Affiliate marketing can be a very rewarding business once you’ve got everything dialed in, but it can also be a bit frustrating to learn how to get started properly.
So in this article, I’m going to explain what affiliate marketing is about, and how to get started as a beginner, with your very own (free) affiliate website.
Overview of Affiliate Marketing With a Website
Affiliate marketing is a simple business model where you earn commissions promoting other companies’ products online. Basically, the way it works is companies pay affiliates, who join their affiliate program, a commission for bringing them new customers.
It’s a pretty simple business model overall, can be very lucrative. Not to mention, the startup and running costs are generally pretty low, and the money you earn can be fairly “passive” compared to many other business models out there. Because once you get an affiliate site profitable, it doesn’t take much to maintain depending on the niche you choose.
However, there are some important things you should understand about affiliate marketing before rushing into it:
- Being successful with affiliate marketing takes time and effort. Like anything worthwhile, you need to learn real skills and put in a consistent effort if you want to make it work.
- You can’t just spam your affiliate links all over the internet and expect to make decent money. You might make a sale here and there doing that, but to create a real business you need to give people value.
- Even though you can use a free website, and affiliate marketing is a low-cost business model, you should factor in some costs as you build your business. But you only need the basics when you’re starting out, like a domain name, web hosting, and some decent training.
What would I know?
Well, I’m not some “guru” or anything. But I do earn over $100K per year doing affiliate marketing with a website. So what I am sharing here is based on what I know works and can therefore help you build a real business online. So if that’s your goal – read on.
How to Create a Free Affiliate Website (That Actually Works)
Creating an affiliate site (free or paid) is actually quite simple, but making your site successful is another story. So, rather than just show how to set up a site, I thought it’d be more beneficial to show you the steps that go into creating a site that actually gets traffic and earns revenue.
Here are the steps to create an affiliate site:
- Choose Your Niche
- Build Your Site
- Get Traffic to Your Site
- Earn Affiliate Commissions
Step 1: Choose Your Niche
A niche is simply a group of people who share a similar interest, like rock climbing or DIY home renovations for example. It’s basically just a group of people who are searching for something online.
And the reason it’s important to choose a niche is that if you don’t, chances are your site is going to be too broad. And a broad site is going to mean higher competition, which can make it harder to rank in search engines, which means you may end up getting less traffic. And broad sites don’t tend to convert as well, meaning less earnings potential.
On the other hand, you don’t want to make your site too narrow. Because if you create a site that is focused on too narrow of a niche, you limit yourself in terms of how much content you can create and how much you can grow the site.
For example: starting a site about the “outdoors” is probably too broad, since that could include virtually anything relating to being outside. But a site that is all about one specific product for the outdoors, like one brand of metal compass for example, is too narrow. The “sweet spot” is often somewhere in between. Like “hiking” or “freshwater fishing.” These are targeted niche ideas, but aren’t too broad or too narrow.
These are just a couple of examples though. There are 10,000’s (maybe even 100,000’s of potential niche ideas). The opportunities are virtually limitless, so it is entirely possible to create a success affiliate site based on something that interests you.
Step 2: Build Your Site
This step is all about putting a website together. The cool thing is it’s super simple these days and anyone can do it. It doesn’t need to be a super fancy, perfect looking website either. Some of the best money making websites are very basic looking and simple.
When it comes to affiliate marketing with a website, it’s all about content – not bells and whistles. So all you really need is a simple website where you can create good content and promote relevant offers.
I will explain the core elements that go into creating a website in a moment, but if you want to get started with a free website, then I recommend checking out a platform called Wealthy Affiliate which gives you a free website and some free affiliate training to help you get started.
Step 3: Get Traffic to Your Site
Getting visitors (traffic) to your site is one the most important things you need to work on as an affiliate, and it’s often overlooked by beginners. Put simply, without traffic you won’t make a dime online. But if you understand how to get quality, targeted traffic to your site, you can be very successful.
How do you get traffic? There are many ways, but when you boil it down, there are only two methods to get traffic – you either buy it or earn it.
