How To Start an Affiliate Marketing Blog in 2020 (and beyond)
Alright, so have you finally taken the pledge and are looking to make money online with blogging using affiliate marketing? That's great, and this detailed guide will help you achieve your goals provided you take action!
Let's face it - making money online is not THAT easy as it sounds. Don't believe the hype you see everywhere (specially the gurus' hyped up sales pages). However, if you are focused, you learn from the best, and you take action, things are not that hard. You just need to make it WORK for you.
If you have a blog (like ours), there are many ways with which you can monetize it, you can sell banner ads, or do PPC like Google AdSense, the list goes on and on. They all pay between a few cents to a few dollars a click, depending on the keyword, so don't expect for an early retirement. They all work well but the payouts aren't that good.
What's the most profitable way to make money from your blog? The answer is affiliate marketing. So, what exactly is it? Let's dive in. Feel free to skip through sections if you're looking for a specific topic.
What Is Affiliate Marketing
There's a good chance you have already participated and you didn't even realize it. Have you ever referred people to a service or product, and have received coupons/discounts/monetary reward in return? That's affiliate marketing.
You're getting paid for recommending a product to others. If you're looking to purchase a cell phone for example, chances are you would do a google search and then you will stumble across a list of websites. Then you will select one, check out what they have to say and then make your purchase decision.
So, you did a google search because you were not sure on what to buy, some of the reviews helped you decide, and then probably purchased a product from a link. If you purchased your phone from a link on any of these websites', an affiliate marketer just made a commission, thanks to you. Chances are they are signed up to promote electronics as an affiliate.
The Process in a Nutshell
In affiliate marketing, you will simply market other people's products and make a commission if someone decides to make a purchase through you. This is how the process works in a nutshell.
When you made a purchase on Google, it could be you clicking on a review style blog post written by some affiliate marketer or it could be a YouTube video, and you found the link in the description. They did a thorough review, and helped you out. You, in turn, purchased the product through their link and they get their commissions as a result (at no extra cost to you, of course).
Affiliate marketing can be very powerful since it can bring you recurring money every month. Just set up a system once (like a high quality product comparison), and you will get paid every single time someone visits your review and decides to make a purchase through your affiliate links.
Some Benefits of Affiliate Marketing
What You Should Know Before Launching Your Blog
Like we mentioned before, you don't need any special talent to get started with blogging & affiliate marketing. You just need to learn the right skills and take MASSIVE ACTION!
- No programming skills required
- Can start with as little as $100 (doesn't cost an arm and leg)
- You don't need to be a great writer
- Treat it like a real business - money makes money
- It's NOT a get rich quick scheme
- You have to PUT in the work to make this work (there's no secret sauce, which is just over-hyped BS)
So, without further ado, let's get started (be sure to follow the step-by-step guide closely to maximize your results).
Finally - the steps! Like we said, this will be a detailed guide in which we will try to cover everything. (YES! Everything!). Now, comes the fun part. The actual steps that you will be following to launch your affiliate marketing blog and get to profitability fast. Trust the process, and take action, that will make a massive difference in the end.
#1 - Register a Domain Name
The first step to starting an affiliate marketing blog is registering a domain name. Before you select a domain name, you have to make a few decisions and do some research which again involves a few steps.
Selecting your main niche: You'll have to decide the main topic around which your content will be centered. A website writing about cat/dog products certainly won't have content on jewelry. That will not make any sense at all and is totally unrelated.
Just make sure the domain name is easy to pronounce and makes sense. If the readers get an idea of what the domain is about just by checking out the domain name, you're good to go. Don't buy a domain yet, it will cost you $12 per year but there's a way for you to get it for FREE (surprise!). Yes, free - more on that in the next step.
#2 - Get a Quality Web Hosting
Yep, you have the domain in mind, now you need a great web host. A web hosting is like a garage where your car (your domain) will be parked (just like our website is workfromhomereviews.net). There are a lot of web hosts to chose from, this is where your domain will live so choose wisely.
Like we mentioned in the last step you need a domain. You can get a domain for FREE with bluehost, which is the web hosting company we use & recommend. Using them since 2013 and they have never failed us.
