.

It takes a lot of time to establish

This still bores down to the point on discipline. Due to the flashy and glamorous display of luxurious cars and houses by affiliate marketers online, people think that affiliate marketing is a magic lamp that turns people into overnight millionaires.

Never has anything been so far from the truth.

It takes a lot of time to establish especially with the competition out there. But with persistence and consistency, it can bring financial freedom.

Now to the nitty gritty 


step by step guide on how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner


Most people just say ‘pick a niche’ and that’s all. But the truth is that not all niches are profitable. When picking a niche for affiliate marketing, you must ask yourself these questions;

  • Is there an audience out there that I can cater for?
  • Are there enough affiliate programs or a variety of products in this niche that I can promote?
  • Is there enough content to keep dishing out to my audience?

It is all about the audience. That is what matters.

The amount of competitors in the niche is also a good indicator of the profitability. If there are many competitors, then it means that there is money being shared. And you could get a portion too.

A common question people ask is ‘’should I pick a niche based on my interest or something that I love doing?’’

And my answer is that if there is an audience and there are products to promote in that niche, then why not?

For example, if I love watching planes take off, how does that benefit anyone?

Sure there are people like me but what kind of products can I promote to these people?

How much content is there and how evergreen are they?

Do you get the point now?

It is not everything you are interested in that can be monetized easily?



Having a blog or a youtube channel is very important if you intend to be in this game for a long time.

The reason is you need an online base where customers can get your content. Your blog or youtube content is the link between you and them. This is what will make people trust you. This is what will speak for you when you are not there and inevitably, this is how the passive income will be sustainable.

The importance of this cannot be overemphasized.

As opposed to what might be your belief, starting a blog is not difficult. You just need to pick a hosting provider and a domain name. Then you design your website.

This design doesn’t have to be professionally made at first. As you scale, you can begin to put other things in place.

Next thing you want to do is to create content. Valuable content

I suggest creating content aggressively for the next 90 days (about 1 per day). Google likes this and it will make your site to be recognized quickly and also challenge you to become a better blogger.

You can start a blog for a few dollars nowadays. It is not that expensive.

Creating a youtube channel costs 0 dollars. You just need to have a gmail account.

One mistake newbie affiliate marketers make is trying to monetize their site too quickly. This should not be your focus from the outset.

Your main focus should be on delivering quality content and getting enough traffic to your content. When you do this, you build a good relationship with your audience.

It is after you have surpassed the learning curve of generating good content that you can now begin to include affiliate links in your content.


This is possible through the use of social media.

You can promote products on your facebook pages, instagram accounts, pinterest etc to your followers. 

All you need to do is to consistently post what is valuable to your audience and grow your following. It also requires that you have an active social media presence so that your followers can contact you.

This further builds trust and increases the likelihood that they will buy whatever you are selling.



You might have the greatest content in the world but if nobody knows, then you don’t make any sale.

There are several ways to generate traffic for your blog. Some of these include:

  • Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, …
  • Advertising: Google, Facebook, Pinterest
  • Video platforms: Youtube, Vimeo, …
  • SEO
  • Guest Blogging
  • Influencer marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Audience building through content sites and Q&A sites like Medium, Quora

Not all of these traffic sources will be productive for your blog hence, you need to experiment and try some of them to see which works. 

Social media marketing works really well for some persons, SEO works great for others while others are excellent in driving traffic from youtube to their blog.

It is not a one size fits all.

I will write  another post on how to properly utilize these traffic sources to bring in massive traffic to your blog.

One very important skill you must have as an affiliate marketer in order to build a sustainable business is marketing via emails.

This is how the gurus in the business keep on making recurring sales leaving others to wonder what strategy they are using.


You wake up one Monday morning and check your email; only to be greeted with a number of messages telling you to buy this and that. Does this sound familiar?

That my friend, is email marketing. But sometimes it is done the wrong way hence, people say email marketing no longer works.

It still works. 

email marketing

Here is what Campaign monitor has to say,

’There are more than 5.5 billion email accounts in use worldwide, with that number increasing every year. Moreover, more than half of those email users spend anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes each week browsing marketing emails.’

The reason most people fail at email marketing is because they do not build trust and relationship by providing value first but they expect someone to buy from them. 

Compare these 2 sale strategies:

Strategy 1

Mr A has blog where he puts an optin form so that people can sign up. Here is an image of his form.


He sends them a welcome mail on the first day and then tries to pitch a product to them on the second day.

Strategy 2

Mr B has also has a blog with an optin form so that people can sign up. Here is what his form looks like.


If you notice, it doesn’t say ‘’subscribe to our newsletter’’ like Mr A instead, it offers something in return for their contact info.

Th ebook offered here is called a Lead Magnet and is a popular way of collecting people’s email addresses via an optin form.

Next Mr B sends them a welcome mail just like Mr A. But on the second day, he doesn’t send them a sales pitch.

Instead, he tells gives them some valuable info which may be relevant to the audience. For example, 7 steps to lose weight without diet plan.

He offers this type of information for the next couple of days ALL FOR FREE and then on the 5th day, he pitches his product for the customer to buy.

Who has more chances of making the sale?

