It was 11pm on a dreary night in Bangkok.
It was about a week before I’d have to flee the country due to a government crackdown, and I already had to leave my apartment due to gunfire and grenades going off constantly for 48 hours. (Seriously, true story).
My (now) good friends Derek and Clay had an apartment across town that they’d just moved into. Despite only knowing them for a brief period of time they let me come crash for a few days while I figured out my next steps.
While all of this was happening, author
I’d hardly done anything during the previous year to monetize Location Rebel. But when this was released, I figured “why not?” and wrote a review talking about how cool the program was.
I went down the street to grab a coffee and when I came back and refreshed my inbox it was 11:05 – 5 minutes after the sale began.
I refreshed my email as soon as I got back, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.
There were 4 emails, each of them saying “Sean Ogle You’ve Just Referred a Sale! You’ve earned a commission of $126.99.”
In a matter of 5 minutes, I’d made $500.
I’d never made money like this via my website before. But it was that moment that I truly understood the power of building an audience and monetizing it through affiliate links.
In this post I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know to start affiliate marketing on your blog, even if you’ve never made a cent online before, don’t have a huge audience, or even if you haven’t started to build your website.
We’ve obviously got a lot of work to do, so let’s get going!
Table of Contents
How to Start Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: Some Common Questions Answered
This is one of the most in-depth videos I’ve shot on how to start affiliate marketing, so tune in while you read this post:
What is Affiliate Marketing?
This is one of the most common questions we receive, and it’s really quite simple:
Affiliate marketing is a way for you (the affiliate) to earn a commission for recommending products or services to your friends or readers.
To simplify it, here’s the 5 step process for how to start affiliate marketing:
- You find a product you want to promote
- Do a search for “product name” affiliate program. If it’s on Amazon, you can also promote it
- Sign up for their affiliate program
- You get a special link that allows the merchant to track the people who clicked your link
- If they buy the product, you get a commission.
Pretty simple, right?
It can get much more advanced, but in this post, we’re just going to start with the fundamentals and get you to the point where you’re ready to make your first commission.
Does this still not make sense? Check out “What is Affiliate Marketing” for a little more detail.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
There are a lot of different ways to track affiliates these days, but nearly all of them are based on someone clicking your special tracking link.
The most common and basic type of tracking is via a cookie.
When an affiliate link is clicked, a small file called a cookie is stored on the user’s computer. Then they buy a product, the merchant can see that they were referred by you.
There are also more advanced methods based on the email used or IP address – but we won’t get into those here, we’ll stick to the most important stuff you need to know.
How Much Money Can You Make With Affiliate Marketing?
Ok, they’re is probably a part of you saying, “How much money can you actually make affiliate marketing? Is it worth my time to figure out how to do this?”
The nice thing about affiliate marketing is the sky’s kind of the limit.
You can really make as much or as little as you want because there are all sorts of products out there that you can promote.
Here’s an example from my golf site, Breaking Eighty.
Now, I’m not saying this to brag, but just to give you an idea. I promote dozens of products and just this one product. So this is the commission on one product for just slightly less than six months.
That’s a pretty big number.
And so if that’s just one of a lot of different products, you can kind of see where there’s a ton of potential here.
I’ve been doing this for years. This doesn’t happen overnight.
But if you start getting serious about affiliate marketing now and building your brand using this strategy, it can be a great way to build passive income and give you freedom, flexibility, and time to do more of the things you want to do.
That’s why I’m such a fan of affiliate marketing as a business.
How Do You Become an Affiliate Marketer?
Here’s the thing, you can pick just about any product that you can buy online, and there will be an affiliate program that will pay you a finders fee for referring a sale.
However, just because you can promote anything, doesn’t mean you should.
The most important thing to consider when selecting a product to market is,“is it relevant to your audience?”
For instance, for me to try and advertise for dumbbells on Location Rebel probably isn’t the smartest thing, because 99% of my audience could care less about them.
However, for me to promote, say, WP Engine a WordPress hosting company – makes much more sense, since almost every one of my readers either have or have considered starting a website.
Just recently, we promoted Streak as an awesome tool for freelancers to use to monitor leads right from their inbox. Once again, that’s something that speaks directly to the audience.
Here’s How to Start Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog in 8 Steps:
- Step 1: Create a Website or A Blog
- Step 2: Choose an Industry, and then Niche Down
- Step 3: Research Products in Your Niche that You Can Review
- Step 4: Sign Up for the Amazon Affiliate Program
- Step 5: Find affiliate programs for the other products you want to review
- Step 6: Create content in the form of tutorials, review posts, resource pages, or emails and use your affiliate link
- Step 7: Optimize the page and track your rankings in Google
- Step 8: Rinse and Repeat!
