affiliate marketing for beginners

What You Need To Know About Affiliate Marketing Before You Start

If you’re turning to the internet for income, affiliate marketing is one of the best places to start. I see some of the same questions over and over again, so I thought to answer them here. After reading this post you should have a much better idea whether or not affiliate marketing is for you.

What is affiliate marketing?

Promoting someone else’s products or services online and being paid a commission for referring the customer. Affiliate marketing is the simplest way for you to start a side-hustle, earn a little extra money, or completely go into business for yourself online. The startup costs are low. There’s no need to develop and manufacture products. You don’t have to hold inventory, or deal with shipping or returns. Plus, there are thousands of products out there to promote from the comfort of your laptop.

How does affiliate marketing work?

There are several main platforms where merchants make their products and services available for others to promote. I’ll discuss them a little further down in this article. These merchants benefit because they don’t have to hire salespeople and affiliates only earn commissions when sales are made.

People, like you and me sign up and are given unique product URLs that have our affiliate information embedded within. We then place our affiliate links on the internet through social media posts, banner ads, email solo ads, on various free websites and by using a plethora of paid options. When someone clicks our link and makes a purchase, we get paid!

What is an affiliate commission?

An affiliate commission is the amount of money you get paid for referring someone who buys the affiliate product or service. You get paid for referrals. What’s great about affiliate marketing is that we can solve common problems using other people’s products or services. We don’t have to create the product that fills a need. We simply introduce the buyer to the seller.

Is affiliate marketing the best way to make money online?

There is no “best” way. Affiliate marketing is great for some, while others excel with Amazon FBA, or drop-shipping, filling out surveys from home. I’ll discuss some of the advantages affiliate marketing offers throughout this article, but in a nutshell it’s the simplest and least expensive way to go into business for yourself online.

Can a person draw unemployment while doing affiliate marketing?

No! Your affiliate marketing commissions will be considered earned income, unless you can prove that you spend fewer than 5 hours per month working on your affiliate marketing business. And if you post lots of links all over the internet, the powers that be will potentially see those and conclude that you are working.

Does affiliate marketing still work in 2021?

YES! Affiliate marketing has never been more relevant. Covid-19 has changed the world and hundreds of millions of people are turning to the internet to solve their needs. Some are looking online for ways to earn income and others because they need a specific product and would rather have it delivered instead of going to the store. There are affiliate products to help both sets of people.

What influenced the growth of affiliate marketing?

It’s grown into such a large industry because people can start for little to no up front cost. Ongoing costs to run an affiliate marketing business are low. I only spend around $250/month to keep my business up and running, which is substantially lower than any traditional business. Many platforms exist that have thousands of products you can promote as an affiliate. The barriers to entry are low. There’s no need to develop or manufacture products, since you’ll be promoting someone else’s products. There’s no need to house inventory or deal with shipping. You can work from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a laptop and reliable internet connection. There are affiliate marketing communities where you can go for training and support and the list goes on.

What is a better option for the long term, drop-shipping or affiliate marketing?

Both affiliate marketing and drop-shipping can be great businesses, drop-shipping has largely been replaced by Amazon FBA. Some people start out affiliate marketing and then realize they have more desire to sell physical products on Amazon. Find a supplier, slap your new/private label on it, have the supplier send the product directly to Amazon and then Amazon deals with shipping and returns for a fee. The main challenges are identifying medium/high demand products that have low competition, developing a brand, and finding a reliable supplier in a foreign country.

Affiliate marketing is great for those who want a product ready to go, but they have to also build a brand, build an email list, subscribers or followers, and create content that will interest people. Few prospects buy on the first impression, so affiliate marketers need to master the art of follow up marketing, like emails and remarketing ads.

Both have their unique sets of challenges and rewards. The mentors program offers training in both. You can check out their free workshop here.

How can I learn affiliate marketing from home?

There are hundreds, if not thousands of free videos on YouTube that can be a great guide. The challenge is that you’ll have to piece the information together and won’t know what order to do things. The best at-home training I know of is the mentors platform. The program is presented in a clear, step by step fashion so you don’t get lost and acts as a phenomenal springboard into starting your online business venture. Keep reading.

