The Affiliate Marketing Guide to Making Money Online

Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links and we may get a commission if you buy through our links.  Please read the affiliate disclaimer for more info.

For the month of December, we're going to focus on Affiliate Marketing for beginners and more importantly, how to make your first $1,000 with affiliate marketing. I've now been doing affiliate marketing going on 15+ years and have surpassed $10,000,000 in commissions. Let's break down how to make money with affiliate marketing.

Before we dive in, there are two different sides to Affiliate Marketing. For example, if you're looking to become an affiliate and partner with different companies to earn commissions, then you want to know what it means to join an affiliate program, the best practices for promoting products and services and how much you're going to get paid for doing so.

On the other side of this channel are brands that want to pay YOU to promote their product and service. Next month, we'll create a series about how brands can create affiliate programs to attract super affiliates.

If you're looking to make money with affiliate marketing, then let's get started.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an agreement in which an online retailer pays commissions to an online sales agent known as affiliates. Affiliate marketing is based on performance and commissions are generated through a per sale or per lead arrangement.

Get to Know the Key Players in the Affiliate Marketing Business Model

  • Online Retailers and Brands
  • Online Sales Agents, Partners AKA Affiliates
  • Affiliate Networks
  • Affiliate Management Companies
  • Target Audiences and Customers

The online retailers are looking for online sales agents. They list their products or services in Affiliate Networks. Then, major retailers and brands hire affiliate management companies to recruit affiliates, manage affiliate marketing tools and pay commissions. Affiliates market the products via blog, sales funnels, articles, social media, solo ads or ppc advertising. Online retailers pay affiliates a percentage or a flat fee per sale.

Understanding the Affiliate Marketing Business Model

The affiliate marketing business model hasn't changed much in the past 20 years. But what has changed is focus. Affiliates have narrowed their focus to discuss relevant information regarding their sub-niche and have deleted ANY additional/outside noise that doesn't fit within their space. So write that down or say it out loud. This is important to earning your first commission with affiliate marketing.

How the Affiliate Biz Model Works

The affiliate business model works like this: Once you select a niche, you'll partner with brands to promote their products and services. Then, these brands will provide you with marketing tools including a unique affiliate link. I recommend providing as much value to your niche's audience through channels (Blog, Social Media, TikTok, YouTube, Podcast). Check out our How to Start a Blog series to setup your affiliate marketing blog.

Customers click on your recommendations through your affiliate link. They are redirected to your brand's website. When a customer clicks on your affiliate link, a cookie is stored on their computer. When that same customer purchases a product or service, the network automatically calculates and pays you an affiliate commission.

These commissions are based on rules set by the brand for driving that sale. They could pay you per sale, per lead or even per display.

If you're looking for more hand-handing or on-demand learning where you learn affiliate marketing and implement at the same time, then, get on the waiting list for our upcoming Unstoppable Affiliate Affiliate Marketing Training.

How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

Before you get started with affiliate marketing, think about a topic you really enjoy. Let's say you enjoy cat videos (and who doesn't) or you enjoy knitting sweaters or doing yoga. These are known as sub-niches. This is one of the most important steps because you don't want to pick a topic that you dread because you'll get bored or dread doing the day to day steps before. This will lead to burn out & honestly, no commissions.

For me, I enjoy graphic design, teaching, cooking healthy food, tinkering with WordPress, building membership sites, and crafting really hot ad copy that drives traffic. As a result, teaching affiliate marketing & creating sales funnels around my healthy cooking fitness niche is really enjoyable. That's why I've been active full-time doing this for going on 20 years.

Wouldn't you love to get paid around what you enjoy doing?

The Most Profitable, Most Popular Affiliate Niches to Make Money Online

  1. The Lose Weight Niche
  2. The Health Niche
  3. The Tech and Gadgets Niche
  4. The Dating Niche
  5. How to Manage Your Money Niche
  6. The Animal Niche
  7. How to Invest Money Niche
  8. The Self-Help Niche
  9. How to Make Money Niche
  10. The Beauty Niche

These niches appeal to people's needs, wants, fears and goals. If you can give people what they need, what they want, solve their fear and help them conquer new goals within these niches, then, you can make a full-time income with affiliate marketing.