In fact, they are the only web hosting company which WordPress recommends. There are many reasons why you should get bluehost:
Your affiliate blog will be powered by WordPress and it comes pre-installed with bluehost, and you get a domain for FREE! Just go here, select a domain name and get started.
Setting Up Your Website
Just go to bluehost's website and click on the 'get started' button.
After you click on get started, you will be greeted with the pricing cards. There are four options to choose from - basic, plus, choice plus, and pro. For our usage, the basic plan is good enough for our requirements, you don't need a bigger package unless you need it.
Consider package(s) other than the basic plan ONLY if you intend to host multiple domains on your web hosting account. The basic plan comes with one domain (which of course you will get for FREE for the first year instead of paying $12/yr). If you'd only host one website and there are no plans to get multiple moving forward, the basic $3.95 plan is all you need.
In the next step, you will be asked to select a domain (which will be FREE with bluehost). If you have a domain name and wish to use it with Bluehost, enter that in the second tab. If not, search for a new domain in the new domain tab and click on next.
After you've entered a domain name, you'll be asked to enter your personal information (Name, address, and other details) which is required to create your account.
Note: The longer your plan duration is (12, 36, 60 months), the lesser you will have to pay.
Make sure to uncheck all the package extras except for domain privacy protection. If you don't get domain privacy, your personal information (name, phone number, address etc) will be publicly visible on whois.
Having public who-is info isn't necessarily a problem, but often web designing/SEO firms may spam you to death via phone calls/emails cold pitching their services which can be a bit annoying because everyone can find your website's whois info upon searching for it.
Next, you would enter your billing information to complete the process. Once all done, your brand-new domain and web hosting is ready to go, time to put them to use.
Give yourself a pat in the back if you came this far because you're a true action taker.
Time To Check Your E-mail
Once you've completed the steps and have signed up with bluehost, you will receive a welcome email from them. Before you log into your account, you will have to create a password.
One big advantage with bluehost over other web hosting providers is that WordPress will be automatically installed on your domain so the blog creation process won't be a headache. Once you've logged in to your bluehost account, complete the on-screen steps and click on the 'Start Building' button - with it, you would skip straight to your WordPress dashboard.
Once you're in your WordPress dashboard, simply navigate to Settings, and click on general. There you can set your blog's title in the Site title option and description in the tagline field. Oh, and to expand the left menu bar, just click on the right arrow button which is at the bottom of the menu.
Now your blog is all set and ready to go. Time to customize it and turn it into a piece of art!
#3 - Essential Housekeeping
This brings us to one of the most interesting steps in this guide, sky is the limit with customization in WordPress. There are over a thousand WordPress themes to choose from (both free and paid), and almost 30,000 plugins. Feel free to skip this section if you're already familiar with how WordPress works. If not, keep reading.
With WordPress, you start with a blank canvas and you're only limited by your imagination. Themes & plugins are the core components of a WordPress website, let's take a detailed look at them.
A theme will change the look and feel of your WordPress website and will 'theme' it. Different themes sport different designs, colors and layouts. choose one that works best for your requirements. This does not mean you cannot customize it though. You can always jump right in, and experiment with different color schemes, and customize the look and feel to suit your needs.
To add a new theme, go to Appearance, and then click on themes.
Once you're in, you will see the theme that's installed and active on your website right now. Click on 'Add New' button, which is next to the 'Themes' headline near the header if you want to add a new theme.
Browse through the themes directory (there are over 10,000 WordPress themes available), select the one you like and click on activate and DONE! This step is complete, this is how you will install a free theme from the WordPress repository.
To check out the new design, just open your website in a new browser tab.
There's also an option to preview the look and feel of a theme before you activate it.
A plugin will add specific functionality by 'plugging into' your WordPress website. If you're looking to extend the functionality of your website - let's say you want to add a table to your website, how to do so? If you're a programmer and can write code, this won't be hard for you.
What if you're not? This is where plugins come to the rescue. Just find the plugin you need, activate them, and you will be able to add a table without writing a single line of code. You either drag and drop the table with the plugin or click and edit like you would in a Word document.
