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How to Start Afliate Marketing in 2022 (7 Simple


By Jules Costa · Updated Jan 4, 2022

Thousands of independent creators, entrepreneurs, and online

publications use afliate marketing to drive thousands of dollars in

revenue every single month.

So do hugely respected websites such as the New York Times, Forbes and NerdWallet.

And according to Statista, spend on afliate marketing programs by businesses will grow

to $8.2 billion in the US this year. That's up 76% in the last 6 years alone.

But getting a slice of the billion-dollar pie isn't as simple as slapping a few afliate links on

your blog.

In fact, most beginners who try afliate marketing fail to see the nancial results they

were promised by countless blogs and videos on the internet.

Read on to avoid common mistakes that hold beginners back, plus the most important

afliate marketing best practices to help you become successful, sooner.

Here's our guide to start afliate marketing the right way:

1. Research your niche

2. Choose the right platform

3. Pick protable afliate programs

4. Create optimized afliate content

5. Drive trafc to your afliate site

6. Build a simple afliate marketing funnel

7. Track and increase your afliate sales

But rst, a few afliate marketing fundamentals you need to know.

What is afliate marketing?

Afliate marketing is a business model where brands share revenue with publishers and

content creators in exchange for leads and sales. It works similarly to a salesperson being

paid a commission for a successful sale.

The more sales you make, the more money you earn. Afliate commissions can range

from cents on the dollar to hundreds of dollars per referral. Done right, afliate

marketing could help you earn more than your current job or diversify the revenue of an

existing content business.

Here's an overview of how afliate marketing works:

1. You share an afliate link on your website, blog, or in a social media post

2. A customer clicks your afliate link

3. Customer is redirected to the advertiser website

4. Customer is tracked as being referred by you through a cookie

5. Customer makes a purchase

6. An afliate network attributes the purchase to you and issues a commission

7. Commissions appear in your afliate dashboard

8. You get paid (!) by the afliate network

There is no single prole for a successful afliate marketer. They range from independent

entrepreneurs to teams at well-known news outlets and online publications.

And since you aren’t responsible for the delivery of a product or service, afliate

marketing is low risk. You don't need a degree in marketing or any specic qualications

to be a successful afliate marketer. With the right resources, almost anyone can

generate afliate revenue.

In today’s world, the success of an afliate depends heavily on their ability to capture an

audience and attract the right kind of trafc. To do that yourself, you need to craft quality

content and optimize it for conversion.

And it all starts with understanding and creating afliate links.

What is an afliate link?

The main way afliate marketing works is through afliate links. Afliate links are

trackable links with a unique URL assigned specically to you. They help advertisers

know that you sent them a specic customer, so they can pay you a commission if that

customer makes a purchase.

Here's an example of the structure of a typical afliate link:

The most important thing to know as a beginner is that in order to earn a commission, the

customer who converts needs to come through your unique afliate link.

Then there's the way you earn your commissions. For the most part, there are two main

models for earning afliate revenue:

CPA (Cost Per Action): You earn every time someone from your audience completes

an action. Depending on the program, the action could be making a purchase,

starting a free trial, or lling out a form with contact information.

CPC (Cost Per Click): You get paid for clicks the advertiser considers to be quality

visitors, even if they don’t complete a specic action.

Different afliate programs will offer different payment models, and some may even pay

you for both leads and conversions. We'll cover how to pick good afliate programs later

in this guide.

While you're here, here are a couple more key afliate marketing terms you should get

familiar with. These will also help you pick afliate programs with a high earning


Cookies: Cookies are small les that are stored on a customer’s device when they

click an afliate link. They help businesses and afliate networks remember that you

referred the customer to them, so they can give you a commission later on.

Cookie duration: Cookies typically have expiration dates. Afliate links tend to have

expiration dates between 15 to 30 days, but they can run for as little as 24 hours up

to a year or more. Cookie duration matters to afliate marketers because customers

may come back to a purchase days or weeks after a customer rst clicks on an

afliate link.

Afliate networks: Brands typically set up their afliate programs on third party

Afliate networks: Brands typically set up their afliate programs on third party

platforms called Afliate Networks. These platforms bring brands and afliate

marketers together. There are dozens of afliate networks, with the most popular

including Impact, Flexoffers, Clickbank, PartnerStack and Rakuten.

