Why am I writing a free affiliate marketing guide?
Glad you asked. One of the questions that I get most often in causal conversation has something to do with how to get started making money on line. I always recommend that people get started online with affiliate marketing.
Once I recommend that, then people automatically need to know how to build an affiliate website. Those people need an Affiliate Marketing Guide for beginners.
Simple Affiliate Marketing Approach
The kind of affiliate marketing that I am talking about is one where you create a website with great create content and create value for people. Eventually, those people end up buying affiliate products that you mention or recommend. I am specifically not talking about CPA sites, PPC sites or other thin landing page sites. Honesty and transparency are critical for this type of content-based marketing. For example if you are using affiliate links in your content (like I am in this content), you need to disclose that either subtly in a page on your site or prominently.
Note: In this affilate marketing guide, I recommend tools that I actually use. Even so, you need to know that I have an affiliate relationship with some of the companies mentioned in this article. I never let that cloud my judgement when I recommend tools, but it is important to me that you have all the fact when you take my recommendations.
Now there are lots of affiliate marketing guides and courses out there that spend days and weeks explaining the ins and outs of affiliate marketing. But the basics of how to build an affiliate website are the same no matter what course you take. You need to get in the right mindset, plan your project, select a niche, build a website, find products to promote, get traffic and build a list.
That’s pretty much all you need know about how to build an affiliate website.
The thing is, if you are a beginner, you don’t know how to do most of that stuff. So, I have created a simple affiliate marketing guide checklist specifically for building affiliate websites. It is not meant to be an exhaustive course. But great detail about everything that is described in the affiliate marketing guide below can be found on this blog or elsewhere on the internet for free. This list is also the basic outline for my Affiliate Marketing Course at course at LateNightAffiliate.com.
As time goes on, I plan to publish free content and videos on the blog and link to them from here. So, if you see something that you need some explanation on, leave me a comment and I will try to get you an answer as soon as possible.
Part 1: Plan Your Affiliate Website
Step 1: Mindset — the most critical part of success is knowing that you can be successful. You CAN do this — many people have done it. You just need to do the work (and have a good plan – this affiliate marketing guide or other good course).
Step 2: The Value Of Value — if you want to have a real business, you must add value (help people). If you are not adding value, your business will surely die. No exceptions. Think Enron.
Step 3: Your Expectations — There is no such thing as instant success and riches. If you need money right now to pay your mortgage, then you should get a job at Home Depot or Dominos this afternoon.
Step 4: Work Plan — you need to have a plan to work against so you know what to do. I personally try to work on my business two hours every night. I don’t always get that done, but that is my goal. Every night. This affiliate marketing guide will not help you if you don’t do the work.
Part 2: Choose Your Niche
Step 1: List all of your worries and problems — people look for information to help solve their problems. You have the same problems as a lot of people. List all of your problems and your friends problems too. If you are like me and have lots of problems, that will make a nice list of ideas.
Step 2: List all of your desires — people are always looking to fulfill their desires. Want to be a better golfer? Wish you had a vacation home in Hawaii? Want to be a real estate guru? Want to be an affiliate marketing guru? Write down all your hopes and dreams.
Step 3: List your expertise — people are always looking for experts. If you have read 3 books on a subject or spent more than 30 hours researching or doing something, you are an expert compared to someone that never heard of your niche until yesterday. People want to know what you know.
Step 4: Pick something. Choose something that you care about. This is hotly debated, but I promise you that if you choose a niche that you are not interested in, your chance of failure goes up by a factor of 100 or more. Having a great affiliate marketing guide won’t help you if you are sick and tired of your niche. For you first site, pick a passion. You can do acne or weightloss on your fifth site.
Step 5: Check for commercial potential — your goal is to help people profitably. You need to make money. If you don’t, then you have a hobby, not a business. So, imagine people in your niche that need help. Can you help them? Teach them, review a product for them, encourage them, entertain them? If so, and if there are people making money in your niche, you are all set. When you search your niche in Google, do you see ads? If you do, people are making money and you can too.
Step 6; Do some keyword research — can you get traffic from Google? I use Market Samurai for this, but you can use many other cool free tools like the Google External Keyword Tool.
Step 7: Choose your niche and don’t look back — second guessing and fear kills new businesses. Make a reasonable decision and push forward. Don’t look back (for a while). Like my buddy Bob The Teacher says, Take Action and Revise Later.
Part 3: Build Your Site
Step 1: Register your domain — this will be the hub for your business. Pick a domain name. You need a name that makes sense for your niche, and ideally contains some or all of your keywords. I personally use NameCheap.com for all of my domain registrations. Dot com (.com) is preferred, dot org (.org and .net) are OK. Nothing else is OK in my opinion.