How can you make money with affiliate marketing? How do I become successful at affiliate marketing?

The key is to find your niche, preferably one you personally know and use. If you’re super into yoga, then look for yoga programs to promote. If you’re a coach, look for affiliate coaching programs to market. If you’re a photographer, look for camera equipment or even photographer trainings to market, etc.

I’m an affiliate for a company that teaches affiliate marketing, Amazon ecommerce, and how to create your own info product from what you know that others are willing to pay for. You can learn more by registering for the free workshop here.

I’ve learned the quickest way to make money is by promoting high-ticket affiliate products and products or services that require a subscription. I failed as an Amazon affiliate. I failed as a Clickbank affiliate and I failed as a Share-A-Sale affiliate before learning this lesson: It takes the same amount of time and effort to market a product that pays you $1 in commission as it does to promote a product that pays you $1000 in commission. In other words, don’t waste your time promoting books from Amazon.

Pro tip: Subscription-based services are wonderful affiliate products to promote because we get paid a commission each time the subscription is renewed. Make sure the affiliate platform you decide to use has products that meet the above criteria.

What is the best way to start making money with affiliate marketing in 2021?

I realize this question is a lot like the preceding question, but it’s one I see so I’ll do my best to answer it. I don’t think there’s a “best” way, but I’ve learned that it’s important to promote a proper affiliate funnel.

What the heck does that mean?

It means that prospective buyers are shown a low-dollar product or service to start (top of the funnel), but that more expensive products or services exist that can be cross sold to that same customer (middle and bottom of the funnel). They start by purchasing the inexpensive item, see that it solves their problem, begin to trust, then feel more comfortable to buy a complementary product that’s more expensive.

The affiliate funnel I use starts out with a $100 investment that overdelivers on value, so when the offer is made for the customer to upgrade to more expensive products they are more likely to buy. The products in this funnel can pay commissions up to $8000 per sale, but not many people are going to start out spending thousands of dollars. The trust is earned, starting with only a $100 investment.

Pro tip: It’s far easier to sell something to an existing customer than it is to find a new one, so a proper product funnel is the key.

affiliate marketing for beginners

How much can I make per month from affiliate marketing?

That totally depends on the products you’re promoting, your advertising budget and the amount of time you devote each day to growing your business. You want to be promoting high-ticket products or services, so that return on your time and money invested makes sense. If you can afford to devote a few hundred bucks each month to pay for advertising, that’ll help quite a bit too. Lastly, if you treat your affiliate marketing business like a hobby, you’ll get hobby-like results. If you work on your business every day, you’re much more likely to make money.

It’s totally possible to be making several hundred dollars per month in short order and if you are serious about making affiliate marketing your living, you can make six figures per month. If you aspire to be a 7-figure earner, find a guide and follow in their footsteps.

How do I start an affiliate marketing business?

Get training. I cannot stress that enough. I failed on my own for 3 years and on 3 different affiliate platforms before finally realizing the smart move was to pay for guidance. I’d always had teachers, coaches and instructors, but for some reason thought I could learn something as nuanced as affiliate marketing on my own. I was wrong.

Invest in yourself and get training. Follow the lead of those who have succeeded and have what you want.

Is it easy to earn money as an Amazon affiliate?

No, it’s not. There is no training or support and people generally shop Amazon because they are looking to save money. You’re not going to support your family collecting a .38 cent commission from selling a book.

Is the Amazon affiliate program worth it in 2021?

Yes. The program is a great place to start because it’s easy to grab an affiliate link from a product page to then go post it on Facebook or Instagram. It’s an easy way to get your feet wet.

But remember what I said, “It takes the same amount of time and effort to market a product that pays you $1 in commission as it does to promote a product that pays you $1000 in commission.” It’s essential to find the right products to promote.

How do Amazon affiliate links work? Is it a cookie that stays with the user?

Yes. When someone clicks your affiliate link and lands on a product page a cookie is embedded into their internet browser with your affiliate information. Many cookies last for 30 days, so if that person doesn’t buy the product on their first click but goes back 29 days later and buys, you should get the commission.

However, when people clear cache and cookies from their browsers your affiliate information is removed.

