For many people, affiliate marketing sounds like the ideal setup. You simply mention a few products here and there, and then suddenly, you’re making lucrative passive money online.
The idea is straightforward enough — you include links to products and services and get a small cut when your visitors click on the link or make a purchase after clicking through. This simple setup is why the industry is projected to reach 8.2 billion by 2022.
Yet an affiliate website is far from a get-rich-quick scheme. Many profitable niches are very saturated, so it takes consistent effort and thoughtful strategy to earn a significant passive income.
With that in mind, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to build an affiliate marketing website that will be successful.
- Choose a niche
- Find an affiliate program best suited to you
- Hosting an affiliate marketing website
- Set up themes and plugins
- Create niche-specific content
- Set up analytics
These are the must-follow steps to build an affiliate marketing website. Let’s take a detailed look at them.
Since affiliate marketing can be so competitive, selecting the right niche is crucial. The right niche should let you mention products easily, avoid too much competition and enable you to cultivate a loyal audience.
First, let’s talk about why a niche is vital for profitability. Not every topic lends itself to mentioning products, and not all products offer a meaningful payout for clicks or affiliate sales.
Brandon Gaille of The Blog Millionaire compiled data on which niches were most profitable for bloggers making over $2,000 a month. He found personal finance to be the most profitable niche.
There are many blogging niches, however. Here are a few more profitable spaces:
- Health, wellness, and fitness
- Technology, gaming
- Pet care
- Fashion and beauty
Second, niching down is also beneficial because it reduces your competition. Within each topic are hundreds of more specific niches. For fitness, there’s yoga, Crossfit and endurance training. For technology, there are phone comparisons, gaming websites and software affiliates.
The narrower your topic, the less likely it is that you’ll be competing with a large number of authoritative websites in the space. That means fewer pages trying to rank for the same keywords and fewer pages writing about the same products as you.
Finally, niching down means you can make a stronger connection with your audience. The average visitor doesn’t take a product recommendation unless they feel the person recommending it to them truly understands all the ins and outs of what they care about.
When your affiliate site is niched down far enough, you can get more specific and helpful in your articles, building trust with your audience.
The more specific you can get, the better — up to a certain point. While home workouts for women are narrow enough, home workouts for women using just a jump rope is too specific.
There isn’t really enough content or an audience for just that, and the scope of the topic limits the kinds of products you can recommend. Be strategic about the topic you build an affiliate marketing website around.
Ultimately the easiest niche for you to create content for comes down to what you know best. If all your research points you towards starting a blog on cryptocurrency, but you’re terrible with money and numbers, you’re better off leaning into what you know.
It’s a good idea to look at the kinds of affiliate products and programs in your planned niche before you start learning how to build an affiliate marketing website.
There are generally two different ways to find affiliates — through one-off affiliate programs and affiliate networks.
When you work with one particular brand, you usually do so through theiraffiliate program. Each affiliate program may have different terms and payouts.
When you’re first starting, you’ll need to seek out brands you want to work with to see if they offer any affiliate programs. For example, if your website is in the travel niche, you may want to become an affiliate for a budget flight website.
In contrast, affiliate networks connect you with various merchants, giving you a wide range of products to choose from.
Amazon Associates is one of the largest that enables you to earn a commission from any product on Amazon. Similarly, ShareASale is another giant with a 55.7% market share that partners with thousands of merchants from different niches.
It’s important to consider affiliate commission rates when selecting your affiliates. Not all affiliates or product categories are the same. For instance, here’s how widely Amazon Affiliate’s commission varies by product.
In addition, it’s important to understand how you’re paid when researching affiliate programs. Here are the three main ways affiliate programs count referrals:
- Per-click: When a user clicks on your link, the merchant pays you a small amount.
- Per-lead: You get a small amount when a user clicks on your link and enters their information on the merchant’s website.
- Per-sale: You get a payout when a user clicks on your link and purchases from an affiliated merchant.
Once you know your niche and who you’ll work with, it’s time to build your affiliate marketing website.
First, get a domain name. That is the address that users will use to navigate to your website. For consistent branding and SEO, it should be something relevant to your chosen niche.
You’ll probably find that the simplest names in the most profitable niches are slightly more expensive or taken altogether, so just make sure you don’t go with something unrelated or hard to remember.
Then you will need to find web hosting. While your domain name is like the call number for a library book, the hosting is like the bookshelf the book sits on. It’s where all the files and data are stored related to your website.
You don’t need to go overboard on your first affiliate marketing website when it comes to appearance. That means you don’t have to know how to code to build an affiliate marketing website that works for you. It’s especially easy if you use a website builder for WordPress.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) with hundreds of attractive and easy-to-use themes that make getting your website up and running simple. If you’re not sure which theme to go with, HubSpot compiled a list of the best themes for affiliate marketing websites.
Once your website is set up, plugins can help add and track your affiliate links. A common type of plugin for affiliate marketers is a link cloaking plugin.
Affiliate links can be long strings of numbers, which may cause users to distrust the link. Link cloaking plugins like Pretty Links allow you to first direct to a page under your URL then the external affiliate.
That means links look more trustworthy and help balance the internal and external links on each page. That, in turn, helps you rank higher in search engines.
With your website set up and ready to go, all that’s left to do is fill it with content.
Here’s where you don’t want to cut any corners. Successful affiliates know high-quality niche-specific content is key to not only getting traffic but conversions as well.
Here are the most common types of content:
- Product reviews and comparisons
- How-to guides and tutorials that feature products and services
- Reader testimonials
- Tools or services roundups
Along with these posts designed to feature a number of affiliate links, you can write on just about any helpful topic within your niche and add a link or two to affiliated products.
To brainstorm quality content ideas for your website, think about what your audience most often searches for online. In other words, do some keyword research.
You don’t need to invest in powerful software just yet. There are plenty of free keyword research tools to help you find topics with good search volume that aren’t too competitive for your new website.
Online forums like Quora also provide valuable insight into the questions and issues people often have in your niche. If you run a personal finance blog and search for a broad topic like “credit” and filter by questions, you’ll find plenty of good topics worth creating a post around.
6. Set Up Analytics
You won’t start raking in cash right after learning how to build your affiliate marketing website. Chances are, some things will resonate with your audience while others won’t.
The important thing is to understand which things work and why, so you can replicate them.
Here are the two most important metrics to measure:
- Clicks: This tells you how often your visitors engage with your links — and which links perform the best. To track clicks, you’ll need to either set up your Google Analytics to track links using specialized code or use a plugin like MonsterInsights.
- Earnings Per Click (EPC): This is your earnings divided by the total number of clicks. It will tell you which affiliate partners your audience tends to buy the most and which link positions are the most successful. From there, you can prioritize the links that yield the most profit.
For beginners, building an affiliate marketing website takes some planning and research to make sure you’re picking the right niche for you.
From there, the most important part of building an affiliate site is creating valuable content and tracking your results. With enough patience and attention to strategy, you’re sure to monetize your blog effectively.
If you’re ready to get started with affiliate marketing, set up your website with an intuitive, easy-to-use tool like Bluehost’s Website Builder today.