Also, plugins are useful in every scenario. Just because you can write code does not mean you should. They can save you a lot of time. Just focus on building what you want, and let the plugins do the heavy lifting for you. To install a plugin, click on Plugins tab on your menu, and click on add new.
Once you're in, you will see a bunch of plugins in this section. Every plugin has a title and a mini description which can help you decide whether or not it will make for a decent addition to your site.
If you have a paid plugin (from a marketplace other than WordPress' repository), you would instead upload that plugin using the 'Upload Plugin' button and install. Here are a few plugins which you will find handy:
Fixing The Site's SEO Structure
WordPress does not come with SEO-friendly site structure out of the box. Thankfully, there's a quick 30-second hack with which you can fix your website's on-site SEO. It will beautify the website inner links (pages/posts) and the URLs will make much more sense.
To do this, you will have to modify your permalinks structure. Head over to the settings section, and click on permalinks.
By default, a website will use the default permalinks structure and a URL would look like: http://yourwebsite.com/?p=123
Like you can see, this website URL does not share the details like what this page/post is all about, instead you see this page number 123 which makes little sense. To know, what this is all about, you will have to open this URL and read the content to find out. To rank on Google, you have to have content which is easy to understand and very readable - URLs included.
Instead, if you would have something like: http://yourwebsite.com/sample-post/
It drastically improves the readability and the user experience. It's highly recommended you change your permalinks structure to 'Post name' so your posts are more readable for obvious reasons. The above example shows this URL is about 'sample post' unlike in the first case. This is good for your website's SEO.
Select Post name option and click on save, this will modify your permalinks and all the existing website URLs will be modified accordingly. Best practice is to have short but easy to understand URL structure.
Instead of an inner URL like: this-is-the-first-post-on-this-website, you're better off with a shorter inner URL like first-post.
Connecting Webmaster Tools
For better tracking your website's performance on Google search, and for faster indexing, you should sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and register your website. Simply visit the link, and follow the on-screen instructions and add your affiliate blog. Check out this article by Yoast which assists with the same.
After you add your website to Google Webmaster Tools, you will be asked to verify your web property. Once all done, you will find your website in webmaster tools dashboard and it will you as a verified owner.
The Website Sitemap
This is a crucial step which many people (including the so-called gurus) skip. We are no gurus but we definitely know what working today. A sitemap shows the structure of your website in XML format which is more understandable to the search engine crawler which will visit your website. Consider it the language of the search engine spider, the more it reads, the more it understands.
If the bot finds a proper structure, it will index your website better and changes will be reflected on Google faster. It's a good SEO practice which one can't afford to neglect. Let's get one created first, and then we'll submit it later.
Creating a Sitemap
To submit one, you need a sitemap first. Luckily, creating one is not that hard with WordPress, you definitely don't need any coding skills let alone XML skills (see why we are using WordPress?).
To get started, you can install one of the two plugins: Google XML Sitemaps or Yoast SEO. It does not matter which plugin you install, they work the same way. In this guide, let's focus on Yoast for now. Simply go to the plugins tab, click on add new and type Yoast SEO.
In the screenshot, Yoast shows 'Active' - that's because we already have Yoast installed, you'd instead see the 'Install Now' button. Just click on install now, and activate the plugin from the Installed Plugins tab.
Once installed, you will be asked to configure the Yoast SEO plugin. You don't need to change any of the settings. Just follow the on-screen instructions and go with the default options, that's the plugin configured for you in less than a minute.
Alright, all done. The plugin is now installed, how to find my sitemap? There's one good news - the plugin has created a sitemap for you automatically. How to find it? Click on the SEO and go to 'General', and then to the features tab.
Click on the '?' which is next to the XML sitemaps option, you will find two links, click on the 'See the XML sitemap' link and copy it. That's your sitemap URL.
Save the sitemap link for now, we'll submit it shortly.
Submitting Your Sitemap
You have a sitemap ready to go. Now what? Time to let the Google bot know of its existence.
Go to the google search console, log in with your credentials. Since you've already verified your web property, it will be listed there. If you don't see your website listed in the search console, make sure you have connected webmaster tools and the website is verified.