Step 2: Get hosting — this is the computer that your website lives on. You need something that is affordable, reliable and easy to use. For new internet marketers, I always recommend Hostgator or Bluehost. I personally use a more powerful solution from Servint.
Step 3: Create your site — this is the part that customers and visitors will see. I always recommend the free WordPress software from WordPress.org. You can get a decent looking website up an running in under an hour using WordPress (I can do one in just a few minutes), and there are tons of WordPress tutorials out there.
Part 4: Create Content
Step 1: Decide a posting strategy. I recommend once per week. Whatever you do, make a plan and stick to it. People like that, and so do search engines. Schedule your posts in advance and stick to the schedule. Write as part of your routine.
Step 2: Tell your story. Imagine that you are explaining your topic to a friend at a coffee shop. Write down all of the topics that your friend should know, and all the questions that your friends might ask. Every one of those ideas is an idea for an article.
Step 3: Target Keywords. Some of your most important content will be content designed to convert traffic into buyers of affiliate products. So, you should have some content on your site that is designed to be found by people that are looking to buy. For example, do the best review of the Sony XYZ123 Camera on the internet and link to that camera with an affiliate link. Just remember, be honest and disclose your affiliate relationship with the product supplier. Find keywords with a tool like Market Samurai (affiliate link).
Part 5: Add Offers
Step 1: Find Offers. Affiliate marketing is everywhere. Amazon.com, Clickbank.com and CJ.com are great places to start. Google “Your niche” + affiliate to find one-off hidden offers not in the mainstream. Just remember, you are trying to help people. So look for good products to promote. My rules — never promote anything that I would not buy myself AND never promote anything that I would be embarrassed to admit to publicly.
Step 2; Evaluate offers. Once a vistor leaves your site and lands on the offer site, you want them to buy. Make sure the offer landing page looks great (not just good). Consider what your commission would be, and look at the conversion rates of other affiliates (if available). Be realistic about converting visitors. Your conversion rates will vary dramatically depending on your copy and the source of the traffic. At first your goal is just to get that very first sale. Celebrate your victories, and add more offers over time.
Part 6: Capture Visitors
Step 1: Get an email autoresponder. It’s crazy to build a website and work hard to get visitors without trying to grab their email address so that you can contact them in the future. To do this, you need autoresponder software. I personally use Aweber and would not mess with anything else.
Step 2: Add an opt-in box to your site so people can leave their email address. Aweber has a great plugin for WordPress that is very easy to use with WordPress.
Step 3: Add a free offer. Entice people to join your list by offering them something of value if they opt in. A free report, a top ten list, an e-course, exclusive content, etc. Make it a no-brainer.
Step 4: Keep your list warm. Mail your list once every week or two with valuable content that they will be happy to receive. Don’t sell to your list more than once per month (if at all). Pat Flynn makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from his blog and NEVER sells to his list. He just helps people. You can help people too.
Part 7: Get Traffic
Step 1: This is not Field of Dreams. If you only get one thing from this affiliate marketing guide – take this advice: If you build it, they WILL NOT come. You must promote your site to get traffic. Never forget that Affiliate Marketing is 10% affiliate and 90% marketing. You have to go get the traffic. There are no short cuts.
Step 2: Create Great Content. This is the most important traffic generation strategy. Want traffic? Create stuff that people are looking for and are thrilled to find. It really is that simple. That is what I am trying to do with this post, and you should try too.
Step 3: Get backlinks. You need people to link to your content (see Step 2) but you can create some backlinks too. Leave your footprint around the web by helping people and leaving your link behind. Guest posting, blog commenting, forum posting, article marketing, etc are all examples.
Step 4: Get Social. Google and others are paying increasing attention to social signals from Facebook and Tumbler (as well as other social properties.) Make sure you are present there and helping people (are you starting to sense a theme here).?
Step 5: Quick Fixes Aren’t. Easy traffic magic formula? Take a pass. Use your money to create killer content. Sure, you can spend money to help your cause, but Google is fighting agains that every day. In the end, only quality content will survive.
Your “Affiliate Marketing Guide” And Your Journey
So, this affiliate marketing guide is just a quick overview of what your affiliate marketing journey might look like. It’s a 10,000 foot view of what you need to go do to create a valuable affiliate marketing web property.
As time goes on, I plan to grow this post and build some supporting resources. So, tell me what you think. Got questions? Comments? Let me have ‘em.