If you’re looking for a way to make money online but lost for ideas, you could give affiliate marketing a go. This article will explain what it is, why it’s a great way to make some extra money and how to create a website. If you don’t have any knowledge, experience or skills in developing websites or blogs, we’ll help you by taking you through the process of creating one that, if done right, will generate some income for you.
So what is affiliate marketing?
To put it simply, affiliate marketing is where a company pays you commission for promoting their products or services. There are various ways to earn a commission but in most cases, they are generated by placing a special link on your website that directs your visitors to the product page on the company’s site and results in a purchase. The special link is tracked by the advertiser so they know exactly what has been sold, when it was been sold, and by who and will know how much to pay that affiliate (the person who referred the sale).
The most common method of generating affiliate revenue is by reviewing or comparing products and services and recommending the best or cheapest ones to your visitors. The Internet is littered with so much information that if you can make it easier for them to make a purchasing decision by providing all they information they require then they are more likely to buy something via your site.
An example of this is a website that tests, reviews and compares cameras that are available on the market. They will write about camera functions and features and post photos taken by each one and from their tests, they can then recommend different cameras based on various criteria, such as price, quality or ease of use. From this information, consumer can then decide which one will best suit them and use the website’s affiliate link to make the purchase.
Another method is one that is commonly used by bloggers and that is to promote a product they have used themselves or would recommend to their readers. Bloggers usually write about their own lives and topics they are passionate about or have knowledge of so any product or service they write about is worthy of reading This is probably the most effective form of promotion as their review is likely to be unbiased. Ghulp.com is an example of one of these sites, promoting stuff to our visitors that we have either used ourselves or would recommend and will on occasion use affiliate links to help pay for web hosting and keep this site running.
Why create an affiliate marketing website?
There are many reasons why people get into affiliate marketing; below are some that may entice you to do the same.
Promote pretty much anything you want
There are so many products and services that you can promote and earn commission on that you could create a site or blog on almost any niche you want to make money, as long as that company pays for referred sales.
One company that pays commission on sales that most people will have heard of is Amazon. They sell thousands of products and you can make money promoting any of them to your site’s visitors. They also provide all affiliate links so it’s just a case of adding them to your site within your content so they can track any sales you help them make and make sure you get paid the right amount.
Make money while you’re sleeping
One great thing about creating an affiliate site is that once you have created your content and uploaded it to your web hosting, it’ll be available online for anyone to read at any time of the day until you decide to remove it. This means that your website could potentially make money from promoting products to people all over the world while you’re busy writing another article for your site, away on holiday soaking up the sun or even while you’re sleeping.
This method of income generation is known as ‘passive income’ and has become one reason why affiliate marketing has become so popular with people who want to make money online.
Work on the site whenever it suits you
Having an affiliate site means you can work on it whenever you feel like it. Even if you’re a student or someone who already works part-time, you can create content for it in your spare time and generate a stream of income.
Maybe you’re not a morning person and feel more productive in the afternoon; you can start working on it after you’ve had your lunch instead of starting at 9am. Or if you’re busy during the day with family commitments or other activities, you can write some articles in the evening when you get back home in a more relaxed environment.
Having an affiliate marketing site offers flexibility and you can develop it whenever you have the time or can be bothered.
Work wherever you want to
A laptop can provide pretty much everything you need to create a website or blog, meaning you can work anywhere you want. If you need absolute silence in order to work but your house mates or kids are making a racket, you can take you laptop to the library or your local park where you can work in peace.
Does travelling to university or your part-time by bus or train job take up a good part of your morning? Spend that time productively by writing some content for your site instead of staring blankly at the back of someone’s head or daydreaming about ways to make money.
Low start-up costs
The cost of setting one up is relatively inexpensive compared to starting up a proper business. As you are not selling a product or service yourself, you don’t need to invest in the raw materials or stock that would otherwise be required. All you need to invest in for a basic affiliate marketing website is a domain name and hosting and you’re off and running.
If you can’t afford to buy these then you could start a free blog using the services offered by the likes of WordPress or Google’s Blogger. However, if your blog becomes successful and makes money, you won’t be able to sell it like you would if you had purchased and developed your own domain. But if you have no intention of selling it then using these free services is one option for you.
Little technical knowledge or expertise required
If you want to start your own affiliate site, you have the option of either creating it yourself using web design software or by using a content management system (CMS), which is ideal for people who have no knowledge or experience of developing their own websites.
Ghulp.com uses a CMS known as WordPress, popular with online affiliate marketers and bloggers because it is really easy to use and there are so many plug-ins available to make your site do what you want it to do. It is uploaded to your web hosting and opened up using a browser, so you can add content to your site wherever you are in the world, as long as you have an Internet connection.