Simply navigate to the sitemaps section, enter your sitemap URL, and click on submit.
Once you've submitted the sitemap URL, you don't need to do anything. Google bot will eventually crawl your website and index it within a few weeks.
If your sitemap was submitted successfully, you will see a 'Success' message like in the image above. Our website is perfectly set up now and the next step is all about finding the right keywords for our website.
Action Step: Fix your site's permalink structure, connect with Google Webmaster Tools, and submit your WordPress website's sitemap.
#4 - Keyword Research
Alright, now we have a WordPress website and you're ready to add some content. Before you add some content, you have to make sure it's something people are looking for. That's where keyword research comes in.
With keyword research, you can find the keywords - more specifically the topic on which you should be writing (You don't need to be a writer of course, more on that in the next step).
If you can't find your niche/main topic on which you will be blogging, it's best you write on the topics you love. This way you will naturally produce quality content because it's something you're passionate about.
If you love fishing for example, you'd naturally produce quality articles for fishing related terms - fishing net, fishing gear. You get the idea.
In this example, let's say you want to write about the best SEO tools. There are many KW research tools available on the market, both free & paid. Let's get started with some. You can use of these, or use all of them and save the keywords you collect in an excel spreadsheet.
Keywords Everywhere (Free & Effective)
Keywords Everywhere is a FREE browser extension, which works with both Chrome and Firefox. Just visit the website, and install the extension. Once installed, you may be prompted to restart your browser.
Once installed, make sure the plugin is active. Click on the 'K' logo which will be in your browser extensions section and activate it. Next, do a google search, and search for a keyword. In this case, we will search for 'best SEO tools'.
You will get a list of related keywords, and the search terms which people are searching for. If you can't see it, make sure the Keywords Everywhere plugin is 'ON' like in the above image. Go ahead and export the list of keywords in a CSV file if you want. If not, you can note them down in a text file.
Google Suggest (Free)
Google Suggest is Google's own autocomplete tool. If you search for anything on Google, do you see a list of searches that changes as you type? That's Google suggest - it helps the user in finding what they are looking for.
One thing worth mentioning - Keywords Everywhere integrates very well with the browsers, and you also get to see a few extra metrics like the keyword search volume, cost per click/CPC, and the competition. See how powerful this little plugin is?
If you need more keyword ideas, just edit your search term - add/remove words and the list of keywords will re-generate. If you scroll down the page, you will find a list of keywords related to your search term. Might be worth noting them down too.
Spend some time in researching your keywords. Makes no sense in ranking for keywords that get no searches and not a good idea to go after very competitive keywords, right? You sure can rank for competitive keywords but it will take some time, and efforts.
It's best you try to rank for long tail keywords first. These keywords, like the name suggests, have a long tail.
Short Tail/High Competition: lose weight (will take months to rank)
Long Tail/Low Competition: how to lose weight fast (will rank faster)
Like you can see, the longer tail keyword is way more specific and longer. It definitely gets a lot lesser searches a month, but it's also less competitive. Since the competition is low, you can rank for it within weeks, if not months!
SEMrush (Paid, Insanely Powerful)
SEMrush is a fully fledged SEO tool which comes with a bunch of features including a great keyword research tool which is built into the platform. It also comes with a 7-day FREE Trial.
You don't absolutely need it but SEMrush can be a game changer for you in the long run. Here you won't input a keyword to get ideas. Instead, you would enter any of your competitor's website URL and find a list of keywords they are ranking for. Spying is fun, isn't it?
In fact, it's one of the best ways to cut out guesswork because if you're modeling someone else, it's a surefire way to succeed. Don't worry, it's perfectly ethical to spy on your competition. Not encouraging you to steal someone else's content, but model it and come up with your own stuff.
If you're interested in using SEMrush, get started with a FREE 7-day trial here.
Once logged in, enter a domain and click on search.
Like you can see, semrush is extremely detailed and it can be overwhelming at times. Don't worry, just focus on the sections you need. You don't need all the features for sure.
The top organic keywords tab is what we want to check out. Click on 'View full report' to take a closer look at the keywords this domain is ranking for. You can also export the keywords in a CSV file for later use.
