Business Insider found that around 15%of the digital media industry’s revenuecomes from affiliate marketing. But that was in 2016, and the topic of affiliatemarketing has only become more popular. So if you’re a beginner to affiliate marketingand you want to learn how to tap into thisbillion-dollar industry, keep watching becauseI’m going to show you what it is, how it works,and how to get started without the hype. Stay tuned. What’s up hustlers?Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool thathelps you grow your search traffic, researchyour competitors and dominate your niche. We have a lot of ground to cover today andI genuinely want you aspiring affiliate marketersto actually build a site that’s not only profitable,but something you’re proud to create. So warm and fuzzies aside, let’s get to the tutorial. So what is affiliate marketing and how does it work?Affiliate marketing is when you promote otherpeople’s or companies’ products. When someone makes a purchase through youraffiliate link, you’re compensated with a commission. Now, in order for the affiliate company toattribute sales to the right people, the merchantusually uses a unique link that looks something like this. And when a visitor clicks that link from your blog,website, or wherever, a cookie is stored on their device. And an affiliate cookie does two main things. First, it helps the merchant attributethe sale back to the right person. And second, cookies usually hold an expirationdate, meaning people don’t need to immediatelypurchase the product after clicking your link. Let’s run through an example, so everything is crystal clear. Let’s say a visitor comes to your post aboutgardening hoses and clicks on one of youraffiliate links. This takes them to a product page on Amazon. But wait. . . they have to go and pick up theirkids from soccer practice. So they do that, they have dinner, and then goback to Amazon. com in their web browser. They find the product again and then purchaseit along with this PS4 controller. Since they clicked on your affiliate link,a cookie was stored on their device. And because Amazon has a 24-hour cookie duration,you would still get compensated a percentagefor both the garden hose and the PS4 controller,even though you weren’t promoting it. Now, how much money can you make asan affiliate marketer?The simple answer to that is that there is no limit. For example, Pat Flynn used to share his income reportsand made over $100,000 in affiliate commissionsin December 2017. Ryan Robinson also shares his income reports. And in October, 2019, he reported over $19,000in affiliate revenue. Both of these gentlemen have done an exellent jobbuilding their brand and it’s taken a lot ofhard work and time. But the reality?Your checks might look more like this. At least when you’re just starting out. Alright, so let’s quickly go over the things you’llneed to get started with affiliate marketing. First, you’ll need a platform where you canuse affiliate links. So the two places I recommend are througha blog or YouTube channel. Starting a blog is easier and cheaper than ever. There are plenty of tutorials around the web and it’llcost anywhere from a dollar to ten dollars per month. You’re then free to add your links in yourcontent whenever and wherever. The other platform you can use is YouTube, whereyou can create content and to my best knowledge,include affiliate links within the description. From my experience, you’ll get more clicksfrom a blog than a YouTube video. So for that reason, most of the examples goingforward will be for a blog,but the principle still remain the same. Alright, the next thing you need to do is choose a niche. When you’re choosing a niche, remember you’rechoosing a niche, not an industry. And for that reason, I recommend choosinga topic that focuses on a specific category. For example, rather than going after the topicof “food” as a whole, try starting with somethinga bit more specific like “grilling food. “And as you cover this category and build trafficto these pages, you can start expanding outinto other related categories like “desserts”or “vegetarian foods. “Keeping your topics tight can help you build a morefocused audience and rank higher in search engines. Now, if you’re going to be the one creating the content,choose something that you’re interested in. Reason being, I see so many affiliate sites diedue to lack of consistency and on top of that,they spread false and inaccurate information. Even if you’re not an expert in the field,documenting your learnings can make greatcontent and build an audience. Now, if you’re outsourcing the content,then I recommend looking for writersthat are seasoned experts in the niche. This will help you create better-quality work,which can lead to more traffic, engaged visitors,and hopefully more affiliate sales. And I’ll expand on the importance of contentquality in a bit. And the last thing you’ll need are affiliateprograms to join. Now, when it comes to choosing affiliate programs,there are generally two models I’ve seen and used. And both come with their own shares of pros and cons. The first is high-paying low-volume affiliate programs. The obvious pro is that they’ll pay you morefor each sale, ranging anywhere from $50 to$500 to thousands of dollars per referral. The cons that come with these programs isthat there’s generally more competition. Meaning, it’ll be tough for newbies to makea meaningful amount of money since they’llbe competing with more skilled digitalmarketers with deep pockets. The second model is low-paying high-volumeaffiliate programs. The positive things about these