I thought about walking you through this whole process within this post, but honestly, it’s all pretty straight forward and a lot of that is stuff you probably already know.
So rather than do that, I want to really focus on the specifics of understanding what makes a good affiliate product, and how to successfully promote it.
Go check this out if you’re looking for a full breakdown of how to build and monetize an affiliate blog or niche site.
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Types of Affiliate Products: Physical vs. Information vs. Services
There are three different types of affiliate products you can promote as a marketer
- Physical Products
- Information Products
Each of these has pros and cons, and we’re going to look at those now.
How to Promote Physical Products as an Affiliate Marketer
Physical products are probably the easiest thing to promote for one reason, and one reason only: Amazon.
Amazon has the world’s largest affiliate program, and once you sign up, you can get a link for any product on the site, earn a (small) commission on it!
As it sits currently, you can earn between 1 and 4.5% on any product you promote through the Amazon affiliate program. What that percentage is depends on the category it falls into. You can see that breakdown here.
Most of the stuff I promote I get a 3% commission on.
One of the nice things about promoting via Amazon is that you get a commission on everything the buyer purchases – not just the specific product link they clicked on.
So let’s say that I’m promoting some golf balls on my golf website.
The balls cost $50, so I’ll only earn $1.50. But, what if that same person also buys a set of golf clubs for $1,000, and a new golf rangefinder for $300?
Then all of a sudden that $1.50 turns into $41.50.
Amazon has a 24 hour cookie. So what that means is that if someone clicks on your link, they then have 24 hours to make a purchase in order for you to get credit.
It also doesn’t have to be for the product they clicked on. If they click on your golf ball link and then buy a new TV? You still get credit!
Lately it seems Amazon is injecting a bit of life back into their affiliate program as they are offering cash bonuses to some marketers for hitting referral goals. The bonuses were larger than I expected, so this has been nice to see after they slashed their commissions a few years ago.
Other Ways to Promote Physical Products
In a lot of ways, Amazon is like the gateway drug to promoting affiliate products because it’s very easy, and hundreds of millions of people use it on a daily basis.
But as you get more experienced, you’ll find there are more lucrative ways to promote physical products.
For instance, the REI affiliate program has a 5% commission and a 15-day cookie. If you have an outdoor-themed website, you have the potential to make nearly twice as much money on the products you promote, and you’re able to give people more time to buy.
Do as many people buy from REI as Amazon? No, but within your niche, you may find REI to be preferred and more trusted by your readers.
Many companies also offer their own affilaite program where they pay even higher commissions.
In the golf world, I work with over 30 companies directly that have affiliate commissions of between 5-20%. With most falling in the 10-15% range.
To give an example I promote golf rangefinders.
With one brand, if I sell a $500 rangefinder on Amazon? I make $15.
But if I sell that same one directly through a company’s affiliate program? I make $50.
Not as many people buy directly from the website, but considering I make over 3 times as much per sale, it’s worth it to promote it there!
In a recent month for this specific brand, I sold 140 rangefinders with commissions of $1,377.15 on Amazon.
I also promoted it directly through their website, where I only sold 53 rangefinders, but made a commission of $1,687.83.
This doesn’t take into account other products people bought at the same time on Amazon – but it gives you an idea of how expanding to other physical product affiliate programs can be beneficial.
How to Sign Up for Amazon’s Partner Program
Signing up for Amazon’s affiliate program is an excellent starting point.
Because the chances are good you already use Amazon, are familiar with it, and your readers are too.
You can sign up and get links immediately from the Amazon Affiliate program right here.
We’ve got you covered as well if you want to learn more about Amazon Affiliate Marketing.
Other Affiliate Networks to Consider
Most larger companies will use what’s called an affiliate network to host their products. These are sites you sign up for that might represent dozens of brands, and it’s how you get your special links and marketing materials.
Other smaller companies might do this in-house, so it’s worth reaching out and doing a little research here.
But the major affiliate networks that I’ve used are:
Many of the largest companies work with them (for instance many of the golf companies I work with), and building a relationship with a larger affiliate network can lead to more opportunities that you might not have found otherwise.
Affiliate Marketing for Information Products
Honestly? I love promoting information products.
What is an information product? It’s a digital product, course, or community that is created by an expert in their field.