Buying traffic can be a good option, but it’s not the best approach for an affiliate website in my opinion, especially if you’re a beginner and if you’re on a budget.
On the other hand, “earning traffic” is what I believe is best for an affiliate website. Because it doesn’t cost you anything other than your time, and this type of traffic can be of a very high quality. But it does take effort. Because in order to get free traffic to your site, you need to create helpful content.
Basically, the way it works is you create content people in your niche find helpful. And, when you follow the right process, that content ranks in search engines like Google, and you then get free traffic. Of course, the process is more involved than that, but that’s the overview.
Overall, you need to learn two main skills to get free traffic to your site:
- Find good keywords/topics to write about (for your niche).
- Create good content that genuinely helps people.
That is the core of getting free traffic to your site through search engines. If you learn how to do this well, and put the effort in, you will have as much traffic as you can handle over time.
You don’t need to become some fancy writer to do this either. I’m certainly no copywriting guru and I’ve had (literally) millions of people visit my sites over the years without spending a cent on traffic. All you need to do is share your knowledge about a particular subject with those in your niche.
Focus on helping people, and you will do well. Create trash content that is full of spammy affiliate links, and you probably won’t. It’s all about giving people value.
Step 4: Earn Affiliate Commissions
Once you have a website setup and have lots of quality traffic coming to it, promoting relevant offers is a simple matter of signing up with affiliate programs and placing relevant affiliate links on your site. So that when people buy products you recommend, you earn revenue.
Now, I’ll admit, that is an oversimplification. You do need to learn the proper methods of monetizing your site. You can’t just “place” affiliate links randomly on your site and hope it works. But overall it’s not hard when you know how and doesn’t take very long.
It comes down to finding the right affiliate offers for your niche and then including affiliate links within certain posts you create, and throughout other areas of your site, in such a way that leads to you earning affiliate revenue.
Benefits of Using a Website for Affiliate Marketing
You don’t have to build a website for affiliate marketing. There are other methods of earning money as an affiliate which can be very effective. And I created this article to compare the difference between doing affiliate marketing with and without a website if you want to learn more.
However, I personally believe that the “website approach” has a lot of merit, especially if you’re a beginner and on a budget. And in this section, I’ll explain why I say this.
You Can Get Targeted Traffic for Free
Traffic is the life blood of any affiliate marketing business, with or without a website. Without it you simply cannot succeed. And building your own site positions you to drive tons of free traffic from major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
If you don’t have a website, you’ll be relying solely on other traffic sources, like social media, Youtube or solo ads for example. All of which can work, but many alternative methods involve paying for traffic.
And when it comes to getting free traffic through social media platforms for example, they own your content. Which means your business becomes very reliant on a third party platform that could ban your account if they don’t like what you promote or how you promote it.
Whereas with a website, you own your content and you are in control. So this is not just a good way to get lots of targeted, free traffic but in my opinion it is more sustainable long term.
It “Forces” You to Become a Better Marketer
Most successful affiliate sites are successful because they provide value in the form of helpful content. Spammy sites are rarely ranked by Google, which is going to be your main source of traffic if you go the website route.
So this method of marketing kind of “forces” you to provide value. Which in turn, I believe, makes you a better affiliate marketer. Because the better, more helpful content you produce, the better your rankings will be and the more traffic you will receive.
That’s just the way it works. Again, you don’t need to be a fancy writer. I’m not. But you do need to provide value and when you work on creating a good affiliate site, you’re providing value.
Having a Helpful Site Builds Trust and Credibility
When you have a website with useful content on it, it helps build trust and credibility. Which in turn can lead to higher conversions. Because people trust the recommendations of sites that provide them with value, a lot more than those who run spammy affiliate campaigns.
And of course, higher conversions lead to more revenue. So it’s not just good for your visitors and the companies you promote, but also can help you become a more successful affiliate.
Affiliate Websites 101 – Understanding the Basics
Now that I’ve walked you through how to setup an affiliate site and the benefits of doing so, I thought it might be helpful to explain the core elements that go into making a website.