To explain how easy it is to use WordPress, we’ll show you the process of adding a simple text-only article to your site:
- Visit the WordPress login page and type in your username and password;
- Click on ‘New Post’;
- Type in your post title;
- Type in your content in the main text box;
- Select which category the article should be filed under;
- Add tags (words and phrases related to your article); this is optional;
- Click on ‘Publish’.
That’s it! It’s really simple. You don’t have to worry about page design or other technical stuff as WordPress does all the hard work for you. Adding media, such as pictures and videos, is just a case of a few mouse clicks and they are added to your posts. Although it is designed for blogs, they can be used just as effectively for creating websites. Give it a go if you have no idea how to design websites or just want to simplify the design process.
I’m ready to create my own affiliate marketing website, where do I start?
Listed below are the steps to creating your website that will hopefully make you some money.
Choose a topic to write about
This is the first, and most important, step in the process of creating your site. An affiliate marketing site is a project that should be undertaken in the long-term so it’s important to choose a topic that you’re either passionate about, have an interest in or have in-depth knowledge of so you can create content that your readers will find useful or engaging; writing about a topic that doesn’t interest you or you know nothing about is a sure-fire way of failing and will prevent you from making any money.
If you are struggling for ideas on what topic to base your site around, why not think about what your hobbies are. As an example, if one of your hobbies is golf, then you can offer tips on golf swings or putting, choosing the right set of golf clubs, or providing news about the latest golf tournaments. Your passion for the subject will be evident in your content which your visitors will see and read with interest and see your site as a source of useful information. You will then be able to effectively promote products that will help them improve their game.
Pick a suitable domain name
A domain name is the Internet address that people will use to find your website. Choose one that has some connection to the topic you want to base your affiliate website on.
So, sticking with the golf example, you can either pick a generic name as your domain name, such as ‘golf’, ‘golf guide’, ‘golf tips’ or something similar so visitors know exactly what the website is about, or you could be creative and pick a brandable domain, like ‘Birdie’, ‘Hole-in-One’, or ‘Perfect Golfer’.
The next thing you’ll need to think about is the domain extension. This is the last part of the web address, such as .com, .net, .org and .co.uk. If you want to create a site for a global audience, we recommend going for a .com as it’s the extension that people all over the world are most familiar with and will tend to type in if they want to visit a site directly.
However, if your site is just targeting people in your country then you could opt for a ccTLD (country code top-level domain); for example, you could choose the .co.uk extension if you want to attract UK visitors to your site.
Once you have chosen a domain name, you will need to check if it’s available for you to register and buy. You can do this with a domain name registrar, such as GoDaddy, 123-reg or Siteground. They enable you to search for domain names and will let you know whether or not they are available to register.
If a name is not available, you can either choose one with a different extension or search for a different domain name until you find one that is. It is unlikely you’ll find a domain name consisting of generic words and key phrases as they will have been taken a long time ago so you’ll need to find the next best alternative.
The price of a domain name is determined by the extension: if you choose a TLD (top level domain) such as a .com, .net or .org then it will cost about £9 every year; if you opt for a .co.uk then it will set you back about £4 yearly. For other extensions, check the registrar’s site for up-to-date prices.
Buy a suitable web hosting package
When you have registered and bought a domain name that you’re happy with, you need to buy web hosting so you can upload content to your website.
Most, if not all, domain name registrars sell hosting as well as domain names and it’s recommended that you buy both from the same company as this makes developing your site much simpler and convenient. Some registrars will include a domain when you buy hosting from them which will save you money so this is worth doing if you haven’t already purchased a domain name.
Domain registrars will offer a number of hosting packages and the one you need will depend on the type of site you create. If your site will contain mainly textual content then the most basic package will suffice which will cost about £25 a year; if it will contain lots of images or videos then you will require more web space and bandwidth to handle the transfer of data to and from your site which will cost more but will ensure that your site stays operational. Some registrars will offer both unlimited bandwidth and web space, which is deal for big sites that expect to receive lots of traffic.
SiteGround, 123-reg, Heart Internet, GoDaddy and One.com all sell domain names and hosting so check their websites for packages and pricing. Once you have sorted the hosting out, it should be ready to use within a day or two.
Add visitor tracking
This step is optional but adding visitor tracking allows you check how your visitors are finding your site, how many visitors it gets every month and how long they are spending on each page. Knowing this information will enable you to modify your site as and when required so you can create a better user experience and offer content that your readers will find useful.
For example, if the tracking data tells you that people are only spending a few seconds on one particular page, you know that the content on that page is not engaging enough or does not provide the information your visitors are looking for. You can rectify this by changing or adding content so it offers something of value to readers. This will consequently improve your chances of visitors buying products promoted on your website.
To add tracking to your site, check out Google Analytics.