For instance, our flagship product Location Rebel Academy is an information product.
There are a lot of reasons that information products are so great to promote:
- Often they are higher priced, which means higher commissions
- They can have a personality behind them, which builds trust and makes them easier to sell
- There are often full marketing funnels behind them aiding in sales
- They solve a problem or provide a solution that your readers are looking for
Generally, it can be a little bit more work to become an affiliate for these products because often the creator is a bit more protective of who they let market the products.
There’s also no central place you can go to join like you could with Amazon. Usually, you’ll need to talk to the author directly or look for an “affiliates” page on their product site.
Another significant benefit of promoting information products is that they usually have higher commissions than physical products.
30-50% is fairly standard when it comes to promoting info products. Why? There are no hard costs associated with it.
And if a product creator can pay a percentage of any sale to an affiliate rather than have to spend significant amounts of money on ads? That’s a win for everyone involved.
When I promote information products I usually look for high-priced products created by people who are good at marketing. Why?
Because all I have to do is send traffic to their funnel, and they convert the sale. My work is relatively minimal.
I mentioned my Bangkok story above, but one of my first really big wins came through marketing an information product for building software businesses. Over 12 months I made over $20k in commissions from a blog post, 2 webinars, and a handful of dedicated emails.
So if you have a course or product that you’ve personally used and seen a lot of success from, check and see if there’s an affiliate program – because if you’re going to recommend it anyway, you might as well get paid for it!
Affiliate Marketing for Service Products
The third type of product you can promote is a service. This is another big one for me, because of the nature of what I write about here.
My business doesn’t function without hosting, a theme, email software etc.
So it can be easy to make a sale on services because if I personally love and use them, there’s a good chance you will too.
If you’re lucky, you can find a service that pays recurring commissions based on monthly payments.
For instance, SEMrush for years paid 40% referral fees each month for the life of the account. So if someone I refer joins for $99/month? I’d be making nearly $40/month for as long as they were a customer.
These days we’ve seen a lot of companies shift to one-time payments. Now, SEMrush pays a flat fee of $200 for each new customer. Still, not too shabby.
Content at Scale, which is the one AI writing tool I actually recommend pays a recurring 15% on every customer referred. Considering their base price of $500, this has the potential to be a pretty serious income stream.
But if you find those recurring commissions, you can build a solid stream of passive income if your promote it properly.
Think about which services you use and if it makes sense to promote them on your site. You can usually expect commissions between 15-30% on service products – sometimes higher or lower depending on what it is. Or if it’s a single payment, you can expect it to be equivalent to 2 months of payments.
My Favorite Affiliate Programs for Online Services
If you have a website related to online marketing, blogging, or business, there are fortunately a lot of really solid affiliate programs out there for different services.
I wanted to share a few of my favorites so that you can get a sense of what an affiliate program entails, and start to get a feel for what might work on your site.
- SEMrush – This is the affiliate program for the SEO research tool SEMrush. I use this religiously on Location Rebel, and their affiliate program gives you all the resources you need and pays $200 for each new referral.
- Bluehost – On top of being my favorite web host for brand new bloggers, Bluehost starts out paying generous affiliate fees of $65 for every new sign-up you refer. Their affiliate managers are fantastic, and I’ve had great results with their service.
- WP Engine – I host all of my high-traffic sites on WP Engine, and have had nothing but positive experiences with them over the years.
- Content at Scale – This is a surprisingly good AI tool for writing long-form, SEO-related content.
Why Choose Affiliate Marketing Over Other Types of Blog Monetization
Most new bloggers assume that advertising or banner ads are the best way to monetize your site.
Up until a couple of years ago, I’d say you couldn’t be more wrong.
Because you needed a ton of traffic in order to make a significant amount of money, and the ads themselves would devalue your site and make it look horrible.
These days, this isn’t exactly true.
If you get to the point where you have 50k views a month, you’re able to qualify for certain ad networks (I like Mediavine) that actually pay pretty well for display ads.
They’re still ugly, but you can make some serious money as your traffic grows. About 3 years ago I decided to put ads on my site for a 3 month trial. I wanted to see if anyone would complain, and what revenue would look like?
In that entire time I haven’t had a single person complain about the ads. And in 2023? I’ll make close to $100k for doing literally nothing extra. Hard to argue with that.
If you’re curious about how to make passive income through display ads, then watch this video:
But this post is about affiliate marketing.
So why would I choose affiliate marketing as a primary revenue stream over display ads?
