Affiliate Marketing Tips for Beginners (Q&A)

Dianne asks: What would you suggest as far as affiliate programs when you are just getting started? I understand there's CJ, ClickBank etc. Did you start out with one affiliate program and eventually add others?

This is a great question Dianne. I actually addressed this in depth in a post on the best affiliate programs (video/text) as it's a very common question.

I like to create niche affiliate sites around topics, not around products or merchants. And so you'll want to choose affiliate programs that are a good match for your topic and your target market.

When you're just starting out, it's best to start with the larger networks like: Commission Junction, Share-a-Sale, LinkShare, etc. I'm not a huge fan of ClickBank or Adsense, but they do have their place in some niches...

By going with the larger affiliate networks you can work with multiple merchants, and get paid for all commissions in one payment. This gives you a variety of merchants and products to work with, and helps you reach your minimum payouts easier by combining merchants from one network. It's also easier for tracking & organization as all of your stats are in one (or just a few) major affiliate networks.

For each niche affiliate site that I create, I usually have a minimum of 3 affiliate merchants. I made the mistake of creating my first affiliate site around ONE merchant (great merchant - high conversion, good payout, awesome products, etc). That merchant closed their affiliate program within a year, and I was stuck with an un-monetized site. I've had a hard time replacing them too!

I now have at least 2 back-up merchants for any site I create. Amazon.com is one of my common back-ups as they carry most products you might want to promote.

Dianne asks:When you started out did you put an affiliate link in EVERY article you wrote or what did you find that worked the best after you got started?

Not all of my niche affiliate sites are content-based. Some of them are set up more like a basic ecommerce site or online store that features specific products.

Some of my other affiliate sites are content-based. See affiliate site options for more on that. Also see: Affiliate Site Options Q&A

To answer your question, every page or piece of web content that I create does has a specific objective. So yes, I include a link on every page - whether that's a link directly to the merchant, or a link to a related page on my affiliate site. You always want to include a call-to-action and give your visitor the "best next click".

Dianne asks:When you do have that handful of products, do you recommend putting them on a rotating cycle in articles that you write (i.e. use #1 on first day, #2 on second day, etc. until you get to # 5) and then start over again with #1? Or do you recommend putting them in the sidebar as widgets or both? And then, slowly add in more products?

I wish I was that organized with my schedule! :D LOL

First, I rarely use sidebar widgets. The best way to market affiliate links is to put them in the content areas of your blog or site. So I create pages about products, or content about topics that lead into a buying decision for the visitor.

The recommendations (and affiliate links) are right there in the article or blog post, within the actual content of the page.

I actually work on my affiliate sites from my keyword list instead of my merchant or product list. I start by choosing a Primary Keyword Phrase for the main page of the site/blog. This is the phrase I most want the main page to rank well for in the major search engines.

Then I choose categories or topics I am going to cover on the site, and use those keyword phrases to create the navigation. The more specific keyword phrases, ie long tail keywords, are used to create the content or product pages within each category.

Once I create the site structure (see example in my Web Page Optimization post) I begin working on the content. And from there I add in the affiliate links or product recommendations as they fit into each content page.

I hope this helps, and gives you an idea of how to create your own niche affiliate sites. Everyone does it differently, but I use the SEO model and work with long tail (super-specific) keyword phrases. For that reason my strategy revolves around keywords, and what the market is searching for specifically. From there I create the site, target those searches, and connect the buyers with the merchants.

Best,

p.s. The absolute best investment to shave months – or even years – off the learning curve for getting your first affiliate site off the ground and actually making sales: Download the Super Affiliate Handbook by Rosalind Gardner. She turned me into a successful Super Affiliate, and her model is the one I still use today.

See In-Depth Overview of the Super Affiliate Handbook
^ click here ^

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. I am finally gong back thorough Rosalind's handbook: I've had it since it came out and read tit then, but WOW! Excelelent for newbies and advanced marketers alike.