Start writing content
Most articles on affiliate marketing would suggest finding products and services to promote before you have written any content. We think this is the wrong way to go about it as your readers may feel that you’re forcing them to buy something that may not necessarily be of any benefit or use to them.
We suggest that you start by writing about subjects that you feel your visitors will find useful. If you’re unsure of where to begin, think about what first sparked your interest in the topic and start writing about the same subject or something similar. Then develop your content from there; ideas for articles should then flow quite easily once you get going.
However, just writing about subjects that interest you and you think would be useful to others may not be enough to attract and retain visitors to your site. Whatever you write about, there will be thousands of other sites that offer the same information. Why should visitors come back to your website? What does it offer that no other site offers?
It’s important to offer content that is unique or presents information in a new way that is difficult to replicate by others. Using your own knowledge and experiences is a great basis for creating content that is unlikely to be found elsewhere. Keep your site updated with fresh content and hopefully this will attract an ever-growing readership that will return on a regular basis.
Find merchants that sell the products and services you promote
When you mention products or services in your articles that you feel would be beneficial to your readers, find trustworthy and recognised merchants that sell it and from which you can earn commission from. There’s nothing worse than being directed to a merchant that you’ve never heard of only to go elsewhere to buy what you’re looking for so only promote merchants that your visitors are likely to be familiar with.
If Amazon sells the products you promote, this is a good place to start as they are trusted brand. They pay about 5% commission on anything you help them sell within 24 hours of your visitor clicking on their affiliate link with a cap of £7 so they are ideal for promoting items less than £140, such as books, clothing and small household appliances.
However, if you’re promoting more expensive consumer goods, like electronics and jewellery, then you’re better off promoting merchants that don’t cap their commission and offer a longer cookie length (affiliate cookies track any customers you send to merchants, when you sent them and any products they buy); an affiliate cookie of about 30 days is a good amount of time for visitors you send to a merchant to make a purchasing decision.
Affiliate Window, Commission Junction and Tradedoubler are affiliate marketing networks that work with retailers to help them generate sales and with affiliates to pay them any commission for customers they send to merchants. You will find many well-known retailers in a variety of sectors working with these networks so you will be sure to find a network that will pay commission for almost any product or service.
Attracting visitors to your website
In order for your site to make any money, it has to attract visitors first before they will view your content and buy any products you promote via affiliate links. There are various ways of doing this but the main method is search engine optimisation (SEO) which is the process of making your website and pages rank well in search engines. This can be achieved through various different ways but we’ll just summarise the main methods in easy-to-understand terminology.
Ensure your content contains target keywords
Writing unique, useful content is the key to obtaining and retaining visitors but how do they find your articles in the first place? By being listed in search engines, such as Google and Bing, when people search for a particular product or information (submit your website to Google and Bing).
Search engines will take a look at all the pages on your site and pick out the main keywords that relates to each page. When a user searches for something using a search engine, it will rank your web page containing those keywords in its results page according to how relevant it thinks it is to the user’s search terms; if it’s relevant then it will rank it high, if it thinks it has little or no relevance then your web page won’t rank very well and is unlikely to be clicked on by the user.
People will use many different words and phrases for the same term so it’s a good idea to include synonyms in your content to let search engines know that your pages relate to a certain subject. So, for example, if you’re writing an article about ‘golf clothing’, you might want to include keywords such as ‘golf apparel’ or ‘golf attire’ so it ranks for these search terms as well.
But how does a search engine know if an article is more relevant to the keywords or phrases a user types in than other articles on the same subject? This is where unique, useful and interesting content comes into play.
“Recommendations” from other websites
If your site contains unique content that people find engaging then they are likely to tell others about it. They can do this by creating a link to your site from blogs, forums, articles written by major publishers and other websites.
Search engines will see these links to your web page as “recommendations” on a particular topic, so the more “recommendations” your article on golfing receives from other sites, the higher it will rank in search results pages for the search term ‘golfing’. This is why it’s important to create content that people can’t find anywhere else.
Building links from social networks
Social networking sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are a great way to inform your target audience about the content you have created and to direct them to your site. Just post your content containing relevant hashtags and they will appear whenever users search for those particular hashtags.
Building links from forums
If you are a member of a forum, you can tell other members about articles you have written if is related to any topics of conversation that’s created and if you think they will find it interesting.
However, don’t go spamming the forum every opportunity you get as they will get sick of you and probably ban you. Threads containing a link to your site may be indexed and listed in search engines so it’s another way of people finding your site.
There are many other ways that you can get people to visit your website but we’ve listed the methods that you should initially focus on. We’re sure you’ll find other creative ways to increase visitor numbers once you get started.
We hope that you have found this article on affiliate marketing useful and it helps you on your way to making money online. Share your success stories with us if you do make money with your site.