How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

This post may contain affiliate links.

Affiliate marketing can sometimes be a touchy subject.

A lot of names get thrown around for people who promote or mention other brands and get a commission off the sale. And when done poorly, we all lose. 

But here are our two cents about it.

As you begin affiliate marketing, keep your audience and your subscribers at the forefront of your mind. Never rep companies or people that you don’t know, like and fully trust. If you do, and their product ends up being junk, your reputation is tarnished and your audience is alienated.

Now who would want to do that? Instead, only partner with people and companies that you know will take good care of your readers and make their lives better as a result of their products, services and tools.

Then it’s a win-win-win!

That being said, Daryl George is here today to share with us his best practices of using affiliate marketing to boost your online income, while also helping your readers find great products. Take it away, Daryl!

Would you love to make $500 for less than two hours work?

I have.

And the crazy thing is I’m going to continue to make money without any extra time or effort required!

That’s the power of affiliate marketing.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is simple: you sell someone else’s product, and you earn a commission for each sale.

That’s it. No bells or whistles. No long, complicated processes.

You sell, you receive a commission.

Affiliate marketing is a proven way to make a significant income online – with marketers such as Pat Flynn making over $150,000 in March, 2016 alone – most of it from affiliate income.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

  1. You sign up for a specific affiliate product, and you receive a unique link/code.
  2. Every time someone clicks that link/code and purchases a product you get a percentage of that sale.
  3. Wash, rinse and repeat.

For example, if you sign up to affiliate market Gina’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success course, you’re provided with an affiliate link. And every time someone clicks on the link and pays for her course, you make 40% of the $59 course price. While other affiliate programs offer different payouts, the general concept remains the same for all.

How to get started with affiliate marketingBenefits of Becoming an Affiliate

Of course, there are a number of benefits to becoming an affiliate marketer. Some of the biggest reasons to do so include:

1. It’s time and energy efficient

A lot of time, energy, and effort usually goes into creating an awesome product that people enjoy using. By becoming an affiliate marketer, you can generate income without going through the time and energy-consuming process of creating your own product.

2. It’s budget-friendly

Although all affiliate products don’t necessarily cost a lot of money to create, many do, and with the idea that “time is money,” the time spent creating a product means that you’re losing out on possible income. By becoming an affiliate marketer, you have a ready-made product that you’ve spent $0 creating that’s ready to be sold.

3. It generates “passive” income

Remember when I said that I generated over $500 from one affiliate product from less than two hours work?

My “work” for my affiliate income was creating a short review (which took me about an hour and a half) and dropping my link on occasion (once every few months) on social media and my blog. If you have a decent audience who is engaged and like what you’re offering, the ROI can be far more than any other type of work that you may be doing.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer

So how do you reap the benefits of affiliate marketing? Here’s how to become an affiliate marketer in three simple steps:

1. Find a Product That You Love and Trust

The first step is that you should ONLY promote products you have used and that you trust, created by people you can trust.

If you follow popular blogs, it’s quite possible that many of these people already have affiliate products for you to sell – since every time you sell, they sell too! They often have affiliate/product pages that provide details for affiliates, so make sure to check those out.

It’s of vital importance to find a product or marketer that you’re familiar with and trust for a couple of reasons.

First, you ensure that you know the product yourself, so if people ask you questions about it you can answer usefully and truthfully.

Secondly, you wouldn’t want to be promoting a product you haven’t used or are unwilling to use!

Gina’s Tip: A great example of this kind of relationship based on trust is when I’m promoting resources such as Pinterest Presence. I’ve been working closely with Kristin to help me boost my Pinterest traffic since the beginning of 2016 – she’s doing such a great job and she knows so much about the topic, that I would not hesitate for one second to recommend her new course.

An enthusiastic and authentic promotion will be more likely to get others genuinely interested in purchasing the product than a lackluster or uninformed opinion.

2. Sign Up to Become an Affiliate

Most affiliate programs allow for easy and quick signup.

Your affiliate links may range from simple text links to banner or sidebar ads, which can usually be added quickly and easily to your website or other promotional avenues.

Sign up for Horkey HandBook’s affiliate program here (if you’re a current VA course student, you may need to email Gina for manual integration if you’re trying to use the same email login).

3. Promote Your Affiliate Product

This is the part where the most work for affiliate marketing comes in. Some of the most popular ways of promoting an affiliate marketing product include:

  • In-depth reviews – One of the best ways to promote your affiliate product is to write an in-depth review about your experience using it. The review should be honest and unbiased, even if your affiliate product has one or two minor flaws.
  • Blog post– You can look for opportunities to insert an affiliate product mention in relevant blog posts.
  • How-to/instructional posts – If your affiliate product is something that needs instructions then providing step-by-step instructions on how to set up and use the product will encourage readers to purchase from you.
  • (Gina’s tip: This is what I’m doing with the free tutorial on how to start a branded website in 7 Days or Less!. Offering valuable resources for free is a great way to help your audience. If they decide to sign up for the web hosting I recommend, that’s just an added bonus.)
  • Social media – Of course, relevant social media mentions are another great way of promoting, particularly when your affiliate may be running a sale or giveaway.
  • Email – You can promote your affiliate products via your email newsletters. Ensure that your email provider allows for affiliate selling.
  • Build your audience – The bigger and more engaged your audience is, the more affiliate sales you’ll be able to generate. By simply building your audience and keeping them engaged, you can virtually guarantee yourself increased affiliate sales.