    • I know what you mean - I originally read SAH almost 6 years ago, and just read the latest version again a few months ago. Love the updates, and it inspired me all over again!!

      • You've mentioned this book enough times and yet I still forget to grab it.

        Will grab a copy (and of course use your aff link) Thx!

        p.s. Really good article the last few days. Cheers!

  2. Thanks for the great informative post Lynn. I want to get into affiliate marketing and this is going to help. Can see that I have lots of reading to do from your post here too! Have to say I did pick up a copy of Super affiliate and it is very helpful as well.
    Thanks as always.

    • Between my Affiliate Marketing archives and the Super Affiliate Handbook... you'll be well on your way with a great start in affiliate marketing! ;)

    • If I may comment. I have been in Affiliate Marketing for years. I love it! The best advice I can give to you is cross reference everything you read, and be well read before jumping into what may sound like a good idea. Another good piece of advice is never give up. It may be frustrating sometime, but, when you make money you make lots of it...

  3. Hello Lynn,
    How long should you wait before you start to add affiliate links in your content on a new site? should you wait for it to get established with lots of informercial content and MANY visitors first or add as you feel fit? guidelines please

    • Great question, Tracy!

      There are differing opinions on this topic. Many say that it's easier to get backlinks to straight content, vs commercial content. You can easily make affiliate recommendations without having tacky banners and ads and still get quality backlinks if the content is great.

      It's when it's an Adsense-based site that you want to hold off on plastering it with ads. It's really hard to get backlinks to a site or blog that has those all over it.

      Personally, since I add in links tastefully, I go ahead and do that while creating content, even on a new site.

  4. Lynn,

    Thank you! While I've known about affiliate marketing for 4 years now - it wasn't until early 2009 that I really started looking at it with open eyes. I love how you explain everything and I just purchased the Super Affiliate Handbook. I'm trying to go back to old posts of mine that are still getting amazing traffic and get the keywords and affiliate links flowing.

    I do have one question for you - is there a way that you organize all of your affiliate cloaking links? I always have to open up my FTP to see what I named things when I'm creating my links and tracking them.

    Thanks

    Alaina aka Fast Becoming Your #1 Fan!

    • Hi Alaina,

      That's the way I do it, too. It's easiest if you put them in a separate directory like .com/recommends/file.html or even just .com/a/file.html - that way you can find them all in one place when you're looking.

  5. I had not even thought about diversifying my affiliate programs. I am currently focusing on Adsense, and found a great Clickbank product that suits my website, but it looks like I will have to do some more research and find other options as well.

    • I've never done that great with Adsense. I have some friends that have, but I've done a lot better with product recommendations as an affiliate. You might test it out and see what performs best on your site and in your market! ;)

      • I believe that all depends on what you really want to do and your ability as well. If you're good in marketing and you have the kick in encouraging people, go for affiliate marketing. If you could work with Adsense, go for it! Nothing will go wrong if you know what you want and what you're doing.

        • I think practically anyone can do affiliate marketing. Especially with all the resources merchants make available. Not every product type requires "pre-selling". Especially physical products. It's more of a learned skill than an ability, and can be a very hands-off model if preferred.

    • Read about Google Analytics. This is a very useful tool in getting to know your traffic. Once you know who your visitors are you will be able to guess what affiliate offers will work best for you. Adsense is good if you have loads of traffic. but the real money comes from affiliate links. You can also use ppc methods such as facebook which will allow you to target age, sex, state, etc. The trick is to know who you are hitting.

  6. question number two is exactly what I needed to know about! Thanks a lot!

  7. Hi Lynn,

    This is what i was looking for and it is right here. Thank you Lynn.
    I am going to bookmark it and read it again also will the Rosalind Gardner Handbook as you have suggested.

