How to start an affiliate marketing blog

How to start an affiliate marketing blog 2020

Last Updated on by Matt - Loaded Lab

Looking to make money through affiliate marketing? In this guide we’ll talk you through the exact process of how to start an affiliate marketing blog. A blog is one of the most effective affiliate marketing techniques for beginners. Follow this guide to start your journey into affiliate marketing today.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is a popular method for content creators to recommend products or services to other people. That could be friends, relatives or your followers. You are then paid a commission for recommending that product to the customer.

Affiliate marketing is a huge industry and there are many creative ways to make money from it. In fact the more creative you can get, the better. Bloggers, Vloggers, Instagram influencers and even large corporate businesses use affiliate marketing as a revenue stream.

In this guide we’re going to talk you through the simple steps needed to start promoting your first product and starting your affiliate website or blog.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Firstly you recommend a product or service and your reader clicks on your link. When they’ve clicked your link they’re taken to the retailers website where they can buy the product.

When they land on that site a cookie is installed on their device, at least this is the most common method of tracking affiliate sales anyway.

The cookie is then stored on their computer or mobile phone for a set period of time. As long as the customer buys within that set period of time, the affiliate network can attribute the sale to you.

The affiliate network e.g. AWIN, CJ, ShareAsale just to name a few, will then invoice the merchant/retailer. Once the retailer has paid the affiliate network, you’ll then be paid.

How does affiliate marketing work

Getting started – the essentials:

You’ll need around $50 to get started, we’ll cover what this is used for in this guide, but it’s important to have this amount of money to invest in your affiliate marketing blog.

Results won’t be overnight, takes time to build reputation and traffic to your affiliate offering

Step 1: Decide on your niche, product or service

This is the first and most important step in the process. You’ll find lots of conflicting advice on the internet about the best way to find a product or Niche. (A niche is a targeted area that you will focus, i.e Sports Cards could be your niche, or you could be really targeted and your niche could be Baseball Cards from the 1990s.

The important thing here is that you choose a niche you’re interested in and can help serve a need. That need might be educating people with “how-to” guides, it could be product reviews or it might be entertainment. The point is that you need to find something you can write about in your blog and write a lot about.

For me Loaded Lab generates a lot of revenue from affiliate partnerships, so I found that I could help people make money and get into blogging, whilst generating revenue at the same time.

To give you an example I recently wrote an article on the 7 best webinar platforms. This is great content for people looking for a webinar software, but also something I am A. Interested in and know a lot about and B. Something I can generate money from if a visitor signs up to a webinar platform.

Consider whether there’s a niche you’re already really familiar with, that you could write lots about. When you’re happy with the type of niche, product or service you want to blog about, it’s time to move to step 2.

Step 2: Do your research

By this we mean general research about your product or niche. Keyword research, video research if using YouTube and competitor research.

At this stage it’s really important to think about how other blogs are serving your customers’ needs. Can you do it better or can you do it differently?

Competitor Research

Spend as much time as you can looking at competitors and the sort of content they offer. When are they posting? What about? Is it just text or videos, charts and infographics? This will help you map out a plan to provide a better blog that delivers great content to your readers.

Keyword Research

Learn as much as you can about keyword research too. Keyword research is a fundamental part of building a successful affiliate marketing blog. You’ll want all of your pages, articles, blogs and reviews to be targeting the keywords that your users are searching for. Using keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner will help you do just this.

Consider doing your competitor research alongside your keyword research as you’ll find that there are a lot of chances for overlap here. You can be getting a good idea of the sort of keywords to target simply based on what your competitors are doing.

Video Research

Are you looking to create videos? If so, create a separate task to do some research within your niche looking at YouTube videos. Make a list of what sort of content is popular in your niche. Is it educational videos, reviews, product demos or general vlog style videos.

Also look at the style of video. Are they recording themselves or screen recording for example? Finally, just like you would do keyword research with a blog, you’ll need to do the same for YouTube.

Once you have spent time really getting to know what you will blog about, it’s time to create your website.

Step 3: Buy your WordPress hosting package and domain

This is the exciting part, you’ll soon be the proud owner of your affiliate marketing blog. This is where you’ll need to part with a small amount of cash. In order to run a blog you need a domain name e.g. theloadedlab.com and also a hosting package (see this beginners guide to understand what hosting is)

You can get super fast hosting packages really cheap nowadays. We’d recommend Bluehost as prices start at just $3.95 which includes your hosting and domain. This includes WordPress too.
Bluehost
Whilst not essential, it’s useful to find WordPress specific hosting as you’ll find it gives you easier setup and updates.

