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Making Money Online – Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Making Money Online – Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

I’m often asked questions about affiliate marketing – most often by clients I am helping with their search engine optimisation (SEO). The questions generally follow the same pattern: How can you make money from affiliate marketing? Is affiliate marketing for beginners? How do I start an online business? Am I too old? Is it too late? This article will attempt to answer all of these questions and more.I suggest that as you read this article you reflect on whether affiliate marketing is the thing for you. It’s not for everyone. If you’re constantly fluttering about reaching for new concepts and directions, you will never see your initiatives through to maturity or profitability. I ask you to reflect on that for a moment. I was given the same advice and promptly ignored it, not for long but it did set me back.

When I got started, I researched my niche, selected the keywords that I needed to optimise my blog for search engines and then was very quickly distracted by another shiny object – a better niche! Now, you don’t need to understand any of the terms I just used to see that I am describing a man who couldn’t make up his mind or take decisive action. If you decide that affiliate marketing is for you, you will also be tempted to make the same mistakes I did. Please, do not do these things.

When you decide that affiliate marketing is for you, you must be decisive, committed, disciplined and you must take overwhelming action.

Still interested? Let me challenge you a little further: Affiliate Marketing is Not a Get-Rich Scheme. Success in affiliate marketing requires grit, determination, dedication and patience. There is a lot of work that needs to be done before you can enjoy the fruits of your efforts. You may enjoy a few early wins. However, they will probably be due to luck, and it won’t be at all helpful if you think you’ve already arrived at your happy place.

There are some shortcuts to success that I can recommend. However, you will need to take a deep breath and reach for your chequebook. Not interested? Good. You should learn the basics of the business before you start paying for expensive mentorship programs and delegating work to others. One day you may wish to upscale your business by taking on staff and paying for traffic – the best affiliate marketers usually do – but you first need to learn to love your online business, enjoy some success and really get to know what you’re doing before you decide to go that route.

You must be unshakable in your determination to succeed, come what may, and you will succeed. How much success you enjoy is up to you.

What is an affiliate marketing business?

Good. You’re still here. By now, those who came looking for a secret formula for the creation of viral articles and videos have departed. Affiliate marketing is not for them. It just doesn’t work that way. Yet, there will always be people prepared to throw money at scams that promise instant riches. These poor folk will not be sipping martinis on a tropical beach next week. That beach is where you will find the people running the scams.

Here’s how the industry model that I use and advocate works in a nutshell:

  1. Select a Niche. Before you create your blog or website you must decide on a market niche – your unique area of expertise. Your niche should be something that you are passionate about or something that you understand very well. Ideally, it will be both. This is recommended reading: How to Remain Focused – Love What You Do!
  2. Publish your website and fill it with quality content. You must bring integrity to the table because without building trust and authority you’re going nowhere. Did I hear you say that you don’t know how to build a website? That’s not a problem. I can direct you to a free automated site builder. I’ve placed a link at the end of this section. Once you’ve selected your niche and website title your site can be live in moments. However, I recommend that you finish this article first.
  3. Get ranked in search engines. The idea is to find your way onto the front page of Google, Bing and Yahoo search engine results in order to generate traffic to your website. There is a lot of work involved here. You must publish frequently, you must select the correct keywords to optimise your website and articles and you must build authority.
  4. Monetize your website traffic. There are more than 50 ways to monetize online traffic – 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

Build me a Free Website Now!

Common mistakes made by beginners

  • Newbies often lose focus. I touched on this in my introduction. When you first become involved in the world of affiliate marketing, the temptation to go off track is great. This is caused by information overload. There is so much information available that you end up with a head full of great ideas and begin to question the direction you have already chosen. You are constantly tempted to change niches or to go with too many. It’s a trap! Do the training, make a decision and get moving. Make some notes and then put the rest aside for a time.

In this article, I provide links to Wealthy Affiliate University. I suggest that you commence with the basic training and that you follow it step by step – take a day or a week, but be sure to see it through before you start grasping for new ideas. You can always call on someone with more experience, including me,  for advice about your choice of niche. There will be plenty willing to help. The basic training assumes that a new member knows little or nothing about how to build a website or how to write for a blog.

Basic training is entirely free and comes with two free websites for you to test your new skills – you get to keep your sites even if you never choose to become a premium member. This is the perfect opportunity for you to decide if affiliate marketing is for you. You will also be offered an opportunity to test drive JAAXY – a formidable keyword research tool and, for one week, a chance to experience many of the benefits that come with premium membership.

