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Affiliate Marketing: Complete Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

If you want to pursue a career online, then Affiliate Marketing is one of the best ways to go for it.

I am not saying that without any proof.

According to Business Insider, revenue through affiliate marketing is growing by 10% every year and is forecasted to show no signs of slowing down.

You just have to know the correct and ethical methods to apply to be benefited from it.

And this step-by-step guide will help you do just that.

It has all the necessary things that you need to start and scale your affiliate marketing business.

So let’s start right away.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

“Affiliate marketing is a business model where you recommend a product or service of another person or company by using an affiliate link, and when someone buys it through your link, you earn a commission.”

In simpler words, you pick a product that someone else has made and you recommend it to others. For this, you use an affiliate link that you get after signing up for their affiliate program. 

This affiliate link contains a tracking code.

And once someone buys the product by clicking on your affiliate link, you earn a commission.

For you to earn this commission, the buyer doesn’t have to pay any extra money.

A typical Affiliate Marketing model looks like this.

Graphical representation of how affiliate marketing works

It has mainly three parties involved:

  • Seller: Seller is the one who sells the products and pays the affiliates a fixed amount of commission when they make a sale.

In some cases, the seller is also the creator of the product or the service provider.

Ex: SEMRush.

It is a keyword research tool and the company itself runs its affiliate program.

But sometimes the owners prefer to let other companies manage their affiliate program.

These companies are called Affiliate Networks.

ClickBank and Rakuten are some of the most well-known affiliate networks out there.

These affiliate networks perform tasks like:

  • Advertising the products to be promoted,
  • Managing affiliates,
  • Tracking sales,
  • Product deliver,
  • Paying the affiliates, etc.

They feature different types of products that one can choose from to promote.

Some of the affiliate networks only allow those affiliates that meet certain criteria.

These criteria vary from network to network and generally depend upon the platform that the affiliate is going to use for the promotion, the volume of audience they have, or how genuine they find you.

As a newbie, this may intimidate you.

But don’t worry because most of the affiliate networks will accept you without any formality.

  • Affiliate: Affiliate is a single individual like you or me or an entire company that promotes the products. And when a sale occurs, the seller or the affiliate network pays them a fixed percentage of money from the profit.

An affiliate uses mediums like social media, YouTube, or Google to spread the word about the product or service they want to advertise.

Their motive is to persuade potential customers to buy the product or service that they are promoting.

But as an ethical blogger and affiliate marketer, let me tell you that your primary goal should be on helping your audience. If you can genuinely help them solve their problem, they will not only buy the product you recommend but also they will trust you.

And in today’s times, trust is the real currency in any business.

The best way you can help your audience is by creating content.

This content can be a:

  • Review of the product,
  • How to guide/Tutorial,
  • Top 10 blog post/video,
  • Webinar acknowledging the product and the problem it will solve,
  • Podcast,
  • Comparison between two similar products, etc.

This is a vast and important part of the whole business model, and I have described it in detail in Step 6.

  • Consumer: These are the people who actually buy the product from your affiliate link.

And as I said earlier, your sole motive should be to help them.

So try to identify what kind of issues people in your niche are facing, and then seek the products that will solve them.

And in this process, you will be able to generate affiliate income.

How to start affiliate marketing?

Step 1: Pick a niche

If you are really looking forward to growing your affiliate business, then it will be a good idea to have a definite set of audience.

And you can do that by picking a niche.

So what is a niche?

In simple words, the niche is a very specific topic that you will write or talk about on your blog and other platforms.

Naturally, it could be something you like or passionate about.

But in today’s times when you have good competition in the market, you should be a little smart while choosing a niche.

To find the correct niche for you, read this very detailed guide on finding the perfect blog the niche.

Step 2: Choose the platform/platforms

Now that you have picked a niche, the next step is to select the right platform to reach your audience.

As you must know, Google is the biggest search engine in the world, so having a blog or website will be a great idea.

Besides traffic, having a website also makes you look credible and trustworthy.

Other than Google, social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Reddit can also be used.

And if you want to make videos, then YouTube will be a great choice.

We all know, more and more people are switching to visual content. So don’t miss it.

In my opinion, the combination of a website and a YouTube channel works best for almost every niche.

As a beginner, you can start by creating a website and then expand to YouTube and social media platforms.

Step 3: Identify the problems people facing in your niche

You are here to help your audience, so it will be a good idea to start with what kind of issues your audience is facing.

Once you know their problem, you can find products to resolve it.

Suppose your niche is “nutrition”, and your readers are looking for a good quality weight gain powder to incorporate into their diet. Then you can simply search a query like “best weight gainer” on Google like this.