    What's next.... Just do it..that's what i going to do.
    Thanks once again Lynn

    • Exactly - study & implement ;)

      You'll love Rosalind's SAH. It's the BEST affiliate marketing guide on the net, and she updates it often. If you buy the ebook version from her site (not the hardback/paperback from Amazon) you can log in and download updates anytime. Hard to beat!

      • Thank you Lynn. I will do as told cause by learning from your blog post and webinar...I came a long way which my close friends are even not near me in online knowledge.

        I will get the ebook version as soon as possible, keep your good work Lynn.

  8. Charles Tillett says:

    I read her first edition a long time ago. A great book!

  9. Lynn, I can never read a single post from you without following all your links within it. Your posts are ALWAYS so informative. I have learned, and continue to learn, a lot from you and really appreciate your newsletters. I am always looking forward to your Clicknewz in my inbox. Thanks a lot and keep up the good work.

  10. Hi Lynn - this was a really useful post, but I wonder if you could help further. I really am a newbie (even some of the terminology makes no sense!!) & am still looking at micro niches. I stumbled upon the 30DC last August and am just a bit concerned about getting so 'knowledgeable' that I end up doing nothing with the knowledge :)The detail in Rosalind's book sounds really good, but would I be duplicating the information. thanks in advance.

    • The 30 Day Challenge is designed to get you kick-started and on a fast track to making your first dollar online. It's a good primer for a lot of reasons - the biggest of which, in my opinion, is that it gets you in the habit of consistently working on a goal for 30 straight days.

      Rosalind's handbook teaches a long-term affiliate business model, with resources and examples (live site examples, even) that will help you create and manage a profitable affiliate site.

      You really want to study, and implement on the spot. You don't want to just learn and learn from a variety of sources, and I'm glad you realize that. You want to learn, and then take action on it right then and there, and continue that cycle.

  11. You always explain things so well and that is what I appreciate about you, making it easy for beginners to understand.

    I have the hard copy of Rosalind's book that I got quite some time ago. It looks like at some point I should order the online version to see her updates.

  12. Hi,
    Thinking about an ecommerce site as a newbie is this a viable way to enter the affiliate marketing or is content driven with affiliate links better for the newbie..I was all set to do a static blog then happened to read about your experiences on an ecommerce site and it seemed more like what I might be after...can you give me any of your personal expreiences with it or any links with GOOD information on this so I can take a look into it pleeassse...thanks lynn

  13. I, very soon going to jump in very competitive niche and I want to implement affiliate system over there. This Q & A session really help me to understand the basic fact behind success on affiliate marketing. Thanks Lynn.

  14. Elizabeth Ashe says:

    I have learned so much From Rosalind Gardner's book and continue to get new tips from it. Great post again Lynn, I have been implementing a lot of your techniques on my niche site and is making money quiet frequently lately.

    Thanks Lynn.

  15. Skipper Holmes says:

    I am just about to close my first sale of Ros' book, but where do I put my affiliate info to receive the money? Do I feel like an idiot? Yes, but I haven't gotten an answer through ClickBank or Ros...

  16. I believe that is very important for beginners, to stick to a single method of promoting a product and to a single product. No sense in trying all the methods and get confused, in time everyone will develop favorite affiliate marketing methods.

    • You're right, in a way that beginners should not be overwhelmed with so many information available anywhere. They need to stick in one method seriously and can try other methods from time to time. To avoid any complications.

  17. I am also the beginner in internet marketing. I enjoyed the post and got some basic ideas about affiliate marketing.

  18. Lynn,
    I found great products for my site on Clickbank, and I can't get accepted into any CJ programs - I get automatically declined when I apply.
    Why do you say you're not a huge fan of Clickbank if you're just starting out?

  19. Affiliate marketing is one of the best way to earn money. With the right materials and guidance from expert (or from a experienced affiliate marketers), you'll surely be at the right path. However, you need to learn and to act on it! Of course, simply reading can't make you money. In the same way if you start taking an action without any knowledge about affiliate marketing.

