The idea of making money online during quarantine is undeniable. With most people at home, who can resist the idea of passive income?
But to make that passive income happen while on lockdown, you have got to put in some work first.
Regardless of what you have seen online, it’s not a ‘get-rich’ quick. You put in the work required and over time your efforts will compound and you will get paid. Right now is the perfect time to start an online business. Pretty soon, this will all pass over and the time spent a home could have been invested in starting an online business.
In order to get results in affiliate marketing, there are a number of crucial steps you must take before you earn before you make your first commission.
The first few steps may not pay you not but will pay you in the long run. Keep in mind this is a long-term play and what you are doing now are income producing activities (IPA’s).
On a positive now, if you have that fire in your belly and determined to make this work and are willing to put in the time and effort, you’re already well on your way to having success online.
All the work you put in is to help you make your first affiliate marketing sale. There is nothing like a first sale to motivate you and make you keep at it.
With that being said, what do you need to get started? Below are the steps you need to do in order have success and more importantly build the foundation to have a thriving online business.
This is what I like to call the 7 Steps to earn your first commission. I’ve broken down the process into seven steps for newbies.
Following these steps will set you on the right course and have you earning your first commission in no time.
Choose a niche
Before you even begin building your first site, you’ll need to decide which niche you’re going to go after.
Obviously, if you don’t know what your site is about or who you’re going to target with it, you can’t really build a site around it…can you?
If you’ve already figured this one out, kudos to you. This is the most important step. I would recommend focusing some time on choosing the right niche.
If you don’t quite know what your niche is yet, here’s some advice that you might find useful.
Some key questions to ask yourself when determining your niche are:
What topics am I already passionate about?
It’s much easier to work on something if you’re passionate about it. Plus, when you have a passion, you’re usually quite knowledgeable about it too, so that definitely helps. For example, if you have a passion for makeup, your niche of choice might be makeup related, too.
Is there money in this niche?
While following your passion is definitely the recommended option, sometimes the possibility of making money in a profitable niche trumps passion. So, you might not necessarily know much about your niche, but if it’s likely to make you money, you can always learn more about it, right?
- Health: diet and nutrition, kitchen appliances, cooking, supplements, vitamins, mattresses, CBD, survival + doomsday prep
- Wealth: make money online, personal finance + credit cards, entrepreneurship, business, software, stocks, real estate, investing, e-commerce
- Dating and relationships: online dating, dating tips, pick up guides, build stronger relationships
- Gadgets and technology: camera gear, DSLRs, lenses, photography, videography, computers, smartphones, headphones, drones, gaming accessories
- Fashion: apparel, shoes + sneakers, athletic wear, watches, sunglasses, smartwatches
- Hobbies: travel, travel hacking, airfare, hotels, music, cars, automotive, car detailing, gaming
Virtually any niche can be made profitable and nobody is perfect with their first choice. This is why it’s more important to focus on just learning the fundamentals since it’s easy to make a second, third, or fourth business in a different niche.
Can you see yourself creating 25, 50, or 100 pieces of content about the niche you’re passionate about?
The topic you choose must have enough depth that you can create a lot of content for it. This is important for building authority, and that the end-user has a great experience learning from the value that you give.
Is there enough interest and demand for the products in this niche?
The niche you choose might draw enough interest from your audience when it comes to reading and acquiring knowledge, but are they willing to buy relevant products too? Without consumer interest in products, your niche isn’t going to make you much money.
Are there affiliate programs available in this niche?
This is obviously a crucial factor to consider. You might come up with an idea for a niche you know a lot about, but are there affiliate programs for the niche?
No affiliate program = no sales. Time to look for a different niche.
Research affiliate programs in your niche
Now, it’s time to find out what’s out there in the marketplace to promote. As I mentioned earlier, choosing an affiliate program will take some work. But don’t allow that to discourage you from putting in the time to build out your business. This is where your income will come from. Choosing the right program will make it well worth your while. Think of this as an investment in yourself and will pay dividends down the road.