Mr B of course. Because he was able to show his subscriber that he is an authority in his niche and he has been doing this by giving them FREE BUT VALUABLE information. 

Infact, some will feel obliged to buy from him.

That is how to carry out a successful email marketing campaign as an affiliate marketer.


So you have created your blog, have valuable content on it and have started collecting emails. It is time to find a product to promote to your audience.

Finding an affiliate product to promote is not difficult as there are a lot of affiliate programs out there. 

What you have to take note of is finding a genuine product that will fufill the demands of your audience.

You can purchase the product and test it out yourself (which is advisable). You then write a review article on your blog about the product for visitors to your blog to see. 

If you cannot purchase the product, then you read comments, feedbacks from current users of the product, reviews from other affiliate marketers, the credibility of the vendor/merchant etc

These will help you to make an informed decision if the product best suit your audience.

Some popular affiliate networks/programs for beginners  include:




Amazon associates


Commission Junction

Impact Radius


Partner Stack

Ebay partner network

Alibaba Affiliates

Aliexpress affiliates   etc


There are 2 major ways to promote your products

-Paid method

-Free method

The paid method includes Google ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Youtube ads, Linked in ads, Influencer marketing etc

social media icons

These require money so it is not advisable for  beginners on a budget.

Organic/Free methods of promotion include:

  • SEO –  This is Search Engine Optimization. It includes all the processes involved in making your blog or website rank on google’s first page. It is one of the most passive ways to promote your offers but it requires time and effort.
  • Email –  Just as mentioned before, email marketing is an almost-free promotion method to get the word out. You can start with the free trials of email marketing softwares such as getresponse, mailchimp, aweber, etc
  • Social media – You could promote your products to your fans/followers on your social media pages. Any free method you use to get more targeted followers to your business on social media falls into this category.
  • Guest posting – This is simply writing an article which you can post on another person’s blog (usually a blog with a lot of traffic in the same niche as you). You can include your affiliate links (if allowed) or include a link back to your blog. It is a very potent way of generating traffic to your blog.
  • Forums – You can get traffic from forums like Quora, Reddit etc. Just answer a question regarding your niche and then include a link back to your blog. Many bloggers harness the power of these online communities.


Review articles-

You purchase a product and then review it for your audience. Highlight the good and the bad features. You can go ahead to rate it and compare it with similar products. A popular website that does this is

This is a very popular type of content used by affiliate bloggers and even youtubers. It is called ‘’Unboxing videos’’ for youtubers.

Comparison articles-

Here you compare two or more products, their features and possibly, give your opinion about them.

This gives your audience a better view and the option to pick whichever one they want. Of course, both products should (but must not) be your affiliate products. Whichever one they buy, you get a commission.

It’s a win win.


These are the ‘’How Tos’’ and trainings. It is easily one of the best methods to get people to purchase your products. 

You basically give a step by step guide on how to accomplish a task with the product.

Resource page-

This is a page where you list out all the tools/softwares you currently use or have used. For example, if you are a youtuber, you could insert your affiliate link to the camera, tripod, laptop or any other gadget that you use in filming in the description box.

You will be surprised at how many people will ask where you get your devices from and the number of sales you will make (as long as your video quality is good)

The same also goes for bloggers. You could put links to the hosting provider, domain name provider, plugins, themes, email marketing softwares etc.


1. Develop a rapport.

This is what I propagate. Create a good relationship between you and your audience by dishing out valuable content and promoting products that specifically addresses their needs and not just for the big commissions.

This will show that you are an authority in your niche but most importantly, it will create trust.

2. Relate with competitors

Use tools like ContactOut or Voila Norbert to gather people’s contact information and send personalized emails to garner guest blogging and affiliate opportunities.

You never know where your next help will come from.

3. Experiment with several traffic sources

Instead of making use of just one marketing channel, test a couple of them and see which one of them will work best for you. 

Post across as many social media platforms as possible, blog, do paid ads, email campaigns etc for a few month or weeks and see which platform clicks for you.

Then you can consider narrowing down and channelling your resources into one medium. 

4. Choose your products with care

No matter how good your marketing skills are or how big the commission of a product is, you will make less money IN THE LONG RUN on it than on genuine and trustworthy products.

Cross check and ensure the products you are promoting are relevant and will solve their needs.

You are selling to human beings and not robots. They can sense if you are just trying to part away with their money or if you really want to help them.

5. Stay up to date with trends and strategies

Always spy on your competitors. Find out what they are doing. Read blogs and articles of experts to see how you can reverse engineer their work to suit you. This is how to keep growing as an affiliate marketer.


conclusion on how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner

Affiliate marketing is still profitable in 2020. Infact, it is my most recommended online business among my top ten online businesses to start in 2020.

So a quick recap of how to start affiliate marketing as a beginner.

  • Start a blog or a youtube channel
  • Create quality content on it
  • Drive traffic to your blog or youtube channel
  • Find an affiliate product that solve your audience’s problem
  • Promote your product

I hope you really gained value from this post. If you have, please share it via the social icons below.

Do you now have a good idea of what it takes to be an affiliate marketer?

Are you still interested in affiliate marketing even after reading this post? 

Leave your comments below. I would love to know.


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