programs is thatthere are often lots of products to choose from. Think Amazon. And you’ll often get commissions on the entirevalue of the purchaserather than just the product you recommended. As for cons, unless you’re actually generatinga ton of traffic and affiliate sales, it’ll be toughto generate a decent income. There are tons of affiliate programs you canchoose from. And the programs you join will likely comedown to your niche and level of expertise. If you’re targeting consumers, you’ll likelygo with the second model of low commissionsand higher sales volume. A couple of popular affiliate programs youmight want to check out are Amazon Associatesand Commission Junction. And if you’re going after more of a B2B audienceyou’ll likely go with the first model, high-paying,low-sales volume programs. The most common programs I see here are forsoftware and web hosting related products. Usually, I find that the best way to find affiliateprograms is to just search for them in Google. Now, there’s actually one more category ofaffiliate programs that I didn’t really touch on,but it’s important that you’re aware they exist. And those are the high-volume, high-payingaffiliate programs. These will always be super-competitive andover-saturated with experienced marketers. We’re talking about things like credit cards,loans, and gambling-related offers. I won’t go deeper into this since this isan affiliate marketing tutorial for beginners. Now, I’m sure you know you can’t just postlinks on your blog and expect people to click it. You need to create high-quality content whereyour affiliate links will fit naturally. Information has never been so accessible inthe history of the world. So the way people make buying decisions todayis very different from 20 years ago. For example, I was recently in the market for asmartwatch, but I didn’t know which one to get. So I did what everyone does, search for information. I went to Google and searched for “best smart watches. “The Apple Watch was on every list, so naturally,it was top of mind. And when the Series 5 watch was released,I did another search for “apple series 5 watch review. “And another for “series 5 vs. series 3 watch. “And the content led me to my final purchasing decision. Now, the one commonality you’ll see in qualitycontent is that the information helps userssolve a problem. So rather than going to Amazon and finding thetop 5 best sellers to promote, I highly recommendgoing the extra mile to make your content superb. That might mean to purchase an item and givea hands-on review. Even if you don’t have the money to buy everyproduct, start with what you have in your home. For example, if I had a tech blog, I couldcreate killer reviews on Apple Airpods,Bose QC35 headphones or an Amazon Echo sinceI’ve owned these products for a while now. Bottomline, make your content stand out becauseit’ll help build brand and trust over the long haul. Alright, we’ve got the fundamentals of affiliatemarketing down, let’s get into a basic formulato actually make money from your affiliate site. And the formula looks something like this:Traffic + clicks + conversions = revenue. If any of these are missing, it’ll be impossibleto get any kind of commission. So let’s dissect each part of the formula. First, let’s talk about getting traffic to your affiliate site. And there are a ton of ways to do this butlet’s talk about the three most popular ways. First is to buy ads through platforms likeGoogle, Bing, and Facebook. Paid traffic is awesome because the moment you start paying, you’ll immediately get traffic to your site. But there are two huge downsides to this. #1. Running ads will dig into your profits. In fact, it’s quite normal for advertisers to losemoney before they make it. . . if they ever do. From my experience, this can work well ifyou’re part of a high-paying affiliate program. For lower-commission programs like AmazonAssociates, I wouldn’t bother trying to run ads. And #2. When you stop paying for ads, your traffic comes to a halt. I’m all for using ads to drive relevant traffic,but if you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t recommendtrying it right away. The risk will usually be too high for thereward. The next traffic source is organic social traffic. With most social networks, you need followersto actually get a decent amount of traffic. And even if you do have followers, what you’ll often findis that you’ll get traffic spikes that look like this. But shortly after, the traffic fades to nothing. This is what some refer to as “the spikeof hope” and “the flatline of nope. “Since we’re talking about building sustainableaffiliate sites, I wouldn’t recommend relyingon social as a main source of traffic. And this brings us to the final traffic source – SEO,which stands for search engine optimization. SEO is the practice of optimizing pages torank high in search engines, like Google. Best of all, it has the complete oppositeeffect of paid ads and social traffic. Free, consistent, and passive traffic thatdoesn’t fade over time. On a basic level, SEO comes down to your contentand other websites linking to it. Now, in order to find topics worth writing about foran affiliate site, you’ll need a keyword research tool. The one that I’m using here is Ahrefs’Keywords Explorer. So assuming my niche site was gardening, I’llstart off by adding a couple of broad keywordsrelated to my niche, like “gardening,” “garden,”“plants,” and “flowers. “Next, I’ll go to the Phrase match report,which gives us around 7 million keyword ideasthat contain any of these words. Now again, with affiliate content you wantto look