Here I am sharing some methods that you can use to know about the problems your audience is facing:

  • Ask your readers/viewers

You can mail your subscribers or motivate them to comment their queries on your blog posts, social media, YouTube, or on whatever platform you are using.

This is the most tangible and accurate way to discover their needs.

  • Explore online forums

Forums like Quora and Reddit are the places where people ask their queries and indulge in discussions. So visit these forums and just search your niche and it will start showing relevant questions.

  • Join social media groups in your niche

This is yet another place where people are always asking questions.

Moreover, in these groups, people run different campaigns where they share their products and services. You can build relationships with these people and promote their business as an affiliate.

Step 4: Find products to promote

By now you have decided your niche, platforms that you are going to use for promotion, and you are apprised of the issues that your audience is facing.

The next thing to do is to find products that will help them.

But before getting into the process of finding, you should be well aware of the qualities that make a product suitable for promotion.

Here I am sharing some of the points that you must check before promoting a product.

  • You should be thoroughly familiar with the product.
  • It should do exactly what it says.
  • It should have proper customer support.
  • The company that owns the product should be credible.

Pro Tip: When you will start researching and creating content, you will realize that some of the best products available in the market that can help your audience don’t have an affiliate program.

During these instances don’t pull yourself back. Recommend the product.

Always remember, you are here to help.

These things will make your audience trust you even more and will automatically bring you more business.

Now, let’s dive into the methods that you can use to find the affiliate products to promote.

a) Search on Google

Google a simple query involving your niche and the keyword “affiliate programs”, and it will start showing affiliate programs/products.

Suppose your niche is “nutrition”, then you will search “nutrition + affiliate programs” as shown in the image below.

As you can see, this gave us results showing the best affiliate programs in the nutrition niche.

Now you can go and sign up on these affiliate programs one-by-one.

b) Take inspiration from your competitors

They have the same target audience as you.

So visit their blog, social media platforms, podcast, YouTube channel to know what are the things they are promoting.

Promote those products and create better content to outrank them.

c) Meet entrepreneurs/business owners in your niche

They are the ones who are creating new things, so if possible, then go and directly meet them.

Besides getting their product or service to promote, you can get them to share their wisdom with you.

After all, they are running a business.

This will help you know about how the market in your niche is functioning, what are the new trends, how things are looking in the future, and so much more.

And by using this knowledge, you can create a strategy for your upcoming content.

d) Find on affiliate networks

An affiliate network is the easiest place to find affiliate products.

Simply search products under your niche and you will find several products that you can promote.

Some networks will allow you to browse their product listings even if you are not signed up on their affiliate program, and some will not.

I have discussed more in Step 5.

Step 5: Join affiliate networks

There are several affiliate marketing networks available that you can choose from.

99% of them are absolutely free to join.

Even if they charge you, then it will be minimal fees of around $5-$10.

And as we discussed earlier, most of them will allow you to promote their products instantly, but only a few networks have certain requirements that they need you to meet.

Some of the best affiliate networks are:

Amazon Associates

Amazon is the biggest e-commerce platform in the world and they have literally millions of products on sale globally.

Although their commission rates are very low, the number of sales makes up for it.

You can check their commission rates in the image below.

One of the best features of this program is that you get a commission on all the products that a person buys after clicking on your affiliate link, even if it’s not the product you recommended.

Suppose, you are recommending a pair of sunglasses on your blog and if someone clicks on your link to buy them but ends up buying a vacuum cleaner, then you will get a commission for it.

Obviously, the purchase should be made in the cookie duration of 24 hours and it shouldn’t have already been in that buyer’s cart.

Another good thing about this program is its low payout threshold of just $10.

This affiliate program is suitable for beginners.


ClickBank has a variety of physical and digital products, and many of them can’t be found in other affiliate marketplaces.

This makes it a good choice for the people who have a micro-niche.

It has a generous cookie period of 60 days, however, it varies for a few products.

Commission rates on ClickBank are very high on ClickBank and similar to Amazon Associates Program, it offers a payout threshold of $10.

The main problem with ClickBank is that it has a few low-quality products listed.

So you will have to spend some time to filter out the correct products that you can promote.

But overall, it is a great place to find affiliate products, and its easy signup process makes it favorable for newbies.


ShareASale hosts affiliate programs for some of the biggest brands in both physical and digital industries.

They are one of the oldest, most trustworthy, and reputed sales networks.

Their customer care support is also very good.

You can earn a commission of 10% to 40% on every sale.

The only drawback of this platform is that even after signing up for their affiliate program you will have to take permission from each seller individually to their product.