4. Track Your Affiliate Statistics

In order to maximize your affiliate sales, you should carefully track and analyze your traffic and sales statistics.

This will allow you to find the audience that will be most likely to purchase your affiliate product and direct your marketing efforts more effectively.

Affiliate marketing is a relatively easy way to generate income even when you’re not directly “working” on a product, making it a great option for people with other avenues for generating income, like freelance writing or even with a full-time job.

Do you sell any affiliate products? What’s your process like? Let us know in the comments section below.

Daryl GeorgeDaryl George is a freelance writer and business blogger dedicated to helping freelance writers build their careers and businesses connect with their customers with proven results. If you’re a freelance writer who wants more information about your freelance writing career, you can visit him at Freelance Writer Startup. If you’re a business that wants to turn your blog into a client attraction machine, then check him out at

This post contains affiliate links. But now you know what that means, so we’re cool, right?

16 thoughts on “How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing”

  1. A very awesome post Daryl,

    Affiliate marketing is indeed one of the best ways to make consistent/reoccurring income from the internet. Once you know how best to do it, you will be making money while you sleep especially if you’re promoting products that have a monthly subscription like Web Host.

    I know so many people that are making six figures per month via affiliate marketing alone.

    Thanks for sharing Daryl.

  2. This is great! Affiliate marketing can be tricky to understand and this post breaks it down perfectly. It’s so nice to be helpful and be able to recommend a product or service to someone else, and receiving affiliate income is a bonus. It really works out well for everyone!

    • Hey Kristin,

      Absolutely! You really want to ensure that any affiliate product you offer is both relevant AND useful, and then the extra cash is a lovely surprise bonus. Its a win for everyone – both you, the person who created the product you’re selling, and your audience who benefits.

  3. Great info! This is so timely for me. Do you recommend waiting to do this until your readership grows? My blog is only about a month old and is still finding its footing. Thanks!

    • HI Julie,

      There’s really no reason to wait. Most people who offer affiliate products do so for free, and you never know when even one of your readers can purchase a product. My blog had only a handful of viewers when I wrote my first affiliate review and offered a product but results (and income) came quite quickly. There’s no downside to offering an affiliate product NOW (such as any of Gina’s affiliate courses) because it costs you nothing but a few minutes to write up a relevant post and drop in a link/banner where appropriate.

  4. I do some affiliate marketing on my websites. I have not been too successful yet as they are all under one year old & have very small followings. But I have the long-term approach and entered eyes wide open that it might take a year or so to start seeing income.

    • Hey Josh,

      One of the best tips I can give you is to create a really detailed review and share it with the community of the product you’re reviewing, and possibly even with the original product creator. Particularly if it’s a positive review, you’ll see people sharing and commenting on that information, which will lead you to more traction in terms of SEO rankings, and more sales. A small blog audience isn’t as much of a setback in terms of affiliate marketing if you offer that detailed (and unbiased!) review and get others to promote it for you.

  5. Thanks Daryl for this very helpful post .What would be the first step for someone who hasn’t a blog a website and has no list building ? Can posting affiliate links on social media generate income ?

    • Hi Catherine,

      From my view point, posting affiliate links on social media *can* work, but you’d have to already have trust with your social media audience, and your social media following should be specific to the products you’re promoting. If both of these are not in place, your social media group may feel like they’re being spammed and simply unfriend or ignore your post.

  6. I edge on the side of caution with affiliate marketing. Build an audience first. Then learn affiliate marketing for supplemental income. I see a couple of comments mentioning website(s). One is enough for your personal brand.

    For writers, there may be a need to separate, such as a website for freelance writing, with another touting social media management, and perhaps one for coaching services.

    What I don’t see a need for is a freelance writer with a separate website for say – luxurysoapsmadeeasy{.com} selling how to guides for selling hand made soaps on eBay. Especially if the writer’s no interest in the field. Many a course teaches affiliate marketing that way. Find the niche then monetize it to the hilt. That I don’t believe is sustainable.

    As Daryl mentioned “ONLY promote products you have used and that you trust, created by people you can trust”.

    Take that as a rule and never stray from it because if you do, you’ll wind up in niches you haven’t any interest in serving.

    • Thanks for chiming in Robbie – I’m also a fan of having one main site – no reason you can’t have numerous hire me pages (providing they’re somewhat related) like I do (writing, VA, coaching). And yes, only rep stuff you’re interested in, you like and people you trust. It’s not about making a quick buck – it’s about serving other people by putting them in touch with resources or products that will improve their lives in some way.

    • Hi Robbie,

      I definitely agree with ONLY promoting products that are relevant and related to your niche, as per your example.

      But surprisingly, I’ve made affiliate sales to people who are not necessarily fans/subscribers to my website, simply because I offer an honest and unbiased review.

      If it takes you an hour to create and promote a great affiliate product review (emphasis on promote) then I would say that there is no real reason to wait to build up your own personal audience – the product you reviewed will promote itself to it’s audience.

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