How can I start earning in affiliate marketing without a website?

If you don’t have a website but want to try your hand at affiliate marketing, social media posts are the way to go. You can post about the products or services you’re selling on Facebook or Instagram. Or, film a video product review to post on YouTube and Instagram. Be sure to have your affiliate links below the video in the description. Lots of people who post videos on YouTube have Amazon affiliate links in the video description that point to the camera they used to film, the lighting kit, the products discussed in the video, etc.

The mentors platform that I’m an affiliate for comes with a website and hosting, so using blog posts and SEO to promote your offers are other options to consider. Register for their free workshop here.

How much time do you spend doing affiliate marketing?

You get out what you put in. If you work on your affiliate marketing business for at least an hour every day, you’ll succeed. Treat it like a business, not like a hobby. The good news is that most people build their affiliate businesses as side hustles while working a 9 to 5. If you want to quit your job this year, plan on investing time every day so you can make your dream a reality.

Multimillionaire affiliate marketer, Stuart Ross discusses how most people build their online businesses in their spare time here.

Do I need to have money to make money online?

This is a great question. The short answer is no. You don’t “need” to have money to give it a go. Platforms, like Amazon, Rakuten, Clickbank and Share-A-Sale are free to join. You are able to become an affiliate for free and promote your links on social media for free, but the hard truth is that having money to invest up front will drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to make sales.

The best use of your money is to invest in training. The affiliate marketing platforms I just mentioned are free to join, but there is little to no guidance. If you are willing to invest in your education and follow those who’ve done it, you’ll reduce the amount of time and money wasted in the long run.

In addition to investing in training, paying for traffic/advertising will dramatically help. Paying for clicks gets instant eyeballs on your affiliate offers and accelerates the learning curve. If you can afford a few hundred dollars per month as an advertising budget, you’ll likely get results.

What business can I start with $5000-$10,000?

Affiliate marketing or selling physical products on Amazon are the simplest and least expensive ways to go into business for yourself. The platform I use teaches high-ticket affiliate marketing and how to source, private label and sell physical products on Amazon.

One woman in our community makes $10,000 a month selling sewing machines on Amazon! She was taught how to identify in-demand, but low-competition products. And, she was taught how to find a supplier in China who sends the sewing machines directly to Amazon’s warehouse to pack and ship. You don’t have to take physical possession of any inventory or deal with returns.

As a point of comparison, the franchise fee for starting a McDonald’s is $45,000 and that’s just for the training and right to use their name. Then you have to buy or lease land, build, pay for insurance, buy inventory, hire employees and run a complicated business. The internet gives us another way to go into business for ourselves that’s much cheaper and simpler.

Where can I find affiliate products to sell online?

Amazon, Shopify, CJ, Clickbank, Share a Sale, and Rakuten are the most common platforms. They have thousands of affiliate offers to choose from, but as I mentioned I failed with 3 of those platforms before finding the training and community that works. The next question that’s answered below expands on this.

What are the best affiliate programs in 2021?

Clickfunnels is one worth checking out. The founder, Russel Brunson is very well thought-of, but it’s really best for those who already have a business to market. Clickfunnels teaches business owners and product creators how to properly market what they’re selling, and then gives them the opportunity to get paid for referring others to Clickfunels.

The mentors platform is a better choice for those who don’t currently have a business idea or current product or service to promote. It is the best way to learn affiliate marketing and also Amazon ecommerce.

affiliate marketing for beginners

Which online course helped you succeed in affiliate marketing?

As mentioned previously, I failed as an Amazon affiliate, Clickbank affiliate and Share-A-Sale affiliate. Those programs have no training to speak of and after 3 years with only a few sales I luckily found the mentors platform. The mentors program is designed to teach 3 things; affiliate marketing, how to source and sell physical products on Amazon, and how to create your own info product.

I am a wedding officiant and had an existing business to market, so I applied the platform’s SEO training to promote my website, 1st Officiant. The training was so effective that I couldn’t handle the number of inquiries and had to hire two employees and raise my prices!