A lot of reasons, but a few of them are:
- They won’t clutter up your site and ruin the aesthetics
- You can get started even if you don’t have a ton of traffic
- When done the right way, affiliate links can help build trust with your audience, rather than detract from it
- You can get paid for products you already use and love
- Over time you can get free products to review
These are just a handful of the reasons affiliate marketing is such a good way to monetize your site, but they certainly aren’t the only ones.
And keep in mind, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have display ads and affiliate links. Just be sure you’re not trying too hard to make money that you’re losing trust in the process.
Here’s an example of a recent post I did on Breaking Eighty, where I reviewed the best golf launch monitors. I wrote a post, and shot a video. I have affiliate links for all the products.
Not only that, for some of the products I was able to negotiate coupon codes with the companies, that provide a discount for my readers. Best part is? If that coupon code gets used, I make a commission as well, just as I would if they clicked the link.
How to Promote an Affiliate Offer
Ok, now the most important part.
By now you should have a good sense of what affiliate marketing is, have an idea of what products you want to promote and know how to get your affiliate links for them.
But if you don’t know how to properly promote them, it doesn’t really matter now, does it? Nope.
In this section, we’re going to look at some of the easiest and most successful ways to promote an affiliate offer.
Affiliate Marketing with Product Reviews
If you’ve built up a lot of trust with your audience, product reviews are a fantastic way to generate some sales. This works for all three types of products you can promote, and I’ve personally seen success with each.
The key to a successful product review is honesty.
I’d generally only review things you like, but if there are drawbacks or little things that bother you – be upfront about them. Most people know that no product is perfect, so if you set expectations and are open with them, there’s a good chance they’ll buy it anyway.
Make sure you include the following items in any product review:
- Clear headline featuring your desired keyword (“product name review” for instance). Here are some blog post headline ideas if you’re stuck.
- Clear links for where to buy at both the top and bottom of the page
- A clear recommendation
- A personal story about how you use the product or why you recommend it
I’ve done this with a lot of success on Breaking Eighty.
Here’s a review a golf product that makes dozens of sales a month. I say what I like, what I don’t, and then make it clear why I’m ok with those negatives.
And another I did on Bluffworks, an awesome travel pant that I love for trips.
This post goes into way more detail about how to make money affiliate marketing through product reviews.
Affiliate Marketing with Tutorials
Tutorials are one of the most effective strategies for driving affiliate sales, especially for software products. They can take a long time to put together, but it’s also totally worth it.
So what is a tutorial exactly?
Simple, you create a post that shows people how to accomplish something step by step – you then make a product or service one of the key components to success.
I’ve done a couple of these.
With my How to Build a Niche Site post, I talk about all the steps you need to take to get a niche site up and running. So that includes some of the tools I know and love like a hosting service and
I have another post, How to Set Up a Blog, that brings people step-by-step through the process using Bluehost. Readers can go through that post with no website at all and have their site ready to rock in less than 15 minutes using the tutorial.
You can also do it via video. Here’s an affiliate post I did walking you through how to do keyword research using SEMrush.
Affiliate Marketing with Comparison Posts
These can be another effective strategy for making affiliate sales.
It works well when there are either two products that are very similar and people are thinking about one or the other.
A great example would be comparing the PlayStation 5 vs the Xbox Series X.
If people are looking for a new game console, it’s probably going to be one of the two. That said, I don’t recommend you choose these due to the overwhelming amount of information about both – it’d be hard to rank well in the search engines for any terms related to them.
A recent example I did is this post comparing the Mevo Plus to the SkyTrak+.
These are two golf products that consumers are very often trying to choose between.
Here’s an in-depth post that compares and contrasts all of the different options for hosting – and helps the user to select the best option for them.
Affiliate Marketing With a Resource Page
This is something that probably isn’t going to generate a ton of sales for you, but it’s a nice thing to have on your site – since it’s so easy to do:
Create a resource page.
Regardless of what your business is, there are tools, products, and services that you use to run your blog or business. By putting together a page of all of your tools and resources, you’re creating something that’s shareable, as well as useful.
You can also do a variation on this, and do a gift guide.
Our Best Gifts for Writers is a good example of this, and around certain holidays this brings in a nice bit of side income.
Using an Email Series to Start Affiliate Marketing
This is among the most effective (and most advanced) method we’ll talk about for making affiliate sales: your email list.
If you’re getting to the point where you have a sizable list, you can create a series of emails to promote a product. This works best if it’s an information product with relatively high commissions.