Keep your credit card in your pocket – you will not be asked for it when you sign up for free basic membership. Premium membership represents outstanding value – and you can back out at any time – however, nothing is a bargain if you’re not going to use it or can’t afford it. Premium membership is for people who are fully committed to building a successful online business.

  • Newbies often select a niche that’s too broad. You may find a keyword in JAAXY  that thousands of people use as a search term every month. Even better, you discover you have relatively few competitors for your search term. The keyword relates to a broad niche such as ‘NFL Football’. You keep it secret. You think it’s a breakthrough opportunity. It isn’t. Check out the competition by searching Google. Who are they? Major Newspapers and Magazines? CNN? ESPN? Fox? Not only that, but they each have thousands of pages of quality content – they are authority sites. You may get there one day, but it’s no place to start.

Why not position yourself as the ultimate authority on a single minor league football team or player and build from there. Similarly, ‘Fishing’ is too broad. However, ‘Winter bass fishing tips’ could be a great place to start. There may even be fantastic lures and fishing tackle available at Amazon – they have a great affiliate program. You’ll need to do the research. However, I would suggest that you use a website title that you can build into your own brand and which will allow you to broaden your niche – eventually. There’s training available on that too.

  • Newbies often abandon a campaign just before it is about to become profitable. Yes, it’s true, even when new affiliate marketers have taken all the correct steps for success, they will be tempted to pull out on the verge of a breakthrough. They’re frustrated that after publishing so many articles, they’ve only made a few small sales here and there. You should research the 12-month cycle of a new website – there are models to follow at Wealthy Affiliate. You will learn how many articles to publish per week and how many clicks (on affiliate links) to expect after one month, three months, six months and twelve months. Even so, your experience may be somewhat different – but follow the business model and you will succeed.
  • We can all fall prey to limiting beliefs and mindset issues. The tendency to become disheartened is strongest in newbies who have yet to see their website/s mature and become profitable. I’d like to offer some insights from people far greater than me:

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” ~ Steve Jobs

“I don’t ever give up … I would have to be dead or completely incapacitated.” ~ Elon Musk

“Never give in – never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” ~Winston S. Churchill

Click Here to Begin your Journey Now!

18 thoughts on “Making Money Online – Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

  1. Thank you for your sage words of advice…for what it’s worth I read all the way through your article, I guess I might qualify to be an affililiate :).
    May I ask you though, what prompted you toward becoming an affiliate? I mean could you not decide to set up an online store or some such?
    Just wondering.

    1. Thanks for your kind words and a great question.

      You will note in my “About Me” page that I spent a great deal of my early career marketing inventories and managing sales networks. Frankly, I’m over it. The travel was too demanding and the competition from new suppliers in Asia was relentless. Moreover, product lines are subject to capricious market fluctuations and you often end up with a lot of ‘left socks’.

      Nevertheless, I’ve been asked to build an e-commerce website for a former business associate who wants to market leftover stock lines at bargain prices.

      It’s not for me though. A friend of mine once said that the great thing about the Real Estate industry was that you had unlimited potential to market millions of dollars of inventory without owning it.

      I don’t much care for the real estate game, but it is true that affiliate marketing offers the same opportunities to market other people inventories.

      Even better, I enjoy the beach view from my window, waking up when I please and commencing work as soon as the coffee has been brewed.


    2. Hi James,

      You saw it before I did. The associate I mentioned – the one who asked me to build him an e-commerce website – became a little less enthusiastic when I explained how much time and effort goes into SEO.

      He then suggested that I build an e-commerce website and market his stock for a share of the profits. Better yet, he has other wholesalers who want to get on board as well.

      So, I still get to enjoy my beach view, wake up when I please and sell other people stock.


  2. I am one that can testify to the information overload! I almost gave up. It was WA that reminded me to slow down and take the time to build greatness. Information overload I think is what causes so many failures. I could have been one. I am thankful everyday for what Wealthy Affiliate has taught me. Awesome explanation of WA

  3. That is an awesome post Henri:

    Joining Wealthy Affiliate as a Premium Member has allowed me to learn a lot more about website building and online marketing than I ever thought in only a few months.

    I am still at the initial steps of my websites but I keep on doing it whenever my offline activities allow me.

    Congratulations my friend, keep up your top quality work online and enjoy the beach.

  4. Hi Eugenio,

    It’s great to see a teammate here. Thanks for your very kind words.

    With your background, I’m certain you’ll meet with great success at Wealthy Affiliate – you have a brilliant and important niche. My compliments.