If you opt to buy the Bluehost package we recommended above you’ll get a free domain. If you didn’t you may need to purchase your domain elsewhere, expect to pay up to $20. Somewhere like Namecheap provide good service and reasonably priced domains.

Choose your domain

Now it’s a case of choosing your domain. Our advice here is to think long term. In the past you could get quick wins on Google by buying the domain that exactly matched your product e.g. www.bestgolfclubsforwomen.com would be bought for someone promoting women’s golf clubs. Those days have gone, so think about your domain as your business name for the long term.

If you think you might expand your blog beyond the product or service you start with, then it’s worth buying a domain that is a little more broad. TheLoadedLab is all about making people money but with a particular focus on blogging. I chose not to buy something like “learntoblogonline.com” because I wanted to offer broader money making advice in the future.

If you as an individual play a big part in the blog it’s also worth considering a personal brand for your domain e.g. www.JohnDoe.com as that will help your name become recognised within your niche but also keeps your website broad enough that you can expand in the future.

Once you’ve chosen and registered your domain it’s time to install WordPress on your blog.

Step 4: Install WordPress

Firstly, you don’t need to use WordPress. But we definitely recommend it for beginners, in fact according to WebsiteSetup.org there are over 27 million websites lives with WordPress, owning 54% of the market.

What is WordPress? To put it simply, it’s a platform that allows you to create your website/blog. WordPress is a type of Content Management System (CMS as it’s regularly abbreviated to). Using WordPress means you can build beautiful looking websites and blogs without any technical or coding skills. Especially if you start with a purpose built WordPress theme (which we’ll talk about in the next step).

Depending on the hosting package you chose you may have the easy option of a one-click install or you may have to manually install WordPress. We’re going to keep this simple and assume you chose Bluehost and can install in one click. If you do want advice for manually installing WordPress this guide is great from WordPress.org

For Bluehost users or other WordPress specific hosting that offer one click install it’s really simple. However you may want to follow this guide just for peace of mind.

Once WordPress is installed you’ll be able to log into the CMS, usually clicking a login button somewhere within the hosting account of visiting the admin page of your website e.g. www.yourdomainname/wp-admin

Install WordPress

Once you’re logged onto the WordPress platform we can start building your site. The simplest method to begin is to choose a theme. Let’s take a look at themes now.

Step 5: Choose a theme

A WordPress theme is a pre-designed layout and design for your website. They essentially provide a professional looking starting point to build your website. There are thousands of themes out there, with many built specifically for your niche or business type.

Bluehost provide a number of themes for you to choose from, or a fantastic resource for WordPress Themes is Themeforest

If you want our advice, go for a theme like Avada which is extremely easy to use and customise and comes with a choice of over 60 pre-built websites to choose from

Or, Loaded Lab is using Astra theme because it’s extremely fast loading which Google loves.

Really this will come down to preference and what works best for your style of blog.

To install the theme you’ll need the ZIP file of the chosen theme that you downloaded, then head to the WordPress CMS of your website and click “Appearance” then “Themes”

Add WordPress theme

Then click on “Add new” and “Upload theme”. You’ll then upload and need to activate the new theme. With many themes you can then import the demo sites (pre-built websites).

Step 6: Build your site

Now it’s time to bring it all together into your new affiliate marketing blog. Before you start building pages draw yourself a page plan. A simple pen and paper is fine for this, you just want to have a clear idea of the pages on your site.

Consider if there are some broader level categories that you could use for your navigation which lots of pages could sit within. For example “Business Software” is a great category for Loaded Lab because many of our pages like “best webinar software” fit within that overarching category.

Having completed the page plan, the next step is to build the key pages.

Key pages

You’ll probably want to include the following pages:

  • Home page
  • About Page
  • Contact Us Page
  • Privacy Policy Page

Your homepage should give a really quick but powerful overview of your offering. Why should the reader stay on your blog? What are you offering?

The About Us page should give some insight into you, either as an individual or a business. You should give the reader confidence that the products or services you recommend are because you have a real passion and/or knowledge of the products you suggest. If possible explain how and why you started this blog and the success you’ve seen in the industry/niche or with the product(s) you recommend.

Contact Us is fairly simple but important, it provides credibility that you can be reached over email or phone.

Your privacy policy is fairly boring but important. There are many templates available online that you can adapt for your business/blog.

Once your core pages are built it’s time to start writing your affiliate blog post. We can’t stress enough how important it is that you put the content of your blog post at the top of the priority list. You need to provide real value to your readers to help them satisfy a need.