I’m going to say something that might surprise you. If you can make $1000 in affiliate commissions, then you have the tools and know-how needed to make $100,000. So what do you need to do to make that first $1000? Let's get started…

How to Pick a Product Inside Affiliate Network

If you want to hit the ground running, then you need to promote in-demand products that people are already buying.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Run a search for your keywords that fall within your niche in marketplaces like Amazon.com and ClickBank.com. The bestsellers in your niche will generally appear at the top of the list. Amazon even shows you the sales rank. Meanwhile, ClickBank will show you seller stats, including “gravity,” which shows you how many affiliates have sold the product in the past three months. Gravity is simply the number of affiliates who have earned affiliate commissions for that product or service. The higher the gravity, the more affiliates are earning commission. Beware of the internet marketing niche because the higher gravity could mean affiliates buying through their own link. Gravity is not a true indicator for conversions.
  • Check what the top sites in your niche are selling. Just run a search for your keywords in Google, and see which products are popular across multiple sites. Chances are, these products have affiliate programs.
  • Check your competition. Be very careful with this one because I have fallen into the trap of assuming that products and services are good because of a well-crafted blog article, but you can still check your competition to get ideas on what to promote within your own niche.

What are the Most Popular Affiliate Networks

If you're looking for products within your niche, then these are the most popular affiliate networks.

Share a Sale
Amazon Affiliate Program
Clickbank
Avantlink
eBay Partner Network

My goal in 2020 is to create a stand alone directory for affiliate networks so you can find your products fast within that directory. Some of the challenges affiliate marketers face is finding quality products to promote with converting sales pages in place. Let's tackle that issue in 2020.

How to Determine the Products to Promote

  • Review the sales page to be sure it looks professional. You may even ask the vendor about conversion statistics.

TIP: If the product is really good but the sales page stinks, there may be ways to work around this. I've created my own sales page and then linked directly to the order form. Another work around is to work with the vendor to get a personalized landing page up with better copy. Finally, solid preselling may help you overcome a poor sales page.

  • Purchase the product and carefully examine the ordering process. You want to make sure affiliate cookies (tracking for your unique referral link) stay intact.
  • Check the sales page for leaks, such as links to other products or even other payment methods for which you won’t get credit.
  • Review and use the product to be sure it is a solid product, something which you’ll be proud to promote.

Chances are, as you do all this research you’re going to find multiple products you’d like to promote. Which leads us to the next step…

How to Select Additional Backend Offers

Here’s one of the keys to making those first $1000 in commissions: create a sales funnel of affiliate offers, rather than selling just one affiliate offer. So while you’re finding and reviewing products, pick several products that are highly related to each other.

Here’s what your affiliate marketing sales funnel will look like:

  • Entry by way of a free lead magnet. This could be presented within a blog post or a stand alone lead capture page.
  • A low cost, high value offer to turn browsers into buyers (this is your “tripwire” product that will be from $7 to $20). This works well for a coaching program but remember, if you already have built in the presell with your audience then you don't need a tripwire – they are pre-sold. For example, a few of my clients have a built-in audience through their podcast. When people have listened to most of their episodes, they come in with their credit cards, ready to buy. They don't need a tripwire.
  • Higher ticket core offer (e.g., $497 price tag, $1997, $5997, $20,000). This works very well for group coaching.
  • Assorted other backend products. This could include membership sites, high-end offers, services and more.
  • Assorted bonus products to add value to every affiliate offer you promote. This will boost conversions, build loyalty and improve customer satisfaction.

Affiliate Backend Offer Examples

Example: You’re promoting a blogging plugin. You can offer free installation and customization to anyone who purchases the plugin through your affiliate link.

Funnel Example: what if you offer a sales letter template as a lead magnet. You promote a copywriting overview course as the tripwire low-cost product. You promote an in-depth copywriting course as the main offer. Then, on the backend you sell an assortment of affiliate offers including additional copywriting instruction, sales copy templates, copywriting services, and copywriting apps.


