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Are you interested in starting a business that takes little effort and time after you set it up? 

Affiliate marketing may be what you’re looking for. But it won’t start out easy if you don’t have a clear roadmap.

To build your affiliate marketing strategy up on a solid foundation, you need to understand how the affiliate marketing business works, what kind of website to build and how to market it.

Read on to find out how to build an affiliate marketing website the right way. You’ll also learn some best practices to help you succeed in your passive income journey.

Affiliate marketing 101
Understanding affiliate marketing
How to build an affiliate marketing website
Best practices for building an affiliate website
Avoid these common affiliate marketing mistakes
Benefits of building an affiliate marketing website
Final thoughts: Learn how to build an affiliate marketing website
FAQs about affiliate marketing websites

Affiliate marketing 101

As an affiliate marketer, you make content, then direct the traffic to a business or eCommerce website. This helps businesses increase sales, create new leads, increase sign-ups or app downloads and achieve other goals.

In exchange, the business pays you every time you influence someone to click a link, sign up, make a purchase or show other forms of engagement.

A Statista study shows businesses have been spending increasing amounts on their affiliate marketing efforts, growing from $5.4 billion in 2017 to a forecasted $8.2 billion in 2022. Despite the lucrative market, many affiliate programs are free to join.

You can use affiliate and marketing channels to build an additional, consistent, passive income stream. To start a successful affiliate business, you can be anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection, a smartphone or PC and an effective strategy, as you’ll see here later.

Understanding affiliate marketing

On a deeper level, how does affiliate marketing work? To answer that question, let’s explore the participants:

  • First is the merchant. That’s the retailer running the affiliate marketing program. It’s also the business with the product you’d like to market. Merchants aren’t limited to large corporations with massive product catalogs. It could also be a sole proprietor or a friend with a small business.
  • Next is the affiliate marketer. Your job is to promote one or several products on your affiliate site to attract potential customers. To gain an audience, you may own a review blog, a YouTube channel and multiple social media accounts with sizable audiences.
  • The audience is as important as the merchant. These people watch your videos, follow your social media accounts and read your blog. You need them to become interested in what you’re marketing and eventually make purchases.
  • Affiliate networks are the intermediaries between merchants and publishers. They aggregate affiliate products so that you can sell any number of items within the network.

Here’s how everything ties together neatly:

A flowchart showing how affiliate marketing works.

First, the merchant creates an affiliate program and invites marketers to join. The merchant may also introduce the program to an affiliate network with many affiliates ready to work.

The merchant then provides each each affiliate partner with their unique link, which keeps track of user traffic and sales/leads generated by them individually.

Depending on your marketing strategy, you may run your campaigns through a website, blogs, email, social media and paid ads. To help you succeed, the merchant may offer banners, text links, product images, videos and other marketing materials you can leverage.

Once a customer clicks on your unique affiliate link, makes a qualifying purchase or performs a desired action, you earn a commission. Often, it will be a percentage of the sale price, a fixed fee or a hybrid of both.

Depending on your affiliate program agreement, the merchant will periodically process and pay your earnings to your affiliate network or your account.

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How to build an affiliate marketing website

Step 1. Choose your preferred niche.
Step 2. Select an affiliate program that suits your style.
Step 3. Find an ideal web hosting plan and domain name.
Step 4. Customize your website’s theme and set up plugins.
Step 5. Create content specific to your chosen niche.
Step 6. Optimize your website for search engines.
Step 7. Market your content across the web.
Step 8. Set up analytics to monitor and evaluate your success.

Step 1. Choose your affiliate marketing niche

Your first step into the world of affiliate marketing is to choose the ideal niche for your business. There is no perfect niche, but there are good ways to make this decision.

Assess your experience, skills, hobbies and interests to generate some ideas. Now consider which ideas have satisfying answers to the following questions:

  • What does the competition profile look like for your niche?
  • Does your niche have a wide audience/customers/users?
  • Can you find affiliate programs for your chosen niche?
  • What do the pay and commission rates look like?
  • Can you create consistent, engaging content for your chosen niche?

There are no right or wrong answers. You only need a deep interest in your chosen topic. Since you’ll need to generate consistent ideas and content in various formats for your specific niche, pick something you’ll enjoy.