Avangate is best for those who want to promote digital or software products.

They offer a commission rate of up to 85% and a cookie period of 30 to 180 days.

A very unique feature that the Avangate boasts is coupon creation.

Basically, as an affiliate, you can create coupons for your audience to give them discounts. And this discounted amount will be deducted from your sales commission.

Let’s say you are earning a commission of 25% on a product and you decide to give your audience a discount of 5%. Then you will earn only 20% in commission.

This may look like a bad thing at first. But this extra discount will bring you additional sales and you will end up making more money.

The only issue with Avangate is its minimum payment limit of $100.

Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising is an award-winning affiliate network that has 1.1 billion members and is available in 30 countries worldwide.

They put too much emphasis on their quality, that’s why their approval process is very tight. This can get in your way if you are a beginner or have a bad quality of traffic on your platform.

Unlike other affiliate networks in this list, they don’t have a large number of sellers, but they have some of the biggest ones like Best Buy, Macy’s, Nvidia, etc.

Its user interface feels dated but gets the job done, and is to navigate through.

The primary issue with this platform is the delay in payments. You get paid after 60 days of making a sale.

And the payment threshold is $50.

Step 6: Promote your affiliate products

When it comes to promoting products, there are several platforms and methods you can use.

It all depends on your preferences.

But one thing that you shouldn’t compromise with, is the quality of content that you are creating for the content promotion.

It should be great, precise, transparent, completely true, and also, it should cover both good and bad parts of the product or service.

With these points in mind, let’s move on to the ways you can use to promote your affiliate products.


The website is the best platform for promotion.

Here you can:

  • Write comprehensive guides on the products
  • Curate top 10 products for a task
  • Do a review of the affiliate products
  • Compare similar types of products
  • Host webinars
  • Create sales funnels

While creating these content pieces, make sure you are not treating them as advertisements.

Instead, try to give them complete knowledge to your readers so that they can make an informed decision.

And while doing so, add a few “call to action” buttons to make sure that the reader will have enough choices to go and buy the products.

What is a call to action?

Call to action or CTA is an invitation for the reader to take immediate action of some kind. This can be to buy something or to subscribe to a newsletter.

They are mostly placed in the form of a button.

Let’s have a look at the image below.

Here, the call to action is to  “Start Free Trial”, and this is an affiliate link.

So if someone clicks on it and ends up buying one of BuzzSumo’s plan after their free trial ends, I earn a commission.


If you are more into creating videos, YouTube is the right choice to go with.

It has a monthly user base of over 2 billion and you can absolutely leverage this high to grow as an affiliate.

Unlike your blog, you will be giving a call to actions in your videos, and you will provide links in the description section.

But, here you will also try to convey information in the truest way possible.

And to look credible and professional, you can integrate a small custom introduction at the beginning of your videos.

If you can’t make one for yourself, then you can simply hire someone on a freelancing platform like Fiverr.

Social Media

We all have seen our favorite celebrities and influencers promoting tons of things on their social media profiles.

Well, most of the time those are affiliate products.

So if you have a good following on such platforms, you can do that as well.

But if you are just starting out and don’t have an active user base, then you can go through these guides to grow on various social media platforms.

Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are the best platforms that will work for our purpose.

And if you notice, then you will see that I have shared guides to growing on Instagram and Twitter, but for Facebook, I have shared a guide to scaling groups on it.

I did this because Facebook has killed the organic reach of the profiles. They want you to pay to reach your audience. And to counter this, we can create groups.

Now, my suggestion would be that you read these guides and implement the strategies shown in them.

And once you acquire a decent amount of following, start promoting your products.

But as I said earlier, first, focus on adding value to your follower’s lives. And only then ask them to buy something.

You can post images and videos on these platforms with relevant hashtags.

Just try to be regular and upload at least 2-3 content pieces every day.

Engage in discussions with your followers, and reply to their comments.

Go live every now and then.

And if possible, organize giveaways occasionally.

Email Marketing

An email list is an asset. So start building one for yourself.

It is not a tough process, but surely a strategic one.

To collect emails you can:

  • Create compelling lead magnets
  • Place several opt-in forms in between blog posts and in the sidebar
  • Use pop-ups
  • Put a subscription bar above the header in your blog posts
  • Run giveaways
  • Share a link to opt-in forms on your social media accounts

After acquiring e-mails, make sure to keep your subscribers updated with new content every 4-5 days.

Share useful pieces of information with them.

Mail them whenever you upload a new article on your blog.

You can also run a whole campaign using e-mail marketing.

Basically, you will send them a series of e-mails and channel them to buy something.


Almost every single niche has forums where people ask and answer questions.