Your goal is to bring prospects into your affiliate marketing sales funnel, build relationships with them, turn them into buyers, and then turn them into repeat buyers. Which brings us to the next step…

Create a Lead-Generation System Around Your Offers

Now you need to put together the following pieces:

  • Create a lead magnet that’s directly related to the tripwire product in your affiliate marketing sales funnel. Then, promote the tripwire at the end of the lead magnet. Your lead magnet may take the form of:
  • Report or ebook.
  • Video.
  • Audio.
  • Gear list.
  • Worksheet.
  • Checklist.
  • Templates.
  • Cheat sheets.
  • Planners / calendars.
  • Mind maps.
  • Webinar (or replay).
  • App.

… Or any other similarly valuable and useful product.

TIP: Create a lead magnet that your prospects will refer to often, like a checklist. That way, they’ll see your links and calls to action often !

  • Create an autoresponder series that’s purpose is to close the sale on the tripwire product. For example, if the tripwire product is a copywriting course, then you might create an autoresponder series that shares five sales tactics and how to use them. Every email would include useful info plus a pitch for the paid offer.

Final step…

Drive Traffic and Build Relationships

At this point you’ve set up an affiliate marketing system where people enter your sales funnel by requesting your lead magnet, you turn them into buyers with a “no brainer” tripwire offer, and then you sell more products (and more expensive products) on the backend.

I've come with five different affiliate blueprints that I'll be teaching this month. Using a tripwire as the front end and charging a price that covers advertising is the ideal way to scale this strategy. I'll go in more details in a separate blog post.

But your next step is to send traffic to your lead page.

Examples of Affiliate Marketing Traffic Techniques

Focus on this strategy until you have traffic coming in regularly.

The four most used traffic strategies by affiliate marketers are:

  1. Pay Per Click (via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bing)
  2. Social Media (via Groups and Fanpages)
  3. Social Media (via Entertainment on TikTok, SnapChat & YouTube)
  4. SEO (getting ranked for people searching for their problems)

Purchase advertising. You can also buy ads or solo emails through niche sites directly, or use platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords to find a targeted audience.

How to Grow Your Affiliate Marketing Business

  • Do something every day to get new traffic to your affiliate marketing lead capture page or affiliate marketing blog.
  • Focus on solving your subscribers’ problems. This builds liking, trust and familiarity, which make it more likely they’ll purchase your affiliate offers.
  • Add new offers to your sales funnel frequently. That way even long-term subscribers will have something new to buy from you.
  • Create multiple mailing lists. Once a prospect has purchased something through your affiliate link, tag them to a customer mailing list so that you can start promoting your other offers.
  • Segment your audience with tags. Get clever with your email marketing. Tag people who click links to let you know they are interested in different topics. That way – you can email specific content & offers to that segment.

Affiliate Disclaimers for Your Website

When the FTC started requiring disclosing relationships, many affiliates thought that sales would drop. The opposite is true. People trust you more & will buy BECAUSE you get the commission.

A disclosure for your website is a statement that informs your readers that you have an affiliate relationship with certain brands and they pay you a commission. Before you start reading any blog post, you will see a full disclosure below the title of every single blog post.

I'll create a more in depth training on how to create privacy policies and terms of conditions. There are many free privacy policy generators, affiliate disclaimer examples and terms of use created by attorneys for you. For this, I recommend using the Website Policies to create your Affiliate Disclaimers and Disclosures.

You can create a more thorough, lengthy affiliate disclosure and put it on its own separate page, but this can’t be the only way your disclosure is made available to your users. It’s not clear and conspicuous enough.

If you receive any form of compensation for affiliate links or relationships on your website or blog, you need to:

  • Disclose the affiliate relationship that lets your users know about this compensation
  • Place this disclosure in a clear, easy to read way on your website.

This will keep you compliant with the FTC, with third-party affiliate programs, and will help earn trust of your users by being transparent and open about any financial gains from your blog.

Affiliate Marketing Summary

Your first $1000 in commissions is easier than you think. To recap, here are the three steps to earning affiliate commissions:

  • Create an affiliate marketing sales funnel with a lead magnet, tripwire, core offer and multiple backend offers.
  • Craft a lead generation system with a lead magnet, lead page and autoresponder.
  • Pick ONE traffic source, master it, and then add another source.

And yes, it really is that simple.

Share and Conquer,

Kit Elliott with Super Affiliate
Kit Elliott
How to Start a Blog PDF Report

Download this Post Free Report: The Affiliate Marketing Guide

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  1. Ready to make money with affiliate marketing? Leave a comment and let me know how we can help!

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