Step 2. Select an affiliate marketing program that suits your style

After identifying your preferred niche, it’s time to find the right affiliate program. Many times, you’ll work directly with the merchant offering the affiliate product or program. But affiliate networks are also an option to discover thousands of brands and products that may fit your niche.

A great example is Amazon Associates.

Other popular options include ClickBankRakuten Advertising and ShareASale.

No matter which affiliate network you join, once approved, you’ll have access to multiple products within their catalog of affiliate programs.

Ordinarily, you only need a website with traffic, social media accounts and a working knowledge of marketing campaigns.

Still can’t find the program you want? You can reach out to businesses that sell your ideal product. Many businesses are willing to onboard marketing partners, and some affiliate programs may only be available on request.

Step 3. Find an ideal web hosting plan and domain name

If you already have an affiliate marketing website, bravo! If you don’t, no problem. You can always create a new one from scratch.

But first, you need to buy a domain name. The domain name is the address users will see while accessing your new website. Here are a few things to keep in mind while choosing your address:

  • Choose a domain name that’s short, simple and easy to remember. Ideally, choose a name that resonates with your niche.
  • Use a .com extension if you can. Try special extensions like .co, .shop and .io only if your audience will remember them.
  • You can use domain name generators for suggestions.
  • Use a reliable domain registrar.
buy a domain

Another key thing to consider is you need a hosting service to keep your website online and running smoothly.

How do you choose a hosting plan?

Pick the provider with the most important features of web hosting:

WordPress is the ideal platform to launch from. It’s easy to use and delivers professional-grade websites. It’s also SEO-friendly and lightweight, which contributes to a fast website.

However, you can also explore other platforms, including Wix or Squarespace.

Step 4. Customize your website’s theme and set up plugins

Once you’ve purchased a domain and a hosting plan, you can set up your new WordPress site. First, use the control panel in your hosting account to connect your website and domain.

WordPress comes with a basic theme. So, how do you change the look of your website? Use a page builder or install a theme.

A WordPress theme template allows you to configure different aspects of your website, including the layout and functionality. That also means you can switch colors, logos and typography.

There are many themes to choose from, but the general rule is to select the option with the layout and features that best serve your niche.

Moreover, you’ll need WordPress plugins to enhance the functionality of your website. Like themes, thousands of free and premium WordPress plugins are available. Ideally, pick plugins that enhance your affiliate marketing business and user experience.

Here are some examples of popular plugins:

Step 5. Create content specific to your chosen niche

Now it’s time to work on content ideas and creation. This task is the most important, as the content draws an audience to whom you’ll market the various affiliate campaigns and products.

Blogging is the ideal way to generate quality content. If you’ve chosen a niche that aligns with your hobbies or interests, you’ll enjoy writing articles and guides for your readers.

Commonly, this includes:

  • How-to articles and tutorials.
  • Use case and best-of articles.
  • Product reviews and comparisons.

You can also run a podcast, stream video content, post on social networks or hire other content creators.

Step 6. Optimize your website for search engines

Exceptional SEO is the key to success in the affiliate marketing industry. SEO enables search engines to find and promote your website based on the keywords used in your content.

If your content meets the target audience’s search intent, Google and other search engines may position you prominently on the rankings page.

The easiest way to improve SEO is to conduct keyword research for your content, then use the keywords naturally as you write the article. Plugins like Yoast SEO can help you with this.

To leverage technical SEO, you may need more understanding of Core Web Vitals.

That includes learning how to fix or optimize:

  • JavaScript and CSS.
  • 404 pages and other website errors.
  • URL structure.
  • Redirects.
  • XML sitemaps.

Step 7. Market your content across the web

There are many ways to promote your content. If you have a following on social media, you can share the link on your profile, in groups and in posts.

You can also use paid ads on GoogleInstagramLinkedInTikTok and other social media platforms to drive traffic to your website. Bluehost shared hosting plans come with ad credits, so you can promote for free.

If you already have an email list, you can share content directly to your subscribers’ mailboxes.