Is afliate marketing worth it?

As an afliate marketer, your earning potential is unlimited. And how many people can

say that?

How much you earn depends on you, your chosen niche and your ability to optimize your

content and revenue streams. But that doesn't mean that most afliate marketers end up

becoming online millionaires.

According to PayScale, the average Afliate Marketer earns between $3,000 and $6,000

per month (or, $36K to $72K annually).

And the top 1% of earners generate tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of

dollars per month. They tend to be full-time afliate marketers with dedicated teams, and

several years of experience.

But you don’t have to go full-throttle to create a sustainable business. The best part of

afliate marketing is that it can supplement your 9-5 income from day one.

And with enough patience and dedication — replace it entirely.

7 steps to get started with afliate marketing

The biggest, open secret to afliate marketing is that your earning potential is highly

dependent on the niche you choose. That is, what kind of audience you want to serve and

the types of products that audience needs to buy. So you need to know what to look for in

a niche before launching your afliate marketing business.

Here are the steps you need to get right from the beginning:

Step 1. Choose a niche based on research

Rushing to catch the latest fads can lead to trouble when these trends end faster than

they appear (dget spinners, anyone?).

Doing niche research is the best thing you can do to make sure your afliate business has

high earning potential and will make money for years to come.

In the process, you'll analyze the competitive landscape, learn about afliate programs

available in your niche, and be able to create a sustainable afliate marketing strategy

and content plan.

Here's an overview of the niche research process:

If you’re looking for niche ideas, there are plenty of free niche research tools that will

help you get the ball rolling. Just quickly, here are three popular tools for niche research:

Google Trends – Trending topics and searches, organized by geography

Answer Socrates – Find out which questions people type into Google

Exploding Topics – A Google Trends alternative with curated results

That said, if you're starting afliate marketing with no money or a small budget, I

recommend picking a topic you're passionate about. That way, you won't get bored or

hate your niche when you're writing 50+ articles on the topic.

But a topic you like isn't enough — it needs to be able to make money.

Again, tools like Google Trends are good for vetting niches that you discover and making

sure they're not just passing trends. In all likelihood, you're going to want to choose an

evergreen niche which generates income all year, every year.

Finally, it’s also important to understand the competition to nd your entry point into the


You might want to start a blog about web hosting (one of the most lucrative afliate

niches), but the amount of capital and content it takes to compete might be out of reach

for beginners.

Look for medium-competition niches, where there are a few established players, but you

can better serve a smaller audience, distinguish yourself, and expand later on.

For example, instead of "web hosting" for everyone, you could start with "salon website

builder" and focus on teaching professionals in the beauty industry. By starting niche, you

can build a tight-knit community around your brand and even gain an advantage in

ranking on Google.

Further reading: Niche Research: 5 Steps to Finding Protable Afliate Niches

Step 2. Choose the right platform

With a niche in mind, it's time to decide where to host your afliate content and what

type of content you want to create.

There are two main choices for afliates starting out: a website or a YouTube channel.

YouTube can be an excellent place to grow an audience, build a brand, and promote

afliate products to an audience that trusts your recommendations.

But there are some downsides to starting with only a YouTube channel:

1. Video takes longer to produce than written content. Which limits the amount of

content you can create when starting your project.

2. Videos are harder to outsource. Especially if you're the face of the channel, it means

you'll need to be involved with every video.

3. Harder to grow your email list. YouTube doesn't have a built-in way to collect email

subscribers. Yet email is one of the most effective channels for afliate marketing.

4. YouTube channels tend to make less afliate money. There's simply more friction to

getting clicks on your afliate links from a video compared to a well-optimized blog


Ultimately, it's great to have both a website and YouTube. Embedding videos on an

afliate website is also an excellent way to boost conversion. But if you're a total

beginner, you'll probably nd it easier to start afliate marketing with a blog.



YouTube is probably a better choice when you're entering an ultra-competitive

niche. For instance, if you want to promote credit cards or teach your audience

about email marketing. Since video is a more complex medium to master, that also

means there's less competition and you can lean more on your personality to build

trust and stand out.