  20. Paul Germana says:

    It doesn't matter what business your in; if you don't bring traffic to your site you won't make money. I spent over a year not knowing how to bring visitors to my site. But the simple truth is, if you can create a ton of links leading back to your site you'll get traffic. Some may ask, but how do you know anyone will click on those links. Well that's simple too. Post in targeted places, where people are asking the questions that you want to answer and solve with your product or service. I guess you need to know how to do that too huh? LOL! Ok :)

    Go to google "search based keyword tool", click on "Or see top keywords across all categories" and enter a search for the niche you want to analyze. It will automatically show you the most popular "key word phrase" for that keyword. You can either use that key phrase or click the magnifying glass and use the key phrases shown in Google Insights. Use the keyword phrases to create key word phrase questions. Enter those questions into Google Alerts "in parentheses" and wait for results.

    I like to receive the alerts in Google Reader, but you can also receive them in your Gmail box. Go to the blogs or forums listed in the alert and comment, answering the questions being asked about your niche. Then leave your name, email and web address. Instant targeted links leading back to your sites. It's just that simple and more fun than you could ever imagine. Stop killing yourselves and do it the right way.

  21. Thanks Lynn for your advice. I just today bought the ebook and will read it. Sure i want to do something on affiliate and i know i will with this ebook and with your advice

    Thank you Lynn

  22. Paul Germana says:

    The Rising Search for the key phrase, "twitter affiliate marketing" is now at over 500% and has been for well over 2 weeks. There is no person I know who wouldn't benefit from placing a few good Twitter Tools on their home page.

  23. Affiliate marketing is a very compensating if you understand how to do it. My first tip is you should get yourself the leverage you need to stand still and tough in affiliate competition. LEVERAGE must be your focus. Get the programs for solving issue like keywords, search engine listing, submission, attracting unique visitor, optimization of your web site and so on.

  24. Hi Lynn,

    I just bought the SAH Rosalind Gardner ebook and enjoying every moment of my reading and learning. Thank you Lynn for advice

  25. Barry Cross says:

    Hi Lynn

    Superb post

    Affiliate marketing is something my subscribers are always keen to learn more about. I will be pointing them in the direction of this brilliant blog.

    Cheers

    Barry Cross

  26. I bet Ed made you take that pic with the mac! He's such a mac man! Tell him hello for me. Hope you are having a wonderful time. Looking forward to Thursday.

    Leigha

  27. When you do an ecommerce site, do you still use wordpress and if so what plugin is best in your opinion to use...I would like to use Paypal as the gateway and have a personalize option for the product too. I just want to add a few products on to my site to further monetize it and I make a lot more money if I go the dropship route rather than the affiliate route

  28. Nice post. My take on why beginners struggle to make money online. Does reading 20 E-books help you make money? Let me answer that for you no! Yeah E-Books can help newbies but there is a time and a place for them. Turn off the tv, turn off Facebook, and Myspace. Do not check your Emails, or look at naked girls

    Whats gonna make you money is complete silence and concentration. Write down a list of things to do daily for your online business and do them!

    Monday - For example write 2 articles and submit them to Ezinearticles.com.
    Submit 2 articles to Articlesbase.com

    Tue - Participate in my favorite Forums for 3 hours and contribute, and write a specified number of posts!

    Wed - Start my own self hosted WordPress blog and make my first 2 blog posts

    Thursday - Comment on 20 Blogs related to my niche for 2-3 hours

    You get the picture! Remember you need to sell stuff to make money online, not read stuff all day. Keep your eye on the prize!

  29. Dan McLean says:

    Thanks Lynn - great article.
    I have been in affiliate marketting for a couple of years now and have picked up a load of bad habits and have made most of the classic mistakes. Wish I had found this site earlier and had a read of Rosalind's book before I started. However, hopefully with your guidance and the benefit of a few lessons learnt I can get things back on track now.

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