Step 8. Set up analytics to monitor and evaluate your success

analytics screenshot of an affiliate marketing website

The final step is to build a system to track affiliate sales and conversions. Google Analytics and other analytics software help you keep track of traffic volumes, key audience segments, conversion rates and which content is performing best.

With analytics data, you’ll see more opportunities to boost your performance.

Best practices for building an affiliate website

Want to run a successful affiliate marketing site? Here are some tips to help set you apart from competitors:

  • Become an authority by building trust. You can do this by increasing your knowledge and expertise in your chosen niche. You also build trust with your audience by always giving factual, useful and timely information.
  • Engage with your customers on social media and your website. Regularly interacting with your target audience lets you listen and learn from their feedback. They may also lead you to other valuable niches and products.
  • Use attractive CTAs. People are curious and love a good deal, so creative CTAs can attract them to more products on your affiliate website.
  • Be patient and consistent. Just like any other business, affiliate marketing sites take time to build and grow but are very lucrative once they gain momentum.
  • Stay up to date with trends. New trends often come with new ideas for affiliate products. You can ride the wave of a trend and make unforeseen profits.
  • Benchmark your competitors. Keep tabs on affiliate sites with high traffic and success rates. Study them to improve your offerings and increase your returns.

Avoid these common affiliate marketing mistakes

Here are a few crucial examples of affiliate marketing mistakes that must be evaded if you want to be a successful affiliate marketer.

  1. Insufficient product knowledge: Knowledge is not just power, it’s your passport to outstanding affiliate marketing results. Immerse yourself in the nuances of the products and services you promote to become a trusted source for your audience.
  2. Ignoring website performance: Speed and seamless interaction are not just features, they’re requirements. Eradicate any roadblocks like slow loading speeds or clumsy interfaces, and build an enticing, user-friendly platform that will keep visitors coming back for more.
  3. Underestimating the power of SEO: Don’t underestimate the potential of Search Engine Optimization for your affiliate marketing website. It’s not just another tool; it’s a game changer. Integrate this blend of art and science into your strategy to drive website traffic and enhance engagement.
  4. Producing low-quality content: Never compromise on content quality. Poor content doesn’t just dampen your SEO efforts, it erodes user engagement and conversions too. Let a commitment to superior quality be your guiding principle.
  5. Relying on a one affiliate program: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Expand your reach by forging alliances with multiple affiliate programs. This broadened horizon will open new avenues for revenue generation.
  6. Underestimating user trust: Success in affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Uphold your integrity and demonstrate a steadfast commitment to user needs to sustain enduring relationships and long-term success.
  7. Embracing transparency through affiliate disclosure: Be open about your affiliations. Foster trust by displaying transparency and integrity. Reassure your audience that your recommendations stem from genuine enthusiasm and are free from hidden motives or agendas.

Benefits of building an affiliate marketing website

An affiliate marketing website can have multiple advantages:

1: Passive income stream

Affiliate marketing websites can be a great source of passive income, meaning you’re earning money even when you’re not working. Once you create your content and market it, people all over the internet can engage with it at any time — even if you’re sleeping, are on vacation or published the content two years ago.

2: Works anywhere, anytime

Affiliate marketing is a flexible and dynamic business that can run anywhere globally. This makes it a suitable option for those seeking a more flexible lifestyle or looking to escape the constraints of a traditional 9-to-5 job. 

You probably already have a laptop, phone and internet plan, so all you need now is:

  • Software that helps you with content creation, marketing and analytics.
  • A personal schedule with enough time to start, build and maintain your affiliate business.

3: Low startup and ongoing costs

Compared to many other online business models, affiliate marketing has relatively low startup costs. Yes, affiliate marketing is affordable and joining most affiliate networks is often free. In fact, you can join the Bluehost affiliate network today! 

Using a website builder like WordPress plus a shared hosting service like Bluehost, you can run a professional-looking website with little expense.

4: Learning experience

Affiliate marketing can help you learn digital and online marketing skills firsthand and enhance your market value as a content creator. You’ll learn skills like content creation, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and graphic design as you figure out how to build an affiliate marketing website and continue to run the business.