for topics where you can organicallyinsert different product recommendations. For example, “what do garden snakes eat” mightbe a good topic to cover to get traffic,but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to include anyproduct recommendations. So we need to filter these results down usingkeyword modifiers. A modifier is an add-on to a base keyword. So a few common ones that work well for affiliatesites might be “best,” “top,” “vs,” or “review. “So I’m back in the Keyword ideas report andI’ll click on the Include search box. Next, I’ll click on the Any word tab, then adda few so-called “affiliate modifiers” here. And now we have a lot of great topics to cover like “best indoor plants,” “best garden hose,” “best house plants,””metal garden hose reviews,” and more. And based on Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty score,most of these should be pretty easy to rank for. Now, I won’t go any further into keyword researchbecause we have a bunch of tutorialsthat go a lot deeper into this process. So I’ll link those up in the description. Now, assuming you’ve created some epic content,the second part of SEO, is to get other websitesto link to your page. The main way SEOs do this is through somethingcalled link building. This usually requires reaching out to otherbloggers and website owners and asking themto link to your page for a good reason. Going further on this topic would only extendthis video for an unreasonable amount of time,so I’ll link up our playlist on link buildingas well as my recommendationsfor building links to a new website. You’ll definitely want to check those out. Let’s move onto the second part of the formula,which is to drive clicks to your affiliate links. There are a few things to consider. First is link placement, meaning the positionof links on your page. If they’re all buried at the bottom of the pagewhere only 10% of your visitors might go,then they probably won’t get clicked. Go the other extreme and make every otherword a link in your introduction, and yourcontents can look spammy. So you’ll want to balance link placement withthe next consideration, which is context. You want to link to product pages contextually. For example, let’s say you were writing an articlecalled “The Best Chef Knives for Under $50. “You probably wouldn’t want to add links inyour introduction where you say:”Today, I’m reviewing the best chef knives. “where you have 3 links to different products. There’s no context and it just looks spammy. Instead, you might say, “Today, I’m reviewing threedifferent chef knives you can buy on Amazonfor under $50. These are: product name 1, product name 2,and product name 3. Lastly, are using callouts like buttons, tables,and boxes. As you can see here on the WireCutter, anytimethey share one of their picks,they use eye-catchy boxes, with buttons inside. PC Mag uses a comparison table like this,with buttons inside. These kinds of callouts attract your readers’attention and make the post more skimmable. The last ingredient in our formula is conversion. With affiliate marketing, two conversions needto take place in order for you to make money. The first is the click. You’re in control and responsible for this action. And the second conversion is the visitor actuallypurchasing a product on the affiliate partner’s site. In this case, the merchant controls the checkoutand should be committed to high conversion rates. We’ve already gone through a few tips to increaseclicks, so it comes down to finding affiliate programsthat convert decently well. The first way to know whether an affiliate programconverts is to look for public income reports. If people are making good money from an affiliateprogram, then chances are, the products convertsor there’s at least enough sales volume tomake a decent income. For example, if I search for “income reportamazon affiliate” in Google, you’ll see this postcalled, “How I made $22,000 from my blog. “And on that page you’ll see that she brokedown where her income came from. And it looks like around $7,300 came fromAmazon affiliate commissions in one month. Another way is to simply join the affiliateprogram, get accepted and ask the affiliatemanager some questions. You might ask what their average conversionrates are and/or a ballpark range of top earnersmonthly commissions. Normally, I’ll do this for smaller affiliateprograms when I already have existing trafficI can use as leverage in my email. And I haven’t had anyone avoid the question. Finally, use some common sense. If the program or product you’re promoting feels“off” and you would never recommend that productto an interested friend or family member, run. It’s clear that a lot of affiliate sites lack authenticity. And in my opinion, referring people to productsthat they’ll actually love is a lot more valuablefrom a personal and brand perspective. The final piece of advice that I have is toactually go and experiment. Don’t expect perfection or a life-changingincome that happens overnight. It doesn’t happen that way, otherwise, we’dall be billionaires. Focus on making that first affiliate sale. And as your site grows, set new reachablegoals rather than settling for a one-off hustle. Now, I have a question for you. Would it be helpful if I built an affiliatesite from scratch and documented everythingfor you on our YouTube channel?Let me know in the comments and use the hashtag“affiliate marketing. “And if you enjoyed this video make sure tolike, share and subscribe for more actionablemarketing tutorials. So keep grinding away, get that affiliatesite up and running,and I’ll see you in the next tutorial.