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 on a solid foundation, you need to understand how the 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
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 affiliate marketing, 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 marketing 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 you can sell any number of items within the network.
Here’s how everything ties together neatly:
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 affiliate 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.
Benefits of building an affiliate marketing website
An affiliate marketing website can have multiple advantages:
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.
Works anywhere, anytime
Affiliate marketing is a flexible and dynamic business that can run anywhere globally. 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.
Affiliate marketing is affordable, and joining an affiliate network is often free. Using a website builder like WordPress plus a shared hosting service like Bluehost, you can run a professional-looking website with little expense.
Affiliate marketing can help you learn digital marketing 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.
If you decide to focus on affiliate marketing full time, you have options to scale your business fast. 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.
How to build an affiliate marketing website
1. Choose your preferred niche.
2. Select an affiliate program that suits your style.
3. Find an ideal web hosting plan and domain name.
4. Customize your website’s theme and set up plugins.
5. Create content specific to your chosen niche.
6. Optimize your website for search engines.
7. Market your content across the web.
8. Set up analytics to monitor and evaluate your success.
Choose your preferred 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.
Select an affiliate 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 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 ClickBank, Rakuten 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.
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.
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:
- Specialization in WordPress.
- Secure and stable database services.
- Sufficient bandwidth and data storage plans.
- Uptime guarantees and backup options.
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) support.
- Content delivery network (CDN) support.
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.
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:
- Wordfence for firewall and security.
- Yoast SEO to help you rank higher on Google results.
- Mailchimp for email marketing.
- HubSpot CRM for a social media marketing suite.
- Pretty Links for cloaking long, ugly referral links.
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 affiliate 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.
Optimize your website for search engines
Exceptional SEO is the key to success in affiliate marketing. 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:
- 404 pages and other website errors.
- URL structure.
- XML sitemaps.
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 Google, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok 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.
Set up analytics to monitor and evaluate your success
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.
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 affiliate 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.
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
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.
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.
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.