I was so pumped at that point that I decided to use the mentors training to create my own info product. Weddings are what I know and half the ceremonies in the Phoenix area are officiated by friends or family members of the bride and groom. You can get ordained online in just a few minutes and be legally certified to officiate weddings in 47 states. But, then what? These newly ordained ministers have no idea how to proceed or what to say during a wedding ceremony, so I solved that problem by making my material and process available for purchase at Matt’s Wedding Ceremonies.

After proving to myself that their training works, I decided to become an affiliate for the mentors platform and help people like you! If you want to know how to earn a living from your laptop, there’s no better option.

A $100 fully refundable investment will get you access to a high-ticket affiliate funnel, your own website with hosting, thousands of hours of recorded training, live webinars and group coaching, proven marketing materials, an amazing community of peers and much more. One-on-one coaching is available too. Start by registering to receive the free workshop.

How do I earn $1000 from affiliate marketing? How do I make $1500 weekly from home?

The mentors product funnel pays $20/month per customer, $1000 per year and then one-time commissions up to $8000 per sale. The system is designed to launch people into their new affiliate marketing careers and truly is the best springboard online. It’s the best affiliate marketing platform for beginners, because it’s step by step.

Can you earn enough money with affiliate marketing to quit your job?

Absolutely, but don’t quit your job right away. My friend, Dan did that and the stress was almost too much to handle. You can check out Dan’s story here. My best suggestion would be to devote at least 90 days to your new affiliate venture before making a big decision, like quitting your job. Having money coming in from the job you dislike will allow you to pay for advertising and reduce your stress level.

What is the best way to promote affiliate products in 2021?

I don’t think there’s a “best” way. Every product niche is different and those who are potential buyers hang out at different places online. If you’re promoting membership plans, social media might be best. Join Facebook groups to share the membership or start your own Facebook group. If you’re promoting photography equipment, a video ad that shows how to use it and the amazing photos it produces might be best. You can run those video ads on YouTube. If you’re promoting a course or webinar Google or Bing pay per click might be the way to go, or maybe LinkedIn.

The best advice I can possibly give would be to promote your affiliate offers on the platforms you use personally. If you were consistently on Facebook before taking up affiliate marketing, promote your offers on Facebook. Their paid service allows you to get your affiliate products in front of exactly the right people. Or, you can form a product page, form a group, join groups, or just post the affiliate products you love on your personal page.

If you’re on YouTube several times per day, then it probably makes sense for you to promote your affiliate offers on YouTube. You can do product demonstrations or reviews and use SEO in the video description to advertise for free and build a following. Or, you can film an ad and run it during other people’s videos. Can you envision waiting to press the skip button and staring at the 5 second countdown clock in the bottom right corner? That annoying ad could be yours! Ha!

What is the best source of consistent traffic for affiliate offers? How do you promote affiliate links?

Consistency is key and that’s one reason I say to promote on the platforms you use personally. The chances of you succeeding as an Instagram advertiser are much higher if you’re on Instagram a bunch in your personal time.

Money is what buys consistent traffic in the form of paid YouTube ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google PPC and Bing pay per click. But, it’s also important to use organic methods too. Blog posts like this one are a great example. The search engines pick up on key words in this article and then shows it to people who are searching online. That brings free traffic to my site.

You can advertise on someone’s website banner, or you can rent space in people’s email lists and they’ll promote your affiliate offer for you. Solo ads are one way to do that. You can learn more about solo ads here.

The key is to know exactly who your target customer is and then find out where they hang out online and promote your affiliate offer there. This topic is covered in depth on the mentors platform.

Which social media platform is the most effective for affiliate marketing?

There is no “most effective” platform because it depends on so many variables. Facebook seems like it might be best, but people go to Facebook to socialize, not to click on ads. LinkedIn might be better for running ads because it’s based on employment. If your affiliate offer can be shown off using video, maybe YouTube is best, or Instagram. Pinterest might work best for crafty or creative affiliate offers, while SnapChat is probably useless. I don’t know.

What I do know is that it’s best to promote your affiliate offers on the social media platforms you like and use personally, instead of trying to learn a whole new platform simply to promote your offers. If you don’t enjoy the platform, you won’t stay consistent with posting. If you enjoy using the platform, you’re much more likely to see results.

What are the downsides of affiliate marketing?