Step 3. Pick protable afliate programs

Signing up for afliate programs is easy. But spreading yourself too thin is one of the top

afliate marketing mistakes beginners make.

You want to start with a nite number of afliate programs with good commissions, solid

conversions, and reliable demand.

Here are three key ways to pick a good afliate program:

First, assess earning potential

Afliate programs vary greatly in terms of payment scale. Some programs offer a few

cents per conversion. Others pay out hundreds of dollars for a single lead.

Programs with lower payouts are often easier to join and promote, which makes them

appealing but require a higher number of sales for the same amount of revenue.

Here are the three main ways to make your afliate math "work out":

1. High volume, low commissions. This includes most Amazon afliate sites. To earn

$5,000 per month from 5% commissions, you need to generate $100,000 in revenue

for Amazon. If the average customer spends $100, that's 1,000 orders to reach $5K

in earnings. To do well here, you usually need a lot of trafc (meaning, a lot of


2. Low volume, high commissions. For example, luxury afliate programs (expensive

watches or luxury fashion) and photography afliate programs (expensive camera

equipment). Both are more niche, but require fewer conversions to reach a revenue


3. High volume, high commissions (...and high competition). Financial afliate

programs (like credit cards and bank accounts), or SaaS afliate programs (like web

hosting and email marketing tools) are both good examples. These programs are so

protable, you may struggle to compete.

While you're at it, check the afliate program's cookie duration. Longer cookie durations

(over 30 days) give you time to get your audience to a buying decision.

Shorter cookie periods can still be effective for those customers who have already made

the decision to buy. If you choose to work with programs with shorter cookie durations,

be sure that your content targets people later in the buying journey.

I'll explain how the buyer's journey ts into afliate marketing in a second.

Second, assess the competition

Some competition can be a good sign. If other people are doing well in the niche, there's a

good chance you can too. The easiest way to nd competitors is to simply google for the

kinds of search terms you'd love your website to show up for.

Then, check which afliate programs your competitors are promoting most heavily on

those pages. Find out what terms they offer, and how to join the program.

This is one of the most effective ways to vet afliate programs, as long as your

competitors are further along than you are.



No competition might sound like a good thing, but usually means the niche is not

viable. Or worse, they've already tried, failed, and moved on. But if there are clearly

other people making money in a niche, it's a signal that you can as well.

Third, evaluate brand alignment and reputation

You are building your own brand and image at the same time as you’re promoting the

products and services of other businesses. Be selective in choosing who you represent.

Working with businesses that don’t align with your brand leads to audience mistrust and

harm your brand long term.

You also want to check that the brand you're promoting is likely to convert. That means

looking at their sales pages, mobile-friendly design, and other online reviews. Think about

what you would consider when buying the product as a consumer.

Now that you've selected some afliate programs in your well-researched niche, it's time

to create content.

Step 4. Create optimized afliate content

None of the previous steps matter if you don’t have high-quality content that converts.

Creating content for afliate marketing is more than simply adding links to an existing

blog post. You need to help your audience make a decision on a product or service,

directly on your website, through strong copywriting and appealing design.

Some examples of high-converting afliate marketing content include:

Product reviews: Nearly 97% of consumers look at online reviews before making a

purchase decision, so product reviews are a staple amongst afliate marketers.

Product roundups: Roundups based on a specic theme or category lead different

readers to relevant products and diversify your revenue away from a single link.

Product comparisons These are similar to product reviews but place similar

products side-by-side to highlight pros and cons. Product comparisons are

extremely helpful to orient audiences.

Resource pages: Resource pages are compilations of your favourite tools and

resources. Resource pages that focus on solving a problem for your audience won’t

be the highest converting pages but will help to present you as an expert to your

audience and gather all of your afliate links in one place.

Tutorials: Tutorials are an opportunity to highlight exactly how a product works in

an easy step-by-step process. Customers are likely to trust and buy a product when

they can see exactly how it will work for them.

Ebooks: Topics don’t always t into a nice blog post or or email. This is where ebooks

come in. They give you an opportunity to do a deep dive into a topic. As a bonus, you

can use the ebook as a lead magnet to build your email list.

