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This website is about making money at home and one of the best ways to make money at home is affiliate marketing.

This article will introduce you to the how to’s of affiliate marketing so you can give it a try.

I need to warn you though – it’s not an overnight money-maker!

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when you promote something for someone in return for a payment. The payment might be in dollars or it might be more reciprocal (e.g. getting access to a service or product instead of having to pay for it).

That’s the simpest definition of affiliate marketing but more commonly it’s associated with blogs talking about a product that includes links where the reader can then buy it. When the reader buys the product, the site-owner receives a commission payment.

This article will focus on this method with some tips to get you started.

How affiliate marketing works with blogs

I made it sound really easy just now – you create a blog, write a post about a product with an affiliate link and that’s it.

Unfortunately not. 

The biggest obstacle you’ll face when creating your blog is getting people to start visiting it in the first place. If people aren’t reading your content, they won’t be clicking on your affiliate links. 

This means that you need to write content on your blog that people want to read and you need to write lots of it.

You’ll want to be aiming to write at least two blog posts a week because you want Google (and the other search engines) to notice you and start showing your pages in their search results. 

This process takes time so you need to be patient. Write great content that people want to read and the will visit your blog. 

If you have social media accounts, that will help too – the more people that see the links to your articles, the more likely they are to be read. 

Here’s the process in simple steps:

  1. Create a blog (WordPress is the preferred choice these days)
  2. Choose a theme for your blog that will eventually become your brand
  3. Write content for your blog as often as you can. Don’t worry about signing up for affiliate programs yet.
  4. After about three months or 50 posts, you’ll probably start to see traffic increasing to your blog.
  5. This is a good time to look for affiliate programs that you can promote (more on that in a moment)

Creating a blog

Creating a blog is easy but first you’ll need hosting for your blog. 

Hosting means providing a space on the Internet for your blog to live (think of it like an empty house waiting to be filled with your website). 

Some platforms such as Wealthy Affiliate will include hosting for your blogs as part of the membership but if you’re going it alone, you’ll need to get a website host to provide space for you.

You also need a domain name. A domain name is what people will type to find your blog. Mine’s – you will want to try to get a domain that reflects what your blog is going to be about. Think of it like the address to your house on the Internet. 

One thing to look out for is that a domain name is an additional cost on top of hosting that needs to be paid for annually.

You can usually register your domain name and buy the hosting at the same time.

Bluehost is an excellent host provider that also offer domain registration services. Alternatively, shop around. There are countless hosting providers available. 

I’ll be creating a detailed blog post showing you how to create a wordpress blog on Bluehost soon.

Once your blog is set up, you’ll need ot think about making it look good.

Choosing a theme for your blog

WordPress has become one of the most popular choices for writing blogs because it’s so easy to use.

It’s really easy to choose a theme to make your site look the way you want it to.

Themes can be easily installed by selecting one from a range of (literally) thousands of free themes inside WordPress. 

You can also buy themes. These are often like the free themes but they have more features or they’re specially designed to be faster or be better for SEO (search engine optimization). 

You’ll also want to consider a logo for your website. It’s not essential but it helps to define your future brand. You could create one yourself or alternatively, pay someone on to come up with one.

Writing Content

This is the really important one because this is what Google will be indexing to decide if it wants to show your website in its search results and it’s also what people will be reading when they reach your site.

Both points are equally important.

Google has become very good at recognising quality content as opposed to a page full of spammy links. 

Google wants its search index to link to relevant content that keeps its users happy. I assume this is so that people keep using Google as a search engine and so that they might then click on the sponsored links that appear at the top of any results.

It’s probably even more important that you write content that has value to your readers.

If you create blog posts that people enjoy reading and that help them to solve a problem, they’ll become return visitors and they may even recommend your site to others (either directly or via social media sharing). 

The point is, your website shouldn’t be about your affiliate links, it should be about helping people and the links in there should be part of that help. On this page I’ve included affiliate links to Bluehost but I’ve also made it clear that they’re not the only host out there. I’m more interested in giving you the information you need to get started.

Each of your blog posts should try to solve a problem that your potential readers might have. This page is trying to solve the problem of not knowing where to start with affiliate marketing using a blog. 

The most common problem that you might solve for people is “should I buy product X?”

Reviews are a great way to help people, but only if they’re honest reviews. People will never trust you again if you recommend a product, only for the reader to find out it’s terrible. 

Yes, you might get paid one commission but wouldn’t you rather your readers trust you to give good advice and buy other items that you might review?

I strongly believe that it’s better to be an ethical affiliate than to treat each read as a source of income. You never know how many of your readers will refer you to others if you’ve always been honest and up-front with them.

Finding an affiliate program

Once you’ve got into the swing of things with writing content, you’ll want to find some products to promote. 

First, ask yourself, what is relevant to your blog content?

You wouldn’t want to create a website about cats and then start promoting dog coats. That would just look weird.

Finding the affiliate program is as simple as going to Google and searching for the product and the words, “affiliate program”.

You’ll be amazed at how many affiliate programs there are, covering every conceivable kind of product. 

It’s usually free to sign up to an affiliate program so if they expect you to pay anything, I’d avoid them. One notable exception is AWin. They charge a $5 refundable deposit that they return to you with your first commission payment (but of course, that means you need to make a sale first). 

Things to watch out for

Remember that whatever you promote, you’ll be associated with. So, if you’re promoting a get-rich-quick scheme that suddenly makes the headlines for shady practices, your website reputation will suffer too. 

My rule of thumb is that I’ll only ever promote things I’d be happy talking to someone about at a party. 

I will never promote something that I think has dubious qualities, even if the product looks good in other ways. I wouldn’t do that to a family member or friend so I certainly won’t do it to a stranger. 

If you’re not based in the USA, you will often be surprised to be asked to complete a tax questionnaire. This is normal. If you don’t complete it, the operator of the affiliate program is required to withold a big chunk of your commissions for US tax purposes. All you have to do is complete it and declare that you’re not a US citizen or a business operating in the US. 

Don’t forget that you’ll still need to pay tax on your commissions to your local government, however.

Email lists

There’s a common saying in Digital Marketing circles: “The money’s in the list”

What this means is that if you can get people to sign up to a newsletter, you can directly contact them using emails and provide great content directly to their inbox… along with useful offers too. 

I’ve never done this myself so I can’t really comment too much on it. 

When I do, I’ll no doubt write about it in a future article. 

Do you want a step-by-step introduction?

I highly recommened Wealthy Affiliate if you’re at all interested in learning how to be an affiliate marketer.

You can learn so much about affiliate marketing with just a free starter membership. There’s absolutely no risk – you don’t even need to provide a credit card.

I’ve learned so much as a member there and with the constantly updated training, I doubt I’ll ever stop learning. 

They provide hosting for up to 25 websites, they teach you how to create the blog, choose a theme, optimize it for SEO, how to write great content and there’s an amazing supportive community to help you with every step along the way.

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