For this to work well you should have the following:
- A list of at least 1,000 people
- A product you’ve either used and had success with, or have a very good story/reason for promoting
- A product that converts well (talk to the creator about this)
I’ve found a 3 email series usually works well for this, but don’t start going this direction until you’ve had some experience with either email marketing or the other affiliate strategies we’ve talked about.
A Quick Note About Video Affiliate Marketing in 2024
I’ve been affiliate marketing on blogs for over a decade. It’s by far the most profitable platform out there. But there’s a problem.
With advances in AI, we are going to see a ton of AI-generated competition in 2024.
This is going to make building trust more important than it’s ever been.
What I think is currently the best winning combination is doing video and written content.
Because AI can’t copy you on video. I mean, it probably can. But for all practical purposes, it can’t…yet.
So when you pair videos and written content to cater to both types of audience – you’re doing something very few people can do well.
I think this is the secret sauce for affiliate marketing in 2024 and beyond.
It’s more work and there’s a steeper learning curve, but if you build an affiliate review brand and you take both your written and video content seriously? You’re going to see significant growth and revenue in the months to come.
It’s been about 18 months since I started doing video with Breaking Eighty. Since then, traffic has more than doubled for the brand, revenue has more than doubled, and our email list has quadrupled.
There’s power here, so if I were you and I were serious about making six-figures from affiliate marketing I’d do things in this order:
- Create and setup your website
- Create a YouTube Channel
- Build Your Email List
- Do other social media
Those first 3 are the priorities – other social media you can think about down the line.
I’ll probably do a dedicated post about this sometime soon, as it’s one of the big things that has changed in affiliate marketing over the last few years.
But for now, know that you can make money via any platform, but if you want to really see success, I’d written and video reviews together.
A Few Last Affiliate Marketing Tips
If you follow along with the strategies above, you’ll be making affiliate sales in no time off of your blog.
To improve your chances even more, I’ve got a couple more tips for you.
Use a Link Management Tool (I love
I’ve been using
The major benefit it provides is that it gives me essentially an affiliate link database. So if my link changes? I can update it in one place, and it’ll update it across every single link on the site.
It also does a great job of displaying affiliate links in a way that makes them more prominent and more clickable.
Here’s an example of that:
Develop a Good Relationship with Affiliate Managers
Most major affiliate programs for physical products or services will have an affiliate manager, whose sole job is to help you generate more sales.
You’ll need to prove to them that you have some potential, but do your best to get them on the phone before you start doing any major promotions. They’ll be able to give you a good sense of what works, what doesn’t, and potentially even give you a boost in commissions.
One phone call nearly doubled my commissions for one hosting company in particular.
Don’t Make These Affiliate Marketing Mistakes
There are so many pitfalls when it comes to starting affiliate marketing. Hopefully this post has addressed a lot of them, so you can start affiliate marketing the right way.
But if you’re still concerned, here’s a list of 5 really common affiliate marketing mistakes. I made these mistakes so you don’t have to! So make sure to read through that to ensure you’re not missing something obvious.
Affiliate Marketing Alternatives: 4 Other Online Businesses to Supplement Your Affiliate Marketing Business
- Freelance Writing – The easiest way to start a business online, start building some skills, and building confidence in your ability to successfully do something like affiliate marketing.
- Niche Sites – Once you get the basics of affiliate marketing down, you can really hone in on repeating the process and creating niche sites on all sorts of different topics.
- Blogging – A huge component of every good affiliate marketing site is the blog, take that skill set and translate it into another business.
- Physical Products – Want to make a physical product that ties into your niche and then sell it online? If you want to work at it, there’s a ton of opportunity here.
What I Recommend You Do to Start Affiliate Marketing NOW
Inside Location Rebel Academy we have a course called “Make Money Blogging.” It’s literally the most step-by-step course I know of for creating an affiliate niche website that makes money.
So if you’re looking for community support, help from us, as well as over a dozen other blueprints for building an online business? I think you’ll love the Academy.
If after all of this, you think freelancing may be a better fit? Then snag our free 6-day course that walks you through all the basics of getting started.
This page contains affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and buy one of the products on this page, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you!) This doesn’t affect our opinions or our reviews. Everything we do is to benefit you as the reader, so all of our reviews are as honest and unbiased as possible.
This post teaching beginners how to start affiliate marketing was updated on October 2023 to include the exact strategies and tactics that I’ve been using personally heading into 2024.
Sean OgleSean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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