That way, if you don’t want to follow the method of creating a site that I suggested earlier, you can still leave this site having learned how this “website stuff” works. And use what you’ve learned to get started building an affiliate site on whatever platform you like.
You don’t need to know every detail of what I’m about to explain to be successful at affiliate marketing. Not at all. So don’t worry if some of this sounds confusing. But at the same time, you may find it helpful to get a general idea on how all of this stuff works.
Basically, there are three main parts to building an affiliate website:
Together, these are the elements that make a website work. So let’s explore each of these further, so you know how they work.
Every site has a domain name. A domain is similar to a postal address, except it is designed for digital real estate (websites) instead of physical real estate (like houses for example). And there are two types of domains – a free “subdomain” and a paid “top level domain.”
Subdomains are free, but you share these with other people who also use the free domain. For example, “waclasses.siterubix.com” is a free sub-domain I use in some of my training videos.
Unless you have some specific reason for doing so, it’s normally better to go with your own top-level domain name rather than a free one. Because it’s your own domain, and not a shared one which can be better for ranking in search engines and getting traffic (essential to making money as an affiliate).
However, a subdomain can be a great place to start out if you just want to get started for free, or if you just want to setup a test website or example site.
How do you get a free domain? These normally come as part of a “beginner” website package or something of that nature. For example, WordPress.com allows you to signup for free, and if you do that you get a free domain and a fully hosted website.
However, they do place various restrictions on what you can and can’t promote as an affiliate, and you can’t run ads on their free sites either. Not to mention, there are other restrictions as to what you can and can’t do with your site.
Which is why I personally prefer Wealthy Affiliate instead. This is a platform designed for affiliate marketers and as a free member, you get a free website. Along with some free training, tools and access to a community, which makes it more suitable for aspiring affiliates.
There is a paid element to Wealthy Affiliate though, but you can stay a free member, and keep your free site, for as long as you want.
Paid Top-Level Domains
Top-level domains aren’t free, but the benefit is you actually own your own slice of “online real estate.” For example, “affiliateunguru.com” is a top level domain that I own.
There are lots of great options when it comes to buying your own domain, and it doesn’t really matter where you buy them. It’s not like there’s any difference in “quality” or anything, it mostly comes down to price.
How much does a domain cost?
The cost of a domain varies depending on where you buy one from, but they typically cost around $10 to $20 per year from companies like NameCheap for example.
Once you have a domain name, you need to find a web hosting company to get started. Which in many cases is the same company that sold you the domain.
There are TONS of web hosting companies online that come with all kinds of different packages and plans and so forth. So it can be overwhelming as a beginner knowing what is what.
Basically, the idea is to choose a company that fits your budget and individual needs. Hosting ranges in price anywhere from $5 per month all the way up to $100’s or even $1,000’s. But you don’t need an expensive hosting plan when you’re just starting out.
Content Management System (CMS)
The last piece of the puzzle is something called a content management system (or CMS). This is basically the “website builder” that allows you to actually build your site.
There are many different site builders out there. So, as with web hosting, it really depends on your individual needs as to which option you choose.
However, I personally use WordPress, as do most website owners. This is one of the most popular site builders out there and is ideal for affiliates. There are other options out there, like Wix for example, but WordPress is designed more for people who create affiliate sites.
And the reason is because WordPress sites don’t just look nice, they are designed to help you create content for your site. And when you have a site with lots of great content on it, it ranks in Google and you get targeted, free traffic. Which ultimately can result in affiliate commissions.
If you want to get started with a free WordPress site, simply by following the steps I mentioned above. SiteRubix sites are built using WordPress, and it’s really easy to make one too.
Creating an affiliate site isn’t difficult, and in this article I’ve shown you how to set one up for zero cost. But you do need to learn real skills, and put in some work, if you want to become a successful affiliate marketer.
Which is why in this article, we discussed some of the core elements that go into creating a successful affiliate business, the benefits of using a website to promote your affiliate offers, and how to get started properly. So that you can develop a profitable, long term affiliate business.
If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, check out this free beginner’s guide.