Afliate content also goes by other names, such as commerce content. But no matter

what you call it, don't forget to include an afliate disclosure which informs your audience

that you may earn a commission if they buy from your links.

Once you've chosen a content format, it's time to optimize the page for conversion.

Conversion 101 for new afliates

Here are some of the most important ways you can do that without a ton of complicated


Button placement: Good button placement and design is particularly important for

getting people to respond to your call to action, whether that be to sign up, subscribe, or

learn more. Button placement should be noticeable, with CTAs that spark interest like

"Read more reviews", "Check the price", and "See more photos".

Here's an example of a product review with a prominent button above the fold of the


Early buttons in the content make it easy for people who are convinced to scroll to the top and clickthrough

to the afliate offer.

Callouts: Also called text boxes, these visually separate important information from the

Callouts: Also called text boxes, these visually separate important information from the

rest of the blog. You can use them for compelling quotes or statistics that inuence your

visitor's decision in their buyer journey.

Here's an example from Themeisle's review of Elementor:

Positive reviews and install count both act as social proof that this product works great.

Graphs, charts, and comparison tables: As much as quality written content is necessary,

visual summaries of information are just as important. Give users a glance overview of

key details by including graphs and charts.

Here's an example from a site comparing smart watches for kids:

Images: People often make purchase decisions based on emotion. Images that reinforce a

particular feeling embodied by your content nudge readers towards converting. Even

better if you can include photos of the results a product has helped you to achieve.

For example, in this makeup review, the author shows themselves trying each product:

Images of the product being used or the results of products help illustrate the benets.

Banners: Banners may be eye-catching and stand out, but they also are easily ignored due

to a “banner blindness” and people tend to ignore banners entirely. You can include them,

but make sure to have plenty of tasteful text links and buttons — those will be your main

conversion drivers.

Popups: Although controversy surrounds popups because they can be annoying, they are

also highly effective at converting your readers. Each popup is an opportunity to

recapture audience members through strategies like discount codes and limited time


Step 5. Drive trafc to your afliate site

Now it's time to drive trafc to your carefully selected offer. This can be done through

social media platforms, SEO blog posts, and email lists.

The key is you want to either reach people who are looking to buy, or capture their email

address to educate and inform readers before prompting the purchase.

Here are some of the best free trafc sources for afliate marketing:

Social media sites like Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and Reddit are all great free

trafc sources for afliate marketing, but they do require some time and effort to make

them work.

But the most successful afliates also invest in growing trafc through SEO.

By targeting buyer intent keywords, you can reach visitors who are heading to Google

right before making a purchase. Using this technique, it's much easier to get clicks on

your afliate links and earn commissions than trying to sell to people who aren't ready to


Another free trafc source we can't recommend enough is afliate marketing through


The direct nature of emails means tailored messages are delivered straight to your

prospects' inbox. This helps them learn more about a product and moves them towards a

buying decision.

Email works great for regular product curations, sharing time-sensitive deals, and

reinforcing your top recommendations to your audience.

Step 6. Build a simple afliate marketing funnel

An afliate marketing funnel is a carefully laid out process that guides users from the

start of their buyer journey to the point where they are a repeat customer.

Funnels are critical if you need to take an audience who isn't ready to buy (such as most

visitors from Pinterest or other "inspiration"-based channels), and warm them up to your

brand and offer.

By using a funnel, the reader sticks with you through all the stages of the buyer's journey.

Even if they joined you weeks or months before they're ready to make a purchase.

Here's how you can visualize the buyer's journey:

The buyer’s journey consists of four main stages:

Awareness: The prospect notices and identies their problem

Consideration: The prospect considers possible solutions to their problem

Conversion: The prospect makes a purchase decision and thereby becomes a


Loyalty: A positive customer experience leads to trust and repeat purchases

Here's how to practically implement a simple funnel, so you can convert cold trafc into




It’s possible to send customers directly to the afliate website through single pieces

of content, especially with low-ticket offers that have straightforward value

propositions. Funnels are an especially suitable strategy for high-ticket afliate

programs that require a longer education period before customers are ready to buy.

