How to Start Affiliate Marketing: A Step By Step Guide

Research shows that companies’ spending on affiliate marketing will top $8.2 billion in the United States alone by 2022. Start your own affiliate business today, and you’ll be in the perfect position to carve out a large share for yourself.

But first, let’s take a shot at the meaning of affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is also sometimes called CPA marketing or performance marketing. The true meaning of affiliate marketing sets it apart from other forms of online marketing.

It’s indeed a form of digital marketing, but affiliate marketing has more to it than just hosting advertisement banners for merchants. Why?

Unlike advertisement banners, you don’t get a dime from affiliate marketing unless visitors are converted. Your profit comes from your ability to convert leads to paying customers.

Steps on How to Start Affiliate Marketing

It is noteworthy that affiliate marketing demands a serious level of commitment, and there are various ways to start as an affiliate marketer. But there are basic steps that create the foundation. Here’s a simplified and working guide for success:

1. Pick a Niche

The initial and most crucial step in starting your affiliate marketing is picking a niche.

The ideal move is to consider topics that are in line with your interests. More essentially, your niche must be helpful to your target audience. As an entrepreneur, you must be able to offer solutions to people’s problems. And yeah, there are tons of problems that need solving. If you have some, then definitely others do too! 

You’re not into marketing to help yourself. You’re in it to help your customers.

An excellent way to know you’re starting with a mistake is a thought like, “I want to learn how to start affiliate marketing to get rich.” Of course, you want to get paid, but you don’t want that to be your initial primary goal. The aim is to get to more people first and make money as an added benefit.

Another mistake you could make – just like other beginners – is choosing a niche with little or no competition. If you’ve already thought of that, you can start whispering “No, No, No” to yourself. “I want to do something that others haven’t” is a typical beginner’s mistake.

Unique Ideas don’t matter in affiliate – how well you execute does.

Go for a popular niche but not one that’s saturated, meaning you need a niche with increasing demand.

If, after making a choice, you think that niche has no potential angle, you can include it in your blog. Or you notice that there’s nothing more to be said about it, then it might be a saturated market. Perhaps you should try something else.

2. Start Your Blog  

After concluding on your niche, the next thing to do is to build your blog. Although you can make money from affiliate marketing without owning a blog/website, it’s not recommended. While you can use Pinterest or YouTube or some of the social media giants, but these platforms aren’t yours.

You want organic traffic and your blog to be the core of your affiliate marketing.

With your blog, you retain control and don’t have to put up with ads’ cost. You can amass a massive following like Ariana Grande on Instagram, but if the Facebook team decides for any reason that they don’t need you on their platform – it’ll only take a click to say bye!

There’s more to starting a blog, but note that it’s essential for long-term success in affiliate marketing.

3. Create Content

Since your business’s success revolves around your blog, you want to engaging SEO content on it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the most effective technique to attract people to your blog. While you may be looking to set up other ways to grow an audience, organic search remains the primary approach.

Google is the most used popular and commonly used search engine, which is why you must be on Google to get any attention. Of course, you can gather an audience from paid traffic, podcasts, and social media, but if you don’t utilize SEO for your blog, you’re most likely missing more than half of your potential audience.  

In this step, it is recommended that you create at least 30 articles before moving to the next step. Each article might 1000 words long but should be in-depth and relevant to your niche. For instance, if you’re in the lifestyle and travel niche, you absolutely don’t want to publish articles about dogs.

You don’t have to be an expert to start blogging, or you can hire a professional to provide you with engaging SEO content for your audience.

You need to have a functioning website with an active blog section before applying for any affiliate program. If there is no content on your blog, forget about attracting an audience as well as getting approval from an affiliate manager.

4. Build Your Audience

The next move is to build and grow your audience.

The most effective method is through organic search, also known as SEO. Nonetheless, there are more options you can try:

  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Email
  • Podcast
  • Instagram
  • Reddit
  • Paid traffic
  • Quora
  • LinkedIn

This step involves building up a fan base that would keep returning and most likely recommend you to others. Several pieces of research have shown that it requires about 12 visits for visitors to become loyal fans.

5. Apply for an Affiliate Program

The final step.

You don’t apply for an affiliate program if you haven’t completed the initial four steps. Civil engineers don’t build houses before the concrete foundation solidifies.

Signing up for an affiliate program requires you to become a “team” with your merchant sales funnel. However, all affiliate programs aren’t the same.

So, how can you tell if a merchant is in an affiliate program? Search the merchant’s brand name with “affiliate” attached behind it or “partner program.”

A lot of merchants don’t run ads for their affiliate programs. They typically prefer to limit the circle of affiliate “partners” rather than deal with an influx. That means you have to reach out to them directly to know if they work with an affiliate program.


The five steps mentioned in this guide are the basic steps on how to start affiliate marketing. Yeah – you guessed right – there is more detail that comes with it. You gain more insights as you go further.

These steps are a solid foundation, and as you follow them, you’re certain of creating a pathway to lasting success in the game of affiliate marketing. 

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