You can sort data using a lot of metrics (keyword position, search volume, CPC, last updated, to name a few). Get started with a free SEMrush trial here.
Action Step: Conduct a keyword research, make use of the above tools. For best results, start with SEMrush. Get a FREE 7-day trial here.
#5 - Writing Content
You've come far. Everything is set up and now you have ideas in mind, thanks to the keyword research. Time to bring those ideas to life and write content which your readers will absolutely love.
Writing is not an easy task but it also isn't as tedious as it sounds. It's a choice - you can either write it all yourself or hire a good writer for a reasonable price from websites like Fiverr.
If you are thinking about outsourcing content, make sure to keep these things in mind.
- Write very clear instructions
- Ask them to proofread content through services like Grammarly to eliminate grammar errors.
- Bookmark your favorite writers (for your next project).
- The more you pay, the better quality you can expect.
Make sure to follow the best SEO practices while producing content for your website. It is pretty straight forward once you get the hang of it. You probably have Yoast SEO installed by now. If not, go ahead and install the plugin from the plugin directory.
When you create a new page or a post on your website, under the Yoast meta box, you will find an 'edit snippet' option. Over here, you can enter your page's meta title and meta description.
So, what's the use of a meta title, and a meta description? How does it help you? Good question! If you search for anything on Google. You will find each website listing in there has a title and a short description. That's your meta title/meta description.
How does it help you? Simple - if a user sees your website, they will either click on it or scroll down to check out another listing on the page. The only goal of the page title/description is to get the user to click and reach your website. The better your title is, and the better your meta description (web page's summary) is, the more a user is likely to click.
If your website's click-through rate is good, it may be deemed important by Google and you may start getting some love from the biggest search engine, and ultimately site visitors.
Action Step: Write some content or hire a content writer. Make sure to follow the best SEO practices, this will eventually rank your website.
#6 - Getting Visitors To Your Blog
Let's face it - SEO take time. There's no way you will get instant results but if you follow the best SEO practices (step #5), you'd eventually get organic traffic from Google.
There are a lot of ways to drive traffic to your blog while SEO does its thing. Here are a few evergreen methods which still work today (proven time and time again).
Answer Questions on Quora:
On Quora, people are looking for answers to their problems. This is where you come in, try to solve their problems, and maybe drop in your article URL if it's a solution to their problem. They get a much-needed solution and you got much-needed exposure. Win-win, right?
Join niche-relevant groups on social media:
Join Facebook/skype groups, and aim to solve people's problems just like in Quora. This again will get a lot of attention, and ultimately bring free traffic to your site.
Build connections with influencers:
Get social, build connections with influencers in your niche. Drop reasonable comments on their article, it will link back to your website, and also get you some traffic through the website link. You also get a nofollow backlink, which is a cherry on top.
To find relevant blogs on Google, make use of some Google search operators. Double quotes will bring you the searches which contain the exact same keyword. For example "best seo tools" will only bring the website which use the exact same keyword somewhere in the content on that page.
This is very powerful, use it with caution. Don't overdo anything, it will hurt your website.
Overdoing something is NOT good for SEO
We hope you enjoyed this in-depth resource. Take our word - if you go through this guide, and take action on every step (there are six in total), there's absolutely no way you can't succeed.
With that said, know that SEO is a long-term game plan and instant results aren't a thing (forget all the over-hyped BS that you see everywhere). Consider affiliate marketing and blogging like real businesses, and they will require some investment from you - time, effort and some money.
It's really the mindset that makes a lot of difference in the end. If you treat something as a part-time thing, you can't make a full-time income from it. Good things take time, and you definitely need to put in the work.
Our top recommendation has helped hundreds of people escape their 9-5 day jobs and has helped them earn a realistic 4-5 figure per month online. It has been going strong for more than a decade now, and the strategies have stood the test of time.
It will ask for some investment of your time and efforts though. If you're ready to start your own profitable online business and finally increase the monthly cash flow your businesses generate, we highly recommend you give it a shot. If you ask us, it's totally worth it.
Using this FREE training, a broke 20-year-old went from $0 to $6,000 a month in less than 3 months working online.