How to Start Affiliate Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to start affiliate marketing.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? 

  • Where do you begin? 
  • How do you generate quality traffic? 
  • How can you attract email addresses?

Bottom line…

How will you hit the revenue goals in your online business?

While affiliate marketing is a way to monetize your website or social media, there’s much to know.

Here we will cover the basics of what it takes to get started as an affiliate marketer. We’ll look at how to select a niche based on research, choose an appropriate affiliate marketing program, and set up an affiliate website optimized for success.

You will learn strategies on promoting links and tracking performance while avoiding common mistakes.

So let’s dive into everything there is to know about starting affiliate marketing today!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing method. A business with a product to sell wants to reward its affiliate partners who invest time and money promoting the product.

It involves an advertiser that created the product on one side. You, as the affiliate, are on the other side. The advertiser pays you a commission after you successfully sell their product for them.  

A win/win!

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

The process begins with selecting an affiliate program to join. As you learn how to start affiliate marketing, research the various affiliate programs to find one that best fits your needs.

Once you have chosen an affiliate program, you will see unique affiliate links or banners in your affiliate dashboard. These links contain tracking information so the merchant can track how much traffic comes from your site and how many sales you make.

Your job is to start driving traffic to your affiliate offers.

You can do this by writing high-quality content about the product, sharing your tracking links through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, running paid Google Ads, and using solo ads.

When someone clicks on one of your links and makes a purchase at the merchant’s website, you will earn a commission. 

Typically, you will see commission percentages that range from 5% to 70%. Some merchants offer bonuses when you meet certain goals like making $500 in sales over 30 days.

Ready to select your affiliate program?

Hold on there Obi-Wan!

We know you’re excited to move forward with how to start affiliate marketing.

First, it’s time to select a niche based on research.

How to Select a Niche Based on Research

Guess what? 

Too many affiliate marketers make the mistake of joining affiliate networks before researching their niche. 

They spam their YouTube channel, social media accounts, and email marketing links with offers that don’t match their target audience. 

Here’s how to avoid this issue. 

First, learn everything you can about affiliate marketing niches. A niche is a specific market or area of interest. Every niche, such as the cryptocurrency niche, includes potential customers interested in solving problems. 

For example, if you’re interested in selling vitamins or exercise products, then you’re in the “health and wellness” niche.

After identifying several niches that interest you, it’s time to conduct research inside each market.

Start by looking at existing websites. See what types of content they offer their readers. It will give you an idea of how competitive your niche market is.

You can also identify content gaps in terms of topics not yet covered by other sites. Do keyword research to find popular search terms associated with these topics. Do you think you can compete and rank well for the keyword phrases?

Next up is finding out more about who makes up this target audience. Research details and pain points like the following:

  • Age range
  • Gender split
  • Problems they want solved

By conducting thorough research and analysis, you can identify the right niche for your affiliate marketing business.


Research different types of products available to help you maximize profits.

Depending on your target audience you may want to focus primarily on one type of product. 

Here are the basics to consider using: 

  • Physical goods like books or electronics
  • Digital services like web hosting, software programs, and subscriptions
  • Information products such as ebooks, video training courses, coaching programs

As you research, ask yourself if enough demand exists to make it worth your while to promote each product.

How to Choose an Affiliate Program

OK, you have a general idea of what type of product to sell. 

It’s time to dig in deeper.

Choosing an affiliate program is a critical step in your online business venture.

You want to select one offering the right commission structure, product selection, and customer service for your needs.

Here are some tips on how to choose an affiliate program:

Commission Structure: Some programs offer a flat rate per sale while others offer tiered affiliate commissions based on sales volume or other criteria. Make sure you understand how you will get paid before signing up with a particular program.

Product Selection: Does the affiliate program have the product selection that you’re looking for?

Find programs with products related to your niche. Make sure they have enough variety so you can promote different items over time without running out of options.

Customer Service: Take into account whether you will experience quality customer service.

Check reviews from other affiliates who already use the company’s services. Do you see any complaints about slow response times or lack of support from their team members? Or, does it look like a dedicated account manager helps the affiliates?

Bonuses & Incentives: Some companies offer bonuses and incentives for referring customers or achieving certain goals within their system.

This isn’t a critical factor. However, remain on the lookout for these types of promotions before joining any particular affiliate network.  


Read all terms and conditions carefully before signing up with any affiliate network. It will avoid surprises down the line regarding payment schedules or return policies.

Take your time in this area. 

Don’t rush it.

You must successfully select the correct affiliate program when you want to know how to start affiliate marketing. Understanding the different types of programs available will go a long way in making an informed decision.

Now that you know more about how to start affiliate marketing, let’s continue your education.

Setting Up Your Website

Setting up an affiliate site or blog is the first true “marketing” step to becoming an affiliate marketer. It will become your online home, where you can post content related to your affiliate products.

The biggest reason to build a blog or website?

To build trust with potential customers.

Select a domain name that reflects your brand. Decide on a quality hosting provider so your blog remains secure and runs smoothly.

After getting hosting set up, start building out your site using WordPress or another content management system (CMS). WordPress, however, works best for most affiliate marketers. Later, you can easily add WordPress plugins to improve blog functionality.

Don’t get bogged down designing your website.

Select a free theme and get started. Over time, you can improve the design. As long as your first theme presents you in a professional way, you’re fine. Get a minimum viable website online. Use the following pages to start:

  • Home page
  • About page
  • Contact page
  • A blogroll page
  • A privacy policy page

Add features such as search bars, social media buttons, and widgets as you go.

The big key?

Start adding blog posts so you can begin the journey toward generating free search engine traffic over the next few months and years. 