    I would encourage anyone reading this to click on the link in Eugenio’s post (Eugenio Oseguera-Figueroa) to learn about the important work he does.


  5. Yes, there are many mistakes that one can make when it comes to affiliate marketing. I too have been there. The first time I tried doing it, I chose a niche, but after a month, I found a few different niches that seemed like I could get big profits from!

    Well, distractions are definitely everywhere and for a newbie, it can be hard to maintain focus. I know that for sure. Sometimes it’s not even about the niche. In general, you might find different ways to make money online and then you hop from opportunity to opportunity and in the end make nothing!

  6. Good review on affiliate marketing. I liked how you made it clear that it isn’t a get rich quick scheme and that you have to put in the work in order to see results. I think that is where people get it wrong. They get too excited off of the idea of earning a lot of money without actually putting in the work. Then they start doing it and realize it’s actually a lot of work. Then they quit. Mind set is very important and people need to realize they need to be really committed in order to be successful. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for reading my post, Michael.

      I couldn’t agree more. You must remain focused and committed, and that’s easiest to do when you take pride in your work and love what you do.

      Here’s a tip – imagine a post that you’d like to read and then write it.

      Cheers, Henri

  7. Hey Henri,

    What you said is true. The best way to learn affiliate marketing, hands down, is to implement the information while you learn. Learning and implementing hand-in-hand exposes you to the knowledge you require and empowers you with the practical skills as you implement the training immediately.

    Wealthy Affiliate also has its own affiliate program which enables you to earn while you’re learning. That’s a great booster and motivation.

    Thank you for your great article.


    1. Hi Shuihyen,

      Yes it’s true that you can earn while you learn. It’s something I touched on in my review. Even with the free basic membership you can earn commissions. In the beginning these will often come from friends and/or family who share your interest in making a living online.

      However, there are a few things that I should point out:

      1. It’s best to encourage people to try the free basic membership before they decide to become a premium member. This will provide them with a genuine – no pressure – opportunity to decide whether affiliate marketing is something for them. Either way, they’ll thank you for it.

      2. They should also know that they will not pay one cent extra because of your referral. In other words, if they decide to go premium, they will be offered the cheapest subscription prices currently available.

      3. You should also fully disclose your affiliate relationships on your home page. I have an affiliate program link in my main menu. This is the right thing to do.

      Thanks for providing me with the opportunity to address these issues. This is a very new website. It is also my first affiliate marketing website and well overdue. During the last couple of years I have applied the resources and training available at Wealthy Affiliate to my own product and service niches.

      I hope you decide to try out the free training. I’ll be there to help with any questions and so will many others.

      Cheers, Henri

  8. Hey. I would like to earn money online and enjoy life.

    Until now, I did not know how to go about it. I was always looking for a magical way, instead of going to work. And so I came across your blog, which taught me many interesting things.

    Thanks to you, I got to know affiliate marketing and created the first page. This is amazing. My site is related to cooking. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m determined to succeed. Thanks.

    1. Wow! Thanks, Michael. That’s high praise indeed.

      Good luck with your cooking blog.

      Have you identified your competition? Have you researched who is ranking on page one of the search engines for the same keywords you’re targeting?

      Here is a great tool that’s free to try:

      I have no affiliation with Spyfu. But it is a great way to identify which keywords your competitor is ranking for – both paid and organic. It will also identify his/her major competitors.

      I’d use it sparingly. You only get so many free searches.

      I intend to post links to other free resources. So please check back from time to time.

      Cheers, Henri

  9. I enjoyed your post very much. I have to confess that I am guilty of the ‘shiny object syndrome’. I guess the silver lining is with affiliate marketing you’re only limited to your own time and effort, so you can promote new things as they come along. Great graphic on the affiliate marketing process. Easy to understand how it works.

  10. This is some good stuff! It is so true about being a newbie in the world of affiliate marketing. I began my journey almost 2 years ago now and have learned soooo much on how to do things the right way.

    I think the biggest obstacle to someone starting out is simply getting out of your own way and trust in the training and believe that all the work you put in will pay off down the road as long as you simply don’t stop!

    It’s an amazing feeling when things do begin to take off!

  11. This is some solid advice for any newbies looking to get their hands dirty in the prospects of achieving a successful affiliate marketing business. I’m not necessarily a newbie but, these tips still somewhat resonate with me. Especially the part about staying focused on only one niche and the section about perseverance and grit endorsed to make it work!

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