When choosing an affiliate program, keep these key points in mind:
What type of merchants use the program/ affiliate network?
You want to make sure other similar sellers are also using the network, as this can help you gauge your likelihood of success with the particular program.
Do you want to be associated with the products and services?
The products and services you will be promoting to your audience must be relevant and good quality. Make sure you believe in them and know everything about them because this will be crucial to you ask for the sale. In order for this to work, you will need to build trust with your audience. Making sure the products and services you choose to promote are trustworthy.
Build a site that represents your niche
This is the fun part. 😊
Steps 1 and 2 are all about research and figuring out what’s possible and profitable. Now, it’s time to start putting your research into action
Assuming you don’t already have a website built, this will be the next step. Fortunately, building a site isn’t as complicated or labor-intensive as it was in the past. Nowadays you don’t need to learn how to code or program. Everything is drag and drop with a click of a button.
If you’re a newbie to building sites, the easiest way to set up a site is by using ClickFunnels. It is very easy to use and while coding skills can come in handy, for the most part, you will not require any tech knowledge to set up your site.
You need to follow a few steps to have your site up and running:
Buy a domain name
Your domain is the address for your website (e.g., www.nateleung.com) so this is the first thing you will need to do when setting up your site. Considering there are millions of websites on the internet, it’s possible that the domain name you want may already be taken by someone else. So make sure you have several options in mind. Be sure to read our advice on how to choose a good domain name.
Set up your website with ClickFunnels
If your domain is your address, hosting is like the actual house within which your site will live. It’s your own little slice of the internet — the place where all your website files live. Having a reliable website is very affordable these days, so don’t unnecessarily scrimp on costs. With $3 a day, you can have a solid reputable, reliable website because your affiliate marketing business depends on it.
Position yourself as an expert by creating content
Finally, once your ClickFunnels website is ready, it’s time to create content for it. The content you create must be relevant to your niche but also interesting and engaging enough to keep your audience coming back. You should also ensure the site content is search engine-friendly.
Now that your site is set up and you have an affiliate program in place, you’re ready to begin perhaps the most time-consuming (but potentially rewarding) part of the affiliate business: Producing content. Think of this as digital real estate. You want to build as many assets as you can all over your website.
This is where the overused but truer-than-ever phrase “content is king” comes into play.
Your goal for your site will be to establish it as an authority site in your niche, and the main way to do this is to consistently produce unique, high-quality content. This could consist of:
Your affiliate site model could be based on writing reviews about different products or services. This is a common model and if done well, can prove very useful in generating affiliate income.
Content that address common problems, questions or issues relevant to your target market
When creating content, it’s a good idea to do some keyword research to figure out what it is that your audience is interested in and searching for online. Also, be sure to research competitors, forums and social media to narrow down on topics for your blog.
If you are building a site that has the potential for information that will never age and remain useful for your audience, you have the opportunity to create what is known as evergreen content. It’s important to carry out extensive keyword research before planning any evergreen content for a site like this, as your site could hugely benefit from the proper usage of keywords within such content.
Informational course and products
Giving away a free informational product such as an e-book, an email series or a mini-course is a popular strategy many affiliate marketers use. Usually, your readers will have to provide their email addresses to receive the product from you. You can then use this to sell to them via email marketing. Additionally, an informational product can generate interest in the actual product you’re trying to sell. If your product is popular enough and brings enough traffic to your site, you could also monetize the traffic in other ways, such as Facebook ads.
Find your perfect avatar
Building an audience for your site will, in some ways, follow naturally once you start producing excellent content. An interested audience will not only bring you consistent traffic but also result in consistent sales for you. To narrow down on the audience, you’ll want to take a look at this video on how to create the perfect avatar.
So how do you start driving traffic for a completely new site?