Create posts that provide value. You might include reviews of your products. Give readers helpful tips and advice about how those products work best for certain situations or needs. Through your content, guide them into a buying decision. 

Promoting Your Affiliate Links

You must promote well to earn solid affiliate marketing revenue. 

When doing your content creation, use compelling copywriting techniques that encourage readers to click on the link and make purchases. If you don’t know much about copywriting yet, commit to learning it. 

There are different channels you can use to promote your affiliate offer.  You might use blog posts, solo ads, email campaigns, social media posts, and other paid ads.

Write product reviews or comparison posts to pick up people using bottom-of-the-funnel keywords. You can also create webinars or other forms of video content to better explain your product and how it works.

Offering bonuses with each purchase is another way to differentiate yourself from other affiliates. Bonuses give customers an incentive to choose your link over others when making their purchase decision.

When using social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram for promotion, consider running targeted ads with special offers or discounts.

Don’t forget about solo ads.

For new affiliate marketers, solo ads can help you earn immediate sales while you’re getting your other channels lifted off the ground. Learn more about how solo ads work

Tracking & Optimizing Performance

Track the performance of your campaigns so that you can make changes and optimize them for better results over time.

Using analytics tools such as Google Analytics, you can track clicks on your links and measure conversions from those clicks into sales or leads. The data will give you a clear picture of how well your campaigns perform and where to make improvements.

You should also use tracking codes to monitor the effectiveness of different promotional methods. By tracking which sources generate the most traffic and conversions, you can focus more resources on these channels.

Regularly review all aspects of your affiliate program including:

  • Product selection
  • Pricing structure
  • Commission rate
  • Payment terms

Making small adjustments here can keep you competitive within your niche.

Advanced Tip: Build an Email List

Building an email list allows you to reach prospects who may not buy immediately. An email list helps build trust with your subscribers. It keeps them engaged.

One way to start building an email list is by setting up a welcome sequence for new subscribers. It should include emails that introduce who you are, what you’re all about, and how you can help solve their challenges. 

Once you’ve built up some trust with your subscribers, start promoting your offers.

This is big:

Keep your messaging clear. 

Focus on solving problems for your leads.

You can also run quarterly promotions that include discounts. Or, you can include special bonuses when they purchase from your affiliate link. Doing this will boost overall annual revenue against the monthly revenue you create.

As you learn how to start affiliate marketing via email, track your performance. Monitor the following. 

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates (CTR)
  • Unsubscribe rates

You need to know which messages work and where you need to get better.  Use the data to optimize all future campaigns.

Avoid these common mistakes made by many affiliates when using their email lists:

  • Sending too many promotional emails without any other content
  • Not segmenting their audience based on interests
  • Neglecting mobile optimization
  • Not personalizing messages enough
  • Failing to use A/B testing 

FAQs: How to Start Affiliate Marketing

Do you still have a few questions about how to start affiliate marketing? Use the answers to the following questions for further clarification.

How to start affiliate marketing for free?

Identify products or services that you can promote. Join affiliate networks like ClickBank, ShareASale, and Amazon Associates. These networks provide access to thousands of merchants with different products and services.

Once you have chosen the product or service to promote, create content around it such as blog posts, videos, and social media posts. The content will drive traffic from your target audience towards the merchant’s website.

When someone makes a purchase through your link, you earn a commission for every sale made. With consistent effort and dedication over time, you can build up your affiliate income stream without investing any money upfront.

What are the 3 main types of affiliates?

  1. A Cost Per Action (CPA) affiliate will get commissions after getting their prospects to perform an action. You might work toward producing a sale or prospect sign-up. 
  2. Cost Per Click (CPC) affiliates earn money when their leads click on ads. This type of affiliate marketing is typically used to generate leads.
  3. Pay Per Sale affiliates earn commissions based on what we’ve predominantly discussed above. 

You get paid when someone purchases something from the merchant’s website through your affiliate link. It is usually the best way to begin when you want to know how to start affiliate marketing. 

How much does it cost to start affiliate marketing?

Generally, the only costs associated with affiliate marketing relate to setting up your website and hosting fees. 

Depending on the platform you choose, these can range from as little as $3 per month for shared hosting plans to more expensive options such as dedicated servers or VPS plans.

Additionally, you may need to pay for advertising campaigns or other promotional activities in order to drive traffic and generate sales. Solid paid ads to invest in include Facebook or Google Ads, and solo ads. 

How We Can Help You Earn Quick Affiliate Revenue

Learning how to start affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to generate passive income and make money online. With the right marketing strategies in place, you can begin earning revenue from your affiliate links right away. 

The biggest issue you’ll face at first is how to ramp up revenue quickly. We realize that it takes time to get enough search engine optimization traffic to your blog or to get social media platforms to translate into consistent monthly sales. 

We have a solution:

Use our solo ads!

Solo ads give you a quick one-two punch when it comes to generating affiliate marketing sales. 

First, you gain access to another marketer’s list. It is a list they’ve cultivated for years. At Cleeko, we only allow the best solo ad providers to offer their lists to our clients. 

Second, you will see immediate results after your solo ad provider sends your marketing email to their list. 

You don’t have to wait for organic traffic on your blog. 

You don’t need to deal with Facebook’s advertising rules!

While you wait for your online presence to build, there is a quicker way:

Sign up for a solo ad run today, see results in a matter of days. 

Your Next Step

Sign up for a Cleeko account here

We will make sure we show you all best practices when it comes to running a successful solo ad campaign. 

Or, learn more about how using solo ads with Cleeko will benefit your affiliate marketing sales.