Quora is the most popular among them.

There are many big websites that run forums in their niches.

To find a forum for your topic, you can simply search “best forum for {your niche}” on Google.

For example, if your niche is nutrition. You could search “best forums for nutrition”.

Next, you can go and join some of these forums and start answering questions.

Don’t just copy and paste answers from somewhere else. Try to write it in your own words.

Moreover, don’t fill your answers with affiliate links.

Otherwise, chances are the admin or the platform itself will ban you from the forum.

Try to be subtle with your recommendations and place links only where they make sense.

Bookmarking Sites

Bookmarking sites like Reddit, Pinterest,, and Mix are very popular.

After creating your account, you can post on these platforms and provide a link back to your blog posts where you are promoting your affiliate products.

In addition to increased sales, the SEO of your website will also improve.

Content Syndication

Content syndication is a marketing tactic using which you republish your existing content on a third-party website to get additional views.

In other words, you will upload those articles on these platforms that you have already uploaded on your website because they have a much bigger audience base than you.

Platforms like LinkedIn and Medium are best suited for this task.

Again, try to create a good combination of information and product pitch.

Paid Advertising

As a beginner, you can start by promoting your products using the strategies mentioned above.

But once you get the wheel rolling and start earning good commissions, you can then start investing back to run ads.

Advertising will boost traffic to your platforms, and if you plan your strategy correctly, then your conversion rate will also increase.

What is the conversion rate?

The conversion is the percentage of people that visit your website or any other platform and end up performing a particular action that you wanted them to do.

While running ad campaigns, I want you to be more focused on making a sale as you are spending real money. 

And it doesn’t mean that you should start spamming your potential customers.

Rather, focus on targeting the keywords with transaction or commercial investigation search intent.

Step 7: Track your links

Almost all the affiliate networks have their own tracking system.

They let you add a unique tracking ID to your affiliate links and this way you can observe how your links are working and how many sales you are generating.

But, if you want to go a step ahead and analyze every single detail, then use a premium tool like ClickMagic.

You will also be able to perform split testing, using which you can optimize your future content.

Affiliate Marketing Tips

Till here we have discussed almost everything about affiliate marketing. But I have a few important things left in my bag that I want you to know.

These are some simple, yet very effective tips that will help you run your business successfully and safely.

Help first, then earn!

Learn this mantra.

You are here to help. So focus on doing that. And believe me, the money will automatically follow.

Gone are the days when marketers used to stuff links and keywords in their posts and ad copies.

Now people are smarter. They trust only those individuals who are genuine and can solve their problems.

So be ethical, and earn their faith by helping them.

Recommend only those products that you yourself believe in.

Share all the good and bad things about it.

Show them how to use the product.

Always answer their questions.

Go live, or do webinars.

Build a strong relationship with them.

And I promise you will succeed.

Get special deals for your audience

Even if you can get a few percent extra discount for your audience, they will definitely buy through your links.

But how can you do that?

There are simply two ways to do that:

  • Build a relationship with the owner of the product or someone who is in an authoritative position in the company.
  • Generate a good number of sales for the company and chances are they will themselves reach out to you. If they don’t, you can always ask them.

Give out bonuses

You can give a bonus to your buyers as a way to express gratitude.

Ask them to mail you the receipt they get after purchasing something from your link and then send them the bonus.

This bonus can be a:

  • Quick start guide for the product,
  • Another product that complements the bought product,
  • Discount code for another product in your niche,
  • Free access to premium content on your blog,
  • Membership to your private online group,
  • A weekly newsletter, etc.

You can be as creative as you want, as long as you really help your customers.

Create a brand

Brands show credibility.

It makes people trust you.

Here are a few things you should implement to create a brand:

  • Get a logo
  • Select a color scheme and use it across all the platforms
  • Use a particular set of fonts (they can be different for headings and normal text)
  • Write a motto
  • Have a professional web design
  • Use images that are either original or you have the right to use
  • Create epic content (make it better than the best)

Disclose it all

You have nothing to hide.

What you are doing is absolutely ethical.

You are helping people and earning a small commission in return.

So, be honest, and if you have affiliate links in your blog post, then tell your readers about it by adding a disclaimer at the end as I did in this article. Or if you are promoting through videos, then mention it verbally.

People will love you for being honest.


Making money on autopilot is everyone’s dream, and affiliate marketing can make this dream come true.

But are you ready to put in the hard work it requires?

This is the real question.

If your answer is yes.

Then go on and follow the steps I shared with you and share your success story with me.

And if you still have any doubts, feel free to write them in the comments section below.

Thanks and regards!!