I think unrealistic expectations are one of the biggest downsides. Affiliate marketing is often pitched as the Swiss army knife of self-employment and that can be true, but it’s much tougher than most people think. While some people can find quick success and quit their jobs in short order, most struggle to make their first sale. There are so many factors that you must consider, like niche, products you’re promoting, advertising budget and strategies, website experience, etc. I was under the impression that it would be easy, but spent 3 years making expensive and time consuming mistakes. Then it finally dawned on me to look for training and mentorship.

What do you enjoy most about affiliate marketing?

Controlling your own destiny is perhaps the most rewarding part. Your success is up to you. Stuart Ross has said, if you treat it like a hobby, you’ll get hobby-like results. If you want to succeed, you must treat it like your business. Fortunately, there are thousands of affiliate products you can promote and many of them pay attractive commissions and solve real problems for people. You get to be a problem solver and provide value. You get to own a business that requires very little monthly overhead. You don’t have to create any products. You don’t have to deal with inventory, shipping or returns and can work from anywhere with an internet connection. No more commute. No more dress code. No more boss or coworkers you dislike. Your pay is only limited by your effort and you make your own schedule. These are just a few of the reasons affiliate marketing is better than a 9 to 5 job.

what is email marketing, affiliate marketing for beginners

What is email marketing?

Your affiliate links will generally bring those who click to a landing page that describes your offer. People then decide whether or not to opt in by giving you their email address to learn more. Using your email autoresponder, you then send consistent emails that describe the benefits of whatever you’re promoting.

The key with email marketing is to deliver free value and earn trust over time. Not many people will buy your affiliate product on the first click. They need to be gently nudged toward it by sending them consistent emails that prove your product solves their need, and that you’re trustworthy. The rule of thumb is only to directly ask for a purchase in 2 out of every 10 emails you send out. Otherwise people will stop opening your emails.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the act of creating free content that teaches something or entertains the viewer. You wan to deliver free value, so people become familiar with you and you earn their trust.

Frequently posting on a blog, YouTube channel, LinkedIn profile, Instagram page, Facebook page or Pinterest board are great examples. Instead of paying to run an ad, you create content on a regular basis to gain friends, followers and subscribers. What’s posted on one social media site can generally be posted on other social media sites and also emailed out to your list of subscribers.

Pro tip: Blog, then email your list letting them know that there’s a new blog post to check out. Blog, then tell ’em that you blogged!

What do you do when your blog traffic stops growing?

When your blog traffic stops growing the simplest way to jump start traffic is to update the posts that you have with more useful information. Check out your competition’s blog posts to use as a guide and improve upon what you see in your own posts. The search engine’s algorithm like’s websites that visitors stay on for awhile and also likes websites and blogs that are consistently updated. Those factors help to build website authority.

Remember, Google and Bing are trying to create the best user experience for those who use their platforms to search for answers. So, provide great answers to people’s questions and traffic will find your blog.

An article you might consider checking out is The Best Blog Format To Improve SEO.

What are some websites that I can advertise on for free?

Try websites like, Craigslist, Kijiji, classifiedads, Yelp, Nextdoor, Indeed, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts, Locanto, Oodle, OLX, Hoobly, and Geebo. More exist, but there’s a decent list to get you started.

It’s possible to be a successful affiliate marketer without paying for advertising. There’s a woman in the mentors community who makes well into 6-figures annually and her only strategy is to regularly post YouTube videos that talk about self-improvement.

What are the best tools for affiliate marketing?

Again, you want to have an effective product funnel, like the one the mentors platform provides. Plus, the platform comes with free hosting for one website. It’s really the best VIP membership plan for affiliate marketing. Register for their free workshop to learn more.

You’ll need a keyword research tool, like Google Keyword Planner, which is free. Or, a paid platform, like SEM Rush. Landing pages can be built using WordPress, or whatever website platform you’re using, but they generally load slowly and are limited in functionality. Landing page builders, like Convertri are super helpful too.

Hopefully this article has given you a much better idea of what you need to know about affiliate marketing before you start. If you have a question that I’ve not answered, please feel free to post it below.

Matt Nathanson, your online business mentor

Freedom Through Digital Education

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