Stage 1. Collect leads through email afliate marketing

Stage 1. Collect leads through email afliate marketing

After a visitor lands on your website, it's time to convert them to an email list using free

offer opt-ins. This can be a downloadable PDF guide, email course, resource library, or

other gated content.

Getting started with email might sound intimidating, but it's an early investment you

won't regret.

Read our related post about afliate marketing through emails for how to get started,

step by step.

Further reading: Email Afliate Marketing: How To Use Emails To Boost Your Afliate


Stage 2. Send leads to afliate landing pages

Once a prospect is on your email list, you have better control over their buyer’s journey to

guide them as needed and ll in the gaps. This is your opportunity to provide information

specic to where they are in their journey.

Emails about yourself, the results a product helped you to achieve, testimonials from

other buyers, tutorials and guides can all help the prospect become condent enough to

make a purchase.

Once they're ready, you can link to your afliate landing page. These are yet another

space to connect with your audience, encourage them to move to the buying stage, and

help you build trust before your prospect lands on the advertiser’s sales page.

Stage 3. Optimize your funnel

What makes marketing funnels incredibly helpful is they show you where to adjust and

improve your processes. With a funnel, you can pinpoint the exact stage where someone

drops off the journey.

When you know that, tweak it to provide an improved process for the next person

through the funnel.

Stage 4. Bag repeat sales by emailing your list regularly

Customers that have made their way through the funnel are still good prospects for other


Your email list now gives you the opportunity to provide additional email content that will

lead them through a new buyer’s journey and guide them through the funnel for a

different product.

Further reading: How to Build a High-Converting Afliate Marketing Funnel in 5 Steps

Step 7. Track and increase your afliate revenue

Finally, it's time to talk tracking.

Proper tracking is one of the most important aspects of successful afliate marketing.

It's the difference between fumbling around aimlessly in the dark for your keys, or taking

a step back and turning on a light switch.

Giving yourself visibility into what's working and what isn't in your afliate marketing

strategy is what helps you make more money, faster, and with fewer pieces of content.

And there is no better time than the very beginning of your afliate website to set up a

system that will scale with you. Here are the two main ways to level up your afliate

strategy with tracking:

First, get basic afliate tracking in place

There are two types of afliate tracking:

1. The tracking a network does for you (attributing your sales and tellling you which

products people bought through your links)

2. The tracking you have to do for yourself (guring out which pages, afliate links, text

and visual elements are converting).

To handle the second case, you can use SubID tracking. SubIDs are additional data that

you attach to your afliate link, which ultimately gets recorded next to every conversion

that results from that exact link.

Typically, a SubID is a query parameter you can add onto existing afliate links. Here's

how SubIDs t into your afliate links:

If you're familiar with Google Analytics, SubIDs work similarly to the utm_campaign


For more information on SubIDs, read our guide to SubID tracking for afliates. It's a little

technical, but you'll be grateful you set it up right from the beginning.

You can also forego doing this manually, and use an afliate marketing tool like Aflimate

to fully automate this process.

Then, start to run some tests

Now that you have tracking in place, the rst step is to choose which blog post you want

to run tests on. Consideration needs to be given to high trafc posts, posts with new

trafc, posts with high intent but low RPM (revenue per thousand visitors).

Once you’ve chosen your blog post, run tests to assess its performance and how it can

improve. Here are some ideas for tests you can run on your afliate content:

Adding comparison tables

Switching the text on call-to-action buttons

Inserting links to alternative afliate products

Decluttering by removing links that aren’t yielding any conversions

Testing different link text

You can test which techniques are converting by using unique SubIDs. You want to assess

not only whether the new elements are causing more clicks and revenue, but also how

much the piece of content is generating relative to the number of viewers.

Again, you can use a tool like ours to automate this process without resorting to gluing

together data from multiple sources in complicated spreadsheets:

Get these two strategies right from the beginning, and you're several steps ahead of most

afliate marketers today — even veterans.

Afliate marketing mistakes to avoid

Once you nail the broad overview of afliate marketing, make sure you don’t slip up on

the details.