Whatever that need is, from finding the best software to reading reviews, do your best to answer their question. Then and only then can you consider affiliate links to promote the product. (We’ll go into the detail of adding your affiliate links shortly)

Step 7: Optimise your blog

This step is all about getting your affiliate marketing blog in the best possible position from an SEO perspective. Search Engine Optimisation means you’re making your site as presentable as possible to search engines like Google and Bing. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO from a beginner’s perspective this article from MOZ is a great start.

There are some very simple steps that you can follow to get your site in a good position. We’ll be writing a separate post on how to SEO optimise your WordPress site which will give much more detail. However some quick wins include:

Quick SEO wins

  • Submit your website to Google Search Console, this notifies Google that your site exists.
  • Install Yoast Plugin (in your CMS navigate to “Plugins” and “Add New” then search “Yoast SEO” this plugin is fantastic at providing many options and optimisation methods for your site. For example it enables you to check the content of each blog post is SEO friendly. Using this plugin you can also write a Title and Description for each page/post which helps Google to identify the key topic your post is about. This information also shows to the reader when searching on google.
  • Test and fix – Use an SEO checker to identify any issues that you can address on your site to improve the SEO score. I use https://seositecheckup.com

These simple changes can really help the chances of your blog succeeding. We’ve only touched upon changes that you make directly on your site to improve SEO. This is On-site SEO.

There is also “Off-Site SEO” to consider too, we won’t go into that here but it’s worth researching once your affiliate blog is up and running.

Now that you’ve bought your domain, hosting, installed WordPress and a theme. You’ve also built your site, added some blog posts and optimised the site for SEO. It’s now time to consider monetising it with affiliate programs.

Step 8: Join affiliate programs

In order to add affiliate links to your blog you will need to join the merchant’s affiliate program. Usually a retailer doesn’t manage their own affiliate program, instead they use an affiliate network.

An affiliate network acts as the middle-man between you, the affiliate and the retailer. They handle all of the tracking, reporting and payments. Some of the top affiliate networks are AWIN, CJ, ShareaSale, Webgains, Rakuten, ClickBank, Flexoffers and Amazon Associates.

AWIN

To find relevant affiliate programs for you, think about the content you’re offering and the sort of products, software or services your customers might then buy. Think about the retailers that might be best placed to offer that product and then simply do a Google search for ‘<retailer name> affiliate program’.

If they don’t have a program you’ll find many other competitors do. In most cases you’ll need to join an affiliate network before you can join the individual retailer’s program.

Once you’re signed up to a network it’s then just a case of joining the retailers you’re interested in. It’s a good idea to provide a description of how you will benefit their business and drive sales for them. It’s also worth joining several affiliate networks and programs at this stage as you may want to expand your affiliate marketing blog later on or offer competitor products to those you’re currently recommending.

At this stage, when you’re approved by the merchant you will be able to generate your unique affiliate link. Use this link to update your blog posts with buttons that link through to the product or service you’re recommending. This is the link that will enable the affiliate network to track the sale and provide you with the commission.

Step 9: Feet up! (ok not quite)

Well, you’re setup at least, but the story doesn’t end here. This is where you’ll need to continually provide fresh new content on your blog and look to keep optimising your content. Remember to do your research on “off-site SEO” too as this will play a big part in the success of your affiliate marketing blog.

Affiliate marketing for physical products

Physical products are often a really good starting point for new affiliates. We’d recommend joining Amazon’s Affiliate program once you’ve got your site up and running. Of course if it’s relevant to your blog.

Whilst the commission on Amazon really isn’t great, it does provide a wealth of opportunities and is a great starting point for many.

Affiliate marketing for service products

Whilst affiliate marketing in the service industry can be tougher, it can be very lucrative. Think about your expertise and whether there are services out there that you can blog about. It could be holidays or business software.

Commissions in the Service industry tend to be much higher than those in the physical product area.

Summary of how to start an affiliate marketing blog

We’ve covered a huge amount in this guide to making an affiliate marketing blog. We hope it has given you the steps you need to start your journey into affiliate marketing. Drop us a comment below if you have any questions about affiliate marketing, my advice above or just need a pointer to get started on your affiliate blog.

Use our steps provided above as an action plan for you to begin. Each step can completed in isolation which means you can complete them as and when you find time. It’s also worth remembering that there are plenty of services out there to help along the way with each step. Part of the journey is learning, so enjoy each step and soon you’ll be earning your own full time income from your affiliate marketing blog just like we do here at Loaded Lab.

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