5: Testing ground for entrepreneurship

Starting an affiliate marketing website can serve as a testing ground for your entrepreneurial aspirations. It allows you to dip your toes into online business without the high risks associated with creating your own products or services from scratch. 

You can learn about audience engagement, market demand, and online marketing techniques before venturing into larger entrepreneurial endeavors.

6: Networking Opportunities

As an affiliate marketer, you’ll have the chance to connect with industry professionals, fellow affiliate marketers, and potential partners. 

Engaging with like-minded individuals through forums, conferences, or social media groups can open doors to collaborations, guest posting opportunities, and knowledge sharing. Networking can enhance your industry knowledge and expand your reach.

7: Minimal customer experience

Unlike businesses that sell their own products, as an affiliate marketer, you are not responsible for customer support, order fulfillment, or product development. 

These tasks are handled by the affiliate programs or merchants you promote. This frees up your time to focus on content creation, your marketing efforts, and growing your website.

8: Scalable

If you decide to focus on affiliate marketing full-time, you have options to scale your business fast. As your website gains authority and credibility, you can attract more visitors, expand your affiliate partnerships, and potentially increase your commissions. 

You can join more valuable affiliate programs, or you can train and manage teams of affiliates. As you expand your operations, you’ll increase your returns.

Final thoughts: Learn how to build an affiliate marketing website

Building an affiliate marketing website takes skill and work, but anyone with a few hours in a day can try it. But like any other business, it takes time and consistency to get an involved affiliate marketing website going and gain momentum.

If you carefully follow the steps above, you can grow your affiliate business and turn it into a sustainable source of passive income for years to come.

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If you need an excellent domain name and a WordPress hosting provider, look no further than Bluehost. Our shared hosting plans are affordable and come with excellent perks, like at least 10 GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage, a free SSL, a CDN and one free domain name for a full year.

Take advantage of these features and build an affiliate marketing website today.

FAQs about affiliate marketing websites

How much does it cost to build an affiliate marketing website?

There are very few mandatory costs to start an affiliate marketing website, such as web hosting and a domain. For a year’s service, it can cost between $50 and $200 to build the website. Maintaining it can cost another $20 to $50 per month. With Bluehost shared hosting, your domain is free for the first year — plus, you only pay $2.95 a month with a one-year plan.

What is the best platform to build an affiliate marketing website?

You can build an affiliate website on multiple platforms, including Squarespace and Wix. However, we recommend starting out with WordPress because it’s flexible and powerful. It also has plenty of themes, plugins and features that support affiliate marketing.

Is affiliate marketing hard for beginners?

Affiliate marketing is relatively easy to learn and start. However, it takes a fair amount of time to master. Just like other types of businesses, it takes time to build and grow an affiliate company.

How much money can an affiliate marketer make?

According to Payscale, the average affiliate marketer makes $55,198/year (2023 data), with the lowest tier earning $41,000/year and the highest $75,000/year. These numbers will vary depending on your niche, the programs you’re involved in, the overall search demand, and revenue sharing model, among others.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
Learn more about Bluehost Editorial Guidelines


  1. Vagafu Fagu Reply

    I am interested in affiliating marketing. Can you please help me to set up

    • Kyle Bombardier Reply

      Hey Vagafu! Just in time, our affiliate marketing guide has been freshly updated with all the 2024 essentials. Give it another read for a smooth start. Encounter any hitches? We’re here to help. Cheers to thriving in affiliate marketing this year!

  2. Lots of great advice. WordPress is pretty user friendly and it has great themes. It is relatively easy to navigate even with little experience. Thanks for the info.

  3. Michael Gemaeat Reply

    Hi Minal,
    I am someone that is new to affiliate marketing and want to build an affiliate website with Bluehost.
    Thank you for your easy to understand and very in-detailed article on building a website.
    I think blue host is the best and perfect place for me to start.
    It offers a free domain for one year and I need guidance in building my website with Bluehost.
    Thank you very much.
    Michael Gemaeat

  4. Devin, this is a more elaborate step-by-step requirements for one to kick start a journey to becoming a successful affiliate marketer.

    This is what I actually want to do now given the fact that online business is the new trend. Above all, I want to affeliate marketing as a full time engagement with hope to have a better income stream.

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