Here are some ideas:
Promote your content via social media
The easiest and most common way to start building an audience for a website is via social media. Depending on your niche and industry, you can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and several other niches and location-specific networks. Building up an engaged and interested following on social media is a great opportunity to build relationships and once you have their trust, promote your products and services to them.
Build an email list
Let no one tell you that email marketing is dead. An email list is crucial for every affiliate marketer. You can start building up your email list with a lead magnet (like the information products mentioned previously) or even just by encouraging your audience to sign up for your updates.
You can then push your content to this audience via email and also direct them to your affiliate offers. Don’t be sleazy about the sales, but if you build up enough trust with your email audience; when the time comes, they will not mind purchasing a product from you.
Use basic SEO techniques to increase search engine traffic to your site
Organic search remains an important source of traffic for any website, so it’s important that you optimize your website for search engines as well. When creating your content, you must always do so keeping the reader in mind first, but don’t forget to follow a few basic SEO principles as well.
Learn SEO yourself or hire a good SEO marketer to help you maximize on-page and off-page SEO opportunities for your site. If your site starts to appear in search results for terms relevant to your niche, it will be a huge boost towards building your audience (and your sales)!
Invest in paid advertising
Many affiliate marketers use paid advertising to generate additional traffic to their site and drive more sales. Paid advertising on social media is often a good place to start, as these networks tend to be more affordable. The platforms that are my favorite are Facebook and Instagram.
Promote Affiliate Offers
Finally, the part we’ve all been waiting for!
This, my friends, is where things really kick into high gear. Many fly-by-night affiliates will jump right to this step and bypass steps 1–5 completely. And this is what will set you apart.
Once you’ve shown that you can offer something of value in your niche, it’s time to continue adding value by promoting products that will be useful and helpful for your audience.
You can promote your offers in a number of ways. It will depend on the type of site you’ve built and also what you’re selling. Some ideas include:
Write honest, real reviews about products. Build up trust with your audience, and remember that they rely on your opinion. Don’t just point out all the positives of a product and gloss over the negatives. Honest opinion will be valued. Add compelling images and make mention of useful features, specifications, and other details.
Your product review can then link to the page (with your affiliate ID attached), where your audience can make a purchase if they’re interested. If do, hooray! You’ve made your first sale.
If you have built up an email list, you could also promote your affiliate offers via email promotions. Just make sure you build up a relationship with your audience first instead of going for the hard sell straightaway. The emails you send out must contain your affiliate links to products so when your audience click through. the sale is attributed to you.
Discounts and giveaways
Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. For example, if you’re an Amazon Associate and the site has a big Holiday Sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience.
When promoting affiliate offers, just make sure you are fully aware of all the terms and conditions attached to your affiliate program. Some programs can be strict about how they allow you to promote their products. For example, some may limit you to banner ads and links only, while others will allow you to use paid advertising, but won’t allow email marketing.
Also, make sure you have a disclaimer on your website that advises your audience that you may have links that promote affiliate offers. This is necessary for several affiliate programs and also a basic courtesy to your website visitors. In the U.S., the FTC mandates disclosure for affiliate marketers (and anyone issuing endorsements), as well.
Rinse, Lather, and Repeat
Now that you’re done with Steps 1 – 6, Step 7 is simply to keep doing what you’re doing. Yes, seriously!
Your ongoing journey as an affiliate marketer will be to repeat steps 4 – 6 on a continual basis. Building a site up to a point where it can make you consistent income takes a bit of work and you must be willing to constantly give value, promote, ask for the sale.
It can feel overwhelming to do all the necessary work involved in setting up your site and building your reputation. But trust me, once you’ve made that first sale, all the hard work will be worth it!
To sum it all up, making your first affiliate commission requires a bit of work but if you break it all down and follow it step by step, it won’t seem so overwhelming at all. Here’s a quick recap of what you need to do:
As you can see, there is a tried-and-true strategy when it comes to affiliate marketing for beginners. Put in the work, and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of your first sale.