There are several small, seemingly unimportant decisions that add up to make or break

your success. Here are some of the most common afliate marketing mistakes to avoid:

Making your intro too long. Whether you’re writing content or producing videos,

you have seconds to capture your audience’s attention. Keep your intros short and

sweet and make sure you’re making it clear what they’ll gain by sticking with you.

Targeting the wrong part of the buying cycle. If your audience doesn’t understand

the offer, they won’t convert, no matter how hard you try to sell. Your content

should match where your audience is in the buying cycle, providing education where


Not including a clear top recommendation. Product roundups and comparisons are

high-converting content, but consumers are looking for a clear recommendation.

Make it easy for them to make a decision by letting them know your preference.

Not suggesting and linking to alternative afliate products. Consumers are

growing more and more skeptical. Pushing a product as the cure to everything will

growing more and more skeptical. Pushing a product as the cure to everything will

raise red ags. Instead, make honest evaluations and acknowledge the benets of

alternatives. Even better is if you can capture revenue by using afliate links for

competing products.

Not tracking afliate metrics. The most successful afliate marketers treat their

marketing as what it is — a business. Tracking allows for revenue optimization based

on data-driven insights, rather than gut instinct or guessing.

Avoid these mistakes, and you'll be doing better than 90% of new afliate marketers who

lose their readers before the very rst click.

What you need to know about afliate marketing in 2022

Consumer behavior has changed dramatically in the last year. Afliate marketing has to

keep pace with new technical and legal requirements in order to stay relevant, accurate,

and privacy compliant.

Starting is the hardest step, but don’t let your efforts go to waste. Keep these afliate

marketing trends in mind to build a sustainable business model and future-proof your


1. Brands want partners, not just afliates

Afliate marketing hasn’t always had the best reputation, but with a bit of a refresh, the

win-win business model is still full of promise for brands and publishers alike.

This shift comes in the form of a rebrand from afliate marketing to “partnership


Brands and businesses are moving towards quality partnerships instead of quantity

relationships. Before, brands would have their business promoted by thousands of

inuencers and content creators. Now, greater selectivity is being employed to choose

the right people to represent and promote them.

the right people to represent and promote them.

Creators that have genuine connections with their audiences will be favored by brands to

promote their image in a meaningful way. Brands are looking for creators that will use

their audience trust to represent them with authenticity and integrity.

You can demonstrate this to brands with engagement metrics, such as an email list with

solid click-through rates or a social media account with an active comments section. This

also gives you leverage for negotiating higher commissions.

2. Diversication is more important than ever

Success in the afliate space is seldom tied to a single income source. Robust income as

an afliate means diversifying your streams and being a part of a variety of programs. If

you stick to only one program, rate cuts and program adjustments are a massive blow to

your expected earnings.

This is exactly what happened to Amazon afliates both during the early stages of the

pandemic and again in early 2021.

Programs that rarely engage with their afliates on a one-to-one basis also offer very

little recourse for afliates when things go wrong. Although programs like Amazon can be

convenient and lucrative, introducing alternatives guard against dramatic loss of income

as well as add to your current earning potential.

3. Multi-channel is your moat

A multi-channel approach supersedes any results that can be achieved through a single


Combining both “owned” platforms, such as your website, blog and email lists, with

“rented” platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest provide you with the best

of both worlds.

Social media is a key component of expanding your reach and gaining new audience

members. YouTube alone ranks as the second most popular search engine globally.

Content that succeeds across social media platforms drive your target audience to your

“owned” online space, namely your website.

Reaching your target audience and creating a direct connection with them as an afliate

marketer requires a multi-channel approach in order to achieve the desired result for

driving revenue and creating repeat buyers. Rented platforms are a great way to start an

audience, but driving trafc to owned media is essential to future-proof your business

against changes to social media platforms.

Ready to take action?

Diversication and multi-channel approaches play a big role in future-proong your

afliate marketing business.

That means most successful afliates end up juggling multiple logins and platforms to

make the most of their business.

Instead of logging into what feels like a million hard-to-use dashboards, you can use

Aflimate to access one central location for all information relating to your afliate


The Aflimate dashboard also gives you an at-a-glance understanding of how your

afliate marketing content is performing. Keep track of your revenue, identify topperforming

content and gain insights into optimization all in one place.

Free 15-day trial

No credit card required





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